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2016 0208waterf"It's time to acknowledge the national water pollution crisis we face, which will only get worse with climate change wrought by fossil fuels extraction and consumption responsible for fouling so much of our precious water in the first place," writes Mark Ruffalo. (Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout; Adapted: Kevin Jaako)MARK RUFFALO OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

For the past two years, the 100,000 residents of Flint, Michigan, drank, cooked and bathed with lead-contaminated water. Rates of lead poisoning - which can impair brain development and cause other serious health ailments - among the area's children have skyrocketed, from 5 percent before the water turned bad to 16 percent today.

Residents have long reported brown, bad-tasting and foul-smelling water and unexplained sicknesses. Almost a year ago, water tests showed dangerous levels of lead. Yet state, local and federal officials did nothing. Worse, they assured residents that the water was safe. In recently released emails, state officials demonstrated indifference and even contempt toward the complaints that came mostly from poor, black residents. Furthermore, according to some witnesses and media reports, state officials diluted water samples or took incomplete "slow drip water samples" to game results and claim that the water was safe.

Flint's man-made water disaster is an outrageous tragedy and a human health crisis. And unfortunately, it's not an isolated case. It's one instance in a pattern of government failures to take water testing seriously and respond to evidence of water pollution.

2016.2.8.BF.BuchheitFor every three homeless children in 2006, there are now five. For every three children on food stamps in 2007, there are now five. And yet spending on children's programs recently declined for the first time in nearly 20 years. (Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout; Adapted: D Sharon Pruitt, Leo Reynolds, GrungeTextures)PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

US plutocrats are afraid of too much change. But it's too late for gradual change. Only a popular uprising against big business greed can restore a semblance of justice to our perversely unequal society.

The election should be about oppression and the economy - but the economy of the 99% in the US, not of establishment wealth. So many in the US are in need of justice, including the following members of the US commons.

Black Americans and Other People of Color in the United States

"I cringed when people would ask me where I lived ... Just to say 'public housing' was basically saying that you're dirty, you're bad, you're dumb, you're lazy, you're a problem." - Shana Griffin, New Orleans activist

Emergency home repairs? Not for Black families. The average African American family had readily available liquid wealth of only $200 in 2011, less than $1 for every $100 owned by whites.

We tend to believe that education is the great equalizer. But a middle-aged Black person with a graduate degree has about the same odds of being a millionaire as a white person with only a high school diploma.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaaaaacllintonkissinFormer US Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and Henry Kissinger at the 2013 Atlantic Council Distinguished Leadership Awards. (Photo: Atlantic Council)

In most of the post-New-Hampshire-debate punditry, a consensus seems to have emerged that Bernie Sanders won the domestic economic debate by appealing to aspirations, while Hillary Clinton beat him on gravitas and stature in the foreign policy field.

That "conventional wisdom," however, is morally bankrupt and tone-deaf. Why? Consider the fact that the corporate media hardly took note of Clinton's use of Henry Kissinger as a character reference for her self-proclaimed acumen as secretary of state. “I was very flattered when Henry Kissinger said I ran the State Department better than anybody had run it in a long time,” she proudly proclaimed Thursday night. 

Last year, I interviewed historian and author Greg Grandin about his deeply disturbing book about Kissinger's responsibility for the deaths of millions of people through the implementation of his cynical and duplicitous realpolitik, Kissinger's Shadow: The Long Reach of America's Most Controversial Statesman. I asked Grandin about a brief passage in the book concerning Clinton:

Mark Karlin: Help me out with this one. On page 223, you recall how in a 2014 review by Hillary Clinton in the Washington Post of Kissinger's latest book, World Order, she states that she "relies" on Kissinger for advice. You write that [Hillary believes that] "Kissinger's vision is her vision: 'just and liberal.'" Uh, what's up with that?

Greg Grandin: Well, Kissinger is 92, and at this point in life he is as much pure affect as he is power broker. The gestures Clinton mentioned in her review -- I rely on his council; he checks in with me and gives me reports from his travels - are ceremonial, meant to bestow gravitas. Ironically, the worse things get in the world, the more Kissinger's stock rises. He's seen with nostalgia by our political class, as a serious person who had a serious vision. Again, the reality is otherwise.

The headline for the interview was, "Millions Died Because Kissinger Prolonged the Vietnam War for Years After Betraying Peace Treaty."

Friday, 05 February 2016 08:02

Pro-GMO Group Crosses Ethical Line

KEN ROSEBORO OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaDNA(Photo: Thomas Splettstoesser)The Genetic Literacy Project (GLP) has been accused of unethical journalistic practices after it published personal information about individuals opposed to genetically modified food and changed the text of an article without the author’s permission.

