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ANDREW LICHTERMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Missile 0426wrp optA nuclear missile launch (Photo: Dnepr )The U.S. Air Force has announced a test launch of an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on April 26.

Although such tests are conducted routinely, the timing of this one may not coincidental; the U.S. military sees nuclear delivery system tests as "distinct messaging opportunities". U.S. Air Force, Doctrine Annex 3-72, Nuclear Operations, May 2015. Regardless of the timing, it is clear that the message intended for North Korea (and the rest of the world) is that the United States has nuclear weapons, and is prepared to use them. In the past, U.S. officials have said so outright. Prior to a similar test in early 2016, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work told reporters "That's exactly why we do this... We and the Russians and the Chinese routinely do test shots to prove that the operational missiles that we have are reliable. And that is a signal ... that we are prepared to use nuclear weapons in defense of our country if necessary." David Alexander, "U.S. test-fires ICBM amid tensions with Russia, North Korea," Reuters, Feb 26, 2016.

It also is hard to see the difference between the intentions behind North Korea's displays of its nuclear and missile capabilities and those of the United States—aside from the fact North Korea has far more to fear, given that the United States has military and nuclear forces that far exceed those of North Korea, and that are exercised frequently close to North Korea's shores. Each of the 400 Minuteman III missiles currently in service carries a nuclear warhead 20 or more times as powerful as the atomic bomb dropped by the United States on Hiroshima in 1945. The U.S. also deployed nuclear-capable B-2 and B-52 bombers on several occasions following North Korean nuclear or missile tests, even conducting flyovers in South Korea. see Tara Copp, "US sends 3 nuclear stealth bombers to Pacific," Stars and Stripes, March 9, 2016; Choe Sang-Hunjan. "In Show of Alliance, American Forces Fly B-52 Bomber Over South Korea," The New York Times, January 10, 2016.

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BILL QUIGLEY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

School 0426wrpThe students in the system are taking matters in their own hands. (Photo: Blackcatuk )New Orleans is the nation's largest and most complete experiment in charter schools.   After Hurricane Katrina, the State of Louisiana took control of public schools in New Orleans and launched a nearly complete transformation of a public school system into a system of charter schools.  Though there are spots of improvement in the New Orleans charter system, major problems remain. 

Many of these problems were on display in New Orleans when the NAACP, which last year called for a moratorium on charter schools until issues of accountability and transparency were addressed, held a community forum in New Orleans on charters.  The New Orleans hearing, which can be viewed here, featured outraged students, outraged parents, and dismayed community members reciting a litany of the problems created by the massive change to a charter school system.  The single most powerful moment came when a group of students from Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools took the podium and detailed the many ways the system has failed and excluded them from participating in its transformation. 

"We really wanted to share what happens in our schools" writes 18 year old Big Sister Love Rush in an article on the challenges the students face. "How the few permanent teachers we have work so hard for us, how so many classes are ran by short term substitutes, how food runs out at meal times, and how we worry if our school's reputation is good enough to support us in getting into the college or careers we want.  We shared how we face two hour commutes to and from school, are forced to experiment with digital learning with systems like Odyssey, are punished for having the wrong color sweater, or how we worry about being able to attend a school that will give us the education we need."

 

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH

syrianflagThe United States should also be blamed for the deaths of thousands of Syrian Children. Syrian Flag Above (Wikipedia)

 Chemical attacks, such as the one that occurred this month in Syria are grotesque and horrifying. According to the Guardian, President Trump was deeply upset by the killing of children:

"I will tell you that attack on children yesterday had a big impact on me – big impact," Trump said in the White House Rose Garden. "My attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much … You're now talking about a whole different level...."

"It crossed a lot of lines for me. When you kill innocent children, innocent babies, babies, little babies, with a chemical gas that is so lethal – people were shocked to hear what gas it was. That crosses many, many lines, beyond a red line, many, many lines."

The Economist describes the attack:

On April 4th a chemical attack struck the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib, a province in northern Syria controlled by an alliance of rebel groups, including a powerful faction linked to al-Qaeda. At least 85 people, including 20 children, died, according to doctors and a Syrian monitoring group. The World Health Organization said victims appeared to display symptoms that tally with the use of a deadly nerve agent such as sarin (as opposed to, say, a less powerful one such as chlorine).

