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MICHAEL BRUNE OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Maxima 0923wrp(Photo: EcoWatch)Early Sunday morning, Máxima Acuña, a 2016 recipient of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize, was reportedly attacked at her home in Peru when hitmen illegally entered the property. Máxima was awarded the 2016 Goldman Prize for her fight against the expansion of the Yanacocha Mine, a subsidiary of Colorado-based mining giant Newmont and Peruvian-based mining company Buenaventura. The hitmen that attacked Máxima and her partner, Jaime Chaupe, were reportedly hired by the mining companies.

It is with healing thoughts and a heavy heart we wish Máxima and her partner a quick recovery from this outrageous attack. Máxima has been an inspiration in the fight to protect her land, her livelihood and her community from the greed and destruction of the mining companies operating in Peru. Her bravery and persistence have helped shape the world in untold ways, and we are intensely disturbed by Sunday's events.

The continued attacks and assassinations of the brave environmental and indigenous rights activists around the world is a clear indication that we still have a long way to go to ensure a world that is truly safe, equitable and inclusive for all.

 

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

bankstersgangstersWhy are big bank CEOs not held accountable for the misdeeds of their banks? They just keep making tens of millions of dollars in bonuses off of the illegalities that happen on their watch. (Photo: Steve Rhodes)

To recap, approximately 5,300 Wells Fargo bank staff members -- many paid around $12 an hour -- had been fired earlier this month for allegations of creating millions of fraudulent credit card and savings accounts. It appears that the Wells Fargo employees were feverishly trying to meet high marketing quotas to receive bonuses. It also appears that Wells Fargo executives overlooked the rampant illegal behavior, amidst a climate that emphasizes increasing the number of accounts without scrutinizing the tactics used to do so. The scheme was discovered and investigated by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the brainchild of Elizabeth Warren. Wells Fargo was fined a mere $180 million (plus $5 million in refunds to defrauded clients), which was not much more than the $120 million Carrie Tolstedt -- who heads the Wells Fargo division overseeing the fraudulent activity -- will retire with in the near future.

As I noted in a column last Friday, Warren was having none of the tactics of Wells Fargo executives firing low-level subordinates to escape blame. As she told CNBC last week: "There's a serious problem with senior management at Wells Fargo.... All they do is fire the low-level employees. You can't run a bank like that."

In a Senate Banking Committee hearing on September 20, Warren bluntly raked Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf over the coals,

Warren said that cross selling, the practice of getting customers to sign up for new products from Wells, was designed just to "pump up the stock of Wells Fargo" and increase the value of Stumpf's stock-based compensation.

"You should resign, you should give back the money you made while this scam was going on, and you should be criminally investigated by the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission," said Warren.

Stumpf appeared unfazed by Warren's scolding and admitted that he has not fired any high-level Wells Fargo executives over the incident, just the low-paid workers seeking bonuses.

2016.22.9 BF chow(Photo: Steven Depolo)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

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In a major setback for environmental groups, a federal judge in California has tossed out allegations that the U.S. Forest Service allowed Nestlé's bottled water operation to take water from the San Bernardino National Forest on a permit that expired back in 1988.

The decision regards a lawsuit filed against the Forest Servicein October 2015 by the Courage Campaign Institute, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Story of Stuff Project. The groups alleged that the agency was allowing Nestlé Waters North America to pipe water from public lands on a permit that had long expired.

With the ruling, the multinational food and drink corporation can continue its use of a four-mile pipeline that siphons thousands of gallons of public water a day from theStrawberry Creekwatershed and sell it back to the public as bottled water. The water is sold under the Arrowhead brand.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

heckscher32On September 21, Zahara Heckscher blocks entrance to a congressional office to protest TPP pharmaceutical provisions. (Photo: CANCERFAM.ORG )

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In February, I reported on the arrest of Zahara Heckscher, 51, who was protesting the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) within the building entry to the massive pharmaceutical lobby in DC, PhRMA. Heckscher, who was diagnosed with breast cancer eight years ago, is experiencing its return in an advanced stage after remission.

Heckscher was cuffed and booked along with Hannah Lyon (who is 29 and has aggressive cervical cancer). Both protesters shouted that the TPP was a "death sentence" to many people with serious illnesses. This act of civil disobedience took place on World Cancer Day, February 4.

