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2016.15.9 BF ChowMelting icebergs in Ilulissat Icefjord, Greenland (Photo: United Nations Photo)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

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Leonardo DiCaprio may be the star of his latest documentary, Before the Flood, but something much bigger takes center stage: Earth.

The Oscar-winning actor and longtime environmental advocate celebrated the world premiere of his climate change documentary on Friday at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

"Looking forward to sharing this documentary with everyone as we continue to act on #climatechange together," DiCaprio tweeted.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2016votersuprressDemocracy should be determined by universal suffrage. (Image: Chris Piascik )

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Yesterday I wrote about the diverse ways in which Republican-controlled states pass laws to "legally" suppress the non-white vote. There are occasional -- but certainly not frequent -- mainstream news stories on the same-day denial of voting rights in polling places, based on race. However, there are even fewer articles or television news segments about how many people of color, poor people and people with disabilities are disqualified from voting before the voting process even begins.

A lawsuit filed on September 13 in Georgia by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law and other plaintiffs provides a glimpse into how creatively draconian the efforts to suppress non-white voters can be. In essence, the current process for registering to vote in Georgia is a bit like playing a slot machine that is wired to keep people of color from winning.

On September 14, the Lawyers' Committee issued a news release about its request for an injunction:

The complaint, filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, concerns Georgia's voter registration verification process, which requires all of the letters and numbers comprising the applicant's name, date of birth, driver's license number or last four digits of the Social Security number to exactly match the same letters and numbers for the applicant in the state's Department of Drivers Service (DDS) or Social Security Administration (SSA) databases. If even a single letter or number, or a hyphen, space or apostrophe, does not exactly match the database information, and the applicant fails to correct the mismatch in 40 days, the application is automatically rejected and the applicant is not placed on the registration rolls even if they are eligible to vote....

Worse, this process is resulting in the cancellation of applications submitted by African American, Latino, and Asian American applicants at rates significantly higher than White applicants. For example, of the approximately 34,874 voter registration applicants whose applications were cancelled between July 2013 and July 15, 2016, with a status reason of "Not Verified," approximately 22,189 (63.6 percent) identified as Black, 2,752 (7.9 percent) identified as Latino, 1,665 (4.8 percent) identified as Asian-American, and 4,748 (13.6 percent) identified as White.

To fully understand the ways in which this "voter verification process" is another strategy of non-white voter suppression, consider that the population of Georgia was nearly 62 percent white in 2015 -- according to the US Census Bureau -- and the Black population of the state was around 32 percent in the same year. However, nearly 64 percent of the voter applicants rejected by the state were Black, while only approximately 14 percent of those rejected were white over a recent three-year period.

Thursday, 15 September 2016 06:52

The Future Cries Out: "Water Is Life"

2916.15.9 BF Koehler(Photo: Joe Catron)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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The dogs growl, the pepper spray bites, the bulldozers tear up the soil.

"Water is life!" they cry. "Water is life!"

This isn't Flint, Michigan, but I feel the presence of its suffering in this cry of outrage at the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota. No more, no more. You will not poison our water or continue ravaging Planet Earth: mocking its sacredness, destroying its eco-diversity, reshaping and slowly killing it for profit.

The dogs growl, the pepper spray bites, the bulldozers tear up the soil and a judge rules against the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's demand that construction of the Dakota Access pipeline be stopped. Sorry, the wishes of the rich and powerful come first. And you protesters are just common criminals.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016 07:13

Jim Hightower: Cleaning Up After Pundits

JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Mop 0914wrp opt(Photo: Alborzagros)Being a muckracking political writer often makes me feel like a custodian in a horse barn, constantly shoveling manure. It's a messy, stinky job — but on the bright side, the stuff is plentiful, so the work is steady. Indeed, I'm now a certified Equine Excrement Engineer, having developed a narrow, but important, professional specialty: cleaning off the horsestuff that careless politicos and sloppy media types keep dumping on the word "populist."

As you might imagine, in this year of global turmoil, I've been especially busy. Populism — a luminous term denoting both an uplifting doctrine of egalitarianism and a political-economic-cultural movement with deep roots in America's progressive history — has been routinely sullied throughout 2016 by elites misusing it as synonym for ignorance and bigotry:

— When right-wing, anti-Muslim mobs in a few European nations literally went to their national borders to block desperate Syrian war refugees from getting safe passing into Europe, most mainline media labeled the boisterous reactionaries "populists."

