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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.


trumpvetjpegDonald Trump uses veterans for his own political purposes. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Like many "chickenhawks" who advocated for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq during the George W. Bush administration, Donald Trump opportunistically glorifies the military but avoided service in Vietnam through college deferrals and alleged "bone spurs." Specifically, Trump has made the soldiers in the Armed Forces a cornerstone of his jingoism and recipients of profuse praise in public and on Twitter.

Trump, of course, was seen as insulting all veterans when he pettily ordered the White House flag to be flown at half-mast for only two days after John McCain's death. Normally, the president issues a proclamation to fly the flag at half-mast until the interment of a member of Congress who served in the military has occurred. Due to Trump's spiteful loathing of McCain, however, he didn't even issue a full statement of condolence until under intense pressure.

Whatever one thinks of McCain, who was a war hawk and conservative, the slight did not go unnoticed by veterans' organizations. 


Monsantos Lasso herbicide cropped USDA / WikiCommons

jury's verdict in California that a groundskeeper got cancer from repeated exposure to Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller is offering new hope for justice for millions of plaintiffs an ocean away.

During the Vietnam War, Monsanto was one of the primary companies that supplied Agent Orange to the U.S military, which sprayed 44 million liters (approximately 11.5 million gallons) of the dioxin-containing herbicide on the jungles of South Vietnam. As a result, at least three million Vietnamese people have suffered from cancer, neurological damage and reproductive problems that have been passed down three or four generations, Viet Nam News reported.

"The verdict serves as a legal precedent which refutes previous claims that the herbicides made by Monsanto and other chemical corporations in the U.S. and provided for the U.S. army in the war are harmless," spokesman for Vietnam foreign ministry spokesperson Nguyen Phuong Tra said, as The Independent reported Sunday.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018 06:28

The Winners and Losers Under Trumpcare

Before his inauguration, incoming President Trump made this promise about health care in the country: "We're going to have insurance for everybody. People can expect to have great health care. It will be in a much simplified form. Much less expensive and much better."  Today, eighteen months later, U. S. health care is worse off than ever after the Trump administration's ongoing sabotage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) which itself fell so short of universal coverage, cost containment, and improved quality of care. 
Although Trump and congressional Republicans failed to repeal and replace the ACA, they own what has become Trumpcare. Their sabotage of the ACA includes repeal of the individual mandate, loosening of the ACA's restrictions on health insurers, and state waivers that will allow states increased responsibility (with less federal money) to design their own Medicaid and other programs. Annual and lifetime caps on Medicaid coverage, together with increased cost sharing for its beneficiaries, are becoming common as 30 million Americans are uninsured and tens of millions more under-insured. 

To be sure, there are both winners and losers with Trumpcare, both of which are built into this new, increasingly unaffordable system, with losers representing much of the population—the most important—patients, their families, and taxpayers. A look at both ends of this spectrum reveals how unfair, unsustainable and cruel Trumpcare is, as well as how health care will be a leading political issue as the midterm elections approach.  

Bubbles 0827wrpMethane bubbles trapped in a frozen thermokarst lake. When the lake melts, methane is released. (Photo: DRI Science / Flickr)


Scientists may need to more than double their assessment of how much carbon dioxide and methane thawing Arctic permafrost will release into the atmosphere this century, according to a study published this month. The paper, published in Nature Communications Aug. 15, said that previous estimates for how greenhouse gasses released by thawing permafrost would contribute to global climate change focused on the slow thawing of permafrost near the surface.

However, those estimates excluded the impact of thermokarst lakes that form when warming soil melts ground ice, rapidly thawing the soil beneath them and providing food for carbon-dioxide and methane-releasing bacteria.

Monday, 27 August 2018 06:44

Swimming While Black in the Age of Trump

Pool 0827wrpWater park in Durham, NC. (Photo: Frank White / Flickr)


Last month, at the Foster Brown public swimming pool in Wilmington, Delaware, several young African American girls were told they had to get out of the pool because of their hijabs (headscarves) and their modest clothing, which included t-shirts and longer shorts. The pool manager claimed that the cotton clothing the children were wearing would clog the pool's filtration system. "There's nothing posted that says you can't swim in cotton," Tahsiyn Ismaa'eel, who runs an Arabic enrichment program for young people and has taken the children there for the past four years, told The News Journal. "At the same time, there are other kids with cotton on. … I asked, 'Why are my kids being treated differently?'"

As the lead sentence of Choksi's piece stated, "The poolside confrontations keep coming."

TarSands 0824wrpTar sands oil facility, Canada. (Photo: kris krüg / Flickr)


Canada's Supreme Court rejected on attempt by the city of Burnaby, British Columbia (BC) to halt work on the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion Thursday, Reuters reported.

Burnaby had applied to appeal a decision by Canada's National Energy Board (NEB) in December 2017 that pipeline owners Kinder Morgan could continue building without some municipal permits that the NEB found took too long. The Supreme Court rejected the city's application to attempt and reverse that decision.


trumpsaracismTrump's racism emerges yet again in his concern for white South African farmers. (Photo: Matt Johnson)

 It is not necessary for an alleged tape of Donald Trump saying the "n-word" several times to be unearthed to prove that he is a racist. From the beginning of his campaign, when he vilified immigrants from Mexico and Central America as brutal criminals, he has incessantly been the voice for white nationalists. He even champions the white "alt-right" in Europe as defenders of "civilization."

So Trump took it upon himself to divert attention from the latest unfavorable legal developments closing in around him to tweet a dog whistle of support for white South African farmers. About the only other comment he has made on Africa is that he was opposed to immigrants from what he described as "sh*t hole" nations on that continent.

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