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Around 9 a.m., a helicopter began circling overhead. Moments later, as Jonathan Blitzer wrote recently in the New Yorker, a fleet of cars pulled up outside the meat-processing plant in Bean Station, Tenn. . . . 

And the SS guys stepped out. 

Oh wait, I mean the ICE agents, who swarmed through the plant and wound up arresting 97 "illegals." 

In Morristown, a nearby town where most of the arrestees lived, "the raid was catastrophic news. Families’ worst fear had come true: husbands, fathers, wives, mothers -- gone. The following day, more than five hundred students were reported absent from area schools, kept home out of a combination of fear, anxiety, and confusion."

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT berkowitz 4 26 18President Donald Trump, who weighs in with tweets just about everyday on just about every subject, has not tweeted one word about two cases involving terror attacks against Muslims. Gage Skidmore

From Portland, Oregon where a man screamed anti-Muslim slurs at two young women, and when two passengers stood up to intervene, they were stabbed to death, to Kansas where an arsonist burned down an American Muslim couple's newly opened restaurant; from Georgia where at a local mall, a man attacked a 14-year-old American Muslim 8th grade girl while yelling "terrorist," to Victoria, Texas where the Victoria Islamic Center, was the target of arson; since the election of Donald Trump in 2016, there has been a sharp increase in attacks on Muslims in the United States. 

According to The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) recently issued report titled "Targeted," "Trump's xenophobic rhetoric, both prior to and during the course of his presidency, emboldened those who sought to express their anti-Muslim bias and provided a veneer of legitimacy to bigotry in the public sphere." According to CAIR, the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, there was "a 17 percent increase in anti-Muslim bias incidents nationwide in 2017 over 2016. [and] … a 15 percent increase in hate crimes targeting American Muslims, including children, youth, and families, over the same period."



bencarsonpubSecretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Ben Carson's proposal on April 25 to raise rents and allow for the imposition of work requirements on public housing residents is part of the war on the poor being waged by the GOP. The first major recent step in this campaign was the tax reduction bill for the rich signed by Donald Trump last December.

How does the tax cut law affect Republican efforts to further tear away at the social safety net? It created an increased deficit that the Republicans can now use as an excuse for placing an increased financial burden on the poor. An April Associated Press article reveals:

The combined effect of President Donald Trump's tax cuts and last month's budget-busting spending bill is sending the federal deficit toward the $1 trillion mark next year, according to a new analysis by the Congressional Budget Office.

The CBO report says the nation's $21 trillion debt would spike to more than $33 trillion in 10 years, with debt held by investors spiking to levels that would come close to equaling the size of the economy, reaching levels that many economists fear could spark a debt crisis....

[The] report estimates that the GOP tax bill, which is Republican-controlled Washington's signature accomplishment under Trump, will add $1.8 trillion to the deficit over the coming decade, even after its positive effects on the economy are factored in.

How to fill in the budget gap caused by the tax restructuring law? The Republicans' solution is to place the burden on the poor to subsidize tax reductions for the rich.


Pipe 0425wrp opt (Photo: Elias Schewel / Flickr)The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled Monday that four climate activists facing criminal charges may use an unusual "necessity defense" over their efforts to shut down a pair of tar sands pipelines owned by Enbridge Energy.

"Valve turners" Emily Johnston and Annette Klapstein were charged after shutting off the emergency valves on the two pipelines in October 2016. Johnston and Klapstein, and the two defendants who filmed them, argue their actions to stop the flow of the polluting bitumen were justified due to the threat of climate change.

The action was part of Climate Direct Action's plan to shut down five pipelines across the U.S. that deliver tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada.

The pipelines targeted were Enbridge line 4 and 67 in Leonard, Minnesota; TransCanada's Keystone pipeline in Walhalla, North Dakota; Spectra Energy's Express pipeline at Coal Banks Landing, Montana; and Kinder Morgan's Trans-Mountain pipeline in Anacortes, Washington.


Barb 0425wrp optBarbara Bush(Photo: Esther / Flickr)Randa Jarrar is the latest victim of being denied free speech.

Jarrar is a Muslim American award winning writer and a tenured English professor at Fresno State University. Her mother is Egyptian and her father is Palestinian. Instead of eulogizing Barbara Bush, she tweeted on April 17 that, "Barbara Bush was a generous and smart and amazing racist who along with her husband, raised a war criminal."

Due to her unapologetic tweets, the right wing public wants her fired. The administration at Fresno State wants her disciplined and is investigating her tweets.

Everything she said in her brief tweet is factually correct.


mcconnellSenate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

It should come as no surprise that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is speeding up the confirmation process of Trump's nominations for the federal bench. As I have pointed out before, the Republicans hold the long view in understanding the importance of the judicial branch of government to achieving a conservative agenda.

