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COLE MELLINO OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaWalrus(Photo: EcoWatch)In what has now become a regular occurrence, thousands of walruses are being forced ashore on a remote barrier island in Alaska, threatening their survival. Walruses use sea ice to rest and feed. But with Arctic sea ice hitting a new low this past winter and fears that the Arctic could be entirely ice-free in summer months by the 2030s, walruses have no choice but to crowd ashore in mass numbers.

The first reported sighting this year was earlier this week. Gary Braasch, an environmental photographer, told The Guardian he first spotted the walruses coming ashore on the southern end of the barrier island, about two miles from the hamlet of Point Lay. The mass stranding comes ahead of President Obama’s visit to Alaska to shed a spotlight on the toll climate change is taking on the Arctic region.

Last year, upwards of 35,000 walruses were forced ashore, setting a record. U.S. government agencies and the Native village of Point Lay ask that the media refrain from visiting the community to film or “sightsee” as “the walruses need space to reduce disturbance and possible trampling of animals.” Since at least 2007, due to the loss of sea ice in the Chukchi Sea, “walrus females and calves are coming ashore in the late summer/early fall in large numbers near the community,” said U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Geological Survey in a joint statement.

The site has been occupied by as many as 20,000 to 40,000 animals at its peak, according to Jim MacCracken, supervisory wildlife biologist with the USFWS. Scientists worry that any disturbances could lead to large stampedes, which injure and kill some walruses, especially calves.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaimigrants"We are all immigrants." Translated from the Spanish. (Photo: Kevin Hoogheem)

In 1986, Jackson Browne released a withering song that decried the Reagan wars in Central America. In it, Browne pleaded that "there are lives in the balance." Although Browne was responding in particular to US government support of the Contras in the Nicaraguan civil war and military massacres in Latin America, many of the song’s lyrics are also relevant to the deaths of other people who are treated as disposable. Take for instance this passage in the song:

I've been waiting for something to happen
For a week or a month or a year
With the blood in the ink of the headlines
And the sound of the crowd in my ear

You might ask what it takes to remember
When you know that you've seen it before

Yesterday I posted a commentary entitled, "Global Neoliberalism and Wars of Empire Play Roles in Migrants' Fatal Efforts to Reach Europe." Given how many refugees of economic, political and violence crises were precipitated - in large part - by Western intervention in northern Africa and the Middle East, Jackson's impatient and urgent lyrics could apply equally well to the deaths of global refugees.

While the media this year have been more focused on migrant deaths in Europe fatalities, Donald Trump has been using migrants from Mexico and Central America as the focus of his incendiary rallying cry. Trump is stoking hatred and base fears among a segment of the US population as refugees die crossing through the desert to bypass the border wall.

Thursday, 27 August 2015 09:52

White House Fires Back at Charles Koch

2015.27.8 BF Eco(Photo: DonkeyHotey)COLE MELLINO OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

The White House fired back at the Koch brothers yesterday after Charles Koch told Politico he was “flabbergasted” by a recent attack on him and his brother by President Obama during a clean energy speech in Las Vegas, Nevada earlier this week.

It all started on Monday when President Obama accused critics of his energy policies as “wanting to protect an outdated status quo” and “standing in the way of the future.” He specifically called out the Koch brothers for funding these attacks on renewable energy, saying “you start seeing massive lobbying efforts backed by fossil fuel interests, or conservative think tanks, or the Koch brothers pushing for new laws to roll back renewable energy standards or prevent new clean energy businesses from succeeding—that’s a problem.”

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On Tuesday, Charles Koch responded to the comments, saying the attack was “beneath the President, the dignity of the President, to be doing that.” Koch told Politico that he is not against renewable energy, he is merely “opposed to renewable energy subsidies of all kinds—as we are all subsidies, whether they benefit or help us.”

2015.27.8 BF mellino(Photo: Christian Arballo)COLE MELLINO OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Hawaii is definitely ahead of the curve when it comes to renewable energy. In June, the Aloha state became the first state to mandate that all of its electricity come from renewable sources no later than 2045. Along with other islands, its charging ahead with wind, solar and smart grid systems. But now, the state is home to the first fully closed-cycle Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) plant in the US.

