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Stack 0518wrp opt(Photo: Billy Wilson / Flickr)April 2018 was the 400th consecutive month of global temperatures above the 20th century average, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced Thursday.

That means the last time Earth was cooler than that average was December 1984—the same month Band Aid released "Do They Know It's Christmas."

This three-decade streak is not some fluke, NOAA scientists remarked.

"It's mainly due to anthropogenic (human-caused) warming," NOAA climatologist Ahira Sanchez told CNN. "Climate change is real, and we will continue to see global temperatures increase in the future."

The rising temps could be explained by natural causes such as an El Niño, but as Sanchez noted, "if you were to remove the human factor, you would still see a variability, but it would be up and down."


medicarealljpgCan universal coverage emerge from Trump's health insurance chaos? (Photo: Molly Adams)

Although Donald Trump continually bellows that he is going to resolve the health care insurance crisis, the facts belie his assertions. During his efforts to repeal Obamacare last year, he revealed either a cynical demagogic streak on the issue or an ignorance of the issue that impacts the most essential right of every person in the US: health. It probably is a combination of the two. After all, as Mother Jones reported in 2017, "Trump still doesn’t know the difference between health insurance and life insurance." Yes, that's correct, the president of the United States believes that extremely complicated and expensive health insurance works like term life insurance.

However, a recent poll indicates that Trump's ignorance and zeal to undo Obamacare may come back to bite the Republicans running for Congress in the midterms. As revealed in a May 16 Yahoo Finance column:

The number of uninsured Americans in 2017 saw its largest single-year increase since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act's coverage expansion, according to Gallup data....

According to the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index, the number of Americans without health insurance rose by 1.3 percentage points in 2017, representing about 3.2 million people. 

Those who experienced the largest declines in coverage included people between the ages of 18 and 25, Black and Latino people, and individuals with an annual household income of less than $36,000, according to the column.

It is not surprising, given the Republican demographics, that those most affected by anti-Obamacare campaign are the poor, people of color and the young. Remember that although Trump and the GOP were not successful at repealing Obamacare, they wounded it in many ways. This occurred through Trump executive orders and even congressional action, such as the tax restructuring bill from last year.


chow 5 17 18A new study from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows an "unexpected and persistent increase" in global emissions of an ozone-depleting chemicals. NASA

A new study from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows an "unexpected and persistent increase" in global emissions of an ozone-depleting chemical even though an international treaty forced production to completely halt by 2010.

NOAA scientists suggest that emissions are most likely from new, unreported production from an unidentified source in eastern Asia.

Chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, were once found in countless products, including air-conditioning, refrigeration and aerosol-spray propellants. However, it was discovered they caused a giant hole in the ozone layer, which shields the sun's dangerous ultraviolet radiation from reaching Earth's surface.

CFCs -- including the second most abundant ozone destroyer, CFC-1 -- were banned under the landmark Montreal Protocol of 1987, and since then parts of the ozone layer have been slowly recovering.

According to the NOAA analysis, published Wednesday in Nature, the rate of decline of atmospheric CFC-11 concentrations was constant from 2002 to 2012, and then slowed by about 50 percent after 2012. From 2014 to 2016, however, emissions of CFC-11 increased by 25 percent above the average measured from 2002 to 2012 despite reported production being close to zero since 2006.

As the study points out: "The increase in emission of CFC-11 appears unrelated to past production; this suggests unreported new production."


koehler 5 17 18This is a country that was founded on a stolen continent and built by the labor of the enslaved and exploited.

Such gentle abhorrence! It almost doesn't seem like racism.

"But they're also not people that would easily assimilate into the United States, into our modern society. They're overwhelmingly rural people in the countries they come from -- fourth, fifth, sixth grade educations are kind of the norm. They don't speak English, obviously that's a big thing. They don't speak English. They don't integrate well, they don't have skills."

Why bother keeping these words of John Kelly alive? There's so much bigger news out there than the White House chief of staff's outpouring of ignorance and pseudo-empathy last week, during an interview on NPR.

"They're not bad people," he said. "They're coming here for a reason. And I sympathize with the reason. But the laws are the laws."

This is so Trump Lite! We're so sorry, oh uneducated Central Americans, but we have to keep you out of America and we have to, in addition, confiscate any children you bring with you to the border in order to discourage others of your kind from trying to sneak in. The law is the law.


journotruthThe truth revealed by journalists is under attack around the world. (Photo: Kevin Harber)

The International Federation of Journalists reports that as of April 30 this year, 34 journalists have been killed throughout the world. In 2017, 65 journalists were slain, according to Reporters Without Borders. If the pace of murders continues this year -- and that will only be known at the end of 2018 -- 102 journalists will be killed.

These figures do not include those wounded, such as the several journalists shot in the recent deadly Israeli attacks on Gaza in the last two months.

Many motives are behind journalists being killed. Sometimes they are killed by those seeking to stop them from uncovering corruption or conducting reporting that is objectionable to governments. Other times they become targets for terrorists or die due to the risks of being in conflict zones.

In Gaza, it is possible that Israel is actually targeting journalists to prevent them from offering a counter-narrative against Israeli propaganda about the need for the appalling massacre of unarmed Palestinians. The journalists, after all, wear vests that clearly identify them as members of the press. This is a brutal example of a government attacking the media through its military.


