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Wednesday, 25 November 2015 10:26

Why We Must Stop Drinking Bottled Water


Plastic is displayed on a beach and the word ‘Trash’ is spelt out from golf balls. The wide variety of items shown in this image highlight the diverse range of sources from which the plastics in our oceans originate. This is part of the Ocean Defenders Campaign in which the Greenpeace ship Esperanza MV sails to the Pacific Ocean, sometimes referred to as the North Pacific garbage patch, to document the threat that plastic poses to the environment and sea life. Photo credit: © Greenpeace / Alex HoffordPlastic is displayed on a beach and the word ‘”TRASH”’ is spelt out from golf balls. The wide variety of items shown in this image highlight the diverse range of sources from which the plastics in our oceans originate. This is part of the Ocean Defenders Campaign in which the Greenpeace ship Esperanza MV sails to the Pacific Ocean, sometimes referred to as the North Pacific garbage patch, to document the threat that plastic poses to the environment and sea life. Photo credit: © Greenpeace / Alex Hofford

Thursday was Use Less Stuff Day. It was created to inspire us to rethink the stuff we use. All our stuff—cell phones, clothes, cars, disposable chopsticks, and on and on—comes from somewhere and has to go somewhere when we throw it out. That takes a big toll on the planet, so thinking about how to use less is an excellent idea.

I’ve written a bunch about the real need to re-think our approach to the holidays and the mad shopping frenzy that comes with them.

When it comes to how we do spend our dollars, the product that jumps immediately to mind as obscenely wasteful, expensive and easily preventable is bottled water.

Let’s dig a bit deeper into this. It’s true that in some parts of the world the water quality is so poor that it’s unsafe for people to drink. There are definitely some places in the U.S. wherefracking or petrochemical plants have ruined the local water supply, but even then there are better solutions than forcing the community to buy bottled water! For the most part, tap water in the U.S. is clean, readily available and thousands of times cheaper than the bottled stuff.

four-year review of the bottled water industry in the U.S. and the safety standards that govern it, including independent testing of over 1,000 bottles of water found that there is no assurance that just because water comes out of a bottle it is any cleaner or safer than water from the tap. In fact tap water is tested more frequently than bottled water.


aaaCruzDuh(Photo: Gage Skidmore)The Associated Press (AP) asked eight climate and biological scientists to grade (on a 0-100 scale) the comments of top presidential candidates for their scientific accuracy. To eliminate bias, the names of the candidates were removed from their comments, so the scientists were scrutinizing them merely on scientific grounds.

The Republicans did not fare as well. Jeb Bush was the only GOP candidate to receive a passing score of 64 percent. In dead last, at a mere 6 percent, was Ted Cruz.

“This individual understands less about science [and climate change] than the average kindergartner,” Penn State University professor Michael Mann wrote after reading Cruz’s statements before the candidates’ identities were revealed. “That sort of ignorance would be dangerous in a doorman, let alone a president.”

The other candidates’ percentages were as follows, according to the AP: Chris Christie, 54; John Kasich, 47; Rand Paul, 38; Carly Fiorina, 28; Marco Rubio, 21; Donald Trump, 15; and Ben Carson, 13.


aaaTrumpCPACaaa(Photo: Gage Skidmore)Glendon Scott Crawford had an idea about how to deal with Muslims in America; build a weapon that would irradiate as many of them as possible. Pamela Geller is a professional anti-Muslim provocateur who in the spring, held a cartoon competition in Garland, Texas, to award the best cartoon mocking the Prophet Muhammad. While most conservatives aren't talking in "final solution" terms, and are not looking to intentionally provoke violence, the mindlessness of the marginalized is seeping into the mainstream. Ideas once thought of as unsuitable for serious discussion, anti-democratic and decidedly un-American are starting to take hold with the Republican Party.

