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Monday, 09 January 2017 06:23

Why Monsanto Wants Me In Jail

REV. BILLY TALEN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

iowa arrest stare 2 optPhoto: Rev. Talen under arrest in IowaI am facing some jail time for standing up to the evils of Monsanto and other Big Ag usurpers of the Earth.

This week, a prosecutor in Iowa appears corrupted by Monsanto and has proposed to a judge that protesters of its toxins be deprived of their constitutional rights at trial. Let's repeat that. A Des Moines assistant District Attorney has filed a motion that would preclude any "referencing" of the 1st Amendment or free speech protections of the Bill of Rights in my trial. This would retroactively strip a protester, me, of the right to protest simply. Here's a link to the motion ­­ that will be litigated against me this week.

Stripping a protester of his or her rights as a citizen in a misdemeanor trial? We cannot find a precedent. There are two of us on trial, me and another person were popped on the charge of trespassing. We face 30 days imprisonment or $500. I'm in New York and Father Frank Cordaro is a Catholic Worker priest in Des Moines Iowa, so this preacher-priest duet doesn't get to talk that much. I'll see him at the rally before the trial on Tuesday night the 10th. Frank is finding me a good church organist because Nehemiah Luckett, the music director of The Church of Stop Shopping, can't come this time.

We don't have videotapes of Monsanto handing brown paper bags of cash to the government lawyers. But that's where politics comes in. We can't prove that Monsanto knew that Agent Orange would be causing birth defects fifty years after the Viet Nam War, but they brag on their website about Agent Orange. We can't prove that Monsanto poisoned the African-American town of Addison, Alabama for years because the statute of limitations has run out on the emails we found between their scheming execs.

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

LouFloods 0106wrp opt(Photo: Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service)Louisiana—which faces faster levels of sea-level rise than any other land on Earth—could lose as many as 2,800 square miles of its coast over the next 40 years and about 27,000 buildings will need to be flood-proofed, elevated or bought out, the New Orleans Advocate reported.

These dire predictions were pulled from a new rewrite of the state's Coastal Master Plan for 2017 released Tuesday by the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.

The plan, first introduced in 2007 post- Hurricane Katrina, acts as a 50-year blueprint for restoring the Pelican State's rapidly disappearing coastal wetlands and protecting the state's natural resources and communities. Louisiana's Legislature unanimously approved the 2007 and 2012 versions.

The new plan, which is now out for public review and must be voted up or down by the Legislature, calls for 120 new projects, including a $6 billion proposal to protect or vacate properties in areas that are at risk of experiencing a 100-year storm. The plan also aims to restore 800 to 1,200 square miles of wetlands and build new levees and flood walls to protect against hurricane storm surges.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Us south censusSouthern states lead the red states in social safety net hypocrisy. (Map: Wikipedia )

A recent article in Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) scathingly debunks the "racialized rural mythology" that conservative white rural voters subsidize urban residents. In fact, in general, the opposite is true. FAIR rebuts this fiction, which is embedded in rural culture and politics, with the revealing raw facts:

On an individual level, too, rural residents are more likely to receive government benefits than urban or suburban residents; a Pew survey (12/18/12) found that 62 percent of rural residents had received Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, welfare or unemployment benefits, vs. 54 percent of urban dwellers and 53 percent of suburbanites.

In a 2012 BuzzFlash commentary, I noted that Mitt Romney received his greatest support from a significant portion of Americans he referred to as "moochers," who reside in the rural South. The Tax Foundation found that the Southern states have the largest percentage of people who don't pay income taxes, in general, due to low income or tax avoidance:

Nine of the ten states with the largest percentage of nonpayers are in the South and Southwest. In Mississippi, 45 percent of federal tax returns remit nothing or receive money with their federal tax returns; that is the highest percentage nationally. Georgia is next at 41 percent, followed by Arkansas at 41 percent, and Alabama, South Carolina, and New Mexico at 40 percent.

