Guest Commentary (5291)
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
It's starting to happen, as teachers around the country are fighting back against income and wealth inequality. At least 3 of every 4 Americans have been cheated out of a share of U.S. productivity since the 1980s. The approximately one of four Americans who have prospered, especially those in the top 5%, generally don't seem to care much about inequality, and instead hang onto delusions about their own self-worth and the struggles of people who "don't work hard enough."
From various trusted sources come maddening facts about the relentlessly expanding wealth divide. Inequality is a perversion of human conduct, as most of society's new benefits have derived from automation, and thus from decades of public input, taxpayer funding, and government research. But the beneficiaries are those who are well-connected to the corporate and financial processes exploiting that growth, mainly through stock ownership.
The rest of America has been left behind, but their voices are getting louder.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Is there a crack developing in the close and cozy relationship between conservative evangelical Christians and President Donald Trump? Will the Stormy Daniels story a straw-breaking event? It may have been bad reporting or wishful thinking, but the mainstream media has a history of misunderstanding or totally underestimating the political staying power of Religious Right. Now, in the wake of multiple Trump administration scandals, the mainstream press is reporting that evangelical supporters of Trump are preparing for a June meeting that will presumably allow them to air their grievances. However, don't count on Trump being taken to the woodshed. Politically savvy evangelicals understand that their political agenda is inextricably linked to the political fortunes of the president and a Republican-controlled Congress.
In realty, several conservative evangelical leaders, continue to, as The Advocate's Neal Broverman put it "still love the thrice-married man who bragged about grabbing women's genitals." While support for Trump amongst evangelicals may have slipped in the immediate aftermath of the Stormy Daniels' revelations, that drop-off appears to have dissipated.
Nevertheless, as Paul Weber, President and CEO of the Family Policy Alliance put it in a piece titled, "Perfect Values & Imperfect Leaders": "[I]n these times of division, scandal and seamy exploits by our leaders paraded on television in the form of journalism—it can be particularly painful for our families and for our nation. Never has there been a time where this has been more apparent than with the Trump Presidency."
LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
There are significantly fewer plastic bags on the seafloor ever since a number of European countries introduced fees on the items, according to a 25-year study from the UK government's Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS).
Researchers found an estimated 30 percent drop in the number of plastic bags in waters around Norway, Germany, northern France and Ireland.
"It is encouraging to see that efforts by all of society, whether the public, industry, NGOs or government to reduce plastic bags are having an effect," Thomas Maes, Marine Litter Scientist at CEFAS, said in a statement.
JIM HIGHTOWER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Sometimes, it's useful to state the obvious. Here's a fact, for example, that we all know to be true: America's economy is enormous. It's worth saying that out loud and repeating it to ourselves and others, because today's Powers That Be (economic, political and media) are wrongly forcing a regime of austerity on our nation. They're insisting that we hoi polloi must downsize our middle class dreams, claiming that America no longer has the wherewithal to do big things.
Their narrow and pessimistic prescription for our future is not only at odds with the American spirit, but also at odds with the facts. The wealth of this nation is naturally huge and expansive -- thanks to such fundamentals as the sheer size and diversity of our land, the breadth and depth of our natural resources and especially the can-do attitude of our enterprising and hardworking people. Far from shrinking down, we have the economic strength today to be spreading the middle class and advancing the historic, egalitarian ideals that were planted at America's founding.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Is the white nationalist/alt-right movement splintering? Is it becoming even more of an online phenomenon than an out and open political movement? Did the alt-right-inspired racist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, last summer force the movement to rely even more heavily on the dark corners of the Internet, then on mass rallies and demonstrations?
Over the past several months, news about the white nationalist/alt-right, no longer seems to draw the attention of the mainstream media. Nevertheless, as the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Keegan Hankes and Alex Amend pointed out in its recent report titled "The Alt-Right Is Killing People" there have been over 100 people killed or injured by alleged perpetrators influenced by the so-called alt-right.
"[T]here have been at least 13 alt-right related fatal episodes, leaving 43 dead and more than 60 injured," the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) reported. "Nine of the 12 incidents counted here occurred in 2017 alone, making last year the most violent year for the movement."
