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ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaatoxicWhat if we found the political will to reprioritize the national budget and reclaim the future? (Photo: eek the cat)

Maybe if we declared “war” on poison water, we’d find a way to invest money in its “defeat.”

David Rosner and Gerald Markowitz, writing at Tom Dispatch this week about what they called “The United States of Flint,” make this point: “The price tag for replacing the lead pipes that contaminated its drinking water, thanks to the corrosive toxins found in the Flint River, is now estimated at up to $1.5 billion. No one knows where that money will come from or when it will arrive. In the meantime, the cost to the children of Flint has been and will be incalculable.”

I sit with these words: “No one knows where the money will come from.”

In the president’s latest budget proposal, $7.5 billion is earmarked to “fight ISIS,” an absurd non-threat to the nation’s survival, but no matter. We’re engaged in endless war with whoever the latest enemy happens to be and this war is endlessly funded, no questions asked. Mostly we’re engaged in war preparation, of course (and the containment of the consequences of past wars — at least the ones that can’t be ignored). As usual, the Pentagon and other war-engaged institutions will consume well over half the nation’s discretionary spending, including a $59 billion “slush fund that permits the Pentagon to break through Congress’ legislated budget caps,” according to the National Priorities Project.

2016.10.2 bf chow(Photo: Mike Mozart)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Articles reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Monsanto Co. is facing another lawsuit alleging that exposure to glyphosate, the primary ingredient in the company’s flagship product Roundup, causes cancer.

Christine and Kenneth Sheppard, the former owners of Dragon’s Lair Kona Coffee Farm in Honaunau, Hawaii, have accused the multinational agribusiness of falsely masking the carcinogenic risks of glyphosate and is responsible for causing the woman’s cancer, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported.

The civil suit, Sheppard et al v. Monsanto Company, was filed Feb. 2 in U.S. District Court in Honolulu by the Miller Firm of Orange, Virgina and Honolulu attorney Brian K. Mackintosh on behalf of the husband-and-wife duo.

2016.9.2 bf chow(Photo: prilfish)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

A turtle hospital in Marathon, Florida is treating an increasing number of green sea turtles affected by fibropapillomatosis (FP), a global sea turtle disease caused by a herpes virus. The disease leads to the formation of tumors on the turtles’ eyes, flippers and internal organs. The possible culprits? Pollution and warming waters.

In all, the Florida Keys-based Turtle Hospital rescue and rehab facility has admitted 93 sea turtles in 2014, 68 in 2013 and 56 in 2012, The Miami Herald reported.

“Marine turtles with FP have external tumors that may grow so large and hanging as to hamper swimming, vision, feeding and potential escape from predators,” hospital manager Bette Zirkelbach told the publication. “Over 50 percent of the green sea turtle population in and around the Florida Keys is infected with FP.”

2016.9.2 bf berkowitz2(Photo: DonkeyHotey)BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Almost a year ago, Jeff Roe, the founder and principal of the Kansas City, Missouri-based Axiom Strategies, was knocking out attack ads aimed at trashing the gubernatorial candidacy of former Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich. A sixty-second radio ad "labeled Schweich as a weak candidate for governor and pointed out that his political foes would 'squash him like the little bug that he is,'” The Kansas City Star reported. The radio ad also compared Schweich to Barney Fife, the hapless fictional deputy sheriff of Mayberry, on "The Andy Griffith Show."

According to a 2011 Kansas City Star piece by Steve Kraske, Team Roe was involved with "instances of Dumpster diving when Roe's minions would sift through an opposing candidate's household garbage to find something embarrassing. There were stories about Roe employees dashing out of the nighttime shadows to snap photos for use in unflattering campaign fliers. The thing was, Roe admitted it all. 'Politics ain't beanbag,' he would say. In 2006, there were TV ads that chastised one opponent in a wheelchair for working for Penthouse magazine. In reality, she sold ads for a company that owned the magazine."

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahungerfoodWhy do right wing think tanks support government subsidizing corporations with taxpayer funds? (Photo: Propaganda Times)

Right-wing think tanks are often idea factories whose finished product is the peddling of cruel and soulless public policy papers and positions. 

