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BushBomb 0228wrp opt(Photo: duncan c / Flickr)Fifteen years ago this March, President George W. Bush addressed the nation to announce his invasion of Iraq. It was not the first act in Bush's global war on terror, but it soon became the centerpiece. Bush's secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, had been pushing for war on Iraq for several years. He predicted that such a war "certainly" would not last more than five months and that it would cost less than $50 billion. He was wildly wrong on both counts, almost instantaneously.

Both Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney also told the American people that, despite the conclusions of UN weapons inspectors, there was "no doubt" that Saddam Hussein's regime had an active program to develop weapons of mass destruction. They claimed 100 percent certainty -- and, like Rumsfeld, they were wrong.

Whether their errors were incompetence, dishonesty or both is an open question. Whatever was in their hearts when they told those lies, the more tangible consequences of their actions remain. In the war on terror, nearly 7,000 US soldiers (and roughly as many contractors) have been killed, and more than 100 times as many US veterans -- close to 1 million -- suffer from disabilities.

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Courtesy of EnviroNews

Drop 0226wrp opt(Photo: Luis Miguel Justino / Flickr)More than 170 million Americans, or around 52 percent of the entire population, may be at risk of radiation exposure through their drinking water, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), one of the country's leading water testing organizations. The EWG published its findings based on a compendium of data collected from over 50,000 public drinking systems nationwide between 2010 and 2015. The report reveals a shocking trend: much of the nation's drinking water "contains radioactive elements at levels that may increase the risk of cancer."

The EWG reported its findings after President Donald Trump re-nominated Kathleen Hartnett White as head of the White House's own Council on Environmental Quality. In an interview in 2011, Hartnett White admitted to falsifying data while she was head of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), in a scheme to show radiation levels were below the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) limit in communities where levels actually exceeded those thresholds. She justified the falsification because she said she "[didn't] believe the science of [radiation-caused] health effects" espoused by the EPA. Hartnett White also said she "placed far more trust" in the work of the TCEQ, which she admitted again in 2017 ignored EPA regulations. While her name has been withdrawn at her own request, many remain concerned about the safety of America's drinking water.

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SSA 0226wrp opt(Photo: Alexander Rabb / Flickr)How was their money made? Almost entirely by passively waiting for the stock market to go up. The data sources for this report are Forbes and Credit Suisse, both of which provide precise numbers for the worsening surge in America's wealth inequality. 

U.S. wealth increased by $8.5 trillion in 2017, with the richest 2 percent getting about $1.15 trillion (details here), which is more than the total cost of Medicaid (federal AND state) and the completesafety net, both mandatory and discretionary, including the low-income programs that make up the social support package derisively referred to as 'welfare.' 

Surprisingly, the richest 1 percent did not increase their wealth by much in 2017 (although they took nearly $4 trillion in 2016). That means the second half of the richest 2 percent, Americans with an average net worth of approximately $10 million, outgained the safety net all by themselves in the past year. 

Another stunner: The richest 2-5 percent, those Americans with an average net worth of about $2.5 million, accumulated enough wealth in 2017 to pay for the safety net FOUR TIMES.

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ParklandKids 0223wrp opt(Photo: Lorie Shaull / Flickr)The student survivors speaking out in the wake of yet another horrific mass shooting represent a significant element of igniting social change -- the mobilization of young people fed up with a rotten political-economic system that puts profits above all else. The courageous Marjory Stoneman Douglas students know that the NRA has effectively bought US elected officials. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio confirmed this during a televised CNN town hall on Wednesday night. When asked by Stoneman Douglas student Cameron Kasky if he would stop taking donations from the NRA, Rubio said that people buy into his agenda. Over the course of his career, Rubio has received more than $3 million from the leading gun manufacturers' lobby.

These students refuse to accept pay-to-play politics and business as usual. Their words and actions are incredibly inspiring. We need to hear from these youngsters. As I wrote in a 2015 op-ed in Truthout, "we especially need the energy and the voices of young people. As Millennials, we need to rise to our historic moment and lead the call for justice and the transformation to a more sustainable society. We have to treat this as the fight of our lives…"

Although I was writing then about climate justice, these words are just as relevant today in the context of gun violence. Young people are seizing this moment and leading the call for change. They are literally fighting for their lives.

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Famine0221wrp opt(Photo: UNMISS / Flickr)An official with the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warns that climate change and conflict are leading to food insecurity for millions of people living in Africa.

"Undernourishment appears to have risen from about 21 percent to nearly 23 percent between 2015 and 2016," Bukar Tijani, FAO's assistant director general for Africa, said Monday at a conference in Sudan.

"Over the same period, the number of undernourished rose from 200 million to 224 million in Africa. This is a cause of concern for all of us," he said, noting that the continent's population is expected to reach 1.7 billion by 2030.

This rise in undernourishment and food insecurity is linked to the effects of climate change and natural disasters, Tijani later explained to AFP.

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Forest 0221wrp opt(Photo: bjornsphoto / Flickr)Trump Forest—a global reforestation project aiming to offset President Trump's anti-climate policies—has reached 1 million trees after thousands of pledges from around the world.

