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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2016april20 militarybudgUS24The US empire strikes back with a permanent global military presence that enriches corporations while decimating lives. (Photo: National Priorities Project)

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From the propaganda of the US government -- and its echo chamber in the corporate media -- you would think that our nation is under a dire military threat, with Russia, China and other countries chomping at the bit to enter conflict with the self-proclaimed world superpower. However, just examine the chart above, provided by the National Priorities Project. Take the brightly colored bars representing the next seven highest national expenditures on armed forces and armament, pile them on top of one another, and you will still have a column that falls short of how much the US spends on our global military empire.

As Lindsay Koshgarian of the National Priorities Project comments, much of the massive US "defense budget" (a misnomer considering how much US armed forces activity is aimed at protecting economic and corporate interests, not defending people) is funneled to private contractors:

Pentagon spending is subject to the same rules of corporate greed that plague our entire economy. More than half of the Pentagon budget goes to for-profit contractors.

Let’s get the word out there. The less we spend on Pentagon contractors that profit from fear and conflict, the more we can spend on priorities like education, climate change and infrastructure to move our country forward into the 21st first century. It’s time we joined the rest of the world.

The National Priorities Project chart reveals not only a militaristic policing of the world at extraordinary expense -- using funds that could benefit the welfare of individuals in the US and the world as a whole -- but the inexorable expansion of the military-industrial complex that Eisenhower so famously warned against.

2016.21.4 BF Chow(Photo: Marufish)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Don’t trust the corporate media? Neither do we. Click here to donate to BuzzFlash and Truthout and support accurate, independent journalism.

San Francisco is one step closer to its goal of transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy after the city's Board of Supervisors unanimously voted on Tuesday to mandate solar installations on new buildings.

According to the San Francisco Examiner, starting Jan. 1 of next year, new commercial and residential buildings up to 10 stories high must install rooftop solar systems for heat or electricity. Buildings that are taller are exempt for now.

The famously green metropolis is now the first major city in the U.S. to legislate such a requirement. San Francisco follows the footsteps of the smaller towns of Lancaster and Sebastopol. The municipalities, which are also in California, passed similar mandates in 2013.

"This legislation will help move us toward a clean energy future and toward our city's goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2025," supervisor Scott Wiener, who introduced the legislation, wrote on his Facebook page.

Thursday, 21 April 2016 06:39

We Need a New Age of Enlightenment

2016.21.4 bf koehler(Photo:Thomas Hawk)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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What remains endlessly hinted at about the 2016 presidential race, but not fully articulated, is that something enormous -- bigger than politics, bigger than America itself, perhaps -- is trembling and kicking just below the surface, struggling to emerge.

I have a name to suggest for this hypothetical phenomenon: the New Enlightenment. Nothing less than that seems adequate.

There are millions of midwives at the ready -- angry, despairing citizens -- desperately hoping to assist in the birthing process . . . by being part of the Bernie Sanders campaign. I say this with full cognizance of the flawed, compromised nature of politics in general and the Democratic Party in particular. The political process is a stew of money and competing interests, power, compromise, cynicism and secret deals. But that's not all it is.

It's also the opening to our collective future. A failure to acknowledge this leaves the process in the hands of those who think they own it.

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

BillNye 0420wrp opt(Photo: Ed Schipul)Bill Nye, an outspoken proponent of man-made climate change, has taken on meteorologist and well-known climate denier Joe Bastardi in a new StarTalk video.

The clip was posted in response to a November 2015 editorial Bastardi wrote for The Patriot Post in which he described Nye as an “agenda-driven zealot [rather] than a man of science.”

The WeatherBell chief forecaster also challenged “The Science Guy” to the following three points:

1. Explain why there’s no linkage in the entire known CO2-temperature history of the planet.

2. Explain the lack of warming in real-time temperature data, and why so far I have been right.

3. Make your forecast. You claim to be a leader yet refuse to take a stand. Instead you sit in the stands and never allow what you are saying to be verified. What kind of science is that?

Nye not only took on Bastardi’s challenge, he’s also putting a total of $20,000 on the line that 2016 will be in the top 10 hottest years ever recorded and that 2010-2020 will be the hottest decade ever recorded.

JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Oil 0422wrp opt(Photo: Marine Photobank)How easy it must be for our political leaders and their war-profiteering friends from the weapon industry to plan for invasions while they’re being served coffee from in the comfort of the White House. How convenient to chart operations, thousands of miles away, with the CIA and the Pentagon, to point out designated bombing targets off satellite maps to go with their coffee and Danish pastries.

How easy it is for Bush-Cheney, followed by President Obama, and former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, to speak of countries in the abstract: “Iraq is harboring weapons of mass destruction.” “Afghanistan is a home for terrorists.” “Libya and Syria have evil dictators…” as if these countries were floating somewhere in space with no families, no schools, no homes, no children, no pets…merely abstract human targets who must be killed in abstract countries that float in space somewhere absent of aunts, mothers, animals, trees, sewer systems, water, farmlands…

Wait a minute—there is something specific and tangible that both the Bush and Obama war commanders think about in those countries with grave concern worth protecting: oil and gas.

This is what we’ve learned for the last decades from ongoing US military intervention in the Middle East: oil is valued higher than life itself. It’s very real, it’s tangible and it merits the mass murder of hundreds of thousands of human beings because it is the engine of fossil fuel capitalism.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2016april jailpresThe presidential campaign and the reality of incarceration nation. (Photo: Woody Hibbard

As the political circus continues to unfold in the form of a three-ring television media primary, stitched together by tacky sports metaphors, maybe the best indicator of the sordid reality of this presidential race is that the two likely major party nominees are the most disliked candidates running. In fact, Trump and Clinton are viewed unfavorably at historically high levels.

