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ROB OKUN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

4689566084 cd1659e03e oA display of machine guns. (Photo via [FLICKR] / Flickr)

It's time to listen to the students. Across the country, teenagers have walked out of classes, stood in holy silence, and delivered stirring speeches calling out their elders for failing to prevent their schools from becoming shooting ranges for raging men. On Saturday they protested in Washington with adult allies among the throngs in the capital and at hundreds of student-organized satellite rallies nationwide.

Students have been fierce and articulate in their unequivocal demand that they attend safe schools. Recognizing the role of gender in mass murders like the one at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is critical to accomplish this goal. 

We certainly must applaud these young people for calling out the NRA -- "Our lives are worth more than your wealth" -- as well as outing the politicians whose coffers the gun lobby has lined. They know the NRA is about men and money.

In my years working to transform societal ideas about masculinity and manhood, it has become undeniable that the gender of the shooter -- almost always male -- is as essential in the gun debate as are stricter laws and mental health screenings. I'd welcome hearing high school students' thoughts in a cross - generational dialogue that included how we raise boys and how we navigate the culture of violence in which we live.

We in the 40-year old profeminist antiviolence men's movement have always viewed shootings like Parkland, Florida through a gendered lens. Men's mass murders at schools (or churches or movie theaters) need to be understood not by their location but in the larger context of our culture of violence, including, of course, men's disproportionate enactment of that violence.

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT 

A massive sinkhole in Winkler County, Texas. Google EarthA massive sinkhole in Winkler County, Texas. (Photo: Google Earth)

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

West Texas is already home to two giant sinkholes near the town of Wink caused by intensive oil and gas operations. Now, according to an unprecedented study, the "Wink Sinks" might not remain the last in the region.

Geophysicists at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas have found rapid rates of ground movement at various locations across a 4,000-square-mile swath around the two sinkholes. This area is known for processing extractions from the oil-rich Permian Basin.

The scientists made the discovery after analyzing radar satellite imagery taken between November 2014 and April 2017. Combined with oil-well production data from the Railroad Commission of Texas, the researchers concluded that the area's sinking and uplifting ground is associated with decades of oil activity and its effect on rocks below Earth's surface.

"Based on our observations and analyses, human activities of fluid (saltwater, CO2) injection for stimulation of hydrocarbon production, salt dissolution in abandoned oil facilities, and hydrocarbon extraction each have negative impacts on the ground surface and infrastructures, including possible induced seismicity," the study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, says.

One location saw as much as 40 inches of movement over the past two-and-a-half years, the geophysical team found.

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Norway 0326wrp opt(Photo: Ken Douglas / Flickr)Norway - home to the world's highest per capita number of all-electric cars—is also planning to go emission-free in the friendly skies.

The Scandinavian country aims to be the first in the world to switch to electric air transport.

State-owned Avinor, which operates most of the country's airports, plans to adopt battery-powered planes in the coming years to help slow climate change, Reuters reported.

"In my mind, there's no doubt that by 2040 Norway will be operating totally electric" on short-haul flights, Dag Falk-Pedersen, head of Avinor, said at an aviation conference in Oslo.

The long-held dream of electric airliners has been stymied by battery technology and limited range. However, the aviation industry is stepping up to make this dream a reality.

VERONIKA KYRYLENKO FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

China 0326wrp optChina Pavilion (Photo: Wojtek Gurak / Flickr)This month, China's National People's Congress, its Communist Party controlled legislature, has passed a new edition of the country's Constitution. Among other amendments, Chinese parliamentarians have almost unanimously approved an amendment to abolish the term limit on the presidency. The press secretary of the parliamentary session, Zhang Yesui, has stated that there is a need to adopt these amendments due to the "revolutionary changes ... especially after the 18th Party Congress," when the affirmation of a "socialism with Chinese characteristics" as a system (zhidu) was first written into the Party constitution, and Xi Jinping was elected a general secretary of the Communist Party and the president of a country. As for such "revolutionary" changes in China, they are, indeed, facing a need to deal with the new challenges -- primarily in the economy.

In 1989, after the infamous Tiananmen Square Massacre, China started to develop a unique civilizational path that integrated an authoritarian (nearly totalitarian) political regime with a market economy. Back then, China neglected to choose a path of democratization, having seen its disastrous results for Russia right after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In the early '90s, Russia tried to adapt a market economy without any necessary preparation and embraced an unlimited market freedom without any government regulation or control whatsoever.

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

nancypelosi2The Republicans continue to smear Nancy Pelosi in efforts to retain a majority in the House. (Photo: NASA HQ PHOTO)

At BuzzFlash and Truthout we never shy away from criticizing powerful corporate and political forces. Support this work by making a tax-deductible donation now.

Will Nancy Pelosi continue to be the gift that keeps on giving election victories to Republicans? Since she was first elected Speaker of the House in 2007, the Republican Party has been unrelenting in its anti-Pelosi bashing, with it basically becoming the number one item in the Republican Party’s congressional electoral playbook. With the Trump presidency at stake in this year’s mid-term elections, will demonizing Pelosi -- the wealthy San Francisco-based Democrat who would likely become Speaker of the House if Democrats win control -- continue to be the hook that the GOP hangs its politics on? Can what has been the tried and true strategy of tying Democratic congressional candidates to Pelosi work again this year? Or, will the GOP and its surrogates blend anti-Pelosi rhetoric with other issues?

Pelosi’s advisers estimated that in 2010, “Republicans devoted more than $50 million in negative advertising targeting her that election season,” The Washington Post's Paul Kane reported. In early February, CNN’s Chris Cillizza pointed out that “That number has likely tripled over the last seven years.”