Trump Forest was launched just under a year ago after POTUS announced he was pulling the U.S. from the Paris agreement.

"Thanks to you guys, you've pledged more than a million trees all over the world to try and offset that ignorance," Adrien Taylor, one of the three founders of the project, said in a video message announcing the milestone. "In doing so, you've not only offset some of the carbon emissions that have come out of the Trump administration, you've also helped reforest communities, and you've helped create a small silver lining in the very dark cloud of ignorance which is in the White House."

The idea behind the effort is simple. "US President Donald Trump doesn't believe in the science of human-caused climate change. He wants to ignore one of the greatest threats to healthy life on Earth," the project website states.

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BLM 0216wrp opt(Photo: 5chw4r7z / Flickr)In the past year, we've seen a burst of audacious political assertiveness coming out of Old Dixie, and I'm not talking about those Trumpeteering, tiki-torch-brandishing, tinhorn KKKers the media focuses on. The real story is that a fresh, "Reclaim the South" movement of young African-American populists is emerging, kindling long-suppressed hope in the racially scarred Deep South and offering the possibility of real economic and cultural progress.

Guess who's mayor of Jackson, Mississippi, the state's capitol city? Chokwe Antar Lumumba — a black, 34-year-old lawyer who was raised in Jackson in a family and community of longtime Black Power activists. Last June, backed by Our Revolution and Working Families Party, Lumumba was elected with 93 percent (!) of the vote, and he promptly pledged to make Jackson "the most radical city on the planet." By radical, he means aggressively innovative in developing policies and programs focused directly on lifting up Jackson's middle-class and poor residents, rather than adopting the failed trickle-down model of nearly every other city. For example, instead of giving away government subsidies to lure rich corporations, Lumumba is trying to make the city a national showcase of home-grown cooperative enterprises owned by the people themselves.

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Monopoly 0213wrp opt(Photo: Sean Davis / Flickr)Why does Donald Trump constantly preface his outlandish lies with such phrases as: "To be honest with you," "To tell the truth" and "Believe me"?

Because even he knows that as a lifelong con-man, his voice takes on the tone of a snake-oil salesman when he starts exaggerating and prevaricating, so he reflexively tries to puff up his credibility with an extra dose of bluster: "No really, trust me, I never lie..." In fact, just in the past year, Trump's documented whoppers rank him as the lyingest president in U.S. history. And that included Nixon!

It's not the volume of his fabrications that is so gross, but their enormity. Most damnable of all has been his masquerading as a golden-haired billionaire "populist" who's standing up for America's hard-hit middle class against Wall Street, corporate lobbyists and moneyed elites — a carefully crafted PR pose that has duped many working stiffs into thinking he is their champion.

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Resist 0213wrp opt(Photo: Joe Flood / Flickr)While hypocrisy runneth over at the White House on numerous fronts, it is particularly glaring when it comes to the issue of immigration. However, thanks to Jennifer Mendelsohn, the woman behind the #resistancegenealogy movement, we know a lot more about the immigrant experiences of the families of some of the administration's – and their media acolytes' -- most strident anti-immigrant voices. And those histories are chock full of the very things the administration has been critical of, including so-called chain migration, the inability to speak English, and the coming to this country to seek work, any kind of work.

In a mid-January Politico piece, titled "How Would Trump's Immigration Crackdown Have Affected His Own Team?", Mendelsohn, a Baltimore, Maryland-based free-lance writer, discussed her work tracking the family histories of anti-immigrant advocates. To put her work in perspective, she cited a comment – that appeared in a 2016 Chicago Sun-Times editorial -- by immigration historian Tyler Anbinder: "From the days of the Puritans to the present, every generation of Americans has believed that the latest wave of immigrants is completely different from—and inferior to—their own immigrant ancestors and could never become true Americans."

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War 0212wrp opt"War." (Photo: The Naked Ape / Flickr)While elected officials of our increasingly dysfunctional democracy debated "memogate," the world became more dangerous as Trump’s Nuclear Posture Review was officially released on Friday, February 2. Ignoring scientific studies of the past decade and growing global sentiment by the world's non-nuclear states to abolish nuclear weapons, with this announcement the new arms race begins and the Cold War resumes. 

Scientific studies have demonstrated the potential catastrophic global environmental effects following a limited regional nuclear war, using just 100 12-kiloton Hiroshima-size weapons (of the 16,300 in the arsenals of the nine nuclear nations, which is approximately one-half of just one percent) that would potentially kill two billion people.

This new Doctrine proposes the development of two new generations of nuclear weapons including "low-yield nukes," Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBM) and the long-term development of Submarine Launched Cruise Missiles (SLCM). These "low-yield nukes" are 20 kt—same as the larger Nagasaki size bombs that killed more than 70,000 people. Seemingly ignoring the fact that nuclear weapons are nuclear weapons regardless of size with the same horrific initial devastation and radioactive fallout, these weapons are proposed to demonstrate America's resolve in deterring nuclear attack.

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