Facebook Slider
Optional Member Code
Get News Alerts!
Guest Commentary

Guest Commentary (4368)

2015.26.10 BF Odendahl(Photo: Karen Simmons)TERRY ODENDAHL OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

At age 13, I participated in civil rights marches and other activities. A few years later I was also active in anti-war marches and events. By the time I was 16, I helped lead a protest at my high school, which ended with a ceremonial tree-planting on the first Earth Day in 1970. I was fortunate because my family supported and encouraged my activism, as they have throughout my career.

As I look toward our planet’s future, I reflect on numerous examples from our past, in which young generations not only helped lead, but also provided the main spark that forced older decision-makers to push through change. The 1960s and ’70s in the U.S. are one big example. The Berliners tearing down the wall in 1989 is another. The Arab Spring in 2010/11 changed that corner of the world forever. And more recently, the rise of 350.org and its mass mobilization of young people, which included the People’s Climate March in New York in 2014, is a big new force in the fight to address climate change.

It’s clear that if we want change, we need to not only watch and listen to young people, but also embrace and support them to help create the change our planet needs. If the leaders at COP21 in Paris don’t get this message, they are simply missing the boat.

2015.26.10 BF Buchheit(Photo: Tax Credits)PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Rating capitalist despicability is a daunting task with Big Pharma and High Finance in the running, but Higher Ed's betrayal of a century-old trust with young Americans vaults it toward the top of the list.

Since 1862 public colleges had been expected to serve primarily as a means for the American people to achieve an inexpensive college education, and to benefit from academic research. The 1980 Bayh-Dole Act changed it all. It freed public universities from releasing new research discoveries to the public, allowing them instead to patent the results and make licensing deals with private companies. The University of California, anticipating big agri-business subsidies, took full advantage in 2013, siding with Monsanto in a lawsuit against a farmer who was accused of stealing the company's seed. The farmer lost. And universities became more deeply entrenched in the capitalist world.

COLE MELLINO OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaPoletoparis2(Photo: EcoWatch)You might have heard of Yeb Sano, the former climate change negotiator who became a climate activist after he got fed up with the slow progress of the UN climate conferences. His latest action involves walking from Rome to Paris ahead of the UN talks in Paris, COP21, to draw attention for the need to act on climate change.

Now, another group of people are kicking it up a notch and have decided to run and bike from the North and South Poles to Paris.

The group writes on its blog:

The 12,000 km [about 7,500 miles] long Southern Cycle follows Dr. Daniel Price, specialist in Antarctic climate, on his way from New Zealand to Paris. From the North, Dr. Erlend Moster Knudsen, specialist in Arctic climate, takes on the lead of the 3,000 km [1,800 miles] long Northern Run. Their team members Beth Ward and Oria Jamar de Bolsée join in the run throughout the UK, Belgium and France. They bring with them flags from the two Polar Regions—the regions where the fastest signs of climate change are now observed.

The team from the North started running from the tip of Norway a few weeks ago and crossed the Scottish border yesterday.

Thursday, 22 October 2015 09:02

Reasons Killer Whales Should Not Be Captive

2015.22.10 BF CHow(Photo: Alan Wolf)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

A disturbing new video of a SeaWorld San Diego orca too “depressed” to nurse her calf is going viral, and has once again shined a spotlight on the controversial practice of keeping killer whales in captivity.

The footage shows Orca Research Trust founder and marine biologist Ingrid Visser and former SeaWorld trainer John Hargrove observing a mother orca named Kasatka and her 2-year-old calf Makani at the ocean park’s orca facility, the Huffington Post reports.

The two observe signs of “stereotypic behavior,” such as the mother orca staring at the bottom of a concrete wall and ignoring her baby’s repeated head-bumps to get fed. They add that Makani’s constant nudging for food has left a bruise on the mother’s stomach.

“That head-bump is a precursor to nursing,” Hargrove says in the video.

“The calf is constantly trying to get food, so desperately hungry, so bored,” Visser says. “It’s a stereotypic behavior.”

