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aaaCapsules(Photo: Würfel)Get this. And get it straight. Gordon Gekko was wrong. Greed is not good. Greed is bad. Greed eats away the core of society like a golden parasitic leech the size of Manitoba. Or Saskatchewan. One of those Provinces or Territories or Protectorates or whatever they use in Canada to keep their license plates distinct.

And practicing and/or defending greed makes you nothing but a blood sucking tick no matter how fancy a suit you're wearing. Or size of the diamonds around your wrist. Or how free range the organic heirloom Chicken Florentine is on your plate.

The movie "Wall Street" came out in 1987. And after Vietnam and Watergate and an oil embargo and 4 years of scolding by Jimmy Carter, a little irrational exuberance may have seemed warranted. But that was 30 years ago. Too much is no longer not enough. Too much has gotten way out of hand. Today's too much is much much too much.

In his UN address, the Pope said it best. "A selfish and boundless thirst for power and material prosperity leads both to the misuse of available natural resources and to the exclusion of the weak and disadvantaged." You know what; he's right. Got to love Papa Frankie. The guy is like a slightly older more lovable Argentinian Bernie Sanders. With the crank dialed down to a manageable hum.

Let's be honest; what we're really talking about here is that idiot CEO, Martin Shkreli who raised the price of the life saving drug, Daraprim, from $13.50 a pill to $750 each, because, and I quote, he "needs to start making a profit." A 5,455% increase: which if produce distributors did to onions would make a side of rings about 3 grand.

This predatory price gouge follows in the carnivorous footsteps of Gilead Sciences who developed a drug called Solvadi, a cure for Hepatitis C. The treatment regimen consists of 84 pills. Each one costing 1000 dollars. That's right. 84 thousand dollars. But then you're cured. And after all, how much is your life worth? Half of what you own? Everything? Your first born?

2015.28.9 BF Brasch(Photo: 401(K) 2012)WALTER BRASCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Beneath a three-column headline in my local newspaper was a barely-edited press release.

That’s not unusual. With the downsizing of newsrooms, there’s more room for wire service soft features and press releases. But this one caught my attention.

SystemCare Health in New Jersey promoted a graduate of a college in my town to the lofty position of Senior Director of Doctivity.

I checked the dictionary—“Doctivity” didn’t exist. I checked WebMD, the website for amateurs to learn the meaning of unpronounceable medical terms—and how to recognize their symptoms and treatments. Nothing there.

That left SystemCare Health’s website, which spewed a barrage of buzzwords and useless gibberish, the kind that people in marketing and business think will impress those who speak fluent English.

2015.28.9 BF Buchheit(Photo: Chris Tolworthy)PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Corporate data from numerous sources, including annual reports directly from the companies themselves, has been merged and matched and managed into two spreadsheets that reveal state-by-state corporate tax avoidance. The results show how people all over the US are being deprived of revenue that should be going to education and infrastructure.

1. Most of the State Tax Avoidance Is by the Largest Companies

Before considering individual states, it will be instructive to consider the total state tax payments (and non-payments) by 45 of the nation's largest corporations. The data is derived from "current state tax" figures in the 10-K forms submitted to the SEC by the companies themselves.

These 45 corporations paid about $15 billion over two years, less than a third of their required state tax obligation of $46 billion, as calculated with the 2014 corporate state tax rates in their home states. Over $30 billion was avoided by these corporations in 2013-14, often by deferring taxes, and in some cases by using hypothetical or theoretical amounts to 'meet' their obligations.

Thursday, 24 September 2015 07:45

Going Solar Just Got Easier


Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Yeloha, the Boston-based startup that allows customers to go solar without owning a single panel, was already a game-changer when it first debuted in June. But its latest move could alter the energy landscape even further.

Yeloha, which has been dubbed the Airbnb of solar, has teamed up with its first utility, Green Mountain Power(GMP), which provides electricity to more than three-quarters of Vermont.

“This partnership marks the first utility-adopted Sharing Economy platform to offer its customers the opportunity to generate their own energy and share it with other residents online. The initiative represents a beacon of change for energy nationwide,” said Amit Rosner, Yeloha co-founder and CEO.

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GMP is a well-regarded energy provider itself. For instance, it’s the first utility in the world to receive B Corp certification, and one of the first energy companies in the country to offerTesla’s new home battery.

2015.24.9 BF Koehler(Photo: Wally Gobetz)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

“Native Americans have to concede that rain dances don’t work.”

Yeah, snort. How funny can you get? It’s the New Rules segment of “Real Time with Bill Maher” and the host has just tossed his gag tomahawk at the First People. A picture fills the screen: Indians in full regalia, dancing. The caption below it says “Tribal Thumpers.” He pauses, straight-faced, eyeballs rolling in sarcasm. There’s a trickle of laughter amid the awkward silence, then Maher turns away from the camera, presumably toward the crew back stage, and calls out in his fake shame-on-me voice, “Are you making fun of Indians, Bill?”

The moment lasts about 20 seconds, then he’s on to the next putdown joke.

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So why am I still thinking about it a week later? Indeed, it has a hold of me like a car alarm that won’t shut up. What’s reverberating in my head isn’t some moral offense at a politically incorrect joke, which I could, I think, shrug off. What I can’t let go of is the arrogant American ignorance fueling this gag. It wasn’t funny. It was just stupid — but stupid in a way that celebrates and perpetuates pretty much everything that’s wrong with who we are.


aaaCoalRemoval(Photo: JW Randolph)From the time I was a teenager, I’ve wrestled with the question of good and evil. The question led me to the study of philosophy and literature. When I was sixteen years old, I began reading the Russian authors, starting with Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment.   Naïve, I sided with Alyosha Karamazov, a saintly loving monk—a man who, despite the despicable things that humans do to one another, held faith in the goodness of God, and in the idea that humans are fundamentally good, but they do evil things in a state of ignorance.

