Guest Commentary (4292)
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The central assumption of democracy - beyond the assumption of fair elections, which is disturbingly questionable - is that voters are the possessors of their own “interests,” and vote for the candidate most sympathetic to them.
But of course those interests are fair game for advertising, bombast and propaganda - and the psychology of fear.
Thus, not only are candidates capable of misrepresenting their support of people’s interests, even more insidiously, they engage baldly in manipulating them. This is a game that turns the endless presidential campaign season, especially as it is conveyed to us in the mainstream media, into little more than a mish-mash of clashing sound bites: full of sound and fury, you might say, but signifying nothing, or at least nothing much.
The two-party system, which comes to us courtesy of Big Money and is taken so seriously by the media - as seriously as any advertising campaign takes itself - is, essentially, a race to seize control over the nation’s collective reptile brain.
Let’s make America great again!
Welcome to the 2016 presidential campaign, underway well over a year ahead of time and already devolving into cartoonish absurdity, thanks to the loudmouth billionaire who leads the Republican fray.
Wenonah Hauter of Ecowatch on BuzzFlash at Truthout
Today the Obama Administration released proposed regulations to directly regulate methane leaks from the oil and gas industry. If adopted, these regulations would wrongly promote natural gas as a “clean” alternative to oil and coal. These weak regulations leave the impression that pursuing natural gas benefits the environment, providing a justification for continuing to drill and frack.
Besides contaminating water and causing earthquakes, drilling and fracking for gas is impacting the global climate.
ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUTDR. VANDANA SHIVA AT
Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch
There is no reason why India should face hunger and malnutrition and why our farmers should commit suicide. India is blessed with the most fertile soils in the world. Our climate is so generous we can, in places, grow four crops in a year—compared to the industrialized west where sometimes only one crop is possible per year. We have the richest biodiversity of the world, both because of our diverse climates and because of the brilliance of our farmers as breeders. Our farmers are among the most hardworking, productive people in the world. Yet India faces an emergency, in our food and agricultural system. This emergency is man-made.
Firstly, the poor and vulnerable are dying for lack of food. According to the Deccan Herald, Lalita S. Rangari, 36, a Dalit widow and mother of two children of the Gondiya tribal belt, allegedly died due to starvation. Justice Bhushan Gavai and Justice Indu Jain of the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court have served notice to the government of Maharashtra seeking its reply to the starvation death of a Dalit widow.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
If you think America's culture wars are only taking place over such hot-button issues of health care, gay rights, abortion, and/or religious freedom, think again. Unbeknownst to those of us who are neither regular readers of speculative fiction nor follow it in the blogosphere, for a short time awhile back it looked like the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) might fall into the hands of an ultra-conservative culture warrior. It didn't. However, culture war battles – particularly as related to gender and social justice issues – have found a new front; the prestigious Hugo Awards,
This week, the Hugos - awards given annually for the best science fiction or fantasy works and achievements - will be announced. Given out annually since 1955, the awards were originally called the Science Fiction Achievement Awards until 1992, and then they were renamed for Hugo Gernsback, the founder of the science fiction magazine Amazing Stories.
Like just about any awards ceremony, controversy is guaranteed.
This year, however, the controversy over the Hugo awards may have reached a tipping point, as a well-organized conservative-minded group called the "Sad Puppies," and their allies, dominate the Hugo nominations.
First, a few not-so-secret confessions: I have never seen Star Trek or Star Wars; I haven't read much science fiction, fantasy novels or short stories (except for those written by the late Kurt Vonnegut, Shirley Jackson, and my second cousin Michael Greenhut); I have great respect, and admiration, for Rod Sterling and have probably seen just about every Twilight Zone episode ever made; and, finally, I am a fan of HBO's Game of Thrones. In short I am not an expert on the genre or sub-genre or even micro-genre.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
I am thinking about Elliott Abrams, the neoconservative former advisor to both the Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush administrations, and a great line from a song by Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks has popped into my head: "How can I miss you if you won't go away?" In a strange way, it is almost comforting to read Abrams' recent accusations in The Weekly Standard that President Barack Obama, with his advocacy for the Iran nuclear deal, is "feeding a deep line of anti-Semitism." In critiquing the president's speeches on the issue, Abrams wrote: "The president ... must know that he is here feeding a deep line of anti-Semitism that accuses American Jews of getting America into wars."
One expects nothing less from Abrams, who, over the years has worked assiduously to torpedo diplomatic efforts on several continents.
With this accusation of anti-Semitism, Abrams has joins a gaggle of Iran deal-snuffers who are throwing off their rhetorical shackles: Writing for the Jewish magazine Tablet, Lee Smith, a senior editor at the Weekly Standard and a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, claimed Obama is "hinting broadly at anti-Semitic conceits — like dual loyalties, moneyed interests, Jewish lobby" and calling his opponents "dual loyalists who are willing to send Americans out to make war on behalf of Jewish causes"; in a not so subtle reference to the Holocaust, Mike Huckabee, Republican Party presidential hopeful, maintained that the president's deal would "take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven"; Eli Lake, a Bloomberg View columnist, recently wrote that Obama's "dog whistling" supporters who harbor fears of "the power of a bunch of disloyal bureaucrats eager to shed American blood for Israel"; Wall Street Journal editorial-page columnist Bret Stephens has charged Obama with exploiting anti-Semitism.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
“Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith . . .”
What if words like this actually meant something?
This is Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which the United States signed in 1970. It continues: “. . . on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”
Please read it again, slowly, understanding that 190 nations have signed onto these words: “a treaty on general and complete (nuclear) disarmament.” Here’s a wild thought. What if they were recited aloud every Sunday in churches and other public spaces across the nation, the way congregants at my parents’ church recited the Apostle’s Creed when I was a boy? Each word, slowly uttered, welled up from the soul. The words were sacred. Isn’t a world free of nuclear weapons — and beyond that, free of war itself — worth believing in?
