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LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Orca 0429wrp opt(Photo: Mike Baird)At a press conference held Wednesday in San Diego, Jean-Michel Cousteau, oceanographic explorer and president of the Ocean Futures Society, urged SeaWorld to free its current population of captive orcas.

“They need to be released and put back into a place where we can keep an eye on them and they can reconnect with nature,” Cousteau, who is the son of legendary underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau, said.

On March 17, the scandal-plagued ocean theme park made a dramatic shift when it announced the end of it orca breeding program and that its current population of killer whales will live out their lives at the company’s habitats instead of in the wild or ocean sanctuaries. SeaWorld explained that the orcas were born under human care and have never lived in the wild, they “could not survive in oceans that include environmental concerns such as pollution and other man-made threats.”

SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby also explained in a Los Angeles Times op-ed published on the same day of the announcement that marine animals born in captivity would “likely die” if they were released.

But at the PETA-hosted conference, Cousteau argued against this reasoning seeing as how he and his team personally worked with Keiko after filming. Keiko was rehabilitated and moved to a seaside sanctuary in Iceland where he lived in ocean waters for more than five years.

 MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2016 april29stoparmsfairStop the arms fairs and the hundreds of billions of dollars in weaponry sales and help put a stop to war. (Photo: StoptheArmsFair)

On Waging Nonviolence, Javier Gárate wrote of his acquittal -- and those of his fellow activists -- for attempting to symbolically blockade the London Arms Fair in September 2015:

After a week-long trial that ended on April 15, a judge from the Stratford Magistrate Court in London found me and seven co-defendants not guilty for our actions last September to shut down the Defence Security and Equipment International arms fair, or DSEI, on the basis that we were preventing a greater crime. This is a huge victory in the long struggle to shut down … the largest arms fair in the world, which takes place in east London every other year.

The last fair was in September 2015, and it saw more than 1,500 exhibitors from around the world displaying the latest technology of the war industry. DSEI is an invitation-only event, where invites go to governments, industry representatives and specialized press. Delegations from repressive regimes and countries violating human rights — such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel — walk through its corridors every other year browsing the latest weaponry [and most significantly signing contracts for billions of dollars]. 

The focus of Gárate and his fellow opponents of the global weaponry industry was the 2015 Defence Security and Equipment International (DSEI) exhibition held in London. RT took a look at some of the biggest corporate beneficiaries of worldwide weapons sales and found these two companies among those leading the pack:

Lockheed Martin

With net sales for 2014 totaling $45.6 billion, US-based Lockheed Martin is the largest arms company in the world. Lockheed received $22 billion in contracts from the US Department of Defense alone in 2014, roughly 9 percent of all contracts awarded by the Pentagon.

Lockheed has weathered several high profile scandals since its founding in 1912. The company was caught bribing Japanese Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka in 1976, a revelation which forced his resignation. Last month the company paid $4.7 million to the Justice Department to settle charges it won a lucrative contract by paying a former US Representative-turned-lobbyist with taxpayer funds. 

No fracking signage(Photo: Helen Cassidy)TED GLICK OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

BuzzFlash and Truthout aren't funded by corporate advertising, but by readers like you. Can you help sustain this critically important work with a tax-deductible donation?

Since April 2014, 10 fracking infrastructure projects have been canceled or delayed.

Here's the list:

April 2014: The Bluegrass Pipeline in Kentucky was stopped by a court decision upholding landowners' rights against the use of eminent domain to take their land for private profit.

November 2015: The Port Ambrose liquified natural gas (LNG) project was vetoed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. The project was proposed by Liberty Natural Gas off the shores of New York and New Jersey.

March 2016: The Jordan Cove LNG export terminal and 223-mile Pacific Connector pipeline in Oregon were rejected by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), signifying FERC's first gas infrastructure rejection in 30 years.

March 2016: The Republican-dominated Georgia legislature voted overwhelming for a one-year moratorium on any new gas pipelines, setting back efforts to build thePalmetto Pipeline.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2016 1pril26boscboardIt will be at least a couple of more years before most of New Orleans Parish schools are likely returned to the community school board, but - as of this moment - they will still be charter schools inflicted by the elites. (Image: Orleans Parish School Board)

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In New Orleans, charter schools -- which make up almost the entire school district -- aren't going anywhere anytime soon. However, due to ongoing clamorous community objection to them (and the way in which they are not accountable to school board oversight), some things may be changing. For the first time, the Louisiana legislature appears poised to return all New Orleans schools -- including about 75 percent of students who are taught in charter schools, administered independently by the state through the Recovery School District -- to the governance of the Orleans Parish School Board.

As the April 27 Baton Rouge Advocate reported:

The House Education Committee voted 11-2 to advance legislation that would transfer control of 52 public schools — all charters — run by the state Recovery School District for the past decade to the Orleans Parish School Board by 2018, 2019 at the latest.

Even with the move, charter schools would retain much of their autonomy.

That last qualification is a big one, because it appears that charter schools will be able to legally flout many directives from the parish's school board, according to the Advocate:

Parents and critics voiced concerns that charter school operators are being given too much control in the arrangement set up in the Senate legislation [which has already passed in the state].

2016.28.4 bf koehler(Photo: Alex Hanson) ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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The headline, from the Los Angeles Times, hit me like a sucker punch: "Voters' 'Bernie or Bust' efforts persist despite Sanders' vow not to be another Ralph Nader."

Actually, it was worse than that. When my brain cleared, I realized I was, once again, caught in a media straitjacket.

In just over a dozen words, the paper managed not only to trivialize everything two presidential candidates stood for, and not only to reference the myth that Nader caused Al Gore to lose an election he didn't in fact lose, but also, my God, to obliterate the last six months of a presidential campaign that had permanently shaken up the political status quo and return progressive voters to a place of permanent irrelevance to the national future.