These high percentages of income tax non-filing are indicative of blue states being much more likely to subsidize red states than the other way around. Yet, every election, the myth that white rural voters are paying to prop up poor people of color in cities is trotted out. In fact, as I noted in 2012, the state of Mississippi received $2.73 in federal support for every dollar state residents paid to the IRS. The net flow of tax dollars into Mississippi is fairly typical of Southern states, as a map in a Mother Jones article reveals. Meanwhile, solid blue states  -- such as California, Illinois and New York -- receive less money back from the federal government than the state residents pay to the IRS.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

23038207819 26b0b6d170 zThe rotunda of the Texas capitol, where Republicans are in full control of the legislature and governorship, as is the case in 24 states.  (Photo: Adam Simmons)

We are all aware that after the 2016 elections, the Republicans have majorities in the US Congress, and they will shortly have a GOP president in the White House. However, the national election results have overshadowed the continued loss of Democratic Party ground on the state level. For example, only 17 states will have Democratic governors in 2017.

What is more worrisome is that Democrats only control 13 statehouses. According to The Hill, as a result of the November elections, the Democrats have hit a "new low in state legislatures":

The Democratic Party will hit a new nadir in state legislative seats after suffering more losses in November’s elections, highlighting the devastation up and down the party across the nation.

Republicans will control 4,170 state legislative seats after last week’s elections, while Democrats will control 3,129 seats in the nation’s 98 partisan legislative chambers. Republicans picked up a net gain of 46 seats in Tuesday’s elections, while Democrats lost 46 seats, according to the latest vote counts from The Associated Press. Beginning next year, Republicans will control 67 of the 98 partisan legislative chambers, after winning new majorities in the Kentucky House, the Iowa Senate and the Minnesota Senate. Democrats picked up control of both the state Assembly and Senate in Nevada, and the New Mexico state House. 

Since Obama took office, Republicans have captured control of 27 state legislative chambers Democrats held after the 2008 elections. The GOP now controls the most legislative seats it has held since the founding of the party.

2017.5.1 BF Roulac(Photo: Scott Thieman)JOHN ROULAC OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Yes, Houston, we have a problem: Our oceans are dying.

As the brilliant futurist Buckminster Fuller used to point out, our Spaceship Earth is hurtling through space at a great speed.

Imagine if someone told you (a passenger on that ship) that the main oxygen systems were failing because of how food was being grown.

What would you do upon receiving that dire warning? Perhaps work to make a change? Lobby the ship's captain? Maybe you'd simply deny that there was any such connection and keep going about your busy life.

But an imminent loss of oxygen just happens to be a current fact, because the ocean's phytoplankton (which provides two-thirds of the planet's oxygen) is rapidly dying off. Industrial agriculture not only contaminates our oceans with pesticide and nitrogen-fertilizer runoff, leading to massive dead zones; it is stripping our soils of carbon, which ends up in the oceans and creates acidification. At the current trajectory, in just a few decades there won't be much left alive in our oceans as the phytoplankton dies -- all because of how we grow our food.

2016.5.1 BF Koehler(Photo: Julie Tougne)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

It's too easy simply to blame Donald Trump for the void that's suddenly apparent at the center of American government -- or will be on Jan. 20.

In fact, I'm utterly sick of hearing his name, let alone accounts of his latest outrage or trivial impertinence, which is the equivalent of crack cocaine in the news cycle: all Trump, all the time. It's been that way for a year.

Trump is a symptom. But, come on, far less of a symptom -- of a deep, raw social and cultural wrongness -- than, for instance, the global war and terror, environmental exploitation, climate chaos, poverty, racism (old and new), infrastructure collapse, the commonness of mass murder, the limitless expansion of the security state, or the congealing of a one-party status quo that ignores all of the above.

We kind of live with this stuff and the vague pain it causes -- because we know it's wrong and feel the wrongness deep inside us -- and in the process of ignoring this pain we have devolved ever more deeply into techno-escapism. We allow ourselves to be lulled and distracted by the superficial media, continually presented with new enemies to blame. (The Russians! The Russians! They messed with our election!)

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Grapes 0104wrp opt(Photo: Howcheng)Wineries in Texas are worried that federal approval of two highly volatile and drift-prone herbicides used on neighboring genetically modified (GMO) cotton fields will cause widespread damage to their vineyards, The Texas Tribune details.

The herbicides in question are Monsanto's dicamba-based XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology, which was approved in November by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Dow AgroSciences' 2,4-D-based Enlist Duo, which the EPA also proposed to register for use on GMO cotton seeds. Enlist Duo is already used on GMO corn and soybean crops in 15 states.

