Guest Commentary (4904)
LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The release of hexavalent chromium was 584 times the daily maximum limit allowed under state law, the Times of Northwest Indiana reported, citing the documents. The plant is permitted to release only a maximum of 0.51 pounds daily.
The toxic industrial byproduct was made infamous by the environmental activist and 2000 movie of the same name, "Erin Brockovich."
The leak occurred between April 11 and April 12 and forced the closure of several Lake Michigan beaches and Indiana American Water's intake in Ogden Dunes. Burns Waterway is a tributary that flows into Lake Michigan, a drinking water source for nearby Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties.
CAROLINE CORNELL FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Monsanto is at it again. Rather than admitting defeat after California labeled glyphosate (commonly marketed as Roundup) as a carcinogen, the company still claims that the herbicide is completely safe.
Two op-eds published back-to-back in California newspapers -- the Sacramento Bee and the Los Angeles Times -- argue that glyphosate is harmless, and that the state "got it wrong" by listing the herbicide under California's Prop 65, which requires warning labels on cancer-causing products.
The Los Angeles Times op-ed -- though not published by Monsanto, it oddly ran on the same day as Monsanto's Sacramento Bee piece -- even trivializes the plight of the more than 700 agricultural laborers and gardeners who allege their non-Hodgkin's lymphoma was caused by glyphosate.
"Since [the International Agency for Research on Cancer's] report was published, hundreds of lawsuits have been filed against Monsanto as lawyers in the 'environmental justice' industry seek to profit from so-called glyphosate victims," write Julie Kelly and Henry I. Miller.
TIGHE BERRY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
On May 1st, I stood on trial for having "greeted" Jeff Sessions in Congress before the start of his confirmation hearing in January. I was convicted along with my fellow activists, Lenny Bianchi and Desiree Fairooz. We each face up to $2,000 in fines, 12 months in prison, or both. The sentencing will take place on June 21st.
On the day of the confirmation hearing, my colleague, Lenny, and I were dressed up as Ku Klux Klan members, with our white hoods and robes designed to highlight Sessions’ racist history. My performance at the hearing was a parody, but the real joke has become the US Justice Department.
To say that I was appalled that Jeff Sessions was about to become the highest legal authority in our country is an understatement. As an American who loves the constitution and the rule of law, I felt compelled to protest the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions, a man whose history of racist rulings and rhetoric has been well documented and exposed to public scrutiny. His nomination and confirmation as Attorney General make a mockery of our judicial system and our constitution in general. Even though Sessions was only confirmed on February 8th of this year, he is already setting back the progress this country has made in the areas of civil rights and race relations. In three short months, our concerns have been resoundingly validated.
JOHN LaFORGE FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Commercial media recollections of the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe almost always minimize its global impact. A New York Times editorial last Dec. described the April 26 explosions and fires as "a volcano of deadly radioactivity that reached Poland and Scandinavia." This picture is both factually true and grossly understated -- because Chernobyl's carcinogenic fallout went far beyond northern Europe and all around the world -- a fact that is easy to verify.
For example, the UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) concluded in 2011 that the disaster "Resulted in radioactive material becoming widely dispersed and deposited … throughout the northern hemisphere." Then, hammering the lesson home like a drill sergeant, UNSCEAR's report ("Health effects due to radiation from the Chernobyl accident") repeats the phrase "throughout the northern hemisphere" at least five times. Chernobyl's hemispheric contamination was well known long before the UNSCEAR review, noted in hundreds of books, journals and scientific papers. The March 30, 2005 Oxford Journalsreported, "The releases of radioactive materials were such that contamination of the ground was found to some extent in every country in the Northern Hemisphere." An Environmental History of the World (2002) by Donald Hughes says, "There were measurable amounts throughout the Northern Hemisphere."
Yet trivialization is the mainstream media rule, especially after three simultaneous reactor melt-downs at Fukushima-Daiichi have contaminated the whole of the Pacific Ocean. On April 23, Abu Dhabi's "The National" said about Chernobyl: "Half a million 'liquidators,' mostly military reservists from all over the Soviet Union, tried to clean up the affected area." This is flatly untrue, because no one decontaminated the entire Northern hemisphere. Soviet conscripts worked only the region knows as the "exclusion zone" around Chernobyl reactor No. 4 in Pripyat, Ukraine.
