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PAT ELDER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Recruiters 1101wrp opt(Photo: Debra Sweet / Flickr)More than a hundred mothers have contacted me over the years, alarmed at the relationships their teenaged children were developing with military recruiters at school. They wanted to know what they could do about it. They were angry, and they were worried.

The fact these women reached out to me and other counter-recruitment activists demonstrates the degree of alarm they experienced. They feared their vulnerable children would enlist against their wishes. They were terrified their child would be killed while they stood by. This was the driving force of their resistance.

Several mothers told me they deeply resented the presence of military recruiters in their child's school and they described the influence recruiters were having over their child's thinking and behavior. They talked about difficult relationships they had with their children. Some said their child had forged close relationships with recruiters at school for over two years. These moms were certain their sons were going to enlist because their boys knew the pain it would inflict on their mothers.

In America, only a few are willing to risk public scorn for their opposition to the U.S. military or war in general. However, many of these mothers were hostile, like cornered prey protecting their young.

Wednesday, 01 November 2017 07:38

Peace in Afghanistan From the Ground Up

KATHY KELLY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Mothers 1101wrp optAfghan mothers. (Photo: Afghan Peace Volunteers / Kathy Kelly)On a recent Friday at the Afghan Peace Volunteers' (APV) Borderfree Center, here in Kabul, thirty mothers sat cross-legged along the walls of a large meeting room. Masoumah, who co-coordinates the Center's "Street Kids School" project, had invited the mothers to a parents meeting. Burka-clad women who wore the veil over their faces looked identical to me, but Masoumah called each mother by name, inviting the mothers, one by one, to speak about difficulties they faced. From inside the netted opening of a burka, we heard soft voices and, sometimes, sheer despair. Others who weren't wearing burkas also spoke gravely. Their eyes expressed pain and misery, and some quietly wept. Often a woman's voice would break, and she would have to pause before she could continue:

"I have debts that I cannot pay," whispered the first woman.

"My children and I are always moving from place to place. I don't know what will happen."

"I am afraid we will die in an explosion."

"My husband is paralyzed and cannot work. We have no money for food, for fuel."

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

kellyjohnWhite House Chief of Staff John Kelly thinks there could have been a "compromise" about slavery. (Image: DonkeyHotey)

Former General John Kelly, White House chief of staff, recently managed to besmirch the wife and mother of Sergeant La David Johnson, along with defaming Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D-California), taking Trump's side in an undignified attempt to discredit a Gold Star family. Kelly attempted to bolster Trump's claim that the president didn't dishonor Johnson in a bungled condolence phone call to Johnson's wife. It was clear at that point that Kelly was not going to be a bland general trying to rein in chaos in the White House; he was going to be a public Trump enabler.

This past Monday, Kelly doubled down on his backing of another one of Trump's egregious stances that statues honoring Civil War figures were part of the nation's history -- dedicated to men who should be respected for their heritage, bravery and convictions. This Trump stance came to the fore after the infamous rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, organized by hate groups rallying around a Robert E. Lee statue. On August 17, Trump tweeted, "Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments."

An October 31 ThinkProgress article reported,

During an interview on the debut edition of Laura Ingraham’s new Fox News show Monday night, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly praised Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and openly expressed sympathy for the Confederate cause.

Asked about a Virginia church’s decision to remove a plaque honoring Lee, Kelly said, “I would tell you that Robert E. Lee was an honorable man....”

MILO SHIFRA KESSELMAN GIOVANNIELLO FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Cops 1031wrp opt(Photo: Andrew Chang / Flickr)Last week, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) hosted their annual conference and exposition in Philadelphia, bringing together more than 10,000 law enforcement officers, major arms suppliers and weapons distributors. The IACP, an organization of police chiefs and other law enforcement officials, has long been responsible for promoting police practices that systematically violate the civil, constitutional and human rights of Black people and other people of color.

