Saturday, February 17, 2018

HuffPost: Florida High School Students Stage Walkout To Protest Gun Violence

Now is the exact time to talk about gun control,
say students from a high school near Parkland.

“Ahead of a proposed large-scale student walkout nationwide, students protested outside a Broward County high school Friday, seeking an end to the gun violence that led to 17 deaths this week at a school just miles away.” NBC Miami 

They are not yet old enough to vote, but when they are, young people like these will eventually create a country we all can be proud of. The evolutionary thrust is there but unfortunately, the old has to die first to make room for the new. All of us should be proud of these young people for taking action.

(As an aside: the accused killer, 19-year-old Nikolas CruzNikolas Cruz, could legally purchase an AR-15 under federal law, even though it was illegal for him to buy a handgun. He could not even buy a beer but he could buy a gun that can massively kill hundreds in a matter of minutes.)

The nationwide walkout is promoted on their twitter page “Student Walkout Against Gun Violence.” It calls for the walkout to be held next week. Wednesday has been suggested. Some have even suggested that they not return to their schools until Trump and Congress take action.

Several demonstrators signs called out Donald Trump and Marco Rubio for their inadequate responses to Florida’s mass murder at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednesday.

Donald Trump and Republicans have not indicated a need to tighten gun control laws. What they have offered is nothing more than their same old meaningless platitudes.

Rubio said on Thursday, it was legitimate for Congress to debate how to respond to the shooting that killed 17 people and injured nine more, but said lawmakers must acknowledge their power is limited.

Senator Rubio: The greatest, more threatening problem is that you, and by extension, Congress, think you cannot make laws to protect Americans.

“If someone has decided, ‘I’m going to commit this crime,’ they will find a way to get the gun to do it,” Rubio said on Thursday from the Senate floor.

That’s baloney.

As others have pointed out, this is basically an argument against having any laws at all. Just imagine Rubio applying this same logic to other policies: People are going to commit murder anyway, so why bother banning it? People are going to use drugs anyway, so why bother making them illegal? People are going to break traffic laws anyway, so why do we need them?

Here’s the story:


By Ryan Grenoble and Sebastian Murdock

Friday, February 16, 2018

Following Florida’s Mass Murder Trump Offers No Remedies, Only More of the Same


Donald Trump tweets on Wednesday, “My prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting. No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school.

Trump’s national address on Thursday was longer but essentially he said the same thing as in his tweet. It was not assuring that any action on gun laws would be taken any time soon.

One very obvious reason is because “No modern American president has had a closer bond with gun owners than Trump, who won 62 percent of their votes in 2016, then promised the National Rifle Association in April 2017 that he would "never, ever infringe on the right of the people to keep and bear arms." NBC News

The fact is children and teachers do not feel safe in their schools. Two-thirds of schools regularly schedule traumatizing active-shooter drills conducted in conjunction with local police departments in elementary schools and high schools across America.

It doesn't have to be that way. Here's Japan's proof that fewer guns mean fewer mass shootings.


The fact is the National Rifle Association, Republicans, Conservatives, Libertarians, and Second Amendment advocates have made our country an unsafe place to live.

Those who fear losing their precious guns blame mass murder on mental health issues and blame people not guns . . . “Guns don't kill people; people kill people." The fact is that people -- mentally ill or not -- would not so easily be killing anybody if they didn’t have a gun to do it. Neither would you need to own a gun for self-defense. Knives, baseball bats, or explosives are not designed to kill, but to kill is the only purpose of owning a gun.

Senator Chris Murphy, speaking from the Senate floor, said, “This epidemic of mass slaughter, this scourge of school shooting after school shooting, it only happens here not because of coincidence, not because of bad luck, but as a consequence of our inaction. We are responsible for a level of mass atrocity that happens in this country with zero parallel anywhere else.

One way to achieve reasonable gun legislation is not to vote for anyone in our communities, in states, and nationally who support the NRA or is an advocate for Second Amendment rights.

Here’s Australia’s story:


By Will Oremus
  

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Telegraph: Kim Jong-un praises South Korea's warm welcome for Winter Olympics after sister's visit


North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong-un expressed his gratitude to South Korea for hosting and "specially prioritizing" their countries attendance at the Olympic Games in PyeongChang, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). 

