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Pipeline 0905wrp(Photo: Contando Estrelas / Flickr)


Two environmental groups have filed suit against the U.S. Coast Guard in a Detroit federal district court, arguing that their plan to respond in the case of a Great Lakes pipeline oil spill is inadequate, The Detroit News reported on Aug. 22.

The suit is part of a larger push to shut down Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline that runs under the Straits of Mackinac between Lakes Huron and Michigan and comes as indigenous activists have set up camps protesting the line that could damage 400 miles of shoreline in a spill.

GWbanksy 0905wrp(Photo: Duncan Hull / Flickr)


Killer floods and heat waves have made 2018 another record-setting year as the climate crisis intensifies. The UN climate negotiations in Bangkok (September 4-8), followed by the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) in San Francisco (September 12-14) and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change 24th Conference of the Parties (COP24) in Katowice, Poland, (December) could make 2018 the year that world governments chart a path toward tackling climate change, enhanced ambition and implementation of the Paris Agreement. It could also be the time that global leaders fall dangerously short in reckoning with the climate crisis, condemning millions more to losing their lives and livelihoods.

Tuesday, 04 September 2018 07:11

Consumers Demand Grocers Address Pig Welfare


2808207783 340fd5250b b Nick Saltmarsh / /Flickr

In the United States, an estimated 3 out of 4 mother pigs remain in steel cages for life. These cages are no bigger than the average fridge. They are unable to turn around, root, explore, move comfortably or socialize with other pigs. Mother pigs become chronically depressed, and bite the cages of their steel bars in frustration.

These animals are treated as breeding machines. Mother pigs go constantly hungry because their food is restricted to limit weight gain and avoid complications, while giving birth to huge litters. They resort to repetitively chewing when their mouths are empty, until they foam at the mouth.

This is a system that thrives behind closed doors, with many Americans simply unaware of standard pig-rearing practices. But new research commissioned by my organization, World Animal Protection, has found that when consumers are made aware of the reality behind closed doors, they expect more from companies. When people are shown images depicting typical factory farming practices, 72 percent of international respondents find the way pigs are raised upsetting, wrong or shocking. Eighty percent of US respondents were concerned after seeing the realities of commercial farming. 


25218962886 734d099f46 b Gage Skidmore / Flickr

"History will record the greatness that you have brought for generations," read the inscription in a Bible signed by more than 100 conservative Christian evangelicals, and presented to President Donald Trump at a meeting in the White House on August 27. Consider the "greatness!" Hush money to porn stars? Racist comments galore? The Access Hollywood tape? Pitting one group of people against another? Separating young children from their parents and putting them in cages? Accusations from his lawyer of criminal activity? Thousands of misstatements and/or outright lies? Love for authoritarian leaders? Narcissism that knows no bounds?

What would it take for conservative evangelical Christians to abandon their maximum leader? How obedient must they be? How low do they have to go before they've lost all moral credibility? Those are some of the questions that have been asked since conservative Christian evangelical leaders sold their souls to Donald Trump. 

In 2016, 4 out of 5 evangelicals voted for Trump over Hillary Clinton. Recent polls show that support for Trump among evangelicals has not eroded. One Alabama preacher maintained that "we need a street fighter in the White House." Despite not believing that Trump is a man of God, one of their primary rationales for supporting Trump is that God is using him for his own purposes. 

Friday, 31 August 2018 07:26

ICE: Trump's Rogue Anti-Immigrant Agency

ICE 0831wrp(Photo: Joe Brusky / Flickr)


The roguish activities of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have under gone much greater scrutiny since June, when Donald Trump's implemented his "zero tolerance" immigration policy of separating parents from their children as they crossed the border from Mexico to the United States. Over the course of its relatively brief history, ICE officials and officers have been accused of having "a known history of human rights abuses, and corruption," The Huffington Post's Juan Escalante recently reported. Now, in addition to detaining immigrants by the thousands – many being held at privately run facilities -- ICE is committed to promoting fear in immigrant communities.

According to Escalante, "In the year and a half Trump has been commander in chief, ICE and CBP [Customs and Border Protection] have: Entered homes to detain immigrants without presenting a warrant; Detained immigrant parents in broad daylight as they dropped their children off at school; Lied on official documentation to try to frame a Dreamer as a gang member; [and], Continue to hold young migrant children in detention away from their parents.

For these and many other reasons, many are calling for the abolishment of ICE or, at least, for its complete overhaul.


constitution334Donald Trump is shreding the fabric of the Constitution. (Photo: Kim Davies)

Today, August 31, is my last day writing and editing for BuzzFlash at Truthout. I have been enriched beyond bounds by my experience at Truthout, which never abandons the quest for justice.