Months ago, Donald Trump kicked off his campaign with slanderous comments about Mexican immigrants. Those comments played well with the base, and they became standard fare at his campaign events. However, since the horrific Paris murders, Trump has seized upon new actionable targets; Muslim Americans and Muslim refugees. Now, Trump is voicing support for shuttering mosques, creating a database for monitoring all Muslims, and re-instituting waterboarding. Ben Carson has declared no Muslim is worthy of being in his cabinet, let alone being elected president. Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush have advocated accepting only Christian refugees from Syria. And, just about every Republican Party presidential candidate, more than 30 governors (the vast majority from the GOP), and key sectors of the religious right are espousing their versions of keep the Syrian refugees out of the United States.

Ideas that were thought of as fringe, anti-American and anti-democratic are leading today's political debate within the Republican Party and, they seem to be gaining traction within the body politic.


Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

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England’s Prince Charles told Sky News in an exclusive interview that climate change was a root cause of the civil war in Syria, terrorism and the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe. Prince Charles, who has been outspoken on the issue of climate change and sustainability for the last four decades, will deliver a keynote address at the COP21 Paris climate talks next week.

“We’re seeing a classic case of not dealing with the problem, because, I mean, it sounds awful to say, but some of us were saying 20 years ago that if we didn’t tackle these issues, you would see ever greater conflict over scarce resources and ever greater difficulties over drought, and the accumulating effect of climate change, which means that people have to move,” he said in the interview, which will air tonight and was filmed three weeks ago, before the Paris attacks. “And, in fact, there’s very good evidence indeed that one of the major reasons for this horror in Syria, funnily enough, was a drought that lasted for about five or six years, which meant that huge numbers of people in the end had to leave the land.”

Monday, 23 November 2015 06:38

Signs of a Dying Society

2015.23.11 Buchheit(Photo: outtacontext)PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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While Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning and John Kiriakou are vilified for revealing vital information about spying and bombing and torture, a man who conspired with Goldman Sachs to make billions of dollars on the planned failure of subprime mortgages was honored by New York University for his "Outstanding Contributions to Society."

This is one example of the distorted thinking leading to the demise of a once-vibrant American society. There are other signs of decay:

1. A House Bill Would View Corporate Crimes as 'Honest Mistakes'

Wealthy conservatives are pushing a bill that would excuse corporate leaders from financial fraud, environmental pollution, and other crimes that America's greatest criminals deem simply reckless or negligent. The Heritage Foundation attempts to rationalize, saying "someone who simply has an accident by being slightly careless can hardly be said to have acted with a 'guilty mind.'"


aaaSyrianKids(Photo: Trocaire)Fear, laced with paranoia, is driving the American response against allowing Syrian refugees into the United States.

President Obama has said he would accept 10,000 refugees, all of them subjected to intense scrutiny before being admitted to the country. France, with a population about one-fifth that of the United States, despite the worst attack on its soil since World War II, will accept 30,000 refugees.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) told the Senate, "We are not a nation that delivers children back into the hands of ISIS because some politician doesn't like their religion." Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), a Jew, said the nation should "not allow ourselves to be divided and succumb to Islamophobia," and that when "thousands of people have lost everything—have nothing left but the shirts on their backs - we will not turn our backs on the refugees."

They are among a minority. Only 28 percent of Americans believe the nation should allow Syrian refugees into the United States, according to an independent Bloomberg poll. Fifty-three percent say absolutely deny any Syrian refugee, and apparently anyone who is a Muslim, a place in the United States; 11 percent say admit only Christians; 8 percent aren't sure.

The governors of 30 states, mostly in the South and Midwest, have also said they don't want Syrian refugees in their states. Gov. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) has even ordered his state agencies to deny residence to two Syrian families who had undergone extensive background checks by the FBI and other agencies and were scheduled to be relocated in Indianapolis. The governors' opinion, fueled by politics not compassion, really doesn't matter; the acceptance and relocation of refugees fleeing oppression is a federal, not a state issue.

2015.19.11 BF Quigley(Photo: Christine und David Schmitt)BILL QUIGLEY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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A jury trial is underway in Detroit for human rights activists arrested for blocking trucks which were going to cutoff water to low-income families.  