Jong-un has also called for a "further livening up" of the "warm climate of reconciliation" the South created by hosting North Korea’s participation in unity with South Korea at the Games.

It’s quite an achievement on the part of both countries who have never signed a peace treaty but did sign an armistice that ended the hostilities of the Korean War over 60 years ago. Moreover, Un’s sister, Kim Yo-jung, was part of North Korea’s delegation to the Games. She put a much-needed human face on North Korea.

She also delivered a letter from her brother to South Korean President Moon Jae-in inviting him to a summit in Pyongyang. If this happens, it will be the first summit since 2007 and only the third summit to take place between the two Korea's.

“The Trump administration, scrambling to avoid a rift with an ally, has told South Korea it is open to holding preliminary talks with North Korea, according to two senior administration officials and a spokesman for the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in.

“The decision, which came after Vice President Mike Pence attended the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and met with Mr. Moon, reflects how thoroughly the diplomatic channel between the North and South has upended the administration’s calculations,” according to the NY Times.

But don’t expect Trump and his administration to faithfully pursue this or any other opportunity to open up talks with Kim Jong-un. The United States will continue with its belligerency. Not naively, but every chance to take a step closer to a peaceful solution to our differences with North Korea should be explored.

The bottom-line is North Korea one-upped Trump and the United States with one hell of a propaganda victory.

Here’s the story:


By Agence France-Presse

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Bloomberg: Trump Proposes to Cut Medicare and Spend Big on Wall, Defense


The great irony about the Trump 2019 budget that was released [Monday] is that it took a former host of a television reality show to put together what may well be the most unreal presidential budget in American history.” -- Forbes

Donald Trump’s 2019 federal budget proposal morally and economically is bad news for most Americans. His campaign promises, among other things, were that Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid would not be cut.

Instead, what Trump’s budget does is pay for increases in military spending, and pay for tax breaks given to wealthy Americans and businesses by cutting Medicaid by $1.3 trillion, Medicare by $554 billion, and cutting $10 billion from the Social Security Disability Insurance Program.

His proposal also cuts the budget of nearly every federal oversight agency. The Department of Agriculture is cut by 16 percent, the Department of Education by 10.5 percent, the Department of Health and Human Services by 21 percent, the Department of Housing and Urban Development by 18.3 percent, the Department of the Interior by 16 percent, the Department of Labor by 21 percent and the Department of Transportation by 19 percent, in addition to Environmental Protection Agency cuts.

The proposed plan also cuts $214 billion from food stamps over the next decade by eliminating cash payments in favor of American grown food packages given directly to recipients. Instead of using their own discretion at food markets, the White House proposes that recipients receive parcels that include items such as shelf-stable milk, ready to eat cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans and canned fruit, vegetables, and meat, poultry or fish.’” -- Yahoo News

 Here’s the story:


By Justin Sink

Monday, February 12, 2018

Slate: Trump Infrastructure Plan: You Pay for It (Video)



By Henry Grabar

Image: CNN
Donald Trump’s infrastructure plan calls for a $1.5 trillion in spending but is in fact just a $200 billion plan. It boils down to $200 billion in federal spending and $1.5 trillion coming from state, local, and the private sector. A plan that depends heavily on privatization.

After Trump and the Republican corporate tax cut, there is no money left.

This is Professor Robert Reich’s analysis of how Trump’s plan will get the money:

(1) higher state and local taxes on average working people and the poor,
(2) higher gas taxes paid mostly by average working people and the poor,
(3) tolls on highways and bridges also paid by average working people and the poor, but which will go into the pockets of private investors, and
(4) cuts in public services, that will hurt average working people and the poor.
“With such a public record of promoting the interests of corporate polluters over communities and the environment, no one should be fooled by Trump’s infrastructure scam,” wrote Christy Goldfuss, senior vice president for energy and environment policy at the Center for American Progress. “It is little more than a Trojan horse designed to gut the environmental protections that are necessary for the clean air, clean water, wildlife, and national parks that truly make America great.”