At the conference, companies profiting from the Trump administration's intensified targeting and surveillance of communities of color had the opportunity to present their newest tactics and tools. One such company was ELTA North America, the US subsidiary of an Israeli defense manufacturer and one of four companies selected to build aprototype of Trump's wall on the US/Mexico border.

The IACP conference bills itself as offering "gentler, reformist" policing methods through workshops like "Community-Police Relations and Public Trust." But for a long time, groups representing the communities most directly impacted by police violence have said these presentations are a dangerous farce, aimed at promoting the illusion that policing can be made less harmful through better training or by recruiting different individuals, when in fact the system of policing is designed to target and control communities of color. That weekend, there were powerful demonstrations and teach-insorganized byPhilly for REAL Justiceand other Philadelphia-based groups in opposition to the conference, bringing the message that the only way to end police violence is to abolish policing.

JOHN GEYMAN, MD FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

CuteHealth 1031wrp optSeattle health care rally. (Photo: SEIU 775 / Flickr)The Democratic Party, as is the case with the Republican Party, has its own civil war going on as it looks to the upcoming election cycles in 2018 and 2020. Its division over how to proceed on health care shows how wide the divide is among Democrats.

Democratic centrists, so involved in defending the Affordable Care Act (ACA) against the Republicans, are riding high on their success so far in avoiding its repeal, but shouldn’t take too much of a victory lap since the GOP has no replacement plan, especially after more than seven years. Meanwhile, the centrists are pushing aside the efforts of progressive Democrats to place universal health care through single-payer Medicare for All on the party platform. This continuing wide gulf across the Democrats’ political spectrum will delay real health care reform, weaken their impact on health care, and could easily lead to losses by Democrats in the upcoming elections.

These examples of disunity among Democrats on health care are alarming, even after their loss of more than 1,000 seats nationwide last year and Trump winning the White House.

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

BillNyeBill Nye, the Science Guy ( NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)

As the former host of PBS's Bill Nye the Science Guy, Bill Nye taught a whole generation of kids about the wonders of science. But in his new documentary, Nye laments how his life's work could be upended by an emerging war on science. (Just think of Trump's stack of climate change skeptics in his cabinet).

"We're living in this extraordinary time where people are anti-science," Nye tells famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson over a glass of wine, adding that scientific innovation helped propel the U.S. as the world's preeminent industrial nation.

Bill Nye: Science Guy intimately follows Nye's journey from beloved children's television host to scientific commentator and his role as the CEO of the Planetary Society, a space exploration nonprofit sending a solar-powered spacecraft into the cosmos.

We also get a rare look into his personal life and his family's affliction with Ataxia, a neurological condition that affects coordination, balance and speech. Nye, who does not have signs of the disease, explains how it's one of the reasons why he has never married or had children.

As the former host of PBS's Bill Nye the Science Guy, Bill Nye taught a whole generation of kids about the wonders of science. But in his new documentary, Nye laments how his life's work could be upended by an emerging war on science. (Just think of Trump's stack of climate change skeptics in his cabinet).

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

cfpbarbWill the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau survive a Republican Congress and president? (Photo: Mike Licht)

On July 14, I wrote a commentary entitled, "Banks Riled by New Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Rule." It was about how the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) had issued a regulation that would allow bank consumers to sue for fraud and negligence, instead of being forced into arbitration by clauses in different account agreements (including credit cards). In short, the CFPB overrode the contract arbitration stipulations and also allowed class action suits for widespread bank improprieties.

It was a bit of good news amid the usual torrent of distracting Trump tweets, and it appeared that an act of justice was actually occurring during the Trump administration. As we lament the horrors of the Trump White House, these rare victories are important to note and celebrate.

