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Wages 0409wrp opt(Photo: kyle rw / Flickr)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.


Jesus 0409wrp opt(Photo: Georgio / Flickr)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."


plasticbagpollutionThere is hope for mitigating plastic bag pollution in the oceans and seas. (Photo: Max Lee)

If you ever feel like the world's plastic nightmare might never end, a new study shows proof that plastic pollution legislation actually works.

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    usa flag hightowerThe Powers-that-be are wrongly forcing a regime of austerity on our nation. Pixabay

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   altright 4 5Alt-right members preparing to enter Emancipation Park at last August’s “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, VA holding Nazi, Confederate Battle, Gadsden "Don't Tread on Me," Southern Nationalist, and Thor's Hammer flags. Anthony Crider

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."

Wednesday, 04 April 2018 06:31

The Coming Crisis With Iran

MEL GURTOV FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT       John Bolton 4 3National Security Adviser John R. Bolton speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland. Gage Skidmore

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   Katrine 4 4People sit on a roof waiting to be rescued after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, LA, August 30, 2005. Jocelyn Augustino/FEMA

"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. 

Tuesday, 03 April 2018 06:40

Young People March to End Dehumanization

ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLAZH AT TRUTHOUT March for our lives 4 3Students at last month's March For Our Lives rally in New York City. mathiaswasik

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.


Trump 4 2 2018A photo of President Donald Trump Arlington at National Cemetery’s Memorial Amphitheater on May 29, 2017. Elizabeth Fraser

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.


The Islamic University of Gaze teaches students Arabic via Skype.Instructors talk to their academic partner in Glasgow about Arabic learning curriculum development. (Photo: The Islamic University of Gaza)MOHAMMED MOUSSA FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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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.

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