MAX PHILLIPS OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

RiverFire 0427wrp opt(Photo: EcoWatch)The Greens New South Wales mining spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham called on governments today to stop the spread of coal seam gas (CSG) and for the true impact of fugitive emissions to be independently assessed after the video of methane gas burning through the Condamine River in Queensland, Australia went viral with millions of views and global media coverage.

“The methane gas bubbling through the Condamine River could be just a very visible tip of the iceberg when it comes to fugitive emissions and huge quantities of gas that could be venting into the atmosphere because of unconventional gas extraction,” said Greens MP Buckingham.

“The Greens want a ban on unconventional gas, but at the very least, government should stop the expansion of unconventional gas until the true extent of fugitive emissions is understood. Methane is a very potent greenhouse gas, so significant fugitive emissions caused by coal seam gas extraction could undo efforts to reduce emissions in Australia.

“Depressurizing the coal seams to allow the gas to flow may well be causing gas to migrate up natural or fracked pathways, or water bores or abandoned wells, to seep out of the ground. Farmers complain of gas in their water bores, while people living near gas fields report health complaints,” Buckingham continued.

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

PrincePhilanthropy 0427wrp opt(Photo: EcoWatch)The Purple One was secretly Green. In an emotional interview on CNN, political commentator Van Jones revealed that his close friend Prince wasn’t just a musical icon but also a major philanthropist.

One of his many initiatives included helping Oakland, California residents go solar.

“He worked for something called Green for All,” Jones told CNN host Don Lemon. “I was the public face of that, but he helped put the money in. There are people who have solar panels on their houses now in Oakland, California, that don’t know Prince paid for [them].”

“[Prince] did not want it to be known publicly, but I’m going to say it because the world needs to know that it wasn’t just the music,” Jones said. “The music was one way he tried to help the world. But he was helping every day of his life.”

Green for All helps create green jobs in disadvantaged communities and is also behind such initiatives as the #PollutersPay campaign which demands that Gov. Rick Snyder rebuild the lead-poisoned city of Flint, Michigan.

The campaign has been supported by scores of environmental advocates including actor and eco-activist Mark Ruffalo.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2016 April27whitehouseThe White House and Capitol were primarily built by slaves, as Washington -- which had legal slavery until 1863 -- remains a colony. (Photo: Frank Camp)

It is widely known that slaves were the key labor force that built the White House and the US Capitol. The grotesque injustice and horror of slavery is, therefore, literally embedded in the masonry of our nation's two iconic political symbols.

However, what is more rarely emphasized or even acknowledged in US history text books is that slavery was legal within the District of Columbia right up until Abraham Lincoln signed an emancipation law in DC in 1862. It was signed on April 16, 1862, less than nine months before the national Emancipation Proclamation was issued.

The Washington, DC, government website devotes a page to the history of slavery in the capital:

One result of the intense struggle over slavery was the DC Compensated Emancipation Act of 1862, passed by the Congress and signed by President Abraham Lincoln. The act ended slavery in Washington, DC, freed 3,100 individuals, reimbursed those who had legally owned them and offered the newly freed women and men money to emigrate. It is this legislation, and the courage and struggle of those who fought to make it a reality, that we commemorate every April 16, DC Emancipation Day.... 

The area we know as the District of Columbia was selected as the site for the capital of the United States in 1791. It was created by land ceded to the federal government by Virginia and Maryland, two slave-holding states of the Chesapeake region. The District of Columbia, which included Washington City, Georgetown, Washington County and Alexandria (until 1846), became a center for slavery and the slave trade.

A recent article in The New York Times hauntingly describes an incident that reveals the grim reality of slaveholding in DC.

Protester with poster that reads "Voter ID-iocy"(Photo: peoplesworld)WALTER BRASCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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Several hundred thousand American citizens won't be voting in presidential primary elections -- and it's not their fault.
 
In Pennsylvania, for example, a registered voter who needed an absentee ballot had to submit the request at least one full week before the election, and then return the ballot no less than four days before the election.
 
 But, what if circumstances changed? What if that person became injured or had to leave the state after April 19, but before the election, Tuesday? If it was April 20, you could not receive an absentee ballot. You could still vote in person, but if you couldn't get to the polls, you would be disenfranchised. There's nothing you could do. In one week, you lost the right to vote because bureaucratic rules blocked you from receiving a ballot -- even if you could get that ballot to your county registrar of voters by the end of the day of the election.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016 07:38

Pens Don't Rob People, Plutocrats Do

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2106 April26pensWill the power of the pen belong to the oligarchs or the people? (Photo: Lawrence Wong)

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Before the typewriter and computer came along, the pen used to be the most vital tool to writers. Just think of Tolstoy writing the more-than-1200 page War and Peace with a quill pen. How intimate the relationship must have been between the author and the writing implement that allowed him to express his masterful vision to the world.

The pen, however, has also served as the tool that allows those with wealth and power to accumulate more wealth and power -- often through stealth -- by signing contracts and other legal documents. Thus, the pen and the ink it contains can be the source of rapturous imagination, but also of predatory greed.

I touched upon this theme in a recent fundraising letter for Truthout in which I noted that the legendary folksinger and anti-fascist Woody Guthrie sang: "Some will rob you with a six gun / And some with a fountain pen." The travesty of bureaucratic plunder has only gotten worse in the last 25 years. The men and women robbing us with pens have become more numerous, massively enlarging the amount of their plunder and acquiring more political clout and immunity from accountability. "Steal big" might be the most apt slogan for Wall Street and the global institutions that can bring down the economy with nary a repercussion.

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