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OTEC is “a process that can produce electricity by using the temperature difference between deep cold ocean water and warm tropical surface waters,” Makai Ocean Engineering, the company that built the plant, explains on its website. “OTEC plants pump large quantities of deep cold seawater and surface seawater to run a power cycle and produce electricity.” Makai touts OTEC as a constant, clean energy source that is “capable of providing massive levels of energy.”

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaapeopleBelgian supporters of Amnesty International advocate on behalf of migrants to Europe. (Photo: Amnesty International)

Almost daily, there are reports of deaths of desperate migrants to Europe seeking economic refuge or safety from wars.

For example, an August 27 CNN article reports,

The discovery of a number of dead migrants in the back of a truck in Austria, just a day after the Italian coast guard said 54 people lost their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean, has highlighted once again the scale of the migration crisis gripping Europe.

Europe is not alone in experiencing an increase in refugees seeking jobs or fleeing war zones. Needless to say, for example, migration from Mexico and Central America are at the forefront of Donald Trump's appeal to bigoted xenophobia and exploitation of economic uncertainty among white voters in the US.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaagrandcanEven the Grand Canyon can't escape toxic pollution. (Photo: Ronnie Macdonald)

That is also a point to remember in the case of pollution in general. For example, even though the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon National Park is free of industry, it is apparently not free of pollutants. The Nature World Report recently drew attention to this ominous reality:

A UNSECO World Heritage site and the 15th oldest national park in the U.S. the Grand Canyon is about as far removed from the congestion and pollution associated with our nation’s industrial and urban centers. And yet, according to a study by the United States Geological Survey [USGS], even the mighty Grand Canyon (and the Colorado River that forms it) isn’t immune to pollution: The levels of mercury and selenium now regularly exceed the “risk threshold” for fish and local wildlife.

Should the toxic elements enter the food supply, they could be harmful to fish and wildlife that eat them. It seems that the Grand Canyon’s remote location is of little import – the pollutants are airborne, and come from as far away as entire other countries.

The breathtaking beauty and wonder of the Grand Canyon connects us spiritually to this planet on which we reside. It is a sobering portent that this wondrous natural creation is now showing signs of measurable mercury and selenium pollution.

Incrementally ruinous global warming and pollution often do not seem to pose an immediate threat to our daily experience – they may appear remote and not worthy of immediate attention.

COLE MELLINO OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaDrilling(Photo: TheConduqtor)Activists in Santa Barbara, California took to the sea this past weekend to take a stand against offshore oil drilling. The kayaktivists paddled out five miles and unfurled a 70-foot floating banner that read: #CrudeAwakening.

Their aim was to “raise awareness and generate action in support of four critical bills currently moving through the State Assembly,” the group said in a statement. The activists said the Refugio Oil Spill off the coast of Santa Barbara this past May was a “rude awakening” for them. The spill ended up blanketing the shore and coastal waters with 140,000 gallons of crude oil.

“It shut down beaches, greased marine protected areas and killed or injured several hundred birds and marine mammals,” said Patagonia. “The effects continue to linger and likely will for some time. If there’s any upside to this horrible mess, we now have a good opportunity to stop future spills.”

The event was organized by the Surfrider Foundation, in collaboration with PatagoniaEnvironmental Defense Center and Santa Barbara Channelkeeper.

According to the groups, the bills currently moving through the State Assembly would:

  • stop new oil drilling in the Marine Protected Area at Tranquillon Ridge, in the Santa Barbara Channel.
  • improve oil spill response off our coast.
  • require oil companies to use “best available technology” on their pipelines.
  • improve requirements for pipeline inspection.

