ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUTCOLE MELLINO OF
Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch
Naomi Klein, author of the critically acclaimed book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, spoke at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas in Sydney, Australia last weekend. The annual event “brings leading thinkers and culture creators from around the world to the Sydney Opera House stages and online to discuss and debate the important ideas of our time.”
Klein’s most recent book argues that the climate crisis cannot be addressed without fundamentally changing our current economic system. Since her book was published, Klein has become a fierce advocate for action on climate change. Last month, she criticized her own Canadian government and the Australian government for “destroying the planet,” calling Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott a climate change “villain.” In July, she spoke at a Vatican conference, People and Planet First: the Imperative to Change Course. She even made an appearance on The Colbert Report with Stephen Colbert last fall.
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Capitalism has worked for big business and for the people with stocks and estates. But for the past 35 years our economic system, stripped of sensible regulations, has poisoned the nation with deadly inequality and driven much of middle America to an ever-widening lower class.
Yet for much of the nation the delusion persists, against all common sense, that deregulated free-market capitalism works, that it equates to true Americanism, and that people have only themselves to blame for their failure to thrive in this expanding world of wealth. The reasons for this delusion are not hard to determine.
1. The Rich are Easy to Understand: Capitalism Justifies Selfishness
Studies have consistently shown that increased wealth causes people to turn inward, to believe more in their own "superior" traits, and to care less about the feelings and needs of others. This anti-social attitude blends well with the Ayn-Randish "greed is good" message of unregulated capitalism.
Other studies have determined that money pushes people further to the right, making them less egalitarian, less willing to provide broad educational opportunities to all members of society, and certainly part of the reason that our investment in public infrastructure as a component of GDP dropped by 60 percent from 1968 to 2011.
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The Straits of Mackinac is a narrow waterway that separates Michigan’s lower peninsula from its upper peninsula. The straights connect two of the Great Lakes: Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. But underneath this iconic part of the Great Lakes are two 62-year old pipelines.
The pipelines have never been replaced, despite the well-documented risk of a rupture. “If just one of the pipelines ruptured, it would result in a spill of 1.5 million gallons of oil—and that’s if Enbridge, the company that owns them, is able to fix the pipeline immediately,” says Motherboard. “I can’t imagine another place in the Great Lakes where it’d be more devastating to have an oil spill, University of Michigan research scientist Dave Schwab told Motherboard.
Enbridge does not have a good record when it comes to spills either. It’s responsible for more than 800 spills between 1999 and 2010, totaling 6.8 million gallons of spilled oil. And in 2010, it spilled more than 800,000 gallons into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan—creating the biggest inland oil spill in the country’s history. It did not receive as much national attention because the country was fixated on another oil spill: the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The good news is that a new law that was passed this year in North Dakota requires police in the state to obtain a court order before using a drone for surveillance.
The bad news, however, is that according to an August 27 Ars Technica article, the same legislation allows local police to equip drones with non-lethal weapons such as tasers and utilize them for law enforcement:
Legal experts are very concerned that a new North Dakota law which allows law enforcement drones to be armed with so-called less-than-lethal weapons—including stun guns and beanbag rounds—could be highly problematic. The law, however, explicitly forbids lethal weapons....
Among other reasons, such weapons have been shown that they can, in fact, kill people. According to research by The Guardian, 39 Americans have died this year alone at the hands of police wielding a Taser. Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported Wednesday that more than 20 North American cities are pursuing large silicone-based projectiles as yet another alternative weapon.
North Dakota is believed to be the first state in the union to allow such weapons aboard state and local police drones.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Jane Stillwater, an occasional commentator on BuzzFlash, recently wrote an essay asserting that "human beings are the most dangerous predators on the planet."
Stillwater recounts how her granddaughter wanted to have an animal-themed costume party. Jane was at a loss for what to wear, until she came up with this idea:
So I thought about it a lot and finally came up with a really great animal costume, one that would still let me wear my usual uniform of jeans and a tee. I simply printed out a sign that read, "I am a HUMAN BEING, the most dangerous predator on the planet," and then slapped said sign on my back. Problem solved.
I must admit, I was a bit bemused when I first read this. Perhaps I simply felt implicated, given that I am a member of the human race. Yet, after a moment, I became less defensive and realized that Stillwater was mordantly and morbidly accurate. My realization wasn't spurred only by Stillwater's examples - a smattering of incidents of global murder in the name of factions, religions, nation states and the oligarchy - but also by the sheer number of people killed in conflicts over the last hundred years alone.
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As we all know, the only reason why we are still dependent on fossil fuels is because Big Oil has forced the world to rely on their product since the late 1800s. It’s a barbaric and antiquated form of energy that should have been phased out a long time ago with scalpels and blood leeching, given the advancement of renewable energy technologies.
The one thing that Big Oil fears most is the lack of demand for their product. When public demand diminishes, supply is not worth the trouble and expense. It’s basic economics.
