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Rudy 0822wrp(Photo: Gage Skidmore / Flickr)


"Truth isn't truth" according to Rudy Giuliani, a statement he made on August 19 on NBC's "Meet the Press." The phrase was immediately condemned widely as embodying the Trump administration's complete disregard for the facts. Yet a closer look at Giuliani's underlying message shows an underlying and deeply strategic approach to undermining the truth. Namely, he deployed tactics similar to those used by "scientists" producing industry-sponsored studies rejecting human-caused climate change and links between tobacco and cancer.


mikepence334Mike Pence announced Trump administration plans for a Space Force on August 9. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

More than 50 years ago, the United States became a signatory to the Outer Space Treaty of 1967. That binding agreement committed nations, with some exceptions, not to militarize space. The Arms Control Association describes some of the terms of the treaty:

The 1967 Outer Space Treaty bans the stationing of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in outer space, prohibits military activities on celestial bodies, and details legally binding rules governing the peaceful exploration and use of space. One hundred and five countries are states-parties to the treaty, while another 26 have signed it but have not yet completed ratification....

The treaty repeatedly emphasizes that space is to be used for peaceful purposes, leading some analysts to conclude that the treaty could broadly be interpreted as prohibiting all types of weapons systems, not just WMD, in outer space.

The signing countries, according to the Arms Control Association, agreed not to "establish military bases or installations, test 'any type of weapons,' or conduct military exercises on the moon and other celestial bodies."

Apparently the 1967 accord is just another document that the Trump administration has chosen to shred. That is because on August 9, Vice President Mike Pence delivered a speech at the Pentagon in which he announced that the Trump White House is proposing a sixth military branch to be known as the Space Force. Make no mistake about it, the purpose of placing the yet-to-be-approved agency in the Pentagon is for the US to engage in the military use of space.


prison strike cervantes squarePrison strike poster by Melanie Cervantes. Melanie Cervantes / Incarceratedworkers.org

Their labor is exploited, working for as little as a few cents an hour, and sometimes for free. They are often on the front lines risking their lives fighting forest fires, and getting paid as little an $1 an hour plus $2 per day. The food is abominable; there are few to none rehabilitative activities; overcrowding exacerbates the dangers they face everyday; their treatment is grotesque. These are some of the reasons prisoners in 17 states are launching a nationwide strike scheduled to begin on August 21 and last until September 9, the 47thanniversary of the Attica prison rebellion.

According to the website of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, the strike is also partially in response to the deadliest incident of violence in a United States prison in a quarter century which took place at the Lee Correctional Institution, a maximum security prison in South Carolina on April 15, 2018. 


3229826224 a679cc726a z Steve Rhodes / Flickr

Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision codifying legal abortion in the United States, stands at a terrifying precipice. President Trump has nominated Bret Kavanaugh to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. Kavanaugh is a staunch conservative whose legal decisions leave little doubt as to his position on Roe

Yet, as the fight to maintain legal abortion ramps up, there exists an opportunity to spotlight those who have been, and continue to be, left behind by the decision. Despite being the law of the land, Roe has proved more theoretical than practical for far too many women. Still, without it, those who already suffer the most from a lack of access to safe abortion care will be hardest hit.

Walk2 0820wrpThe People’s Peace Movement ( PPM ) walking barefoot to the Northern provinces of Afghanistan, led by a blind member of their group, Zindani. (Photo: Dr Hakim / PPM)


It's frustrating that whereas all human beings wish to live meaningful lives, we seem helpless in the face of a few individuals waging wars and exploiting our world.

But we can each do something about this insensible status quo, as ordinary folk of the People's Peace Movement ( PPM ) show us by taking one barefoot step at a time, traveling to the Northern areas of Afghanistan to persuade fellow Afghans, whether they're with 'insurgent groups' or with the U.S./NATO/Afghan forces, to stop fighting.

Their action of walking without shoes suggest to us that, for us to survive today's militarized and profit-driven norms, we have to live each day differently, and with clarity and compassion.

Monday, 20 August 2018 07:25

The Anti-Truth White House

GoodBoy 0820wrpPhoto: anokarina / Flickr)


How is Trump doing in his fake MAGA quest? MPGA? Make Putin Great Again?

My career as an activist since the 1960s has focused on a critique of my own government's activities, since we live in a democracy and our government's actions are done in our names. Well, I said when I felt it appropriate, not in mine. No threats to annihilate cities anywhere in my name. No invasion of Iraq in my name. Been arrested, cuffed and stuffed, sent to prison for some fairly robust nonviolence.