Thursday, 22 October 2015 06:50

Bernie Sanders and the "Washington Consensus"

2015.22.10 BF KOEHLER(Photo: Brookings Institution)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Political wisdom always has a sharp, cynical edge. You can’t utter it without feeling the throb of ancient wounds.

For instance: “If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.”

Emma Goldman’s observation nestled into my subconscious decades ago, and each presidential go-around aggravates it with new intensity. The Washington consensus never changes. The mainstream media shills never cease their efforts to bully all seriousness — all reality — out of the process. And money and militarism silently, invisibly rule, no matter who wins.

The alleged result of this is an entrenched public complacency, as Americans settle for techno-consumerism as a substitute for participation in real, political life and a voice in who we are as a nation. Beyond our shores . . . whatever. Empires will be empires. What can you do?

COLE MELLINO OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaDalaiLama(Photo: Rédacteur Tibet)The Dalai Lama urged strong climate action today “to limit global warming and to protect fragile environments, including the Himalayan glaciers and Tibetan plateau,” reports the AP. As world leaders prepare to meet in Paris for the COP21 UN Climate Change Summit, the Dalai Lama created a video message for the world.

“This is not a question of one nation or two nations. This is a question of humanity. Our world is our home,” the Dalai Lama told AP. “There’s no other planet where we may move or shift.”

“Temperatures for Tibet’s high-altitude plateau—referred to as the Roof of the World—are rising about three times faster than the global average, and are 1.3 degrees Celsius higher than they were 50 years ago,” reports AP. The Tibetan plateau is also referred to as the Third Pole because it has the largest store of ice outside of the North and South poles, according to Reuters.

The importance of the Tibetan plateau cannot be understated, “with some 40 percent of the world’s freshwater locked into the frozen Himalayan glaciers and feeding seven major rivers that run through China, Nepal, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh,” says AP. The Dalai Lama told Reuters that “two-thirds of the glaciers in their mountain homeland may disappear by 2050.”

WILLIAM RIVERS PITT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaBrain(Photo: A pyramidal neuron in the brain)OK, listen ... and please bear with me because I am quite literally writing this with two fingers because my hands hurt. No worries. I'm drunk on cool water and old memories. I'm too old for any of that other nonsense.

I am here to make a simple point. You - yes, you, even the teenagers I know are reading this because I am blessed with a broad spectrum of readers, which is the whole point of the enterprise - will reach a day, who knows when, but it it's out there lurking like a leopard, you will reach a day - and mark my words, this is gospel truth - when you know, not suspect, not fear, not wonder about, not imagine in the dark of your own personal night, I mean know - KNOW, in the horror of flat no-BS truth that there are more years behind you than ahead of you, and lost time is a roar in your ears, and you wince within the fiber of your being again, because you are a jerk, because you didn't appreciate all that this life gave you to the hilt, to the sinew and bone.

To the bone, friends.

I have the gift of photographic memory. My first and oldest friend can attest to this. I have said that one of the prizes you win as an only child is that you get to choose your brothers and sisters. He was my first brother, his family raised me as if I was one of their own, and I remember everything.

On the sadly rare occasions we meet up again, I unspool detailed stories about dark nights in very strange places. He always says the same thing - "How the (expletive) do you remember all that (expletive)?" - whenever I uncork a memory from the maintenance shed where his family rode out their winters, or the night I comforted him when I found him just before dawn weeping silently in the bathroom because he was the youngest of six, and was worried his aging parents were going to die. I held him that night, my dear brother, sitting on the toilet seat in a building that ceased to exist 30 years ago, and we went to his parents' funerals together in the fullness of time, but not before I stood Best Man at his wedding.

... and when he or any of the others I have chosen to call my brothers and sisters ask how I remember all this mundane, lost, minuscule stuff, I always give the same reply: They matter. They are what makes the DNA of a life. They're weird. Best of all, they're absolutely true ... and I remember everything. It is my blessing. It is my curse. It Is.

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaAssisi(Photo: St. Francis of Assisi renounces his worldly goods in a painting attributed to Giotto di Bondone)In 1964, President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the landmark Civil Rights Act into law, and launched the War on Poverty. A year later, the predominantly African American Watts neighborhood in Los Angeles erupted in violence not seen in decades; thirty-four lives were lost and more than a thousand people were injured. In some urban centers, uprisings were becoming more frequent. With the expansion of the Vietnam War causing Johnson’s War on Poverty to be largely tossed by the wayside, a report titled “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action,” written by Daniel Patrick Moynihan -- then a high ranking official in the Department of Labor – was leaked to the press.