The Democrats have a plan that increases federal infrastructure spending by five times that of Trump’s.

Reich explains Trump’s infrastructure plan in this video:


AP: After S. Korea visit, Pence insists 'no daylight' on North


Athletes from North Korea and South Korea marching under the same flag in the opening ceremonies of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games was a significant symbolic moment for many. Vice President Mike Pence, in Pyeongchang to lead the U.S. delegation, was not impressed, however,” according to Think Progress.

Pence and his wife Karen stood only for the U.S. team with obvious disregard for those standing and applauding for the unified teams of North and South Korea. Those around Pence applauding the moment of unity and a sign of possible peace between the two otherwise separate countries were South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

Think Progress continued, “If Pence used the moment to make a political statement, it would be an interesting tactic, considering he walked out of an NFL game last year because several players linked arms or took a knee during the playing of the national anthem -- a silent protest against injustice and inequality that Pence just couldn’t bear to witness.”

Leading up to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, Pence warned that North Korea was trying to "hijack the message and imagery" of the event with its "propaganda." South Korean President Moon Jae-in called the unification: "Olympic games of peace."

“It was the U.S. that appeared to be the one left in the cold, especially after the sister of the North Korean dictator extended an invitation from her brother for Moon to visit the North. That was the clearest sign yet of an expanding diplomatic opening opposed by the Trump administration."

If Americans desire world peace, a diplomatic effort to achieve a positive relationship with North Korea, and a friendly diplomatic relationship with the rest of the world, we need to impeach Donald Trump or vote him out of office in 2020.


By Zeke Miller

Sunday, February 11, 2018

'Pillar of the Community' Deported from US after 39 Years


Another heartbreaking story of deportation in contradiction to Donald Trump’s statement that his stepped-up deportation enforcement of illegal immigrants only applied to those who are criminals. Trump’s heartless enforcement policy is instead causing a lot of pain and suffering for many who don’t deserve it.

Amer Adi is a man who has been married for 30 years and has four daughters who are all U.S. citizens. He has no criminal record and has lived in our country for thirty-nine years. He is the owner of the Downtown Circle Convenience Store and Deli in Youngstown, Ohio. Moreover, Adi “is credited with helping to revive downtown Youngstown with his business investments,” according to Cleveland.com.

Ohio Representative Tim Ryan says "Amer was a pillar of the community and brought commerce to a downtown that craved investment. He hired members of our community. He paid taxes. He did everything right. There are violent criminals walking the streets, yet our government wasted our precious resources incarcerating him.”  

Adi landed on ICE's deportation list after being accused of marrying an American woman in 1980 so that he could get a green card to stay in this country.

Adi and his wife arranged to leave the United States in early January. They sold their home and prepared to say goodbye to everyone.

According to Adi’s lawyer David Leopold, "ICE agents were to meet them at the airport and remove his ankle bracelet before he boarded the flight. On January 4th, ICE called to say that they canceled the departure date -- that he should not depart as scheduled and that no new date was set."

Adi was asked instead to report to ICE local headquarters on January 15 for a routine check-in to discuss his case but was taken into custody by Trump’s ICE hit squad. On January 30, he was deported to Amman, Jordan without being granted the common decency of seeing his family before leaving.

We learn as schoolchildren that the United States stands for justice for all, whether a person is accused of being a heinous killer or an undocumented immigrant.

So the forced deportation of Youngstown businessman Amer Othman Adi to Jordan by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement late last month in defiance of a congressional panel's request for a six-month review is shocking and worrisome.” Cleveland.com


By Jomana Karadsheh and Kareem Khadder, CNN

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Guardian: EPA head Scott Pruitt says global warming may help 'humans flourish'

EPA administrator says ‘There are assumptions made that because the climate is warming that necessarily is a bad thing’


Donald Trump’s administrator responsible for protecting the environment argued that global warming might be beneficial. 

It's not surprising, Trump has repeatedly questioned the science of climate change. He supports coal and oil and has moved away from the progress made in the growth of clean renewable energy resources. He and his administrator Scott Pruitt have repealed many of the environmental regulations meant to protect us from businesses creating dirty air and water.

