MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In a partial list of Obama administration regulations that have been reversed by Congress or Trump, The New York Times notes:
These are just a few of the more than 90 regulations that federal agencies and the Republican-controlled Congress have delayed, suspended or reversed in the month and a half since President Trump took office, according to a tally by The New York Times.
The Obama administration's ban on the use of lead bullets on federal lands was repealed on March 2 by newly confirmed Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke on his first day in office. EcoWatch reports on advocates' highly critical reaction to Zinke's order:
"Switching to nontoxic ammunition should be a no-brainer to save the lives of thousands birds and other wildlife, prevent hunters and their families from being exposed to toxic lead and protect our water," said Jonathan Evans, the Center for Biological Diversity's environmental health legal director.
"It's ironic that one of the first actions by Secretary Zinke, who fancies himself a champion of hunters and anglers, leads to poisoning of game and waterfowl eaten by those same hunting families," said Evans. "It's another sad day for public health and wildlife under the Trump presidency when special interests again prevail over common-sense environmental safeguards."
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
recent work by Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, and Gabriel Zucman; and from the 2015-2016 Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databooks (GWD). The data relevant to this report is summarized here.
The Richest 1% Extracted Wealth from Every Other Segment of Society
These multi-millionaires effectively shifted nearly $4 trillion in wealth away from the rest of the nation to themselves in 2016. While there's no need to offer condolences to the rest of the top 10%, who still have an average net worth of $1.3 million, nearly half of the wealth transfer ($1.94 trillion) came from the nation's poorest 90% -- the middle and lower classes, according to Piketty and Saez and Zucman. That's over $17,000 in housing and savings per lower-to-middle-class household lost to the super-rich.
Put another way, the average 1% household took an additional $3 million of our national wealth in one year while education and infrastructure went largely unfunded.
It Gets Worse: Each MIDDLE-CLASS Household Lost $35,000 to the 1%
According to Piketty and Saez and Zucman, the true middle class is "the group of adults with income between the median and the 90th percentile." This group of 50 million households lost $1.76 trillion of their wealth in 2016, or over $35,000 each. That's a $35,000 decline in housing and financial assets, with possibly increased debt, for every middle-class household.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
When San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee last year during the playing of the National Anthem before NFL games to protest police brutality and racial injustice, the whole world began paying attention. When news broke that Kaepernick, should he re-sign with the 49ers or sign on with another team, will no longer kneel before games, "the cynics lined up quickly," the San Francisco Chronicle's Al Saracevic recently reported. Regardless of whether or not Kaepernick chooses to kneel, the protests he initiated have had a major impact on our nation.
First, here’s some inside football.
Last year, Kaepernick signed a deal with the 49ers allowing him to opt of his contract, and sign with another team, which he exercised this past Friday. After a sensational start to his career – leading the team to a Super Bowl appearance -- he has not been nearly as productive over the past few seasons, and, coupled with his protest – which was supported by 49er management -- other teams may be reluctant to sign him. The 49ers, now with a new coach, Kyle Shanahan, and new general manager, John Lynch, may decide that no matter how desperately it needs a quarterback -- and it needs one desperately -- Kaepernick's performance on the field, and the spotlight brought on the team by his, and a few teammates’ protests, are too much of a distraction.
The “distraction” issue, as some of his critics charged, was put to rest this past season, when his 49er teammates voted Kaepernick the prestigious Len Eshmont Award for inspiration and courage. According to the team’s website, the Eshmont Award, is given to the teammate who "best exemplifies the inspirational and courageous play of Len Eshmont, an original member of the 1946 49ers team.”
No matter what Kaepernick decides to do -- re-sign with the 49ers, sign on with another team, or hang up his cleats -- the protests definitely sparked a much-needed national conversation. And if he doesn't play another down in his life, Kaepernick has made a significant contribution helping to re-light the fire of activism among athletes; a fire started decades ago by Paul Robeson, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Bill Russell, Mahmoud Abdul Raouf, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, John Carlos, Tommie Smith, and many others.
LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
wastewater injection volumes, Oklahoma has once again been named the state with the highest risk of human-induced earthquakes, according to new seismicity maps released Wednesday by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).Despite a crackdown on
Geologists believe that these man-made quakes are triggered by wastewater from oil and gas operations being injected into deep underground wells. These fluids can cause pressure changes to faults and makes them more likely to move.
This process has been blamed for the Sooner State's alarming rise in seismic activity. Between 1980 and 2000, Oklahoma averaged only two earthquakes greater than or equal to magnitude 2.7—the level at which ground shaking can be felt—per year.
But in 2014, the numbers jumped to about 2,500 in 2014, 4,000 in 2015 and 2,500 in 2016.
The USGS said that the decline in 2016 quakes could be due to injection restrictions implemented by the state officials. According to Bloomberg, "State regulators aiming to curb the tremors have imposed new production rules cutting disposal volumes by about 800,000 barrels a day and limiting potential for future disposal by 2 million barrels a day."
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
After all the Trump-Pence campaign attacks on Hillary Clinton over her use of a private email account and server for government business, emails released to The Indianapolis Star have revealed that, while serving as governor of Indiana, Mike Pence used a private AOL email account to discuss security issues -- and the account was hacked last summer.
