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Wednesday, 03 August 2016 07:36

Is Trump Eager to Let the Nukes Fly?


2016august3 nuclearwarheadNuclear warhead on Titan missile (Photo: Tommaso Galli)

In just a few days, on August 6, it will be the anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. It was the beginning of the nuclear age: an age in which the US, the Soviet Union and now many other nations have the ability to annihilate the people of the world with nuclear weapons.

The Cold War stand-off between the US and the Soviet Union, with nuclear "mutually assured destruction" (MAD) as an ever-present threat was a key motivating factor in the clamor for nuclear disarmament. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, "No Nukes" was a thriving movement with frequent protests.

Although anti-nuclear-weapons advocacy has dramatically decreased since the Cold War ended, the threat of nuclear conflict is still a looming issue.

According to the Arms Control Association, the United States currently maintains around 7,100 nuclear warheads, while Russia still has 7,300 (although it is in the process of dismantling some of them). Another seven nations are known to have nuclear weapons.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio(Photo: Gage Skidmore)BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Florida Senator Marco Rubio appears to be building his Senate reelection campaign on Hillary hatred and the underbelly of anti-gay bigotry, as he's been courting some of Florida's and the nation's most bigoted anti-gay organizations and leaders. After running an unsuccessful/lackluster campaign for the Republican Party's presidential nomination, he is back on the campaign trail, this time, seeking re-election to the Senate. His opponent in the Republican primary is Carlos Beruff, a Manatee County developer.

Rubio is on Twitter ranting about Hillary Clinton's acceptance speech at the Democratic convention, and on the campaign trail "Little Marco" -- as he was dubbed by the now GOP standard-bearer Donald Trump -- is heartily endorsing Trump. And while he is undoubtedly salivating over the possibility of receiving wads of Koch brothers' money, over the past few weeks Rubio has been focusing on solidifying the anti-gay vote.

He recently welcomed the endorsement of John Stemberger, the head of Florida Family Action, and one of the state's most well known anti-gay activists.


Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Monsanto's experimental genetically engineered wheat has been found growing in a field in Washington state, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirmed last week.

This discovery not only raises concerns over GMO contamination, it could be another legal headache for Monsanto, as the agritech giant has paid millions to settle recent lawsuits over illegal GMO wheat.

Reuters reported on Friday that a farmer found 22 unapproved GMO wheat plants in a field that has not been planted since 2015. Federal and state officials are now conducting an investigation.


2016august1 phoenixArid Phoenix doesn't need its piped in water bottled by Nestlé. (Photo: Jerry Ferguson)

 Phoenix is the sixth-largest city in the United States. It draws all of its water from sources that exist far beyond the horizon of the arid desert and craggy mountains that surround it.

Although some city officials claim Phoenix has excess water at the moment, other analysts claim that with the rise in global warming and the battle in the Southwest between municipalities and states over dwindling water supplies, Phoenix will face a water crisis in the not-so-distant future. A 2015 Slate article warns that "as Lake Mead hits record lows and water shortages loom, Arizona prepares for the worst."

This scenario is seen as an opportunity by Nestlé Waters -- the biggest bottled water company in the world -- not as a cause of concern for the survival of Phoenix residents. After all, if you can tip your privatization toe in a dwindling water supply, your product -- necessary to life -- becomes more valuable over time.

A May 13 article in The Arizona Republic states:

Nestlé Waters will spend $35 million to revamp a west Phoenix warehouse into a plant treating city water and selling it as Pure Life brand bottles, city and company officials said.

The plant is projected to fill 264 million half-liter bottles in its first year, or almost 35 million gallons.

That's more than enough water to supply 200 Phoenix households for a year. The plant is expected to create 40-50 jobs.


Wastewater 0801wrp opt(Photo: EcoWatch)Florida regulators voted to approve new water quality standards that would increase the amount of carcinogenic toxins allowed in Florida's waterways.

The Environmental Regulation Commission voted 3-2 Tuesday to approve a proposal by state regulators that would set new standards on 39 chemicals not currently regulated by the Sunshine State and revise regulations on 43 toxins, most of which are carcinogenic. State regulators claim the new plan will protect more Floridians than current standards, the Miami Herald reported.

