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Fish 0817wrp optA school of Jack fish. (Photo: Woei Ling Ng)We know that the massive amount of plastic that's continually dumped into our oceans can end up in the stomachs of marine species (and ultimately on our plates), but why would they want to eat it?

Well, new research suggests that fish are not just accidentally gobbling up our plastic trash—they could be actively seeking it out because they like how the debris smells and are confusing it for their natural prey.

The study, published Wednesday in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, presents "the first behavioral evidence that plastic debris may be chemically attractive to marine consumers."

"These chemical cues may lure consumers, such as anchovy, into regions of high plastic density and activate foraging behaviors, thus making it difficult to ignore or reject plastic items as potential prey," the paper states.

As New Scientist explains from the study, when plastic enters the ocean, the debris gets quickly covered by algae and releases an odor similar to krill, the natural prey for certain fish such as anchovies. The smell of the plastics then sets off the anchovies' foraging and feeding behavior.

Thursday, 17 August 2017 07:00

Why Does North Korea Hate Us?

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NK 0817wrp optA statue in Pyongyang. (Photo: Tom Frohnhofer)And so we return to the Korean War, when North Korea was carpet-bombed to the edge of existence. The American media doesn't have a memory that stretches quite so far back, at least not under present circumstances. One commentator at MSNBC recently explained, for instance, that the tiny pariah nation "has been preparing for war for 63 years!"

That would be since, uh, 1954, the year after the war ended. But the war wasn't mentioned. It never is. Doing so would disrupt the consensus attitude that Kim Jong-Un is a nuclear-armed crazy and that North Korea's hatred of the United States is just . . . hatred, dark and bitter, the kind of rancor you'd expect from a communist dictatorship and certified member of the Axis of Evil.

And now Donald Trump is taunting the crazy guy, disrupting the U.S.-maintained normalcy of global relations and putting this country at risk. And that's almost always the focus: not the use of nuclear weapons per se, but the possibility that a North Korean nuke could reach the United States, as though American lives and "national security" mattered more than, or were separate from, the safety of the whole planet.

Indeed, the concept of national security justifies pretty much every action, however destructive and horrifically consequential in the long term. The concept justifies armed small-mindedness, which equals militarism. Apparently protecting national security also means forgetting the Korean War, or never facing the reality of what we did to North Korea from 1950 to 1953.

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Deut 0816wrp optFun with homophobes and the Bible. (Photo: Joe Wolf)What could be more Trump-esque then for a controversial, homophobic, climate change denying, anti-Catholic pastor, who once claimed that mothers do not belong in state office, to lead a White House Bible Study Group. Meet Pastor Ralph Drollinger. You might never have heard of him, but it's time to pay attention to Drollinger, who is leading, what he says, is the first White House Bible study among executive cabinet members in at least 100 years.

"It's the best Bible study that I've ever taught in my life," Drollinger told CBN News' Jennifer Wishon in an exclusive interview. "They are so teachable; they're so noble; they're so learned." Amongst regular attendees are Health Secretary Tom Price, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Agriculture Secretary Sunny Perdue, and CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

Vice-President Mike Pence is also a regular participant and Drollinger pointed out that "Pence has respect for the office. He dresses right — like it says Joseph cleaned himself up before he went to stand before the Pharaoh. [He] has uncompromising biblical tenacity and he has a loving tone about him that's not just a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And then fourthly, he brings real value to the head of the nation."

The Donald himself has not yet attended any of the sessions, but he apparently receives a copy of Drollinger's weekly teaching.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017 05:15

How War Pollutes the Potomac River

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Flotilla 0816wrpPeace flotilla. (Photo: David Swanson)The Pentagon's impact on the river on whose bank it sits is not simply the diffuse impact of global warming and rising oceans contributed to by the U.S. military's massive oil consumption. The U.S. military also directly poisons the Potomac River in more ways than almost anyone would imagine.

