Commentary Tue, 01 Sep 2015 15:16:00 -0500 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-us Picking The Wings Off Butterflies: Bush Returns to New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS--(ENEWSPF)--August 30, 2015

During Katrina, Getty image. Front photo by Reuters.

Blithely returning to the scene of (one of) his crimes, a grinning, dancing, shamelessly tone-deaf George Bush visited New Orleans on the 10th anniversary of Katrina to rewrite history, honor a rebuilt school, and celebrate what one former lackey called "the almost unimaginable renaisssance" of a city that for thousands of hardscrabble survivors remains ravaged. Bush has evidently, conveniently forgotten what one historian has called the "confluence of blunders" - from a disastrously inadequate rescue effort to his fly-over on Air Force One to his infamous "Heckuva job, Brownie" - that led furious residents to display Bush effigies at local carnivals for years after Katrina.

Bush wasn't the only one turning a blindly revisionist eye to the realities of Katrina. Before a planned visit by Obama, Louisiana's moronic Gov. Bobby Jindal wrote an open letter urging the Administration to avoid "inserting the divisive political agenda of liberal environmental activism" by mentioning the C word - climate change. "The temptation to stray into climate change politics should be resisted," he lectured, straying into politics. Besides, he added, "The people of Louisiana have already agreed upon a pragmatic and bipartisan approach to preventing and mitigating the damage of future weather systems," though he failed to note that the people he's accusing of having all these stupid ideas about how hurricanes happen are the same people paying for that solution.

On his visit, Bush was likewise careful to skirt any recognition of Katrina's causes or effects. He avoided the federally administered levees that failed, the rubble of the Lower 9th Ward and other still-devastated neighborhoods, and any questions about or references to his utter negligence - an act of arrogance The Nation's Dave Zirin likened to "picking the wings off a butterfly." Instead, he called the anniversary "a good time to honor courage and resolve." He spoke at an event to honor police and firefighters, and at the city's oldest public school, which was badly flooded and later rehabbed into the Warren Easton Charter High School with funds from Laura Bush's foundation - a lonesome success so exciting to Bush that he excruciatingly danced ("on people's graves," noted Zirin.) "Isn't it amazing?" Bush said, which it was, but in ways he couldn't begin to comprehend. "The storm nearly destroyed New Orleans and yet, now, New Orleans is the beacon for school reform."

Alas, New Orleans is now also a still largely destitute city, despite massive funds allegedly raised for recovery efforts. Only a fraction of the millions raised by a Clinton-Bush Sr. fund has been used, billions in state and federal grants went mostly to restore upscale white neighborhoods, an estimated third of all rebuilding efforts have been completed, and thousands of residents remain bitter about homes lost and ground not yet regained - what has been, for too many, "an unhappy ending." "We ain’t been winning anything,” said Henry Irvin Sr., an Air Force veteran and Katrina survivor, but just barely. Facts owe. Visits from Bush and his ilk mean nothing to him: "People like that, that ain’t my people.”

Reuters photo

FARK image


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]]> (Press Release) Commentary Sun, 30 Aug 2015 17:43:30 -0500
Closing Schools Is Just Another Form of Killing - BYP100 Stands with Dyett Hunger Strikers

 CHICAGO—(ENEWSPF)—August 30, 2015. Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100) stands in support of the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett, a group of outraged community members, teachers and parents who have been on hunger strike for education justice since August 17th. The hunger strike is in response to Chicago Public Schools' failure to adopt their plan to create Dyett Global Leadership Green Technology High School. Strikers have said they will keep demonstrating until this plan - and this plan only - is adopted by the Board of Education. Dyett, which is currently shuttered, is the only remaining open-enrollment high school in Bronzeville, which is both majority and historically Black. The board's failure not only immediately endangers the lives of the twelve hunger strikers, but points to the city's consistent disregard for Black life in general, and the wellness of Black children in particular.  

On August 20th, BYP100, the Dyett hunger strikers, and other organizers and concerned citizens rallied at Chicago Police Headquarters. We packed the Chicago Police Board hearing and outer pavilion to demand that Officer Dante Servin be fired for the murder of Rekia Boyd in 2012. As the hearing went on inside, Dyett protesters took the mic to speak about their cause, noting that anti-Black police violence, school closings, underfunding in majority Black communities, and a complete lack of accountability for the perpetrators of these destructive acts are interrelated issues. It is necessary that we work from every angle to dismantle the systematic harms that have been inflicted upon us.  

