MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
As BuzzFlash reported on September 13, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is meeting in Stockholm. The IPCC is widely expected to issue a stern report about the dangers of ignoring human-caused climate change.
Of course, adults -- not children -- interested in profiteering regardless of its likely lethal impact on the inhabitants of the earth are the ones putting the brakes on even the most incremental of efforts to slow climate change down (if we have not already reached the tipping point).
But, as an article in the Guardian UK reports, it is the children of the planet who are going to suffer the most as a result of the current placation of global industry in regards to reversing global warming:
Children will bear the brunt of the impact of climate change because of their increased risk of health problems, malnutrition and migration, according to a new study published on Monday. And food prices are likely to soar as a result of warming, undoing the progress made in combating world hunger....
JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The bluebirds of happiness are chirping away in our nation's treetops these days, for America is now in the fifth year of economic recovery. Let's all sing "Happy Days Are Here Again," for stock prices are reaching record highs, corporate profits are soaring, and even the unemployment numbers are on the mend.
But wait, what's this? Down below the treetops, way down there at the grassroots, poverty not only persists, but is spreading. Also, America's income disparity is worsening as middle-class workers are pushed into lower-wage jobs and poor people are pushed out entirely. Far from "Happy Days," joblessness among our lowest-income families is now the worst on record, having reached the staggering rate of 21 percent.
The plight of the poor in our Land of Plenty is so dramatic that even the Republican leaders of the U.S. House have noticed them and are reaching out with open hands. Unfortunately, they are not offering a helping hand to the needy, but a cold, hard slap in the face. On Sept. 19, in a gratuitous act of political pettiness and human callousness, the GOP slashed $4 billion-a-year out of the food stamp program. Well, they explained, the food stamp subsidy just keeps expanding, despite the recovery our economy is enjoying, so we have to stop the excess.
BILL QUIGLEY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
While Colorado and Washington have de-criminalized recreational use of marijuana and twenty states allow use for medical purposes, a Louisiana man was sentenced to twenty years in prison in New Orleans criminal court for possessing 15 grams, .529 of an ounce, of marijuana.
Corey Ladd, 27, had prior drug convictions and was sentenced September 4, 2013 as a "multiple offender to 20 years hard labor at the Department of Corrections."
Marijuana use still remains a ticket to jail in most of the country and prohibition is enforced in a highly racially discriminatory manner. A recent report of the ACLU, "The War on Marijuana in Black and White," documents millions of arrests for marijuana and shows the "staggeringly disproportionate impact on African Americans."
Nationwide, the latest numbers from the FBI report that over 762,000 arrests per year are for marijuana, almost exactly half of all drug arrests.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
According to a thoughtful "opinionator" September 15 commentary in the New York Times (NYT), Northwestern University Philosophy Professor Peter Kudlow refers to a TIME article this summer that found "70 percent of those age 18 to 34 sampled in a poll said they believed that Snowden 'did a good thing' in leaking the news of the National Security Agency’s [NSA] surveillance program."
It took a threatened war with Syria, the imminent possible shutdown of the federal government, and the GOP getting high on trying to starve people to take the attention off the Obama administration's obsession with capturing Edward Snowden.
Snowden provided little data that would help any "enemy" of the US, but he embarrassed the White House and permanent DC elite establishment by revealing the extent of illegal and legal US surveillance far beyond the stated goal of stopping terrorism. What Snowden offered up on a platter, through primarily a foreign paper -- the Guardian UK -- was the evidence that the US is spying on its own citizens, spying for international political purposes even on friendly heads of state, spying to help corporations (of course, including the fossil fuel industry) to gain global competitive advantage, and for many other purposes that exceed President Obama's claim that the NSA only protects the national security of the United States.
WALTER BRASCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
For years, my father, a federal employee with a top secret clearance, carried a copy of his birth certificate when he went into Baja California from our home in San Diego. Many times, when he tried to reenter the U.S., he was stopped by the Border Patrol.
My father had thick black hair and naturally dark skin, and the Patrol thought he was a Mexican brazenly trying to sneak back into the country by claiming to be married to the black-haired, blue- eyed, light-skinned woman he claimed was his wife. It was annoying.
It was also annoying that once back home, he faced discrimination because neighbors thought he was Mexican. Because we lived in an urban area, not many discriminated against my parents because they were Jews, but there were a few with hatred as great as their ignorance.
When I was 11 years old, we moved two hours North, near Los Angeles, and my parents bought a house in a new tract of about 150 houses, all owned by Whites and a few Hispanics. Three or four years later, a Realtor came by, plastering flyers on all the houses, announcing he had a special real good, one-time only deal. A few wouldn't sell their houses at any price if it was a Black who was planning to move into the area. Someone in the tract took up the offer, and a Black family--he was a mechanical engineer--moved in. It didn't take long before other White families began putting their houses up for sale. Only this time, they weren't getting as much as the first family that sold out. Soon, the prices began tumbling as other Blacks and Hispanics moved in.