"We have ended the war on American energy," Trump declared in his State of the Union address, "and we have ended the war on beautiful clean coal. We are now very proudly an exporter of energy to the world."

However, Trump and Pruitt are alone in the world in declaring that we need not worry about climate change.

“There was a declared war on coal, a war on fossil fuels. The EPA was weaponized against certain sectors of our economy and that’s not the role of a regulator. Renewables need to be part of our energy mix, but to think that will be the dominant fuel is simply fanciful, Pruitt said. But the existential fact is that renewable green energy is far from being a fanciful notion. Renewable green energy is at the heart of a transition to less carbon-intensive and more sustainable energy systems, and, so far, has been accompanied by sharp cost reductions. 

Moreover, reasonable people would act to be cautious rather than to do something they may regret later. Government and the public have a responsibility to reduce the possibility of anything that might put America and the world at risk.   

The catastrophic consequences of climate change are intensifying before our very eyes. Trump and Pruitt's lies are putting our lives, and the lives of our children and grandchildren, at greater and greater risk.Robert Reich

Weny News


By Oliver Milman 

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Newsweek: North Korea Tells U.S. Forget Kim's Nukes, Try Peace


North Korea has urged the U.S. to end international calls for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and to instead support ongoing peace talks geared toward ending the first and last active conflict of the Cold War,” according to Newsweek.

North Korea’s Kim Jon Un’s message to South Korea and the United States is that they are a nuclear power now so get over it; Stop demanding that they stop testing nuclear weapons, and work for peace.

"Gone are the days when the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula was a controversial issue," the state-run Minju Joson newspaper wrote, according to the official Korean Central News Agency.

“The government . . . argued that the U.S.'s continued policy of pressuring North Korea to give up its widely condemned nuclear arsenal is ‘a senseless act bringing great danger’ and asserted that ‘there is no other option now for the U.S. than to co-exist with the [Democratic People's Republic of Korea], a nuclear power.’ North Korea has long pursued nuclear weapons in order to deter a potential U.S. invasion, but only last year demonstrated an ability to fire intercontinental ballistic missiles, tested a hydrogen bomb and declared itself a full-fledged nuclear power.”

Trump, on the other hand, wants to make nuclear weapons easier to use -- and his plan is 'a roadmap for nuclear war.'
  
It’s the United States under Donald Trump that poses the greatest threat to world peace and makes America the most dangerous country on the planet.

Trump has said, "Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all."

“Both Republican and Democratic presidential administrations have worked for decades to reduce US and global nuclear weapons stockpiles, so Trump's views represented a reversal of longstanding efforts at denuclearization.”

Here’s the story:

Kim Jong-il and his counterpart Kim Dae-Jung
gave peace a chance in 2000. (AP Photo/ Anonymous)
QUARTZ

By Tom O'Connor

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

WaPo: Pentagon planning grand military parade for Trump


Donald Trump has directed the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other military brass to put together a large-scale military parade to show off America’s military might. It looks like, if it all comes together, that it may happen on Veterans Day.

“The marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France,” a military official told the Washington Post. “This is being worked at the highest levels of the military.”

One of the obstacles that need to be worked out is its cost, which could run into the millions. Senator Dick Durbin called the idea a "fantastic waste of money to amuse the president."

Presidential historians told The Washington Post that a parade smacks of something you see in a totalitarian country, and also warned that it could evoke nationalism instead of patriotism or could even stoke further tensions with North Korea.

Of course, Americans, especially Trump's supporters, will support his idea. After all, some of America’s most admired institutions are totalitarian in nature: the military, law enforcement agencies, public schools, the place you worship, the place you work, and government itself. Just to name a few. All of them have hierarchical structures and are undemocratic, totalitarian organizations.

Donald Trump inflicts his own brand of totalitarianism on America. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that a militaristic, authoritarian, nationalist Trump would love a grand military parade. A parade where troops file pass him and all salute the commander in chief. One that promotes himself as some kind of authoritarian overlord using the troops as his tribute. 

"We have a Napoleon in the making here," said U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Cal., who is a member of the House Armed Service Committee.

Here’s the story: