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LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

RightWhale 0628wrp optEye of a right whale. (Photo: Ecohotel)Canadian government officials and marine biologists are investigating the mysterious deaths of six North American right whales. The endangered animals all turned up dead between June 6 and June 23 in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, off Canada's southeastern coast.

North Atlantic right whales are the rarest of all large whale species and among the rarest of all marine mammal species, with only about 450 right whales in the North Atlantic.

"The loss of one whale has a huge impact for any endangered species, but in particular for the North Atlantic right whale," Sigrid Kuehnemund, the lead ocean specialist with the World Wildlife Fund-Canada, told the Globe and Mail. "Looking at this number of deaths, it will take such a devastating toll on the population. And we know that, of the whales that have been sighted, at least two are females. So, we're not just losing those whales but also the potential for those females to have calves into the future."

The six deaths—accounting for approximately one percent of the population—has been described by Tonya Wimmer, a marine biologist and the director of Marine Animal Response Society, as an "unprecedented event."

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

obamacare332The real death panels would be created by the House and Senate health insurance bills. (Photo: Kevin Simmons)

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Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced that he did not have the votes to proceed with a "repeal and replace" bill shredding Obamacare and drastically cutting Medicaid coverage. Not having the votes to even proceed with debate on the bill, McConnell indicated that he would try to move the bill forward after the July 4 congressional recess.

Also on Tuesday, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) sent out an appeal to her email list asking people to call their senators and oppose the Republican replacement. Warren stated:

It [the Senate health insurance bill] lets insurance companies sell skimpier plans for higher out-of-pocket costs. It lets private insurance plans reinstate annual and lifetime caps on benefits for people who get really sick. And it guts Medicaid for the sick, for the elderly, for people with disabilities -- for people who have nowhere else to turn.

If the Republicans rip health care away from 22 million Americans this week in order to give billionaires a tax break, people are still going to get diagnosed with cancer. Seniors are still going to have strokes and heart attacks. People are still going to get hit by drunk drivers. Babies are still going to be born with lungs and hearts that don’t work.

I’ve studied this heartbreaking problem for decades. I know that if the Republicans pass this bill, more people -- even the most hard-working, responsible people -- will go bankrupt. Some will die.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 22 million people (and 23 million under the House version) in the US would lose access to health insurance if the Senate bill is passed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act enacted in the first Obama administration.

An array of solar panelsAn array of solar panels. (Photo: Port of San Diego)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

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The rapid growth in renewable energy continues to put a dent in the demand for coal.

Coal India, the world's biggest coal mining company and producer of 82 percent of the country's coal, announced the closure of 37 mines that are financially "unviable."

The sites make up roughly nine percent of the total mines operated by Coal India. The company is expected save Rs 800 crore ($124 million) from the closures.

India's energy market is undergoing a rapid transformation as it moves away from fossil fuels. Last month, the country cancelled plans to build nearly 14 gigawatts of coal-fired power stations.

GuideStar's recent incorporation of a "hate group" tag into their ratings of non-profit groups has infuriated the Christian Right.GuideStar's recent incorporation of a "hate group" tag into their ratings of non-profit groups has infuriated the Christian right. (Photo: Digital Game Museum)BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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GuideStar, the world's largest charity watchdog group, has come under fire from the religious right, accused of "being an arm of the ultra-left," being overly dependent on the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and its designation of a number of explicitly anti-gay conservative Christian organizations as hate groups, and, of being led by a long-time anti-Trump liberal organizer.

GuideStar recently incorporated SPLC's "hate group" tag into their ratings of non-profit groups, and that infuriated the Christian Right. According to the Associated Press, "A banner prominently featured atop each group's GuideStar profile includes the law center's logo and a link to its website." Pushback by conservatives was been swift, hard-hitting, and apparently successful as GuideStar has agreed to remove the "hate group" label from 46 organizations.

The victory over GuideStar came so quickly, the Christian Right had little time to fundraise around this latest outrage!

