MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The possibility of a global nuclear catastrophe as a result of the ongoing crisis at Fukushima is not only a real threat to untold lives in Japan and around the world, it is a model example of why nuclear power of any sort should not be privatized -- and should only have limited uses within governmental programs.
As reported on Monday on BuzzFlash at Truthout, the potential nuclear radiation release from "repairs" at Fukushima threaten the globe. "Nuclear Crisis at Fukushima Could Spew Out More Than 15,000 Times as Much Radiation as Hiroshima Bombing," Harvey Wasserman, a longtime anti-nuclear advocate, wrote on BuzzFlash. Truthout posted a follow-up story today that states, "We’re in very apocalyptic territory, with a wide and unknown range of outcomes."
It's hard to analyze the nuclear industry rationally when the private company, TEPCO, in Japan has just thrown up its hands and admitted it does not have a full-proof plan to prevent a nuclear disaster of proportions not yet seen. You can bet the Japanese government which has been assuring the world that everything was under control had a role in inviting international assistance in keeping Fukushima from creating a nuclear nightmare.
JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
On September 19th, 2013 Halliburton, an oil and construction company that rose to a multibillion dollar industry under Dick Cheney’s supervision, pled guilty to federal charges of destroying critical evidence concerning British Petroleum’s 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion. Halliburton shredded the evidence because it proved that the company had committed gross negligence pertaining to cuts in safety maintenance decisions in order to increase profits. Shredding evidence: that’s probably a felony crime, right? Only if you did it or if I did it, but oil tycoons need not have to worry; the laws are conveniently shredded along with the evidence.
As Ring of Fire radio reported:
Oil giant Halliburton pled guilty on Thursday to destroying evidence related to the 2010 BP oil spill. However, unlike the other companies involved in the oil spill, Halliburton, the company responsible for cementing the well, was not charged with a crime related to the causes of the disaster.
Halliburton agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor count of unauthorized destruction of evidence. US District Judge Jane Triche-Milazzo in New Orleans accepted Halliburton’s plea agreement, and charged the company with the maximum-allowable fine of $200,000 and a 3-year probation term.
The company also agreed to make a $55 million contribution to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Poison gas is not only a "moral obscenity" — one the United States stockpiled for decades after its use was banned in warfare — but a metaphor for human recklessness and wasted science.
Like it or not, we're forced to think about it these days, since it's still an enticing pretext for war. And the more I think about it, the more I marvel at the persistent insanity of its existence. The "red line" that the so-called civilized world crossed over a century ago was not in the use of poison gas but in its creation, because it's lethal whether it's used or not. Attempting to get rid of it — by burying it, burning it, dumping it — has consequences almost as deadly as firing it off in battle.
The enormous toxic mess that encircles the globe needs serious and sustained attention, something present-day governments are, seemingly, incapable of. The fact that this mess of our own making exists at all ought to inspire not missiles and self-righteousness but the deepest questions we know how to ask. And the first question is this: How in God's name do we untangle ourselves from this mess collectively?
The 1925 Geneva Protocol, in response to the horrors of World War I, banned the use of asphyxiating and poisonous gases in war, but not, incredibly, their development or manufacture. It took the civilized world, the one John Kerry referenced in his condemnation of Bashar al-Assad, another seven decades to do that. In the meantime, there was plenty of manufacturing, developing and stockpiling of poison gas weaponry going on, including in the United States, up to and well beyond World War II.
One factual tidbit I find fascinating is that Otto Ambros, a Nazi scientist and co-inventor of Sarin, convicted of crimes against humanity at Nuremberg, came to the United States in 1951, after serving half his term, and began advising the U.S. Army on its own chemical weapons program in the '50s. Could the reality of geopolitics be exposed in starker relief? For all the moral pretenses of war and militarism, the game has no moral boundaries whatsoever.
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.