Facebook Slider
Optional Member Code
Get News Alerts!
Guest Commentary

Guest Commentary (4497)

Trump speaking in Arizona(Photo: Gage Skidmore)BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

BuzzFlash isn't funded by corporate advertising, but by readers like you. Can you help sustain this critically important work with a tax-deductible donation?

We recently wrote about the dilemma facing conservative evangelical Christian leaders over Donald Trump candidacy. Will they actively support Trump, and encourage their supporters to vote for him? Will they stay home? Will they support a third party candidate? Rob Boston, director of communications for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and Frederick Clarkson, a senior fellow at the Massachusetts-based Political Research Associates, two longtime observers of, and writers about the religious right maintained that when push comes to shove, most of the movement's leaders would eventually come around. Well, on June 21, dozens of religious right leaders will be coming around to New York City for a meet-up with "the Donald."

The event, "A Conversation About America's Future with Donald Trump and Ben Carson," is being sponsored by United in Purpose, My Faith Votes, Global Fund Group, FCCI, Vision America, AFA Action and the Family Research Council, and may be one of the largest gatherings of anti-gay, and anti-abortion religious leaders in quite some time.

According to Time magazine's Elizabeth Dias, "Former presidential candidate Ben Carson is working with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, and Bill Dallas, who leads United in Purpose, to plan a closed-door session for about 400 social conservative leaders to meet with Trump in the coming weeks in New York City. A broader steering group of about 20 people includes people like American Values president Gary Bauer, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, and Family Leader president Bob Vander Plaats.

mushroom cloud(Photo: The Official CTBTO Photostream)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

This BuzzFlash commentary could not have been published without the support of our dedicated readers. Ensure that we can publish more stories like this one by donating now!

"Look, nuclear should be off the table. But would there be a time when it could be used? Possibly, possibly . . ."

This is -- who else? -- Donald Trump, flexing, you might say, his nuclear trigger finger in an interview with Chris Matthews, who responds in alarm:

"OK. The trouble is, when you said that, the whole world heard it. David Cameron in Britain heard it. The Japanese, where we bombed them in '45, heard it. They're hearing a guy running for president of the United States talking of maybe using nuclear weapons. Nobody wants to hear that about an American president."

"Then why," Trump shoots back in all his politically incorrect, rattle-the-establishment naïveté, "are we making them? Why do we make them?"

Uh . . .

Wednesday, 25 May 2016 13:23

How to Feed the World as the Planet Warms

DR. DAVID SUZUKI OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Earth 0525wrp opt(Photo: NASA)Calculating farming’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions is difficult, but experts agree that feeding the world’s people has tremendous climate and environmental impacts. Estimates of global emissions from farms range widely. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency puts them at 24 percent, including deforestation, making agriculture the second-largest emitter after heat and electricity.

Agriculture contributes to global warming in a number of ways. Methane and nitrous oxide, which are more potent than CO2 but remain in the atmosphere for shorter times, make up about 65 percent of agricultural emissions. Methane comes mainly from cattle and nitrous oxide from fertilizers and wastes.

According to the World Resources Institute, “Smaller sources include manure management, rice cultivation, field burning of crop residues and fuel use on farms.” Net emissions are also created when forests and wetlands are cleared for farming, as these “carbon sinks” usually absorb and store more carbon than the farms that replace them. Transporting and processing agricultural products also contribute to global warming.

We need to eat. So what’s the answer? That obesity is epidemic in parts of the world while people starve elsewhere and that an estimated one-third of food gets wasted, shows improving distribution and reducing waste are good places to start—but won’t be enough to significantly curtail agriculture’s contribution to climate change.

Reducing meat and animal-product consumption and production—especially beef—would cut emissions, but wouldn’t get us all the way.

JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Uber 0525wrp(Photo: Guilhem Vellut)Pouty, whiney, spoiled-bratism is not nice coming from a four-year-old — but it's grotesque when it comes from billion-dollar corporate elites like Uber and Lyft.

The two internet-based ride-hiring brats call themselves "ridesharing" companies, but that's a deceit, for they don't share anything — their business model relies on folks needing a ride to hire a driver through the corporations' apps. With the bulk of the fare going to out-of-town corporate hedge funders.