As for my beloved BuzzFlash, this marks my 18th year at the publication -- and I wish it the best in the future in its home at Truthout, where it has resided for the past eight years.

I would have to take a deep breath and write a book to describe the heady experience of founding BuzzFlash before the 2000 election was stolen from Al Gore. If I learned anything, the Republicans have a thousand and one ways to steal elections. After all, they have suppressed millions of Democratic votes. They have over time honed their racist skills in chicanery and straight-out voter purging.

The truth is that if the GOP did not engage in ruthless unprincipled behavior, race-baiting and voter suppression, there might not have been a Republican president since Eisenhower. It began with Kissinger helping Nixon steal the presidency from Humphrey by getting South Vietnam to sink the Paris peace conference in 1968. Reagan aides negotiated with the Iranians to make sure that the hostages were not released before the 1980 election. George Herbert Walker Bush ran a racist Willie Horton campaign orchestrated by Lee Atwater. As for George W. Bush, we all know about how he won the 2000 election on a 5-4 Supreme Court partisan vote. Voter suppression kept enough Democratic voters away from the polls to get Trump the electoral votes he needed, even though he lost the popular vote by more than three million votes.


26592194098 be2038963c Mike Licht / /Flickr

It's third and goal. Your team has the ball. They just need to put it into the end zone and that's the game. The play clock seems as if it's in slow motion. 

Millions of college football fans will have that or a similar scenario play out as players take the field this weekend for the first games of the season. But it's not the action on the field that deserves our attention. There's a crisis in college athletics. It's ingrained and institutionalized. That crisis is the culture of covering up abuse and it should be front and center until it's confronted. 

The evidence of that culture is clear. Just last week, Ohio State University head football coach Urban Meyer was suspended without pay and will not coach for the first three games of the season. Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith is also suspended without pay. An investigation found the two of them, "failed to take sufficient management action relating to Zach Smith's misconduct…." Zach Smith was an assistant coach under Meyer who is facing allegations of domestic abuse. 

Thursday, 30 August 2018 07:35

Reviving the Spirit of 1968


Anti Vietnam war demonstration. Vancouver BC. 1968 John Hill / /WikiCommons

I was a hippie/bicycle delivery boy living in San Francisco when the Democratic National Convention was held in Chicago fifty years ago, so I absorbed the chaos, the police riot, from half a continent away, but I knew with absolute certainty that the nation was changing and I was part of it.

We were in the violent spasm of transition. How long would it last? MLK and RFK, as they called for peace and sanity and civil rights for all, had just been assassinated. This was the God of War, turning its vengeance inward. 

A year earlier I had been part of the march on the Pentagon. At one point a group of soldiers charged us as we stood on the grounds next to the building and I got clonked in the head by a rifle butt. Later, as we sat in, I felt with sudden certainty that Lyndon Johnson was going to emerge from the Pentagon and declare an end to the Vietnam War. Uh . . . that didn't happen. 



texasflagjpgThe Trump administration is challenging the citizenship of Mexican-Americans in southern Texas. (Photo: Adam Simmons)

As an example of the sweeping nature of the Trump administration's war on immigration, an August 29 article in the Washington Post reveals how even US citizens are not safe from the virulent campaign: The US State Department is now denying passports to some Latinx US citizens born in Texas:

The Trump administration is accusing hundreds, and possibly thousands … of using fraudulent birth certificates since they were babies, and it is undertaking a widespread crackdown.

In a statement, the State Department said that it “has not changed policy or practice regarding the adjudication of passport applications,” adding that “the U.S.-Mexico border region happens to be an area of the country where there has been a significant incidence of citizenship fraud.”

But cases identified by The Washington Post and interviews with immigration attorneys suggest a dramatic shift in both passport issuance and immigration enforcement.

Some of the accused are even being detained by ICE or deported. There is little recourse for appeal because the documents required by the government to corroborate the birth certificates are difficult, if not impossible, to obtain. The Trump administration is making decisions based on allegations, not proof.

This is just the latest example of the ruthless, draconian nature of the Trump administration's unrelenting effort to "Make America White Again," building on its egregious separation of families seeking refuge.

Pollution 0829wrpPollution and power lines in northern China. (Photo: Adam Cohn / Flickr)


In a summer marked by air quality alerts as wildfires rage in the western U.S., a study has been published finding that air pollution lowers the average lifespan by one year worldwide.

The study, published in Environmental Science and Technology Letters Aug. 22, was the first to assess the impact of particulate matter pollution smaller than 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5) on human life expectancy on a per country basis, ScienceNews reported.

The researchers used 2016 data from the Global Burden of Disease project in an attempt to make the health impacts of air pollution more concrete.

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