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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

asunshinestFlorida government says no to stimulating solar energy (Photo: DonkeyHotey)

Florida's state slogan - emblazoned on its license plates and welcome signs - may be "The Sunshine State," but the fossil fuel industry just got the state Public Service Commission to eliminate a household solar energy rebate program to stimulate use of the free and abundant energy source.

The sun may be a source of prodigious clean and free power, but even in a state where the sun is often hot enough to cook an egg on the hood of a car, the dinosaur polluting power companies have gotten their way. At stake were rebates to households to install rooftop solar units which would generate free - once constructed - energy that would be sold back to a for-profit utility grid. The fossil fuel giants - in this case including Duke Energy Florida, Tampa Electric, and Florida Power & Light, according to Clean Technica - lobbied the energy oversight agency in Florida and won a vote on November 25. The Tampa Bay Times writes of the triumph of greed and environmental degradation,

State regulators on Tuesday approved proposals to gut Florida's energy-efficiency goals by more than 90 percent and to terminate solar rebate programs by the end of 2015, giving the investor-owned utilities virtually everything they wanted....

Tuesday, 02 December 2014 07:20

Fracking Frenzy Threatens Developing Nations

ANASTASIA PANTSIOS OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaFrackingFrenzy1(Photo: EcoWatch)Fracking is both a temptation and a curse for developing nations, says a new report released today by Friends of the Earth Europe as governments meet in Lima to make meaningful commitments to speed up the transition away from dirty energy sources. Fracking Frenzy: How is the fracking industry threatening the planet? details the impacts of developing shale reserves in new regions of the world unprotected by political power to ward off bad policies that favor fossil fuel extraction companies over communities.

The report looks at a selection of countries identified in the U.S. Energy Information Administration's 2013 World Shale Gas and Shale Oil Resource Assessment that analyzed potential shale resources in 42 countries and 95 shale basins around the world. It identifies 11 countries it says are prime targets for the fracking industry to focus on in depth: Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, South Africa, China, India, Indonesia and Russia. It analyzes the potential gas and oil reserves (often over-estimated), available water resources, area's geology, country's policies on drilling, local opposition to fracking and environmental, ecological and social impact of fracking in each.

"While much has been written about fracking in North America and in the EU, this report provides a global overview of shale gas development in the rest of the world," the report says. "These countries include seven of the EIA's top ten countries for technically recoverable shale gas resources and are among the leaders in shale development on their respective continents. These countries also reveal the variety and specificity of the dangers associated with the expansion of the fracking industry, including environmental, social and health consequences which extend beyond the borders of individual countries."

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaKKK2(Photo: American Memory Collection)Surely you remember the five-step color-coded terrorism alert system – ranging from green (go shopping to defeat terrorism) to red (stay at home and defeat terrorism by shopping online) -- devised by the Bush Administration to keep Americans on its collective toes.

If this system hadn't been phased out by President Barack Obama's then-Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, it would probably be flashing red. Not because of actions by homegrown self-described patriots who threaten to shoot children crossing the country's southern border, or anti-abortion fanatics who maintain they're doing god's work by killing doctors who perform abortions and bombing abortion clinics, or because of the shoot-em-up actions of disgruntled domestic white anti-government xenophobes, but rather because these days, it's all about the threat to the homeland posed by ISIS and other jihadist groups.

Last week, in about ten minutes time, Larry Steve McQuilliams, 49, of Austin, Texas, shot off an estimated 100 rounds of ammunition throughout Austin's downtown area; firing at the federal courthouse and the Mexican consulate. No one was killed or wounded other than McQuilliams, who was shot and killed by a police officer.

Early media accounts reported that McQuilliams may have had "anti-government" and "anti-immigration motives."

You think?

Monday, 01 December 2014 10:15

Slap-in-the-Face Wealth Gap Images

PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaBenjaminJust 70 individuals now own as much wealth as half the world. In the U.S., the richest 40 individuals own as much as half the country, and the 16,000 American households in the top .01% have accumulated an average net worth of over a third of a billion dollars. As extreme wealth continues to grow out of control, inequality worsens for the rest of us, plaguing our country and our world, spreading like a terminal form of cancer. It should be a major news item in the mainstream media. But the well-positioned few are either oblivious to or uncaring about its effect on less fortunate people.