— When flummoxed elites in Great Britain, frantic over Brexit, blindly blamed their people's vote to exit the European Union on the "populist" bigotry of working-class Brits.

— When, back in the USA, the unreal reality show The Donald spooked the corporate/political establishment, which denied that Trump harness public fury toward them smugly attributed his rise solely to "populist" bumpkins who embraced his demeaning attacks on women, Mexicans, Muslims, union members, immigrants, people with disabilities and veterans, among others. Indeed, the power elites sneeringly branded Trump himself a "populist."

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Kap 0914wrp opt(Photo: Daniel Hartwig)In addition to the ever-present questions about how each team would play on the field during the opening weekend of the NFL, an unexpected parallel story line was taking center-stage, thanks to San Francisco 49er backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Would any of the players follow his lead and protest racial inequality by sitting, or taking a knee, during the playing of the “The Star Spangled Banner?”

According to a CNN report, four members of the Miami Dolphins -- Jelani Jenkins, Arian Foster, Michael Thomas, and Kenny Stills – “knelt next to each other in a line which included their standing teammates.” In Kansas City, Chief’s cornerback Marcus Peters “rais[ed] a gloved fist, in a pose reminiscent of Tommie Smith and John Carlos on the medal stand at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Peters had previously spoken of his ‘100 percent’ support of Kaepernick's stance.”

Before the Arizona Cardinals-New England Patriots game in Arizona, the Patriots’ Martellus Bennett and Devin McCourty raised their gloved fists in protest.

In addition to initiating a conversation and actions amongst fellow NFL players, being a major topic on sports talk radio, and dominating social media, especially the Twittersphere, Kaepernick’s activism has also filtered down to the high school level.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016 11:53

The Planet's Most Dangerous Predator Is Us

DR. DAVID SUZUKI OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

4394641125 0b1916afe9 zWolves don't hold a candle to the human species as predators.    (Photo: Caninist )

Humans are the world's top predator. The way we fulfill this role is often mired in controversy, from factory farming to trophy hunting to predator control. The latter is the process governments use to kill carnivores like wolves, coyotes and cougars to stop them from hunting threatened species like caribou—even though human activity is the root cause of caribou's decline.

Predation is an important natural function. But as the human population has grown, we've taken over management of ecosystems once based on mutually beneficial relationships that maintained natural balances. How are we, a "super predator" as the Raincoast Conservation Foundation dubs us, aligning with or verging from natural predation processes that shaped the world?

One way to tell is to examine the extent to which we emulate natural processes. This principle is applied in biomimicry, where humans base inventions on natural forms and functions. (Think Velcro, patented in 1955 after George de Mestral studied the burrs on his dog's back.) Some resource-management disciplines employ biomimicry. For example, forestry management is often based on trying to imitate disturbances caused by natural events such as fires.

If we are to emulate natural predators, we must look at the types of prey killed. Non-human predators usually take down the injured, old or young. This leaves the strongest genetic material to be passed on. Human predators often target the largest males (trophy hunting) or entire packs (predator control).

DR. VANDANA SHIVA OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Monsanto 0912wrp opt(Photo: EcoWatch)India is steeped in a synthesized controversy created by Monsanto on the first GMO crop, supposedly approved for commercialization. Engaged in litigation on many fronts, Monsanto is trying to subvert our patent laws: Protection of Plant Variety and Farmers Right Act, Essential Commodities Act and Competition Act. It is behaving as if there is no Parliament, no democracy, no sovereign laws in India to which it is subject. Or it simply doesn't have any regard for them.

In another theatre, Monsanto and Bayer are merging. They were one as MoBay (MonsantoBayer), part of the poison cartel of I.G. Farben. The controlling stakes of both corporations lie with the same private equity firms. The expertise of these firms is in war. I.G. Farben, Adolf Hitler's economic powerhouse and pre-war Germany's highest foreign exchange earner, was also a foreign intelligence operation. Hermann Schmitz was president of I.G. Farben, Schmitz's nephew Max Ilgner was a director of I.G. Farben, while Max's brother Rudolph Ilgner ran the New York arm as vice-president of Chemnyco.

