Guest Commentary (4134)
BILL QUIGLEY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Department of Justice (DOJ) reports 2.2 million people are in our nation’s jails and prisons and another 4.5 million people are on probation or parole in the US, totaling 6.8 million people, one of every 35 adults. We are far and away the world leader in putting our own people in jail. Most of the people inside are poor and Black. Here are 40 reasons whyThe US
One: It is not just about crime. Our jails and prisons have grown from holding about 500,000 people in 1980 to 2.2 million today. The fact is that crime rates have risen and fallen independently of our growing incarceration rates.
Two: Police discriminate. The first step in putting people in jail starts with interactions between police and people. From the very beginning Black and poor people are targeted by the police. Police departments have engaged in campaigns of stopping and frisking people who are walking, mostly poor people and people of color, without cause for decades. Recently New York City lost a federal civil rights challenge to their police stop and frisk practices by the Center for Constitutional Rights during which police stopped over 500,000 people annually without any indication that the people stopped had been involved in any crime at all. About 80 percent of those stops were of Black and Latinos who compromise 25 and 28 percent of NYC’s total population. Chicago police do the same thing stopping even more people also in a racially discriminatory way with 72 percent of the stops of Black people even though the city is 32 percent Black.
Three: Police traffic stops also racially target people in cars. Black drivers are 31 percent more likely to be pulled over than white drivers and Hispanic drivers are 23 percent more likely to be pulled over than white drivers. Connecticut, in an April 2015 report, reported on 620,000 traffic stops which revealed widespread racial profiling, particularly during daylight hours when the race of driver was more visible.
ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUTCOLE MELLINO OF
Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch.
Solar Impulse 2, the first solar airplane able to sustain flight at night with a pilot on board has been making its way around the world over the past few months. The plane took off today a little after 2 a.m. on Sunday in Nanjing, China. The flight from Nanjing to Honolulu, Hawaii is the seventh and longest leg of the first round-the-world solar flight. It will take an estimated six days to complete the roughly 5,000-mile journey. The first leg of the journey took place in early March, taking off from from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates and landing in the Omani capital, Muscat.
If the flight is successful, it will be the longest ever flight on solar power, both in terms of distance and time.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Elder abuse is defined as "harmful acts toward an elderly adult, such as physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, financial exploitation, and neglect.." Financial exploitation comes from the banking industry; neglect emanates from the halls of Congress; and emotions are stirred through the stories of impoverished seniors:
From Reno, Nevada: Here I am at an age when I should be thinking about retiring, desperately trying to find a job. I have used my savings...I'm seeking a court injunction to try and save my home.
From Laurel, Maryland: I am over 60, and I was pushed out of my job because of my age. My rent, car note, and electricity are all two months behind. I can barely get food. Utilities will be cut off soon.
From Bend, Oregon: I exhausted all my 401(k) retirement savings...I'm one month away from losing everything and am now on Food Stamps. I'm an unhappy Republican...
In Detroit, Michigan: 74-year-old Willie Smith saw her monthly SNAP benefits cut from $73 to $57. Also in Detroit, 63-year-old J.B. Hillman-Rushell and her 83-year-old mother were going to four different church food pantries for nearly all of their food.
ANASTASIA PANTSIOS OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The Salton Sea, a huge, shallow manmade lake located in the Sonoran Desert in California’s Imperial and Coachella valleys, has had problems for years. Its increasing saltiness has killed off most of its once-abundant fish species. Its shrinking water level has caused a reduction in water available for agricultural use, along with many dramatic photos of exposed lakebed and abandoned towns that were once seaside resorts. While the sea is no longer a resort destination for Hollywood celebrities as it was in the ’50s and ’60s, it’s still a playground for birds, with more than 400 species living along its shores or migrating through the area. But those populations could also be in jeopardy if its waters continue to recede.
And that exposed lake bed is expected to grow, thanks to California’s prolonged drought, now in its fourth year, and reductions in apportionment of water from the Colorado River which feeds the 360-square-mile sea. For many years, farmers in the agriculturally rich Imperial Valley would take more than their allocation of Colorado River water, viewing water as an infinite resource. But with growing demand from other southwestern states, with their growing populations and their own stresses due to drought, they became less able to do do. And now the drought and state-mandated water reductions have increased competition for whatever water is available, putting the Salton Sea at risk.
And that’s only the beginning of the problems that could be fueled by the sea’s receding water level.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Now that former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum has thrown his hat into a Republican ring full of hats, you can bet that Foster Friess will not be far behind. While we know a fair amount about billionaire GOP puppet masters like Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and the Koch Brothers, and while we are quite familiar with Santorum's conservative politics, we know little about Santorum's top financial backer, Foster Friess, bad jokes about using aspirin between a "gals" knees as birth control notwithstanding.
So, who is Foster Friess?
Back in 2012, it was Friess, an evangelical conservative Christian and the founder of Friess Associates -- a Wyoming investment firm that has managed several billion of equities for such clients as the Nobel Foundation of Stockholm, Vanderbilt University, and the Brandywine and Brandywine Blue mutual funds -- who practically single-handedly kept Santorum in the primary race with a fair amount of money; much of it going to Santorum's super PAC called the Red, White and Blue Fund.
In January, Friess -- who maintains he is not a billionaire; in 2012 The Wall Street Journal estimated his wealth at a little over a half-billion -- organized a meeting of "a group of Republican business executives, as well as GOP consultants from South Carolina and Iowa, ... to have conversations with Santorum about his strategy and with Friess about financing a national political operation," The Washington Post reported.
ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUTANASTASIA PANTSIOS OF
Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch.
Factory farming has been expanding in the U.S. over the last two decades, and the size of those farms has increased dramatically—dominating the market, squeezing out smaller producers and setting the agenda for farming practices—to the detriment of food consumers.
