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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

 Bashar al Assad2Bashar al-Assad, president of Syria. (Photo: watchsmart)

Trump's threat to bomb Syria in retaliation for an alleged chemical attack is not only terrifying, it also runs counter to international law. As anti-war activist and author David Swanson writes:

The problem is not that Trump wants to start a war before the inspectors can determine whether a war is merited. War cannot be merited. There is no such thing as mass murder getting justified by someone else committing murder with the wrong type of murder weapon. This is ludicrous nonsense....

Imagine if whenever 12 people were killed with a bomb or guns the “International Community” had to kill the nearest 20,000 people with poison gas. Why is the reverse so acceptable? It shouldn’t be. It isn’t legal or moral or decent or popular enough for the warmongers to let us have a public vote before they do it.

It's not to say that chemical weapons are not particularly heinous, but at least 400,000 civilians have been killed since the Syrian civil war began in 2011. The US has been involved in what has become a proxy war since then, arming, training and equipping rebel troops, and bombing and fighting ISIS.

JIM HIGHTOWER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT    Dove Peace Silhouette Sunset 183267DeMarco is an admirable example of the virtue of citizen activism.

Some are born with good luck, but I was 30 years old before Lady Luck smiled on me with full radiance. She arrived in the form of a petite bundle of feistiness, inherent smarts, political savviness, personal warmth, playfulness and beauty both inside and out, named Susan DeMarco.

I apologize for turning inward for a personal commentary today, but DeMarco (as she's called by all who have known her) is an admirable example of the virtue of citizen activism. She didn't dwell in the media limelight, yet she's one of our country's everyday people who consistently works to make a positive difference in all they do, accomplishing so much more good than the bulk of politicos and other sparklies who are perpetually in the public eye. She's been a teacher, a leader of public interest groups, an investigative journalist, the author of three books, a government official, a public policy innovator and a mentor, as well as a lifelong champion of economic fairness, social justice and equal opportunity for all. In other words, as one activist put it, "she's a firecracker." For some 45 years, it's been my good fortune to team up with this woman in assorted progressive populist battles against the big shots trying to run roughshod over the democratic values of workaday people.

 

 

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ELLIOT COHEN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT   Michael Cohen headshotRecently, the FBI raided the office of Trump long-time attorney and friend Michael Cohen. IowaPolitics.com

Recently, the FBI raided the office of Trump long-time attorney and friend Michael Cohen. Emails, tax documents, and business records were seized, but the reasons for this raid are not abundantly clear at this juncture. According to a New York Times source, Cohen's 130K payment to porn star Stormy Daniels is one among many issues being investigated. One gnawing question is whether the raid might have had something to do with the Mueller investigation into possible collusion between Trump and the Russians in interfering with the 2016 Presidential election. This question is not so easily dismissed in light of Cohen's close, ongoing association with Trump throughout the campaign.  Further, if some aspects of the controversial Christopher Steele dossier are taken seriously, then it might have a lot to do with it.  

After all, Cohen helped Trump pursue business deals with the Kremlin during the 2016 presidential campaign, which cast doubt on Trump's denials of having any ties to Russia.  According to the Washington Post, Cohen once asked longtime Putin lieutenant Dmitry Peskov for assistance in reviving a languishing Trump Tower development project in Moscow. According to the Business Insider, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been investigating the Trump Organization's attempt to secure a Trump Tower deal in Moscow.  Further, he had also been investigating Cohen's attempt to broker a “Russia-friendly peace plan” between Russia and Ukraine.