The treaty’s preamble also calls for “the cessation of the manufacture of nuclear weapons, the liquidation of all their existing stockpiles, and the elimination from national arsenals of nuclear weapons and the means of their delivery . . .”
JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
It's been shown that those who abuse animals also abuse humans. - German philosopher, Emmanuel Kant, Responding Ethically to Animal Abuse
On the July 30th “NBC Today Show,” Savannah Guthrie and Matt Lauer were asking NBC’s legal analyst, Lisa Bloom, about whether or not the US citizen, dentist-hunter Walter J. Palmer could be prosecuted for slaughtering the African lion, Cecil. Cecil lived in a protective Oxford University refuge, WildCru.org.
The commentators on “The Today Show” never once referred to the lion in any sympathetic way, nor did they describe the abominable method Palmer used for torturing and then killing the Cecil, who was a father of new-born cubs.
As I was listening to the interview, something inside of me rose up, a combination of repulsion, anger and shock. Lauer, Guthrie and Bloom established a defense for Palmer, as if he were the victim. Not once did the commentators mention how Palmer and his hunting friends lured the lion away from his protective refuge with bait; how Palmer then shot the lion with a bow and arrow. Cecil must have tried to escape, but he suffered for 40 hours with that arrow in him, and when Palmer found him, he and his hunting partners shot him, which means that Cecil was still alive, they skinned him and then cut Cecil’s head off.
THOM HARTMANN, ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
nuclear reactor to generate power since 2013. And that’s really bad news.Japan has restarted its first
Remember what happened in 2013? Why Japan closed all of its reactors abruptly and why we’re still tracing the spread of radioactive material across our Pacific Coast and into the atmosphere?
First there was an earthquake that did significant damage to that island country—and then a tsunami quickly followed. And what happened next was the largest nuclear meltdown in the history of the world and the evacuation of 160,000 locals who lived in the area of the Fukushima power plant. We know now that Tepco—the owner of the Fukushima plant—had been warned years earlier about the dangers of an earthquake and a tsunami hitting the plant. No one did anything about it then—but even if they had—do we have any reason to believe it would have been enough? Because that’s the gamble that the Japanese nuclear industry is making with all of our futures right now. The simple fact about nuclear power generation—is that the risks and the costs dramatically outweigh any benefit. We’ve seen some of the risks—in Chernobyl we saw how human error can cause a meltdown. In the Three Mile Island incident we saw how the private corporations aren’t afraid to cut corners to pad their bottom line—even if that risks a partial nuclear meltdown. And in Fukushima we saw what happens when corporate negligence meets a natural disaster.
Considering nuclear power’s track record and the staggering risks involved—it’s amazing that anyone will insure the projects—and the simple fact is that without government backing, like the Price-Anderson Act here in the U.S., nuclear power would be impossible, because no private insurance company will cover them.
JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Once upon a time in our Good Ol' US-of-A, presidential contenders and their political parties had to raise the funds needed to make the race. How quaint.
But for the 2016 run, this quaint way of selecting our candidates is no longer the case, thanks to the Supreme Court's malicious meddling in the democratic process in its reckless Citizens United decision. In that decision, the five members of the Corporate Cabal decreed that "non-candidate" campaigns can take unlimited sums of money directly from corporations. Therefore a very few wealthy powers can pour money into these murky political operations and gain unwarranted plutocratic power over the election process.
And looking at the fundraising numbers, those wealthy powers have definitely taken charge of the electoral game. These very special interests, who have their own presidential agendas, now put up the vast majority of funds and run their own private campaigns to elect someone who will do their bidding.
So far, of over $400 million raised to back candidates of either party in next year's race, half of the money has come from a pool of only about 400 people — and two-thirds of their cash went not to candidates directly but to corporate-run super PACs. To get a get a grasp at what this looks like, take a peek at the super PACs supporting Ted Cruz. Of the $37 million they have raised, $36 million was pumped in by only three interests — a New York hedge fund manager, a corporate plunderer living in Puerto Rico and the owners of a franking operation who've pocketed billions from the explosive use of this destructive drilling technology.
So while Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Scott Walker and gang are the candidates, the driving forces in this election have names like Robert Mercer, Norman Braman, Diane Hendricks, Dan and Farris Wilks, Toby Neugebauer and Miguel Fernandez.
NADIA PRUPIS OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
spill which sent toxic waste from an abandoned mine into a Colorado waterway last week released 3 million gallons of contaminates into the state’s 126-mile Animas River—not 1 million, as previously announced, according to new estimates by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).The
As the orange-hued sludge kept flowing through Colorado and into the San Juan River in New Mexico on Monday, the fallout from the massive accident continued to spread, with communities declaring states of emergency and the Navajo Nation vowing to take action against the EPA, which caused the spill.
The county of La Plata and the city of Durango, both in Colorado, each declared a state of emergency at Noon on Sunday.
La Plata County manager Joe Kerby said in a statement: “This action has been taken due to the serious nature of the incident and to convey the grave concerns that local elected officials have to ensure that all appropriate levels of state and federal resources are brought to bear to assist our community not only in actively managing this tragic incident but also to recover from it.”
Water quality tests along the rivers were still being conducted as of Monday afternoon. According to preliminary data released by the EPA on Sunday, arsenic levels in the Durango area were, at their peak, 300 times higher than normal. Lead was 3,500 times higher than normal. The waste also includes copper, zinc, aluminum and cadmium.