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KATIE POHLMAN OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Deforest 0608wrp opt(Photo: World Wildlife Fund)Norway has become the first country to ban deforestation. The Norwegian Parliament pledged May 26 that the government’s public procurement policy will be deforestation-free.

Any product that contributes to deforestation will not be used in the Scandinavian country. The pledge was recommended by Norwegian Parliament’s Standing Committee on Energy and Environment as part of the Action Plan on Nature Diversity. Rainforest Foundation Norway was the main lobbying power behind this recommendation and has worked for years to bring the pledge to existence.

“This is an important victory in the fight to protect the rainforest,” Nils Hermann Ranum, head of policy and campaign at Rainforest Foundation Norway said in a statement. “Over the last few years, a number of companies have committed to cease the procurement of goods that can be linked to destruction of the rainforest. Until now, this has not been matched by similar commitments from governments. Thus, it is highly positive that the Norwegian state is now following suit and making the same demands when it comes to public procurements.”

Norway’s action plan also includes a request from parliament that the government exercise due care for the protection of biodiversity in its investments through Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global.

“Other countries should follow Norway’s leadership, and adopt similar zero deforestation commitments,” Ranum said. “In particular, Germany and the UK must act, following their joint statement at the UN Climate Summit.”

PETER WILCOX OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Rainbow 0608wrp opt(Photo: EcoWatch)I’ve been a captain for Greenpeace for 35 years, fighting for our environment in every corner of the globe. I’ve confronted polluters, poachers, smugglers, terrorists, criminals—both private and corporate, armies, navies, vigilantes and you-name-it. I’ve been arrested, jailed, had my ships chased, shot at, boarded and attacked, and had French commandos bomb and sink my ship under my feet—killing a crew-mate in the process.

Wherever I go, people ask me why I continue to take the risks that I take in defending the Earth. For me, the answer is simple: I care about what our planet will be like in the future. Not in the distant future, but the very-near-term-future in which my daughters Anita and Natasha (ages 24 and 20) will be living while raising their own children.

Many environmental activist organizations—like Greenpeace—are very much involved in stopping human suffering caused by pollution, slavery, nuclear radiation, toxic waste and climate change. In more than 400,000 miles of sailing for Greenpeace, I have seen the human cost of environmental destruction in every corner of the planet.

In 1985, I brought the Rainbow Warrior to Rongelap Atoll, in the Marshall Islands/South Pacific, to evacuate an entire town to another island because their home island had been poisoned by the fallout from a U.S. thermonuclear/hydrogen bomb. The U.S. knew the islanders were going to be in the fallout zone, and deliberately left them there as human guinea pigs to study the effects of radiation on real people.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2016june8 twitterryanReposted with permission of the New York Daily News.

Tweet from New York Daily News with image above:

I'M WITH RACIST! Ryan still supports Trump, "definition of racist" https://t.co/0C1JIaQxwN pic.twitter.com/AxlnLYWcv2

— New York Daily News

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) is a living oxymoron.

After his Hamlet-like anguish over whether to endorse Donald Trump or not, Ryan finally chose his Janesville, Wisconsin, hometown paper, to announce his backing of Trump in a tepid op-ed this past week. No news conference, no joint appearance, no round of Sunday morning DC pundit talk shows -- just a quiet, lukewarm endorsement of Trump. Ryan apparently believes Trump will help him enact a "bold" regressive Ayn Randian House GOP budget for the US next year. Ryan wrote in the online Janesville GazetteXtra,

Through these conversations [with Trump], I feel confident he would help us turn the ideas in this agenda into laws to help improve people’s lives. That’s why I’ll be voting for him this fall....

For me, it’s a question of how to move ahead on the ideas that I—and my House colleagues—have invested so much in through the years. It’s not just a choice of two people, but of two visions for America. And House Republicans are helping shape that Republican vision by offering a bold policy agenda, by offering a better way ahead.

Donald Trump can help us make it a reality.

Ryan admits he has had his "differences" with Trump. After all, it is more than possible that Ryan would like to run for president in 2020, which means Trump would need to lose in November. If this speculation is accurate, then Ryan needs a lot of wiggle room to distance himself from the bull in the china shop that is Trump. However, that wiggle room is already starting to look like the Grand Canyon, instead of just minor disagreements.

When Trump began his racist crusade to taint the US federal judge who is currently overseeing the pretrial motions in the infamous Trump University class-action lawsuit, which alleges that the presumptive GOP presidential nominee committed fraud, his reluctant GOP "establishment" supporters were mortified. As journalist Callum Borchers writes today in The Washington Post, Paul Ryan is finding his balancing act rather perilous.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2016june7 immigrationreformDonald Trump is only against non-white immigration. Immigration advocates (above) express their sentiments.  (SEIU Local 99)

In a cravenly worded June 4 article that appeared to blame anti-Trump protesters for planning and initiating alleged escalating violence (a highly alarmist assertion) at Trump protests, The New York Times stated, "Mr. Gonzales’s group [which protested Trump at a speech he was giving in San Jose] was one of many that arrived on Thursday to express disapproval of Mr. Trump, who has angered many critics with proposals they consider to be anti-immigrant."

Excuse me, but The New York Times, which fashions itself "the paper of record," utterly diminishes its credibility when it distances itself from blaring realities: Trump has, of course, made numerous statements against non-white immigrants, and has made shocking stances on non-white immgration a cornerstone of his campaign. How cowardly is it of the United States' only international newspaper not to state the fact that Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee largely on the promise to build a wall on the US-Mexican border and deport 11 million (non-white) immigrants, while slandering refugees, specifically refugees of color?