“The violence being done to Black communities and families by closing our schools is just another form of killing, just another marker of Black life being devalued by this City.”, says Janae Bonsu, BYP100 Chicago Chapter Co-Chair. 

While addressing the crowd outside CPD Headquarters on the 20th, Jitu Brown spoke on behalf of the Dyett hunger strikers: "We look at our children and see love; they look and see inmates." With that, Brown speaks to how the struggle for Dyett goes beyond just the school’s walls. The Dyett campaign represents the lack of opportunities, jobs, police accountability and overall lack of rights in Black communities. That’s what makes this moment extremely urgent amidst police killings and the #BlackLivesMatter movement. We have to prove that our lives actually matter and can do so by showing that education in black communities is actually valued and protected. It is with love for our children and commitment to their well-being in spite of the continued assault on their—and thus our—futures that BYP100 stands in solidarity with the Dyett hunger strikers.

For more information regarding the #FightForDyett campaign click here.


Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100) is an activist member-based organization of Black 18-35 year olds, dedicated to creating justice and freedom for all Black people. We do this through building a network focused on transformative leadership development, direct action organizing, advocacy and education using a Black queer feminist lens. We are an organization affiliated with the Black Youth Project

Source: Chicago Chapter BYP100


]]> (Press Release) Commentary Sun, 30 Aug 2015 17:27:25 -0500
You Break It, You Own It (Or, What The Hell Did You Think Would Happen?)

NEW YORK--(ENEWSPF)--August 28, 2015

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump looks toward Jeb Bush, right, as Scott Walker watches during the first Republican presidential debate at the Quicken Loans Arena Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, in Cleveland. (Photo: AP/Andrew Harnik)

Doesn’t your heart just break for the grandees of the Republican Party?

They’ve had the shit kicked out of them in presidential election after presidential election, and the forecast trends in national demographics suggest that, looking forward, these last decades will be seen as the GOP’s grand old days. So, knowing this, the big-wigs got together after the last debacle in 2012 and decided, “Hey, we’ve got to stop alienating the damn Mexicans. There’s too many of them!”

Any moron could have predicted what a fool’s errand that would be. Politicians – most especially the Republican kind – are nothing if not heat-seeking missiles when it comes to opportunistically pouncing on an issue they can ride to electoral victory. Particularly given the number of third and fourth-tier weenies vying for the Republican nomination this time around (George Pataki? Bobby Jindal? Ben Carson? Carly Fiorina? Seriously?), it didn’t exactly require quantum physics calculations to figure out that one or more of them would pounce on the party’s old tried-and-true racist, sexist, homophobic and/or xenophobic tropes in order to get a leg up.

After all, they are all George Wallace’s Babies, even half a century later. Wallace ran for governor of Alabama in 1958 as something of a progressive, believe it or not, endorsed by the NAACP no less. He lost to a guy who was supported by another organization also known for its initials, heavy on the K’s. Wallace then decided that winning in politics was everything that mattered in the world and promptly tossed black Alabamians under the (segregated) bus in order to achieve those ends (admittedly, not a gigantic leap for a Southern white politician to make in 1958). He wasn’t even particularly shy about it, stating, “You know, I tried to talk about good roads and good schools and all these things that have been part of my career, and nobody listened. And then I began talking about niggers, and they stomped the floor.” Asked by his aide why he had lost the election and what he would do about it, he replied, “Seymore, you know why I lost that governor's race? ... I was outniggered by John Patterson. And I'll tell you here and now, I will never be outniggered again.” And, you know what? He never was.

Except, of course, by the contemporary Republican Party (pardon the oxymoron there please), which has spent the last half-century out-niggering, out-sand-niggering, out-fagging, and out-bitching everybody in sight. And, as with Wallace, it turned out it worked for them as well. Voters stomped the floor. Republicans got elected. The rights of blacks, gays, women and foreigners be damned. Who cared? They were winning. Yep, it worked. Until it didn’t.

