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aaaaaaaaaachristcolPlaque dedicated to Christopher Columbus in Washington State asserting in self-justifying Eurocentric arrogance that he "gave to the world a continent." (Photo: C Hanchey)

September 25 article in The Huffington Post by Julian Brave NoiseCat identifies a linchpin essential to understanding the legal framework that allowed the US slaughter and conquest of Native Americans.

The precedent begins with legal Papal Bulls that sanctified - prior to the landing of Columbus in the Caribbean in 1492 – the subsequent brutal Spanish and Portuguese seizure of South America and the Caribbean. It was the Vatican's assertion of a divine right to lands occupied by “heathens” that ultimately became the legal basis for the ruthless United States expansion westward through the theft of land occupied by Indigenous peoples.

Based on what is known as the Doctrine of Discovery, the Vatican issued a series of decrees in the 15h Century, providing so-called divine authority for the beginning of slave trafficking, among other merciless acts of empire expansion, carnage and profiteering. Eventually, the Papal Bulls condoned - “in God's name” - the seizure of the Americas by European Christians, for exploitation of their mineral and agricultural riches - and for the brutalization, torture, killing and enslavement of Indigenous peoples in the name of Christ.


aaaRonnie bigfood(Photo: EcoWatch)Welcome to Degeneration Nation.

After decades of self-destructive business-as-usual—empire-building, waging wars for fossil fuels, selling out government to the highest bidder, lacing the environment and the global food supply with GMOs, pesticides, antibiotics, growth hormones, toxic sweeteners, artery-clogging fats and synthetic chemicals, attacking the organic and natural health movement, brainwashing the body politic, destroying soils, forests, wetlands and biodiversity and discharging greenhouse gas pollution into the atmosphere and the oceans like there’s no tomorrow—we’ve reached a new low, physically and morally.

Distracted by know-nothing media conglomerates and betrayed by cowardly politicians and avaricious corporations, homo sapiens are facing and unfortunately in many cases still denying, the most serious existential threat in our 200,000-year evolution—catastrophic climate change, compounded by deteriorating public health and the dictatorial rise of political elites and multinational corporations such as Monsanto.

Unless we move decisively as a global community to transform our degenerative food, farming and energy systems, we are doomed.

To reverse global warming and re-stabilize the climate, we will need not only to slash CO2 emissions by 90 percent or more, taking down King Coal and Big Oil and converting to renewable sources of energy, but we must also simultaneously remove or draw down 100-150 ppm of the excess (400 ppm) CO2 and greenhouse gases that are already overheating our supersaturated atmosphere. How do we accomplish the latter? Through regenerative agriculture and land use.


aaaCapsules(Photo: Würfel)Get this. And get it straight. Gordon Gekko was wrong. Greed is not good. Greed is bad. Greed eats away the core of society like a golden parasitic leech the size of Manitoba. Or Saskatchewan. One of those Provinces or Territories or Protectorates or whatever they use in Canada to keep their license plates distinct.

And practicing and/or defending greed makes you nothing but a blood sucking tick no matter how fancy a suit you're wearing. Or size of the diamonds around your wrist. Or how free range the organic heirloom Chicken Florentine is on your plate.

The movie "Wall Street" came out in 1987. And after Vietnam and Watergate and an oil embargo and 4 years of scolding by Jimmy Carter, a little irrational exuberance may have seemed warranted. But that was 30 years ago. Too much is no longer not enough. Too much has gotten way out of hand. Today's too much is much much too much.

In his UN address, the Pope said it best. "A selfish and boundless thirst for power and material prosperity leads both to the misuse of available natural resources and to the exclusion of the weak and disadvantaged." You know what; he's right. Got to love Papa Frankie. The guy is like a slightly older more lovable Argentinian Bernie Sanders. With the crank dialed down to a manageable hum.

Let's be honest; what we're really talking about here is that idiot CEO, Martin Shkreli who raised the price of the life saving drug, Daraprim, from $13.50 a pill to $750 each, because, and I quote, he "needs to start making a profit." A 5,455% increase: which if produce distributors did to onions would make a side of rings about 3 grand.

This predatory price gouge follows in the carnivorous footsteps of Gilead Sciences who developed a drug called Solvadi, a cure for Hepatitis C. The treatment regimen consists of 84 pills. Each one costing 1000 dollars. That's right. 84 thousand dollars. But then you're cured. And after all, how much is your life worth? Half of what you own? Everything? Your first born?

2015.28.9 BF Brasch(Photo: 401(K) 2012)WALTER BRASCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Beneath a three-column headline in my local newspaper was a barely-edited press release.

That’s not unusual. With the downsizing of newsrooms, there’s more room for wire service soft features and press releases. But this one caught my attention.

SystemCare Health in New Jersey promoted a graduate of a college in my town to the lofty position of Senior Director of Doctivity.

I checked the dictionary—“Doctivity” didn’t exist. I checked WebMD, the website for amateurs to learn the meaning of unpronounceable medical terms—and how to recognize their symptoms and treatments. Nothing there.

That left SystemCare Health’s website, which spewed a barrage of buzzwords and useless gibberish, the kind that people in marketing and business think will impress those who speak fluent English.

2015.28.9 BF Buchheit(Photo: Chris Tolworthy)PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Corporate data from numerous sources, including annual reports directly from the companies themselves, has been merged and matched and managed into two spreadsheets that reveal state-by-state corporate tax avoidance. The results show how people all over the US are being deprived of revenue that should be going to education and infrastructure.

1. Most of the State Tax Avoidance Is by the Largest Companies

Before considering individual states, it will be instructive to consider the total state tax payments (and non-payments) by 45 of the nation's largest corporations. The data is derived from "current state tax" figures in the 10-K forms submitted to the SEC by the companies themselves.