In a July 10 Consumer Financial Protection Bureau news release, the agency announced its "a new rule to ban companies from using mandatory arbitration clauses to deny groups of people their day in court":

Many consumer financial products like credit cards and bank accounts have arbitration clauses in their contracts that prevent consumers from joining together to sue their bank or financial company for wrongdoing. By forcing consumers to give up or go it alone – usually over small amounts – companies can sidestep the court system, avoid big refunds, and continue harmful practices. The CFPB’s new rule will deter wrongdoing by restoring consumers’ right to join together to pursue justice and relief through group lawsuits....

Thursday, 26 October 2017 08:33

Jim Hightower: Trump's Wars

Trump and his GOP Congress are throwing money -- yours and mine -- at the Pentagon, demanding a massive $700 billion military budget.Trump and his GOP Congress are throwing money -- yours and mine -- at the Pentagon, demanding a massive $700 billion military budget. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)JIM HIGHTOWER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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So, President Trump makes what was to be a condolence phone call to the young widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, one of the four American soldiers killed on a military patrol in Niger -- and all of a sudden, the White House explodes in yet another political conflagration and a new burst of presidential lies.

Was Trump disrespectful to the widow by not referring to her dead husband by name, but as "your guy," then declaring that Sgt. Johnson "knew what he was signing up for"? She and two witnesses to the call say "yes"; Trump and his White House PR flacks issued a furious string of "no."

But rather than simply let it go at "no," Trump couldn't resist patting himself on the back and politicizing the whole exchange. He bragged that the has called the family of every soldier killed since he's been commander-in-chief. Turns out the chief lied about that -- many grieving families say they got no call from him. Then he took a cheap shot at Obama and other former presidents, declaring that most of them didn't call any families of dead soldiers. Another lie, for Obama and others did, in fact, make calls.

Thursday, 26 October 2017 07:10

Praying for the Moths and Beetles

 insects are valuable -- a crucial part of the world we inhabit -- because all of life is complexly connected. Insects are valuable -- a crucial part of the world we inhabit -- because all of life is complexly connected. (Photo: Magnus Hagdorn / Flickr)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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". . . insects as a group are in terrible trouble and the remorselessly expanding human enterprise has become too much, even for them."

And instantly I'm beyond the realm of anything I know, as I consider the gradual disappearance not of whales but of . . . beetles, moths and hoverflies, thanks to the human enterprise we call civilization, as Michael McCarthy put it in The Guardian.

It's too easy to isolate these deeply troubling matters, to focus on one, take aim and fire off blame, but in my uncertainty and aching sense of responsibility, as a full participant in the human enterprise, I find myself groping instead for understanding. We have to change course and I have no idea where or how to start, except in a million places at once, but all of these starting places have at least this much in common: reverence for the planet and life itself; acknowledgment and awe that the universe is alive and we are connected to everything in it; and a sense that even the small, mocked, discarded fragments of civilization are to be valued . . . that they are sacred.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Fort McHenry flagThe Fort McHenry Star Spangled Banner: Is the National Anthem inclusionary or exclusionary? (Photo: Wikipedia)

 A new poll reveals that a majority of whites in the United States believe there is discrimination against whites in this country. However, few white respondents claimed to have actually experienced this discrimination themselves. According to NPR,

A majority of whites say discrimination against them exists in America today, according to a poll released Tuesday from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

"If you apply for a job, they seem to give the blacks the first crack at it," said 68-year-old Tim Hershman of Akron, Ohio, "and, basically, you know, if you want any help from the government, if you're white, you don't get it. If you're black, you get it."

More than half of whites — 55 percent — surveyed say that, generally speaking, they believe there is discrimination against white people in America today. Hershman's view is similar to what was heard on the campaign trail at Trump rally after Trump rally. Donald Trump catered to white grievance during the 2016 presidential campaign and has done so as president as well.

Yet only 19 percent of the same whites thought that they had ever faced discrimination on the job; around 13 percent thought that they had ever been discriminated against in promotions or salary; and only 11 percent thought that they had faced discrimination in relation to higher education. (Plus, of course, even when it comes to the low percentage of whites who said they experienced discrimination, the facts contradict their perception.)

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