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NYC 0305wrp optNew York City. (Photo: kaysha / Flickr)After five years of tireless organizing, the movement to divest NYC public worker pension funds from fossil fuels scored a win.  On January 10th, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that New York City will divest the $5 billion of its pension funds presently invested in fossil fuel stocks. It will also sue the top five fossil fuel corporations—ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips—charging that because they hid the evidence that burning fossil fuels causes climate change, they are responsible for the billions of dollars the city has spent on climate remediation.  

The divestment campaign provides an excellent example of how dedicated organizing, clear demands and strategies, creative tactics, strong coalitions and good luck can come together for a win.  

Divestment Launch

The US Divestment movement was popularized in 2012 through the national "Do The Math" tour, led by 350.org’s Bill McKibben and author Naomi Klein.  Borrowing a page from the successful anti-apartheid divestment campaign directed at South Africa in the 1980’s, 350’s focus was fossil fuel divestment in colleges, universities, foundations and non-profits. While pension funds were on the list, little attention was initially paid to them.


God 0302wrp opt(Photo: altemark / Flickr)Trump, our "Caligula-in-chief's" victory was only the first in a series of new realities we face. "Your Wildest Dreams Come True," is tragically not a reality TV show. And it augurs nothing less than a full-fledged Constitutional and national security crisis of Jovian magnitude.

To anyone who claims the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) (of which I am founder and president) has been crying wolf for asserting that Dominionists are intent on controlling our US military

It's time for your wake up call, wild dreamers.

An influential pack of Dominionist predatory proselytizing worship wolves was howling in Trump's DC hotel February 22-24 2018; the pack's fanatical leaders believe "God sent" Trump to the White House.

Heaven's rule is knock knock knockin' hard on our government's door my friends: it's called Dominionism.

Dominionists are Christian nationalist extremists -- modern iterations of medieval Crusaders. Dominionists are like the radical proponents of Sharia Law, only they champion the Bible and not the Koran. Dominionists dream of a United States ruled by a biblical set of Christian principles and reject the secular US Constitution.

Friday, 02 March 2018 06:06

The Rise of the Billionaire Candidate


zuckerbergWill Mark Zuckerberg be another billionaire running for president? (JD Lasica)

Trump's status as a billionaire was very much part of what propelled him into the White House. In fact, it could be argued that he wouldn't have been a viable candidate had he not cultivated the brand of a billionaire. After all, not every person who wants to run for president receives instant credibility as a contender (beginning with the media), not every person is included in the debates, and not every person can afford the cost of a national race. Furthermore, it was Trump's stint as the hard-as-nails billionaire on The Apprentice television series which gave him the image of leadership in the public eye.

Of course, the most important asset of a billionaire running for high office is money. There is no limit on financing one's own campaign because the Supreme Court has ruled that self-financing a campaign is akin to exercising free speech. We don't know Trump's actual net worth because he has not released his income taxes, but we saw that he was able to pour money into his campaign.

It is a standard complaint of most non-wealthy politicians that they have to spend more time fundraising than working on public policy. A billionaire, on the other hand, just enters a race and then is free to spend personal wealth at will. Plus, to many voters, the very fact of being a billionaire establishes a certain credibility, indicating a type of success that they believe could translate to the political arena.

One doesn't need to be a billionaire to achieve political credibility through wealth; being a multi-millionaire may be sufficient. However, as Michael Bloomberg -- former mayor of New York -- showed, the billionaire imprimatur has its advantages, and the line between wealth and politics becomes increasingly blurred.

Danica Roem is one of many transgender politicians who are rejecting party orthodox.Danica Roem is one of many transgender politicians who are rejecting party orthodoxy. (Photo: VCU CNS)JIM HIGHTOWER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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Last year's grassroots progressive runs for office laid to rest much of the Democratic Party's orthodoxy about who is "electable," and how it's essential that candidates -- in hopes of attracting moderate "swing" voters -- run big-money campaigns on small-bore, middle-of-the-road issues. For example, meet these eight big-issue/low-dollar candidates who rejected party orthodox and won:

-- Danica Roem -- Virginia House of Delegates

-- Andrea Jenkins -- Minneapolis City Council

-- Phillipe Cunningham -- Minneapolis City Council

-- Lisa Middleton -- Palm Springs City Council

-- Stephe Koontz -- Doraville, GA City Council

Thursday, 01 March 2018 06:38

Melting the Ice in the Human Heart

peace on Earth, whatever that is, involves listening to the Old People: the Indigenous people, the victims of cultural, spiritual and physical genocide these last 500 years.Peace on Earth involves listening to the Old People: the Indigenous people, the victims of cultural, spiritual and physical genocide these last 500 years. (Photo: Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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How close, how intimate, have you ever gotten with Greenland?

