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."
ANN DAVIDOW FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
There’s something wrong here, “something evil in our society that we Americans have to work to try to eradicate” said Dr. Janis Orlasky, chief medical officer at Med Star Washington Hospital Center, after the fatal shootings at the Naval shipyard last week. Although she made no mention of gun control laws or other restrictive measures a torrent of angry responses were quickly posted to refute what were deemed anti-gun by typically angry defenders of gun-carrying enthusiasts.
There is something terminally naive about the way our country deals with gun violence in its various letahal and injurious forms. Guns are faster and when large magazine clips are part of the mix the lethal effect can be devastating. Recent knife wielding assailants caused many painful injuries but few deaths.
And what reasonable objection can there be about background checks and what do they have to do with the Second Smendment in any case? It is beyond irrational to suggest that mental disturbance or even blindness may not be severe enough to warrant suspension of one’s right to bear arms? Just how crazy -- or a "good guy" who loves to abuse the power of guns over other people like George Zimmerman -- do you have to be to warrant some limitation on your right to be out and about carrying a lethal weapon? What if you hear voices or if you think your dog is sending you messages? Should ‘freedom’ actually translate as a license to kill, and when do the rights of anyone include the right to stand one’s ground -- however personally one's interprets that -- against real or imaginary foes?
Who among us will take the necessary action to stem the tide of violence and undertake to lessen the the gun culture’s allure?
Dr. Orlasky would like to see her trauma center “out of business” at least when it comes to gunshot wounds. It is amazing that so many members of society are able to slough off the ravages of gun violence behavior and move seamlessly on with their lives, unless of course they are first responders or medical personnel who have unforgettable pictures forever etched in their memories.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Although normally the Washington Post (WP) editorial board hawks war, it sharply criticized the White House for its hypocrisy on denouncing cruel dictators who defy the United States while embracing cruel dictators who are pro-US, particularly when they ship us a lot of oil and allow the Navy's 5th fleet to establish headquarters there.
The case in point here is the Obama administration's ongoing support for the reigning al-Khalifa family in Bahrain:
Bahrain’s leaders regularly assure the Obama administration that they are open to reforms and compromise with their opposition. But massive human rights violations, including the torture of detainees, continue. Leading political figures and human rights advocates remain imprisoned.
Bahrain has violently suppressed dissent, but what drew the ire of the WP editorial board was the apparently trumped arrest of a moderate opposition leader Khalil al-Marzooq.
KATHY KELLY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
We, the Afghan Peace Volunteers, are finding strength amidst our dark nights because, in the daylight of a global awakening, we see people throughout the world refusing to comply with oppressive systems. We see that we aren’t alone in rejecting governments and militant groups that wage wars and make deals at the expense of ordinary people.
Artificial borders may attempt to divide us, but through connections with ordinary people worldwide, we are affirmed as free human beings, free to nurture ways of living that aren’t monopolized by a few.
Daylight, in our hearts and everywhere, is laying bare the abusive, authoritarian power and wealth amassed by elitist hoarders who control governments and militaries. These elite secure the interests of the privileged and neglect the interests of commoners who need food, water, education, decent shelter and employment, and peaceful relationships.
“The leaders of the world, like Assad, Obama and others, should not involve the people in their wars,” said Ghulamai, age 16, as we talked together last night “We people are very tired of the games that politicians play, killing the people while they profit. They are killing us.”
JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Both the old and new media agree on this: If you need a story that's guaranteed to be wildly popular — go with animals. "Kute kittens," for example, are surefire winners, as is the entire p-group: puppies, porpoises, penguins and polar bears. And don't forget baby chicks, goats and other farm animals — they can be awfully cute and cuddly, too.
One group that's noticed this is corporate America, and some of the biggest corporations have jumped on the animal ploy as a way to push some of their ugliest profiteering schemes. For example, the Keystone XL pipeline, a project involving TransCanada Corp. and such oil giants as Exxon Mobil. They want to shove this massively polluting, ozone-depleting, wildlife-threatening pipeline from Alberta, Canada, down through the very center of America, carrying a toxic petro-sludge called tar sands oil all the way to export terminals on the Gulf Coast.
This is not exactly a popular idea in our country, and it was made less popular by a couple of recent, very nasty spills of this tar from existing pipelines — one into Michigan's Kalamazoo River, and the other in the town of Mayflower, Ark. So, cue the animals!
Larry Kudlow, a shameless, corporate-hugging host of his eponymous TV show on CNBC, proclaimed in an August episode that — by gollies — Keystone would be terrific for wildlife. Why? Because, explained this noted expert on the habits of beasts in the wild, the loveable bears, deer, and such "like to snuggle under the pipeline (for) warmth." An economist at the American Petroleum Institute — the chief lobbying group for big oil — immediately agreed with Kudlow, asserting that, "animals like the Alaskan crude oil pipeline quite a bit."
How darling! And how wrong.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
That the overuse of anitbiotics by Americans is leading to more strains of bacteria that are antibiotic resistant is widely accepted. There are many reasons for this including overprescription by physicians, over marketing by pharmaceutical firms and unnecessary consumer demand at times, among others.
However, one of the main use of antibiotics that contributes to at least 23,000 deaths a year as a result of new strains of antibiotic resistant bacteria, according to a recent report, is their administration to livestock to increase animal growth -- and, therefore, larger corporate and individual profits in larger amounts of meat to sell and faster turnover. Another use is to keep farm animals who are kept in cramped warehouse conditions from outbreaks of bacterial epidemics through the "preventive" use of antibiotics.
According to a September 16 San Francisco Chronicle article, "Report links antibiotics at farms to human deaths":
The Centers for Disease Control on Monday confirmed a link between routine use of antibiotics in livestock and growing bacterial resistance that is killing at least 23,000 people a year.