The data and charts (citations here) come from Forbes, Credit Suisse, and a recent study by Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman.

1. Just 70 Individuals Own As Much Wealth As Half the World

SaezZucman2014 1

 

Less than a year ago, Oxfam reported that the richest 85 individuals owned as much wealth as half the world. But recently updated calculations reveal that the richest 70 individuals now own $1.842 trillion, more than the poorest half of the world.

We're drawing nearer to the fulfillment of Charles Koch's dream: "I want my fair share and that's all of it."

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aburnabyprotestRally against Kinder Morgan oil pipeline on Burnaby Mountain, British Columbia (Photo: Mark Klotz)

As reported on November 19 (via EcoWatch), Native-Americans led the way in bearing witness and protesting a US Senate vote on the Keystone XL pipeline (which fortunately did not pass). However, some of the protesters were arrested for standing up in the Senate visitors' gallery and chanting a native hymn. According to EcoWatch:

One of the protesters was Greg Grey Cloud of the Rosebud Sioux tribe."Grey Cloud, who wore a headdress, continued singing as he was knocked to the floor and pulled to the wall of the hallway," said Red Power Media. "Protesters were handcuffed with plastic zip-ties while standing shoulder to shoulder, facing the wall. They were then paraded down a corridor and one of the protesters began singing again. The group was arrested for 'disrupting Congress.'"

BuzzFlash at Truthout has reported in the past on the courageous and often unheralded and unreported non-violent resistance of Native Americans (in the US and Canada) to the transportation of tar sands oil over their lands and also to pollution of their ancestral territory in general.

Another victory has been won by First Nations' resistance - along with supportive environmental groups and local residents - in Canada. The Council of Canadians/Le Conseil des Canadiens - whose slogan is "Acting for Social Justice/Agir Pour la Justice Sociale" - announced on December 1 that a large protest in British Columbia has temporarily halted a tar sands pipeline that is planned to run from Alberta through British Columbia to Pacific Ports.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014 11:32

Racism: It's the Law

2014.11.26.Ferguson.BFFerguson solidarity protest in Washington DC. (Photo: Neil Cooler / Flickr)

ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Smoke and fire, sirens blaring, horns honking, a sudden hail of bullets. This is what passes for the American dialogue on race and justice.

It’s hidden until it explodes.

“By 10 p.m.,” the Wall Street Journal informed us, “a St. Louis County Police squad car burned just down the street from the Ferguson Police Department, with spare ammunition ‘cooking off’ or exploding in the car.”

Those who want to shake their heads in disgust can do so. American institutional racism conceals itself so neatly from those who prefer not to see it and, of course, aren’t victimized by it. And then every so often something sets off the public trigger — an 18-year-old young man is shot and killed by a police officer, for instance — and the reality TV that is our mainstream news brings us the angry, “violent” response, live. And it’s always one side against another; us vs. them. It’s always war.

2014.11.26.Berkowitz.BFIn mid-November, the American Family Association (AFA) announced that PetSmart would be a target of a one-month AFA boycott for keeping the "Christ" out of "Christmas." (Screen grab via the American Family Association's website)BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

The "War on Christmas" is becoming as American as police shootings of unarmed Black men, drones striking weddings in Afghanistan and the revolving door at the Defense Department. While Fox News' Bill O'Reilly and the American Family Association may be some of the 21st century's chief promulgators of the "War on Christmas," interestingly enough, it was the far-right John Birch Society that followed in the footsteps of Henry Ford, who, Daniel Denvir wrote in Politico last year, "was an avid proponent of the idea that someone - or more precisely, some group - was waging a war on Christmas."

According to Wikipedia:

"In 1959, they released a pamphlet called 'There Goes Christmas,' in which they claimed that there was a new communist plot to 'take the Christ out of Christmas' by replacing Christmas decorations with United Nations iconography. The Society claimed this was part of a larger push to stamp out religion altogether and cede US sovereignty to the UN. They urged their members to boycott any stores with 'inappropriate decorations.'"

