BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Freedom of speech? Pizza sales? Freedom of speech? Pizza sales? For John Schnatter, founder and CEO of Papa John's International Inc., the hell with freedom of speech when business is down 8.5 percent. In 2010, Schnatter, a significant donor to President Donald Trump, a combatant in the administration's war against government regulations, and a vigorous critic of Obamacare, paid enough money to have his pizza designated the official pizza of the NFL. He is also the seemingly happy-go-lucky guy hamming it up in commercials alongside former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning. And to top it all off, Papa John's has been designated the "official pizza of the alt-right," a claim it quickly and vigorously distanced itself from.
Schnatter knows whose to blame for the pizza dip; NFL players protesting police brutality and racial injustice, and the feeble response by NFL owners and commissioner Roger Goodell. If it was up to Schnatter, the protest "should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago."
"The NFL has hurt us by not resolving the current debacle to the players' and owners' satisfaction," Schnatter, the company's CEO said on a conference call, according to Bloomberg News. "NFL leadership has hurt Papa John's shareholders."
According to Bloomberg News, "It's hard to quantify the connection between the NFL and pizza sales, but Papa John's did post disappointing results in the latest quarter. … [as] [i]ts shares fell as much as 13 percent … -- the most in two years -- after same-store sales missed analysts' estimates." The company, which is headquartered in Jeffersontown, Kentucky, a suburb of Louisville, and is the third largest take-out and pizza delivery restaurant chain in the United States, "trimmed its revenue and profit forecasts for the year."
JIM HIGHTOWER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
As anyone who has ever been to any of the many cities that are graced with a Trump hotel, casino, golf resort, etc. likely knows, Donald Trump insists that his name be gaudily displayed in giant letters across every structure he owns -- preferably in gold.
Now, he's taken ownership of a massive new structure that'll reach across all of America, and he might not want his name slapped all over this one. It's Trump's towering redo of our country's tax law -- and, no surprise, his plan is truly golden. For the super-rich, that is, revealing in hard numbers whom his presidency really serves: Not just the 1 percent, but especially the 1-percent-of-the-1-percent who are multimillionaires and billionaires... like -- guess who? -- him.
First and foremost, the Trump tax plan slashes the payments that giant corporations make to support our nation. He claims that this will let corporate elites raise the wages of workers and create jobs, winking at the fact that, of course, the elites will pocket every dime of Trump's tax giveaways. And he doesn't mention a little secret gotcha: A third of his corporate benefits would go to foreign owners of American corporations.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
This time, the "the fire and the fury" of American mass murder erupted in church. Twenty-six people were killed, including children, one only 18 months old.
How do we stroke their memory? How do we move forward? This is bigger than gun control. We should begin, I think, by envisioning a world beyond mass murder: a world where rage and hatred are not armed and, indeed, where our most volatile emotions can find release long before they become lethal.
As I read about the shootings at Sutherland Springs, Texas, and studied Devin Patrick Kelley's troubled bio, I suddenly found myself picturing a coal miner trapped in a collapsed mine. Here was a man trapped inside himself: buried in his own troubles, disconnected from his own humanity and, therefore, everyone else's humanity. A man in such a state is utterly disempowered.
And in this country, the path back to empowerment -- for God knows how many people -- begins with owning a gun.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
As powerful climate deniers threaten to destroy even the most basic environmental protections, the Endangered Species Act is also under attack, thanks to a series of proposed bills in the House of Representatives. As Climate Central explained earlier this year:
Often photographed clinging to Arctic ice floes as its habitat melts away into warming waters, the polar bear is the poster child for U.S. efforts to save wildlife on the brink of extinction using the Endangered Species Act.
But the act is quickly becoming a target of the Trump administration and Congressional Republicans who have introduced at least 11 pieces of legislation that could weaken it or prevent some threatened wildlife from being protected.
The Endangered Species Act, or ESA, was signed into law by President Nixon in 1973 and helps to protect more than 1,600 plant and animal species considered threatened or endangered. Thanks in large part to the signing of that act, many iconic wildlife species on the brink of extinction have recovered over the past 40 years, including the bald eagle, American alligator, peregrine falcon and gray wolf.
When a bill signed into law by Richard Nixon is under assault in the Trump administration, it is clear how radical this administration and many of its supporters in Congress are. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was created in December of 1970, during the first Nixon administration. That should give you an idea of just how extreme the current administration has become on environmental matters. Under Trump, the EPA has evolved into the "unprotecting the environment" agency.
DAVID LEESTMA OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The move, according to a memo from Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke obtained by the Washington Post in September, would "allow commercial fishing" in the Pacific Remote Islands National Marine Monument and the Rose Atoll National Marine Monument.
The monuments, both created by former president Bush, protect the waters of a scattering of mostly uninhabited Islands south of Hawaii.
Although the shore reefs of these islands have long enjoyed protection from commercial fishing, the monument designations extended that protection between 50 and 200 miles from shore.
LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
President Donald Trump and two of his climate skeptic cabinet members, Energy Sec. Rick Perry and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt, to try to stop them from rolling back existing environmental protections including the Clean Power Plan.Two Philadelphia-area children are suing
The plaintiffs, ages 7 and 11, are backed by the Clean Air Council, Philadelphia's oldest environmental non-profit. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on Monday.