Yesterday, Heckscher was arrested again, this time while blocking the entrance to the Capitol office of Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colorado). Heckscher used the time before she was arrested to urge Polis to save the lives of people in his district by taking a stand against passage of the TPP. Heckscher, the organization that she co-founded -- Cancer Families for Affordable Medicine -- and other advocacy groups concerned about affordable medicine have become increasingly worried that President Obama, the Republican leadership and Blue Dog Democrats will try to pass the TPP in a lame-duck session of Congress. This speculation is bolstered by a presidential election in which the candidates of the two largest parties are both on record opposing the TPP. Therefore, from a politically practical perspective, the White House and the Republican leadership in Congress may believe that the period between the November election and the swearing-in of a new president offers the best opportunity for the passage of the trade deal opposed by an increasing number of Americans for a variety of reasons.

For Heckscher, her conviction is born of both personal illness and her concern about others in the US and elsewhere. People will find medication more costly in all signatory nations of the TPP, because of its locking-in of long patents and drug monopolies. For instance, Heckscher now relies upon a medication that costs $54,000 a year. Her insurance company has denied her physician's request for the drug to slow down the cancer. The medication in question is available in some other nations as a generic, but the TPP would prohibit the sale of such generics during the course of a medication's patent throughout the TPP nations. In short, a TPP nation that might sell another brand of the $54,000 drug Heckscher needs for, let's say, $10,000, would be prohibited from doing so.

Also consider this, many people in the US -- particularly seniors -- get vast savings on certain drugs by ordering them from Mexico or Canada. They would find that option essentially closed under the TPP.  This is only one example of how the TPP -- by raising, in general, the cost of medicine in all the signatory nations (including Mexico and Canada) -- will economically impact people in the US who save money by getting some of their medications from nations without stringent patent enforcements.

Thursday, 22 September 2016 06:39

Free the Snake River, Remove the Dams

Save the Snake flotilla demonstration(Photo: Backbone Campaign)GARY WOCKNER OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

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Buck Ryan, the Snake River Waterkeeper, put it this way, "Removing hydroelectric dams is progress -- we no longer have to destroy rivers and kill endangered fish to keep the lights on."

As I paddled my kayak amidst the hundreds of people in the Free The Snake flotilla last weekend, I believe Ryan is on the right track. Dams are a 50 to 100 year old technology -- it's time to remove even more dams along America's diminished waterways and replace that aged technology with flourishing solar and wind energy systems.

2016 was the second year for the Free The Snake flotilla. Co-sponsored by more than a dozen non-profit groups and organized by Save Our Wild Salmon and Patagonia, the flotilla took place on the Idaho border on the Snake River. Four huge dams on the lower Snake River have contributed to several species ofsalmonbeing placed on the endangered species list. Removing the dams would help restore the salmon and a way of life in the Snake and Columbia River basins.

The flotilla included participation from river conservation and fishing groups, native American tribes and local businesses, all who have a stake in seeing the lower Snake River dams removed. Since the dams were built more than 30 years ago, only about 1 percent of salmon return from the sea to their native spawning grounds along the river. Historically, around 8 million salmon would return from the sea, swim up the Columbia River and then up into the Snake. That number is now down to around 80,000. Further, the vast majority of those fish are bred and stocked every year, with few or none being original wild salmon.

JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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TrumpSimper 0921wrp opt(Photo: Gage Skidmore)To many hard-working people, this is a time of economic uncertainty. Thus, it is important to point out that America's superrich are intentionally and brazenly knocking down the middle class and poor to further enrich themselves. They are aided by clueless, corrupt politicians who don't care about the future of ordinary Americans or of America itself. In these hard times, along comes Donald J. Trump, a swaggering billionaire braggart promising greatness by goading working-class white people into mollifying their pain and anxiety by despising those "other people" situated near them on the social-economic ladder.

The media establishment has erroneously put the "populist" crown on Trump, endorsing his absurd assertion that he might be a billionaire, but he's "our" billionaire, fighting for us commoners!

I'm not telling anyone how to vote, and I certainly understand the inclination to grab the biggest stick you can find to whack the bejeezus out of those holding you and your family down. Trump has sold himself as the biggest, baddest stick around, the "outsider" who pummeled Jeb!, Marco, Ted, and the entire Republican establishment.