Today -- after the New York primary -- there is breathless, sensationalistic coverage of the triumph of a blatantly racist and xenophobic candidate, who is likely to run against another candidate whose appeal appears to be, "Wouldn't you want me sitting in the Oval Office instead of that demagogue, even if I won't promise that I'll change much of anything because that's just reality?"

Yet, if you look past the top headlines, you realize just how much the presidential primary is taking place in an alternative universe, whose interests run directly counter to the needs of most people who live in this country. Discussions of public policy appear to be just window dressing on the 24-hour-a-day pugilistic accounts of candidate attacks on each other - or on the occasional gaffe that drops like a golden goose into the almighty cable television collection plate.

There are tens of millions of people in the US thirsting for transformation, but the results of the New York primary have put a damper on justice - social and economic - as not being "reasonable." 

Tuesday, 19 April 2016 08:41

GMO Mushroom Sidesteps USDA Regulations

white button mushrooms genetically engineered to resist browning(Photo: admiller)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said it will not regulate the potential cultivation and sale of a genetically modified (GMO)mushroom the same way it regulates conventional GMOs because the mushroom was made with the genome-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9.

This is the first time the U.S. government has cleared a food product edited with the new and controversial technique.

The USDA announced in a letter last week that it had approved Pennsylvania State University plant pathologist Yinong Yang's common white button mushroom (Agaricus bosporus) that's engineered to be more resistant to browning. As the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) wrote on April 13:

The anti-browning trait reduces the formation of brown pigment (melanin), improving the appearance and shelf life of mushroom, and facilitating automated mechanical harvesting.

Based on the information cited in your letter, APHIS has concluded that your CRISPR/Cas9-edited white button mushrooms as described in your letter do not contain any introduced genetic material. APHIS has no reason to believe that CRISPR/Cas9-edited white button mushrooms are plant pests.

According to Nature, the mushroom was created by targeting the family of genes that encodes the enzyme polyphenol oxidase that causes browning. "By deleting just a handful of base pairs in the mushroom's genome, Yang knocked out one of six PPO genes -- reducing the enzyme's activity by 30 percent," Nature reported.

2016.9.2 bf berkowitz2(Photo: DonkeyHotey)JIM HIGHTOWER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

I've found it! I've discovered the original document from which today's tea party pontificators have drawn their political creed.

Tea-infused Republicans are the "anti" party -- anti-science, anti-public, anti-worker, anti-environment, anti-Obama ... anti-anti-anti. Where does all this unrelenting bombastic negativity come from? It turns out that their sour philosophy is rooted in "Horse Feathers." It's a 1932 Marx Brothers musical comedy that features Groucho belting out a song with these lyrics:

"Your proposition may be good/ But let's have one thing understood

Whatever it is, I'm against it!/ And even when you've changed it

Or condensed it/ I'm against it!"

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2016April19 marinelepenMarine Le Pen is the face of the rising extreme right in France, as leader of the National Front Party founded by her scurrilous father. (Photo: Rémi Noyon )

An April 17 Spiegel Online article describes the growing vigilante movement in Eastern Europe to hunt down refugees from the Middle East, sometimes physically abusing and robbing them, and expelling them (as described in translation from the original German): 

They patrol as self-appointed vigilantes in riot gear against refugee camps. They help the police and the army in border management....

From the Baltic to Bulgaria -- everywhere in Eastern Europe such right-wing private militias and vigilantes have [grown]. Many of them came years ago out of its niche existence as gun nuts and homeland security fanatics and marched, for example, as a protective force against alleged "Gypsy crime" on. Now they have discovered vigilante activity that they hope to receive increased social acceptance for: the so-called "migrant defense."

"Years of xenophobic propaganda from the very top"

The Czech political analyst and researcher of extremism Miroslav Mares of the Masaryk University in Brno calls [the militias tracking refugees from the Middle East] an "uncontrolled and dangerous phenomenon."

"The new vigilantes have left the area of ​​the subculture," said Mares. "They are well organized, action-ready political forces."

Although Spiegel Online's coverage is focused on the Baltic nations, xenophobia -- not infrequently expressed through violence -- is on the rise across Europe. This includes the lethal impact of Europe's anti-refugee policies on the thousands of refugees who have died trying to circumvent Europe's strict immigration policies. 

JOSH FOX OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Sandy 0418wrp opt(Photo: NYC MTA)The climate science is uncompromising. We’ve already warmed the earth 1 degree Celsius. And we have enough carbon and methane and other greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere and enough heat in the oceans to warm the earth another half a degree Celsius already. So if we stop all greenhouse gas emissions right now, we’ve already reached the 1.5 degree threshold. The current 1 degree rise has already increased extreme weather, caused mammoth floods and unprecedented drought, it has gotten the ice caps to start a menacing thaw. The consequences of 1 degree have been far more severe than we ever imagined and we are on our way to 1.5 no matter what we do.

Now here’s the really tough part: At 2 degrees of warming, this gets much much worse. We are at an apocalyptic vision of the planet that few people want to imagine. We see worsening ocean acidification and other habitat loss that will kill off 30-50 percent of the species on the planet, we will see tropical diseases explode out of control and perhaps most damaging the slow thaw of the ice caps enters a critical and irreversible phase leading to between 5-9 meters of sea level rise.

At 7 meters of sea level rise, the greenhouse that just held the democratic debate in Brooklyn, where we saw the most robust discussion on climate change and fracking ever in presidential politics, will be under water. This kind of sea level rise will render New York City mostly uninhabitable. Sure, the Brooklyn Bridge won’t be underwater, but the on-ramp will be. Subways will be submerged, the Lower East Side, the Financial District, Red Hook, The Rockaways, the coast of Williamsburg, disappear under the east river and life in the Big Apple is nothing like what it was before.

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