On July 18, 2014, dozens of people successfully blocked the trucks of the Homrich Inc., a private wrecking company that the City of Detroit contracts with to carry out water shutoffs. The trucks were leaving to cutoff water for Detroiters who were more than $150 past due on payments. After an eight hour blockade nine people were arrested.  

Those on trial said civil disobedience was their only option to address the grave public health crisis of mass water shutoffs, since the City of Detroit was under emergency management, which effectively strips all elected officials of decision-making power. One of the people on trial is Bill Wylie-Kellermann, pastor of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Detroit. He told The Detroit News “It was, at the time, the last vestige of democracy in the city.”


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I’m sitting in the aftermath of Paris, feeling emotions tear me apart. One of the emotions is joy. My daughter, who lives there, is safe.

Has “joy” ever felt so troubling?

The aftermath of Paris seems likely to be intensified (“pitiless”) bombing raids in Syria, closed borders, heightened fear-based security and the deletion of “the gray zones of coexistence” across the planet.

Oh, it’s so nice to have an enemy who is truly evil! And the logic of war is so seductive. It simplifies all these complex emotions. Just watch the news.

The news is that terror wins. Indeed, terror is the cornerstone of civilization.


aaaHiSpeedRail(Photo: Smiley.toerist)(Photo: Smiley.toerist)Practically every wealthy nation today is making major investments in building high-speed rail networks to transport their people: Japan, Canada, France, Russia, India, England, Morocco, Korea, Saudi Arabia, Italy, China, Mexico, Poland, Spain, Brazil, Germany, South Africa, Turkey and more. But not us, the wealthiest nation, with dozens of cities dotted across a continent with millions of people who need fast, convenient rail connection.

Why are we stuck in traffic on roadways and runways and left with a pokey, out-of-date rail system while nations with a small fraction of our resources — such as Morocco, Poland and Turkey — are cruising on HSR networks? Because our leaders sold us out to corporate hucksters who fed us ideological lies. Their fairy tale was that mass transit is creaky, inherently inefficient, and socialist — and that Americans deserve the independence that comes from a one-person-one-car doctrine.

As early as the 1930s, giant corporate consortiums formed to buy out more than 100 of America's very effective networks of streetcars and interurban train systems. Not to run them, but to rip out the tracks and pave over the rail right-of-ways to make roads. Likewise, corporate profiteers mounted a new offensive in the 1990s to undermine the higher-speed potential of Amtrak's Acela trains, hiring such Koch-funded front groups as Cato Institute, Heritage Foundation and Reason Foundation to spread hokey "analyses" that brand Amtrak as a slow train to collectivist hell. They also bought trainloads of politicians, who're still promoting the fabricated studies and talking points of the corporate-cabal to derail HSR proposals.

Despite attempts to kill the notion of a national passenger rail system, trains are only getting more popular. Here are just a few things that HSR would offer our county ...


aaaBillMc2(Photo: EcoWatch)This letter to the future by Bill McKibben is part of the Letters to the Future campaign, a national effort to encourage people from all walks of life to write six generations into the future about climate change. The campaign puts a spotlight on the importance of world leaders agreeing to a global climate treaty at COP21 in Paris.

Dear Descendants,

The first thing to say is, sorry. We were the last generation to know the world before full-on climate change made it a treacherous place. That we didn’t get sooner to work slowing it down is our great shame, and you live with the unavoidable consequences.

That said, I hope that we made at least some difference. There were many milestones in the fight—Rio, Kyoto, the debacle at Copenhagen. By the time the great Paris climate conference of 2015 rolled around, many of us were inclined to cynicism.

And our cynicism was well-taken. The delegates to that convention, representing governments that were still unwilling to take more than baby steps, didn’t really grasp the nettle. They looked for easy, around-the-edges fixes, ones that wouldn’t unduly alarm their patrons in the fossil fuel industry.

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