While the good folks at Fox News have led "War on Christmas" hectoring over the past ten years or so, it is the American Family Association, with its annual "Naughty and Nice" list, that is doing some of the heaviest lifting and mobilizing its troops for the battlefield.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

amyththanksPuncturing the myth of Thanksgiving (Photo: Mr. Tin DC)

Many progressives face a quandary of mixed emotions on Thanksgiving. Although the day mythologizes a peaceful banquet celebrated by Native Americans and pilgrims together, whatever fellowship there might have been was short lived. The European decimation of the indigenous population was soon to begin, as conquering settlers - primarily from Britain (after all, the Eastern seaboard eventually became an English colony) - claimed land on the basis of "the doctrine of discovery." 

Native Americans were deemed disposable people and were nearly annihilated.

Combat the epidemic of misinformation that plagues the corporate media! Make a tax-deductible donation to Truthout and BuzzFlash today.

Thanksgiving then, as a national holiday (if one sets aside its gross commercialization and association with corporate professional and exploitative college football), is a way of “turkey-washing” the theft of the vast expanse of land that became the current United States from the indigenous population that was here first. If property rights are enshrined in US law to the extent that you can kill someone for trespassing, then the deadly violation of the ownership of land by Native Americans was, on the basis of that doctrine, a genocidal crime.

2014.11.26.Steingraber.BFAnti-fracking activist Sandra Steingraber speaks at a gathering in Binghamton, New York to tell Gov. Cuomo that any plan to frack the Southern Tier, or any other region in New York, will be met with resistance. (Screen grab via Colleen Boland / YouTube)STEFANIE SPEAR OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

On Nov. 26 at 12:01 a.m., Sandra Steingraber and Colleen Boland were released from jail after serving eight days of a 15-day sentence for trespassing at the gates of Crestwood Midstream on the banks of Seneca Lake. They were immediately greeted by a crowd of supporters outside the Schuyler County Jail in Watkins Glen. Below are transcripts of their speeches.

Steingraber and Boland are among the first wave arrests as part of a sustained, ongoing, non-violent civil disobedience campaign against the storage of fracked gas along the shores of Seneca Lake, a source of drinking water for 100,000 people. There have been 73 arrests so far. Calling themselves “We Are Seneca Lake,” those risking arrest—and their supporters—wear blue during blockades. Donations to the jail fund are greatly appreciated and make a perfect holiday gift.

Sandra Steingraber:

Hi, everybody! I missed you all. And I missed this beautiful world. I’m glad to be back. And I’m glad to be wearing blue again, instead of orange.

But I’m also glad to have spent this past week in the 24/7 company of my co-defendant and Seneca Lake co-defender, Colleen Boland. Thanks to the kindness of our booking officer, Colleen and I were placed in adjacent cells.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aunlearnracism(Photo: Light Brigading)

The unfolding of daily events – both mundane and sensational - takes place within a larger context of history. Such, of course, is the case with the abominable killing of Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.

The fact that Wilson would not be indicted was foreshadowed when Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (D) did not replace St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch to present the case to the grand jury. McCullough has been accused by critics of being unrelentingly pro-police and evidencing prosecutorial excess against Blacks.

Combat the epidemic of misinformation that plagues the corporate media! Make a tax-deductible donation to Truthout and BuzzFlash today.

McCulloch did nothing to allay these concerns in a contemptuous, disdainful statement prior to announcing the grand jury decision not to indict Wilson. The Monday night - curiously prime time – McCulloch's announcement was more of a personal indictment of anyone who has argued on behalf of justice for Michael Brown - and anyone who has condemned police targeting of Black people (particularly males in modern urban plantation communities). It was a blend of derisive rhetoric - beginning, however, with a blatantly insincere expression of condolence to Michael Brown's family - blended together with a laundry list of self-serving legal mumbo jumbo.

The sleight of hand of a prosecutor in the vast majority of grand jury findings is that the grand jury is a completely independent decision-making body, with McCulloch in this case just serving as a "presenter of fact" and witnesses. However, as the saying goes (and as Philip Bump wrote in the Washington Post this morning), "grand juries would return an indictment against a ham sandwich." 

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