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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.


ar 15pAR-15, the Parkland gun (models vary) (Photo:Wikipedia)

Think of mass shootings, or the approximate 10,000 gun homicides that occur a year in the US, as the top of a volcano that is erupting. All that molten lava has pushed itself through the caldera and resulted in explosive violence. You can also think of it as the tip of the iceberg, with a massive block of violence and rage floating beneath the surface.

As Kelly Hayes so eloquently pointed out the other day on Truthout, we live in a society where violence has become normalized. It is incorporated into the culture like DNA. Gun violence is simply its most visible edge. As Hayes writes,

Mass shootings are merely the amplification of a very American phenomenon, and we do not have a broad-based commitment, as a nation, to combat the roots of violence...

Prohibition has never saved us from ourselves -- only transformation can do that. Idle laws are a poor substitute for the work of building a society that truly values life and prioritizes the creation of safety. The real work lies in unravelling our death-making culture, and facilitating the transformation of both individuals and communities.

That is not to say that individual gun laws might not save some lives. After all, although discussion of gun laws tends to concentrate on the buyer, there is a wide array of gun commerce -- including gun stores, gun shows, manufacturers and wholesalers -- that are ripe for reining in. However, we are, as Hayes notes, a nation "saturated" in violence. In fact, each weekend on the news, entertainment is made out of the grisly toll from guns, as news networks spike viewership -- and thus advertising rates -- with gun violence serving as spectacle.

A US military Black Hawk helicopter in flight. A US military Black Hawk helicopter in flight. Pixabay Photovia [PIXABAY] / PixabayROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

It's so easy to paper over the real American security void with verbiage about strength vs. weakness and the endless need to upgrade the military. 

Here's Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, for instance, quoted the other day in The Guardian: "It is incumbent upon us to field a more lethal force if our nation is to retain the ability to defend ourselves and what we stand for." 

This is the cornerstone of The Great Lie, the foundation of global suffering and disorder: that all the glorious abstractions for which we stand -- freedom, democracy, etc. -- are maintained by violence and the threat of violence. The strength of evil, see, is almost infinite, and it lurks uncontained beyond our borders, but it stays away from us as long as it fears us. Therefore, do not, under any circumstances, question the size of our military budget.

This is the directive followed by much of the US media, even as that budget continues to swell and the wars we wage grow ever more intractable. Indeed, the Trump administration's recently released 2019 budget proposal includes $716 billion for the military. Think of it as a quiet hemorrhage. Mattis, this time referenced by the Associated Press, says it's needed "to pull the military out of a slump in combat readiness at a time of renewed focus on the stalemated conflict in Afghanistan and the threat of war on the Korean peninsula."

agriculture 1359862 1920Pixabay Photovia [PIXABAY] / PixabayLORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT 

Monsanto lost its bid to overturn Arkansas' ban on dicamba, a controversial weedkiller linked to extensive damage to famers' crops in the state as well as several other states.

The agribusiness giant makes a version of the herbicide called XtendiMax that's paired with its seeds that are genetically engineered to resist the product. DuPont Co. and BASF SE also sell their own dicamba-based formulations.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza dismissed Monsanto's lawsuit Friday citing a recent Arkansas Supreme Court ruling which held that the state cannot be made a defendant in court.

"We are disappointed in the court's decision to dismiss our legal challenge of the plant board's restrictions, and we will consider additional legal steps that might be appropriate," Scott Partridge, the company's vice president of global strategy, told the Associated Press in a statement. "We look forward to the day when Arkansas growers can benefit from the latest weed-control technology on the market."


BLM 0216wrp opt(Photo: 5chw4r7z / Flickr)In the past year, we've seen a burst of audacious political assertiveness coming out of Old Dixie, and I'm not talking about those Trumpeteering, tiki-torch-brandishing, tinhorn KKKers the media focuses on. The real story is that a fresh, "Reclaim the South" movement of young African-American populists is emerging, kindling long-suppressed hope in the racially scarred Deep South and offering the possibility of real economic and cultural progress.

Guess who's mayor of Jackson, Mississippi, the state's capitol city? Chokwe Antar Lumumba — a black, 34-year-old lawyer who was raised in Jackson in a family and community of longtime Black Power activists. Last June, backed by Our Revolution and Working Families Party, Lumumba was elected with 93 percent (!) of the vote, and he promptly pledged to make Jackson "the most radical city on the planet." By radical, he means aggressively innovative in developing policies and programs focused directly on lifting up Jackson's middle-class and poor residents, rather than adopting the failed trickle-down model of nearly every other city. For example, instead of giving away government subsidies to lure rich corporations, Lumumba is trying to make the city a national showcase of home-grown cooperative enterprises owned by the people themselves.

Thursday, 15 February 2018 08:29

Trump's Double Standard on House Russia Memos


trumphypocrisyDonald Trump, hypocrisy is thy middle name. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

On Friday, February 9, President Donald J. Trump blocked release of the Democratic Party’s ten-page Russia memo that attempts to rebut the Republican Russia memo, and sent it back to the House Intelligence Committee for redaction. The President has alleged that the memo contains sensitive information that cannot be released. However, the President has a conflict of interest that arguably legally disqualifies him from making such a decision in the first place.