"The approval of these formulations will wind up affecting every vineyard up there," explained Paul Bonarrigo, a Hale County vintner who believes that his withering grapevines have been damaged by the illegal spraying of dicamba and 2,4-D on nearby cotton farms. Bonarrigo believes that the state's $2 billion wine industry is in jeopardy.

The debacle is yet another chapter in the expanding issue of herbicide-resistant weeds, or superweeds, that have evolved to resist the herbicide glyphosate, or Roundup. In response to weeds such as pigweed that have infested farms across the U.S., agribusinesses such as Monsanto and Dow have developed ever stronger weedkillers to help farmers.

Wednesday, 04 January 2017 07:20

Jim Hightower: A Political Party Worth Joining

JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Bob 0104wrp opt(Photo: Sen. "Fighting" Bob LaFollette, Library of Congress)The best political party in America is not the Dems nor the Repubs. By far, the best political party is a real party named "Fighting Bob Fest."

It's a daylong, outdoor political festival run by a coalition of Wisconsin progressives who believe in "putting the party back in politics." Held in Madison every September, Bob Fest is like a "state fair" of politics, not only featuring give-'em-hell speechifying and hot populist issues — but also terrific edibles from a dozen food trucks, bottomless kegs of great local beers, lively music, dozens of activist booths, games, political humor, a farmers market and... well, fun!

The idea behind Bob Fest is to have a political event that people actually want to come to. Plus, not only is admission free, but Bob Fest is also proud to be corporate-free, rejecting any funding or ads by corporate interests. It's a volunteer-run festival of, by and for regular people, and it pays for itself each year by passing the bucket and getting staff support from The Progressive, the feisty, populist-spirited magazine founded 107 years ago by Sen. Robert "Fighting Bob" La Follette.

Yes, Fighting Bob Fest is named for La Follette, a truly great U.S. Senator who was renowned for battling the corruption of American politics by corporate money. In fact, when he was Wisconsin's governor a century ago, La Follette passed a law banning corporations from making donations to political candidates — a law that is still in effect.

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

3025762169 fb7909b6b1 zBill Clinton launched his presidential run on the shoulders of the Democratic Leadership Council. (Photo: Timothy K Hamilton)

Al From was a co-founder in the '80s of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), which was Bill Clinton's ideological launching pad to the presidency. The DLC, in turn, "inspired" other DC centrist Democratic Party think tanks such as the Third Way, which champions ideas like increasing nuclear power and supporting charter schools. In a January 4 Guardian US commentary, From argues that the Democratic Party needs to return to "the principles" of the DLC.

Perhaps the best rejoinder to From's exhortation is that the DLC went bankrupt and closed its doors in 2011. As Ben Smith wrote in a Politico article that year:

The centrist Democratic Leadership Council, which fought and largely won a battle for the soul of the Democratic party in the 1990s, is on the verge of bankruptcy and is closing its doors, its founder, Al From, confirmed Monday.

The group’s decision to “suspend operations” marks the conclusion of a long slide from its peak of relevance in the Clinton era, and perhaps the beginning a battle over its legacy, as the organization’s founders and allies argue that it has been a victim of its own success – and its liberal critics are already dancing on its grave.

In his Guardian US essay, From tries to resurrect DLC centrism at a time when the heir to the DLC legacy -- Hillary Clinton -- just lost the White House. She ran a campaign based on DLC-style neoliberalism, while incorporating some left-leaning populist positions in her struggle to fend off Bernie Sanders in the primaries.

2017.3.1 BF Berkowitz(Photo: Brook Ward)BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

San Francisco 49er quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, was recently voted by his teammates the prestigious Len Eshmont Award for inspiration and courage. This contradicts previously held assumptions that his protest against racial injustice in America caused irredeemable discord or rancor among his fellow players. While not every player or coach on the team may have agreed with Kaepernick's kneeling down for the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" before every game, they apparently agreed that what he did took courage, conviction, and a commitment to social justice that is rare among the modern-day athlete.

The Eshmont Award, is given to the teammate who "best exemplifies the inspirational and courageous play of Len Eshmont, an original member of the 1946 49ers team," according to the team website.

 49ers wide receiver Torrey Smith discussed some of the criticism Kaepernick has received, saying: "Colin has handled that situation better than anyone could have imagined. It hasn't been a distraction in our locker room, and it probably helped him open up to a lot of our team and our teammates better. He's been very open in communication about that as well as football."

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