KATHY KELLY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs published a grim infographic detailing conditions in Yemen where 17 million Yemenis -- or around 60 percent of the population -- are unable to access food. The U.S. and its allies continue to bomb Yemen.Yemen stands as the worst-threatened of four countries where impending famine conditions have been said to comprise the single-worst humanitarian crisis since the founding of the U.N. On May 2nd, 2017, the
Jan Egeland, who heads the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), says that seven million Yemeni people are on the brink of famine. "I am shocked to my bones," said Egeland, following a five day visit to Yemen. "The world is letting some 7 million men, women and children slowly but surely be engulfed…" Egeland blames this catastrophe on "men with guns and power in regional and international capitals who undermine every effort to avert an entirely preventable famine, as well as the collapse of health and educational services for millions of children." Egeland and the NRC call on all parties to the conflict, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Iran, the U.S. and the U.K. to negotiate a cease fire. This weekend, the situation stands poised to become dramatically worse with the apparently imminent bombing, by Saudi Arabia, one of the U.S.’ closest allies, of the aid lifeline which is the port of Hodeida.
Egeland stresses the vital importance of keeping humanitarian aid flowing through Hodeida, a port which stands mere days or hours from destruction. "The Saudi-led, Western-backed military coalition has threatened to attack the port," said Egeland, "which would likely destroy it and cut supplies to millions of hungry civilians." U.S. congress people demanding a stay on destruction of the port have as yet won no concessions from the Saudi or U.S governments.
JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
If a political pollster asked whether I consider myself a conservative or a liberal, I'd answer, "No."
Not to be cute — I have a bit of both in me — but because, like most Americans, my beliefs can't be squeezed into either of the tidy little boxes that the establishment provides.
I've observed that the true political spectrum in our society does not range from right to left, but from top to bottom. This is how America's economic and political systems really shake out, with each of us located somewhere high or low that spectrum. Right to left is political theory; top to bottom is the reality we actually experience in our lives every day — and the vast majority of Americans know that they're not even within shouting distance of the moneyed powers that rule from the top of both systems, whether those elites call themselves conservatives or liberals.
For me, the "ism" that best encompasses and addresses this reality is populism. What is it? Essentially, it's the continuation of America's democratic revolution. It encompasses and extends the creation of a government that is us. Instead of a "trickle down" approach to public policy, populism is solidly grounded in a "percolate up" philosophy that springs directly from America's founding principle of the Common Good.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
"On the Media's" Bob Garfield recently reported that Attorney General Jeff Sessions "signaled his eagerness to rejoin the nation's old-school-style War on Drugs, by hiring a former beat cop, turned federal prosecutor, Stephen H. Cook," who last year, at a criminal justice panel at The Washington Post, maintained that "The federal criminal justice system simply is not broken. In fact, it's working exactly as designed."
In his 2015 book, Chasing the Scream; The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs, British writer and journalist Johann Hari dived deeply into the origins of America's War on Drugs, a story that dates back more than a century ago, beginning with the Harrison Act in 1914 -- which banned cocaine and heroin -- and whose origins were steeped in racism: "The main reason given for banning drugs -- the reason obsessing the men who launched this war -- was that the Blacks, Mexicans, and Chinese were using these chemicals, forgetting their place, and menacing white people."
In 1931, the relatively unknown Harry Anslinger, who had been appointed the head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics a year earlier, amped up his profile by ordering raids on doctors -- previously exempt from the Harrison Act -- which ultimately put an end to the legal prescription of drugs to addicts in the US. At the time Anslinger took office, Hari writes, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics was "a tiny agency, buried in the gray bowels of the Treasury Department in Washington, D.C.," and may have been on the brink of extinction.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
At the climate rally in Chicago last week, people started drumming in the rain.
Pardon me while I walk uncertain ground here, looking for clues and connections in a smattering of unlikely places. The world is in a fragile, dangerous place. We need to create peace, fairness and sustainability. We need to create a world that doesn’t yet exist, but this is only possible if we look at the world we have with awareness that transcends the limits of our knowing. I don’t know how to do this, but I’m going to try.
And so I listen again to the native drums beating in the rain, in the bitter wind, in the company of several thousand people huddled next to each other in the city’s Federal Plaza, many of them bearing signs that expressed fragments of hope and alarm:
"Defend Our Mother."
"We are the Earth, rising up to defend herself."
TOM H. HASTINGS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The Trump budget—pure profit for Pentagon corporate contractors. The Trump tax “reform”—massive tax cuts for the rich. Really? We are going to stand for this?
Compared to last year, if his corporations truly paid the going corporate tax rate, Trump would “richly benefit,” in multiple ways when his proposed cuts kick in. His corporate tax burden would be cut by at least 4.9 percent—millions of dollars—and his personal taxes would likely be cut even more massively, although since he alone amongst modern presidents has refused to let the American people see his returns, we cannot pin a number on his projected undeserved gains.
This is the textbook definition of corruption.