So, given Cohen's past history with Russian officials in his representation of Trump, including into the 2016 presidential campaign, it is not remarkable that his name would have appeared 24 times in the, by now, well-known Steele dossier penned by the former M16 British spy Christopher Steele. According to the Steele Dossier, Cohen played a key role “in the ongoing secret liaison relationship” between Trump and the Russian leadership.  In essence, the dossier claims that Cohen took over Manafort's role following the departure of Paul Manafort as Trump's campaign chair.   According to the dossier, Cohen's job was cover up and damage control, “to prevent the full details of Trump's relationship with Russia being exposed.” Toward this mission, Cohen allegedly held a clandestine meeting with several Russian Presidential Administration Legal Department officials in Prague in August 2016.  Allegedly, the meeting was originally supposed to be in Moscow, but a meeting in Prague was easier to deny.  According to the dossier, 

"The immediate issues had been to contain further scandals involving MANNAFORT's [sic] commercial and political role in Russia/Ukraine and to limit the damage arising from exposure of former TRUMP foreign policy advisor, Carter PAGE'S secret meetings with Russian leadership figures in Moscow the previous month. The overall objective had been to “to sweep it all under the carpet and make sure no connections could be fully established or proven.”

Thursday, 12 April 2018 05:44

Marching to a Transformative Future

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

robertmuellerHundreds of thousands of people are reportedly ready to march if Robert Mueller is fired by Trump. (Photo: DonkeyHotey)

Peter Dreier wrote in a 2017 American Prospect article:

Over the past few years, efforts like Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, the Dreamers immigrant-rights movement, the battles against the Keystone pipeline and for marriage equality, and the Fight for 15 generated a new wave of activism, but nothing has inspired more protest than Trump’s election.

As we see resistance build and sustain itself during Trump's administration, with the massive multi-city March for Our Lives being the most recent example, it is worth remembering that the modern era of progressive populist protest began many years before Trump assumed office, reigniting since January 20, 1917, to oppose and support various issues. Some analysts would trace this recent surge back to the street dissent against the Iraq War. Others would point to the protests against Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker -- the Koch brothers' sock puppet -- and his push to curtail the collective bargaining rights of public unions in 2011. The Wisconsin protests lasted for weeks and made Madison, the state's capital, into an encampment of mass upheaval.

Enormously strong movements such as Occupy Wall Street, the Movement for Black Lives and pro-immigrant gatherings were part of a wave of progressive populism actions that indeed laid the groundwork for resistance in the age of Trump.

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Wind 0411wrp optWind farm at Whitelee, Scotland. (Photo: Ian Dick / Flickr)Scotland, which is fast on track to get 100 percent of its electricity via renewable energy by 2020, has broken another wind power record.

The country's onshore wind turbines provided more than 5.3 million megawatt hours of electricity to the National Grid during the first three months of 2018, an impressive 44 percent increase compared to the same period last year, according to an analysis of WWF Scotland wind power data by WeatherEnergy.

Over that first quarter, enough wind power was generated to supply the equivalent of five million homes with low-carbon electricity. The best day was on March 1, when 110,000 megawatt-hours of wind power could have supplied 173 percent of the nation's entire electricity demand.

"It's great to see renewables continuing to power Scotland, adding to the year on year evidence that greater investment in both renewables and storage is the way forward," said Karen Robinson of WeatherEnergy.

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Otter 0411wrp optAn otter plays with a plastic bottle. (Photo: Paul Williams / Flickr)The environmental impact of the world's plastic consumption is profound. Plastic trash and the tiny pieces that chip off it can be found everywhere—oceans, marine life, land and our bodies, too.

To help solve this planetary crisis, Nestlé pledged Tuesday to make all its plastic packaging 100 percent recyclable or reusable by 2025. The Swiss food giant envisions a world where "none of its packaging, including plastics, ends up in landfill or as litter," it said.

"Plastic waste is one of the biggest sustainability issues the world is facing today. Tackling it requires a collective approach," Nestlé CEO Mark Schneider said in a statement.

Nestlé joins a number of major international corporations, such as rival Unilever, making similar commitments. However, environmentalists say the move is not enough.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

constitution33Trump is in violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution. (Photo: Kim Davies)

Last month a federal judge ruled that Maryland and Washington, DC, had standing to sue President Trump for violating the Emoluments Clause of the US Constitution. As reported by CNN on March 28, however, the ruling included a significant qualification:

Judge Peter Messitte of the US District Court of Maryland says the Maryland and District of Columbia attorneys general who brought the case will have to focus it on the Trump Organization's operations in Washington. That means the case going forward will challenge payments made by foreign officials for services at the Trump International Hotel, but will not include visits to Mar-a-Lago in Florida or other Trump properties.