GLP is an organization that heavily promotes genetic engineering of foods and attacks critics of the technology.

GLP has posted phone numbers, email and home addresses and other personal information about GMO critics. According to David Murphy, executive director of Food Democracy Now, GLP posted the phone number and email and home addresses of Don Huber, Emeritus Professor of Plant Pathology at Purdue University. Murphy contacted GLP asking them to remove the information, which they did, but shortly after GLP posted Murphy’s cell phone number and home address.

“It’s one thing to have a public disagreement with highly trained scientists and activists on a controversial subject like GMO safety, but publishing personal information, home addresses and cell phone numbers, is a new low, even for Monsanto’s smear merchant,” Murphy said. “Does Monsanto really want us publishing their CEO and top scientists like Robb Fraley’s home addresses? One wonders what they really have to hide if they’re willing to employ such slimeball tactics against their critics.”

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaaaaacancer12On World Cancer Day, cancer patients and supporters protested the TPP stranglehold on life-saving medication at PhRMA heaequarters in Washington, DC. (Photo: Public Citizen)

This is where the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) gets personal, for many in the US: It poses a dire threat to those in need of exorbitantly priced life-saving medications.

The advocacy group Public Citizen has compiled a fact sheet of the near-monopoly privileges, price-setting rights and redresses granted to big pharmaceutical firms in the TPP. In large part, they were inserted into the TPP by their trade association, PhRMA. The Public Citizen list of powers granted to Big Pharma in the TPP includes:

  • [Requiring] every signatory country to ensure its domestic laws expand drug companies' monopoly powers, leading consumers and healthcare providers to pay higher prices on more drugs for longer - or go without needed treatment. TPP rules would require countries to enact and maintain laws that expand drug companies’ monopoly powers...

  • The TPP would require each signatory nation to include in its domestic laws granting of new 20-year patent monopoly for new uses of old medicines...

  • The TPP requires developing nations to transition to all of the same pro-monopolistic patent rules that apply to developed nations...

  • The TPP also would allow drug companies to privately enforce this public treaty by skirting US laws and courts to challenge federal, state and local decisions and policies on grounds not available in US law and do so before extrajudicial investor-state tribunals authorized to order payment of unlimited sums of taxpayer dollars...

The bottom line is that Big Pharma would be enabled to delay the development of generic drugs, set industry-imposed high pricing, hobble efforts in the US to reduce the Medicare Part D pricing that is a windfall to pharmaceutical firms, and financially constrain the ability of developing nations to treat serious diseases with less costly drugs. These are only some examples of the grievous concerns raised by the TPP's Big Pharma-favoring. 

20154.2 BF hightower(Photo: Matt on Flickr)JIM HIGHTOWER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

The mantra of every Koch-headed, right-wing politico is that government should be run like a business, always focused on cutting costs.

Welcome to Flint, Michigan. This impoverished, mostly African-American city has indeed been run like a private corporation since Republican Gov. Rick Snyder appointed his "emergency manager" to seize control of Flint's heavily indebted local government. Snyder's coup d'etat usurped the people's democratic voice and effectively imposed a corporate-style autocracy over them, run by his unelected CEO-like manager who answers only to Snyder.

Flint's emergency manager holds authoritarian budgetary power and is focused not on serving the people but on the bottom line. His mandate from the governor was to slash costs ruthlessly, so bankers and other holders of the city's debt could be paid off. Snyder was delighted that his appointed czar proved to be an enthusiastic slasher, including a cleaver move in 2014 to cut a couple million dollars from the budget by shifting the source of the city's drinking water from Lake Huron to the Flint River.

2016.4.2 BF brune(Photo: Backbone Campaign)MICHAEL BRUNE OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

At a convention center and casino in Auckland, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, setting the clock ticking for President Obama to send the deeply flawed deal to Congress for approval.

For years, the Sierra Club has reported on and campaigned against the TPP’s threats to our air, water, climate, families and communities.

The U.S. Trade Representative is gambling away our jobs, our clean air and water, and our future by pushing the polluter-friendly Trans-Pacific Partnership, so it only makes sense that it was signed in a casino and convention center. Signing the TPP is Russian roulette for our economy and our climate.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

14824365985 4cca115d95 zHillary and Bill Clinton became fabulously wealthy after Bill left office. (Photo: Mike Mozart)

NBC News blared the headline "Hillary Clinton Struggles to Explain $600K in Goldman Sachs Speaking Fees" this morning in response to a revealing answer that Hillary Clinton gave in a CNN town hall meeting last night, reporting:

"Well, I don't know. That's what they offered," she [Clinton] said when asked about the fees by CNN host Anderson Cooper in a forum televised by the network with less than a week away from the Granite State's first-in-the-nation primary. Clinton had a lucrative turn on the paid speaking circuit after she stepped down as secretary of state, which rival Bernie Sanders has used as fodder against her.