MEL GURTOV FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
With the appointments of Mike Pompeo as secretary of state and John Bolton as national security adviser, Donald Trump has signaled his preparedness by the May 12 deadline to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and ramp up pressure on North Korea if it refuses to denuclearize. The two moves would have interactive consequences: casting aside the Iran nuclear deal is likely to be read in Pyongyang as indicating that the US cannot be trusted to keep its commitments. It might also be read as a signal that should nuclear talks with Trump fail, a US attack on North Korea's missile and nuclear sites could be in the offing.
The always precarious state of US relations with Iran, and with the Middle East as a whole, will be blown apart should Trump nix the nuclear deal. Iran is likely to immediately resume production of nuclear-weapon grade materials. US relations with its European allies will be deeply unsettled, another bitter pill will be added to relations with Russia and China (both of which endorsed the nuclear deal), the Israeli far right will be emboldened to join in pressuring (and perhaps attacking) Iran, and the Saudis and others will be encouraged to produce their own nuclear weapons.
ALYCEE LANE FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
"We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation."
When Martin Luther King Jr. presented this choice to the nation in his powerful speech "Beyond Vietnam" -- a speech he delivered exactly a year before he was assassinated -- he was referring to the Cold War arms race and the possibility that the United States and the Soviet Union would kill us all in a nuclear holocaust. He implored us to choose peace, which for King meant that we needed to address the deep "malady within the American spirit" -- namely, our commitment to the "giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism." This commitment -- this sickness -- not only drove our arms race and the Vietnam War, King contended, but it also made us a nation of people willing to risk annihilation in order to preserve what was fundamentally an unjust way of life. For King, the escalating war in Vietnam, which he believed brought us closer to nuclear war, compelled us to choose -- if we wanted to survive -- a "person-oriented" nonviolent world marked by racial and economic justice over a "thing-oriented" world marked by war, racism and economic inequality.
That choice is still one we must make today.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLAZH AT TRUTHOUT
The cries of loss and anguish become public, at last. A million young people seize the truth:
"Half of my seventh grade class was affected by gun violence. My own brother was shot in the head. I am tired of being asked to calm down and be quiet."
The stories went on and on, speaker after speaker. We marched for our lives March 24. I was one of the thousands of people who endured a bitter cold morning in Chicago to be part of this emerging movement, this burst of anger, hope and healing. Violence in the United States of America is out of control. It has its claws around the lives of its own children. It’s a terrifying symptom . . . of a society built around fear, of a political structure devoted to war.
Something has to change.
SHELLEY DUNCK FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
It seems as if on the daily, some elected official or television personality takes to Twitter or Facebook to tweet or post something that is awful and inappropriate. In the wake of the March for Our Lives movement, these tweets and posts have been aimed at high school students.
Most recently, Minnesota Rep. Mary Franson, through a series of posts on Facebook, appeared to link the students involved in the March for Our Lives to Hitler Youth.
Iowa Rep. Steve King posted a picture of Emma Gonzales on Facebook, letting his followers know what it "looks like when you claim Cuban heritage yet don't speak Spanish." Gonzales was also was the subject of a fake photo of her ripping up the US Constitution.
Leslie Gibson, the former uncontested Republican running for Maine's House of Representatives, described high school student David Hogg, as "a bald-faced liar" and his classmate Emma Gonzalez as "a skinhead lesbian" on Twitter.
MOHAMMED MOUSSA FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Arabic is the fifth-most-commonly spoken language in the world, with an estimated 250 million native speakers. It's a useful language to know, and a university in the Gaza Strip is offering to teach it via Skype -- while reducing the isolation imposed on it by a decade-long Israeli blockade.
The Islamic University of Gaza (IUG) first began experimenting with Arabic lessons by Skype in 2016, facilitated by funding from Saudi Arabia's Arabic for All Foundation and a partnership with the University of Glasgow in Scotland. Although IUG long had offered face-to-face classes for non-native speakers, the Israeli and Egyptian blockade has dramatically reduced international visitors. This has spurred the move to online lessons, but even these still face challenges.
