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Chernobyl powerplant(Photo: Fi Dot)HARVEY WASSERMAN OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

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April 26 marks the 30th anniversary of the catastrophic explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

It comes as Germany, which is phasing out all its reactors, has asked Belgium to shut two of its nukes because of the threat of terrorism.

It also comes as advancing efficiencies and plunging prices in renewable energy remind us that nukes stand in the way of solving our climate crisis.

And it makes us remember the second and third biggest lies told us by the atomic power industry: that no commercial nuke could explode, and that no one would be harmed by reactor fallout.

Prior to the 1986 disaster at Chernobyl, there was at least one minor explosion (on March 28, 1979) at Three Mile Island (TMI) in Pennsylvania. Thankfully, TMI Unit 2's containment dome was uniquely solid. The site is in the flight path of the Harrisburg airport. Citizen activists had demanded Unit 2's containment be able to withstand a jet crash. So they forced construction upgrades that may have saved millions of lives when the reactor was stretched to its limits.

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Gyre 0425wrp opt(Photo: Stephen Codrington)As the Solar Impulse 2 made its historic 62-hour flight from Hawaii to California without fuel, pilot Bertrand Piccard personally saw the horrific amount of plastic in our oceans.

While flying above the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Piccard sent out a tweet to Boyan Slat, the 21-year-old founder and CEO of The Ocean Cleanup.

“I flew over plastic waste as big as a continent,” Piccard wrote. “We must continue to support projects like @BoyanSlat Ocean Cleanup,” referring to Slat’s ambitious project of ridding the world’s oceans of plastic trash.

he Ocean Cleanup describes itself as the “world’s first feasible concept to clean the oceans of plastic” and has garnered widespread public admiration and support especially for Slat, a former aerospace engineering student who proposed the concept when he was only 17.

Piccard and Slat also spoke on Friday as the solar-powered plane made its risky journey.

t’s no surprise that the pilot and the young inventor linked up—both are using innovative technology to promote the greater good of the planet.

Piccard and the Solar Impulse team plan to fly around the world using only the power of the sun to promote clean transportation and other environmental causes.

“We have demonstrated it is feasible to fly many days, many nights, that the technology works,” fellow pilot Andre Borschberg told the Associated Press.

“I think innovation and pioneering must continue,” Piccard added. “It must continue for better quality of life, for clean technologies, for renewable energy. This is where the pioneers can really express themselves and be successful.”

Slat has spoken before about the necessity to protect our oceans.

HARVEY WASSERMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Jackson 0425wrp opt(Photo: Paul Boyer)The decision to remove Andrew Jackson from the $20 bill is long overdue. So is the movement to remove the name of Lord Jeffery Amherst from that college town in western Massachusetts. 

Let’s start with Jackson, our most racist major president next to Woodrow Wilson

Jackson was our first president from west of the Alleghenies, and the first to not wear the powdered wigs favored by Virginia plantation owners. 

Andy’s parents were Irish immigrants who died early. He had a brutally impoverished childhood. One of his fourteen duels left a bullet permanently lodged near his heart. (Teddy Roosevelt also had one of those.) 

Jackson is most revered as the “Common Man” who fought Alexander Hamilton’s national bank. He later personally profited from kickbacks paid him by cronies who owned smaller banks that benefitted. 

A vicious racist, Jackson also made a fortune in the slave trade, and from stolen Indian land, leaving him with a slave plantation of his own. 

At the 1814 Battle of Horseshoe Bend, Jackson enlisted Cherokee warriors to fight their rival Creeks. Then he brutalized his “allies” as well as his defeated enemy. His troops took slices of the dead Creeks’ noses for a body count, and used their skin to make bridles.

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

GrandCanyon 0422wrp opt(Photo: EcoWatch)Do Charles and David Koch want to mine the Grand Canyon for uranium?

A “dark money” organization tied to the billionaire Koch brothers is allegedly aiding Arizona politicians’ and special-interest groups’ efforts to block a bill that would ban uranium mining around Arizona’s iconic landmark, The Phoenix New Times reports.

According to the Grand Canyon Trust, here’s what Grand Canyon National Heritage Monument Act would do:

  • Protects 1.7 million acres of tribal homeland around the Grand Canyon, including water sources and sacred sites
  • Bans new uranium mining claims (making the current 20-year ban permanent)
  • Still allows hunting, grazing, recreation and other uses to continue under existing law

The proposal, in so many words, deems the area around the Grand Canyon a national monument. The bill is supported by 80 percent of Arizonans as well as a number of environmental organizations and native tribes.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2016April22 freepress32When it comes to freedom of the press, the US is not number one; it is 41st in the world. (Photo: John Flannery)

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Despite our First Amendment, much vaunted by jingoistic shills for "American exceptionalism," the United States only rates 41st out of 180 nations in press freedoms, according to a 2016 analysis by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). That puts countries such as Estonia, Cyprus, Belize and Finland ahead of the US.

The report cites several factors in the 2016 US ranking, including:

The main cause for concern for RSF continues to be the current administration’s obsessive control of information, which manifests itself through the war on whistleblowers and journalists’ sources, as well as the lack of government transparency, which reporters have continually criticized. The Obama administration has prosecuted more whistleblowers under the Espionage Act than all previous administrations combined. Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA operative, was convicted solely on the basis of metadata in January 2015 of disclosing classified information to James Risen and is now serving a 3.5 year prison sentence.

The US presidential election has also been cause for concern. Since the primaries began last summer, journalists have seen their access to campaign events regularly restricted by candidates from both political parties and have been insulted and even bullied on social media. RSF is also still troubled by the arrest of journalists during #BlackLiveMatter protests in Baltimore and Minneapolis. "There is still room for improvement in the country of the First Amendment," says Delphine Halgand, RSF’s US Director.