Tuesday, 25 April 2017 08:18

EPA to Shut Down Open Data Service Friday

The US EPA Open Data Service website, which has been publicly available since 2016, provides human- and machine-readable information for more than 4 million EPA-regulated facilities, from dry cleaners to nuclear power plants. The US EPA Open Data Service website, which has been publicly available since 2016, provides human- and machine-readable information for more than 4 million EPA-regulated facilities, from dry cleaners to nuclear power plants. (Photo: Paul A. Fagan)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

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Opendata.epa.gov -- the US government's largest civilian-linked data service, storing crucial information on climate change, life cycle assessment, health impact analysis and environmental justice -- could face shut-down this Friday, according to people familiar with the plan.

"Last week, after numerous conversations with the US Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Environmental Information (OEI), and various technical contractors who support them, we were notified that funding is not available to continue operation US EPA's flagship Open Data Web service," wrote open data scientist Bernadette Hyland -- the CEO and co-founder of 3 Round Stones, a platform for publishing data on the web -- in a Medium post on Sunday.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017 06:38

Scientists Worldwide Speak Truth to Power

Demonstrators at the Earth Day March for Science on April 22, 2017.Demonstrators at the Earth Day March for Science on April 22, 2017. (Photo: Amaury Laporte)STEFANIE SPEAR OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

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Tens of thousands of people celebrated Earth Day Saturday by taking to the streets in a historic day of action for science and truth. A massive March for Science took place in Washington, DC, and more than 600 sister marches took place in other cities around the world.

"We are marching today to remind people everywhere, our lawmakers especially, of the significance of science for our health and our prosperity," Bill Nye, honorary co-chair of the March for Science, told the crowd in DC.

Saturday's March for Science was the perfect launching pad to a week of action that will culminate in the Peoples Climate March in Washington, DC, on April 29. As Ploy Achakulwisut, PhD Candidate in Atmospheric Science at Harvard University, put it, "the Science March is about respecting science, the People's Climate March is about acting on it."

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

waltdisncycoThe Disney Company should take a tip from Tinker Bell and fly away from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. (Wallace Naylor II)

Almost 60 organizations have called on the Walt Disney Company to resign from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Public Citizen, a progressive advocacy group that is a member of the campaign, stated in a news release:

The Walt Disney Company should join other Fortune 500 companies, such as Apple, Pacific Gas & Electric and CVS, that have stopped funding the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for political, policy and moral reasons, almost 60 non-profits wrote in a letter to Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger today. The groups commend Disney for its public commitments to action on climate change and for refusing to depict casual tobacco use in most of its Disney-branded films. However, with its membership and financial support of the Chamber, Disney is helping to bankroll an organization that actively opposes climate change remedies and promotes making a profit from tobacco.

"It becomes tough to take Disney's commitments to public health and the environment seriously when Disney continues funding the pro-tobacco and anti-environmental agenda of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce," said Daniel Dudis, director of Public Citizen's Chamber Watch project. "The Chamber's views do not represent those of Disney, or presumably most of Disney's customers or shareholders. We think it of the utmost importance for companies like Disney to stop funding the Chamber agenda."

Apple, Exelon, CVS, General Mills, Unilever and several other companies have already left the organization due to its reactionary policies, as noted.

 

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RHEA SUH OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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Calendar 0424wrp opt(Photo: Visitor7)Like any arbitrary benchmark, the 100-day point of a new president's term normally tells us only so much about what's to come. In the case of President Trump's all-out assault on our environment and health, however, we've already seen more than enough.

In his first three months on the job, Trump has acted again and again to undo half a century of bipartisan progress in protecting our rights to clean water, air and lands. He's moved to part ways with longstanding American values of conservation in the public interest. And he's betrayed the covenant we've forged with our children to leave them a livable world.

That's not a plan to put America first. It's about putting industrial polluter profits first―and putting the rest of us at risk.

Presidents don't get to roll back generations of hard-won gains with the stroke of a pen. Working with his fellow Republicans in Congress, Trump has already killed rules to protect coal communities from mountaintop demolition that destroys forests and streams. And he may expose more public lands to the ravages of coal mining.