Straw 0516wrp opt(Photo: francois schnell / Flickr)The growing movement to stamp out plastic straws is spreading to San Francisco.

Supervisors Katy Tang and Ahsha Safai plan to unveil on Tuesday legislation that prohibits restaurants, bars and coffee shops from serving plastic straws, stirrers or cocktail sticks with beverages, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Instead of the disposable items, the lawmakers suggested businesses hand out compostable or reusable alternatives.

A number Californian cities, including San Luis Obispo, Davis and Malibu already have ordinances regulating the use and distribution of plastic straws.

"Why do we have straws all the time?" Safai told the Chronicle. "And if we're going to have straws, it's easy to have an alternative that's much more recyclable or reusable or washable."

In the U.S., an estimated 500 million plastic straws are discarded every day, which can pollute oceans and cause harm to marine life.


airrifles (Photo: U.S. Army)

New York Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal has introduced Assembly Bill A10428 to prohibit marksmanship programs in New York state public schools. Rosenthal frames the legislation by writing, "To create a true gun-free school zone we cannot allow students to possess and discharge firearms on school property." The measure has riled 2nd Amendment enthusiasts while liberals generally see it as an overdue, common-sense measure. No one, however, has addressed the potential for lead contamination associated with the military's Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps Program's (JROTC) Marksmanship Program.

The air gun rifles used in 1,871 high schools with JROTC marksmanship programs across the country discharge lead at the muzzle end of the firing line. Every pellet being fired down the barrel scrapes out the deposits from the pellets that went before. Lead fragments fill the air and also settle on the floor by the target.

Let's examine a New York school with an Army JROTC Marksmanship program that appears to be flouting lead regulations and endangering the health of its students.


snapjpgA House Agricultural Committee bill would make the poor subsidize the wealthy by reducing food assistance. (Photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture)


It is hard to imagine anything more perniciously cynical than cutting vital food assistance to the poor to pay for tax cuts to the wealthy, but this is the age of merciless plutocracy. Indeed, the House Agricultural Committee is considering draconian new work requirements for recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps).

As a recent Newsweek article noted, "SNAP is the sole food source for 8.5 million American families -- and roughly 41 million people in America, up 5 million from 2008, who are considered 'food insecure' because they lack reliable access to affordable, nutritious food."

Eligibility.com reports on the financial thresholds for SNAP:

The maximum gross monthly income is 130 percent of the federal poverty level, and the maximum net monthly income is 100 percent of the federal poverty level. For instance, if your household only consists of one person, then the gross monthly income to be eligible for SNAP is $1,287 (net $990). For two people, gross is $1,726, net is $1,335. The net income is determined by subtracting all acceptable deductions from your gross income.

The federal poverty line is $1702 for the purpose of calculating eligibility for SNAP benefits in 2018. It is estimated that SNAP covers approximately $1.50 per person per meal.

Clearly, SNAP offers nutritional support to those in extreme need. However, in its war on the poor, the Republicans in the House of Representatives are aiming to place onerous work requirements on SNAP recipients.



JESSE MECHANIC FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT mechanic 5 15 18Last week, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly was asked if he supported a new Department of Homeland Security policy that directs every person caught crossing the border illegally to be federally prosecuted. DonkeyHotey

During an interview with NPR on May 10, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly was asked if he supported a new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) policy that directs every person caught crossing the border illegally to be federally prosecuted. The change will result in far more children in detention centers, far more charges for asylum-seekers and thus, far more separated families.

The former DHS secretary said policies like this one are the "name of the game to a large degree."

Kelly continued,

Let me step back and tell you that the vast majority of the people that move illegally into United States are not bad people. They're not criminals. They're not MS-13. Some of them are not. But they're also not people that would easily assimilate into the United States into our modern society. They're overwhelmingly rural people in the countries they come from -- fourth, fifth, sixth grade educations are kind of the norm. They don't speak English, obviously that's a big thing. They don't speak English. They don't integrate well, they don't have skills. They're not bad people. They're coming here for a reason. And I sympathize with the reason. But the laws are the laws. But a big name of the game is deterrence.


Tuesday, 15 May 2018 06:32

Ollie North: A Gunrunner Heads the NRA


BILL BERKOWTZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT   berkowitz 5 15 18 jpgOliver North speaking at the 2012 CPAC in Washington, D.C. Gage Skidmore
Lt. Colonel Oliver North, USMC (Ret.) was the military uniform wearing, dashing young lion defending the Reagan administration during congressional hearings on the Iran/Contra scandal in the summer of 1987, perhaps the most television worthy congressional hearing since John Dean had testified in the Watergate hearings years before. Now, North, is taking on a different role, tapped to be president of the National Rifle Association.
North, once one of America’s most infamous gun runners, had significant involvement in illicit arms deals and connections with brutal Latin American dictators, raised millions for a failed run for the Senate, held forth on Fox News for several years, and has a long anti-LGBT record – likening same-sex marriage opponents to anti0-slavery activists -- is going after the Parkland, Florida kids for advocating stricter gun control laws. 
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