"We have many problems that make our work difficult, but the two biggest ones are the limits on visitors and the severe electricity shortage, which makes maintaining a strong WiFi connection difficult after hours when we don't have access to the university's back-up generators," one of the IUG instructors, Jehad Abu Jazar, told Truthout. For North Americans, the time difference (upwards of seven hours) also can pose some logistical complexity.
EMMA BURKE FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The news and commentary at Buzzflash and Truthout provide vital analysis of grassroots movements across the nation. If you dare to dissent and advocate for justice, then support independent media by making a donation!
How do we understand the terrifying and tragic reality of mass shootings in the United States as organizers and activists committed to ending war and militarism by confronting its root causes? That's the question we're asking at War Resisters League as headlines are once again ensnared in the debate around gun control -- this time with the lens focused on the incredible work and ferocity of young people who survived the Parkland massacre in February.
Parkland students join the voices of young people and students of color, disproportionately affected by gun violence, who are turning the spotlight not just on guns, but on the root causes of gun violence. As the country poured into the streets to demand change at March For Our Lives, in Washington, DC,11-year-old Naomi Wadler of Virginia took to the stage to lift up the invisibilized deaths of Black girls and women: "I am here to acknowledge and represent the African American girls whose stories don’t make the front page of every national newspaper, whose stories don't lead on the evening news. I represent the African American women who are victims of gun violence, who are simply statistics instead of vibrant, beautiful girls full of potential." For communities of color the terror of gun violence isn’t contained to mass shootings, it also comes in the form of beat cops, SWAT teams and the processes of erasure Naomi spoke about.
LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Ryan Zinke has assembled a new outdoor recreation advisory panel dominated by top executives from the industry.Interior Secretary
The 15-member "Made in America" Outdoor Recreation Advisory Committee will advise Sec. Zinke on issues surrounding public lands. They include officials that represent fishing, shooting sports, motorized vehicles and hospitality as well as national park concessionaires.
"The Made in America Outdoor Recreation Advisory Committee is made up of the private sector's best and brightest to tackle some of our biggest public lands infrastructure and access challenges," Zinke announced Monday.
"The committee's collective experience as entrepreneurs and business leaders provide (sic) unique insight that is often lost in the federal government."
The Washington Post reported that Zinke did not appoint committee nominees offered by the Outdoor Industry Association, which advocates for activities such as mountain climbing, hiking and kayaking. The association has criticized President Trump's decision last year to shrink the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah.
LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Oil started spilling from the Lizama 158 oil field in early March and spread down 15 miles of the Lizama river and 12.4 miles of the Sogamoso river.
According to local media, it took Colombia's state oil company Ecopetrol three weeks to respond to the environmental disaster.
Colombia Reports noted that the crude started escaping the oil field on March 3 but it was only this past Saturday that Ecopetrol vowed to send heavy equipment that could stop the spill.
The company said Tuesday that the spill is fully controlled and workers are carrying out environmental monitoring of the rivers. The cause of the spill is currently unclear but an investigation is underway.
ROB OKUN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
It's time to listen to the students. Across the country, teenagers have walked out of classes, stood in holy silence, and delivered stirring speeches calling out their elders for failing to prevent their schools from becoming shooting ranges for raging men. On Saturday they protested in Washington with adult allies among the throngs in the capital and at hundreds of student-organized satellite rallies nationwide.
Students have been fierce and articulate in their unequivocal demand that they attend safe schools. Recognizing the role of gender in mass murders like the one at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is critical to accomplish this goal.
We certainly must applaud these young people for calling out the NRA -- "Our lives are worth more than your wealth" -- as well as outing the politicians whose coffers the gun lobby has lined. They know the NRA is about men and money.
In my years working to transform societal ideas about masculinity and manhood, it has become undeniable that the gender of the shooter -- almost always male -- is as essential in the gun debate as are stricter laws and mental health screenings. I'd welcome hearing high school students' thoughts in a cross - generational dialogue that included how we raise boys and how we navigate the culture of violence in which we live.
We in the 40-year old profeminist antiviolence men's movement have always viewed shootings like Parkland, Florida through a gendered lens. Men's mass murders at schools (or churches or movie theaters) need to be understood not by their location but in the larger context of our culture of violence, including, of course, men's disproportionate enactment of that violence.