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nancypelosi2The Republicans continue to smear Nancy Pelosi in efforts to retain a majority in the House. (Photo: NASA HQ PHOTO)

At BuzzFlash and Truthout we never shy away from criticizing powerful corporate and political forces. Support this work by making a tax-deductible donation now.

Will Nancy Pelosi continue to be the gift that keeps on giving election victories to Republicans? Since she was first elected Speaker of the House in 2007, the Republican Party has been unrelenting in its anti-Pelosi bashing, with it basically becoming the number one item in the Republican Party’s congressional electoral playbook. With the Trump presidency at stake in this year’s mid-term elections, will demonizing Pelosi -- the wealthy San Francisco-based Democrat who would likely become Speaker of the House if Democrats win control -- continue to be the hook that the GOP hangs its politics on? Can what has been the tried and true strategy of tying Democratic congressional candidates to Pelosi work again this year? Or, will the GOP and its surrogates blend anti-Pelosi rhetoric with other issues?

Pelosi’s advisers estimated that in 2010, “Republicans devoted more than $50 million in negative advertising targeting her that election season,” The Washington Post's Paul Kane reported. In early February, CNN’s Chris Cillizza pointed out that “That number has likely tripled over the last seven years.”

In a recent speech in Cincinnati, President Trump said: "Nancy Pelosi -- what she's doing to this country. And she's gone so far left, and (Chuck) Schumer has gone so far left. Oh, I look forward to running against them."

"Every morning I wake up and I take a moment to be thankful that the Republican Party still has Nancy Pelosi because Nancy Pelosi is absolutely toxic," Corry Bliss, who runs a Republican super PAC, told the Washington Times in June of last year.

She may be toxic to Republicans, but Pelosi has demonstrated that she can get things done. Since 2003, when she became the Democrats’ House leader, “She pushes hard for liberal policies, but also has a keen understanding of what legislation can’t get through Congress, no matter how much she may personally favor it. She has probably done a better job of keeping her caucus unified, in the majority and minority, than any other recent congressional leader, The New York Times David Leonhardt recently pointed out.


Capitalism 0322wrp opt(Photo: The Hamster Factor / Flickr)Today's captains of corporate capitalism like to think of themselves not as mere businesspeople, but as modern society's genius "innovators."

Sounds positive... until you ask the key question: Innovation for what purpose? After all, some of society's most inventive minds are flimflammers, Ponzi-schemers, gamers and embezzlers. Sure enough, an inordinate amount of the innovation comes out of corporate suites these days, amounting to shameless schemes to dupe and rip off rank and file workers.

The latest of these is a hustle called "gamification," an attempt by such giants as T-Mobile and Walt Disney to give game-like, "psychological" prizes to employees rather than giving pay raises or cash bonuses. As the honchos of United Airlines learned, however, not everyone bites the corporate bait.

Thursday, 22 March 2018 07:04

Normalizing the United States of Violence


War 0322wrp opt(Photo: Stewart Black / Flickr)Addressing the Parkland shootings last month, and the apparent emergence of a movement for tougher, saner gun laws that has followed, a USA Today article asked: "What has been so different from all the other mass shootings over the years?"

In one sense, this is a reasonable question. Why now? Why didn't it happen after, you know . . . Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs, Orlando, Charleston, Sandy Hook, Aurora? And the list goes on.

But, come on. Doesn't something stunningly horrifying resonate, however faintly, in these words? How can this phrase — "all the other mass shootings?" — be out there with such matter-of-fact, cheerful neutrality, such ordinariness?

The answer, of course, is that this is a violent — an increasingly violent — country. But I still feel a disbelieving cry echo somewhere deep in my being as I read these words, and refuse to simply push on. It's almost as though the wording in this paragraph contains not just the question but the answer: If the slaughter of innocent people can be folded so neatly into a phrase, "mass shooting," allowing us to categorize one, then another, then another act of senseless carnage and file it away as recent history, then move on with our lives, might that not be a serious cause of the nothing-we-can-do-about-it syndrome gripping America?


valuevotersphotoTrump's character no longer counts for many evangelical voters. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

In opposing Democratic candidates, white evangelical voters and leaders have long been tenacious in attacking the Democratic Party as disrespectful of family values. This was particularly true in the attacks on Bill Clinton during his two terms, and ultimately lead to the failed impeachment effort against him. (This is not to defend Clinton, but to point to the way in which evangelicals framed the debate.) In short, the white evangelicals -- and the Republican Party, of which evangelicals are a key constituency -- trumpeted the idea that character matters.