Consider the upcoming implementation of a federal policy that - thanks to the "improving" economy - may cut off food stamps for as many as 1 million people, according to the Associated Press:

Advocates [for the provision of food stamps] say some adults trying to find work face a host of obstacles, including criminal records, disabilities or lack of a driver's license.

The work-for-food requirements were first enacted under the 1996 welfare reform law signed by President Bill Clinton and sponsored by then-Rep. John Kasich, who is now Ohio's governor and a Republican candidate for president.

The provision applies to able-bodied adults ages 18 through 49 who have no children or other dependents in their home. It requires them to work, volunteer or attend education or job-training courses at least 80 hours a month to receive food aid. If they don't, their benefits are cut off after three months.

Then consider the response of a right-wing think tank to this regulation, which is now kicking in, in many states, because of lower unemployment rates.

2016 0208waterf"It's time to acknowledge the national water pollution crisis we face, which will only get worse with climate change wrought by fossil fuels extraction and consumption responsible for fouling so much of our precious water in the first place," writes Mark Ruffalo. (Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout; Adapted: Kevin Jaako)MARK RUFFALO OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

For the past two years, the 100,000 residents of Flint, Michigan, drank, cooked and bathed with lead-contaminated water. Rates of lead poisoning - which can impair brain development and cause other serious health ailments - among the area's children have skyrocketed, from 5 percent before the water turned bad to 16 percent today.

Residents have long reported brown, bad-tasting and foul-smelling water and unexplained sicknesses. Almost a year ago, water tests showed dangerous levels of lead. Yet state, local and federal officials did nothing. Worse, they assured residents that the water was safe. In recently released emails, state officials demonstrated indifference and even contempt toward the complaints that came mostly from poor, black residents. Furthermore, according to some witnesses and media reports, state officials diluted water samples or took incomplete "slow drip water samples" to game results and claim that the water was safe.

Flint's man-made water disaster is an outrageous tragedy and a human health crisis. And unfortunately, it's not an isolated case. It's one instance in a pattern of government failures to take water testing seriously and respond to evidence of water pollution.

2016.2.8.BF.BuchheitFor every three homeless children in 2006, there are now five. For every three children on food stamps in 2007, there are now five. And yet spending on children's programs recently declined for the first time in nearly 20 years. (Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout; Adapted: D Sharon Pruitt, Leo Reynolds, GrungeTextures)PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

US plutocrats are afraid of too much change. But it's too late for gradual change. Only a popular uprising against big business greed can restore a semblance of justice to our perversely unequal society.

The election should be about oppression and the economy - but the economy of the 99% in the US, not of establishment wealth. So many in the US are in need of justice, including the following members of the US commons.

Black Americans and Other People of Color in the United States

"I cringed when people would ask me where I lived ... Just to say 'public housing' was basically saying that you're dirty, you're bad, you're dumb, you're lazy, you're a problem." - Shana Griffin, New Orleans activist

Emergency home repairs? Not for Black families. The average African American family had readily available liquid wealth of only $200 in 2011, less than $1 for every $100 owned by whites.

We tend to believe that education is the great equalizer. But a middle-aged Black person with a graduate degree has about the same odds of being a millionaire as a white person with only a high school diploma.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaaaaacllintonkissinFormer US Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and Henry Kissinger at the 2013 Atlantic Council Distinguished Leadership Awards. (Photo: Atlantic Council)

In most of the post-New-Hampshire-debate punditry, a consensus seems to have emerged that Bernie Sanders won the domestic economic debate by appealing to aspirations, while Hillary Clinton beat him on gravitas and stature in the foreign policy field.

That "conventional wisdom," however, is morally bankrupt and tone-deaf. Why? Consider the fact that the corporate media hardly took note of Clinton's use of Henry Kissinger as a character reference for her self-proclaimed acumen as secretary of state. “I was very flattered when Henry Kissinger said I ran the State Department better than anybody had run it in a long time,” she proudly proclaimed Thursday night. 

