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LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Otter 0411wrp optAn otter plays with a plastic bottle. (Photo: Paul Williams / Flickr)The environmental impact of the world's plastic consumption is profound. Plastic trash and the tiny pieces that chip off it can be found everywhere—oceans, marine life, land and our bodies, too.

To help solve this planetary crisis, Nestlé pledged Tuesday to make all its plastic packaging 100 percent recyclable or reusable by 2025. The Swiss food giant envisions a world where "none of its packaging, including plastics, ends up in landfill or as litter," it said.

"Plastic waste is one of the biggest sustainability issues the world is facing today. Tackling it requires a collective approach," Nestlé CEO Mark Schneider said in a statement.

Nestlé joins a number of major international corporations, such as rival Unilever, making similar commitments. However, environmentalists say the move is not enough.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

constitution33Trump is in violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution. (Photo: Kim Davies)

Last month a federal judge ruled that Maryland and Washington, DC, had standing to sue President Trump for violating the Emoluments Clause of the US Constitution. As reported by CNN on March 28, however, the ruling included a significant qualification:

Judge Peter Messitte of the US District Court of Maryland says the Maryland and District of Columbia attorneys general who brought the case will have to focus it on the Trump Organization's operations in Washington. That means the case going forward will challenge payments made by foreign officials for services at the Trump International Hotel, but will not include visits to Mar-a-Lago in Florida or other Trump properties.

Maryland and DC have argued that the Trump International Hotel's operations put other nearby hotel and entertainment properties at a competitive disadvantage, and that the Trump hotel got special tax concessions.

As reported in previous BuzzFlash commentaries, the Emoluments Clause (Article 1, Section 9, Clause 8) of the Constitution states,

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

RACHEL IDA BUFF FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT     360845260 0d97e02884 oBorder fence near Sonoita, Mexico. The road is on the US side and is well-traversed by Border Patrol vehicles. Sarah Kanouse

The recent announcement of intent to deploy US National Guard troops to the US-Mexico border is part of an ongoing theater of cruelty which summons xenophobic ideas of national security and imposes more military presence in daily life. This kind of swagger has a long history. But instead of offering security, its consequences visit repression, degradation and death on many communities, and undermine the rule of law throughout the country.

In the early 1950s, concerns about communist infiltration focused on the US border with Mexico. Assistant Border Patrol Commissioner Willard Kelly compared undocumented migration from Mexico to a "great, peacetime invasion." Consequently, President Dwight D. Eisenhower asked his old friend from West Point, Gen. Joseph May Swing, to take the 6th Army to the US-Mexico border and deal with what he framed in baldly racist terms as "the wetback problem."

Swing had served in the 1916 "Punitive Expedition" into Mexico to retaliate for Pancho Villa's raids in New Mexico. There, as I argue in my recent book, Against the Deportation Terror: Organizing for Immigrant Rights in the Twentieth Century, he formed particular, racialized impressions of working-class Mexicans as potential bandits, as well as lasting friendships with some of the upper-class Mexican military officers with whom they tracked Villa and his rebel associates. These ideas and friendships had lasting impact on his ideas about counterinsurgency in general, and about Mexico in particular.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

votingfelonsVoting rights should be inclusive, not exclusive. (Photo: justgrimes)

According to the National Council of State Legislatures, only 12 states permanently disenfranchise persons who have been convicted of felonies, with limited possibilities for appeal. Other states have varying degrees of restoration of voting rights, including two states -- Maine and Vermont -- that allow voting while imprisoned.

Under Republican Governor Rick Scott, Florida is one of the dozen states that have a lifetime ban on voting for persons convicted of felonies, with few exceptions. That is likely due to a desire to keep more than 1.5 million Floridians from voting, most of whom would presumably vote Democratic. In a state where Al Gore lost the presidency in 2000 by a few hundred votes and Scott won his two terms as governor by very small percentages, the current restrictions on voting by persons formerly incarcerated for felonies serve the interests of the Republican Party. It is of particular interest to Scott, who just announced that he is going to run against current Democratic US Senator Bill Nelson in November for a Senate seat.

Scott has been given until April 26 to eliminate the lifetime prohibition on voting by those people convicted of felonies. The order was issued earlier this year by federal US District Judge Mark Walker. Scott and his Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi first tried to receive a stay from complying with the ruling.

JEFF COHEN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT      mainstreammedia cohen 4 10The mainstream media’s track record of unbalanced coverage proves that it is time to disconnect from corporate news sources. Flickr

TV news shows are good at getting viewers riled up. Day and night, I hear the anchors on CNN and MSNBC getting us riled up about the schemes of this or that "Russian oligarch with links to the Kremlin." I've heard that phrase incessantly in recent weeks

And plenty of others have heard the "Russian oligarch" phrase. Merriam-Webster.com reported that "oligarch" was one of its most searched-for words on April 5th "following reports that Robert Mueller had questioned Russian businessmen to whom this descriptor applies."

But here's a phrase I haven't heard from any of the purportedly progressive hosts on MSNBC: "A US oligarch with links to Washington."