Paul Warburg, brother of Max Warburg (board of directors, Farben Aufsichtsrat), founded the U.S. Federal Reserve System. Max Warburg and Hermann Schmitz played a central role in the Farben empire. Other "guiding hands" of Farben Vorstand included Carl Bosch, Fritz ter Meer, Kurt Oppenheim and George von Schnitzler. Each of them was adjudged a "war criminal" after World War II, except Paul Warburg.

Monsanto and Bayer have a long history. They made explosives and lethally poisonous gases using shared technologies and sold them to both sides in the two world wars. The same war chemicals were bought by the Allied and Axis powers, from the same manufacturers, with money borrowed from the same bank.

Monday, 12 September 2016 06:55

Five Deadly Sins of Big Pharma

PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Capsules 0912wrp opt(Photo: Sage Ross)For Mylan, it was a perfect plan -- diabolical, unstoppable. The company made changes in its anti-allergy EpiPen dispenser in 2009, enough to give it patent protection. Then, in 2012, it began to give away free pens to schools, gradually making school nurses at least partly dependent on them. Meanwhile the company was successfully lobbying for the "Emergency Epinephrine Act," commonly referred to as the "EpiPen Law," which encouraged the presence of epinephrine dispensers in schools. Most recently, after raising the price from $100 to $600, Mylan announced a half-price coupon, making itself appear generous even though the price had effectively jumped from $100 to $300.

This is capitalism at its worst, a greedy and disdainful profit-over-people system that leaves millions of Americans sick...or dead. These are the sins of the pharmaceutical industry.

1. Gouging Customers

The Mylan story is just one of many. An American with cancer will face bills up to $183,000 per year, even though it hasn't been established that the expensive treatments actually extend lives. A 12-week course of Sovaldi, for hepatitis, costs Gilead Sciences about $84 and is priced at $84,000.

This is an industry that can suddenly impose a 60,000% increase on desperately ill people. Yet the pharmaceutical industry's profit margin is matched only by the unscrupulous financial industry for the highest corporate profit margin.

ERIK HOFFNER OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Sacred 0909wrp opt(Photo: EcoWatch)A first round of motions was passed Tuesday by the 1,300 government and civil society members of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) at its World Conservation Congress taking place in Hawaii. These include a ban on gillnet fishing in Mexico that threatens the vaquita porpoise and also restrictions on the illegal trade of pangolins.

Among the 85 motions like these that are up for a vote this week are some involving the direct and urgent needs of people too, including indigenous people whose sacred sites and lands face destructive forces. One need only look at the Dakota Access Pipeline battle here in the U.S., which would disturb sacred sites as well as water sources of the Standing Rock Sioux, to imagine that this sort of injustice happens to indigenous groups everywhere.

That's why many representatives from such groups are in Hawaii lobbying IUCN delegates to support Motion 26, which would declare their sacred natural sites to be "no go zones" for developers. As a resolution, it would be non-binding on governments, but would be one more tool for groups to use in pushing for policy changes at a local and national level. It is due for a vote by the delegates, probably on the last day of the Congress, which ends Sept. 10.

NGOs have also lined up strongly in support of the motion (the progress of which can be followed on Twitter via the hashtags #Motion26 and #VoteForIUCNMotion26), including Women's Earth and Climate Action Network and also Amazon Watch, whose Andrew Miller, when asked why, said ...

2016.8.9 BF Koehler(Photo: Samantha Celera)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

The paradox of democracy is that it depends on the integrity of those who have the most to lose if an election goes the wrong way -- you know, the people in power.

That's a particularly thorny dilemma when the "fourth estate" -- the speakers of truth to power, the public's counterforce against political hackdom -- are basically corporate wimps who view their job as the voice of public relations for the status quo, the defenders of our conventional beliefs, e.g., that God's in his heaven and America is the world's oldest, greatest, most secure democracy.

But in 2016, even the mainstream media are trembling with uncertainty. As Harvey Wasserman and Bob Fitrakis recently wrote: "Now 16 years after the theft of the presidency in Florida 2000, and a dozen since it was done again in Ohio 2004, the corporate media is approaching consensus that it is indeed very easy to strip millions of legitimate citizens from the voting rolls, and then to hack electronic voting machines and computerized central tabulators to flip the official final outcome."

I'm sure the party to thank for this late mainstream awareness that our computerized voting system is painfully vulnerable is Donald Trump, who has dragged the election process into territory more puerile, racist and reptile-brained than even the corporate media can tolerate.

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