MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In a groundbreaking 2017 book, The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, Economic Policy Institute researcher Richard Rothstein details how government laws and policies enabled the housing segregation of the United States. In the preface to his book, Rothstein writes:
Until the last quarter of the twentieth century, racially explicit policies of federal, state, and local governments defined where whites and African Americans should live. Today's racial segregation in the North, South, Midwest, and West is not the unintended consequence of individual choices...but of unhidden public policy that specifically segregated every metropolitan area in the United States. The policy was so systematic and forceful that its effects endure to the present time.
Rothstein argues that the pattern of segregated housing in the United States is de jure (by law), and it is in violation of the Constitution.
Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson obviously does not believe in the conclusions of Rothstein's painstaking research. According to a May 7 Washington Post article, Carson "has long criticized federal efforts to desegregate American neighborhoods as 'failed socialist experiments.'" That is a pretty sweeping renunciation of fair housing goals that should be advanced by the governmental agency, HUD, most able to assist in achieving them.
The Post article reports that Carson is rescinding an Obama administration HUD regulation requiring compliance with desegregation objectives.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Over the past decade, we have read numerous reports about white returning military veterans of engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq, joining paramilitary and white nationalist organizations. In a 2009 report, titled "Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,"the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Office of Intelligence and Analysis warned of the possibility of an up-tick in violent activities by right-wing extremist groups, and pointed out that returning veterans were of particular interest to these groups. Now, nearly ten years later, ProPublica and Frontline have discovered that not only have veterans joined violent anti-government groups, but also active duty members of the military are involved with white supremacist groups
"Returning veterans possess combat skills and experience that are attractive to rightwing extremists," read the DHS report section "Disgruntled Military Veterans". "DHS/I & A is concerned that rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to boost their violent capabilities."
A year earlier, an FBI assessment titled "White Supremacist Recruitment of Military Personnel since 9/11" found just over 200 identifiable neo-Nazis with military training, according to Stars and Stripes' Nancy Montgomery.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
"Faith is more powerful than government, and nothing is more powerful than God," President Trump, National Day of Prayer, May 3, 2018
Strange as it may seem, although hardly surprising, US's sexually vulgar, thrice divorced, non-church attending, serial lying commander-in-chief, continues to be is held up by conservative Christian evangelicals as a standard bearer of Christian values!
Last week, America’s National Day of Prayer (NDP) went off without a hitch, that is if you don’t consider pre-NDP revelations that President Trump had been apparently lying about the pre-Election Day payoff to porn star Stormy Daniels a hitch. While numerous religious folk gathered in a Rose Garden ceremony with the president, and cheered his devotion to religious freedom, Former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani,had recently revealed that the president lied about knowing about the $130,000 payoff and that he had reimbursed lawyer Michael Cohen. The relatively staid CNBC tweeted: CNBC could not resist the pairing: "Trump leads National Prayer Day event after saying he repaid lawyer for hush money to porn star."
ELIZABETH JOHNSEN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The media has been awash in very specific images of refugees from the "caravan" of migrants that arrived at the US-Mexico border recently. The images -- taken by various photographers from afar -- show hundreds of refugees from Central America amassing at the border fence, several having climbed to the top. Similar images depict a seemingly endless pilgrimage of migrants, filling the streets of Tijuana.
The problem with these photographs is that they play on a harmful and deeply entrenched immigration narrative designed to stoke fear when there are dozens of more humane images that more accurately capture the families and individuals fleeing Central America.
As a photographer, I know that it's not so much what you capture, but what you choose to capture and how you capture it that defines the visual story. Just being there with your shutter open and knee on the ground does not necessarily mean you are telling the whole story from all sides.
Of course, images like the photos we are seeing this week are as old as the US itself and have intensified (or abated) depending on who the immigrants are and who the United States is, politically and socially, at that moment in history.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
On Wednesday, the Senate Intelligence Committee will question the CIA's Gina Haspel on her nomination to become the confirmed director of the Central Intelligence Agency. The appearance comes on the heels of Haspel apparently seeking to withdraw from the process to avoid questions about her involvement with torture -- euphemistically called "enhanced interrogation techniques" in Washington, DC. It took Sarah Huckabee Sanders and another White House aide to travel to CIA headquarters on Friday and convince Haspel to continue with the nomination process, according to The Washington Post.
The Post noted that Haspel was concerned that she would be particularly grilled about her role in two incidents:
Haspel, who serves as the CIA’s deputy director and has spent 33 years in the agency, most of it undercover, faces some opposition in Congress because of her connection to the interrogation program, which was set up after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
In late 2002, Haspel oversaw a secret CIA detention facility in Thailand, where one al-Qaeda suspect was waterboarded. Another detainee also was waterboarded before Haspel’s arrival.
Three years later, Haspel was involved in the CIA’s destruction of nearly 100 videotapes that recorded the men’s interrogations, touching off an investigation by a special prosecutor who ultimately decided not to bring charges against those involved.