However, that appears to have changed, according to a just-released New Morning Consult/POLITICO Poll:

An October 2016 survey, conducted in the wake of the release of the 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape featuring Trump talking about groping women in crude terms, showed 54 percent of white evangelicals viewing Trump favorably. But one week into his presidency that figure had risen to 74 percent. (In the latest Morning Consult/Politico survey, it was 69 percent, inside the 5-point margin of error for that subgroup.) [80% of white evangelicals had voted for Trump.]

The Washington Post corroborates these findings in a January 29 article:

A Washington Post-ABC News poll released this month found 68 percent of white evangelical Protestants approve of Trump’s job performance — a figure that is nearly double that of the population as a whole and that is higher than any other religious or demographic group.


Cash0321wrp opt(Photo: Jackie / Flickr)Over the past several months, firearms companies and gun dealers are complaining about a "Trump Slump," with several companies reporting disappointing sales. Nevertheless, many states remain economically dependent on the firearms industry.

In a new report titled "2018's States Most Dependent on the Gun Industry," the personal finance website, WalletHub, "compared the economic impact of guns on each of the 50 states to determine which among them leans most heavily on the gun business, both directly for jobs and political contributions and indirectly through ownership."

How heavily does your state depend on the firearms industry? Where does your state stand in relation to the rest of the nation, in terms of gun industry jobs, political contributions from gun advocacy organizations, and gun ownership?

Wednesday, 21 March 2018 06:58

A Culture of Violence That Starts at the Top


Bell 0321wrp opt(Photo: Bradley Weber / Flickr)When presenting its foreign policy goals, the Trump administration has used particularly shocking language, intensifying a culture of violence in Washington that is spreading fear throughout much of the world.

Over the past year, administration officials have called for "viciousness" in espionage operations, "lethality" in military programs and the "annihilation" of US enemies. Although President Trump recently called on the US people to create a culture that "condemns violence and never glorifies violence," his administration has continuously called for more violent military operations throughout the world.

To some degree, the Trump administration's penchant for violence is nothing new. Both the Bush and Obama administrations embraced violent military interventions as solutions to global problems. All three administrations maintained a continuous war on terror, one that has claimed more than 370,000 lives, according to the Costs of War Project at Brown University.


BLM2Is the oil derrick our new symbol for Bureau of Land Management public lands? (Photo: PEER)

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) oversees approximately 258 million acres of land and 700 acres of "subsurface mineral estate," according to allgov.com, which is approximately 13 percent of the US land mass. It is administered through the Department of the Interior under pro-industry Secretary Ryan Zinke. Created by President Harry Truman in 1946, the BLM oversees 40 percent of the land owned by the US government, most of it in Western states and Alaska.

The mission of the BLM has been to balance environmental, recreational and heritage concerns with commercial exploration. However, as a recent article in Truthout details, under the Trump administration and Zinke, that balance has dramatically shifted toward commercial "stakeholders." This includes the mining, energy, timber and cattle grazing industries. This, in turn, threatens the interests of the public at large:

About a year ago, President Donald Trump issued an executive order to relieve the energy industry of "regulatory burdens." In response, the BLM has expedited lease sales without analyzing all available cultural resource data and has canceled studies that were initiated under the Obama administration to better understand the location of antiquities and to place such lands off-limits to drilling.

A recent BLM memo directed regional managers to truncate scientific review and public comment periods and granted permission to eliminate them altogether if a proposed lease area had been studied previously.

An investigation by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting found that the administration's expedited move to open these public lands to energy exploration puts at risk scores of ancient buildings, vessels, petroglyphs, even roads.