Recently, environmental activists and commentators have pointed to President Obama’s hypocrisy of traveling to the Arctic to talk about the melting ice and climate change, and at the same time, he allowed Royal Dutch Shell to begin oil and gas drilling in the Chukchi Sea, off Alaska’s northwest coast despite massive protests and demonstrations.
But this is the way it always goes down. The truth is President Obama is generally pro-oil and gas. His actions-decisions on oil drilling speak far louder than his empty speeches on climate change.
As usual, Big Oil wins and every living thing on this earth loses. When are we going to stop being victims? We approach the problem of climate change from the same strategy of begging politicians to do the right thing when they will never do the right thing for the reason that the oil industry writes the checks and buys them off. And they own the corporate networks as well. That’s why meteorologists are not allowed to connect the dots between extreme weather disasters and global warming or else they’ll be fired on the spot.
Round and round we go on this insane merry-go-round until there is nothing left to speak of regarding the emergency crisis we’re facing with the clock ticking as the last ice melts in the Artic: We are categorically facing mass extinction produced by man-made pollution, and it’s happening rapidly, faster than scientists predicted.
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Who are all these people?
Here’s another global problem — this flow of refugees — that national governments are apparently incapable of dealing with in a long-term, cooperative, globally responsible way. As with climate change, as with warand disarmament, they retreat into insularity in the face of such matters and become protective of their short-term, individual “interests,” which mostly concern the bureaucratic sacredness of their borders and an obsessive distinction between us and them.
“The European Union, (French President François Hollande) said, needed to create ‘hot spot’ reception centers at those borders under the greatest onslaught — in Greece, Italy and Hungary — to register new arrivals and turn back those who do not meet the requirements for asylum,” reports the New York Times.
And: “(British Prime Minister David) Cameron said Monday that Britain would accept up to 20,000 Syrian refugees, but they would most likely be limited to those who apply for asylum from camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. The British government is wary of giving migrants any incentive to make the dangerous journey into Europe, officials said. . . .”
Of course, it gets a lot worse than that: razor wire, brute force, big walls. Desperate people risk their lives. Boats capsize. Children die as racist slogans reverberate. Families flee war and poverty, hell on earth. They need new homes. What a nuisance.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
They are called "boneyards" by military personnel, but they aren't human ossuaries. Instead, they are graveyards for machines that kill.
After the military-industrial complex's life-destroying aircraft complete their mission of death and decimation, they are replaced by newly designed Molochs of the sky. The multi-billion dollar equipment that is being phased out has to go somewhere - and most US military planes end up in what are nicknamed "boneyards." Generally, these are enormous swaths of desert in the Southwest of the United States.
"Outdated" combat - and other Pentagon - aircraft in "boneyards" can be parked for years. Some of them are used for spare parts, some are scrapped, a few are occasionally called back to service and upgraded in times of large-scale war, and some are sold to foreign national military services. For the most part, however, these former killing machines simply become metallic bones.
ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUTLORRAINE CHOW OF
Reprinted with permission from EcoWatch
In a first for the country, California’s Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) has issued plans to list glyphosate—the toxic active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide—as known to cause cancer.
According to a “notice of intent” issued last week by the Cal/EPA’s California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), the effort falls under California’s Proposition 65, in which the state is required to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm.
The same law, otherwise known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, also requires that certain substances identified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)—the World Health Organization’s cancer arm—be listed as known to cause cancer.
“Case-control studies of occupational exposure in the USA, Canada, and Sweden reported increased risks for non-Hodgkin lymphoma that persisted after adjustment for other pesticides,” the IARC said about the herbicide. There is also “convincing evidence” that it can cause cancer in laboratory animals.
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As if there weren't enough Christian evangelical groups beating the drums against the Obama administration's nuclear deal with Iran, another one, American Christian Leaders for Israel (ACLI) has joined the fray. Last week, ACLI, a networking project of the U.S. branch of International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ), sent a petition to the White House railing "against any agreement that does not dismantle Iran's nuclear program," according to an ACLI Press Release. The press release claims that "Some 650 Pastors and Christian leaders representing tens of millions of grassroots Americans have signed onto that letter."
"Through this joint initiative, we want to demonstrate that this is not a partisan issue, nor a Jewish issue, nor only an Israel issue, but it is an American issue, and millions of grassroots Americans are opposed to this disastrous deal," stated Susan Michael, U.S. Director for the ICEJ. "This network of Christian leaders in support of Israel is unprecedented," added Michael, "and reflects the gravity of the situation. We are asking all members of Congress to set aside partisan issues and vote against the agreement."
So while it appears nearly certain that Christian Zionists, along with the conservative pro-Israeli lobbying group AIPAC, the Republican Party and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have lost the battle over the nuclear deal with Iran, Christian evangelicals are vowing to fight on.