After all, McConnell basically stole a Supreme Court (SCOTUS) seat when he refused to hold hearings on Merrick Garland, Obama's appointee to succeed Antonin Scalia on the top court in the United States. The eventual confirmation of Neil Gorsuch after Trump's victory guarantees a conservative Supreme Court majority, with Justice Anthony Kennedy as the swing vote. Remember also that appointments to the federal bench are for life, so the Republicans are nominating younger judges who will have a long-term impact on the shape of the law in the United States far into the future. Gorsuch, for instance, is only 50 years old. Since few Supreme Court justices retire before age or health issues make it necessary to do so, Gorsuch is likely to be on the court for at least two to three decades.

Politico reported in an April 20 article:

Mitch McConnell is making a last dash to stock the judiciary with conservatives this year as a hedge against the chance that Republicans lose the Senate in November.

The GOP may have only a few more months of unified control of Washington to repeal Obamacare or enact President Donald Trump’s infrastructure plan. But the Senate majority leader is taking a longer view -- and confirming as many conservative judges as possible....


oilrigOffshore oil rig. (Photo: EcoWatch)

New Jersey has passed a law prohibiting offshore oil and gas exploration, development and production in state waters—the nation's toughest response yet to the Trump administration's plans to vastly expand offshore drilling in nearly all U.S. coastal waters.

Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law on Friday the bipartisan bill called the "Shore Tourism and Ocean Protection from Offshore Oil and Gas Act" or "STOP Offshore Oil and Gas Act."

The Democratic governor noted that signing occurred on the anniversary of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

"We do this for the millions of people who live near and love our beaches, billions of dollars in economic activity, tens of thousands of jobs, and the thousands of businesses that rely on a safe and clean shoreline," Murphy tweeted. "We do this for today and for future generations."

The state's 130-mile coastline is home to beaches, fisheries and marine life. It also supports a $44 billion tourism industry that attracts millions of visitors each year.

Monday, 23 April 2018 07:15

Examining the Kochtopus


Koch 0423wrp opt(Photo: Walter Siegmund)Multibillionaires Charles and David Koch want nothing less than to supplant America's core democratic principle of majority rule — the will of The People — with their core plutocratic principle of inviolable property rights, also known as domination by the wealthy minority. Their notion is that "property" (accumulated wealth and the means to get it) is sacrosanct and cannot be restricted by the pesky majority for the Common Good. Cloaking their efforts with layers of dark-money front groups, the Koch brothers have used their enormous assets to mount a far-ranging, ultrasophisticated assault on American democracy.

From their early involvement in The John Birch Society (daddy Fred Koch being an early member), they continued their rightward march, and by the 1970s, both had plunged into the abyss of a laissez-fairyland plutocracy. With the fervor of religious cultists, they've devoted themselves to the cause of "liberty" — by which they mean the government's only proper role is keeping the avaricious pursuits of the wealthy owner class free from any interference by you, me and the democratic "us." They believe that We The People can neither tax the riches of the owner class nor set rules on how it treats workers, consumers, nature ... and society as a whole.


Raza 0423wrp opt(Photo: Nathan Rupert / Flickr)Despite a favorable 2017 court decision, the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) school board continues to refuse to abide by a historic ruling against the state of Arizona in regards to the 2010 legislation HB 2281. This Orwellian legislation outlawed the teaching of courses that promoted segregation or race hatred; it fined any Arizona school district that was found to be out of compliance 10 percent of its budget.

The court found that the state was motivated by racial animus in the passage of the anti-Ethnic studies proposition. Rather than abiding with the decision, other school board members are proposing Latino or Hispanic studies in place of Raza or Mexican American studies.

The rumblings coming out of the TUSD school board earlier this year appear to be ignorant not only of the ancient history of this state, but even the history of the past 12 years.


Dick 0420wrp optLauralee and Richard Uihlein. (Photo: Hope for Haiti / Flickr)He's a free-market, anti-regulation, small government, anti-union, homophobic, tax avoiding crusader. He was the fourth largest contributor to outside spending groups in the 2016 election cycle, and he and his wife are among the biggest Republican contributors in this year's midterm elections. He was a top donor to the failed Alabama Senate campaign of the disgraced Roy Moore, and he remains an enthusiastic supporter of Donald Trump. You wouldn't recognize him at a highway rest stop, and you couldn't pick him out of a line-up. Politico's Maggie Severns called him "one of the most influential, but still little-known, political donors in the country."

Like many mega-wealthy conservatives trying to shape politics, Richard Ellis "Dick" Uihlein would probably tell you that he just wants his point of view to resonate. And, since the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, his money is resonating loud and clear, not only in the race for the Senate in Wisconsin, and the battle over the governorship of Illinois, but at conservative organizations across the country.

Wisconsin's senate race has become one of the most hotly contested races this year, and the Illinois-based Uihlein is in the thick of it. According to an email from Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin's campaign, Uihlein has "directed much of his spending" toward defeating Baldwin. In Illinois, Uihlein put $2 million into the campaign chest of state Rep. Jeanne Ives, who recently lost in a close race in the GOP primary, where she challenged Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner.

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