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LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

NoDAPL 0619wrp optA protest against the Dakota Access pipeline. Pax Ahimsa GethenEnergy Transfer Partners, the company behind the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline and the fracked gas Rover Pipeline, has quite the extensive spill history, a new analysis shows.

After crunching the numbers from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), TheStreet revealed that the Dallas-based company spilled hazardous liquids near water crossings more than twice the frequency of any other U.S. pipeline company this decade.

According to the report:

"The company has spilled hazardous liquids five times near water crossings since 2010 when PHMSA started collecting detailed data. The company's spills account for almost 20% of all hazardous liquid spills near water crossings since 2010, primarily because of a 55,000-gallon gasoline spill in 2016 near the Susquehanna River in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. TheStreet only included onshore spills in its analysis, and included subsidiary companies.

"Since 2010, the company has spilled hazardous liquids 204 times in all, ranking only behind Enterprise Products Partners LP (EPD) and Magellan Midstream Partners, LP MMP, according to TheStreet's tally."

Energy Transfer owns about 71,000 miles of natural gas, natural gas liquids, refined products and crude oil pipelines across the country.

KATHY KELLY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Yemen 0619wrp optHouse in Yemen destroyed by Saudi air strike. (Photo: Wikipedia Commons)On June 15, 2017, the New York Times reported that the government of Saudi Arabia aims to ease the concerns of some U.S. legislators over U.S. weapon sales to Saudi Arabia. The Saudis plan to engage in "a $750 million multiyear training program through the American military to help prevent the accidental killing of civilians in the Saudi-led air campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen." Since entering the war in Yemen, in March of 2015, the Saudi coalition's airstrikes, with U.S. assistance, have destroyedbridges, roads, factories, farms, food trucks, animals, water infrastructure, and agricultural banks across the north, while imposing a blockade on the territory. For a country heavily dependent on foreign food aid, that means starving the people. At least seven million people suffer now from severe acute malnourishment.  

U.S. assistance to the Saudi-led coalition has included providing weapons, sharing intelligence, targeting assistance, and aerial jet refueling.  "If they stop the refueling, that would stop the bombing campaign literally tomorrow," says Iona Craig, who frequently reports from Yemen, "because logistically the coalition would not be able to send their fighter jets in to carry out sorties without that help."

The U.S. has also provided "cover" for Saudi violations of international law. On October 27th, 2015, Saudi Arabia bombed a Yemeni hospital operated by Doctors Without Borders. The airstrike went on for two hours, reducing the hospital to rubble. Ban Ki Moon, then Secretary General of the UN, admonished the Saudi government for attacking a medical facility. The Saudis responded that the U.S. had similarly bombed a Doctors Without Borders hospital, in Afghanistan's Kunduz province, which indeed the U.S. had, earlier that same month, on October 3, 2015. The U.S. airstrikes continued, in fifteen minute intervals, for an hour, killing 42 people and likewise reducing the Doctors Without Borders hospital to rubble and ash.

GREG PALAST FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Georgia U.S. stateGeorgia state flag. (Image: Wikipedia)

In last week's Georgia's 8th Congerssional District debate, would-be Congresswoman Karen Handel took a momentary break from attacking her opponent, Jon Ossoff, to attack a reporter: me. Handel claimed, "a reporter supposedly representing some very liberal Democratic organization almost literally accosted me." 

In fact, is was a trio of galoots working for Handel who accosted me.

But who accosted whom is less important than Handel's promoting the dangerous new trend of attacking the press, sometimes physically, when questions are uncomfortable or challenging.

It all began with my investigation for Rolling Stone Magazine, printed just before the Presidential election, in which Georgia, and the 6th Congressional District, played a notable--and ugly--role.

I had discovered that Handel's successor as Secretary of State, Brian Kemp, had employed a sophisticated, under-the-radar trick that could simply wipe away minority voter registrations by the thousands. The trick is called, “Interstate Crosscheck.”