That avoidance is revealing when one considers an indisputable fact: US oligarchs have done far more to undermine US democracy than any Russian.

PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Wages 0409wrp opt(Photo: kyle rw / Flickr)It's starting to happen, as teachers around the country are fighting back against income and wealth inequality. At least 3 of every 4 Americans have been cheated out of a share of U.S. productivity since the 1980s. The approximately one of four Americans who have prospered, especially those in the top 5%, generally don't seem to care much about inequality, and instead hang onto delusions about their own self-worth and the struggles of people who "don't work hard enough." 

From various trusted sources come maddening facts about the relentlessly expanding wealth divide. Inequality is a perversion of human conduct, as most of society's new benefits have derived from automation, and thus from decades of public input, taxpayer funding, and government research. But the beneficiaries are those who are well-connected to the corporate and financial processes exploiting that growth, mainly through stock ownership. 

The rest of America has been left behind, but their voices are getting louder.

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Jesus 0409wrp opt(Photo: Georgio / Flickr)Is there a crack developing in the close and cozy relationship between conservative evangelical Christians and President Donald Trump? Will the Stormy Daniels story a straw-breaking event? It may have been bad reporting or wishful thinking, but the mainstream media has a history of misunderstanding or totally underestimating the political staying power of Religious Right. Now, in the wake of multiple Trump administration scandals, the mainstream press is reporting that evangelical supporters of Trump are preparing for a June meeting that will presumably allow them to air their grievances. However, don't count on Trump being taken to the woodshed. Politically savvy evangelicals understand that their political agenda is inextricably linked to the political fortunes of the president and a Republican-controlled Congress.

In realty, several conservative evangelical leaders, continue to, as The Advocate's Neal Broverman put it "still love the thrice-married man who bragged about grabbing women's genitals." While support for Trump amongst evangelicals may have slipped in the immediate aftermath of the Stormy Daniels' revelations, that drop-off appears to have dissipated.

Nevertheless, as Paul Weber, President and CEO of the Family Policy Alliance put it in a piece titled, "Perfect Values & Imperfect Leaders": "[I]n these times of division, scandal and seamy exploits by our leaders paraded on television in the form of journalism—it can be particularly painful for our families and for our nation. Never has there been a time where this has been more apparent than with the Trump Presidency."

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

plasticbagpollutionThere is hope for mitigating plastic bag pollution in the oceans and seas. (Photo: Max Lee)

If you ever feel like the world's plastic nightmare might never end, a new study shows proof that plastic pollution legislation actually works.

There are significantly fewer plastic bags on the seafloor ever since a number of European countries introduced fees on the items, according to a 25-year study from the UK government's Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS).

Researchers found an estimated 30 percent drop in the number of plastic bags in waters around Norway, Germany, northern France and Ireland.

"It is encouraging to see that efforts by all of society, whether the public, industry, NGOs or government to reduce plastic bags are having an effect," Thomas Maes, Marine Litter Scientist at CEFAS, said in a statement.

JIM HIGHTOWER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT    usa flag hightowerThe Powers-that-be are wrongly forcing a regime of austerity on our nation. Pixabay

Sometimes, it's useful to state the obvious. Here's a fact, for example, that we all know to be true: America's economy is enormous. It's worth saying that out loud and repeating it to ourselves and others, because today's Powers That Be (economic, political and media) are wrongly forcing a regime of austerity on our nation. They're insisting that we hoi polloi must downsize our middle class dreams, claiming that America no longer has the wherewithal to do big things.

Their narrow and pessimistic prescription for our future is not only at odds with the American spirit, but also at odds with the facts. The wealth of this nation is naturally huge and expansive -- thanks to such fundamentals as the sheer size and diversity of our land, the breadth and depth of our natural resources and especially the can-do attitude of our enterprising and hardworking people. Far from shrinking down, we have the economic strength today to be spreading the middle class and advancing the historic, egalitarian ideals that were planted at America's founding.

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT   altright 4 5Alt-right members preparing to enter Emancipation Park at last August’s “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, VA holding Nazi, Confederate Battle, Gadsden "Don't Tread on Me," Southern Nationalist, and Thor's Hammer flags. Anthony Crider

Is the white nationalist/alt-right movement splintering? Is it becoming even more of an online phenomenon than an out and open political movement? Did the alt-right-inspired racist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, last summer force the movement to rely even more heavily on the dark corners of the Internet, then on mass rallies and demonstrations? 

Over the past several months, news about the white nationalist/alt-right, no longer seems to draw the attention of the mainstream media. Nevertheless, as the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Keegan Hankes and Alex Amend pointed out in its recent report titled "The Alt-Right Is Killing People" there have been over 100 people killed or injured by alleged perpetrators influenced by the so-called alt-right.

"[T]here have been at least 13 alt-right related fatal episodes, leaving 43 dead and more than 60 injured," the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) reported. "Nine of the 12 incidents counted here occurred in 2017 alone, making last year the most violent year for the movement."

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