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JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaBeggar(Photo: Sidney Paget)At last, America's political leaders indicate that they now hear the voices and feel the pain of the poor and of the millions of working families slipping out of the middle class.

Congress had previously paid no attention to the ever-widening chasm between the rich and the rest of us, but that inequality has recently emerged as a top political topic in the race for such Republican presidential contenders as Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio. They are publicly lamenting the wealth gap and — by gollies — proposing solutions. Alas, though, the "solution" proposed by each of them is not to provide help for those who've been knocked down, but to offer aid to the same corporate elites who've been enriching themselves by knocking down the middle class and holding down the poor.

Specifically, their solution is to cut taxes on corporations and the rich, do away with environmental and labor protections and cut or privatize government programs — from Head Start to Social Security — that ordinary people count on. For example, Sen. Rubio proposes to kill the food stamp program (even though the need for it is greater than ever) and redirect that money into what he calls a subsidy for low-wage workers. Does he think we have sucker-wrappers around our heads? That's not a subsidy for workers, but for low-wage employers. Why should taxpayers subsidize the poverty pay of profitable giants such as McDonald's, rather than making them pay living wages and cover their own labor costs?

I guess we should count it as progress that Republican candidates are at least having to admit that inequality is a problem, but come on — offering the same old failed, anti-government snake oil is an insult to the American people. Jeb Bush shows how vacuous their flim-flammery is by saying that, to address the ever-widening wealth and income gap, he'll "celebrate success and ... cherish free enterprise." Gosh, what a comfort that'll be to America's hard-hit majority.

It may be futile to hope that the GOP's gaggle of corporate-hugging, right-wing presidential candidates will seriously address the issue of rising inequality in our "Land of Opportunity" — but where are the Democrats?

COLE MELLINO OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaOilRig(Photo: VaderSS)Today, six activists from the Greenpeace ship Esperanza have climbed aboard an Arctic-bound Shell oil rig, the Polar Pioneer, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, 750 miles northwest of Hawaii.

The six volunteers have set up camp on the underside of the Polar Pioneer’s main deck with enough supplies to last for several days. They took this action because last week the U.S. Department of the Interior approved Shell’s drilling lease in the Alaskan Arctic, despite having been previously overruled in court twice for failure to meet environmental regulations. So now, Shell could start drilling in 100 days.

“We’re here to highlight that in less than 100 days Shell is going to the Arctic to drill for oil,” said Johno Smith from New Zealand, one of the six that is aboard the Shell oil rig. “This pristine environment needs protecting for future generations and all life that will call it home. But instead Shell’s actions are exploiting the melting ice to increase a manmade disaster. Climate change is real and already inflicting pain and suffering on my brothers and sisters in the Pacific.

“I believe that shining a light on what Shell is doing will encourage more people to take a strong stand against them and other companies who are seeking to destroy this planet for profit. I’m just one voice out here, but I know I’m not alone, and millions if not billions of voices demanding the right to safe and healthy lives will have a huge chance of changing things.”

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaArchMO(Photo: Moofpocket)Let's paraphrase, and sing along with the late great Robert Preston, playing the fake Professor Harold Hill in The Music Man, "Well, ya got trouble, my friend, right there, I say, trouble right there in the Show Me State. ... With a capital 'S' and that rhymes with Mess. And a capital 'H' that stands for Hate."

There is a big hateful troubling mess brewing in the Show Me State these days, as two prominent Republicans, one who had declared his intention to run for governor, and other, one of his closest political advisors and friends, committed suicide in a little over a month. And two of the people who may have been most responsible for the clown-suit politics that drove both suicides are a longtime local Republican Party political consultant and strategist who last summer signed onto Team Ted Cruz, and, the current chairman of Missouri's Republican Party.

According to several reports in Missouri newspapers, Jeff Roe, the founder and principal of the Kansas City, Missouri-based Axiom Strategies, was responsible for preparing a radio advertisement aimed at trashing the gubernatorial candidacy of former Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich, one of the men who committed suicide.

The Kansas City Star reported that the spot, "labeled Schweich as a weak candidate for governor and pointed out that his political foes would 'squash him like the little bug that he is.' The 60-second radio ad – which also compared Schweich to Barney Fife, the hapless fictional deputy sheriff of Mayberry, on "The Andy Griffith Show" -- aired Feb. 19 and 20 on Kansas City radio station KMBZ-AM during the "Rush Limbaugh" program, shortly before Schweich committed suicide.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

anarmyspecial(Photo: The US Army)

For a "3-Day All Access Pass," it will only cost a defense industry corporate or consulting firm $1795 to attend the Special Operations Summit & Warfighter Expo at Fort Bragg from June 22 to June 24. The expense, of course, can be deducted from a company's taxes because it's the cost of doing business after all.

