Facebook Slider
Optional Member Code
Get News Alerts!
Thursday, 15 September 2016 06:52

The Future Cries Out: "Water Is Life"

2916.15.9 BF Koehler(Photo: Joe Catron)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

BuzzFlash and Truthout rely on support from readers like you. If you like what you're reading, make a donation today!

The dogs growl, the pepper spray bites, the bulldozers tear up the soil.

"Water is life!" they cry. "Water is life!"

This isn't Flint, Michigan, but I feel the presence of its suffering in this cry of outrage at the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota. No more, no more. You will not poison our water or continue ravaging Planet Earth: mocking its sacredness, destroying its eco-diversity, reshaping and slowly killing it for profit.

The dogs growl, the pepper spray bites, the bulldozers tear up the soil and a judge rules against the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's demand that construction of the Dakota Access pipeline be stopped. Sorry, the wishes of the rich and powerful come first. And you protesters are just common criminals.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2016savevoteThe right to vote should be universal. (Photo: H2Woah! )

Nearly six million people with felony confictions will not be able to vote this November, because the states in which they live do not restore their voting rights after they have served their sentences, according to The Sentencing Project. This loss of the rights of citizenship can have a profound impact on individuals and elections. In fact, Al Gore might have won Florida in 2000 by tens of thousands of votes, if Jeb Bush and his then Secretary of State Kathryn Harris hadn't employed a firm, Choicepoint, to eliminate tens of thousands of people with felony records -- as well as people with identical names to those with felony records -- from the voting rolls.

That is only part of the felony disenfranchisement story in Florida. According to a 2015 Florida SunSentinel article:

Commit any felony in Florida and you lose your right to vote for life -- unless the governor and the clemency board agree to give that right back to you.

The result: more than 1.6 million Floridians -- about 9 percent -- cannot vote, hold office or serve on a jury, according to The Sentencing Project, a prison-reform group.

The FloridaSentinel notes that very few people are able to have their rights restored; in the past four years, only 1,534 people with felony convictions have had their full rights, including voting, restored.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016 07:13

Jim Hightower: Cleaning Up After Pundits

JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Mop 0914wrp opt(Photo: Alborzagros)Being a muckracking political writer often makes me feel like a custodian in a horse barn, constantly shoveling manure. It's a messy, stinky job — but on the bright side, the stuff is plentiful, so the work is steady. Indeed, I'm now a certified Equine Excrement Engineer, having developed a narrow, but important, professional specialty: cleaning off the horsestuff that careless politicos and sloppy media types keep dumping on the word "populist."

As you might imagine, in this year of global turmoil, I've been especially busy. Populism — a luminous term denoting both an uplifting doctrine of egalitarianism and a political-economic-cultural movement with deep roots in America's progressive history — has been routinely sullied throughout 2016 by elites misusing it as synonym for ignorance and bigotry:

— When right-wing, anti-Muslim mobs in a few European nations literally went to their national borders to block desperate Syrian war refugees from getting safe passing into Europe, most mainline media labeled the boisterous reactionaries "populists."

— When flummoxed elites in Great Britain, frantic over Brexit, blindly blamed their people's vote to exit the European Union on the "populist" bigotry of working-class Brits.

— When, back in the USA, the unreal reality show The Donald spooked the corporate/political establishment, which denied that Trump harness public fury toward them smugly attributed his rise solely to "populist" bumpkins who embraced his demeaning attacks on women, Mexicans, Muslims, union members, immigrants, people with disabilities and veterans, among others. Indeed, the power elites sneeringly branded Trump himself a "populist."

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Kap 0914wrp opt(Photo: Daniel Hartwig)In addition to the ever-present questions about how each team would play on the field during the opening weekend of the NFL, an unexpected parallel story line was taking center-stage, thanks to San Francisco 49er backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Would any of the players follow his lead and protest racial inequality by sitting, or taking a knee, during the playing of the “The Star Spangled Banner?”

According to a CNN report, four members of the Miami Dolphins -- Jelani Jenkins, Arian Foster, Michael Thomas, and Kenny Stills – “knelt next to each other in a line which included their standing teammates.” In Kansas City, Chief’s cornerback Marcus Peters “rais[ed] a gloved fist, in a pose reminiscent of Tommie Smith and John Carlos on the medal stand at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Peters had previously spoken of his ‘100 percent’ support of Kaepernick's stance.”

