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Thursday, 12 November 2015 08:14

Agri-Corporations Attempt to Hijack COP21


Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

In 2008, before the climate summit in Copenhagen, I wrote the book Soil Not Oil. It was a time when the intimate connections between climate and agriculture, air and soil were not being recognized in any forum, neither in the negotiations on climate change nor in the climate movement. As we head into the Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris, agri-corporations are attempting to hijack climate talks once again.

Today we are faced with two crises on a planetary scale—climate change and species extinction. Our current modes of production and consumption are contributing to what climate change scientists term anthropogenic emissions—originating from human activity. If no action is taken to reduce greenhouse gases, we could experience a catastrophic 4C increase in temperature by the end of the century.


aaaaaaaaaaaacorinthianThe for-profit Corinthian college corporation went bankrupt, leaving students billions of dollars in debt. Everest College was one of the Corinthian "brands." (Photo: Jeramey Jannene)

If you doubt that for-profit education is generally a scourge on students seeking knowledge and skills at the college level, just look at the example of what was one of the largest exploiters of higher education: Corinthian Colleges. The Corinthian corporation recently collapsed under the weight of bankruptcy.

According to a November 9 Chicago Tribune article, the demise of Corinthian left a massive number of former students with large college debts to pay off:

Closed by regulators for deceptive practices and dissolved through bankruptcy, for-profit Corinthian Colleges left tens of thousands of former students with dubious degrees and billions of dollars in debt.

A national movement to provide those students with debt relief is underway....

For students left holding the bag, that relief can't come too soon.

"I was ripped off," said Dawn Thompson, a divorced Springfield mother of two who is seeking forgiveness of $150,000 in federal student loans. Most of her debt was amassed through the online paralegal studies program offered by for-profit Everest University, a Corinthian brand.

The damage, however, goes far beyond those students who now owe money for degrees that are tarnished in the job marketplace. For example, many students who were still in their pre-degree studies when Corinthian went belly up accumulated large debts and now have neither a degree nor credits that are transferable to most colleges (given the now questionable quality of a Corinthian "education").

2015.12.11 BF koehler2(Photo: Moyan Brenn)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

“By God,” Bush said in triumph, “we’ve kicked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all.”

This was Bush 41, a quarter of a century ago, celebrating the terrific poll numbers his kwik-win war on Iraq was generating. Remember yellow ribbons? I think he had a point. “Vietnam syndrome” — the public aversion to war — still has a shadow presence in America, but it no longer matters.

Our official policy is endless bombing, endless war. No matter how much suffering it causes — over a million dead, maybe as many as two million, in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan — and no matter how poorly it serves any rational objectives, our official response to geopolitical trouble of every sort is to bomb it into compliance with our alleged interests. The cancerous “success” of this policy may be the dominant historical event of the last three decades. Endless war is impervious to debate; it’s impervious to democracy.

2015.12.11 BF berkowitz(Photo: DonkeyHotey)BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

The debate over liberal media bias, which has taken center stage during and after recent Republican Party presidential debates, is one of the conservative movement’s most cherished, successful and long-lived memes. The Heritage Foundation, the premier right-wing think tank in the nation, practically grew out of that narrative. In the mid-1970’s, conservatives understood that they needed a new, spunky, uncompromising and ideologically-based organizations that would – unlike the stodgy Hoover Institution and American Enterprise Institute – bypass the mainstream liberal media, and establish a modern-day beachhead for conservative ideas.

When the Heritage Foundation opened its doors in 1973, the Vietnam War was finally winding down, Vice President Agnew had been shown the door and President Richard Nixon would soon follow, victories for civil rights and women’s rights had been won, and the arc of justice seemed to be bending towards greater economic fairness. Belief in a social safety net was still strong, and privatization was not yet the clarion call that it has become. The “culture wars” were still a few years off.


aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaakentuckyflagKentucky flag waves over a state that regularly elects politicians who vote against the health interests of the state's citizens. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

With the the election last week of a rabidly anti-Obamacare governor, Tea Party Republican Matt Bevin, the health care of hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians is in jeopardy. It is not hyperbole to state that lives are at stake because of Bevin's victory in a low turnout election last week (just 30.7 percent of eligible voters participated, according to CBS-affiliate WKYT.)

Considering the hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians whose lives are cared for as a result of the ACA - not to mention some relief from often-staggering medical bills - how did a governor get elected whose key campaign promise was to end Obamacare in the Bluegrass State?

Low turnout could be one possible answer, but that doesn't explain the fact that some people whose lives may literally depend on the ACA voted for a candidate who promised to end their coverage. 