On April 20, NPR reporter Laura Wagner placed much of the blame for the lackluster rating of US press freedoms on Obama administration policies.

 

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2016april20 militarybudgUS24The US empire strikes back with a permanent global military presence that enriches corporations while decimating lives. (Photo: National Priorities Project)

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From the propaganda of the US government -- and its echo chamber in the corporate media -- you would think that our nation is under a dire military threat, with Russia, China and other countries chomping at the bit to enter conflict with the self-proclaimed world superpower. However, just examine the chart above, provided by the National Priorities Project. Take the brightly colored bars representing the next seven highest national expenditures on armed forces and armament, pile them on top of one another, and you will still have a column that falls short of how much the US spends on our global military empire.

As Lindsay Koshgarian of the National Priorities Project comments, much of the massive US "defense budget" (a misnomer considering how much US armed forces activity is aimed at protecting economic and corporate interests, not defending people) is funneled to private contractors:

Pentagon spending is subject to the same rules of corporate greed that plague our entire economy. More than half of the Pentagon budget goes to for-profit contractors.

Let’s get the word out there. The less we spend on Pentagon contractors that profit from fear and conflict, the more we can spend on priorities like education, climate change and infrastructure to move our country forward into the 21st first century. It’s time we joined the rest of the world.

The National Priorities Project chart reveals not only a militaristic policing of the world at extraordinary expense -- using funds that could benefit the welfare of individuals in the US and the world as a whole -- but the inexorable expansion of the military-industrial complex that Eisenhower so famously warned against.

2016.21.4 BF Chow(Photo: Marufish)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Don’t trust the corporate media? Neither do we. Click here to donate to BuzzFlash and Truthout and support accurate, independent journalism.

San Francisco is one step closer to its goal of transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy after the city's Board of Supervisors unanimously voted on Tuesday to mandate solar installations on new buildings.

According to the San Francisco Examiner, starting Jan. 1 of next year, new commercial and residential buildings up to 10 stories high must install rooftop solar systems for heat or electricity. Buildings that are taller are exempt for now.

The famously green metropolis is now the first major city in the U.S. to legislate such a requirement. San Francisco follows the footsteps of the smaller towns of Lancaster and Sebastopol. The municipalities, which are also in California, passed similar mandates in 2013.

"This legislation will help move us toward a clean energy future and toward our city's goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2025," supervisor Scott Wiener, who introduced the legislation, wrote on his Facebook page.

Thursday, 21 April 2016 06:39

We Need a New Age of Enlightenment

2016.21.4 bf koehler(Photo:Thomas Hawk)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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What remains endlessly hinted at about the 2016 presidential race, but not fully articulated, is that something enormous -- bigger than politics, bigger than America itself, perhaps -- is trembling and kicking just below the surface, struggling to emerge.

I have a name to suggest for this hypothetical phenomenon: the New Enlightenment. Nothing less than that seems adequate.

There are millions of midwives at the ready -- angry, despairing citizens -- desperately hoping to assist in the birthing process . . . by being part of the Bernie Sanders campaign. I say this with full cognizance of the flawed, compromised nature of politics in general and the Democratic Party in particular. The political process is a stew of money and competing interests, power, compromise, cynicism and secret deals. But that's not all it is.

It's also the opening to our collective future. A failure to acknowledge this leaves the process in the hands of those who think they own it.

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

BillNye 0420wrp opt(Photo: Ed Schipul)Bill Nye, an outspoken proponent of man-made climate change, has taken on meteorologist and well-known climate denier Joe Bastardi in a new StarTalk video.

The clip was posted in response to a November 2015 editorial Bastardi wrote for The Patriot Post in which he described Nye as an “agenda-driven zealot [rather] than a man of science.”

The WeatherBell chief forecaster also challenged “The Science Guy” to the following three points:

1. Explain why there’s no linkage in the entire known CO2-temperature history of the planet.

2. Explain the lack of warming in real-time temperature data, and why so far I have been right.

3. Make your forecast. You claim to be a leader yet refuse to take a stand. Instead you sit in the stands and never allow what you are saying to be verified. What kind of science is that?

Nye not only took on Bastardi’s challenge, he’s also putting a total of $20,000 on the line that 2016 will be in the top 10 hottest years ever recorded and that 2010-2020 will be the hottest decade ever recorded.

JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Oil 0422wrp opt(Photo: Marine Photobank)How easy it must be for our political leaders and their war-profiteering friends from the weapon industry to plan for invasions while they’re being served coffee from in the comfort of the White House. How convenient to chart operations, thousands of miles away, with the CIA and the Pentagon, to point out designated bombing targets off satellite maps to go with their coffee and Danish pastries.

How easy it is for Bush-Cheney, followed by President Obama, and former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, to speak of countries in the abstract: “Iraq is harboring weapons of mass destruction.” “Afghanistan is a home for terrorists.” “Libya and Syria have evil dictators…” as if these countries were floating somewhere in space with no families, no schools, no homes, no children, no pets…merely abstract human targets who must be killed in abstract countries that float in space somewhere absent of aunts, mothers, animals, trees, sewer systems, water, farmlands…

Wait a minute—there is something specific and tangible that both the Bush and Obama war commanders think about in those countries with grave concern worth protecting: oil and gas.

This is what we’ve learned for the last decades from ongoing US military intervention in the Middle East: oil is valued higher than life itself. It’s very real, it’s tangible and it merits the mass murder of hundreds of thousands of human beings because it is the engine of fossil fuel capitalism.

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