A new documentary called Stella Polaris, directed by Yatri Niehaus -- part of Chicago's tenth annual Peace on Earth Film Festival -- takes you on a meditative journey to this lonely, extraordinary island, to its melting ice, its rampaging waters and crumbling glaciers, where climate change is a part of daily life, and where the native people have wisdom and heart to offer the rest of us.

It begins with a slow meditation on the beauty of the ice. Then, six minutes in, a wall of ice suddenly crashes into the ocean.

"The Old People of Greenland have told us, since the sixties, this time it's too late to stop it," a native man says. ". . . Your religion, your money and your politics cannot stop the melting of the Big Ice."

But the story is told matter-of-factly, mostly without rancor or blame. Indeed, it's not really a story in the ordinary sense. It's a slow walk across the ice: a swirl of light and sky, ice and ocean, in loving close-up and stunning overview.


capitolexecTrump's staff doesn't claim executive privilege on Capitol Hill, but gets it anyway (Photo: brownpau)

Hope Hicks, White House communications director, yesterday indicated that she was resigning in the near future from her position. It was one day after she testified for nine hours in a private session before the House Intelligence Committee. Although she apparently answered questions about the Trump campaign for president, she refused to answer queries about her time in the White House. Her excuse for not talking about her White House work was that the president might choose to invoke executive privilege over that period in the future. The odd part was that no executive privilege was invoked -- just the threat of it.

According to a February 28 Washington Post article, Hicks, using this ploy, was able to avoid discussing her role, if any, in writing a statement with Donald Trump that defended a key meeting of Donald Trump, Jr., and other Trump staffers with a Russian emissary in Trump Tower in New York. Emails that became public indicated that Donald Trump, Jr., was eager to talk with them about negative material on Hillary Clinton.

The excuse that Hicks could not testify about her working days in the White House because of the potential assertion of executive privilege in the future struck at least one legal expert that the Post contacted as playing fast and loose:

"This is not the first administration to try to get the benefits of executive privilege without formally invoking it," said Heidi Kitrosser, a law professor at the University of Minnesota who wrote a book on the subject. "What is new and really troubling … is that we've seen it quickly become routine that the administration sends out a witness who says, 'I categorically can't discuss this whole set of really important issues because I want to preserve the ability of the president to assert executive privilege.' And then there's no follow up by either the administration or Congress. Essentially, they are allowed to create the shadow of executive privilege, and then they sort of just hide under that shadow."


Texting 0228wrp opt(Photo: El Alvi / Flickr)Everybody hates political phone-bankers, right? Those people who don't know you but call out of the blue right when you are trying to get dinner on the table, or get your toddler to bed. They intrude into your private time and try to get you to vote for their preferred candidate. This is happening more as the primary season heats up.

And now we are even starting to text you.

I've texted people to encourage them to register to vote, to early vote, to verify their number and to identify supporters of our candidate. I have let those with felonies know that they are eligible to vote, when many have been convinced that they are not. I have identified voters who need a ride to the polls and connected them to transportation options.

During the special congressional election in Georgia last summer, as heavy downpours flooded parts of Atlanta, I texted voters real-time information about which routes to the polls were flooded and which were open, from my home in Illinois.


BushBomb 0228wrp opt(Photo: duncan c / Flickr)Fifteen years ago this March, President George W. Bush addressed the nation to announce his invasion of Iraq. It was not the first act in Bush's global war on terror, but it soon became the centerpiece. Bush's secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, had been pushing for war on Iraq for several years. He predicted that such a war "certainly" would not last more than five months and that it would cost less than $50 billion. He was wildly wrong on both counts, almost instantaneously.

Both Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney also told the American people that, despite the conclusions of UN weapons inspectors, there was "no doubt" that Saddam Hussein's regime had an active program to develop weapons of mass destruction. They claimed 100 percent certainty -- and, like Rumsfeld, they were wrong.

Whether their errors were incompetence, dishonesty or both is an open question. Whatever was in their hearts when they told those lies, the more tangible consequences of their actions remain. In the war on terror, nearly 7,000 US soldiers (and roughly as many contractors) have been killed, and more than 100 times as many US veterans -- close to 1 million -- suffer from disabilities.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018 05:53

The NRA Persistently Claims God Is on Its Side


godnraGod isn't on the side of the NRA. (Glen Scott)

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."

Coal India's analysis lists a number of global and domestic events that have intensified doubts on the future of its main productCoal India's analysis lists a number of global and domestic events that have intensified doubts on the future of its main product. (Photo: Emilian Robert Vicol)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

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Even the world's largest coal miner thinks the rise of renewable energy and storage technology will pose a "significant threat" to the coal sector.

Coal India, the state-owned mining company that produces 80 percent of the country's coal, has released a new report, "Coal Vision 2030," that outlines what the industry might look like in 2030.

It warns stakeholders that in the case of Indian coal, "trends portent that in the long run the demand is likely to decrease substantially."

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