Crosscheck's operation is based on the claim, repeated as faith by President Donald Trump, that there are “millions” of voters registered in two states who vote twice in the same election.

While not one Georgian has been convicted of this crime -- voting twice is a felony – Secretary of State Kemp has been working through a target list of an astonishing 660,708 Georgians.

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Sungei 0616wrp optThe Sungei Buloh Wetlands, part of the Singapore Biosphere Reserve. (Photo: Calvin Teo)The U.S. has quietly withdrawn 17 sites from the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves program.

As first reported by National Geographic, the sites include a number of national forests, preserves and reserves from Alaska to the Virgin Islands (see list below). There were previously 47 biosphere reserves in the U.S.

The move was made during the International Coordinating Council of the Man and the Biosphere Programme meeting in Paris this week. Bulgaria also removed three sites.

"Prior to this year, a total of 18 sites had been removed from the program since 1997, by seven countries," National Geographic noted.

"It's not currently clear why the U.S. and Bulgaria asked to remove those sites: requests for comment have not yet been returned. In the past, sites were removed after countries were no longer able to meet the requirements of the program for protecting them."

Attorney General Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland.Attorney General Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt may have skipped the G7 climate meeting more than a day early, but he has certainly kept busy staffing his agency.

POLITICO reported that Pruitt has named energy industry attorney Patrick Traylor as a deputy in the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.

The office, which the Trump administration reportedly tried to cut, enforces key anti-pollution laws such as the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act to protect the environment and vulnerable communities.

Traylor, whose LinkedIn profile indicates he started the job in June, was a longtime partner of the international law firm Hogan Lovells and has represented companies owned by the Koch brothers and other energy industry giants.

The GOP's austere view is that getting treatment for your spouse's cancer should be like buying a new pair of shoes -- a free-market decision by customers who choose their own price point from high-dollar Neiman Marcus to barging-basement Dollar General. And some go barefoot... but, then that's their choice.The GOP's austere view is that getting treatment for your spouse's cancer should be like buying a new pair of shoes -- a free-market decision by customers who choose their own price point from high-dollar Neiman Marcus to barging-basement Dollar General.  (Photo: Pixabay)JIM HIGHTOWER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

When I think of freedom, I think of it in positive, aspirational terms -- our First Amendment freedoms, for example, or FDR's "Four freedoms" or the uplifting songs of freedom sung by oppressed people around the globe.

But right-wing, corporate-funded ideologues have fabricated a new negative notion of "freedoms" derived from individual choice. You're free to be poor, free to be politically powerless or free to be ill and uncared for -- it's all a matter of decisions you freely make in life, and our larger society has no business interfering with your free will.

This is what passes for a philosophical framework behind many of the policies of today's Republican congressional leaders. For example, they say their plan to eliminate health coverage for millions of Americans and do away with such essential health benefits as maternity care for millions more is just a matter of good 'ol free-market consumerism. As explained by Jason Chaffetz, a Utah tea party Republican, "Americans have choices. And so maybe, rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and they want to go spend hundreds of dollars on that, maybe they should invest in their own health care."

Wednesday, 14 June 2017 07:36

New Coal Mine Opens, Employs Just 70 People

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Miners 0614wrp optCoal miners. (Photo: Jack Corn)Is this what Donald Trump meant when he campaigned on being the "greatest jobs president that God ever created"?

The president celebrated the 70 whole jobs created by the Acosta mine in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, the nation's newest coal mine.

"When I ended the 'war on coal,' I said I would put our incredible miners—and that's what you are, incredible—back to work," Trump said after the mine opened last Thursday, likely forgetting that his budget slashes 40 percent, or about $1 billion, from federal job training programs.

Corsa Coal Company CEO George Dethlefsen said 400 people applied for the 70 positions available at the new mine.