These 45 corporations paid about $15 billion over two years, less than a third of their required state tax obligation of $46 billion, as calculated with the 2014 corporate state tax rates in their home states. Over $30 billion was avoided by these corporations in 2013-14, often by deferring taxes, and in some cases by using hypothetical or theoretical amounts to 'meet' their obligations.


aaaaaaaaaaaatrickledAfter more than three decades of "trickle down economics," facts show that the money is only flowing in one direction: up. (Photo: DonkeyHotey)

An analysis of data by David Cooper of the Economic Policy Institute reveals some startling statistics:

As of 2014, only two states - North Dakota and Colorado - have poverty rates at or below their 2007 values, before the Great Recession....

The lack of improvement in state poverty rates echoes the trends we’ve seen in household income. However, the data suggest that the lack of real income growth over the past decade and a half has been even more pronounced for households at the bottom of the income scale. As of 2014, 38 states had lower median household income than in 2000, yet 47 states—nearly the entire country—had higher poverty rates in 2014 than in 2000. [Italics inserted by BuzzFlash.]

Cooper attributes this stunning increase in poverty and decrease in median incomes, in part, to stagnant wages. Of course, there are other failures, such as the lack of employment - any employment - for many in the United States. Even with jobs, however, those with minimum wage work are often living in poverty - with their families - while employed.

As the economy is booming for the economic elite in the United States, Cooper's analysis represents the catastrophic failure of the trickle-down theory of Reaganomics. However, this has not prevented the likes of Jeb Bush and GOP economic policy point person Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) from continuing to advocate tax cuts for the wealthy.

Thursday, 24 September 2015 07:45

Going Solar Just Got Easier


Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Yeloha, the Boston-based startup that allows customers to go solar without owning a single panel, was already a game-changer when it first debuted in June. But its latest move could alter the energy landscape even further.

Yeloha, which has been dubbed the Airbnb of solar, has teamed up with its first utility, Green Mountain Power(GMP), which provides electricity to more than three-quarters of Vermont.

“This partnership marks the first utility-adopted Sharing Economy platform to offer its customers the opportunity to generate their own energy and share it with other residents online. The initiative represents a beacon of change for energy nationwide,” said Amit Rosner, Yeloha co-founder and CEO.

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GMP is a well-regarded energy provider itself. For instance, it’s the first utility in the world to receive B Corp certification, and one of the first energy companies in the country to offerTesla’s new home battery.


aaaaaaaaabigotry32Bigotry is fueling the flames of the GOP primary. (Photo: Travis Wise)

It's appalling to watch so many of the GOP presidential candidates try to outdo each other in trolling for racist and xenophobic votes by using the low-hanging fruit of bigotry.

Their basic message is that if one is not white, one is part of that great "threatening" mass that so many whites fear: "the other." This morphs into Republican presidential aspirants throwing out molotov cocktail soundbites, announcing in thinly veiled language that "the other" - in whatever guise - is both an existential and lethal threat to whites in the US.

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One particular "off to the races" moment for the 2016 fusillade of vile appeals to whites - and particularly white Christians - who feel that their white privilege and religious "values" are under siege was Donald Trump's demagogic statement about Mexican-American refugees, unleashed during his candidacy announcement:

When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists....

But I speak to border guards and they tell us what we’re getting. And it only makes common sense. It only makes common sense. They’re sending us not the right people. 


2015.24.9 BF Koehler(Photo: Wally Gobetz)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

“Native Americans have to concede that rain dances don’t work.”

Yeah, snort. How funny can you get? It’s the New Rules segment of “Real Time with Bill Maher” and the host has just tossed his gag tomahawk at the First People. A picture fills the screen: Indians in full regalia, dancing. The caption below it says “Tribal Thumpers.” He pauses, straight-faced, eyeballs rolling in sarcasm. There’s a trickle of laughter amid the awkward silence, then Maher turns away from the camera, presumably toward the crew back stage, and calls out in his fake shame-on-me voice, “Are you making fun of Indians, Bill?”

The moment lasts about 20 seconds, then he’s on to the next putdown joke.

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So why am I still thinking about it a week later? Indeed, it has a hold of me like a car alarm that won’t shut up. What’s reverberating in my head isn’t some moral offense at a politically incorrect joke, which I could, I think, shrug off. What I can’t let go of is the arrogant American ignorance fueling this gag. It wasn’t funny. It was just stupid — but stupid in a way that celebrates and perpetuates pretty much everything that’s wrong with who we are.


aaaCoalRemoval(Photo: JW Randolph)From the time I was a teenager, I’ve wrestled with the question of good and evil. The question led me to the study of philosophy and literature. When I was sixteen years old, I began reading the Russian authors, starting with Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment.   Naïve, I sided with Alyosha Karamazov, a saintly loving monk—a man who, despite the despicable things that humans do to one another, held faith in the goodness of God, and in the idea that humans are fundamentally good, but they do evil things in a state of ignorance.

This idea that evil is committed in a state of ignorance goes back to Plato’s definition of wrongdoing, a concept that St. Augustine accepted, only he referred to the Higher Good as God and that a person could do evil acts only in the absence of God’s Love, i.e., he/she lived in ignorance, a kind of dark void of the soul.

But what if you know what you’re doing is wrong and you do it anyway?

It wasn’t until I came across a profound statement, uttered by Alyosha’s brother, Ivan, an intellectual skeptic, that this inquiry of good and evil became far more confusing than initially conceived. At the time, I didn’t know that it was a famous hypothesis:

If God is dead, then everything is permitted.

I reasoned that if you took that statement to its final conclusion—it would most likely point to the end of humanity because without moral guidance, and enforced legal restrictions, men would push the limits of their greed and avarice to mass suicide.

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