Regressives hate change, and you can see why. Change is destroying their little Wallace trick in at least three ways. First, moral values have evolved. In the same way that slavery was largely a repugnant practice in the twentieth century but not the nineteenth, racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia are out, out, out these days – except in red states, and even there not so much in the cities. Unless you’re a good ol’ boy of the rural South, that is, the country has largely moved on and away from these ugly attitudes.

Second, many voters who might otherwise be amenable to a blame-the-outgroup style of politics have learned the hard way that in the end it don’t satisfy too much. They keep voting for these same fools, and some of them even win. But it turns out that the political class couldn’t really give a damn about these issues after the election is over, and instead they just keep on serving their true bosses, the financial Masters of the Universe. So ol’ Uncle Buford may have got hisself a little twinge of satisfaction voting for the Republican bigot in the last election, but four years later he’s not only not better off than we was before, he’s worse off. Not so much, however, the Wall Street tycoons whose bank accounts now host more of Buford’s earnings than ever.

Finally, there’s the tectonic change of demographics. If you just count heads, you see that it ain’t the good ol’ white boy’s country anymore, and everyday it becomes even less so. So if your politics is built on a model that flies in the face of those massive and inevitable changes, you might as well go out there and try to fight a tsunami with a toilet plunger. The only thing that’s going to happen is that you’re going to drown.

Speaking of which, welcome to the GOP in the 2015th year of their lord. They are drowning in their own waste product, and finally figured out they should stop flushing the toilet after losing the popular vote in five out of the last six presidential elections. The problem is, it’s not so easy to do.

That’s because long ago the GOP made a deal with the Devil. And that sonuvabitch intends to be paid.

It’s well worth recalling the history here. We could spend lifetimes doing so, and fill entire libraries with the documentary evidence, but really a few highlights will do the trick. Recall that this is the party of the 1960s Southern Strategy, a term that sounds one heck of a lot more benign than it was. Its essence was to use more genteel and politically correct versions of racist appeals to strip away white Southern (and many northern) voters from their historic place in the Democratic Party, which had courageously dared to fly the flag of racial equality during that era. And this most cynical strategy indeed succeeded. The once Solid South of the Democratic Party is today – in an astonishing turnaround of incredible rapidity – essentially the Solid South of the Republican Party. That happened almost entirely because of the politics of race.

Following these early successes, other Republican politicians then gratefully followed in the footsteps of Goldwater and Nixon (and Wallace). Saint Ron of Reagan launched his 1980 campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, talking about states’ rights. Gee, whatever could he have meant using those classic code words for legalized racism, in the very place where heroic civil rights workers were murdered by the Klan? Then there was the kinder, gentler H.W. Bush eight years later, coming from seventeen points behind in order to win the presidency in 1992. Golly, do you think the Willie Horton ads might have had anything to do with that? Could that be why Bush’s campaign chief Lee Atwater apologized for those on his deathbed, scared shitless about going to Hell as he was about to meet has maker? After all, presidential terms go for four years. Eternity lasts quite a bit longer...

The Lil’ Bush continued the same pattern, only he preferred to beat up on gays rather than blacks. So in 2004 he made sure that anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment initiatives were put on ballots in about a dozen key swing states in order to bring out the ugly vote, and it worked. While they were there in the booth stomping on gays, Neanderthal voters also cast their ballots for Bush, who bought himself a second term, only to promptly dump the issue immediately after the election to go after what he really came to Washington for, the privatizing of Social Security.

There are lots more examples to choose from, but you get the idea. If you don’t mind taking your cynicism strong and thick, you have to admit it was a great deal for the party. Emphasis on the past tense, though. For reasons discussed above, that dog don’t hunt anymore. Which is why the party tried to discreetly walk away from their little arrangement after the most recent shellacking. But they can’t, for at least two reasons: namely, the voters, and the votees. The latter, as mentioned before, do what they want and don’t take directions from anything as minuscule as Reince Priebus, current party ‘boss’. If they think they can win the old-fashioned way – and especially if they think that’s the only way they can win – well, they will. This problem is especially acute because, like Wallace before them, they also have the prerogative of going third-party rogue, in which case every vote given to such a candidate would be a vote taken directly out of the GOP nominee’s pocket.