Of course, the entry ticket to the Army Warfighter Expo is a pittance compared to the potential profit return from meeting government employees who can offer contracts - financed by taxpayer dollars - as part of the trillion dollar plus so-called "war on terror." In fact, federal employees can attend the conference free because they are the financial decision makers who attract the paid attendees who are marketing military wares. The firm sponsoring the conference, the innocuously named Institute for Defense and Government Advancement, promotes that:

All Federal Employees, to include Military Personnel, will be granted free admission to our event. Online pre-registration is required as on-site registration will not be permitted. VIP pass includes entry to all conference sessions (including Focus Day), breakfast, lunch, warfighter expo and cocktail reception.

It would appear from the conference sponsor's website that members of the US Special Operations Command (USSOC) will be in abundant presence. Representing the revolving door between the Defense Department and privatized military contractors is one Command Sergeant Major James C. Faris. Retired from the Army Special Operations division, he is now employed as the liaison to the Special Operations Command, in which he served for 27 years of his 31-year military career.

After all, the Institute for Defense and Government Advancement is itself a profiteer off of warfare dollars. It is a division of the even more elusively named International Quality and Productivity Center - a for-profit company - which describes itself on its website as having "an entrepreneurial edge, leading edge research, and a passion for excellence.

Monday, 06 April 2015 08:55

I Won't Drink No Frackin' Water!

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

afrackingwasFracking wastewater (Photo: Faces of Fracking)

Last Friday, we mentioned the story of Patrick Moore, a science denier who runs a consulting firm whose clients benefit from his false claims. Moore refused to drink a glass of glysophate - the key toxic ingredient of Monsanto's Roundup - after asserting in an interview with French television station Canal+ that "you can drink a whole quart of it [glysophate] and it won't hurt you." 

In fact, he refused to drink the glysophate twice after claiming it was harmless - and then stormed off the television set, last heard proclaiming, "I'm not an idiot" and calling the interviewer "a complete jerk." (You can watch the interview by clicking here.)

It was a bit difficult to understand some of the reader comments over the weekend in response to our piece. One reader reacted to the BuzzFlash at Truthout commentary by pointing out that there is a difference between Roundup being safe for agricultural use (which is scientifically contested in and of itself) and for being safe for drinking.

Is this reader implying that when Moore asserts, "You can drink a whole quart of it [glysophate] and it won't hurt you," he is merely indulging in some sort of bizarre metaphor? Moore's expertise is supposed to be his self-proclaimed knowledge of science, chemicals and the environment. He is not a poet, as far as his biographical details reveal. When he is on a television program, weighing in on whether or not an essential ingredient in the Monsanto herbicide is harmful to humans, he is not offering symbolic statements. When Moore states that "You can drink a whole quart of it [glysophate] and it won't hurt you," there is no wiggle room to take his statement as anything other than a literal assertion by a man who says that he makes conclusions on the basis of "facts."

Monday, 06 April 2015 07:38

Indiana Law Is Religious Bullying

2015.6.4 BF(Photo: Buunnymaan)JEROME POHLEN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Over the last week there has been a lot said about Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act, signed into law by Gov. Mike Pence and endorsed by most of the Republicans who plan to run for president in 2016. Yet in all the shouting, I’ve heard very little about how it’ll affect everyday citizens in rural communities, rather than basketball fans traveling to Indy for the Final Four. That’s understandable; fewer and fewer people appreciate firsthand what it is like to live in small town America. But I do.

I grew up in rural Colorado outside a town so small it fit between the north- and southbound tracks of the Santa Fe railroad lines. Options? We didn’t have any bakery, much less a Christian one. You had to go to the county seat, Castle Rock, for that.

When I was a teenager, I had a small black and white TV that blew a tube—remember those?—so I brought it to the only electronics store in Castle Rock. It was owned by a man who was an usher at our church, St. Francis of Assisi. I’ll call him Mr. Z.

After explaining the problem to Mr. Z, he exhaled dramatically, glared at the TV, and then at me. “Haven’t seen you in church lately,” he said.

2015.6.4 BF Buchheit(Photo: Viewminder)PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

America's is a sickness of the mind, the unwavering belief by people in power that free-market capitalism will somehow work for everyone.

As with a virus that refuses to die, the effects are insidious, because the very rich have convinced themselves that they made it on their own, and that others have only themselves to blame if they are poor.

