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Education 0525wrp(Photo: Alan Levine / Flickr)

KIMBERLY MANNS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

As a Black woman growing up in predominantly white neighborhoods and schools in Dallas, one of the most segregated cities in the US, I have since spent my professional life working to increase access to educational and economic resources for marginalized Black communities.

In that process, I've intimately experienced the symbiotic relationship between the systemic oppression of Black communities and the concentration of power -- including financial, political and social capital -- in predominantly white communities.

As managing director of Early Matters Dallas -- a program engaging stakeholders including parents, community business and philanthropic leaders to increase access to better early childhood outcomes -- I have learned that power, when used competently, expands. It is a false assumption that power is forever limited as a rule and not a fluid commodity.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

parademilitaryjpgTrump evaded service in Vietnam, but he will get his self-serving military parade. (Photo: DVIDSHUB)

Last year, Trump was so impressed with the French Bastille military parade he saw in Paris, while conferring with French Prime Minister Macron, that he vowed to hold one in the United States. Like many strongman leaders, Trump is bent on ensuring that the US the strongest military power on the planet. So when Trump returned to the US, he proposed an armed forces military parade on Veteran's Day, November 11.

Some analysts speculated that the parade would never happen, and that it was just one of Trump's passing authoritarian ideas. However, the project just came one giant step closer to reality when the House of Representatives passed a Defense Department appropriations bill yesterday that included authorization of the display of military might. That must have heartened Trump for a moment because he asserted that the parade would be "something great for the spirit of the country."

It will be a triumphal Trump simulation of military leadership, as the parade route runs from the White House to the Capitol. Medal of Honor recipients will ring Trump on the viewing stand in a display that will bolster the image of a self-styled leader of military might and compassion for veterans.

 

Thursday, 24 May 2018 06:42

Embracing Kids Instead of Arming Them

ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUTkoehler 5 24 18What happens to kids who grow up feeling valued? Fabrice Florin

Let’s open the classroom doors -- all of them. Open up the schools, open up America, looking for the lost souls.

"Woo hoo!" he shouted as he fired off his guns. By the time he was done, ten more people were dead. Eight students, two teachers. 

More sacred lives tossed to the God of War.

The murders at Santa Fe High School, in Santa Fe, Texas, on May 18 were "the fourth-deadliest mass shooting at a U.S. public school in modern history," according to Reuters, as though such stats help us grasp what happened, and why. Perhaps in a way they accomplish the opposite -- converting the deaths to numbers, filing them away in the national memory as the news cycle moves on.

But we all know the next horror headline is waiting to be written.

 

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

trumptwitjpgJudge rules that Trump cannot block Twitter critics. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

It is ironic that a reactionary president has made the use of a modern social platform his key tool for manipulating the media and communicating with his supporters and the public at large. Twitter, an essential tool of contemporary communications, is used by Trump to embed his narrative into the news flow and to redirect the media at will.

In past administrations, news conferences, press releases, formal speeches and press secretary briefings were the primary means by which presidential policy was conveyed. This slowed down the news cycle in comparison to the current era of Trump, when the mainstream corporate media feels the need to report on nearly every one of the president's tweets.

Trump has mastered directing news cycles to meet his communication goals by feeding the media beast with blasts of tweets timed to the move the media in one direction or another in terms of coverage. His tweets also are particularly used as key news pegs on cable news programs, especially Fox. Indeed, it has long been speculated that Trump receives many of his tweet ideas from the likes of Sean Hannity, who then goes on to emphasize the perspective of the Trump tweets.

Trump's objectives with these tweets are often more reflective of a political strategy than of the immediate subject at hand.

DONNA CLINE FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

cline 5 24 18Policy makers must work to end the criminalization of homelessness. scribbletaylor

Justin Abbott was sleeping under an overpass on a stormy Florida afternoon when two police officers approached, woke him up and told him to leave. Abbott refused. Things took a turn for the worse as the officers attackedAbbott for refusing to leave, sending all three to the hospital. Abbott ultimately went to jail, arrested for trespassing and resisting a law enforcement officer with violence.

The officers involved in the encounter were cleared of any wrongdoing. The encounter only made the news after two witnesses passing by captured it on their cell phones and posted it to social media. 

Unfortunately, police encounters like this one are a possibility for many homeless individuals in the United States. Actions associated with homelessness, such as panhandling or resisting an officer for refusing to leave a specific area, lead to arrest and jail. A 2015 report noted that as many as 15 percent of Americans incarcerated each year report being homeless. Indeed, homeless individuals are re-arrested at rates higher than individuals with stable housing.

Simply having a criminal record can be a bar to obtaining adequate housing or employment, which helps fuel the cycle of homelessness.

KATHY KELLY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Yemen 0523wrp optA malnourished little girl with her mother in Yemen. (Photo: lastextremeanonymous / Flickr)On May 10, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia informed the UN Security Council and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres that Saudi Air Defenses intercepted two Houthi ballistic missiles launched from inside Yemeni territory targeting densely populated civilian areas in Riyadh, the Saudi capital. No one was killed, but an earlier attack, on March 26, 2018, killed one Egyptian worker in Riyadh and an April 28 attack killed a Saudi man.

Unlike the unnumbered victims of the Saudis' own ongoing bombardment of Yemen, these two precious, irreplaceable lives are easy to document and count. Death tolls have become notoriously difficult to count accurately in Yemen. Three years of U.S.-supported blockades and bombardments have plunged the country into immiseration and chaos.