DAVID SIROTA ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Two months before my Colorado community was overwhelmed this week by epic rains, our state's chief oil and gas regulator, Matt Lepore, berated citizens concerned about the ecological impact of hydraulic fracturing and unbridled drilling. During his speech, Lepore insinuated that those advocating a first-do-no-harm posture toward fossil fuel development are mostly affluent and are therefore unconcerned with the economic impact of their environmental advocacy. Coming from an industry lawyer-turned-regulator, it was a deceptive attempt to pretend environmental stewardship is merely a rich person's luxury.
After this week's flood, of course, "thousands of oil and gas wells and associated condensate tanks and ponds" are underwater in Colorado, according to the Boulder Daily Camera. Already, there is at least one confirmed oil pipeline leak. At the same time, the Denver Post reports that "oil drums, tanks and other industrial debris mixed into the swollen (South Platte) river."
In short, there's a serious possibility of an environmental disaster that should concern both rich and poor.
In retrospect, the deluge illustrates the problem with officials pretending that environmental stewardship and the precautionary principle are just aristocratic priorities. They are quite the opposite — they are priorities for everyone.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Many have tried, but few have succeeded. Some have made it part of their regular schtick, and make a handsome living by doing it over and over again. But try as they might, the gold standard for blaming a natural disaster -- or tragic event -- on their enemies of choice, is still held by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell.
Now, however, with floodwaters raging in his state, Colorado pastor and radio talk show host Kevin Swanson is aiming to be a contender in the pantheon of blame-game flame-throwers. Swanson recently pointed his finger at the real causers of the floods: abortion, the legalization of marijuana, and "decadent homosexual activity." Climate change? Not so much. (For some time, Swanson resided in the school of global warming denial.)
In trying to make some sense of the cause of natural disasters, some conservative evangelical preachers have gone off the rails. Hurricanes, tornadoes, typhoons, floods, earthquakes and yes, even the less-than-natural terrorist attack, is blamed on abortion, gays, and yes, even the American Civil Liberties Union.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
So last week the Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted to cut food stamps by about $40 billion over a few years. That compares to a proposed $4 billion cut in the senate.
BuzzFlash at Truthout has written on Food Stamps many times and pointed out how they actually stimulate the economy. Studies on Food Stamps have shown that up to $1.70 goes back into the economy through the food distribution change for every dollar spent. And given the continued decrease in wages and joblessness for many Americans, the need for Food Stamps is rising.
But Food Stamps have been up there with Ronald Reagan's "welfare Mom in a pink Cadillac" stereotype for acceptable symbols of the white racist tribal identity edge of the social wing of the GOP. This is the wing whose base prejudices are manipulated by the likes of the Koch Brothers' organizing groups to blame poor minorities for the increasing economic woes of the white working and middle class -- instead of where blame belongs on the upward distribution of money to the wealthiest in America.
HARVEY WASSERMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
We are now within two months of what may be humankind's most dangerous moment since the Cuban Missile Crisis.
There is no excuse for not acting. All the resources our species can muster must be focused on the fuel pool at Fukushima Unit 4.
Fukushima's owner, Tokyo Electric (Tepco), says that within as few as 60 days it may begin trying to remove more than 1300 spent fuel rods from a badly damaged pool perched 100 feet in the air. The pool rests on a badly damaged building that is tilting, sinking and could easily come down in the next earthquake, if not on its own.
Some 400 tons of fuel in that pool could spew out more than 15,000 times as much radiation as was released at Hiroshima.
The one thing certain about this crisis is that Tepco does not have the scientific, engineering or financial resources to handle it. Nor does the Japanese government. The situation demands a coordinated worldwide effort of the best scientists and engineers our species can muster.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
That's over and above our payments to the big companies for energy and food and housing and health care and all our tech devices. It's $6,000 that no family would have to pay if we truly lived in a competitive but well-regulated free-market economy.
The $6,000 figure is an average, which means that low-income families are paying less. But it also means that families (households) making over $72,000 are paying more than $6,000 to the corporations.
1. $870 for Direct Subsidies and Grants to Companies
The Cato Institute estimates that the U.S. federal government spends $100 billion a year on corporate welfare. That's an average of $870 for each one of America's 115 million families. Cato notes that this includes "cash payments to farmers and research funds to high-tech companies, as well as indirect subsidies, such as funding for overseas promotion of specific U.S. products and industries...It does not include tax preferences or trade restrictions."