Trump released the Republican memo even though the FBI warned that it contained sensitive information that could jeopardize national security. In fact, he announced that he would release it apparently before he even read it. Then, after releasing it, he tweeted that it “totally vindicated” him and showed that there was “no collusion” between him and Russia during the 2016 presidential election. Now, Trump refuses to release the Democratic memo which attempts to refute the validity of the Republican memo, alleging that it contains sensitive information that could jeopardize national security. However, Trump can’t have it both ways. His impartiality in deciding against releasing the Democratic memo can therefore be reasonably questioned in light of his double standard. It is not remarkable, therefore, that the question may be raised as to whether permitting a sitting president such authority is even legal. In fact, there is federal law that may disqualify Trump from attempting to make a decision involving even the appearance of such a conflict of interest.

According to paragraph (a) of 28 U.S. Code § 455 (‘Disqualification of justice, judge, or magistrate judge”), “any…magistrate judge of the United States shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” Further, the President of the United States serves as the nation’s “Chief Magistrate.” The president is the chief magistrate of the United States just as the governors are the chief magistrates of their respective states. A Chief Magistrate is “the head of the executive department of government of a nation, state, or municipal corporation.” Indeed, this judicial, discretionary authority to make judgments within the confines of the Constitution was adopted from English law and asserted from the nation’s very inception by Alexander Hamilton and George Washington.

There is no doubt that in deciding whether it would even be lawful to release the Democratic memo, and if so, in what form, Trump would be exercising judicial discretion in his capacity as Chief Magistrate.


Hondu 0214wrpHonduran police detain protesters. (Photo: coolloud / Flickr)As the bus was taking our accompaniment delegation to Honduras to the airport for our return home, it stopped by the offices of Radio Progreso. Piling on to the bus came some twenty staff members of the station to bid us goodbye. Each of them greeted us with an embrace, a kiss, or a clasp of hands expressing heartfelt gratitude for our having come to be with them at this dangerous and chaotic time in their country. It was a striking gesture of affection that deeply touched us, the visiting delegates.

We came to this country at the urgent request of SHARE El Salvador, a humanitarian aid organization with a long history of solidarity work in Central America. Police and military repression in Honduras since the overtly fraudulent elections in November 2017 has been getting worse, with over thirty people killed and more than one thousand in jails. Death threats aimed at those who are raising their voices the loudest are getting more overt and intense.



Voting 0214wrp opt(Photo: kgroovy / Flickr)In one of those rare occasions when politicians think no one is listening, we may hear what the proverbially fly on the wall hears. During such a candid camera moment, Paul Ryan and other Republican Party leaders have recently given us insight into what they really think about how the Russians are seeking to undermine the stability of democratic nations. What emerges is a picture of an intricate Russian game of political chess in which governments are turned against themselves in bloodless, invisible coups. What is most chilling is that Paul Ryan and company are willing to silently acquiesce as it happens in the United States.

On June 15, 2016, one month before Trump officially became the Republican presidential nominee, Paul Ryan, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Majority Whip Steve Scalise, and Republican Conference Chairman Cathy McMorris Rodgers were recorded speaking after Ryan and McCarthy had come from a meeting with Ukraine Prime Minister Vladi­mir Groysman. "He has this very interesting riff," said Ryan, referring to Groyman,"people have said they have Ukraine fatigue and its really Russia fatigue because what Russia is doing is doing to us, financing our populists, financing people in our governments to undo our governments, you know, messing with our oil and gas energy, all the things Russia does to basically blow up our country, they're just going to roll right through us and go to the Baltics and everyone else."


clichangechildClimate change is hazardous to the health of children. (Photo: Environmental Illness Network)

We are not just leaving the legacy of a toxic and volatile environment to our children; we are negatively impacting them today.

In a recent article, the Inter Press Service (IPS) describes how young people are pushing back against adults' failure to take aggressive action to mitigate climate change:

In the United States, the 21 young people who are plaintiffs in the case Juliana v. United States will soon make their case against the government for failing to take action against climate change. Similar lawsuits have been filed in countries including Portugal, India, and Pakistan.

And in the 2017 Bonn climate change conference, a 12-year-old Fijian boy whose village had completely been devastated by cyclone linked to climate change, addressed negotiators and urged them to find solutions to the changing climate.

Sadly, these children are outliers and millions of their peers in other parts of the world, including children from sub-Saharan African countries, will never have the chance to tell the world how climate change harms them. All too often, children are the unseen victims of climate change.

However, the IPS notes that "children’s plight is not addressed by the major stakeholders in the climate change negotiations." Climate change is, according to IPS, something that adults will discuss, without the input of children.


Monopoly 0213wrp opt(Photo: Sean Davis / Flickr)Why does Donald Trump constantly preface his outlandish lies with such phrases as: "To be honest with you," "To tell the truth" and "Believe me"?

Because even he knows that as a lifelong con-man, his voice takes on the tone of a snake-oil salesman when he starts exaggerating and prevaricating, so he reflexively tries to puff up his credibility with an extra dose of bluster: "No really, trust me, I never lie..." In fact, just in the past year, Trump's documented whoppers rank him as the lyingest president in U.S. history. And that included Nixon!

It's not the volume of his fabrications that is so gross, but their enormity. Most damnable of all has been his masquerading as a golden-haired billionaire "populist" who's standing up for America's hard-hit middle class against Wall Street, corporate lobbyists and moneyed elites — a carefully crafted PR pose that has duped many working stiffs into thinking he is their champion.

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