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

roundup333As of July 7, California will officially list glyphosate -- key ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup -- as a known cause of cancer. (Photo: Mike Mozart)

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A June 27 Reuters article bears good news for the health of Californians and bad news for the toxic profits of agribusiness giant Monsanto:

Glyphosate, an herbicide and the active ingredient in Monsanto Co's  popular Roundup weed killer, will be added to California's list of chemicals known to cause cancer effective July 7, the state's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) said on Monday....

The listing is the latest legal setback for the seeds and chemicals company, which has faced increasing litigation over glyphosate since the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer said that it is "probably carcinogenic" in a controversial ruling in 2015.

Listing glyphosate as a known carcinogen under California's Proposition 65 would require companies selling the chemical in the state to add warning labels to packaging. Warnings would also be required if glyphosate is being sprayed at levels deemed unsafe by regulators.

Monsanto has been challenging findings that glyphosate is a carcinogen since Roundup was first introduced. Generally, the agricultural and chemical giant has prevailed. The European Union's chemical review committee has just recommended that Roundup continue to be licensed in Europe without any warnings. However, California's system of propositions, in which ballot initiatives are voted on by the public, laid the foundation for the pending warning labels on Roundup. Proposition 65, which passed in 1986 by an overwhelming margin, requires consumer notification of cancer-causing substances. Since that proposition's passage, enough scientific research has confirmed that glyphosate is linked to specific types of cancer to warrant the requirement for warnings on Roundup. In addition, cautionary labels will be required for the sale of glyphosate itself.

Monday, 26 June 2017 08:23

Trump Channels Nero

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TOM HASTINGS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

NerosTorches 0626wrp opt"Nero's Torches." (Painting: Henryk Siemiradzki, via ABC Gallery)Donald Trump is doing everything in his considerable power to insure a future of rising oceans, dirty unbreathable air, more drought in some places, far larger and hotter and deadlier forest fires, more devastating storms—hurricanes, tornadoes—and all the increased flooding, demolished homes, destruction and death that comes with it all. Nero fiddled while Rome burned and Trump tweets while America roasts.

Pulling out of the Paris Climate Accords now means the world shakes it head in disgust at the lack of US conscience, morals, values, common sense and basic decency. That singularly stupid move will cost the US jobs, cooperation, and good faith from all erstwhile international partners. 

Reversing Obama's modest Clean Power order will gain US workers no net jobs—rather, it is a foolish pandering to those who yearn for the dirty old days of black lung disease, mine collapse, gooey acidic deposition on everything in coal mining towns, and rancid air unfit for anyone. 

Meanwhile, the massive numbers of new jobs that we could be creating in solar, wind, new energy storage capacity, and all the attendant spinoff businesses will go to Germany, China, and more clever countries as we slide down to stupid. Until now, the sunny progressive states have added many new solar jobs while automation (not Obama regulation) has slashed coal jobs since 2012.

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PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Death 0626wrp opt"Still Life With a Skull" by Philippe de Champaigne. (Photo: Web Gallery of Art)It goes far beyond Donald Trump. He's just simple-mindedly exacerbating a trend. Clear signs of deterioration have been building in our nation, some of them old and some more recent, all of them related to arrogance and greed at the highest levels. Beyond these failings there is one obvious way to begin to reverse the process. 

DESTRUCTION OF FAMILIES: Losing Their Wealth, Taking Painkillers, and Dying

With American households in the bottom 90% losing an average of $17,000 in wealth in 2016, they have increasingly turned to painkillers. The U.S. consumes 80 percent of the world's opioids, with some states filling more prescriptions than there are people, and with the morbid result that drugs are now killingmore Americans than traffic accidents or gun violence. 

DEGRADATION OF HUMAN HEALTH: Ignoring the Human Right to Health Care

A much-cited Princeton study concluded, "When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy." The best example today is health care, an essential human need that is simply disregarded by Congressional Republicans who are instead -- inexplicably, astonishingly -- proposing CUTS to Medicaid and a health plan acceptable to just 17 percent of the U.S. population.