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaBadJesus(Photo: Toby Hudson)Here's a simple question: Have you ever heard of Christian Reconstruction, Rousas J. Rushdoony, or one of his most influential works, The Institutes of Biblical Law? Probably not! Christian Reconstruction, is a religious belief system, set out by the late Rushdoony, which maintains that every aspect of society – church, state, family, economy -- should be based on Biblical law. It is evangelical Christianity's right-wing fringe, yet its tentacles reach deep into the Clown Car that is the Republican Party's field of presidential candidates. Is Christian Reconstruction so fringed out that it is not worthy of attention? Not according to Julie J. Ingersoll, author of the new book, Building God's Kingdom: Inside the World of Christian Reconstruction, who posits that Reconstructionists' "biblical worldview" played, and continues to play, a highly influential role, although subtle and often hidden, in contemporary right-wing politics.

When Christian Reconstructionists say God's law -- as it is revealed in the Old and New Testaments -- should control every aspect of life, they mean every aspect, interpreting the Bible as mandating a challenge to the legitimacy of democracy, justifying slavery, and advocating the stoning to death of homosexuals, adulterers, and Sabbath-breakers. If any of this sounds familiar, you might be thinking Taliban and/or ISIS.

As investigative reporter John F. Sugg pointed out in a 2004 extensive piece in Tampa, Florida's Weekly Planet, "Most churchgoers have never heard of Christian Reconstruction or theonomy. Believers would be hard-pressed to define 'dominion theology,' 'covenant theology,' 'pre-millennial,' [or] 'post- millennial.' ... Nor would most Americans reflexively embrace a 'theology' that denounced all government social programs, public schools, environmental protections -- a religion that promoted mass executions for sins as minor as swearing at parents, ..."

While a number of investigative reporters, researchers and writers such as John Sugg, and Chip Berlet, author of Eyes Right! Challenging the Right Wing Backlash, and Frederick Clarkson, author of Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy, have delved deeply into this movement over the years, perhaps no one has been as immersed in it as Ingersoll.

WALTER BRASCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaHKatrina(Photo: NASA/GSFC)This week is the 10th anniversary of the destruction of the southeastern gulf coast by Hurricane Katrina.

More than 1,800 people died. There is no estimate for the number of pets and wildlife. Damage was estimated at more than $100 billion.

About 80 percent of New Orleans was flooded. In Mississippi, the water surge flooded as much as 10 miles from the beaches.

The Category 3 storm should not have caused that much damage, but it exposed poorly-designed levees that should have protected New Orleans.

Sanctimonious critics, many of them conservative politicians, claimed that if the residents had evacuated New Orleans like they were ordered, the death toll and suffering would have been significantly less.

What they didn't say, however, was that almost all roads were blocked or destroyed. Even if the roads weren't damaged, evacuation would have been difficult. Many of the residents who remained were poor, Black, an often relied upon public transportation, as do many residents of urban areas. Hundreds of school buses that could have evacuated the residents were in the flood. Even if they weren't, there weren't enough drivers—most were in their own houses, which were flooded, or at the SuperDome or Convention Center, both of which sustained damage.
The media—and numerous conservative radio and TV pundits—reported looting.

But, most was for food and supplies needed to sustain the people through what would be several days of terror. Not reported was that the stores would have had to throw away the food and supplies, but would still get insurance reimbursement, whether the supplies were damaged by the flood or taken from the shelves by the storm victims.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaajebbredJeb Bush may want you to think he's the "statesman" riding in the clown car, but he's not above appealing to nativists. (Photo: DonkeyHotey)

Although Jeb Bush's campaign tries to position him as the "statesman" of the Republican candidates, he is often just another Republican candidate stirring the racist cauldron. Yes, Bush tries to generally wrap his appeal to the GOP white nativist vote in wily words  - and remind the media that he speaks Spanish and his wife is Mexican-born. However, he also mixes in occasional raw appeals to voters who viscerally hate people of color.

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In this presidential primary election cycle, following the precedent set by Donald Trump, one of the main targets for white biliousness and racism toward people of color is focused on Mexican and Central American migrants.  

As a result, Jeb Bush not too long ago attempted to hitch himself to the growing train of Republican presidential aspirants who are opposed to birthright citizenship in at least some circumstances. Their objective is to keep babies born in the United States to non-citizen parents from being granted US citizenship upon birth. Some of the candidates are even urging a repeal of the 14th Amendment.

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