And yet now I find myself almost sympathetic to the FBI, the same organization that played many dirty tricks against peace and justice organizations over the decades. I even feel some sympathy for some CIA officials, the same organization that disgraced itself in Iran, Congo, Chile and other places. How can this be? From where can these unbidden sympathies arise?

Kneel 0817wrpMembers of the San Francisco 49ers, Kaepernick's former team, kneel in protest during the national anthem. (Photo: Keith Allison / Flickr)


On August 14, 2016, San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick began protesting police brutality and social inequality by sitting, and later taking a knee, during the playing of the National Anthem. His action started a national conversation, one that has often gotten sidetracked.

As of this writing, despite an impressive, albeit short career, Kaepernick has not been invited to a training camp of any NFL team. In October of last year, he filed a collusion suit against NFL owners, maintaining they are working together to keep him out of football.

Thursday, 16 August 2018 07:46

Saving Democracy


buttDonald Trump speaking to supporters at an immigration policy speech at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona. Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Writing on democracy, I’m reminded of a great old Stevie Wonder song, "Love’s in Need of Love Today." Democracy is in need of love today: It is taking a beating nearly everywhere, including right here. Remember the optimism that accompanied the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union two years later? Democracy was going to sweep across eastern Europe, the new Russia was going to undergo dramatic changes under glasnostand perestroika. There was great hope for democratic change in Africa and Latin America. And then the backlash came, and we see what has happened in all those countries, starting with Putin’s Russia.

But then came the Arab Spring in 2011, and suddenly optimism was back in vogue. From the Persian Gulf to Tunisia, and from Syria to Egypt, it seemed that momentous change was about to unfold. Not so fast. The Syrian civil war turned ugly, Egypt gave way to the military, the ultra-conservative monarchies survived in the Gulf states, and Libya imploded following the overthrow of Gaddafi. Terrorism, real and imagined, became the new basis for concentration of power and the derailing of reform efforts.


9591706547 b33b3a4189 thetortmaster / Flickr

"He owned the gun legally and had a concealed carry permit."

That matters?

In an otherwise neutral and informative article, this reads like a bit of legal fetishism. Another human being is dead, oh so needlessly and pointlessly, thanks to a moment of lethally armed anger in a convenience store parking lot in Clearwater, Florida last month. But the killer's weapon was bureaucratically correct: clean as a whistle. 

This is more than merely irrelevant. There's something wrong here that our legal system is, apparently, incapable of addressing. 

The July 19 death of Markeis McGlockton was back in the news recently because the shooter, Michael Drejka, wound up being charged, a month later, with manslaughter. Thanks to the state's Stand Your Ground law, he, like George Zimmerman in 2012, was initially allowed to walk free. He had been "defending himself," or at least he thought he was, and that was good enough for the state of Florida.


supremecourt32Brett Kavanaugh and the road to tyranny on the Supreme Court. (Photo: Geoff Livingston)

BuzzFlash has long opined on how the Republicans play the long game on federal bench appointees. They are ruthless, cunning and tenacious in pursuing their nominations, from federal circuit court benches to the Supreme Court (SCOTUS). Meanwhile, as evidenced by Mitch McConnell's refusal to let President Obama's nomination of moderate DC Appellate Court Judge Merrick Garland proceed, the Democrats appear to be docile and lacking in outrage.

McConnell often says his career legacy will be a Republican federal court system that will last for generations. Those who vet federal bench candidates, often from the right-wing Federalist Society of lawyers, are particularly adept at picking younger attorneys who are likely to serve for decades on the courts. Given how partisan the Republican appointees are, they are likely to back the GOP in stopping congressional actions that do not benefit their party and its objectives.

In the current climate of Trump usurping unilateral executive branch authority, this becomes particularly ominous. The nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is an investment in ensuring that Trump cannot be pursued for violating the law. Truthout columnist Will Pitt wrote last month about the implications of Kavanaugh's vote on SCOTUS:

The ultimate reason why Donald Trump tapped Kavanaugh may never be fully known, but if the question appeared on the Big Board at the MGM Grand in Vegas, I’d bet all my worldly possessions on two words: Unitary Executive. See, Trump has no ideology to speak of beyond whatever serves his immediate purposes. His politics are entirely transactional — What do I get out of it? — and with Kavanaugh, Donald Trump gets a breathing “Get Out Of Jail Free” card on the highest court in the land.

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