"We have not updated these parameters since 1992," Cari Roth, chairwoman of the commission, told the Miami Herald. "It is more good than harm. The practical effect is, it is not going to increase the amount of toxins going into our waters."

Under the new proposal, acceptable levels of toxins in Florida waters will increase for more than 24 known carcinogens. The acceptable levels would decrease for 13 chemicals that are currently regulated.

The new regulations are based on a one-of-a-kind scientific method the Florida Department of Environmental Protection created, called "Monte Carlo." The method is being criticized by environmental groups, warning the new standards would allow polluters to dump high concentrations of dangerous chemicals into Florida's rivers and streams.

"Monte Carlo gambling with our children's safety is unacceptable," Marty Baum, of Indian Riverkeeper, said.


Coin 0801wrp opt(Photo: Jeff Belmonte)Corporations are viewed as untouchable by big business media giants like the Wall Street Journal, which blurts out inanities like "Income inequality is simply not a significant problem." and "Middle-class Americans have more buying power than ever before."

In the real world, inequality is destroying the middle class. The following four issues, all part of the cancer of corporatocracy, have grown in intensity and destructiveness in just the last few years. They should be campaign issues, given more than just lip service from corporation-funded candidates like Hillary Clinton, and given more than just passing reference in the news reports of an unresponsive, irresponsible mainstream media.

1. Monopolies: Increasing Prices, Cutting Jobs

The Busch/Miller merger is the latest attack on competition, joining the recent surge toward oligopolies in the banking industry, pharmaceuticals and hospitals, wireless companies, and airlines. Contrary to any condescending claims that mergers contribute to price-lowering efficiencies, they have actually led to price increases in 75 percent of examined cases, according to a Northeastern University study. The resulting corporate profits are often used for investor-enriching stock buybacks.

And jobs are cut. When Merck took over Cubist Pharmaceuticals, the latter's research and development staff was eliminated, ending their studies of other promising medicines.

2. Finance: Now Costing Us More Than the Military

A Roosevelt Institute study estimates that "the financial system will impose an excess cost of as much as $22.7 trillion between 1990 and 2023. That comes to about $660 billion per year, more than the discretionary military budget. That's over $5,000 per U.S. household in excess financial costs.

Banks once spent the majority of their money on business investments; now it's just 15 percent. Rana Foroohar summarizes: "US companies today make more than ever before by simply moving money around."

Corporations are viewed as untouchable by big business media giants like the Wall Street Journal, which blurts out inanities like "Income inequality is simply not a significant problem." and "Middle-class Americans have more buying power than ever before."

In the real world, inequality is destroying the middle class. The following four issues, all part of the cancer of corporatocracy, have grown in intensity and destructiveness in just the last few years. They should be campaign issues, given more than just lip service from corporation-funded candidates like Hillary Clinton, and given more than just passing reference in the news reports of an unresponsive, irresponsible mainstream media.


LolaArticle 0729wrp optPhoto: William Rivers PittTo my daughter:

Good morning, little bug! As I write this, you are fast asleep in your room, in all likelihood ensconced in one of your pillow forts on the floor for reasons passing understanding. You'll wake up in a bit and have your breakfast, unaware that you rose to greet a whole new world today. You're only three years old this morning, but if you're reading this, it means you're a booming seven and probably taller than me. I wanted to write this today and give it to you four years from now. Let me explain why.

First of all, again, you're three. Almost all of this would go right over your head, but I figure you'll have the chops to take it all in four years from now. More importantly, however, is the fact that you'll be reading this in an election year, and a woman might be running to remain president of the United States. Even if that isn't the case, the world you awoke to this morning is a profoundly changed place because of what happened last night. You're too young to understand, which is why I am writing this and saving it for you.

The convention itself was a masterpiece of content and passionate argument. The president spoke, the vice president spoke, a former president spoke, the First Lady spoke, the Senator from Massachusetts spoke, and they all knocked the paint off the walls. Very ordinary people also spoke and sang the songs of their lives. There were tears and music, there was dancing and celebration, and in the final act a woman strode forth and promised to lead the way.