The tow outfits have swaggered into cities all across our country, insisting that they're innovative, tech-driven geniuses. As such, they consider themselves above the fusty old laws that other transportation companies, like taxis, follow. So Uber and Lyft have made it a corporate policy to throw hissy fits when cities — from Los Angeles to Atlanta, Houston to Portland — have dared even to propose that they obey rules to protect customers and drivers.

The latest tantrum from the California giants happened in Austin, when the city council there adopted a few modest, perfectly-reasonable rules, despite the screams of PR flacks from both outfits. The petulant duo then used fibs and high-pressure tactics to get enough signatures on petitions to force a special election to overturn the council's action. Naturally, being brats, they gave the city an ultimatum — "Vote our way or we will leave town" — and assumed that Austin's tech-savvy voters would flock to do whatever the popular ride-sharing service wanted.

But they picked the wrong city. First, they ran a campaign of blatant lies, as though Austinites wouldn't question them. Then, they shoved a sickening level of corporate cash into their campaign, apparently thinking that the sheer tonnage of ads would win the day for them. However, the slicks from California turned out to be uber-goobers. Despite spending $9 million (more than the combined spending of all city council candidates in the past decade), they went down, 56-to-44 percent.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016 08:21

Bill Nye: Climate Deniers Are Wrong

Bill Nye at lecture(Photo: US Embassy Tokyo)BILL NYE OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Make your voice heard! Readers like you are the sustaining force behind BuzzFlash and Truthout -- show your support by making a tax-deductible donation today!

As you may know, I am very concerned about global warming and global climate change. The science of global warming is long settled, and one may wonder why the U.S., nominally the most technologically advanced country in the world, is not the world leader in addressing the threats enumerated by the U.S. military, the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and others. I hope people will take the facts we face into account as they head to the polls this year.

The ocean is warming and expanding. This effect alone will displace millions of people. The effects on agriculture, water supplies, and weather patterns will create a great many problems for a great many of us. By my reckoning, our delay and the reluctance of conservative presidential candidates to embrace the problem and discuss it is a result of the diligent effort of a handful of climate change deniers. They have been especially successful at introducing the idea that routine predictive uncertainty, e.g. plus or minus two percent, is somehow the same as plus or minus one hundred percent. It isn't, and the deniers are wrong.

Hemp scarf(Photo: Theo Wright)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

BuzzFlash is ad-free because of sustaining support from readers like you. Help keep independent media strong by making a tax-deductible donation today!

Outdoor clothing company Patagonia has released a new short film to advocate for the legalization of industrial hemp in the U.S.

The multipurpose plant, which has been used for centuries to make rope, textiles, foods, personal care products and more, became a controversial substance in 1937 due to the "Marihuana Tax Act," which basically lumped hemp with marijuana and made it illegal to grow even though the former has no psychoactive properties. Hemp is listed as a federal Schedule 1 drug in the Controlled Substances Act.

However, there are plenty of reasons why industrial hemp should be legalized, from its substantial health benefits to its potential to lower the environmental impacts of textile production. Also this: In 2016 alone, the U.S. will import an estimated $500 million in products made from the cash crop.

KEN KIMMELL ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Reposted with Permission of the Union of Concerned Scientists 

Fraud 0523wrp opt(Photo: Union of Concerned Scientists)On Wednesday, I received a letter signed by thirteen members of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. In my thirty years as an attorney, public official, and now UCS President, I have never seen anything quite like it. The letter states that the House Science Committee is “conducting oversight of a coordinated attempt to deprive companies, non-profit organizations and scientists of their First Amendment rights.” This sounds like an oversight effort UCS could support—but for what follows.

The representatives are requesting “all documents and communications” between UCS and state attorneys general and between UCS and other NGOs related to our work to hold oil and gas companies accountable for deception. Apparently, these elected representatives believe that UCS and others have infringed on the free speech rights of fossil fuel companies such as ExxonMobil.

How? By sharing information with these attorneys general about whether ExxonMobil and others misled the public about the dangers of climate change, and by explaining how climate change caused by burning fossil fuels is harming people and places in their states.

You know what else this tells me? The campaign to hold companies accountable is working.

How absurd is this request?

