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2015.16.3 BF biggers(Photo: Jonathan Haeber)JEFF BIGGERS OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

This article was reprinted with permission from EcoWatch.

With mountaintop removal mining on the ropes, as the last bank financiers ditch lending support amid new scientific research that demonstrates “solid evidence that dust collected from residential areas near mountaintop removal sites causes cancerous changes to human lung cells,” residents from across central Appalachia’s coal country are converging today on the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection headquarters in Charleston to demand an end to new permits.

A day of reckoning is arriving in Appalachia.

In the aftermath of last year’s world attention on the state’s handling of the coal chemical disaster on Elk River, and with the once invincible “dark lord” of mountaintop removal Don Blankenship facing criminal conspiracy charges, a renewed coalition of citizens groups called the People’s Foot movement is confronting state and federal agencies directly for their complicity in ignoring the growing and indisputable evidence on health damages from mountaintop removal mining.

2015.16.3 BFBuchheit(Photo: 401(K) 2012)PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

There's something perversely wrong with a society that creates $30 trillion in new wealth while putting six million more children on food stamps.

The mainstream media rarely publishes facts like this. The super-rich keep building up their own numbers, as quietly as possible. And our leading members of Congress have little need for numbers, except for budget cuts and the strings of zeros at the end of their campaign contributions.

But numbers have the power to reveal the dramatic fall of the middle class over the past 35 years.

1. 138,000 Kids Were Homeless While 115,000 Households Were Each Making $10 Million Per Year

Recent data has shown that the richest .1% (115,000 households) have each increased their wealth by an astonishing $10 million per year. As they counted their money on a frigid night in January, 138,000 children, according to the US Department of Housing, were without a place to call home.

ANASTASIA PANTSIOS OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaEcoWatchWind(Photo: EcoWatch)Wind power is one of the fastest-growing new sources of electrical power in the U.S.—the largest new renewable source of power since 2000. And within 35 years, it could be providing more than a third of the power in the U.S.

That’s according to a new report, Wind Vision: A New Era for Wind Power in the United States, released today by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Wind and Water Power Technologies office. It updates a study released in 2008 under President George W. Bush, taking into account changes that have occurred in the energy industry since then, with improved technologies making wind more reliable and cost-effective. The 286-page report outlines the wind industry’s assets and the challenges it faces in its efforts to increase its share of the total energy portfolio, as well as the positive benefits for the public and the environment of doing so. It provides a key piece of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.

“The wind industry can be characterized by the substantial growth of domestic manufacturing and the level of wind deployment seen in recent years,” says José Zayas, director of the DOE Wind and Water Power Technologies office. “Wind power systems are now seen as a viable and competitive source of electricity across the nation. Wind power’s emerging role is an important option in a portfolio of new energy solutions for future generations.”

STEVEN JONAS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaDerpGOP(Photo: Republican Party)Your Republican Party today is some spectacle, is it not? Its House of Representatives dips into foreign policy. As is well known, it invites the Prime Minister of a foreign country to make a speech that serves two purposes: campaigning against the US President's present foreign policy and campaigning for re-election in an increasingly tough battle in his home country. Since he offers no alternatives to the proposed policy of the US President, it cannot serve any purposes other than dual-campaigning.

Its Senate then sends an "Open Letter" to Iran. Since it was not actually sent to anyone in Iran by post or diplomatic pouch (which would have had to go through the State Department and the U.S. "Interest Section" in the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, a totally unlikely occurrence), it is actually not a "letter" as such, but rather an Op-Ed piece. Again, it offers no alternatives to the present policy of the President, and it says nothing about how US foreign policy works that any student of it doesn't already know (and there are several of those on the Iranian side in the negotiations). Thus it too is nothing more than part of the Republican campaign against President Obama that began on the evening of President Obama's Inauguration on January 20, 2009. Actually Mitch McConnell had announced in December, 2008 that he "would filibuster any bill I didn't like."

(It is too bad that President Obama has failed for so long to take heed of these very clear announcements of total non-cooperation but continued to press until very recently the failed Democratic Leadership Council [and its "centrist" successors] policy of "finding the middle ground," when clearly none exists, or has ever existed. According to New York magazine's Johnathan Chait, he finally has done so).

The same Mitch McConnell announced just the other day that he "is urging governors to defy President Obama by refusing to implement the administration's global warming regulations." It happens that 12 states with Republican governors have already filed lawsuits against the Environmental Protection Administration's announced new regulations intended to do at least something about the ongoing tsunami of human-caused global warming/climate change [http://www.truth-out.org/buzzflash/commentary/the-climate-change-deniers-hall-of-infamy]. But that is not good enough for McConnell. The law be damned. Here is the most senior elected Republican legislator telling (Republican) Governors to just go ahead and defy the law, the EPA, and the President. (Funnily enough, the EPA was originally established by none other than Richard Nixon. And, get this [something I didn't know], he did it by Executive Order [!!!], which was eventually ratified by Congress. Talk about Republicans changing over time.)

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

apeacesign2(Photo: Beth)

Christmastime is the worst.

That's when TV advertising, sappy television shows, holiday music and politicians all parrot the theme of a time of peace and goodwill toward all. Of course, the real national purpose of the end-of-year holiday season is the jingle of cash registers and fattening of corporate profits - along with vacations in tropical settings or skiing for those who can afford them.

Come January 1, however, after the football games are over and the last beer is drunk, the United States is off to another year of waging war.  