A telling November 9 Washington Post article focuses on how the majority of those who voted in Pike County, Kentucky, broke for Bevin, even though the Appalachian county has a 23 percent poverty rate and its citizens benefit greatly from the ACA 


Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch.

Photo credit: Erik S Lesser / EPAThe language included in the TPP is more aggressive than previous trade deals and provides broad new powers for other countries and foreign corporations to challenge U.S. food safety and food labeling measures. Photo credit: Erik S Lesser / U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 

The Obama administration released the long-secret text of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal that would weaken consumer protections, undermine U.S. food safety standards and prevent commonsensefood labeling. The language included in the TPP is more aggressive than previous trade deals and provides broad new powers for other countries and foreign corporations to challenge U.S. food safety and food labeling measures. 

The TPP is a giveaway to big agribusiness and food companies that want to use trade deals to attack sensible food safety rules, weaken the inspection of imported food and block efforts to strengthen U.S. food safety standards. The food and agribusiness industries inserted language into the text of the TPP that will undermine U.S. food safety oversight and expose consumers to risky imported foods.

The TPP includes a new provision designed to second-guess the government inspectors who monitor food imports. The so-called Rapid Response Mechanism allows companies to challenge border inspection procedures that companies claim cause unnecessary delay—like holding suspect shipments while awaiting laboratory test results—and demand that a TPP panel of experts review and provide guidance on the inspection. This would create a chilling-effect on rigorous border inspection that would be especially dangerous for problems that are not obvious, like chemical or drug residues that would only appear after more thorough examination and testing.


It may be the greatest hypocrisy of The US's conservative leaders, that they demand control over a woman's body, but then show every sign of neglect after a child comes into the world. It reaches beyond neglect to disdain for the poor. In a perversely unequal nation in which the well-off blame impoverished people for their own struggles, the children of the poor become the innocent victims.

Children of all ages are deemed disposable:

The Littlest Children - Deprived of Their Most Important Year of School

Over half of America's 4-year-olds are NOT attending pre-school, even though numerous studies have shown that pre-school helps all children to achieve more and earn more through adulthood, with the most disadvantaged benefiting the most. We're near the bottom of the developed world in the percentage of 4-year-olds in early childhood education.

2015.9.11 BF Brasch(Photo: Gage Skidmore)WALTER BRASCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

One of the basic tenets of journalism ethics and practices is that reporters must keep their distance from news sources.

They’re allowed to be friendly. They’re even allowed to share a meal with a news source. But, they must be independent. It’s a “Caesar’s wife” thing—they must be above suspicion.

This past week, Lara Spencer, co-anchor of ABC-TV’s “Good Morning America,” snuggled up to Donald Trump.

In a photo posted to Instagram, she is seen with her left arm around Trump’s shoulder, her right hand across his stomach. Both are looking at each other and smiling. Spencer posted the following message to the photo: “Can’t beat having the REAL DonaldJTrump on.” She added the emoticon of a smiley face.


Another deep cry, followed by a shrug. The world is at war, at war, at war. But it only hurts them, the helpless ones, the anonymous poor, who absorb the bombs and bullets, who bury their children, who flee their broken countries.

Sixty million people have been displaced by the current wars, the highest number of uprooted since World War II. But who cares?

“In the face of blatant inhumanity, the world has responded with disturbing paralysis.”

The words are those of Ban Ki-Moon, executive-secretary of the United Nations, who, along with Paul Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, issued a joint cry of anguish last week: Things are worse than they’ve been in a long time. Not only are wars tearing apart Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Nigeria, South Sudan and other countries, but the conflicts seem to be increasingly lacking in moral constraint.


aaaaaaaaaaaaaafaith344Faith is not the property of a religion. (Photo: Steve Evans)

A website that labels itself Faithdrivenconsumer.com recently sent BuzzFlash an email announcing a new "Faith Equality Index (FIE)." According to the website, the rating system of corporations, calculated on "faith-based" criteria, will help a religious Christian consumer become "a missionary in the marketplace," allowing them to base their shopping on "faith-driven" values.

One fundamental flaw in the website is associating faith with a specific - fundamentalist Christian - religious outlook. The concept of "faith" is not limited to fundamentalist Christians, or even to those who believe in God; faith can be present without invoking a divinity. If only people who have a "respect for and compatibility with biblically orthodox teachings" - as described on the website – have faith, then most residents of earth are relegated to being "infidels."

In the email announcing the so-called Faith Equality Index, rhetoric is employed that co-opts a more progressive language of diversity and embracing of the human spirit. 

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