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KATIE POHLMAN OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Victory 0603wrp opt(Photo: NRDC)President Obama, along with the U.S. Fisheries and Wildlife Service, announced regulations Thursday to ban nearly all commercial elephant ivory trade in the country.

This landmark decision, coming from the country with the second-largest market for ivory, should have a significant impact on the trade. The ban helps fulfill President Obama’s 2013 executive order to combat wildlife trafficking.

“We’re excited the Obama administration has taken this important step to reduce the domestic trade in ivory,” Sarah Uhlemann, international program director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said. “The United States has one of the largest markets for ivory in the world and reducing demand here will go a long way toward saving elephants in Africa.”

The ban follows a series of actions Kenya has taken to end the illegal ivory trade, including the burning of huge piles of tusks. Experts say roughly 96 elephants are killed daily—30,000 annually—for their tusks.

Thursday’s “bold action underscores the United States’ leadership and commitment to ending the scourge of elephant poaching and the tragic impact it’s having on wild populations,” Sec. of the Interior Sally Jewell said, who serves as co-chair of the President’s Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking. “We hope other nations will act quickly and decisively to stop the flow of blood ivory by implementing similar regulations, which are crucial to ensuring our grandchildren and their children know these iconic species.”

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2016 June3socsecobamaPresident Obama's support of expanding Social Security benefits came about as a result of grassroots activism. (Image: DonkeyHotey)

On June 1, The Huffington Post reported on President Obama's expression of support this week for expanding Social Security benefits, while not making cuts in the program elsewhere:

President Barack Obama said Wednesday the U.S. ought to increase Social Security retirement benefits.

"It’s time we finally made Social Security more generous and increased its benefits so that today’s retirees and future generations get the dignified retirement that they’ve earned," Obama said during a speech in Elkhart, Indiana.

"And we can start paying for it by asking the wealthiest Americans to contribute a little bit more," Obama said. "They can afford it. I can afford it."

The announcement represents a major evolution in the president’s public position on Social Security and a coup for the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, which increasingly views benefits expansion as a core element of its agenda.

The additional revenue needed for increasing Social Security support would come primarily from raising the cap on the level of income that is taxed to go toward the Social Security Trust Fund.

Metro de Santiago(Photo: Rafael Edwards)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

The subway system in Chile's capital will soon be the world's first to run largely on renewable energy sources.

The Metro de Santiago, the second-longest metro system in Latin America after Mexico City, has signed two agreements, one with a solar energy provider and another with a wind power company, which will provide 60 percent of metro's energy needs by 2018.

An announcement of the $500 million deal was made last week by Chilean President Michelle Bachelet during a visit to the National Stadium station that's currently under construction.

School desks(Photo: alamosbasement)ROBERT C. KOEHLER OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

What's the difference between education and obedience? If you see very little, you probably have no problem with the militarization of the American school system -- or rather, the militarization of the impoverished schools . . . the ones that can't afford new textbooks or functional plumbing, much less art supplies or band equipment.

The Pentagon has been eyeing these schools for a decade now, and seeing its future there. It comes in like a cammy-clad Santa, bringing money and discipline. In return it gets young minds to shape, to (I fear) possess: to turn into the next generation of soldiers, available for the coming wars.

The United States no longer has a draft because the nation no longer believes in war, except abstractly, as background noise. But it has an economic draft: It claims recruits largely from the neighborhoods of hopelessness. Joining the U.S. military is the only opportunity to escape poverty available to millions of young Americans. We have no government programs to build the infrastructure of peace and environmental sustainability -- we can't afford that, so it has to happen on its own (or not at all) -- but our military marches on, funded at more than half a trillion dollars a year, into ever more pointless wars of aggression.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT 

2016june2 changeWe, not the politicians, lead the change. (Photo: Conal Gallagher)

The mainstream corporate media -- when not hanging on Donald Trump's latest outrageous remark -- covers the primary contest for president of the United States as if it were a horse race or boxing match. BuzzFlash has periodically commented on this travesty and how it debases democracy.

