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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.


Micro 0316wrp optMicrobeads and microplastics. (Photo: MPCA Photos / Flickr)You now have another good reason to avoid bottled water. An investigation on brands from around the world determined that the water is often contaminated with tiny pieces of plastic.

The new study, conducted by journalism organization Orb Media and researchers at the State University of New York at Fredonia, has already prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) to launch a review into the potential risks of plastic in drinking water.

For the study, researchers tested 259 individual bottles across 11 brands purchased from 19 locations in nine countries. Using fluorescent tagging with Nile Red dye, the scientists found that 93 percent of the samples had some sort of microplastic contamination, including polypropylene, nylon and polyethylene terephthalate (PET). The bits ranged in size from the width of a human hair to a red blood cell.

One bottle showed an excess of 10,000 microplastic particles per liter. Only 17 bottles had no contamination.


ar15rifleVariation on AR-15 rifle. (Photo: Mitch Barrie)

The issue of gun reform often gets simplified after a mass shooting into a question of what gun law would have prevented the latest horror. That is a mistake: The issue of gun violence is complex. It involves not just the gun owner and shooter, but the manufacturer, the gun store, gun shows and other factors.

For example, people who are deemed to be selling guns from their own collections do not need to follow any of the federal laws when they sell a gun. This particularly comes into play at gun shows, where individuals do not have to have a Federal Firearms License if they are not "engaged in the business of dealing in firearms," according to the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (BATF). The Columbine shooters, for instance, obtained some of their firearms at a gun show in Colorado.

Gun violence in the United States is multi-faceted and even includes the legacy of violence on which the nation was founded. It also includes, as Truthout writer Kelly Hayes incisively pointed out yesterday, the complex dynamics of oppression, including racism, poverty and class, that are embedded in the US. You can add the police occupation of many marginalized communities into that mix. Hayes attended student walkouts in Chicago, in which participants responded to a national call for a 17-minute protest for gun reform.


ICEFinding freedom from fear in sanctuary cities. (Photo: Peg Hunter)

Perhaps the best political news of the Trump era has been the emergence of sanctuary cities — city governments valuing the presence of immigrants and standing for the protection of their right to live without fear — and their defiance of this country’s current manifestation of legal racism.

“How dare you vilify members of our community by trying to frighten the American public into thinking that all undocumented residents are dangerous criminals? . . . How dare you distort the reality about declining violent crime rates in a diverse, sanctuary city like Oakland to advance a racist agenda?”

So said Libby Schaaf, the mayor of Oakland, Calif., last month, in response Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ outrage that she had tweeted a warning that Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents — the ICE men — were preparing to make a massive sweep through Northern California.

ICE, a branch of the Department of Homeland Security, was created in 2003, “a direct product of the post-Sept. 11 panic culture,” as Sean McElwee put it in The Nation. Its establishment reframed immigration as a national security issue, which is to say, an exploitable source of national fear. We must protect ourselves from the illegals! The agency’s mission, particularly under Donald Trump, appears to be the dehumanization of people of color born outside the United States. It has the moral resonance of the Klan, or maybe the Brownshirts.


Lead 0314wrp opt(Photo: Mike Morrison / Flickr)Up to 412,000 deaths a year in the U.S. can be attributed to lead exposure, according to a new study published Monday in The Lancet Public Health.

Of that figure, exposure to the toxic metal may be an "important, but largely overlooked" risk factor behind the 256,000 annual cardiovascular disease deaths in the country, the authors found.

“Our study findings suggest that low-level environmental lead exposure is an important risk factor for death in the USA, particularly from cardiovascular disease," the paper states. "It is not surprising that lead exposure is overlooked; it is ubiquitous, but insidious and largely beyond the control of patients and clinicians."

The researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to study the blood-lead levels of 14,289 people who were 20 or older between 1988 and 2011. Of the 4,422 people who died by the end of that period, those who had high lead levels (6.7 micrograms per deciliter) were at 37 percent greater risk of premature death from any cause and 70 percent times greater risk of cardiovascular death compared with people with lower lead levels (1.0 micrograms per deciliter).

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