Last year, I interviewed historian and author Greg Grandin about his deeply disturbing book about Kissinger's responsibility for the deaths of millions of people through the implementation of his cynical and duplicitous realpolitik, Kissinger's Shadow: The Long Reach of America's Most Controversial Statesman. I asked Grandin about a brief passage in the book concerning Clinton:

Mark Karlin: Help me out with this one. On page 223, you recall how in a 2014 review by Hillary Clinton in the Washington Post of Kissinger's latest book, World Order, she states that she "relies" on Kissinger for advice. You write that [Hillary believes that] "Kissinger's vision is her vision: 'just and liberal.'" Uh, what's up with that?

Greg Grandin: Well, Kissinger is 92, and at this point in life he is as much pure affect as he is power broker. The gestures Clinton mentioned in her review -- I rely on his council; he checks in with me and gives me reports from his travels - are ceremonial, meant to bestow gravitas. Ironically, the worse things get in the world, the more Kissinger's stock rises. He's seen with nostalgia by our political class, as a serious person who had a serious vision. Again, the reality is otherwise.

The headline for the interview was, "Millions Died Because Kissinger Prolonged the Vietnam War for Years After Betraying Peace Treaty."

Friday, 05 February 2016 08:02

Pro-GMO Group Crosses Ethical Line

KEN ROSEBORO OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaDNA(Photo: Thomas Splettstoesser)The Genetic Literacy Project (GLP) has been accused of unethical journalistic practices after it published personal information about individuals opposed to genetically modified food and changed the text of an article without the author’s permission.

GLP is an organization that heavily promotes genetic engineering of foods and attacks critics of the technology.

GLP has posted phone numbers, email and home addresses and other personal information about GMO critics. According to David Murphy, executive director of Food Democracy Now, GLP posted the phone number and email and home addresses of Don Huber, Emeritus Professor of Plant Pathology at Purdue University. Murphy contacted GLP asking them to remove the information, which they did, but shortly after GLP posted Murphy’s cell phone number and home address.

“It’s one thing to have a public disagreement with highly trained scientists and activists on a controversial subject like GMO safety, but publishing personal information, home addresses and cell phone numbers, is a new low, even for Monsanto’s smear merchant,” Murphy said. “Does Monsanto really want us publishing their CEO and top scientists like Robb Fraley’s home addresses? One wonders what they really have to hide if they’re willing to employ such slimeball tactics against their critics.”

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaaaaacancer12On World Cancer Day, cancer patients and supporters protested the TPP stranglehold on life-saving medication at PhRMA heaequarters in Washington, DC. (Photo: Public Citizen)

This is where the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) gets personal, for many in the US: It poses a dire threat to those in need of exorbitantly priced life-saving medications.

The advocacy group Public Citizen has compiled a fact sheet of the near-monopoly privileges, price-setting rights and redresses granted to big pharmaceutical firms in the TPP. In large part, they were inserted into the TPP by their trade association, PhRMA. The Public Citizen list of powers granted to Big Pharma in the TPP includes:

  • [Requiring] every signatory country to ensure its domestic laws expand drug companies' monopoly powers, leading consumers and healthcare providers to pay higher prices on more drugs for longer - or go without needed treatment. TPP rules would require countries to enact and maintain laws that expand drug companies’ monopoly powers...

  • The TPP would require each signatory nation to include in its domestic laws granting of new 20-year patent monopoly for new uses of old medicines...

  • The TPP requires developing nations to transition to all of the same pro-monopolistic patent rules that apply to developed nations...

  • The TPP also would allow drug companies to privately enforce this public treaty by skirting US laws and courts to challenge federal, state and local decisions and policies on grounds not available in US law and do so before extrajudicial investor-state tribunals authorized to order payment of unlimited sums of taxpayer dollars...

The bottom line is that Big Pharma would be enabled to delay the development of generic drugs, set industry-imposed high pricing, hobble efforts in the US to reduce the Medicare Part D pricing that is a windfall to pharmaceutical firms, and financially constrain the ability of developing nations to treat serious diseases with less costly drugs. These are only some examples of the grievous concerns raised by the TPP's Big Pharma-favoring. 

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