Let's take a cruise down the Potomac from its source in the mountains of West Virginia to its mouth at the Chesapeake Bay. The journey down this mighty waterway details six EPA Superfund sites created by the Pentagon's reckless disregard for the fragile ecosystem of the Potomac River watershed.

The U.S. Navy's Allegany Ballistics Laboratory in Rocket Center, West Virginia, 130 miles north of Washington, is a critical source of contamination in the Potomac River. The on-site disposal of explosive metals and solvent wastes contaminates soil and groundwater with hazardous chemicals. The groundwater and soil along the river are laced with explosives, dioxins, volatile organic compounds, acids, laboratory and industrial wastes, bottom sludge from solvent recovery, metal plating pretreatment sludge, paints, and thinners. The site also has a beryllium landfill. An active burning area is still used for waste disposal, sprinkling chemical dust over the river. It's not good.



childmindThe United States is not caring for all of its children. (Photo: Todd Huffman)

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Question One. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 14.8 percent or 46 million people are living in poverty in the US. How many of those people living in poverty are children?


A. 4 million

B. 8 million

C. 12 million

D. 14 million


Question Two. What percentage of children live in a poor family in the US?


A. 5 percent

B. 10 percent

C. 15 percent

D. 20 percent


James0814 wrp optJames O'Keefe (Artwork: Donkey Hotey)James O'Keefe, the discredited purveyor of criminal activities and pseudo journalism, who has been involved in undercover stings of ACORN, Democratic politicians, and other progressive/leftist enclaves, may be at it again. In a recent email, Gene Karpinski, President of the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), pointed out that "a group of right-wing imposters … assumed fake identities to attempt a 'sting' operation on our staff." While the undercover operation has O'Keefe's Modus Operandi written all over it, and two of the stingers have longtime ties to O'Keefe, it is unclear as of this writing whether the right-wing provocateur is involved.

The elaborate sting against LCV appears to indicate that merely denying climate change is not enough for right-wing groups; targeting environmental groups hoping to bait staffers into some inappropriate and scandal-worthy revelations is the latest tactic.

In a Press Release dated August 9, and titled "LCV TARGETED BY RIGHT WING OPERATIVES USING FAKE IDENTITIES" (their caps) the organization explained that it "recently discovered" it had been targeted by "extreme right-wing groups [that] used fake identities in order to meet with LCV staff and supporters–presumably in an effort to bait them into statements that could be doctored or taken out of context to undermine our work."

The League of Conservation Voters "has filed a complaint against three individuals who infiltrated its operations, at least two of whom, the group alleges, 'could be associated with' O'Keefe and have past ties to him, The New Yorker's Jane Mayer recently reported.


REV0814 wrp optThe writing on the wall. (Photo: Alan Levine)Some anniversaries are widely observed in the West: Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, Holocaust Memorial Day, the September 11 atrocities, and so on. Yet there are other undesirable anniversaries that have been largely disappeared.

1. US-backed forces overthrow Goulart in Brazil (1964)

Considering its vast size and abundant natural resources, Brazil should long have been one of Latin America's richest countries. Instead, it has been something of a horror story, as Brazilians have been repressed and brutalized across decades by military dictatorships. Brazil's plight strikes a common theme across a region of the world in which the great superpower, the United States, has sought to continually control. Brazil had especially come under the unblinking eye of the empire during the 1960s. US president Lyndon B. Johnson was hell-bent in ensuring such a massive country did not become "the China of the 1960s". Johnson was referring indiscreetly to Mao Zedong, a Communist revolutionary whose influence in China continued to rise.

US concern about Brazilian sympathies increased in the early part of that decade. In September 1961, left-wing nationalist Joao Goulart became the nation's democratically elected president, spreading panic in the liberal Kennedy administration. Goulart began implementing structural reforms in the South American country, that would help integrate the general population into society. The United States was loathe to sit helplessly by as this movement came within "our hemisphere", as President John F. Kennedy described it.


Dollar 0811wrp optAlan LevineThe self-described "Geniuses of Wall Street" are being stupid. Again.