In a recent speech in Cincinnati, President Trump said: "Nancy Pelosi -- what she's doing to this country. And she's gone so far left, and (Chuck) Schumer has gone so far left. Oh, I look forward to running against them."

"Every morning I wake up and I take a moment to be thankful that the Republican Party still has Nancy Pelosi because Nancy Pelosi is absolutely toxic," Corry Bliss, who runs a Republican super PAC, told the Washington Times in June of last year.

She may be toxic to Republicans, but Pelosi has demonstrated that she can get things done. Since 2003, when she became the Democrats’ House leader, “She pushes hard for liberal policies, but also has a keen understanding of what legislation can’t get through Congress, no matter how much she may personally favor it. She has probably done a better job of keeping her caucus unified, in the majority and minority, than any other recent congressional leader, The New York Times David Leonhardt recently pointed out.

JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Capitalism 0322wrp opt(Photo: The Hamster Factor / Flickr)Today's captains of corporate capitalism like to think of themselves not as mere businesspeople, but as modern society's genius "innovators."

Sounds positive... until you ask the key question: Innovation for what purpose? After all, some of society's most inventive minds are flimflammers, Ponzi-schemers, gamers and embezzlers. Sure enough, an inordinate amount of the innovation comes out of corporate suites these days, amounting to shameless schemes to dupe and rip off rank and file workers.

The latest of these is a hustle called "gamification," an attempt by such giants as T-Mobile and Walt Disney to give game-like, "psychological" prizes to employees rather than giving pay raises or cash bonuses. As the honchos of United Airlines learned, however, not everyone bites the corporate bait.

Thursday, 22 March 2018 07:04

Normalizing the United States of Violence

ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

War 0322wrp opt(Photo: Stewart Black / Flickr)Addressing the Parkland shootings last month, and the apparent emergence of a movement for tougher, saner gun laws that has followed, a USA Today article asked: "What has been so different from all the other mass shootings over the years?"

In one sense, this is a reasonable question. Why now? Why didn't it happen after, you know . . . Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs, Orlando, Charleston, Sandy Hook, Aurora? And the list goes on.

But, come on. Doesn't something stunningly horrifying resonate, however faintly, in these words? How can this phrase — "all the other mass shootings?" — be out there with such matter-of-fact, cheerful neutrality, such ordinariness?

The answer, of course, is that this is a violent — an increasingly violent — country. But I still feel a disbelieving cry echo somewhere deep in my being as I read these words, and refuse to simply push on. It's almost as though the wording in this paragraph contains not just the question but the answer: If the slaughter of innocent people can be folded so neatly into a phrase, "mass shooting," allowing us to categorize one, then another, then another act of senseless carnage and file it away as recent history, then move on with our lives, might that not be a serious cause of the nothing-we-can-do-about-it syndrome gripping America?

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

valuevotersphotoTrump's character no longer counts for many evangelical voters. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

In opposing Democratic candidates, white evangelical voters and leaders have long been tenacious in attacking the Democratic Party as disrespectful of family values. This was particularly true in the attacks on Bill Clinton during his two terms, and ultimately lead to the failed impeachment effort against him. (This is not to defend Clinton, but to point to the way in which evangelicals framed the debate.) In short, the white evangelicals -- and the Republican Party, of which evangelicals are a key constituency -- trumpeted the idea that character matters.

However, that appears to have changed, according to a just-released New Morning Consult/POLITICO Poll:

An October 2016 survey, conducted in the wake of the release of the 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape featuring Trump talking about groping women in crude terms, showed 54 percent of white evangelicals viewing Trump favorably. But one week into his presidency that figure had risen to 74 percent. (In the latest Morning Consult/Politico survey, it was 69 percent, inside the 5-point margin of error for that subgroup.) [80% of white evangelicals had voted for Trump.]

The Washington Post corroborates these findings in a January 29 article:

A Washington Post-ABC News poll released this month found 68 percent of white evangelical Protestants approve of Trump’s job performance — a figure that is nearly double that of the population as a whole and that is higher than any other religious or demographic group.

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Cash0321wrp opt(Photo: Jackie / Flickr)Over the past several months, firearms companies and gun dealers are complaining about a "Trump Slump," with several companies reporting disappointing sales. Nevertheless, many states remain economically dependent on the firearms industry.

In a new report titled "2018's States Most Dependent on the Gun Industry," the personal finance website, WalletHub, "compared the economic impact of guns on each of the 50 states to determine which among them leans most heavily on the gun business, both directly for jobs and political contributions and indirectly through ownership."

How heavily does your state depend on the firearms industry? Where does your state stand in relation to the rest of the nation, in terms of gun industry jobs, political contributions from gun advocacy organizations, and gun ownership?

Wednesday, 21 March 2018 06:58

A Culture of Violence That Starts at the Top

EDWARD HUNT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Bell 0321wrp opt(Photo: Bradley Weber / Flickr)When presenting its foreign policy goals, the Trump administration has used particularly shocking language, intensifying a culture of violence in Washington that is spreading fear throughout much of the world.

Over the past year, administration officials have called for "viciousness" in espionage operations, "lethality" in military programs and the "annihilation" of US enemies. Although President Trump recently called on the US people to create a culture that "condemns violence and never glorifies violence," his administration has continuously called for more violent military operations throughout the world.

To some degree, the Trump administration's penchant for violence is nothing new. Both the Bush and Obama administrations embraced violent military interventions as solutions to global problems. All three administrations maintained a continuous war on terror, one that has claimed more than 370,000 lives, according to the Costs of War Project at Brown University.

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