Already the national polls have started to become fodder for political debate -- as if the issues don't matter, just the numbers -- with the current mainstream buzz concluding that trending polls show Clinton and Trump in a tight November race. That, of course, has quickly become the "conventional wisdom" before either of them have been voted their party's candidate at the upcoming summer conventions, with Clinton still in a primary battle. In regards to the ongoing contest on the Democratic side, much is currently being made of an NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist Poll released Wednesday that shows Clinton and Sanders are "neck-and-neck" in California, according to CNN.

Most of the mainstream media coverage skips details of candidate policies and, instead, reinforces easily consumable distilled perceptions of the candidates: Trump is swaggering, pugnacious and entertaining; Clinton has the government experience résumé, but lacks emotional connection and trustworthiness; and Sanders has authenticity, passion and "radical" plans for Wall Street. In addition, aside from ongoing secondary stories (Trump's Liberty University scam, Clinton's email investigation, Sanders' going "rogue" on the Democratic Party), the corporate media -- as we have noted before -- covers the competition for the presidency as if it were a sporting event.

As voters, we may be motivated by ideas, but television, in particular, offers images that are akin to caricatures of presidential candidates. There is little, if any, room for nuance -- just sensationalistic coverage of outlandish remarks, gaffes, uncovered historical blemishes, polling, DC-based punditry, rowdy crowds and winners and losers. In this context, public policy announcements and differences are usually confined to below-the-main-headline news, if covered at all. After all, a discussion of the implications of reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act -- whose repeal in the second Bill Clinton administration has been viewed by many as enabling the 2008 economic breakdown -- just doesn't draw enough viewers. Advertisers on television, of course, pay rates based on the size of a program's audience. Making politics personal, entertaining, combative and polling-oriented keeps the adrenalin of a mass audience pumping -- and advertising fees high.

CARL POPE OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

CarOil 0601wrp opt(Photo: EcoWatch)Oil touched $50 last week, close to double its slump price earlier this year, before falling slightly below that benchmark. Short-term impacts—the wildfire in Canada and outages in Nigeria—helped reduce stocks and drive up the price; then Iraq production increases stalled the rally. The market seemed to have averted the risk of an extended period of $20-30 prices, unsustainable for oil dependent nations, even the richest like the Saudis, whose “pump and dump” strategy lies behind the current low-price environment.

At $40-60/barrel, however, the Saudis can stay the course. They can afford that price in terms of their budget deficit, if not easily. Some U.S. shale plays come back into production, but the capital heavy projects in the Arctic, ultra-deep ocean or Canadian tar sands are still off the table as prudent investments. Medium term, as non-OPEC [Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries], non-shale production falls, with no new big ticket projects coming on-line to replace depleted wells, reserves fall. Increasing demand will then require increasing dependence on OPEC and soaring prices. Even if U.S. shale roars back in response, it can’t make up for an investment slump everywhere else. The Saudis can then set the price they want.

Western governments know this. They treat the Kingdom with kid gloves. In Kossovo, even while it was effectively an American protectorate, the Saudis were allowed to implant jihadi mullahs to create an ideological base for their Wahhabi Islam. In the process they “transformed this once-tolerant Muslim society at the hem of Europe into a font of Islamic extremists and a pipeline for jihadists.” Kossovo now sends more recruits to ISIS than any nation in Europe: 314 identified to date from a tiny country.

 

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Trump 0601wrp(Photo: Gage Skidmore)With demonstrations outside and inside of Donald Trump’s campaign rallies erupting, and sometimes turning violent, Team Trump, ever on the lookout for a game-changing strategy, may see these incidents as an opportunity to brand The Donald the “Law and Order” candidate. Picture Trump kicking off the final months of the campaign with: "We'll give you the greatest amount of law and order that you've ever seen. There will be so much winning law and order that you might get tired of things being so quiet." 

When protesters made some noise at a recent Trump rally inside the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California, Trump shouted -- as he has done many times over the past several months -- “Get ‘em out. “Out! Out! Out!” This time Trump added: “Don’t hurt ‘em. See what I say? Don’t hurt ‘em. I say that for the television cameras … Do not hurt him, even though he’s a bad person.”

Over the past several months, Trump himself has spoken about punching protesters in the mouth.