Rahm Emanuel is Mayor 1%. He speaks a politician's words to entice many Chicagoans to vote for him, but his actions are on behalf of his friends and colleagues in the business world.

Snubbing the Needs of Average People

The author of Mayor 1%, Kari Lydersen, tells the story of Helen Morley, a resident of the southwest side of Chicago and a regular patient at one of the mental health clinics closed by Mayor Emanuel. At Chicago's 175th birthday party in 2012, Morley pleaded, "Mayor Emanuel, please don't close our clinics! We're going to die...There's nowhere else to go." Emanuel ignored her. According to Lydersen, Morley and others believed that the mayor "didn't understand the role these specific clinics played in their lives and the difficulty they would have traveling to other locations."

The same can be said for Chicago's shuttered public schools, once the vital centers of their communities. The state of Illinois cut education spending by a greater percentage than any other state in fiscal 2012, and for 2013 it was third-worst in percentage cuts per student. Privatizers rushed in and blamed the public system. As a result, 50 neighborhood schools were closed in Chicago, opening the way for charter schools, which take taxpayer money but have little accountability to the public and an obligation only to their investors. In the end, 2,000 public school employees were fired by Emanuel, including over 1,000 teachers.

BILL McKIBBEN OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaGuardianDivest(Photo: EcoWatch)Here’s how far we’ve come in just a couple of years: One of the world’s most respected and influential news organizations—the Guardian Media Group—announced Wednesday that it will divest from fossil fuels.

The move follows the launch of The Guardian‘s own climate change campaign, in partnership with 350.org, to press two of the world’s largest charitable foundations to stop investing in oil, coal and gas companies.

The chairman of the Guardian Media Group called the move a “hard-nosed business decision” that is justified on both ethical and financial grounds. I couldn’t agree more.

It was also the second billion-dollar divestment commitment in just two days: Syracuse University in New York also ditched fossil fuels this week, demonstrating once again that cutting ties with the fossil fuel industry is both feasible and responsible.

Now is the time to increase the pressure on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust—two of the world’s largest charities, and both explicitly dedicated to global health—to do the same. Can you help us reach 200,000 signatures this week?

Add your name to the petition calling on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust to stop investing in the climate crisis.

HARVEY WASSERMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaTesla(Photo: Norio Nakayama)Back in early 2010 Ohio stood at the cusp of a modern 21st century technological revolution.

It had won a new federal-funded rail line to finally re-join Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati.

Tesla electric sales networks were moving into the state, bringing full player status in the spread of the world’s most advanced automobiles.

And we had adopted a forward-looking green energy package poised to bring billions of new investments along with thousands of new jobs.

Then the 19th century re-took control.

Today Ohio’s fossil-fueled, landlocked capital city is the western world’s largest with neither internal commuter light rail nor access by passenger train service from anywhere else.

After trying to ban them altogether, Ohio has strictly limited sales of advanced electric Tesla cars.

And after being at the cusp of major solar and wind power advances, the state has all but killed the prospects for any large new green energy projects. The state may now miss one of history’s biggest and most profitable technological transformations.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT


arounduptox

If you haven't been dozing on your keyboard for the last few days, you may have come across this deliciously ironic clip of an avid GMO advocate who refused to drink a glass of Monsanto's allegedly cancer-causing Roundup.

The interview with Dr. Patrick Moore, a vocal public proponent of genetically modified crops, took place on French television, likely in response to a French-based World Health Organization report that glysophate - the key herbicide ingredient in Roundup likely causes cancer. Moore told French Canal + that "You can drink a whole quart of it [glysophate] and it won't hurt you."

According to a widely read Truthout article:

The very same day, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that they had concluded the active ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, the most widely sold agricultural and household herbicide in the world, billed as one of the most benign herbicides ever manufactured, was a "probable carcinogen." The WHO elaborated that their biggest concern was for occupational exposure, but that the evidence was "convincing" that glyphosate caused cancer in lab rats and mice....

About 90 percent of the world's high volume grains are now "Roundup Ready." Glyphosate residues cannot be removed by washing and they are not broken down by cooking. They remain in food for a year or more, even if the foods are frozen, dried or processed. Eating strictly organic doesn't protect you. Several studies have shown that it is even present in the air we breathe, water we drink and rain that falls from the sky.  Essentially, no one on earth has been spared. A recent study of non-farmworker, urban dwellers in Germany found glyphosate in the urine of every person tested, and at levels five to 20 times the legal limit for drinking water.

Website GMWatch provides the context to Patrick Moore's refusal to drink a glass of Roundup, which he had paradoxically declared completely safe to humans, during the French interview. 

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