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BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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OKC(Photo: Murrah Federal Building, by Leonard Brakebill)In the little over a month since Donald Trump took the White House, chaos has reigned supreme with executive orders, massive leaks, attacks on the press, a bevy of policy proposals, and the ratcheting up of the level of incidents of domestic hate across the nation. One Trump administration proposal that has slipped by relatively unnoticed has Team Trump signaling that it would de-emphasize combatting homegrown right-wing extremism and terrorism, and totally focus on fanning the flames of fear of Islamic terrorism.

Last week, after hurling ethnic slurs and questioning the immigration status of Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani, two immigrants from India relaxing after work at Austins Bar and Grill in Olathe, Kansas, Adam W. Purinton was thrown out of the bar. A short time later, he returned with a vengeance, firing on the two men, killing Kuchibhotia and wounding Madasani, and a 24-year-old man who tried to apprehend Purinton as he fled. "In Washington," The New York Times reported, "White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, rejected any link between Mr. Trump's policy agenda and the shooting, which many Indians believed might have been inspired by the president's harsh tone on immigration."

In early February, it was reported that the Trump administration was seriously considering removing neo-Nazis and white supremacists from the government's counter-extremism program, and concentrating on Islamic terrorists. The possible changes go against recent statistics showing that the number of anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim incidents have increased since the first of the year and that over the past year, the number of neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups have grown. 

"Violent extremist threats come from a range of groups and individuals, including domestic terrorists and homegrown violent extremists in the United States, as well as international terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS. Lone offenders or small groups may be radicalized to commit violence at home or attempt to travel overseas to become foreign fighters. The use of the Internet and social media to recruit and radicalize individuals to violence means that conventional approaches are unlikely to identify and disrupt all terrorist plots," reads the current description of the program called Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) website. 

JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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Migrant 0224wrp opt(Photo: Dorothea Lange)John Steinbeck's novel "Grapes of Wrath." Woody Guthrie's ballad "Deportee." Edward R. Murrow's documentary "Harvest of Shame." Every decade or so, the public is shocked by yet another discovery that migrant farmworkers are being horribly abused by the wealthy masters of the corporate food system. And here we go again.

Last November, the New York Times reported that the workers who grow and harvest the cornucopia of fruit and veggies in the rich fields of California's Salinas Valley live in a constant crisis of poverty, malnutrition and homelessness. Toiling in "America's salad bowl," they literally cannot afford to eat the fresh, nutritious edibles they produce.

The Valley is a gold mine of groceries, generating billions of dollars in sales that have enriched landowners and corporate executives and turned Salinas Valley into farm country with Silicon Valley prices. Unable to afford good food, the workers eat poorly — 85 percent are overweight or obese, and nearly six out of 10 have been diagnosed with diabetes (while many more, uninsured and unable to afford testing, go undiagnosed). Especially appalling, about a third of elementary schoolchildren in the Salinas City district are homeless. They sleep with their families in tents, abandoned buildings, tool sheds, chicken coops, or on the ground, next to the rows of crops they tend.

Allowing such abject poverty in our fields of abundance is more than shameful — it's an oozing sore on our national soul, made even more immoral by the fact that our society throws 40 percent of our food into the garbage. But outrageous treatment of farmworkers is not limited to Salinas — you can likely find it down some rural road near you. When we find it, let's act on it. Yes, donate money and time to food banks, but it's even more important for us to join with farmworkers in local, state, and national political actions to STOP this gross, un-American inequity.

Friday, 24 February 2017 05:45

The Peril of Nuclear War in the Age of Trump

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

isaiahploughshareIsaiah: "Let Us Beat Our Swords into Plowshares" (Photo: Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

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The possibility of nuclear war is no longer theoretical.

In an interview with Reuters this week, Donald Trump boasted that the US would ratchet up its nuclear weapons to dominate nuclear capability throughout the world:

President Donald Trump said on Thursday he wants to ensure the U.S. nuclear arsenal is at the "top of the pack," saying the United States has fallen behind in its weapons capacity....

"It would be wonderful, a dream would be that no country would have nukes, but if countries are going to have nukes, we're going to be at the top of the pack," Trump said.

Russia has 7,000 warheads and the United States, 6,800, according to the Ploughshares Fund, an anti-nuclear group.

If Trump carried through on this promise, it could mean reneging on the New START Treaty of 2010 signed by President Obama, or perhaps just violating it by expanding the US ability to utilize nuclear weapons. The New START agreement placed definitive limits on US and Russian nuclear delivery systems and bombs, according to Reuters.

Thursday, 23 February 2017 08:14

Costa Rica Has the Right Idea: No Military​

2017.23.2 BF Koehler(Photo: Pixabay)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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"This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron."

Dwight Eisenhower gave the world some extraordinary rhetoric -- indeed, his words have the sting of ironic shrapnel, considering how little they have influenced the direction of the country and the world in the last six decades.

"These plain and cruel truths define the peril and point the hope that come with this spring of 1953," he told the American Society of Newspaper Editors nearly 64 years ago. "This is one of those times in the affairs of nations when the gravest choices must be made, if there is to be a turning toward a just and lasting peace. It is a moment that calls upon the governments of the world to speak their intentions with simplicity and with honesty. It calls upon them to answer the question that stirs the hearts of all sane men: Is there no other way the world may live?"

2017.23.2 BF Berkowitz(Photo: Sharon Graphics)BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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It is reprehensible to decide that the alt-right white supremacist provocateur Milo Yiannopolos is a suitable guest for your program, but Bill Maher went one step ignobly further by bringing him on and then staging a bromance in prime time. Coming on during the post-monologue, pre-panel part of Maher's HBO "Real Time" show, the host treated Yiannopolos as a fellow martyr to the cause of free speech. Maher's current claim, that Yiannopolos' appearance on Maher's program hastened his downfall, rings hollow to this longtime viewer. What I took away from Maher's conversation with Yiannopolos was Maher sympathizing with Yiannopolos over the rowdy reception he received on the UC Berkeley campus, which caused his appearance to be cancelled.