Much of what he's ordered, though, can be halted, slowed or turned back around―in the court of public opinion or in a court of law. To do that, we'll have to stand together and give real voice to truth against a president intent on using the full powers of his high office to try to eliminate the tools we need to protect our families and communities from ongoing harm.

JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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Justice 0424wrp(Photo: Themis, Itojyuku)In high school, I had a girlfriend who was involved in student government and all sorts of good works. While she paid attention to all that was happening in those years of the early '60s, she essentially was a moderate — certainly not some movement rebel. Or so we thought... until one lazy, Sunday afternoon. As we aimlessly "cruised the drag" of our small town in a '54 Chevy, we were paused at a red light across from a root beer stand where some teens were hanging out. Suddenly, my "moderate" girlfriend lunged halfway out of the backseat window and shouted "Wake up and piss, kids, the world's on fire!"

I stared at her wide-eyed and whopperjawed, wondering where that came from.

I've thought of that moment recently as I've seen instance after instance of the innate rebelliousness of the American people erupting across the country in surprising ways, unexpected numbers, and with astonishing intensity. No need to wonder where this comes from, however. The outbursts are a spontaneous, rapidly expanding mass rejection of Trumpism.

Our Twitter-president plays to his most frenzied partisans with his daily rata-tat-tat of executive orders and public fulminations — firing at refugees, federal judges, Chuck Schumer, the media, Nordstrom, the EPA, Mexico's president, Elizabeth Warren, laws that protect consumers from Wall Street greed, Sweden, Arnold Schwarzenegger and... no telling who's next. But while some delightedly squeal at his wild moves, many more see Trump as not merely unpresidential, but bull goose bonkers! And dangerous — recklessly using the enormous power of the presidency as a personal cudgel to attack, stigmatize and seriously harm individuals, entire religions and races, the Bill of Rights and our nation's basic values of tolerance, fairness and opportunity for all. In a twist of ironic justice, The Donald's deep darkness has sparked a prairie fire of mass opposition, raging political activism and movement organizing for the long haul.

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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Crop 0421wrp opt(Photo: Hinrich)Dow Chemical, whose CEO Andrew Liveris is a close adviser to President Donald Trump, is pressuring the administration to throw out a government risk study on several popular pesticides, the Associated Press reported.

The 10,000-page study found that the three pesticides under review—chlorpyrifos, diazinon and malathion—pose a risk to roughly 1,800 animals and plants protected under the Endangered Species Act. The evaluations were compiled by federal scientists over the last four years and were expected to result in new limits on how and where the highly toxic pesticides can be used.

But lawyers representing Dow and two other makers of the organophosphates sent letters to the heads of three cabinet agencies last week, asking that the study be "set aside" and saying that the results are flawed.

"Our government's own scientists have already documented the grave danger these chemicals pose to people and endangered species," said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity. "Unable to win on the facts, Dow is now adopting the same disgraceful tactics honed by the tobacco industry and the climate deniers to try to discredit science and scrap reasonable conservation measures that will protect our most endangered animals and plants."

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

driverslicenseYou can't drive to work if you don't have a driver's license. (Photo: Sam Cox)

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According to a Prison Policy Initiative analysis, "More than 191,000 driver's licenses are suspended every year for drug offenses unrelated to driving."

However, the Drug Policy Alliance reported this month that an effort is underway in Congress to repeal the onerous federal law that has caused this destructive process in a number of states: U.S. Representative Beto O'Rourke (D-TX-16) has introduced bipartisan legislation with Representatives Justin Amash (R-MI-3), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY-8), Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI-5), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-10), and Mia Love (R-UT-4) that would repeal a 26-year-old federal law that mandates states to automatically suspend driver's licenses for anyone convicted of a drug offense or risk losing federal highway aid money.

Since this mandate was adopted in 1991, 38 states [and the District of Columbia] have opted-out, demonstrating that the policy is counterproductive.

A 2015 Boston Globe article describe the hardships the law has caused:

The 26-year-old law was designed, in part, to deter drug use.

There's little evidence it has served as a deterrent. However, it has left tens of thousands of former convicts struggling to find work and do other basic things, like get to the grocery store. On a snow-encrusted day last winter, [Edwin] Melendez had to bundle his infant son to his chest and set out to the hospital on foot when he feared the boy was catching pneumonia.

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