Because of the willful elimination of the torture tapes, the truth will probably never be known about what types of "enhanced interrogation techniques" were used. In addition, Haspel is part of what is known as the clandestine division of the CIA, and much of her work is classified. This severely limits the information available to the senators who will question her, and it will also constrain her answers.
JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In 1933, a handful of wealthy Wall Streeters were upset that the newly elected president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, had dared to tax the rich in order to fund programs to lessen the painful poverty people were experiencing due to the Great Depression. They were so upset that they came up with a ridiculous plan to overthrow Roosevelt and install a military government. Due to their own ineptitude and hubris, their plan failed, and important poverty-busting programs of the New Deal like Social Security, the Works Progress Administration and the Tennessee Valley Authority put people to work, pulled them out of desperate poverty and propelled the country into the 20th century.
It's tempting to brush off 1933's bumbling fat cats — we can just picture them cloistered in their posh private club, smoking $100 cigars, grumping about Roosevelt and whispering about hiring a private army to overthrow the whole damn democratic process. However, our nation's common good is constantly under attack from plutocrats, kleptocrats and kakistocrats who want to line their pockets at the expense of workaday Americans.
But while the 1933 plot was hairbrained, their plutocratic intent is no laughing matter. Their presumption of class privilege — the warped idea that their great wealth entitled them to rule over and even impoverish the many — is not unique. The Wall Street Putsch died and was buried in 1934, but it is just one manifestation of a deadly serious social disease that has infected the history of democratic struggles.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Whenever the topic is nuclear weapons, I remain in a state of disbelief that we can talk about them "strategically" -- that language allows us to maintain such a distance from the reality of what they do, we can casually debate their use.
Consider, in the context of the sudden rush of alarming news that Donald Trump may trash the Iran nuclear agreement on May 12, on the false grounds that Iran is in violation of it, this piece of news from several months ago:
The latest Nuclear Posture Review, released in early February, "calls for the development of new, more usable nuclear weapons, and expanding the number of scenarios when the first use of nuclear weapons would be considered, including in response to a non-nuclear attack," according to Global Zero, an international movement to eliminate nuclear weapons.
"The plan renews the calls for massive spending to replace all legs of the nuclear triad, including new strategic bombers, new ballistic missile submarines and new land-based ballistic missile systems. The proposed approach will make America poorer and less secure, and could greatly increase the risk of nuclear war."
STEVEN TABORDA FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Before May 9, 2017, I was 15 years old and my family was living in harmony, everything was going well. However, around 8:00 a.m. on May 9, everything changed. I was attending a physical therapy session at Mountain View Hospital in Las Cruces, New Mexico. When my therapy session finished, I received terrible news; both my brother and mother were detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). My life has not been the same since.
When my dad told me about my mom and brother, he was shaking. He was unable to speak properly. He was giving me all his belongings such as credit cards, money, and things he’s had for years, things that were very important to him. As a 15-year-old, my dad giving me all his belongings felt like I was on my own as of that day, and I was scared. As we exited the hospital, two men approached us without uniforms or identification and asked my dad to accompany them. My father refused as he pleaded that I had to be taken to school and someone had to take care of me. He was able to take me to school, but all day my heart was pumping, I was in survival mode not knowing what was going to happen when I got out of school. Fortunately, my dad entered sanctuary and even though I’m an American citizen, I entered it with him.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
While the mainstream media is fixated on all things Trump, climate change continues unabated. We are so preoccupied with the here and now that the crossing of environmental thresholds that should set off blaring alarms hardly gets noticed. Caught up in our daily lives, we overlook signs that life itself is at risk for many.
Indeed, the scientific warnings are being sounded with increasing regularity. On May 2, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography reported that the monthly average for April exceeded 410 parts per million for the first time in recorded history:
The average concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was 410.31 parts per million (ppm) for the month of April, according to the Keeling Curve measurement series made at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii....
This also represents a 30-percent increase in carbon dioxide concentration in the global atmosphere since the Keeling Curve began in 1958.
Carbon dioxide is the primary cause of anthropogenic global warming.
APURBA PAUDEL FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
On April 25 and May 12, 2015, there were massive earthquakes that struck Nepal, particularly in the mountainous regions. In the aftermath, buildings had been reduced to rubble, people had nowhere to go and communities have been focusing entirely on reconstruction. It was difficult for everyone, but rural communities have been working together to rebuild what they could and trying to make the best of the situation. One place where this happened was a village in the hills of Nepal called Saipu, where I have visited several times after the earthquakes.
Recently, there have been many such disasters. In 2017, there was an unusually large number of hurricanes and floods across the world. Several wildfires swept the West coast of the United States. Almost all of this devastation and the post-disaster consequences are exacerbated by the effects of climate change. As I am just beginning high school and I am in the early stage of experiencing these consequences on this changing Earth, I have become very worried about the growing numbers of disasters and its impacts, especially on poor and marginalized people across the globe. These disasters aren't likely to be stopped in the near future. I feel that to be able to withstand these disasters, we must learn from these communities such as Saipu, Nepal, about how to rebuild communities in the aftermath of disaster and retain hope despite everything being turned to rubble.