Fortunately for him, the Senators are wealthy too and love these ideas, as are most of the members of the House of Representatives. Corrupt Congress, corrupt president—and somehow the white male voters generally suppose this will all work out for them, since a reported 96 percent of his voters say they would vote for him again (and white males voted for him in overwhelming numbers, with white males without a college education voting for him a 72 percent rate).
MICHAEL SEIFERT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
About a month ago I was part of a group of people assaulted by a guy who used the National Anthem as a weapon.
About a hundred of us were standing in line, waiting to offer our testimony before the Texas House of Representatives’ State Affairs’ Committee. We were part of more than a thousand people gathered that day, determined to testify on the multiple ways that Senate Bill 4, the Texas "anti-sanctuary cities" bill, was a curse, a pox, and a bad law. The law would authorize, indeed, would require local police officers to act as immigration agents.
We were chatting easily in the hallway, enjoying the remarkable hospitality of fellow traveller, when an older fellow, an American flag bandana tied around his forehead, swaggered up the hall. His name tag identified him as a member of the Fredericksburg Tea Party. The man stopped about fifteen away, scowled at the group for a long moment, and then launched into the Star-Spangled Banner.
To give him credit, he was brave to attack us with such a clumsy weapon. This is a tune with some impossible high notes -- and it goes on forever and ever. It seems to me that it would be just plain hard to express passionate anger for that long a time, but this guy apparently had a lot of bile to fuel his effort.
KATHY KELLY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
On April 26th, 2017, in Yemen's port city of Hodeidah, the Saudi-led coalition which has been waging war in Yemen for the past two years dropped leaflets informing Hodeidah's residents of an impending attack. One leaflet read:
"Our forces of legitimacy are heading to liberate Hodeidah and end the suffering of our gracious Yemeni people. Join your legitimate government in favor of the free and happy Yemen."
And another: "The control of the Hodeidah port by the terrorist Houthi militia will increase famine and hinder the delivery of international relief aid to our gracious Yemeni people."
Certainly the leaflets represent one aspect of a confusing and highly complicated set of battles raging in Yemen. Given alarming reports about near famine conditions in Yemen, it seems the only ethical "side" for outsiders to choose would be that of children and families afflicted by hunger and disease.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Many wealthy Americans complain about the amount of government subsidies going to the poor. Their complaints demonstrate ignorance, or greed, or a total lack of fair-mindedness, or a combination of all those symptoms of entitlement at the top.
The Rich Get as Much of the Safety Net as the Poor
Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, and Gabriel Zucman have calculated that, on average in 2014, the middle class received more of the safety net than the lower class. Specifically, the 40% of American adults with incomes just below the top 10% received more in safety net government transfers (Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps/SNAP, Veterans’ benefits, etc., but excluding Social Security) than the bottom 50% of Americans (Figure 11).
Even MORE STUNNINGLY, according to the same authors, when Medicare and Social Security are both included the richest 10% on average received approximately as much in government transfers as the poorest 50% (Figure S.13).
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Meet Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pennsylvania, a member of President Trump’s transition team, and a longtime loyal combatant in the nation’s drug wars.As a prosecutor in Pennsylvania, he steadfastly went after drug offenders, and, if as expected – and as CBS News has reported – Marino is appointed Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy” (ONDCP), it appears we’re headed for more ill-conceived and misguided drug policy initiatives, more wasted money, and greater imprisonment for minor drug offenders.
As a Congressman, according to the Portland Mercury’s Vince Sliwoski, Marino, who represents Pennsylvania’s rural 10th Congressional District, “voted against the Rohrabacher-Farr amendments, which prohibit the Department of Justice from using federal funds to prosecute state-compliant medical marijuana actors.”
He also “voted against allowing Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend medical cannabis to patients….[a]nd he opposed measures to ease federal restrictions on hemp and cannabidiol (CBD).”
The Seattle Weekly’s Meagan Angus recently reported that Marino “supports forced inpatient hospitalization for any non-dealer, nonviolent person who pleads guilty to possession to receive constant ‘treatment’ until a doctor thinks they are fit to re-enter society.”
JIM HIGHTOWER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Journalism, which is supposed to help make sense of our turbulent world, can't seem to make sense of itself.
In addition to "news" (which involves reporting on stuff that's real) we're now getting "fake news" (stuff that's completely made up). But wait -- the barons of corporate news are adding to today's tumultuous state of journalism by putting out feeds of "BS news" (stuff they know is untrue but reported as fact, because it advances their political agenda).
For example, the mighty Washington Post keeps publishing a load of BS to denigrate our US Post Office. The paper's latest pot shot was in an alarmist editorial declaring, "The US Postal Service continues to hemorrhage red ink." Embracing their owner's anti-government ideology, the editors grumped that postal unions have made our mail service outmoded and insolvent, running up "a net loss of $5.6 billion last year."