The other problem the GOP has is its base of voters, who have become increasingly insane over the decades, to the point where Tea Partiers are now considered way too moderate. I don’t use the word ‘insane’ here lightly or colloquially. These folks are literally quite detached from reality, and nothing proves that more than their worship of that big lump of Trump currently in the headlines. If you think about, Trump is, on paper, almost the complete antithesis of what these supposedly conservative voters stand for. He’s from New York, he’s been married and divorced countless times, he’s the owner of a gambling empire, he’s not religious, he’s taken quite liberal positions on a number of issues over the years, including abortion, and so on.

If it doesn’t make sense, it is only because people are extending the assumption of rationality to these voters where little exists. Big mistake. Probably the most significant fact about American politics in our time – and here I mean really the last forty years or so – is the existence of this incoherent rage on the part of a large cohort of disaffected Americans, which almost always manifests itself in stupid right-wing politics.

These voters are folks who, a generation or two ago, ruled their little roosts. They didn’t have to share power or prestige or even dignity with blacks or women or gays or foreigners or Muslims or atheists. Not only did that mean that they had a modicum of greater authority than they do today because of that power structure, most importantly it meant that they had the prideful illusion of enhanced social status. Yeah, maybe they were white trash as far as the bosses and the rich folk and the Northeasterners were concerned, okay, but they were still ‘better’ than all those other lower ranking losers, and when all else failed their fragile self-esteem, well, heck, that fact felt pretty good.

But it’s all gone now. I mean, Christ, there’s a black guy in the White House! And probably a woman next! How can these disaffected voters feel good about themselves if blacks and Hispanics and women and gays and Muslims and all the rest have the same rights and privileges and status that they do? The answer is Trump. Or Palin, or Cheney, or – for that matter, McCarthy – it’s all the same appeal. Find somebody who can express (and exploit – but “Shhh!”, never mind about that) their rage about being left behind, their inability to share, and their dependence on the squashing of others in order to feel good about themselves and they’re all in, Brother.

Trump just happens to be this year’s model, but the phenomenon is ever the same. He’s all the rage (pardon the pun) with these voters more or less entirely because of two positions he’s taken: his insane and obscene birther rap on Obama, and his thuggish rant about illegal immigrants. These non-issues address no current problem facing the country, and – as noted above – Trump is otherwise almost the antithesis of what a regressive voter is supposed to embrace. No matter, it’s the rage and it’s the target that matters. These people aren’t voting on the basis of some rational policy-oriented analysis of who is the best candidate with the most carefully crafted solutions. They’re voting on the basis of who makes them feel good about themselves (which is no small task).

But, as noted above, this phenomenon has now become a Godzilla-like nuclear chicken which has come home to roost for the Republican Party. Decades ago, it went to the crossroads and made a deal with the Devil. You’d think they would have been smart enough to trade eternity in Hell for something good – like, for instance, great blues guitar chops maybe. But no, they asked for a few electoral victories in American politics, and that’s what they got. But the show is over now. They broke it, and now they own it. Assuming it could even be done after all the damage of the last few decades (and the last few weeks), imagine what it would take for the GOP to reinvent itself as a party that can attract votes from the groups it has been beating up on all these years. Good luck with that, pal.

There is lots of good news here for those of us in this country who haven’t yet checked into the asylum. First, the Party of Evil is killing itself ever more every day, as loathsome candidate after despicable candidate tries to ape Trump and attract the anger vote. This is exactly why the GOP attempted to limit the number of debates this cycle, and tried to steer the party away from, especially, Hispanic-bashing. They wanted to avoid a repeat of 2012, when there were fifteen or twenty debates between the circus clowns then seeking the Republican nomination (many of whom are back again), each spectacle more comical and scary than the last. The whole country was watching. And they are now, as well, as the party repeats the process, only this time on steroids.

Which means, second, they are also dramatically diminishing their chances of winning the White House in 2016, and with it the important power to save the Supreme Court’s regressive majority from timing out. Somebody recently commented that history may judge retrospectively that this was the month in which the election was decided, despite the fact that it is well more than a year away, and not a single vote has been case, and we’re not even remotely close to having selected nominees yet. I think there’s some real wisdom in that analysis. How many non-insane voters are watching the GOP Show and thinking “Christ, I could never vote for that crap”? It will only get worse from here.