Dethlefsen said the mine will help the area's struggling economy but as Quartz pointed out that's "significantly fewer than the 92 jobs created by the opening of one American supermarket on average."

Most of the coal isn't even staying in the country. According to PennLive, "as for where the coal ultimately ends up, as much as 85 percent could be exported overseas to make steel in countries such as South Korea, Turkey, Egypt and Brazil, Corsa officials say."

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Kerr 0614wrp optGolden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr. (Photo: Keith Allison)If the Golden State Warriors are invited to Donald Trump's White House, will they go? In the wee hours of Tuesday morning, after having won the 2016-17 National Basketball Association Championship, acknowledging the love of their fans at Oakland's Oracle Arena, and spritzing themselves with champagne, Downtown Josh Brown issued an un-sourced tweet claiming that the Warriors had made a "unanimous" decision not to go to the White House if invited. While several team members and coach Steve Kerr have been outspoken in their criticisms of Trump, it appears that no such decision was made. An early morning statement from the team read:“Today is about celebrating our championship. We have not received an invitation to the White House, but will make those decisions, when and if necessary.”

Since assuming office in January, Trump has hosted Super Bowl champion New England Patriots – albeit with several players refusing to attend for political reasons -- and Clemson University, the NCAA football champion. (In 2015, the team met with President Obama at the White House in what turned into a highly spirited, fun-filled, and glorious championship celebration.)

If the Warriors turned down an invitation to the White House, it would not be surprising.

"I have no idea what kind of president he'll be because he hasn't said anything about what he's going to do," Warrior coach Steve Kerr said shortly after the election. "We don't know. But it's tough when you want there to be some respect and dignity, and there hasn't been any. And then you walk into a room with your daughter and your wife who have basically been insulted by his comments and they're distraught. Then you walk in and see the faces of your players, most of them who have been insulted directly as minorities, it's very shocking. It really is."

JOHN GEYMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

acha300Are the Republicans about to self-destruct on health care insurance? (Photo: CommScope)

Republicans in Congress and the Trump administration have boxed themselves into a corner on health care. Whatever they do, they will be blamed for inevitable increases in costs of health care, growing instability of health care markets, and escalating public backlash over their policies or lack thereof.

President Trump and congressional Republicans are not on the same page. Trump has found health care to be more complicated than he ever imagined, revealing his ignorance of the issues, but keeps pressuring Congress to pass a repeal and replace the ACA on an urgent basis, with little awareness of what that might entail. As he tries to assure us that the GOP’s resulting “plan” will bring access to care to everyone, at lower cost, and be “amazing,” Republicans in the Senate are coming to grips with what to do with the narrowly passed House bill, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which after receiving it, they vowed to start again from scratch.

Republicans have four basic choices at this point, none of them good.

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

TunnelFlood 0612wrp optThe Brooklyn Tunnel after Superstorm Sandy. (Photo: MTA of NYC)Climate change isn't just causing glaciers to melt, sea levels to rise and forests to set fire. It has becoming increasingly evident that Earth's rising temperatures also threatens international security.

In fact, an analysis released Friday by the Center for Climate and Security has identified 12 "epicenters," or categories, where the world's rising temperatures could trigger major global conflict.

"Any one of the climate and security epicenters can be disruptive," said Caitlin Werrell, co-president of the Center for Climate and Security and editor of the report, Epicenters of Climate and Security: The New Geostrategic Landscape of the Anthropocene. "Taken together, however, these epicenters can present a serious challenge to international security as we understand it."

The categories include eroding state sovereignty, low-lying nations going underwater, as well as the disruption in the global coffee trade that employs 125 million people worldwide.

Previous studies have identified how terrorist groups in certain regions are taking advantage of increasingly scarce natural resources such as water and food as a "weapon of war." Additionally, a U.S. military report from 2014 called climate change a "catalyst for conflict" and a "threat multiplier." President Obama once said that "no challenge poses a great threat than climate change, and it's an "immediate risk to our national security."

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