In 2007, their stupid schemes and frauds crashed our economy, destroying middle-class jobs, wealth and opportunities. Far from getting punishment, however, these financial scofflaws were bailed out by their Washington enablers — so the moral lesson they learned was clear: Stupid pays!

Sure enough, only a decade later, here they come again! Rather than investing America's capital in real businesses to generate grassroots jobs and shared prosperity, Wall Street is siphoning billions of investment dollars into speculative nonsense — such as high-profit securities "secured" only by rickety bundles of subprime auto loans.

Car dealers, eager to goose up sales, have been hawking new vehicles to lower-income people, offering quick credit approval. Banks — eager to hook more people on monthly car payments — have been approving these subprime car loans without verifying the buyer's ability to pay. Then, a Wall Street bank's investment house buys up thousands of these iffy individual loans, bundles them into multimillion-dollar "debt securities," and sells them to wealthy global speculators. Last year alone, banks sold $26 billion-worth of these explosive bundles of car loans.

This is just another paper-shuffling con game, a repeat of Wall Street's subprime mortgage scam a decade ago. It generates fast, easy money at the start for superrich speculators and greedy banksters — but as more and more low-income buyers are unable to make their car payments, defaults build up and the whole financial bubble pops.

Not only does he have no patience with a military stalemate in Afghanistan -- "we aren't winning, we're losing" -- but he can't stand the fact that the shattered country's mineral wealth isn't in our hands.Not only does Trump have no patience with a military stalemate in Afghanistan, but he can't stand the fact that the shattered country's mineral wealth isn't in our hands. (Photo: US Army)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Donald Trump stands cluelessly at the edge of history, exemplifying everything wrong with the past, oh, 10,000 years or so.

The necessity for fundamental change in humanity's global organization is not only profound, but urgent.

Trump's latest outburst about North Korea's nukes -- threatening that country "with fire, fury, and frankly power the likes of which the world has never seen before" -- creates a comic book Armageddon scenario in the media, except, of course, his power to launch a nuclear war on impulse is real.

What this makes clear to me is that no one should have the authority -- the power -- to declare any war whatsoever. The fact that this is still possible, so many decades into human awareness of war's utter insanity, reveals the paradox that civilization remains economically tied to its own destruction.

Thursday, 10 August 2017 06:45

How Do We Get Our Voting Rights Back?

If enough states constituting a majority of the electors -- 270 -- sign on, it would guarantee the presidency goes to the candidate winning the most popular votes nationwide.If enough states constituting a majority of the electors -- 270 -- sign on to the National Popular Vote bill, it would guarantee the presidency goes to the candidate winning the most popular votes nationwide. (Photo: Keith Ivey)PATRICIA JACKSON FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Voter suppression is cloaked in many forms. Rev. William Barber, of the Moral Mondays Movement in North Carolina, understands voter suppression, "Voter suppression hacked our democracy long before any Russian agents meddled in America's elections." In 2013, the conservative-led Supreme Court eviscerated the 1965 Voting Rights Act and opened the gates for states to enact their own voter suppression laws. In a 5-to-4 vote, the Court gave nine states, mostly in the South, the power to change their election laws without prior advance federal approval. The approval clause in the act countered "Jim Crow" state and local laws. Since the 2013 Supreme Court ruling, a total of 34 states have laws requiring voters to show some form of identification at the polls. It takes us back to the "Jim Crow" days.

Additional voter suppression came with closures of early voting, the elimination of voting places, breakdowns in voting machines, and long waiting lines. On election day, 2016, states like Arizona, Texas, and North Carolina had 868 fewer polling places. Thirty-two new voter identification laws were in force by 2016, the first presidential election after the major change in our Voting Rights Act. Prior to the 2016 election, Samer Khalaf, the president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, expressed concern. "We are concerned that this year (2016) is going to be the worst year ever when it comes to voter suppression at the polls for Arab-Americans, Muslim Americans and those perceived to be either Arab or Muslim."

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