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Compass 0129wrp opt(Photo: Sergey Sokolov / Flickr)Franklin Graham, the son of Reverend Billy Graham and president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, has for years hoped to inherit his father's mantle as "America's Pastor." Instead, as the years go by, and his disturbing comments mount up, he's creeping closer and closer to occupying the space left by the death of Fred Phelps, the anti-gay zealot from Topeka, Kansas.

Graham is a mean-spirited Christian nationalist, and one of the most consistent voices arguing that Christians in this country are being persecuted, victimized and "excluded from the public square." Over the past few years, he has carved out a well-deserved reputation as one of America's leading religious-based Islamophobes. These days, he is also one of those conservative evangelical Christian leaders that appears to be able twist themselves into a pretzel in their defense of the sexpisodes of President Donald Trump.

Last week, for example, they spent a fair amount of time bending over backwards in defense of Trump's pre-2016 election $130,000 payoff to keep secret the 2006 sexual encounter he had with adult-film star Stormy Daniels. The affair happened while Trump was married to his current wife, Melania, and just a few months after Melania gave birth to their son, Barron. Now, Graham has decided to warn America that there are forces in this country that are not above staging "a coup d'etat" against Trump.

Monday, 29 January 2018 07:16

Six Big Losers in Our "Booming" Economy


Poverty 0129wrp opt(Photo: Bart Everson / Flickr)The Dow Jones Industrial Average skyrocketed from 25,000 to 26,000 in just seven trading days, prompting Donald Trump to bluster, "Our economy is booming, investments and jobs are pouring back into the country...We ARE Making America Great Again." Certainly the richest 1% are feeling great. But the stock market is feeding the nation's runaway inequality, boosting the financial wealth of a privileged few while doing NOTHING for the middle and lower classes. The biggest losers are among the MOST VULNERABLE Americans, the people who seem to be reviled by the Republicans in Congress. 

Children: While Stocks Doubled, 18% More Kids Fell Into Poverty

This is shocking and shameful. The U.S. has taken nearly half of the world's new wealth since the 2008 recession, and the stock market more than doubled from 2008 to 2014 (and tripled by 2017), but the number of children living below the federal poverty threshold increased by 18 percent from 2008 to 2014.


Disco 0126wrp opt(Photo: Hitchster / Flickr)For white Christian conservative evangelical leaders like Franklin Graham and Tony Perkins, President Donald Trump represents the kind of "muscular" Christianity they've been yearning for. The fact that Trump's bullying and moral turpitude is part of the package doesn't seem to bother them in the least.

In the wake of revelations of the latest Trump sex-related scandal – the pre-2016 election payoff to a porn star involved with Trump to buy her silence -- Graham and Perkins are claiming that Trump is a "changed man," and they're willing to grant him a "mulligan."

Graham, the son of Reverend Billy Graham, and president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association,claimed that Trump is a "changed person." Perkins, the head of the Washington, D.C. lobbying group, the Family Research Council told Politico "We kind of gave him— 'Alright, you get a mulligan. You get a do-over here.'" 

"If this behavior were occurring today, right now, as he is president of the United States, I can assure you that my support and the support of Evangelicals would be dissipating very rapidly," Perkins told CNN. "But we're talking about something that occurred ten years ago, among a number of things that occurred with this president, prior to being president."

Friday, 26 January 2018 05:43

GOP Voter Suppression Is Toxic to Democracy


votingsuppressionVoter suppression is a dagger in the heart of democracy.      (Chuck Coker)

GOP voter suppression is a singular threat to our democracy.

This week's Truthout Progressive Pick is The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: The Case of the Stolen Election, an updated documentary by investigative reporter Greg Palast. It makes the case that Trump's victory in the presidential election of 2016 would not likely have happened if Republicans in control of state governments had not impeded voting through a variety of methods, including one they have long used to great effect -- the purging of voter lists.

In this context, it is important to remember two things: the GOP controls the majority of state houses (in many cases with an assist from gerrymandering) and they indefatigably try to reduce the voting of likely opposition voters. They also try to challenge ballots and leave many of them uncounted. The aim of these strategies is to counter the changing demographic nature of the United States into a more diverse nation: a country that is less white and younger, and a country where the poor might become more empowered. Palast cites a telling statistic in a January 25 op-ed for Truthout: "According to the US Civil Rights Commission, the chance your vote will be disqualified is 900 percent higher if you're Black than if you're white."

Thursday, 25 January 2018 08:39

Governing by Scapegoat

Calling for the end the surveillance, deportations, and criminalization of undocumented peoplesDemonstrators gather in Los Angeles on September 2017, calling for the end the surveillance, deportations and criminalization of undocumented peoples. (Photo: Molly Adams)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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Got a problem? Simplify and project.

When you have a country to govern and you have no idea what to do -- and, even more to the core of the matter, you also have a crony-agenda you want to push quietly past the populace -- there's a time-proven technique that generally works. Govern by scapegoat!

