MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
I have always had contempt for the notion that God picks sides or that God wills something to happen. First of all, it sometimes appears far too many diverse faiths believe that God is worth fighting for. This makes wars a battle between Gods with millions of victims over the centuries. All in the name of God. Second of all, God never appears to have a voice confirming which side he or she or they are on. We are forced to take it on the faith of the believers in a particular religion.
Of course, we in the United States have our pledge of allegiance to remind us that God is supposedly backing American exceptionalism: "I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." Is the idea that the God we are under is ensuring the "indivisible with liberty and justice for all" part? Given that these goals of a democracy have been fought for with blood -- and are currently slipping even further away -- it seems that "God," in this context, is simply used to justify the status quo.
On February 27, Courtland Molloy reflected in the Washington Post that "it seems as if God is everywhere now, but I'm not always sure who or what people are referring to when they talk about God." In fact, try to present evidence of God's involvement in everything from health to wars and it would earn you a "pants on fire" on the PoliFact Truth-o-Meter. One of the interesting "God is on our side" claims, Molloy reports, comes from Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association (NRA). At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) a few days ago, LaPierre stated:
There is no greater personal, individual freedom than the right to keep and bear arms, the right to protect yourself, and the right to survive…. It's not bestowed by man but granted by God to all Americans as our American birthright.
To this, Molloy sardonically responded, "A 'birthright' that results in the deaths of so many children."
LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch
It warns stakeholders that in the case of Indian coal, "trends portent that in the long run the demand is likely to decrease substantially."
JIM HIGHTOWER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Breaking news: Trump & Company are a murderous mob!
From the start of his White House tenure, the Trumpsters have plotted, stalked and serially killed vibrant members of the English Language.
The word "Fact" was the first to go. Robust and universally respected, Fact was assassinated last year when one of Trump's hired killers poisoned it with an unknown substance nicknamed: "Alternative Fact."
Their latest victim was a much-honored word that has produced a whole family of world literature: "Satire." This powerful noun embodied the use of sarcasm and ridicule to expose the vanity and vice of public figures, but Trump himself killed satire by starving it of any meaning. How can anyone satirize a presidency that is, in reality, nothing but a fully-staged satire of vanity and vice? Satire involves exaggerating the flaws, mannerisms, oddities, etc. of various characters to convey how corrupt and contemptible they are — but it's impossible to exaggerate the awfulness of an administration that gleefully flaunts its awfulness every day.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Progressives have been gnashing their teeth at the right-wing worldview of Fox News since the network was founded in 1996. The death of Roger Ailes, mastermind of Fox, last year has done nothing to diminish that contempt and frustration, nor has the meteoric rise of MSNBC. However, MSNBC's rise is significant, as TVNewswer reported on January 30:
And while Fox News and CNN posted year-over-year audience declines (primarily due to each network's coverage of Trump's inauguration), MSNBC didn't experience that issue in 2018. The de-facto network of "the resistance" posted double digit prime time audience growth this past month versus Jan. 2017, growing +61 percent in prime time and +55 percent in total day....
The major ratings story of the month for MSNBC was the performance of The Rachel Maddow Show. TRMS attracted more adults 25-54 than any other cable news show in Jan. 2018. The program averaged 678,000 demo viewers, versus 660,000 from Fox News's Hannity and the 383,000 demo viewers from CNN.
That Fox News with its aging demographic would run into a headwind has been predicted for some time. However, it is still the go-to channel for reinforcing the mindset and agenda of the right wing among its diehard viewers. Furthermore, Trump's best media friend forever, Sean Hannity, is still drawing impressive numbers to his show.
SHAD ENGKILTERRA OF ENVIRONEWS ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Courtesy of EnviroNews
Environmental Working Group (EWG), one of the country's leading water testing organizations. The EWG published its findings based on a compendium of data collected from over 50,000 public drinking systems nationwide between 2010 and 2015. The report reveals a shocking trend: much of the nation's drinking water "contains radioactive elements at levels that may increase the risk of cancer."More than 170 million Americans, or around 52 percent of the entire population, may be at risk of radiation exposure through their drinking water, according to the
The EWG reported its findings after President Donald Trump re-nominated Kathleen Hartnett White as head of the White House's own Council on Environmental Quality. In an interview in 2011, Hartnett White admitted to falsifying data while she was head of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), in a scheme to show radiation levels were below the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) limit in communities where levels actually exceeded those thresholds. She justified the falsification because she said she "[didn't] believe the science of [radiation-caused] health effects" espoused by the EPA. Hartnett White also said she "placed far more trust" in the work of the TCEQ, which she admitted again in 2017 ignored EPA regulations. While her name has been withdrawn at her own request, many remain concerned about the safety of America's drinking water.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Forbes and Credit Suisse, both of which provide precise numbers for the worsening surge in America's wealth inequality.