Finally, I trust the reader will pardon my vindictiveness here, but I am frankly unapologetic about it. I absolutely despise the thugs of the Republican Party who have exchanged, for their personal gain, the misery of those millions of weaker individuals they constantly exploit. So I confess that the idea that some of these bastards – and there’s a whole lot of them, but I’m taking to you, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, Rick Santorum, Jeb Bush and more – could wind up exiled to political oblivion by the likes of Donald Trump gives me the greatest joy.

May they all rot in Hell, and count themselves lucky that they got off so easy for their crimes.

About the Author:

David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York.


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]]> (Press Release) Commentary Fri, 28 Aug 2015 16:24:30 -0500
Sierra Club Statement on TVA’s Plan to Address Closure of Coal Ash Impoundments

KNOXVILLE, TENN. --(ENEWSPF)--August 27, 2015.  The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) issued its notice for a programmatic Environmental Impact Statement to address the closure of coal combustion residual impoundments at its coal-fired power plants.

In response, Jonathan Levenshus, Senior Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign in Tennessee, released the following statement:

“This is a step in the right direction for TVA. Coal ash contains high levels of heavy metals such as arsenic, lead and mercury, and many TVA impoundments lack safeguards like pollution liners and leachate collection systems, leaving communities at risk from groundwater contamination.

“We urge TVA to put in place a strong plan that will protect public health and the environment, and that will ensure coal ash is disposed of and monitored properly, now and in the future. This is particularly true as TVA's own Integrated Resource Plan shows that transitioning to cleaner energy sources that don't produce toxic coal ash in the first place not only protects the environment, but saves money, too."  



]]> (Press Release) Commentary Thu, 27 Aug 2015 21:45:52 -0500
Former Governor Tom Vilsack: Why I'm Supporting Hillary Clinton

IOWA—(ENEWSPF)—August 26, 2015. 

On Feb. 1, 2016 I intend to proudly caucus for Hillary Clinton — plain and simple. Hillary Clinton is not new to the fight for middle class families. Throughout her public life she has consistently fought to expand and strengthen the middle class. I have no doubt she will continue that fight as president.

Expanding and strengthening the middle class starts with quality jobs. Too often the discussion of good jobs fails to include the unique challenges faced by rural Americans. Hillary Clinton understands that some of the deepest and most pronounced poverty exists in rural areas of the country. Her strong support for the Renewable Fuel Standard and bio-based manufacturing as important parts of a revitalized rural economy makes clear she will work hard to promote meaningful economic opportunity throughout the country.

Hillary knows the economy of the future depends on a well-educated and trained workforce, and she understands the cost of education — from preschool to college and beyond — increasingly strains family budgets with unprecedented debt. That’s why she’s laid out a specific, workable plan to address these strains and make a good education available to all our children.

However, a secure footing requires more than a good paying job and access to education. It means a foundation that cannot be undone by injury or illness. Hillary will preserve those protections gained under the Affordable Care Act instead of putting insurance companies in the driver’s seat, and will look for ways to expand access to affordable health insurance coverage for all Americans and continue to bend the cost curve of health care.

Every Iowan knows good ideas aren’t enough. We recognize the most successful presidents are those who can both lead and govern, while navigating the toughest job on earth.

In other words: Leadership inspires. Governance delivers.

As President, Hillary Clinton will both inspire and deliver results. I know because I have worked with her and called her a friend for nearly two decades.

She leads by example. Her courage in China as First Lady when she declared “women’s rights are human rights” continues to inspire people all over the world to demand equality and freedom. As a twice-elected Senator, she worked with farmers to improve their prosperity in rural New York. And as Secretary of State, she helped to establish a program that delivers food assistance to over 12.5 million hungry children in some of the poorest countries in the world. This just scratches the surface of her career of inspiring and delivering for people around the country and across the globe.

On a personal note, Hillary Clinton is one of the most loyal people I know and that is rare in politics. My relationship with Hillary goes back a long way. Hillary and Tom Bell, my brother-in-law, became friends in 1972 when they worked together as staff members to the Congressional Watergate Hearings — long before she was a household name. When I was elected governor of Iowa in 1998, I met with President Bill Clinton in the Oval Office. In that private meeting, he gave me some very good advice. He encouraged me to stay true and loyal to the ideas I ran on and to the people who had faith in me to govern well. Hillary Clinton is one of those people.