This usually means go to war, but sometimes that's not enough. Here in the USA, there's been so much antiwar sentiment since the disastrous quagmires of the last half century -- Vietnam, the War (To Promote) Terror -- we've had to make war simply part of the background noise. The military cash bleed continues, but the public lacks an international enemy to rally against and blame for its insecurity.

Creating a scapegoat enemy domestically has also gotten complicated. Thugs and punks -- predatory (minority) teenagers -- shoulder much of the responsibility for keeping the country distracted, but in this era of political correctness, politicians have to be careful. Thus the Trump administration has turned to the immigrants. Not all of them, of course -- only the ones from Latin America, the Middle East and Africa. In particular, it has turned to . . . the illegals!

Emmanuel Macron speaks at Leweb in 2014.Emmanuel Macron speaks at LeWeb in 2014. (Photo: Official LeWeb Photos)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

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France will shut down all its coal-fired power plants by 2021, President Emmanuel Macron announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The deadline is two years ahead of his predecessor Francois Hollande's goal of shutting down France's coal-powered plants by 2023.

France only produces around 1 percent of its energy from coal-fired stations, as the country is 99 percent dependent on hydrocarbon imports. However, the move from the world's fifth largest economy shows it is determined to be a leader on climate issues and sends a signal to other nations.


trumpbrandFor Donald Trump, the presidency and his company are inextricably intertwined. (DonkeyHotey)

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Donald Trump's conflict of interest between his profiteering and the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution continues into his second year in office. The Emoluments Clause prohibits a president from financially benefiting from any gift or action of a foreign government.

The Trump Organization is profiting off the presidency in numerous ways. China has granted multiple trademarks to Trump products and services, and foreign governments have had representatives stay at Trump properties, beginning with his inauguration just over a year ago.

Although Trump stated before he was sworn in that he would remove himself from the running of the Trump Organization, he didn't remove himself from personally profiting from his interest in the corporation. Plus, although he said his children would run the company and make decisions, their interests do not appear to be entirely separate from their father's -- he is clearly benefiting financially from their promotion of the sprawling business.


DACA 0124wrp opt(Photo: Molly Adams / Flickr)Claudia is a teacher and a soccer coach. Jessica works for child protective services. Juan married his childhood sweetheart and now is raising children who will soon have their own sweethearts. Marilu helps people fill out applications and prepare for their interviews for naturalization as US citizens.

Like most everyone else in my community, they have love/hate relationships with their bosses, worry about getting sick (no insurance), but spend more time anticipating possible vacation trips. They consider themselves religious. All of them have pretty good jobs, but small bank accounts. They are my friends and they are lovely and alive, and have been, until recently, mostly hopeful about their lives.

They are also people whose presence in the United States is "unauthorized." They all were brought to the US as children and have been unable to get their immigration status regularized (for a quick view into how crazed a process that is, you might read this article).

The "mostly" qualifier of their hope is, in large part, due to their decision a short time ago to trust the United States of America, and enroll in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018 07:28

The Kids the World Forgot


KabulKids 0124 optStreet kids in Kabul. (Photo: Ken Hannaford-Ricardi)I spent much of yesterday with some kids the world forgot. Young, remarkably sturdy and resilient, they can often be naïve and almost willfully gullible. They inhabit a world that delights in tripping them up and watching them fall. They are Kabul’s Street Kids.

Every Friday morning, roughly 100 of these forgotten children sit in noisy – sometimes raucous - groups of seven to ten in a large, unheated classroom, discussing and brainstorming human rights - rights few in the international community seem to acknowledge they enjoy. On this thirty degree Kabul morning, some are in shirtsleeves; few have coats adequate for the weather. They are dirty. They are underfed. They are loved.

These kids are the smallest microcosm of Kabul's estimated 50,000 "street kids", boys and girls who dot the city’s already clogged roads selling balloons, "blessing" cars with incense, or lugging scales on which passers-by are invited to weigh themselves. They perform these demeaning tasks for a meager “fee” which helps their mothers buy food for their families.


occupyjanphotoThe 2011 Occupy movement provided hope for economic equality.          (Charlie Llewellin)

It has only been a few short years since the heady days of the Occupy Wall Street movement, which began on September 11, 2017, in Zucotti Park, New York. The ensuing weeks created a fervor for economic justice across the United States, with encampments in many cities. In particular, the clarion call for an end to the concentration of wealth among 1% of the population became a social meme. Even the corporate mainstream media -- which only sparingly covers financial inequality issues -- reported continually on the protests, particularly the main one on Wall Street.

On November 15, 2011, New York police squashed the protest in Zucotti Park, and the shutdown of encampments around the country ensued. Although ardent concern about the increase in wealth among an extremely small percentage of the nation (and world) continues among progressives -- and in publications such as Truthout -- some recent studies have shown that the regressive trend is continuing, not abating. This reality is facilitated by public policy such as the just-enacted Republican tax restructuring, which enriches the top 1% even further while diminishing federal government support for programs that financially benefit the public at large.

A January 23 Inter Press Service (IPS) article confirms that wealth is continuing to be amassed in the hands of the few at the expense of the many.

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