Maryland and DC have argued that the Trump International Hotel's operations put other nearby hotel and entertainment properties at a competitive disadvantage, and that the Trump hotel got special tax concessions.

As reported in previous BuzzFlash commentaries, the Emoluments Clause (Article 1, Section 9, Clause 8) of the Constitution states,

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

RACHEL IDA BUFF FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT     360845260 0d97e02884 oBorder fence near Sonoita, Mexico. The road is on the US side and is well-traversed by Border Patrol vehicles. Sarah Kanouse

The recent announcement of intent to deploy US National Guard troops to the US-Mexico border is part of an ongoing theater of cruelty which summons xenophobic ideas of national security and imposes more military presence in daily life. This kind of swagger has a long history. But instead of offering security, its consequences visit repression, degradation and death on many communities, and undermine the rule of law throughout the country.

In the early 1950s, concerns about communist infiltration focused on the US border with Mexico. Assistant Border Patrol Commissioner Willard Kelly compared undocumented migration from Mexico to a "great, peacetime invasion." Consequently, President Dwight D. Eisenhower asked his old friend from West Point, Gen. Joseph May Swing, to take the 6th Army to the US-Mexico border and deal with what he framed in baldly racist terms as "the wetback problem."

Swing had served in the 1916 "Punitive Expedition" into Mexico to retaliate for Pancho Villa's raids in New Mexico. There, as I argue in my recent book, Against the Deportation Terror: Organizing for Immigrant Rights in the Twentieth Century, he formed particular, racialized impressions of working-class Mexicans as potential bandits, as well as lasting friendships with some of the upper-class Mexican military officers with whom they tracked Villa and his rebel associates. These ideas and friendships had lasting impact on his ideas about counterinsurgency in general, and about Mexico in particular.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

votingfelonsVoting rights should be inclusive, not exclusive. (Photo: justgrimes)

According to the National Council of State Legislatures, only 12 states permanently disenfranchise persons who have been convicted of felonies, with limited possibilities for appeal. Other states have varying degrees of restoration of voting rights, including two states -- Maine and Vermont -- that allow voting while imprisoned.

Under Republican Governor Rick Scott, Florida is one of the dozen states that have a lifetime ban on voting for persons convicted of felonies, with few exceptions. That is likely due to a desire to keep more than 1.5 million Floridians from voting, most of whom would presumably vote Democratic. In a state where Al Gore lost the presidency in 2000 by a few hundred votes and Scott won his two terms as governor by very small percentages, the current restrictions on voting by persons formerly incarcerated for felonies serve the interests of the Republican Party. It is of particular interest to Scott, who just announced that he is going to run against current Democratic US Senator Bill Nelson in November for a Senate seat.

Scott has been given until April 26 to eliminate the lifetime prohibition on voting by those people convicted of felonies. The order was issued earlier this year by federal US District Judge Mark Walker. Scott and his Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi first tried to receive a stay from complying with the ruling.

JEFF COHEN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT      mainstreammedia cohen 4 10The mainstream media’s track record of unbalanced coverage proves that it is time to disconnect from corporate news sources. Flickr

TV news shows are good at getting viewers riled up. Day and night, I hear the anchors on CNN and MSNBC getting us riled up about the schemes of this or that "Russian oligarch with links to the Kremlin." I've heard that phrase incessantly in recent weeks

And plenty of others have heard the "Russian oligarch" phrase. Merriam-Webster.com reported that "oligarch" was one of its most searched-for words on April 5th "following reports that Robert Mueller had questioned Russian businessmen to whom this descriptor applies."

But here's a phrase I haven't heard from any of the purportedly progressive hosts on MSNBC: "A US oligarch with links to Washington."

That avoidance is revealing when one considers an indisputable fact: US oligarchs have done far more to undermine US democracy than any Russian.

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