My election that year was a surprise to many — but not Hillary. Despite the fact that I was way behind in the polls, she encouraged people she knew from all over the country to pitch in when I needed help, especially in the last weeks of the campaign. Without her support I may not have won.

Why did she do it? Loyalty.

Many years before I met her and before she was known to Iowans, my brother-in-law told me how much he’d liked and respected Hillary Clinton when they worked together.

Over the past 15 years, I’ve come to like and respect her, too.

That is why I support her.

Hillary Clinton has the right policies to strengthen and expand the middle class, is battle tested, and has the experience and relationships to lead and govern well. For all of those reasons as well as our friendship, I will caucus for Hillary Clinton on February 1, 2016.

Thomas J. Vilsack is a former governor of Iowa. Comments:

This op-ed originally ran in the Cedar Rapids Gazette



]]> (Press Release) Commentary Wed, 26 Aug 2015 02:51:39 -0500
Trump is Global Journalism’s American Junk Food

SWEDEN--(ENEWSPF)--August 25, 2015

Photo: Notions Capital (Flickr Creative Commons)

He’s everywhere.

Spray-tanned face and white teeth exploding through the front pages of newspapers and magazines. Implausible hair mesmerizing on Twitter and Facebook. Comments on female journalists and illegal Mexican immigrants echoing across the ether. It is likely that Donald Trump will be nothing more than an ephemeral political phenomenon, but he is still a phenomenon.

Politically divisive at home, Trump unifies internationally. My utterly subjective sense is that he is the American many global citizens have been waiting for since the end of the George W. Bush presidency: an American the world can look at and ridicule, a symbol of US arrogance and anti-intellectualism. Paul Thomas of the New Zealand Herald put this view best when he wrote that, “Trump personifies everything the rest of the world despises about America: casual racism, crass materialism, relentless self-aggrandizement, vulgarity on an epic scale. He is the Ugly American in excelsis.”

Bashing the US is a favorite pastime of portions of the international press because we Americans have made it so damn easy. We trumpet the fact that our nation is created and protected by God. We parade our guns as evidence of freedom. We revel in a military power we are unafraid to use. We laugh in the face of facts and science. We elected George W. Bush. Twice.

And yet Trump is not the only phenomenon on the US political scene. Another presidential hopeful, also unlikely to get the final nomination, is receiving far less ink internationally than his casino-owning counterpart. As Bernie Sanders mounts an unlikely challenge to Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, the media give him short shrift in favor of yet more Trumpisms.

In Sanders we have a candidate who espouses many of the political values supposedly held dear to Europeans: an opposition to economic inequality, a belief in the need for a livable wage and promotion of universal healthcare. Sanders is even willing to out himself as a fan of Scandinavian welfare state politics. He’s getting huge numbers at his speeches and rallies. On top of this, he is smart, articulate and passionate.

Given these facts, there is more than a little irony in this international media obsession with Trump. This isn’t to say that the international media are rooting for US failure or embarrassment — the global love affair with Obama in 2008 puts that argument to bed — but rather that when a Trump-esque figure emerges in the US (think: Sarah Palin), a certain measure of schadenfreude becomes palpable.

This is not a uniquely American trait. Europe and the US often hold mirrors up to each other, sometimes reveling in misfortune. The collapse of the Greek economy, for example, was met with glee by portions of the right-wing US media who used the crisis to score points about the weakness of the EU and the failure of “socialist” policies.

What Trump does for Europe, for example, is to make it feel better about itself: “Things might be bad here, but at least we don’t have…that.” The problem, of course, is that many of the policies espoused by Trump are not far off what major political parties propose in Europe. The bluster and bombast of people like Trump and Palin make it easy to dismiss a European slide into American-style politics, yet if we strip away the fake tan and hairspray, things can get uncomfortably close.