Before the Arizona Cardinals-New England Patriots game in Arizona, the Patriots’ Martellus Bennett and Devin McCourty raised their gloved fists in protest.

In addition to initiating a conversation and actions amongst fellow NFL players, being a major topic on sports talk radio, and dominating social media, especially the Twittersphere, Kaepernick’s activism has also filtered down to the high school level.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016 11:53

The Planet's Most Dangerous Predator Is Us

DR. DAVID SUZUKI OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

4394641125 0b1916afe9 zWolves don't hold a candle to the human species as predators.    (Photo: Caninist )

Humans are the world's top predator. The way we fulfill this role is often mired in controversy, from factory farming to trophy hunting to predator control. The latter is the process governments use to kill carnivores like wolves, coyotes and cougars to stop them from hunting threatened species like caribou—even though human activity is the root cause of caribou's decline.

Predation is an important natural function. But as the human population has grown, we've taken over management of ecosystems once based on mutually beneficial relationships that maintained natural balances. How are we, a "super predator" as the Raincoast Conservation Foundation dubs us, aligning with or verging from natural predation processes that shaped the world?

One way to tell is to examine the extent to which we emulate natural processes. This principle is applied in biomimicry, where humans base inventions on natural forms and functions. (Think Velcro, patented in 1955 after George de Mestral studied the burrs on his dog's back.) Some resource-management disciplines employ biomimicry. For example, forestry management is often based on trying to imitate disturbances caused by natural events such as fires.

If we are to emulate natural predators, we must look at the types of prey killed. Non-human predators usually take down the injured, old or young. This leaves the strongest genetic material to be passed on. Human predators often target the largest males (trophy hunting) or entire packs (predator control).

DR. VANDANA SHIVA OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Monsanto 0912wrp opt(Photo: EcoWatch)India is steeped in a synthesized controversy created by Monsanto on the first GMO crop, supposedly approved for commercialization. Engaged in litigation on many fronts, Monsanto is trying to subvert our patent laws: Protection of Plant Variety and Farmers Right Act, Essential Commodities Act and Competition Act. It is behaving as if there is no Parliament, no democracy, no sovereign laws in India to which it is subject. Or it simply doesn't have any regard for them.

In another theatre, Monsanto and Bayer are merging. They were one as MoBay (MonsantoBayer), part of the poison cartel of I.G. Farben. The controlling stakes of both corporations lie with the same private equity firms. The expertise of these firms is in war. I.G. Farben, Adolf Hitler's economic powerhouse and pre-war Germany's highest foreign exchange earner, was also a foreign intelligence operation. Hermann Schmitz was president of I.G. Farben, Schmitz's nephew Max Ilgner was a director of I.G. Farben, while Max's brother Rudolph Ilgner ran the New York arm as vice-president of Chemnyco.

Paul Warburg, brother of Max Warburg (board of directors, Farben Aufsichtsrat), founded the U.S. Federal Reserve System. Max Warburg and Hermann Schmitz played a central role in the Farben empire. Other "guiding hands" of Farben Vorstand included Carl Bosch, Fritz ter Meer, Kurt Oppenheim and George von Schnitzler. Each of them was adjudged a "war criminal" after World War II, except Paul Warburg.

Monsanto and Bayer have a long history. They made explosives and lethally poisonous gases using shared technologies and sold them to both sides in the two world wars. The same war chemicals were bought by the Allied and Axis powers, from the same manufacturers, with money borrowed from the same bank.

Monday, 12 September 2016 06:55

Five Deadly Sins of Big Pharma

PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Capsules 0912wrp opt(Photo: Sage Ross)For Mylan, it was a perfect plan -- diabolical, unstoppable. The company made changes in its anti-allergy EpiPen dispenser in 2009, enough to give it patent protection. Then, in 2012, it began to give away free pens to schools, gradually making school nurses at least partly dependent on them. Meanwhile the company was successfully lobbying for the "Emergency Epinephrine Act," commonly referred to as the "EpiPen Law," which encouraged the presence of epinephrine dispensers in schools. Most recently, after raising the price from $100 to $600, Mylan announced a half-price coupon, making itself appear generous even though the price had effectively jumped from $100 to $300.

This is capitalism at its worst, a greedy and disdainful profit-over-people system that leaves millions of Americans sick...or dead. These are the sins of the pharmaceutical industry.

