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DR. MEL GURTOV FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

DT 0305wrp opt(Photo: Gage Skidmore / Flickr)Under Donald Trump, the environment has been the hardest hit of any sector of society, carried out by executive actions, the overturning of Obama-era regulations, and the enactment of new rules via cabinet review. This assault is occurring just as NASA reports that we’ve just had another near-record year of global warming. It’s insanity, and a classic example of willful ignorance. Trump, EPA director Scott Pruitt, and other officials simply choose not to inform themselves lest their position on climate change, which is based entirely on self-interest, be undermined.  Since these people only know what Fox News and the fossil fuel industry tell them, they probably are unfazed about portents such as the three-year drought that has brought Cape Town, South Africa, to "Day Zero" when the water pipes will be shut off and water strictly rationed.

Behind the rules changes lies a telling fact: Trump does not have a science adviser—a director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the White House.  But since he has no interest in science, he evidently sees no reason to learn from or defer to anyone who does. The president’s science adviser typically advises on everything from outbreaks of disease to global warming and nuclear weapons.  By leaving empty a position all previous presidents have filled, Trump is sending a message that he is not merely a climate-change denier but also a science denier.  Only one person sits in the OSTP office: a Silicon Valley financier.

Published in Guest Commentary

NANCY ROMER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

NYC 0305wrp optNew York City. (Photo: kaysha / Flickr)After five years of tireless organizing, the movement to divest NYC public worker pension funds from fossil fuels scored a win.  On January 10th, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that New York City will divest the $5 billion of its pension funds presently invested in fossil fuel stocks. It will also sue the top five fossil fuel corporations—ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips—charging that because they hid the evidence that burning fossil fuels causes climate change, they are responsible for the billions of dollars the city has spent on climate remediation.  

The divestment campaign provides an excellent example of how dedicated organizing, clear demands and strategies, creative tactics, strong coalitions and good luck can come together for a win.  

Divestment Launch

The US Divestment movement was popularized in 2012 through the national "Do The Math" tour, led by 350.org’s Bill McKibben and author Naomi Klein.  Borrowing a page from the successful anti-apartheid divestment campaign directed at South Africa in the 1980’s, 350’s focus was fossil fuel divestment in colleges, universities, foundations and non-profits. While pension funds were on the list, little attention was initially paid to them.

Published in Guest Commentary

MICHAEL L. WEINSTEIN, ESQ. FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

God 0302wrp opt(Photo: altemark / Flickr)Trump, our "Caligula-in-chief's" victory was only the first in a series of new realities we face. "Your Wildest Dreams Come True," is tragically not a reality TV show. And it augurs nothing less than a full-fledged Constitutional and national security crisis of Jovian magnitude.

To anyone who claims the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) (of which I am founder and president) has been crying wolf for asserting that Dominionists are intent on controlling our US military

It's time for your wake up call, wild dreamers.

An influential pack of Dominionist predatory proselytizing worship wolves was howling in Trump's DC hotel February 22-24 2018; the pack's fanatical leaders believe "God sent" Trump to the White House.

Heaven's rule is knock knock knockin' hard on our government's door my friends: it's called Dominionism.

Dominionists are Christian nationalist extremists -- modern iterations of medieval Crusaders. Dominionists are like the radical proponents of Sharia Law, only they champion the Bible and not the Koran. Dominionists dream of a United States ruled by a biblical set of Christian principles and reject the secular US Constitution.

Published in Guest Commentary

SANDRA SULLIVAN-DUNBAR FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Texting 0228wrp opt(Photo: El Alvi / Flickr)Everybody hates political phone-bankers, right? Those people who don't know you but call out of the blue right when you are trying to get dinner on the table, or get your toddler to bed. They intrude into your private time and try to get you to vote for their preferred candidate. This is happening more as the primary season heats up.

And now we are even starting to text you.

I've texted people to encourage them to register to vote, to early vote, to verify their number and to identify supporters of our candidate. I have let those with felonies know that they are eligible to vote, when many have been convinced that they are not. I have identified voters who need a ride to the polls and connected them to transportation options.

During the special congressional election in Georgia last summer, as heavy downpours flooded parts of Atlanta, I texted voters real-time information about which routes to the polls were flooded and which were open, from my home in Illinois.

Published in Guest Commentary

DAWSON BARRETT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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.

Published in Guest Commentary

SHAD ENGKILTERRA OF ENVIRONEWS ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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.

Published in Guest Commentary

PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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.

Published in Guest Commentary

DANA DRUGMAND FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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.

Published in Guest Commentary

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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.

Published in Guest Commentary

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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.

Published in Guest Commentary
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