A recent (albeit contested) poll in Sweden, for example, put the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats as the most popular party in the country. France’s Front National scored a huge result in the 2014 EU elections. Despite concerns over the privatization of the National Health Service, David Cameron defied all predictions and was re-elected in the UK. The list goes on. In the relationship between Europe and the US, Europe has considered itself to hold the monopoly on social democratic values. The treatment received by Labour leadership hopeful Jeremy Corbyn by substantial portions of the UK press and political establishment, however, is a reminder that politics once considered part of the European mainstream 20 years ago are now openly ridiculed as pie-in-the-sky radicalism.

This brings us back to Sanders and the international coverage of US primary season. Leftist politics aren’t the stuff of front pages: political discussions on unions in the US don’t set many global newsrooms on fire. Yet, as I watched Jimmy Carter (in the wake of his cancer diagnosis) give one of the most thoughtful and dignified press conferences by a politician in recent memory, I could not help but wish that people like Carter and Sanders would be afforded the international media oxygen given to people like Trump.

Breathless reports of a depoliticized American citizenry fawning over a cartoonish autocrat make for good reading, but they are also de-contextualized. Trump is polling in the low 20s for a party that will likely get in the high 40s in a national election (in 16 months) where the voter turnout will be in the mid-50s. Yes, that’s still a lot of people, but there are also millions of Americans disgusted with the political status quo as represented by the Republican and Democratic parties. By ignoring those millions in favor of media-friendly crackpots we relegate principled challenges to corporate-dominated politics in the US to a mere footnote in our public debate.

Trump is an easy target, and, more importantly, he’s profitable clickbait. But Trump is also political and journalistic junk food: a diversion from a deeper, uncomfortable discussion about what ails both the US and Europe. There are serious people out there talking about these ailments. It’s time we ate our vegetables.

About the Author:

Christian Christensen, American in Sweden, is Professor of Journalism at Stockholm University. Follow him on Twitter: @ChrChristensen


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]]> (Press Release) Commentary Tue, 25 Aug 2015 22:26:13 -0500
Hailing His 'Authenticity and Integrity,' Dr. Cornel West Backs Bernie Sanders

'Now is the time for his prophetic voice to be heard across our crisis-ridden country,' declared the activist and intellectual

Washington, DC--(ENEWSPF)--August 25, 2015
"I endorse Brother Bernie Sanders because he is a long distance runner with integrity in the struggle for justice for over 50 years," Dr. Cornel West said of the Senator from Vermont. (Photo: James Stewart/cc/flickr)

Extolling his "authenticity and integrity" in the struggle against greed, imperialism, and injustice, civil rights activist and intellectual Dr. Cornel West on Monday announced his endorsement of Sen. Bernie Sanders for president.

"The American Empire is in decline. Our market-driven culture is in decay. The criminal justice system has failed us. And the political system is collapsing due to the weight of corrupt lobbyists and greedy capitalists," West wrote on Twitter. "Only organized power of courageous and compassionate people can turn around these catastrophic realities."

Though acknowledging some of the criticisms levied against Sanders, West continued, saying that "prophetic politicians—always with their faults and blind spots—who tell the truth about Wall Street, white supremacy, empire, patriarchy and homophobia, deserve our critical support."

The announcement comes as the mainstream media, fueled by recent protests during Sanders' campaign events, has attempted to paint the U.S. Senator as unpopular among black voters.

"I endorse Brother Bernie Sanders because he is a long distance runner with integrity in the struggle for justice for over 50 years," West said.

He added that the endorsement "is not an affirmation of the neo-liberal Democratic Party," which must be fought against "by social movements in the streets." The Princeton University Professor Emeritus was among those arrested during a civil disobedience protest in Ferguson earlier this month. 

"We will push him with integrity towards a more comprehensive vision of freedom for all," he vowed, adding, "Now is the time for [Sanders'] prophetic voice to be heard across our crisis-ridden country."


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]]> (Press Release) Commentary Tue, 25 Aug 2015 18:19:27 -0500
The System Works: D.C. Regulators Showed Courage in Rejecting Exelon’s Proposed Takeover of Pepco

Washington, DC--(ENEWSPF)--August 25, 2015. Statement of Allison Fisher, Outreach Director, Public Citizen’s Energy Program:

Congratulations to the D.C. Public Service Commission for showing courage today in rejecting Chicago-based Exelon’s acquisition of Pepco. The deal would have been bad for D.C. consumers, and the Commission was right to reject it – and refuse to succumb to Exelon’s extensive lobby campaign. Commissioners rightly listened to the many public interest voices opposed to the deal and determined that it failed to meet the District’s standard of public interest. It is heartening to see that the system works.