Outside the Convention Center, pro and anti-Trump supporters squared off against each other for most of the day. By nightfall, according to reports, police arrested a handful of mayhem-creating anti-Trump protesters.

As the Washington Examiner recently editorialized, “If Trump wins the general election in November, he should send fruit baskets to the organizers of the latest unrest. They are generating sympathy for him by ensuring that a noisy proportion of his supporters are identified as asses who need to be defeated.”

"The more barbaric the 'protesters' act, the more votes they will drive toward the target of their barbarism," Robin Heid, M.A., a libertarian political scientist who says the anti-Establishment campaigns of Trump and Sanders are exactly what the U.S. political process needs right now, told me in an email. "It is well-documented that the violent disruption of the 1968 Democratic Convention contributed significantly to Hubert Humphrey's defeat by Richard Nixon - even though it was later determined that the Chicago police perpetrated far more of that violence than did the protesters. That is why the leftist media is trying so hard to pin the barbarism at Trump rallies to the candidate and his supporters instead of reporting the well-documented fact that the violence is almost exclusively anti-Trump barbarians."

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2016june1 trumpveteransThe mainstream corporate media can't get enough of Donald Trump, even if he's lacerating them. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

"He's Not Gonna Take it," CNN blared on its homepage yesterday, above a large close-up photo of Donald Trump. Beneath the picture, CNN placed a headline with a link to the article, "When Donald Trump hits back, he hits back hard." 

CNN, in essence, was pumping up the indomitable image that Donald Trump wants the media to portray of him. He and his campaign flacks consistently account for any of Trump's reprehensible and coarse portrayals of individuals and groups by asserting that he is a "counterpuncher." How that excuses racism, misogynism, bigoted pronouncements and childish name-calling is what the mass corporate media should be examining in their own reporting. However, such reporting is the exception rather than the rule. This was exemplified in the coverage of Donald Trump's Tuesday news conference in which he lacerated the press for questioning the sincerity of his commitment to raising money for veterans' charities -- including a personal million-dollar contribution he pledged in January.

The New York Times provided an account of the Tuesday spectacle:

He called a news conference ostensibly to answer questions about his fund-raising for charities that benefit military veterans. But Donald J. Trumpinstead spent most of his time on live television Tuesday berating the journalists covering his presidential campaign in unusually vitriolic and personal terms.

“You’re a sleaze,” he told a reporter for ABC.

“You’re a real beauty,” he told a reporter for CNN, snidely denigrating the man’s competence.

For 40 minutes, Mr. Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, assailed those reporting on his candidacy with a level of venom rarely seen at all, let alone in public, from the standard-bearer of a major political party. Then he warned that a Trump White House would feature more of the same.

Trump's use of the media as pawns in the usual scrum of national live cable coverage of all things Trump speaks to how the corporate media press corps is eating at his trough.

Trump caricature(Photo: DonkeyHotey)MICHAEL BRUNE OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Donald Trump has spent a lot of time talking about his hands  --  and less time talking about his actual plans. Today, though, Trump will be unveiling his so-called energy policy for an audience of fossil fuel CEOs.

Here's what you actually need to know about Trump's environment and energy agenda in five minutes or less.

1. Not only has Donald Trump failed to propose a plan to address climate change  --  he won't even admit that it's happening.

"A total hoax."

"Bullshit."

"A con job."

You might think these are good words to describe Trump's campaign. No  --  they're his take on the climate crisis.

The facts are clear: Climate change poses an urgent threat that requires immediate action.

 

Bottle of Roundup(Photo: Mike Mozart)ORGANIC CONSUMERS ASSOCIATION OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Glyphosate, the most used herbicide in the world, has been found in the urine of 93 percent of the American public during a unique testing project that started in 2015.

Glyphosate, labeled a "probable human carcinogen" by the World Health Organization's cancer agency IARC in 2015, has now been revealed to be ubiquitous in the first ever comprehensive and validated LC/MS/MS testing project to be carried out across America.

The European Union is currently in the process of putting restrictions on the use of glyphosate due to health concerns, with Member States so far unable to agree on the re-approval of the chemical beyond June 2016.

Glyphosate-containing herbicides are sold under trademarks such as Monsanto's Roundup.

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