"I wasn't committed to running. I didn't know whether I would or not," she added when asked why she took the money knowing it would look bad if she ran. She said she did not regret taking the money, noting that other former secretaries of states have given paid speeches and saying that no one can influence her.

In analyzing Hillary's financial relationship with Wall Street, Carmen Yarrusso writes for Truthout that,

Collectively, she and her husband Bill have parlayed their political experience into at least $125 million in speaking fees alone. According to Bloomberg, Hillary was paid $12 million in the 16 months after leaving as secretary of state. Knowing she'd likely run for president, Goldman Sachs, Deutsch Bank, Morgan Stanley (and other big Wall Street corporations) gladly paid her $2.9 million in speaking fees.

Given that a primary focus of the Bernie Sanders campaign is to oppose the ability of Wall Street and wealthy 1 percenters to have an inordinate impact on elections, as well as to expose how they foster income inequality and engage in high-risk financial practices, Hillary Clinton's response last night appeared astonishingly bumbling and disingenuous. Furthermore, the issue of her speaker fees - particularly from the three Goldman Sachs speeches she gave for approximately $675,000 in remunerations - has been repeatedly brought up in debates and from reporters. Given that she has said that she will not ask Congress to reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act - and serious concerns exist about her vague assertions that she will get tough on Wall Street - it is a challenge for many voters in the United States to take seriously her claim that she is going to reform the financial industry.

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaMonsantoWheatHarvest(Photo: USDA)Glyphosate, the main ingredient in the Monsanto’s flagship product Roundup, is now the “most widely applied pesticide worldwide,” according to a report published today in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Sciences Europe.

The paper, Trends in glyphosate herbicide use in the United States and globally, reveals that since 1974, when Roundup was first commercially sold, more than 1.6 billion kilograms (or 3.5 billion pounds) of glyphosate has been used in the U.S., making up 19 percent of the 8.6 billion kilograms (or 18.9 billion pounds) of glyphosate used around the world.

Globally, glyphosate use has risen almost 15-fold since “Roundup Ready” crops were introduced in 1996, the paper noted. These crops, such as soy, corn, canola, alfalfa and cotton, are genetically engineered to withstand direct applications of Roundup, as the product kills only the weeds.

“Genetically engineered herbicide-tolerant crops now account for about 56 percent of global glyphosate use,” agricultural economist Charles M. Benbrook, PhD, and author of the study wrote in his paper. “In the U.S., no pesticide has come remotely close to such intensive and widespread use.”

According to the study, two-thirds of the total volume of glyphosate applied in the U.S. from 1974 to 2014 has been sprayed in just the last 10 years.

“The dramatic and rapid growth in overall use of glyphosate will likely contribute to a host of adverse environmental and public health consequences,” Benbrook claimed.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT 

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The paranoid style in US politics extends much further back historically than the John Birch Society's campaigns. (Photo: Campus Liberty Alliance)

It's been a little more than 50 years since Richard Hofstadter, a former professor of American history at Columbia University, published an article in the November 1964 edition of Harper's Magazine entitled, "The Paranoid Style in American Politics." It set forth the historical argument for the persistence of xenophobic and conspiratorial fear within a significant segment of US white society.

The prescience of Hofstadter's commentary was extraordinary - although Hofstadter, who died at the age of 54 in 1970 - would probably argue that his theory was based on trends in US history and therefore was foreseeable. He might contend, perhaps, that he was not predicting the future as much as he was explaining how the Goldwater and John Birch Society followers, circa 1964, were rooted in the ongoing development of a distinctly fear-based strain of politics in the United States.

Hofstadter published his analysis of right-wing politics at the time of Barry Goldwater's rise to become the presidential nominee of the GOP in 1964 – and his loss to Lyndon Baines Johnson in that year's general election. However, Hofstadter's acumen is equally applicable to many of the Republicans who have been running for the party's standard bearer in 2014. Here is just a small portion of what Hofstadter penned in 1964:

If, after our historically discontinuous examples of the paranoid style, we now take the long jump to the contemporary right wing, we find some rather important differences from the nineteenth-century movements. The spokesmen of those earlier movements felt that they stood for causes and personal types that were still in possession of their country—that they were fending off threats to a still established way of life. But the modern right wing, as Daniel Bell has put it, feels dispossessed: America has been largely taken away from them and their kind, though they are determined to try to repossess it and to prevent the final destructive act of subversion. The old American virtues have already been eaten away by cosmopolitans and intellectuals...

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