Amid the siege of Trump-era deregulation, all the lands that the BLM administers are at risk for degradation if they are of value to commercial interests.


endangeredspecies We are on a trajectory to say goodbye to more species. (Andy Arthur)

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

At BuzzFlash and Truthout we never shy away from criticizing powerful corporate and political forces. Support this work by making a tax-deductible donation now.

The world's last male northern white rhino has died, leaving only two females left to save the subspecies from extinction, the wildlife conservancy taking care of him announced Tuesday.

The 45-year-old rhinoceros, named Sudan, was euthanized Monday at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.

He was being treated for age-related complications that led to degenerative changes in his muscles and bones and also gave him extensive skin wounds.

"His condition worsened significantly in the last 24 hours; he was unable to stand up and was suffering a great deal," Ol Pejeta said in a statement. "The veterinary team from the Dvůr Králové Zoo, Ol Pejeta and Kenya Wildlife Service made the decision to euthanize him."

Sudan previously lived at the Dvůr Králové Zoo in the Czech Republic before being moved to Ol Pejeta Conservancy in 2009.

"During his final years, Sudan came back to Africa and stole the heart of many with his dignity and strength," the conservancy said.

"Sudan will be remembered for his unusually memorable life. In the 1970s, he escaped extinction of his kind in the wild when he was moved to Dvůr Králové Zoo," the conservancy said. "Throughout his existence, he significantly contributed to survival of his species as he sired two females."

Sudan lived at Ol Pejeta with his daughters—the last two females of the same species—27-year-old Najin and 17-year-old Fatu.

"The only hope for the preservation of this subspecies now lies in developing in vitro fertilization (IVF) techniques," the conservancy said.


AltRight 0319wrp opt(Photo: Blink O'fanaye / Flickr)The alt-right, with its passel of unknown principals, and ultra-active social media platforms, took the mainstream media by surprise. In his book, Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in The Age of Trump, veteran journalist and right-wing watcher David Neiwert, writes that the mainstream media "largely succumbed to the whitewashed version of the [alt-right] movement peddled by Breitbart.com," by frequently referring to the alt-right as being a collection of provocateurs, whose "goal," as The Washington Post once characterized it, "is often offensiveness for the sake of offensiveness in the way that many young white men embrace."

But the goals of the alt-right have always been more than mere provocation or offensiveness. In 2009, the white nationalist, Richard Spencer, coined the term "alternative right" while an editor at the paleoconservative Taki's Magazine. "Less than year later," Neiwert writes in Alt-America, Spencer "founded his own webzine and named it 'The Alternative Right.' In short order, the nature of Internet discourse at the site shortened the name of the movement it promoted to 'alt-right.' The name stuck."  

With backing from the anti-immigrant polemicist, Peter Brimelow, and the VDare Foundation, Spencer's publication fully embraced "white nationalism as his guiding philosophy, including its conspiracism, its underlying racism, and its anti-Semitism," Neiwert pointed out.


Coins 0319wrp opt(Photo: Beau Lebens / Flickr)It's not hard to envision the benefits in work opportunities, stress reduction, child care, entrepreneurial activity, and artistic pursuits for American households with an extra $1,000 per month. It's also very easy to justify a financial wealth tax, given that the dramatic stock market surge in recent years is largely due to an unprecedented degree of technological and financial productivity that derives from the work efforts and taxes of ALL Americans. A 2% annual tax on financial wealth is a small price to pay for the great fortunes bestowed on the most fortunate Americans. 

The REASONS? Careful analysis reveals a number of excellent arguments for the implementation of a Universal Basic Income (UBI). 

(1) Our Jobs are Disappearing

A 2013 Oxford study determined that nearly HALF of American jobs are at risk of being replaced by computers, AI, and robots. Society simply can't keep up with technology. As for the skeptics who cite the Industrial Revolution and its job-enhancing aftermath (which actually took 60 years to develop), the McKinsey Global Institute says that society is being transformed at a pace "ten times faster and at 300 times the scale" of the radical changes of two hundred years ago.

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