I could go further and detail more of Trump's abominable statements against immigrants of color (including his initial appalling claim about Mexican "rapists"), but that would take several columns. As a result, one has to ask how The New York Times could post an article that states, "Mr. Trump, who has angered many critics with proposals they consider to be anti-immigrant"? Isn't the factual statement here, "Mr. Trump, who has angered many critics with proposals [and statements that are incendiary against non-white immigrants, particularly Mexicans and Muslims]"? Instead, the Times delivered a mealy-mouthed phrasing that transforms glaring reality into a "perception" by Mexican-American protesters who Trump has loudly blasphemed and slandered.

Trump's latest racist claim is that a federal judge who is of Mexican heritage cannot impartially hear a class-action case brought by plaintiffs who claim Trump defrauded them. In this specific matter, a civil lawsuit charges that Trump University was set up for the purpose of enrichment by Trump and his marketing staff, fleecing "students" of thousands of dollars in tuition for insipid "courses."

An article in Medium.com details how Trump University "exploited working Americans," yielding large profits for Trump. It quotes Ronald Schnackenberg, former Trump University sales manager: "“Trump University was a fraudulent scheme… it preyed upon the elderly and uneducated to separate them from their money.”

2016.7.6 BF chow(Photo: David Grant)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

North America's first offshore freshwater wind project has received a $40 million boost from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

In somewhat of a surprise decision, the funding was awarded to Lake Erie Energy Development Co(LEEDCo) for its "Icebreaker" project, which consists of six 3.45-megawatt turbines located 8-10 miles off the coast of Cleveland.

The local wind power firm was chosen over Dominion Resources, which had proposed a two-turbine, 12-megawatt project off Virginia, and Principle Power, which had proposed a five-turbine, 30-megawatt project off Oregon. LEEDCo was previously considered one of the "alternate" projects.

According to Cleveland.com, "LEEDCo's decision to adopt the European-designed 'Mono Bucket' foundation, which eliminates pile driving in the bedrock below the lake bed, may have been crucial to the DOE's decision to fully fund the project."

Federal Energy Regulatory commission(Photo: Ryan McKnight)SANDRA STEINGRABER OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Early morning on June 6, on a hillside above Seneca Lake, actors James Cromwell and John "J.G." Hertzler of Star Trek fame joined 17 area residents in an act of civil disobedience that is part of an ongoing citizen campaign against salt cavern gas storage.

While blockading the main entrance to the Crestwood compressor station, the two actors urged Gov. Cuomo to stand up to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for green-lighting an expansion of this fracked gas infrastructure project against overwhelming local opposition and for undermining the governor's own stated commitment to a rapid transition to renewable energy.

Starting at 6:45 a.m. and continuing until their arrests by Schuyler County deputies shortly before 7:30 a.m., the protesters blocked all traffic from leaving and entering the facility, including two Crestwood tanker trucks. All 19 were transported to the Schuyler County sheriff's department, charged with disorderly conduct, ticketed and released.

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Solar 0606wrp opt(Photo: EcoWatch)Thanks to Chile’s major investments in renewables, the Latin American country is seeing an incredible solar boom.

In a new Bloomberg report, Chile Has So Much Solar Energy It’s Giving It Away for Free, solar capacity from the country’s central grid has increased four fold to 770 megawatts since 2013. Another 1.4 gigawatts will be added this year with many solar power projects under development.

Thanks to an economic boost from increased mining production, Chile now has 29 solar farms and another 15 in the pipeline. Enel Green Power Chile Ltda. recently commissioned Chile’s largest solar PV project connected to the grid. The 160-megawatt facility will be located in the northern part of the country in the municipality of María Elena, about 1,300 kilometers north of Santiago.

With so much clean power available, the price of solar has cost absolutely nothing for certain regions in recent months.

Monday, 06 June 2016 07:23

Bringing Back Bill Clinton?

JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Bill 0606wrp opt(Photo: Molly Gilliam)What's past, as Shakespeare has told us, is prologue.

2016 has been a wild political season. This year, despite the unnerving presidential freak show the Republicans are putting on, Hillary Clinton is the one who recently stunned me. Attempting to convince very wary working class families that she will stand against the abuses of her Wall Street financial backers, while also lifting up the poor and shoring up the middle class, Clinton made this horrifying, spine-tingling declaration: She'll Bring Back Bill! Specifically, Hillary promises that her former-president husband will be put "in charge of revitalizing the economy."

Good grief! Isn't Bill the big galoot who turned his economic policy over to Wall Street's Machiavellian, Robert Rubin? Yes. And didn't Bill break his 1992 campaign promise to raise the minimum wage in his first year, putting it off until his fourth year, and even then providing only a token increase that still left the working poor mired in poverty? Yes, again. And didn't he push into law a "welfare reform" bill that has shredded the safety net for America's poorest, most-vulnerable people? Afraid so.

So let's flash back only two decades ago to that defining achievement of President Bill Clinton's presidency: "[The] end of welfare as we know it." What sounded good in theory was detrimental to millions of Americans. Bill was awfully proud of teaming up with Republican ideologues to reverse FDR's historic commitment of providing "Aid to Families With Dependent Children." While there were some problems and some abuses with this poverty-alleviation program, Clinton signed-on to the right wing's fantasy that simply gutting it would magically make welfare recipients self-sufficient through "the dignity, the power, and the ethic of work."

But his faith in the work ethic lacked any actual ethics. Where were the jobs — much less decent-paying jobs — that were supposed to empower poor people? Bill had no plans for that, except a feeble request that major corporations commit to hiring a number of former-welfare recipients. Surprise — they didn't!

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.

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