In their May 10th request, the Saudis asked the UN to implement "all relevant Security Council resolutions in order to prevent the smuggling of additional weapons to the Houthis, and to hold violators of the arms embargo accountable." The letter accuses Iran of furnishing the Houthi militias with stockpiles of ballistic missiles, UAVs and sea mines. The Saudis' letter omits mention of massive U.S. weapons exports to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Wealth 0523wrp opt(Photo: TMAB2003 / Flickr)In the fierce labor wars of the last century, industrial barons employed Pinkertons and other goons to bloody the heads of laborers or simply gun down those struggling for a share of economic and political power. It was brutal, but organized workers persevered and eventually gained a share of economic and political power. From their sweat and blood, America's middle class flowered.

Today, the bands of nouveau corporate royalists (with coats of arms bearing such names as Mercer, DeVos and Koch) are determined to take back those middle-class gains of yesteryear. They are working to achieve this through a coordinated, long-term campaign to crush the ability of working people to unionize, bust America's middle-class wage structure, eliminate job security and emasculate government as a force capable of controlling corporate avarice and arrogance.

These latter-day royalists are employing a more sophisticated thuggery than brute force (though don't think they wouldn't resort to it). Instead, their goons are more likely to be in Gucci than brogans, using dollars and computers rather than clubs and guns. They have been recruiting, financing, training, deploying and coordinating thousands of political operatives to work through hundreds of front groups, law firms, think tanks, PACs, lobbying offices, media and PR consortiums, faux academic centers, astroturf campaigns and, of course , compliant politicians.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

carloanjpgTrump signs off on racial discrimination in car loans. (Photo: GotCredit)

While Trump and the Republicans were demanding to know about the FBI informant who probed some staffers in the Trump campaign about alleged Russian meddling in the election, and while Trump's tweets were sucking up the mainstream media news, there was another development that went almost unnoticed. It is the kind of action that sets the US back on guaranteeing equal racial rights, and it is typical of many moves by the Trump administration and Congress to backtrack on civil rights.

What happened is that on Monday, Trump -- behind closed doors -- signed an arcane congressional action that would allow car dealers to discriminate against people of color seeking to buy vehicles. The Independent reported on the signing of the bill:

Congress voted last month to overturn guidance from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that targeted “dealer markups” -- interest rate hikes that auto dealers place on third-party auto loans to make a profit. Mr Trump signed the bill into law on Monday in a private session.

Studies have shown minorities are regularly charged more for dealer markups than white buyers with similar credit. The CFPB warned dealers in 2013 against using these markups, saying they could lead to a lawsuit from the agency. Since then, the bureau has penalized major companies like Honda, Toyota, and Ally Financial for lending discrimination.

In fact, a recent study by the National Fair Housing Alliance (NHFA) -- entitled, "Discrimination When Buying a Car: How the Color of Your Skin Can Affect Your Car-Shopping Experience" -- sent out non-white and white testers with fake credentials to auto dealerships. All the white testers' credentials showed they had less income and were less eligible than the non-white testers for dealership car loans.

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT 

800px Bears Alaska 3Brown bears in Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska.

The Trump administration has proposed new regulations to overturn an Obama-era rule that protects iconic predators in Alaska's national preserves.

Wildlife protection organizations condemned the move, as it would allow hunters to go to den sites to shoot wolf pups and bear cubs, lure and kill bears over bait, hunt bears with dogs and use motor boats to shoot swimming caribou. Such hunting methods were banned on federal lands in 2015 that are otherwise permitted by the state.

The proposed rule, posted Tuesday in the federal register and pushed by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, "would remove a regulatory provision issued by the National Park Service (NPS) in 2015 that prohibited certain sport hunting practices that are otherwise permitted by the State of Alaska."

 

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

sandyhookgunsNo end in sight to the tidal wave of guns in the United States. (Photo: Patrick Feller)

The school massacres and shootings keep mounting. It is an epidemic. There are so many that we tend to bury past school gun deaths at the backs of our minds. After all, it was not long ago, in 2012, that the grotesque killings occurred at Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut. The nation was in shock until the next mass shootings. As CBS News reported about the incident:

Adam Lanza … who reportedly had a preoccupation with mass shootings, in particular the 1999 Columbine massacre, killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, and then drove to the elementary school, where he shot and killed 26 people, including 20 first-graders, in less than 11 minutes, before taking his own life. Two other school staffers were wounded by gunfire.

As with each mass shooting in the United States, there were calls for gun reform. However, six years later, we are still waiting on the federal level to achieve any substantial positive change in the nation's gun laws. In fact, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has quietly passed bills in Congress that ease gun control, rather than make it tighter. Furthermore, the NRA bats down gun reform bills like pesky mosquitoes. How long has it been since Columbine? The only congressional action since then on assault weapons was to remove the ban on them in 2004.

Trump has also signed executive orders that favor NRA positions. The NRA spent approximately $31 million to help elect Trump president. Ironically, Trump recently attended the annual NRA convention in Dallas, and he spoke in a gun-free zone. Yes, the Secret Service had all attendees who wanted to hear the president walk through metal detectors to ensure that they were not carrying firearms. The same was true for Vice President Pence, who spoke to the group earlier. Apparently, Trump and Pence are beneficiaries of gun-free zones, but students are not.

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