Last night, a woman named Hillary Clinton was nominated by the Democratic Party to become the next president. It was the first time a woman won such a nomination in the United States, and the fact of it has changed everything once again. The United States has been around for 240 years, but women have only been allowed to vote for 97 of those years, and they had to fight like hell to get that vote. It is almost indescribably important that as many people in a democracy be allowed to vote as possible. That fight made many good things possible.


Mouse 0729wrp opt(Photo: Darkone)Trump publically invited the Russians to hack into 30,000 email messages at least three of which were “classified” or “top secret,” and promised the Russians that they would be rewarded by the media. At a press conference, Trump stated, "Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press." Unequivocally, Trump was inviting a foreign power to hack into government email messages. This may be a crime under 18 US Code § 373, “Solicitation to commit a crime of violence” and/or the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). Unfortunately, the corporate media have not done their due diligence in covering the criminal implications of Trump’s action. Instead, they have, at their boldest, denounced it as “irresponsible,” “unprecedented,” “stupid,” and “silly.”

According to 18 US Code § 373, “Whoever, with intent that another person engage in conduct constituting a felony that has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against property … solicits, commands, induces, or otherwise endeavors to persuade such other person to engage in such conduct,” is guilty of a crime punishable by imprisonment and/or fine not more than one-half of the punishment for the crime solicited. So did Trump solicit or attempt to persuade the Russians to commit a felony?

According to 1030(a) of the CFAA, it is a felony to (1) knowingly access a computer without authorization, (2) obtain national security information, (3) have reason to believe the information could benefit a foreign nation, and (4) attempt to cause the information to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted to any person not entitled to receive it. So, arguably, Trump committed a felony pursuant to 18 US Code § 373 by soliciting the Russians to commit a felony pursuant to the CFAA 1030(a).

According to FBI Director, James Comey, “With respect to the thousands of e-mails we found that were not among those produced to State, agencies have concluded that three of those were classified at the time they were sent or received, one at the Secret level and two at the Confidential level. …” So, Trump attempted to persuade the Russians to hack into email messages some of which are, or were, classified or top secret, which means that they contained “national security information.” He has also expressed reason to believe that the Russians, a foreign power, could benefit from obtaining the information inasmuch as, he has stated “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.” Finally, Trump “attempted to cause the information to be “communicated, delivered, or transmitted” to the Russians by inviting them to hack into it, and then give it to the press.


Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

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Neonicotinoids, a common and highly controversial class of insecticides linked to catastrophic bee deaths, could be significantly lowering the sperm count of male drone honey bees and cutting their life span by a third, Swiss researchers found.

Researchers from the Institute of Bee Health at the University of Bern, Switzerland discovered that male drone honeybees that ate pollen treated with two popular "neonics" -- thiamethoxam and clothianidin -- produced nearly 40 percent less sperm than those that did not.

When sperm from both sets of drones were put under the microscope, the ones treated with neonics produced 1.2 million living sperm on average while the control group produced 1.98 million. The authors said that the insecticides "can serve as inadvertent insect contraceptives." A drone's main role is to mate with the queen bee.

Thursday, 28 July 2016 06:47

Slavery, War and Presidential Politics

28484966812 fb24c3c6ce o 1 (Photo: Victoria Pickering)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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As I watched "unity" take hold of the Democratic Party this week, the believer in me wanted to be imbibe it -- bottoms up. 

Michelle Obama ignited the crowd. "That is the story of this country," she said. "The story that has brought me to the stage tonight. The story of generations of people who felt the lash of bondage, the shame of servitude, the sting of segregation, who kept on striving, and hoping, and doing what needed to be done."

And the Big Party opened its arms.

"So that today, I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves."


Wow. I can remember when we didn't talk like this in public, especially not on a national stage. Acknowledging slavery -- at a profound level, in all its immorality -- is so much deeper than simply acknowledging racism, which can be reduced to the behavior of ignorant people. But the ownership of human bodies and human souls, total control over people's lives and the lives of their children, was inscribed in law. And such ownership was a core principle of the "greatest country on earth," embedded in the economy, embraced by the Founding Fathers with no questions asked.

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