The National Priorities Project, which keeps running expenditure tabs on the costs of war, estimates that the US has now spent nearly $1.7 trillion on wars since 2001. A spokeswoman for the National Priorities Project told BuzzFlash that approximately $823 billion has been spent on the Department of Homeland Security since its creation after 9/11. She also mentioned a Washington Post article from 2013 that estimated the CIA budget at $14.7 billion. Pentagon spending alone - which comprises more than half of the US budget each year - rings in at $554 billion for 2015. To be fair, a lot of this funding overlaps, but the behemoth financial interests of the "war industry" are readily apparent from these figures. Furthermore, these estimates do not include agencies such as the State Department and many unknown "black budget" programs and smaller war and surveillance allocations.

The number of people who rely on war and "intelligence gathering" for their incomes and/or profit is enormous.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

anincomeineq(Photo: mSeattle)

Wage stagnation has been an ongoing problem for workers. One of the main reasons for this "missing" income rise among the working class - as the stock market continues to break records - is the gargantuan shift of cash and assets upward to the super-rich.

Salaries for low-to-middle-income earners in the US have not only largely stagnated (given adjustment for inflation) since the Reagan "revolution" of tax cuts for the wealthy, they have in many cases gone down, due to the decline in unions, the shift of jobs overseas and the rise of big box retailers. Many people find their wages are actually falling, as they have to accept jobs beneath their skills and previous pay levels.

Progressive journalist Harold Myerson penned a column in the Washington Post on March 11 that analyzes why wages aren't rising even though the stock market is soaring. Although, it's not the exclusive reason for the hardship of the majority of US workers, Myerson pins down a key contributing factor: shareholders of corporations are receiving most of the gains, instead of those who toil to ensure profits.

 

Thursday, 12 March 2015 08:42

Is "Sustainable Beef" an Oxymoron?

2015.12.3 BF CHOW(Photo: Marc Dalmulder)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch.

In the face sagging beef sales, a slew of US beef industry stakeholders have formed the US Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (USRSB) to figure out how to source beef that’s, well, more “sustainable.”

And although the USRSB’s intentions might be good, Americans can’t have their steak and eat it, too. That’s because the vast amount of resources it takes to produce enough beef for the country on a commercial scale will never be truly be sustainable.

A total of 43 participants make up the roundtable, including McDonald’s, Walmart, Cargill and Tyson Foods Inc., environmental groups World Wildlife Federation (WWF) and The Nature Conservancy, as well as producers, processors, foodservice operators, packers and allied industry in the US beef value chain. According to an announcement made last week, the roundtable’s mission is to “advance, support and communicate continuous improvement in US beef sustainability through leadership, innovation, multi-stakeholder engagement and collaboration.”

2015.12.3 BF Koehler(Photo: Light Brigading)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

“You can hang him from a tree, but he can never sign with me . . .”

Yeah, something had to happen. The cellphone video went public and the frat boys on the bus, who were just having a little politically incorrect fun, y’know, singing about Jim Crow exclusionary practices and, well, lynching, suddenly found themselves thrust into a national context, embarrassing the hell out of their fraternity and their school.

Something had to happen, but I don’t think it was “zero tolerance” — that is to say, the immediate shutting of the door on a shocking, humiliating revelation that some students have bad attitudes and haven’t learned the national lesson: overt, casual racism against African-Americans is wrong.

“I have emphasized that there is zero tolerance for this kind of threatening racist behavior at the University of Oklahoma,” school President David Boren said in the immediate wake of the video’s release, and within a day had expelled two students who had led the jaunty singing of the racist ditty, which included the incessant repetition of the “n-word.”

“I hope that the entire nation will join us in having zero tolerance of such racism when it raises its ugly head in other situations across our country,” Boren added.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

bnobleBernard Noble and his daughter. (Image: Public Defenders of Orleans Parish)

You have to crawl down deep into the sewer system and trudge through raw sewage, pinching your nose to try and reduce the stench, to even begin to comprehend the injustice of sentencing a Black 49-year-old father of seven to 13 years in jail for possessing what amounts to two joints worth of marijuana.

The sludge of waste matter on the ignoble side of the US justice system is thick with racism, a perverse "war on drugs" and bias against the poor.

Bernard Noble, a resident of New Orleans, is now in a Louisiana prison because the raw sewage of a morally corrupt "criminal justice" system is still freely flowing in so many parts of the United States.

The Orleans Parish public defenders have been campaigning to free Noble, stating on their website:

Bernard Noble, a 49-year-old native of New Orleans and father of seven children, is currently serving 13.3 years for in the Jackson Parish Correctional Center in Jonesboro, Louisiana.

His crime? Possession of 2.8 grams of marijuana - roughly enough marijuana to roll two joints.

HARVEY WASSERMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaHotSpot(Photo: Abasaa)The catastrophe that began at Fukushima four years ago today is worse than ever.

But the good news can ultimately transcend the bad—if we make it so.

An angry grassroots movement has kept shut all 54 reactors that once operated in Japan. It’s the largest on-going nuke closure in history. Big industrial windmills installed off the Fukushima coast are now thriving.

Five U.S. reactors have shut since March 11, 2011. The operable fleet is under 100 for the first time in decades.

Ohio’s Davis-Besse, New York’s Ginna, five reactors in Illinois and other decrepit American nukes could shut soon without huge ratepayer bailouts.

Diablo Canyon was retrofitted—probably illegally—with $842 million in replacement parts untested for seismic impact. Already under fire for illegal license manipulations and an avoidable gas explosion that killed eight in San Bruno in 2010, Pacific Gas & Electric has plunged into a legal, economic and political abyss that could soon doom California’s last reactors.

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