The Moynihan Report, as it commonly came to be known, was an attempt to examine the cycle of poverty. It declared that “the fundamental problem … is that of family structure,” concluding that “the Negro family in the urban ghetto is crumbling.” The report was greeted by a firestorm of criticism, with some critics suggesting that the report’s language was overly alarming, its data misinterpreted, and its conclusions oversimplified.

It wasn’t until the mid-1980s that the Report gained a greater measure of acceptance when such esteemed sociologists as William Julius Wilson, controversial writers like Charles Murray, and others began to embrace it. Since that time – especially in light of the Report’s fiftieth anniversary -- more often than not, many on both sides of the political spectrum have venerated Moynihan’s work.

For a limited time only, any donation you make to Truthout will be doubled thanks by a matching grant offer. Pitch in now to help Truthout and BuzzFlash survive!

Susan Greenbaum, professor emerita of anthropology at the University of South Florida, and a longtime community activist in Tampa, Florida, has a markedly different take on the Moynihan Report. The Report, Greebaum writes in her new book titled “Blaming The Poor: The Long Shadow of the Moynihan Report on Cruel Images About Poverty” (Rutgers University Press, 2015), “reflected the liberal end of a growing backlash against increasingly belligerent protest and unease with a revolution against traditional thinking about racial differences and the alleged deficiencies of poor people.”

Tuesday, 20 October 2015 07:40

Obama Cancels Arctic Drilling Leases

NIEL LAWRENCE OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaArcticBears(Photo: Chief Yeoman Alphonso Braggs, US-Navy)It just keeps getting better and better for the Arctic. First, Shell Oil pulled the plug on its horrific current drilling effort there two weeks ago.

Now the Obama administration has taken its first concrete steps to reduce future threats. Yesterday, it cancelled new lease sales scheduled for next year and 2017 in our Polar Bear Seas—the Chukchi and Beaufort—off the north Alaskan coast. And just said “No” to extension requests from Shell and others holding existing leases in the region.

This is big. Up to now, the federal government has treated Arctic Ocean drilling as a done deal. As recently as last May, the President tweeted: “we can’t prevent oil exploration completely in region.”

His administration focused on excluding some high value areas and saying drilling would be subject to high standards. It tentatively proposed to allow more leasing in the Arctic Ocean (and the Atlantic) after 2017.

But the tide has changed. Shell made a spectacle of itself, rushing to drill. Mother Nature asserted herself. Human error propagated in the harsh conditions.

Kayaktivists spotlighted Arctic drilling as a climate issue—rightly, because huge new investments in dirty fuels can’t be harmonized with accelerating the shift to a clean energy future.

PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaecinjuFour years after the Occupy uprising, economic inequality in the United States continues to soar. (Photo: Coco Curranski)

 

Bernie Sanders showed his outrage about inequality at the Democratic Debate, and more and more Americans are understanding his message. Indignation is likely to grow with new data from the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook, which reveals the wealthy elite's continuing disdain for the poor, for the middle class, and for people all around the world. 

Some of the most troubling disparities are hidden in the myriad tables of this remarkably comprehensive publication. The purpose here is to translate the numbers into wealth gap realities that victimize the great majority of Americans. Details can be viewed at You Deserve Facts


1. At the Bottom: Of the Half-Billion Poorest Adults in the World, One out of Ten is an American

That seems impossible, with so many extremely poor countries, and it requires a second look at the data, and then a third look. But it's true. In the world's poorest decile (bottom 10%), one out of ten are Americans, many of whom are burdened with so much debt that any remnant of tangible wealth is negated. Other nations have high debt, most notably in Europe, but without an excessive burden on their poorest citizens. 

Incredibly, then, nearly 50 million of America's 243 million adults are part of the world's poorest 10%. In contrast, over 110 million American adults are among the world's richest 10%.  

Page 9 of 312