The vice president's office is scrambling to justify Pence's occasional use of a private account for official issues while governor, but the attempt to draw a distinction with Hillary Clinton because she used a separate server and he didn't is easily debunked. After all, Pence's email, on a personal AOL account, was indeed hacked -- and the primary issue with Clinton's separate account while in the State Department was the security of her correspondence. By that standard, Pence failed because his private email account was penetrated at least once.
The Indianapolis Star broke the story on March 2. Terry Cook of the Star wrote:
Emails released to The Indianapolis Star, part of the USA TODAY Network, in response to a public records request show Pence communicated via his personal AOL account with top advisers on topics ranging from security gates at the governor’s residence to the state’s response to terror attacks across the globe. In one email, Pence’s top state homeland security adviser relayed an update from the FBI regarding the arrests of several men on federal terror-related charges.
Cybersecurity experts say the emails raise concerns about whether such sensitive information was adequately protected from hackers, given that personal accounts like Pence's are typically less secure than government email accounts. In fact, Pence's personal account was hacked last summer.
JIM HIGHTOWER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Those who say that we ordinary people can't have any effect on today's corporate behemoths should check out two breakthroughs last year by a group the establishment has long derided as somewhere between wacko and criminal: animal rights activists. Members of groups like the Humane Society get demonized, outlawed, sued and jailed by agribusiness interests for persisting in trying to make life even slightly less awful for animals captured in America's industrial food system. But 2016 was a good year for those groups ... and for the animals.
Let's look at Perdue Farms. Perdue is a $6 billion poultry giant (the fourth largest in the US, producing 676 million chickens in 2015). It has been a major pusher of the industry line that there's nothing wrong or cruel about breeding birds with breasts so heavy that they can't stand, or keeping them jammed so tightly in cages that they can't spread their wings, or denying them access to the outdoors -- or even sunlight. But Jim Perdue, grandson of the founder and now CEO, was having trouble reconciling his corporation's rhetoric with hard reality. After listening to critics, he began discussing alternatives with the animal rights group Compassion in World Farming.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
And the word of the moment is . . . opportunity:
"What unites our party is a belief in opportunity, the idea that however you started out, whatever you look like, whoever you love, America is the place you can make it if you try."
Could you be any more tepid? The words were those of the former president the other day, giving his blessing to the naming of Tom Perez as the new chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Perez is the safe, establishment choice to lead the party forward into the maelstrom of Trump, under a banner that seems garishly inoffensive: Tolerate our differences, give everyone a chance.
There's nothing wrong with this, of course, and the idea of "tolerance" may even have resonated with controversy half a century ago, but today it has the hollow ring of an ad slogan.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, long a critic of public education and a promoter of charter schools, opportunistically used historical Black colleges this week to promote "school choice" -- a euphemistic term used to describe alternatives to public education including charter schools and vouchers. A February 28 NBC News article describes the backlash to her comments:
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos drew wide-spread criticism after describing historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) as "pioneers when it comes to school choice"…
DeVos made the comment in a meeting with dozens of HBCU presidents who had met with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office Monday.
In a statement released after a listening session with the leaders, Devos noted that "HBCUs are real pioneers when it comes to school choice. They are living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and greater quality. Their success has shown that more options help students flourish."
Many were quick to point out, however, that HBCUs were born out of a lack of options for black Americans following the Civil War -- when segregation and Jim Crow laws barred them from attending institutions of higher education.
DeVos was barely confirmed as secretary of education, with Vice President Mike Pence needing to rescue her nomination by breaking a 50-50 vote deadlock in the Senate in his role as president of that branch of Congress. Two Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, voted against DeVos, citing her opposition to public schools and her lack of understanding of the role of public education in urban and rural settings. The New York Times reported that "it was the first time a vice president has been summoned to the Capitol to break a tie on a cabinet nomination."
LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
A federal judge said at a hearing in San Francisco on Monday that he is likely to grant the deposition of Rowland, a key figure named in multi-district cancer lawsuits alleging that Monsanto failed to warn about the cancer risks associated with exposure to glyphosate.
"My reaction is when you consider the relevance of the EPA's reports, and you consider their relevance to this litigation, it seems appropriate to take Jess Rowland's deposition," U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria said at the hearing.
The plaintiffs' lawyers argue that Rowland had a "highly suspicious" relationship with Monsanto, Bloomberg reported.
RHEA SUH OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
chaos of President Trump's first month in office, on one point he's been all too clear: He is dead set on destroying the commonsense safeguards we all depend on to protect our environment and health, crippling our government's ability to stand up to industrial polluters and shutting down the voice of the people in those actions that most impact our lives.For all the bewilderment and
As early as this week, Trump is expected to escalate this assault with orders that could threaten our waters, public lands and hopes of leaving our children a livable world. He is reportedly poised to direct his administration to rewrite the Clean Power Plan (the single-most important tool we have for cutting the U.S. carbon pollution that's helping to drive climate change), rewrite the Clean Water Rule (putting at risk wetlands and streams that feed drinking water sources for 117 million Americans) and lift the moratorium on new coal leases on our public lands.
And let's be just as clear as to who'll pay the price for this reckless assault on our values and rights: our families, workers, communities and kids. That is not okay.
It's all according to a plan ripped straight out of the playbook of big oil, coal and gas. And, like so much else we've seen from this administration so far, it's built on the sand of state-sponsored deceit.