This idea that evil is committed in a state of ignorance goes back to Plato’s definition of wrongdoing, a concept that St. Augustine accepted, only he referred to the Higher Good as God and that a person could do evil acts only in the absence of God’s Love, i.e., he/she lived in ignorance, a kind of dark void of the soul.

But what if you know what you’re doing is wrong and you do it anyway?

It wasn’t until I came across a profound statement, uttered by Alyosha’s brother, Ivan, an intellectual skeptic, that this inquiry of good and evil became far more confusing than initially conceived. At the time, I didn’t know that it was a famous hypothesis:

If God is dead, then everything is permitted.

I reasoned that if you took that statement to its final conclusion—it would most likely point to the end of humanity because without moral guidance, and enforced legal restrictions, men would push the limits of their greed and avarice to mass suicide.


aaaGlacierPeruEcowatch(Photo: Edubucher)While countries have dragged their feet for years on meaningful climate action, many cities around the world have forged ahead with sustainability efforts. In July, about 60 mayors pledged to fight climate change at a two-day conference hosted by Pope Francis.

Several cities have even made impressive strides to ditch fossil fuels in favor of renewables. Two recent reports have confirmed that 100 percent renewable energy is possible. Earlier this summer, professors out of Stanford and U.C. Berkeley laid out a plan for the U.S. to convert to 100 percent renewable energy in less than 40 years, and Monday Greenpeace published its Energy Revolution 2015 report, which proposes a pathway to a 100 percent sustainable energy supply by 2050.

A report issued last week by CDP, a a U.K.-based nonprofit, and AECOM shows that “96 cities—one third of cities participating in CDP—are already taking action to decarbonize their electricity supply. And 86 percent of these cities say taking action on climate change presents an economic opportunity.”

This year, 308 cities reported to CDP. Nearly half a billion people call these cities home—equivalent to the combined population of the U.S., UK and France. The report found that “currently over a third of cities get more than three quarters of their electricity from non-fossil fuel sources, showing that cities are actively using cleaner energy sources.”


aaaSerra(Photo: Olivier)During his July visit to Bolivia, Pope Francis “apologized for the ‘grave sins’ of colonialism against the native people of the Americas,” USA Today’s Bill Theobald recently reported. “I humbly ask forgiveness, not only for the offense of the church herself, but also for crimes committed against the native peoples during the so-called conquest of America,” the pope said. Why then is Pope Francis canonizing Junípero Serra, the embodiment of crimes committed against native peoples in California?

Why is Pope Francis conferring sainthood on a man whose actions led to the destruction of native peoples in California? Sainthood for Serra, a man who founded missions where native peoples were imprisoned and tortured, and where thousands died? At the time of the announcement, it seemed that Pope Francis, who seems to be a man with a great yearning for social justice, might be unfamiliar with the complete Serra story?

In January, when Pope Francis announced plans to canonize Serra, it opened deep and old wounds. On Wednesday, however, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., Serra, who the pope called an “evangelizer of the West,” will become America’s first Hispanic saint.

Serra the “evangelizer,” was also an agent of colonialism, death and destruction.

2015.21.9 BF sirota(Photo: Elizabeth Bean)DAVID SIROTA FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Environmental groups and Democratic legislators are pressuring New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to say that General Electric must continue cleaning up the massive pollution the company dumped into the Hudson River from 1947 to 1977. Cuomo's own environmental officials say the pollution continues to cause "ongoing contamination," and federal officials warn that GE's plan to end its cleanup this fall could harm the effort to restore the river's ecosystem.

But the Democratic governor — who has benefited from GE's campaign cash — is declining to say whether he agrees.

In comments to reporters in Albany earlier this month, the governor said he thinks the company should "follow the law and the agreements that have been made." Under the 2002 agreement in question, GE is planning to shut down its cleanup operations at the end of 2015 — which, environmental groups claim, will leave behind at least 35 percent of the carcinogenic polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) the company dumped into the river during the mid-20th century.

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"I know there are claims for (GE) to do more above and beyond that," Cuomo said of the request by legislators and environmental groups. But, he added, "I haven't really looked into that."


Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Thanks to a months-long investigation by the Pulitzer-prize winning InsideClimate News, we learned last week that ExxonMobil’s own scientists had secretly confirmed the science behind human-caused climate change as early as the late 1970s.

Yes—this is the same ExxonMobil that has funded efforts to attack the science of climate change for more than two decades. As I recount in The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, I found myself at the center of those attacks because of the iconic Hockey Stick graph my co-authors and I published back in the late 1990s. The graph highlighted, in an easily understandable way, the unprecedented nature of modern global warming. As a result, it proved greatly inconvenient for vested interests, like ExxonMobil, who are opposed to regulation of carbon emissions—from the burning of fossil fuels—that are behind the warming of the globe and the associated changes in climate.

The parallels with the tobacco industry, which knew about—and hid from the public—the health dangers of cigarette smoking, are staggering. Indeed, the industry-funded climate change denial campaign, as I discuss in The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, has its roots in the earlier tobacco industry disinformation campaign.

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