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LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Coral 0623wrp optA coral outcropping. (Photo: Toby Hudson)Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke, who recently recommended a reduction in the size of the 1.35 million acre Bears Ears National Monument to President Trump, is advocating for more drilling and mining on public lands and waters.

The former Montana Rep. told Reuters that the development of America's protected federal lands could help the country become a "dominant" global energy force.

"There is a social cost of not having jobs," he said. "Energy dominance gives us the ability to supply our allies with energy, as well as to leverage our aggressors, or in some cases our enemies, like Iran."

Zinke has been tasked by Trump to review 27 national monuments across the country as part the administration's plans to expand development of public land. Reuters notes that at least six of these sites hold oil, gas and coal.

Earlier this month, the interior secretary called for a scaling back of Bears Ears despite vocal opposition from Native American tribes and environmental advocates.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

foodlabeloldThe Trump administration is delaying a requirement to update the Nutrition Facts on packaged food, denying the consumer more complete information. (Photo: FoodFacts)

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As the appalling GOP public policy attacks on all but the wealthiest Americans continue, many of the ways in which executive branch agencies are working to make the nation less healthy are getting lost in the static. Consider an issue such as food labeling: Republicans are taking active steps to reduce the amount of information provided to consumers -- information that allows us to make healthier choices.

As discussed in a DCReport article earlier this year:

Another agency under Trump has put profits before consumer health. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has extended by a year compliance of a rule that would require food retailers to provide nutritional information on menus.

Originally conceived as part of the Affordable Care Act of 2010, the Food Labeling: Nutrition Labeling of Standard Menu Items in Restaurants and Similar Establishments Rule became part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 signed by President Barack Obama. The deadline for compliance was set at May 5, 2017. But the FDA caved to lobbyists for supermarkets and big pizza chains -- including Domino's, Papa John's, Pizza Hut, Little Caesars, Walmart and Kroger Co. -- and extended the compliance date for the rule with the option to further review it.

The rule requires calorie counts of standard food items to be placed on menus and additional nutritional information be available in writing for consumers who ask for it. The rule affects chain restaurants with more than 20 locations, supermarkets, convenience stores and other food sellers.

In a nation beset by health problems related to large-scale consumption of fast food, this is hardly good news.

If President Trump and his apologista in Congress wonder why they're consistently getting such miserable job approval ratings from the public, they should take a deep breath, hold their noses, and actually look at the god-awful policies they're pursuing.If President Trump and his apologista in Congress wonder why they're consistently getting such miserable job approval ratings from the public, they should take a deep breath, hold their noses, and actually look at the god-awful policies they're pursuing. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)JIM HIGHTOWER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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What's the matter with these people? The Trumpsters in the White House and Congress, I mean.

Start with The Donald himself, a guy who can't pass a mirror without casting an adoring eye at his own reflection. What is it about him that requires the top officials of his government to humiliate themselves publically in the White House cabinet room, making them try to outdo each other in a groveling Worship-a-thon of praise for this magnificence? And what's wrong with his Cabinet members? One after another, the Vice President, Chief of Staff, Treasury Secretary, Secretary of State and all the other supposedly-powerful luminaries of the Government of the United States of America were called upon in June's televised cabinet session to say their name, then meekly offer their smarmiest praise of Trump's integrity, agenda and manly leadership. This spectacle of forced adulation of "The Leader" was so eerily insane that even North Korea's Kim Jong Un would've been too embarrassed to orchestrate it!

Yet Trump went even further in his flight from reality. Not satiated by the string of superlatives from his cabinet of sycophants, he resorted to stroking his own ego, opening with the fanciful claim that Americans are "seeing amazing results" from his presidency. Shifting into overdrive, the chief proclaimed that "never has there been a president -- [except maybe] FDR, who's passed more legislation, who's done more things than what we've done."

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