1. Gouging Customers

The Mylan story is just one of many. An American with cancer will face bills up to $183,000 per year, even though it hasn't been established that the expensive treatments actually extend lives. A 12-week course of Sovaldi, for hepatitis, costs Gilead Sciences about $84 and is priced at $84,000.

This is an industry that can suddenly impose a 60,000% increase on desperately ill people. Yet the pharmaceutical industry's profit margin is matched only by the unscrupulous financial industry for the highest corporate profit margin.

ERIK HOFFNER OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Sacred 0909wrp opt(Photo: EcoWatch)A first round of motions was passed Tuesday by the 1,300 government and civil society members of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) at its World Conservation Congress taking place in Hawaii. These include a ban on gillnet fishing in Mexico that threatens the vaquita porpoise and also restrictions on the illegal trade of pangolins.

Among the 85 motions like these that are up for a vote this week are some involving the direct and urgent needs of people too, including indigenous people whose sacred sites and lands face destructive forces. One need only look at the Dakota Access Pipeline battle here in the U.S., which would disturb sacred sites as well as water sources of the Standing Rock Sioux, to imagine that this sort of injustice happens to indigenous groups everywhere.

That's why many representatives from such groups are in Hawaii lobbying IUCN delegates to support Motion 26, which would declare their sacred natural sites to be "no go zones" for developers. As a resolution, it would be non-binding on governments, but would be one more tool for groups to use in pushing for policy changes at a local and national level. It is due for a vote by the delegates, probably on the last day of the Congress, which ends Sept. 10.

NGOs have also lined up strongly in support of the motion (the progress of which can be followed on Twitter via the hashtags #Motion26 and #VoteForIUCNMotion26), including Women's Earth and Climate Action Network and also Amazon Watch, whose Andrew Miller, when asked why, said ...

Friday, 09 September 2016 05:51

Big Bad Big Banks Continue to Behave Badly

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

wellsfargoBig banks continue to get slaps on the wrist for illegal practices. (Photo: Mike Mozart)

If you think that big banks only behave badly in the derivative and sub-prime mortgage markets, you've only noted a few of their financial misdeeds -- in this case two reckless behaviors that were key to the 2008 meltdown of the economy.

Many people aren't aware that some of the big banks have also been knowingly involved in accepting cash from drug cartels. For example, Bloomberg News reported in 2013,

HSBC Holdings Plc’s $1.9 billion agreement with the U.S. to resolve charges it enabled Latin American drug cartels to launder billions of dollars was approved by a federal judge.

HSBC was accused of failing to monitor more than $670 billion in wire transfers and more than $9.4 billion in purchases of U.S. currency from HSBC Mexico, allowing for money laundering, prosecutors said. The bank also violated U.S. economic sanctions against Iran, Libya, Sudan, Burma and Cuba, according to a criminal information filed in the case....

The bank, Europe’s largest, agreed to pay a $1.25 billion forfeiture and $665 million in civil penalties under the settlement, prosecutors announced in December.

A Guardian US article noted at the time of the financial penalty,

Mexico’s narco nightmare now counts 100,000 dead and some 20,000 missing; there is no overstating the misery of its export -- hard drugs -- around the world. Yet only one stepping stone connects HSBC to this carnage and misery: the bank acted as the cartel’s financial services wing....

2016.8.9 BF Koehler(Photo: Samantha Celera)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

The paradox of democracy is that it depends on the integrity of those who have the most to lose if an election goes the wrong way -- you know, the people in power.

That's a particularly thorny dilemma when the "fourth estate" -- the speakers of truth to power, the public's counterforce against political hackdom -- are basically corporate wimps who view their job as the voice of public relations for the status quo, the defenders of our conventional beliefs, e.g., that God's in his heaven and America is the world's oldest, greatest, most secure democracy.

But in 2016, even the mainstream media are trembling with uncertainty. As Harvey Wasserman and Bob Fitrakis recently wrote: "Now 16 years after the theft of the presidency in Florida 2000, and a dozen since it was done again in Ohio 2004, the corporate media is approaching consensus that it is indeed very easy to strip millions of legitimate citizens from the voting rolls, and then to hack electronic voting machines and computerized central tabulators to flip the official final outcome."

I'm sure the party to thank for this late mainstream awareness that our computerized voting system is painfully vulnerable is Donald Trump, who has dragged the election process into territory more puerile, racist and reptile-brained than even the corporate media can tolerate.

Page 3 of 1436