The complaint alleges that the Trump administration's reliance on "junk science" to undo climate regulations are a threat to the young plaintiffs and other U.S. citizens.
The children are only identified by their first and last initials in the court papers. Seven-year-old plaintiff "S.B." claims to be suffering from medical issues, including severe seasonal allergies that cause recurrent nosebleeds and vomiting, that are "directly impacted by the climate" and "as a result of Defendants' affirmative acts in causing increased climate."
JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Jeffrey Preston Bezos is the man of unbounded ambition who founded Amazon, the online retailing colossus that trumpets itself as "Earth's most customer-centric company." He's considered a model of tech wizardry for having totally reinvented retail marketing for our smart-phone, globally-linked age. Amazon peddles a cornucopia of goods through a convenient "1-click" ordering system, rapidly delivering the goods right to your doorstep.
No one has imagined corporate domination more expansively nor pushed it harder or further than Bezos, and his Amazon stands today as the most advanced and the most ambitious model of a future under oligarchic control, including control of markets, work, information, consumerism, media and beyond. He doesn't merely see himself remaking commerce with his vast electronic networks, algorithms and metrics — but rebooting America itself, including changing our society's concept of a job, the definition of community, and even our basic values of fairness and justice. It amounts to a breathtaking aspiration to transform our culture's democratic paradigm into a corporate imperium, led by Amazon.
Amazon's most recent announcement is that it wants to get inside your home — and, ironically, it's using "security" as its rationale. Rather than Amazon leaving products you order on your doorstep, the corporation wants a key to unlock your door so its delivery crews can do you the favor of placing the products you order inside your abode.
Would you give your house key to a complete stranger, letting that person — whose name you don't even know — walk right into your home when you're not there? What could possibly go wrong with that? Other than your being robbed, of course, either by rogue Amazon employees or by hackers who will certainly gain access to the corporation's computerized key codes. Or maybe "Crusher," your Pitbull, mauls the Amazon intruder and you get sued.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Extreme Poverty Cut in Half? Only in the Minds of the Capitalists
"Take a bow, capitalism." That's from The Economist, a business-happy publication that has every reason to perpetuate the myth that a world run by free enterprise is improving people's lives. Its story continues with an astounding claim: "The world now knows how to reduce poverty." Perhaps by presenting questionable data that seems to support what the business community wants us to believe.
Other super-capitalists are similarly exuding hyperbole in defense of their shaky beliefs. Said a spokesman for the American Enterprise Institute: "It was the American free-enterprise system that started to spread around the world. They looked at you and said, 'I want to have their life, their freedom, and their stuff, and they threw off their chains of poverty and tyranny.'" But it's clear, when the facts are checked, that the chains of poverty are being wrapped around more and more human beings.
Extreme Poverty Has Increased, in Terms of Wealth
According to the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook 2016, the median wealth of the world's adults is $2,222, down from $3,248 at the end of 2007. While the rich people of the world have taken more than their share of the $35 trillion wealth gain since the recession, the world median has dropped by over $1,000!
There are other recent indications of rising poverty. Based again on Credit Suisse wealth data, in just seven years the world's Gini Coefficient, the most widely accepted measure of inequality, has surged from 88.1 to 92.7. Wealth inequality between countries has grown dramatically. It's a stunning rise, further evidence of a world splitting into two.
LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service released a recommendation Wednesday to lift former President Obama's uranium mining ban in the watershed of the Grand Canyon.
“This appalling recommendation threatens to destroy one of the world's most breathtakingly beautiful regions to give free handouts to the mining industry," said Allison Melton, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Trump administration's willingness to sacrifice our natural treasures to polluters knows no bounds. But this reckless, shortsighted proposal won't be allowed to stand."
Amber Reimondo, Energy Program Director with the Grand Canyon Trust, had similar sentiments.
"The Forest Service should be advocating for a permanent mining ban, not for advancing private mining interests that threaten one of the natural wonders of the world," Reimondo said. "The Grand Canyon and the people and communities that depend on it cannot be left to bear the risks of unfettered uranium mining, which is what will happen if the moratorium is removed."
JOHANNES EPKE FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In October, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Gill v. Whitford, a challenge to Wisconsin's 2011 unabashed partisan gerrymander of their state assembly map. Most of us agree that letting one political party or the other draw election maps explicitly to benefit themselves is wrong, just as we agree that allowing unlimited money to flow into our elections is wrong. What most people don't know is how gerrymandering and dark money are mutually perpetuating pieces of an intentional strategy by billionaires and big business to keep Americans politically sidelined.
The story of Gill, in which super PACs spent millions in Wisconsin leading up to 2010 to win Republicans the state legislature and control redistricting for the next decade, is a perfect opportunity to shine a light on how these pieces fit together.
Redistricting happens every 10 years after each census. In 2002, after the 2000 census, the Republican State Leadership Committee launched a project called REDMAP (REDistricting MAjority Project) with the specific goal of controlling the 2010 redistricting in key states.