Let’s start with the premise of the letter—that the free speech rights of companies such as ExxonMobil are violated by an investigation. This is nonsense. No company has a First Amendment right to knowingly provide misinformation about the harm associated with its product (in this case the emissions of heat trapping gases from the combustion of fossil fuels). And attorneys general have every right to investigate whether the companies’ actions amounted to an actionable fraud.

In fact, the letter itself compromises the First Amendment rights of the Union of Concerned Scientists and the other recipients of this letter.

PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Sledge 0523wrp(Photo: M.T. Richardson)As often noted in the passionate writings of Henry Giroux, poor Americans are becoming increasingly 'disposable' in our winner-take-all society. After 35 years of wealth distribution to the super-rich, inequality has forced much of the middle class towards the bottom, to near-poverty levels, and to a state of helplessness in which they find themselves being blamed for their own misfortunes.

The evidence keeps accumulating: income and wealth -- and health -- are declining for middle-class America. As wealth at the top grows, the super-rich feel they have little need for the rest of society.

Income Plummets for the Middle Class

According to Pew Research, in 1970 three of every ten income dollars went to upper-income households. Now five of every ten dollars goes to them.

The Social Security Administration reports that over half of Americans make less than $30,000 per year. That's less than an appropriate average living wage of $16.87 per hour, as calculated by Alliance for a Just Society.

Wealth Collapses for Half of Us

Numerous sources report that half or more of American families have virtually no savings, and would have to borrow money or sell possessions to cover an emergency expense. Between half and two-thirds of Americans have less than $1,000.

For every $100 owned by a middle-class household in 2001, that household now has just $72.

Not surprisingly, race plays a role in the diminishing of middle America. According to Pew Research, the typical black family has only enough liquid savings to last five days, compared to 12 days for the typical Hispanic household, and 30 days for a white household.

Friday, 20 May 2016 07:31

Will Vegans Save the World?

DR. DAVID SUZUKI OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Vegan 0520wrp opt(Photo: EcoWatch)Will vegans save the world? Reading comments under climate change articles or watching the film Cowspiracy make it seem they’re the only ones who can. Cowspiracy boldly claims veganism is “the only way to sustainably and ethically live on this planet.” But, as with most issues, it’s complicated.

It’s true, though, that the environment and climate would benefit substantially if more people gave up or at least cut down on meat and animal products, especially in over-consuming Western societies. Animal agriculture produces huge amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, consumes massive volumes of water and causes a lot of pollution.

But getting a handle on the extent of environmental harm, as well as the differences between various agricultural methods and types of livestock and balancing that with possible benefits of animal consumption and agriculture isn’t simple.

Estimates of how much animal agriculture adds to greenhouse gases range widely, from about 14 to more than 50 percent of total global emissions. Agriculture exacerbates climate change in a number of ways. Clearing carbon sinks such as forests to grow or raise food can result in net greenhouse gas increases. Farming, especially on an industrial scale, also requires fossil fuel–burning machinery, as does processing and transporting agricultural products.

Determining the overall contribution is complicated by the fact that livestock agriculture accounts for about 9 percent of human-caused CO2 emissions but far greater amounts of other greenhouse gases, which are worse in many ways but less dangerous in others.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, livestock farming produces 65 percent of human-related nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the global warming potential as CO2. It also contributes “37 percent of all human-induced methane (23 times as warming as CO2), which is largely produced by the digestive system of ruminants and 64 percent of ammonia, which contributes significantly to acid rain.” But methane stays in the atmosphere for about 12 years and nitrous oxide for about 114, while CO2 remains for thousands of years.

microplastics found in most toiletries(Photo: Oregon State University)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Make your voice heard! Readers like you are the sustaining force behind BuzzFlash and Truthout -- show your support by making a tax-deductible donation today!

Microplastics, the scourge of beaches, oceans, waterways and aquatic life worldwide, might also be polluting the air we breathe, according to environmental health experts.

The Guardian reported that a research team at King’s College in London is looking into the issue.

"There is a possibility, a real possibility, that some of those microparticles will be entrained into the air, and they will be carried around and we will end up breathing them," said Frank Kelly, a researcher and professor of environmental health at King’s College, at an evidence session at the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) in the UK.

Page 1 of 322