But I am here to say, don't be a sucker. There's not a single populist muscle in Donnie's whole plutocratic body. He will sell out wage earners, small business people, and anyone else to serve his own needs or whims, as his lifelong record (as opposed to his recent rhetoric) reveals.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2016refugeeOur comfort in the West creates much of the refugee crisis that the mass media so underreports. (Photo: brx0)

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Just how much does the mainstream press like to spend days upon days getting sucked into a farcical debate about whether Donald Trump is "officially" a birther or not?

I've written it before and I'll write it again: In 2016, if it's not entertaining, it's not news. Donald Trump is like a bigoted vaudeville comedian resurrected from mothballs, a bombastic bloviator who knows how to dominate the midway at a state fair. He is a cross between a tin-siding salesman, a demagogue and -- as he told Marureen Dowd recently -- a promoter of the frisson (shudder of excitement) of violence.

What passes for US mass media today is -- speaking of violence -- a megaphone for vitriol, scapegoating, and cheap "shock jock" tricks. 

Meanwhile, national and global events that shape lives and lead to untimely deaths pass with barely a headline, shoved to the background by the grand carnival known as the 2016 US presidential election.

How many examples of the planet's dire needs -- and potential solutions -- could be covered as part of the daily news if titillation and personality gaffes were not the primary stories driving the news? Occasionally, the reality of our dystopian world receives coverage, like a head bobbing briefly up above the water -- and then sinking back down to drown. That's an analogy that relates directly to one particular reality: As Middle East Eye reported today, at least 39 people were killed this morning when a migrant boat sank off the coast of Egypt. "Over 3,000 people have drowned in the Mediterranean on the way to Europe so far this year," according to Middle East Eye.

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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Baseball 0921wrp opt(Photo: Schyler)One of the unforeseen results of San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick taking a stand against racism and police brutality, by at first sitting, and later taking a knee, during the playing of the national anthem before NFL games, is that other athletes in other sports are being asked to comment.

While several African American players in the NFL have sat, kneeled, or raised gloved fists during the national anthem in solidarity, few athletes in other sports, save soccer's Megan Rapinoe, have done so.

And, according to Baltimore Orioles' centerfielder Adam Jones, there isn't likely to be any overt displays of protest coming from African American baseball players. because, as he told USA Today, "Baseball is a white man's sport."

Next season will be the 70th anniversary of that day in April when the Brooklyn Dodgers' Jackie Robinson took the field, breaking the color barrier in major league baseball. A few days ago, Jones told USA Today that while he and some other players might be sympathetic to Kaepernick and the causes he is bringing attention to, people should not expect African Americans in baseball to publicly protest.

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2016toxicWe're just consumers for toxic products as far as chemical companies are concerned. (Photo: Daniel Go)

Article reprinted with permission from Ecowatch

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Four of the country's largest chemical companies have been accused of selling billions of dollars worth of harmful isocyanate chemicals but intentionally concealing their dangers to consumers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over the past several decades.

EcoWatch learned that the recently unsealed whistleblower lawsuit was served on the chemical companies on Wednesday. The lawsuit was originally filed under seal in federal court in Northern California.

Kasowitz brought this action on behalf of itself and the federal government to recover more than $90 billion in damages and penalties under the FCA, which imposes penalties for concealing obligations to the government.

According to a copy of the lawsuit seen by EcoWatch, "Each of these companies is separately liable to the United States Government for billions of dollars in civil reporting penalties, which continue to accumulate by tens of thousands of dollars daily, and for billions of dollars in similarly increasing breach of contract damages."

KRISTIN FALZON OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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Cups 0919wrp opt(Photo: EcoWatch)France is taking another big step towards being more environmentally conscious by implementing a controversial new law that will ban plastic cutlery, plates and cups.

The measure was part of the Energy Transition For Green Growth bill that was passed in 2015 and went into effect last month. But producers of disposal plates, cups and cutlery will have until 2020 to make sure their products are made with biologically sourced materials and can be composted.

The ban was initially proposed by the Europe Ecologie-Greens Party to help cut the energy used in making plastic in addition to the waste it creates. While the move is sure to please environmentalists, opponents argue that product bans hurt consumers.

Pack2Go Europe Secretary General Eamonn Bates told The Associated Press the company is urging the European Union to take legal action against France for violating the European Union's rules on free movement of goods.

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