U.S. wealth increased by $8.5 trillion in 2017, with the richest 2 percent getting about $1.15 trillion (details here), which is more than the total cost of Medicaid (federal AND state) and the completesafety net, both mandatory and discretionary, including the low-income programs that make up the social support package derisively referred to as 'welfare.'
Surprisingly, the richest 1 percent did not increase their wealth by much in 2017 (although they took nearly $4 trillion in 2016). That means the second half of the richest 2 percent, Americans with an average net worth of approximately $10 million, outgained the safety net all by themselves in the past year.
Another stunner: The richest 2-5 percent, those Americans with an average net worth of about $2.5 million, accumulated enough wealth in 2017 to pay for the safety net FOUR TIMES.
DANA DRUGMAND FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The student survivors speaking out in the wake of yet another horrific mass shooting represent a significant element of igniting social change -- the mobilization of young people fed up with a rotten political-economic system that puts profits above all else. The courageous Marjory Stoneman Douglas students know that the NRA has effectively bought US elected officials. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio confirmed this during a televised CNN town hall on Wednesday night. When asked by Stoneman Douglas student Cameron Kasky if he would stop taking donations from the NRA, Rubio said that people buy into his agenda. Over the course of his career, Rubio has received more than $3 million from the leading gun manufacturers' lobby.
These students refuse to accept pay-to-play politics and business as usual. Their words and actions are incredibly inspiring. We need to hear from these youngsters. As I wrote in a 2015 op-ed in Truthout, "we especially need the energy and the voices of young people. As Millennials, we need to rise to our historic moment and lead the call for justice and the transformation to a more sustainable society. We have to treat this as the fight of our lives…"
Although I was writing then about climate justice, these words are just as relevant today in the context of gun violence. Young people are seizing this moment and leading the call for change. They are literally fighting for their lives.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association (NRA), reportedly makes more than $5 million a year. Like Donald Trump -- who the NRA helped elect, with well over $20 million in donations -- much of LaPierre's political worth is due to his shock value.
After nearly every national shooting tragedy, LaPierre employs the same game plan. He incongruously blames advocates of gun reform for allegedly taking advantage of the deaths and injuries caused by the latest firearms-related horror. Meanwhile, he uses his bully pulpit, exploiting the tragic deaths to advance fringe ideas. These invariably include alleged "solutions" that involve more guns.
Among LaPierre's recent inflammatory claims was the allegation that socialists were leading the charge against guns. On Thursday, he told the Conservative Political Action Conference's (CPAC) attendees:
I hear a lot of quiet in this room, and I sense your anxiety. And you should be anxious, and you should be frightened. If they seize power, if these so-called 'European socialists' take over the House and the Senate, and God forbid they get the White House again, our Americans freedoms could be lost and our country will be changed forever....
We must immediately harden our schools. Every day, young children are being dropped off at schools that are virtually wide open, soft targets for anyone bent on mass murder. It should not be easier for a madman to shoot up a school than a bank or a jewelry story or some Hollywood gala. Schools must be the most hardened target in this country, and evil must be confronted immediately with all necessary force to protect our kids.
LaPierre finished his fire-and-brimstone speech with the NRA's succinct argument: "To stop a bad guy with a gun, it takes a good guy with a gun."
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Ever since the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) named the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council (FRC) a hate group, the FRC began a concerted effort to delegitimize the organization. Now, it contends, the time is ripe to raise money for its anti-SPLC campaign.
For the FRC, it's not only about ending abortion, appointing radical right wing justices to the Supreme Court, re-banning same-sex marriage, or continuing to demonize transgender people. According to Tony Perkins, the president of the FRC, one of the organization's highest priorities in 2018 is "exposing" the "radical agenda" of the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Montgomery, Alabama-based right-wing monitoring group.
Perkins has been down this road before, but now, in a fundraising email to supporters, he stated that "Part of the resources we raise are dedicated to continue our tracking and researching the ins and outs of the SPLC's radical agenda, exposing it online at sites like SPLCexposed.com, monitoring their activities, and alerting families, Christians, and other concerned citizens about their destructive activities."
Specifically mentioned in Perkins' missive are: the SPLC's "Teaching tolerance" campaign, which "is dead set on putting a militant LGBT curriculum in every single public school classroom in America [his bold and underlines]. Those that oppose their effort are branded a 'hate group,' including parents who are concerned about their children's education"; and, focusing on the SPLC's "Best Practices" handbook, in which the organization "directs teachers and administrators to create an LGBT-inclusive 'school climate' by using gender inclusive language and encouraging students to attend events with same-sex dates."
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The cries of terror and disbelief continue. Teenagers lie down in front of the White House to protest the nation's tepid, stalled gun-control legislation. Parents grieve for their children and stare at the wound carved into the American soul. Assault rifles have more rights than schoolchildren.
A movement simmers, or so it seems, a week after the latest deadly school shooting: seventeen people killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, many more injured. A disturbed loner yet another one is arrested.
It's not simply violence, but wildly profound violation, yet again, yet again, of the deepest of human values: Life is sacred.
How can this keep happening?