Instead of honing in on any of Yiannopolos' offensive views about LGBT people, Jews, Muslims, liberals, immigrants, Black people and other minorities, Maher spent a good part of the conversation trashing liberals for not allowing Yiannopolos (birth name: Milo Hanrahan) to speak at a public forum.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

6116744005 7edcffd9d3 zBoston Harbor (Photo: Bertrand Duperrin)

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Anyone who reads Truthout reporter Dahr Jamail's work on the deleterious impacts of climate change knows that it is not a theoretical threat. However, we live in a time when the administration of Donald Trump is silencing talk of climate change -- and research about it -- in the federal government. The gap between Jamail's on-site researched reporting and current national public policy is immensely troubling and ominous for the future of the planet and its people.

Although the Earth-altering impact of climate change could become catastrophic, it is not immediately visible to many people. Therefore, it remains an abstract threat to them -- not an immediate concern. However, that has not deterred many states and local communities from preparing for some of the destruction that will likely result from climate change.

That's the case with Boston, which according to The Boston Globe is considering a giant sea barrier to protect the heart of the city from rising water:

As rising sea levels pose a growing threat to Boston’s future, city officials are exploring the feasibility of building a vast sea barrier from Hull to Deer Island, forming a protective arc around Boston Harbor.

The idea, raised in a recent city report on the local risks of climate change, sounds like a pipe dream, a project that could rival the Big Dig in complexity and cost. It’s just one of several options, but the sea wall proposal is now under serious study by a team of some of the region’s top scientists and engineers, who recently received a major grant to pursue their research.

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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Nye 0222wrp(Photo: Ed Schipul)Last year, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson feuded with rapper B.o.B. over his belief that the world is flat. About a year later, Tyson's friend and science educator Bill Nye is contesting professional basketball player Kyrie Irving's own "Flat Earth" claims.

It all started when the Cleveland Cavaliers point guard appeared on a recent "Road Trippin' with RJ and Channing" podcast hosted by teammates Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye and discussed conspiracy theories.

"This is not even a conspiracy. The Earth is flat. The Earth is flat. The Earth is flat," Irving insisted, as USA Today detailed about the Feb. 17 show.

"For what I've known for as many years and what I've come to believe, what I've been taught, is that the Earth is round," he continued. "But if you really think about it from a landscape of the way we travel, the way we move, and the fact that—can you really think of us rotating around the sun and all planets aligned, rotating in specific dates, being perpendicular with what's going on with these planets?"

He seemed to double down on these claims in a later interview with Sports Illustrated. Even when the All Star athlete was asked if he's seen photos of our round Blue Marble, Irving responded, "I've seen a lot of things that my education system said was real that turned out to be completely fake."

BILL QUIGLEY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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ICE 0222wrp(Photo: US Immigration and Customs Enforcement)Resistance to unjust government action is the duty of all people who care about human rights. 

As Dr. King reminded us in his letter from a Birmingham jail, “Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.”

It is now clear that Latinos and Muslims are Trump’s first target for government actions.  The orders just released put ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and US Customs and Border Protection on steroids.  These new policies also will have a devastating impact on LGBTQ , as well as Black and Muslim communities.

Here are ten recent examples of how people are directly resisting.

2017.21.2 Bf berkowitz(Photo: Gage Skidmore)BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Keeping watch on the Trump-Pence administration is a dirty job, but it’s a responsibility that we take seriously. Support Truthout and BuzzFlash in this pursuit: Make a tax-deductible donation!

Neo-Nazis and white supremacists in the U.S. are increasingly hopeful that they’ve got a comrade in the White House. On February 19, Haaretz's Allison Kaplan Sommer reported that "At the website The Daily Stormer – named after the Nazi-era newspaper Der Stürmer – editor Andrew Anglin wrote that the [Trump] press conference 'was one of the greatest things I've ever witnessed in my life. From start to finish, it was simply beautiful. He blasted the media, the Jews, Mexicans, Obama – all of his/our enemies.'"

And, in a classic blame the victim stance that appears to come out of an Alex Jones playbook, Trump seemed to accuse his opponents of initiating anti-Semitic incidents in order to defame and disparage him.

During the one-hour and fifteen-minute presidential advertorial, Trump lashed out at Jake Turx, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish reporter from Ami Magazine, for asking what was basically a "softball" question about how Trump intended to deal with rising incidents of anti-Semitism in the U.S. Turx's question came after he "first flattered the U.S. president by using the Yiddish name for grandfather," according to Sommer.

2017.21.2 BF Buchheit(Photo: Michael Fleshman)PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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Yes, inequality is getting worse every year. In early 2016 Oxfam reported that just 62 individuals had the same wealth as the bottom half of humanity. About a year later Oxfam reported that just 8 men had the same wealth as the world's bottom half. Based on the same methodology and data sources used by Oxfam, that number is now down to 6. 

How to account for the dramatic increase in the most flagrant and perverse of extreme inequalities? Two well-documented reasons: (1) The poorest half (and more) of the world has continued to lose wealth; and (2) The VERY richest individuals -- especially the top thousand or so -- continue to add billions of dollars to their massive fortunes. 

Inequality deniers and apologists say the Oxfam methodology is flawed, but they're missing the big picture. Whether it's 6 individuals or 62 or 1,000 doesn't really matter. The data from the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook (GWD) and the Forbes Billionaire List provide the best available tools to make it clear that inequality is extreme and pathological and getting worse every year.

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