“Over the last two decades, small- and medium-scale farms raising livestock have given way to factory farms that confine thousands of cows, hogs and chickens in tightly packed facilities,” says the report. “Farmers have adopted factory farming practices largely at the behest of the largest meatpackers, pork processors, poultry companies and dairy processors. The largest of these agribusinesses are practically monopolies, controlling what consumers get to eat, what they pay for groceries and what prices farmers receive for their livestock.”
This is occurring as the public is marching in the other direction, as demonstrated by McDonald’s declining profits, the positive public response to Chipotle’s moving toward organic, non-GMO and locally raised products, and raised awareness of the issues around meat and dairy products containing growth hormones and antibiotics used for preventive purposes due to factory farming confinement practices.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
There’s a category of political intellectuals who proudly proclaim themselves “realists,” then proceed to defend and advance a deeply faith-based agenda that centers on the ongoing necessity to prepare for war, including nuclear war.
These intellectuals, as they defend the military-industrial status quo (which often supports them financially), have made themselves the spokespersons for a deep human cancer: a soul cancer. When we prepare for war, we honor a profoundly embedded death wish; indeed, we assume we can exploit it for our own advantage. We can’t, of course. War and hatred link all of us; we can’t dehumanize, then proceed to murder, “the enemy” without doing the same, ultimately, to ourselves.
That isn’t to say there’s an easy way out of the mess we find ourselves in, here in the 21st century. Indeed, I see only one way out: a critical mass of humanity coming to its senses and groping for a way to create a peace that that has more resonance than war. We don’t have much political leadership around this, especially among the planet’s dominant — and nuclear-armed — nation states. But there is some.
Finding it and connecting with it, however, seems almost beyond the realm of possibility. Robert Dodge of Physicians for Social Responsibility wrote recently, for instance, that the U.N.’s recent, month-long Review Conference on the 45-year-old Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons “was officially a failure due to the refusal of the nuclear weapons states to present or even support real steps toward disarmament.”
COLE MELLINO OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
killed at least 800 people and melted roads in New Delhi as temperatures neared 122 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius). India’s Meteorological Department issued heat warnings to several states where temperatures are projected to reach beyond 113 degrees Fahrenheit (45 degrees Celsius) over the next few days, according to AFP.India is in the midst of a major heatwave, which has
The worst-hit state Andhra Pradesh in southern India has recorded 551 deaths in the last week alone. Every summer, across the country, hundreds of Indians, especially the poorest members of society, die from extreme heat, while tens of thousands deal with power outages from an overstrained electric grid as air conditioning use soars, reports AFP.
But this summer season is particularly bad, the most severe since 2010 when an estimated 250 people died from heat-related causes, which was said to be the worst since record-keeping began in the 1800s. The maximum temperature in the capital hit a two-year high of 45.5 degrees Celsius on Monday, which is five degrees higher than the seasonal average, reports the Hindustan Times. And, the death toll from heat mortality could be much higher than estimated because, according to Scroll.in, “the government counts only death by heat stroke and heat exhaustion as heat wave deaths. The narrow definition does not account for the way ‘heat exposure stresses underlying physiological systems,’ a study on heat mortality in Ahmedabad said.”
JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Neither rain nor sleet nor snow — nor even the likelihood that he'd be killed en route — could stop this letter carrier from making his appointed rounds.
Doug Hughes is one gutsy and creative mailman. In April, this rural letter carrier from Florida stunned the Secret Service, eluded federal aviation authorities, embarrassed Washington's haughty all-seeing security hierarchy and threw members of Congress into a chaotic panic. Hughes did all this by boldly flying his tiny, homemade, gyrocopter right through the heart of our nation's most restricted airspace, then landing it on the front lawn of the U.S. Capitol.
Far from a terrorist or a kook, Hughes was just a mailman on a mission, a patriotic citizen who — like most of us — is disgusted that Big Money interests are able to openly buy lawmakers and laws. But he did more than write a letter to his congress critter — he wrote letters to all 535 of them, loaded the missives in his mailbag and — as postal workers do — literally went the extra mile to make a "very special delivery" in his gyrocopter.
This was no flight of fancy. Doug planned his mail delivery for months, and he was fully aware that he might crash, be killed by a scramble of military jets or be gunned down by guards when he landed. Nor was it a sneak attack — he repeatedly posted his intentions in blogs; a reporter was covering his preparations; and the Secret Service had investigated and interviewed him about his plans more than a year earlier.
His landing jolted the Capitol into lockdown. Guards rushed out to arrest Doug and haul him off to some deep cellblock; a bomb squad arrived; and spooked lawmakers were scared silly. They ran around screeching that they were threatened by terrorists. Of course, the real threat to America is not some guy flying a gyrocopter in protest but the utter corruption of Congress, the courts and democracy itself by the plutocratic elites whom this mailman targeted with nothing more (nor less) dangerous than a bagful of truth-telling letters.
JOHN QUEALLY OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
tsunami-type power” in Texas over the Memorial Day weekend, the latest example of extreme weather in the U.S. is being tied to a global pattern of increasingly volatile events that are claiming lives and costing billions of dollars in damage each year.With at least a dozen people dead and the raging high waters described as having “
As Texas Gov. Greg Abbott expanded the range of a declared disaster zone in his state today, neighboring Oklahoma is also coping with an emergency response to flash floods and overflowing rivers.
Marking the official end of a four-year long drought in the south-central part of the country, the storms may be filling the region’s diminished reservoirs, but not without a high cost.
As the nation’s media focuses on the acute damage to property and loss of life, an international conference sponsored by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which kicked off in Switzerland yesterday, may shed additional light on the impact that human-caused climate change is having on the planet’s highly-dynamic weather patterns.