In rejecting the deal, D.C. regulators recognized that Exelon’s economic interest and business model are fundamentally incompatible with the District’s established policies of promoting renewable energy and localizing the generation of electricity, and that the potential harm of the merger to the District and its electric utility customers outweighed the benefit to shareholders – who would have received a $1.842 billion windfall had the merger been approved.

We applaud the Commission for basing its decision on the merits of this case. The District was the last jurisdiction to consider the merger and the only jurisdiction to reject it. While their colleagues in Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey yielded to corporate pressure and conditionally approved the takeover, D.C. regulators listened to the Office of People’s Counsel, four D.C. Councilmembers, 27 District advisory neighborhood commissions and more than 1,000 District residents – all of whom opposed the deal.

Ultimately, the conflict between what is good for Exelon and what is good for the District could not be resolved through stipulations and superficial fixes. At the end of the day, D.C. regulators chose what is best for D.C. residents. For this we commend them and congratulate the engaged D.C. citizenry who held them to it.



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NRDC: New Jersey Court Approves Bad Deal Between Christie Administration & ExxonMobil Over Decades of Oil Refinery Pollution

MOUNT HOLLY, N.J. –(ENEWSPF)--August 25, 2015 – A New Jersey court today approved a settlement between ExxonMobil and Governor Chris Christie’s administration over damages due for decades of toxic soil and water contamination in the northern part of the state. The settlement gives the oil giant a more than 98 percent discount on the state’s original price tag for restoring and replacing the resources.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, along with six other environmental groups, made several efforts to block the settlement.

A statement follows from Margaret Brown, attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council:

“This is a multi-billion-dollar gift to ExxonMobil from Gov. Christie and his administration, at the expense of New Jersey residents.

“After a decade-long court battle, this spring the Christie administration abruptly and inexplicably gave the oil giant a more than 98 percent discount on the damages due for its destruction.

“This is a slap on the wrist that will do nothing to repair environmental damage the state itself called ‘as obvious as it is staggering and unprecedented in New Jersey.’”


Exxon's corporate predecessors began operating at Bayonne in 1877, and at the Bayway Refinery in Linden in 1909.

Exxon filled wetlands to develop the sites, spilled petroleum products and other hazardous substances from its refineries and chemical plants onto the land and into the water there, and used natural areas as primitive waste dumps. In addition to heavy and pervasive contamination at the sites, the pollution migrated to the waters of the Upper New York Bay and the Arthur Kill, which separates Staten Island from mainland New Jersey.

The New Jersey state court held Exxon liable for damages to the sites. At a trial to fix the amount of damages Exxon would have to pay, the state’s witnesses described once-healthy salt marshes smothered in contaminated fill and other wastes, unlined pits of mixed oily wastes more than 10 feet deep, and extensive chemical soil contamination. They described the Bayonne site as so saturated with oil that there is more than 15 feet of petroleum waste floating on top of the underlying groundwater in some places. In other places, petroleum has leached from the ground and hardened, creating an asphalt-like material on the surface.

In its final brief before proposing the settlement, the state described the scope of the environmental damage resulting from the discharges “as obvious as it is staggering and unprecedented in New Jersey.” 

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.



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NRDC: White House Initiative on Energy Efficiency Huge Step Forward

WASHINGTON—(ENEWSPF)--August 24, 2015 – The public-private initiative announced today by the Obama Administration will ease some of the worst impacts of climate change being felt in America’s low-income communities, where parents struggle to pay high energy bills and their children suffer from intensified cases of asthma and other respiratory diseases.

The following is a statement by Shelley Poticha, director of Urban Solutions at the Natural Resources Defense Council:

“These innovative programs and financial tools will improve health and reduce energy costs for Americans who are least able to cope with them. This is a huge step forward toward ending unacceptable inequities. The initiative also is a fresh reminder that clean energy and energy efficiency play an indispensable role in combating dangerous climate change.’’

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.


Related Article:

White House Fact Sheet: President Obama Announces New Actions to Bring Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency to Households Across the Country


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