Guest Commentary (4292)
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Troy Anderson is the executive editor of Charisma, one of leading Christian evangelical publications in the world. He appears totally sincere in his beliefs. He's not a purveyor of Harold Camping-esque End Times predictions, savvy enough not to be trapped into telling us exactly when The End Times is coming. He will, however, tell you that there are abundant signs, that it could be any day now: "The signs—the last of the four blood moons, the biblical Shemitah, rise of end-time 'Babylon,' the Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage, the dangerous Iranian nuclear deal and a world drowning in debt and dangling on the edge of economic catastrophe—seem unmistakable now."
Then again, given that the Charisma magazine website featuring Anderson's story is carrying advertisements for investing in Solar panels for homes – an investment that will take a while to pay off, leadership training that "will positively impact your church, business or ministry," and subscriptions to the magazine, the End Times could be a ways off.
Ever since Harold Camping stirred up his flock into selling their worldly possessions and hunkering down for The Rapture, and subsequently becoming the subject of scorn and ridicule when it didn't happen, most End Times evangelicals are smart enough not to go there.
They are, however, not reluctant to warn Christians – and I suppose other innocent bystanders – that "harbingers of the apocalypse have been gathering for decades" but "most of the world has been largely oblivious to the gathering tempest and prophetic warnings." Now, however, "global instability—geopolitically, financially and culturally," more people are paying attention.
ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUTCOLE MELLINO OF
Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch
Naomi Klein, author of the critically acclaimed book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, spoke at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas in Sydney, Australia last weekend. The annual event “brings leading thinkers and culture creators from around the world to the Sydney Opera House stages and online to discuss and debate the important ideas of our time.”
Klein’s most recent book argues that the climate crisis cannot be addressed without fundamentally changing our current economic system. Since her book was published, Klein has become a fierce advocate for action on climate change. Last month, she criticized her own Canadian government and the Australian government for “destroying the planet,” calling Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott a climate change “villain.” In July, she spoke at a Vatican conference, People and Planet First: the Imperative to Change Course. She even made an appearance on The Colbert Report with Stephen Colbert last fall.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Capitalism has worked for big business and for the people with stocks and estates. But for the past 35 years our economic system, stripped of sensible regulations, has poisoned the nation with deadly inequality and driven much of middle America to an ever-widening lower class.
Yet for much of the nation the delusion persists, against all common sense, that deregulated free-market capitalism works, that it equates to true Americanism, and that people have only themselves to blame for their failure to thrive in this expanding world of wealth. The reasons for this delusion are not hard to determine.
1. The Rich are Easy to Understand: Capitalism Justifies Selfishness
Studies have consistently shown that increased wealth causes people to turn inward, to believe more in their own "superior" traits, and to care less about the feelings and needs of others. This anti-social attitude blends well with the Ayn-Randish "greed is good" message of unregulated capitalism.
Other studies have determined that money pushes people further to the right, making them less egalitarian, less willing to provide broad educational opportunities to all members of society, and certainly part of the reason that our investment in public infrastructure as a component of GDP dropped by 60 percent from 1968 to 2011.
COLE MELLINO OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The Straits of Mackinac is a narrow waterway that separates Michigan’s lower peninsula from its upper peninsula. The straights connect two of the Great Lakes: Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. But underneath this iconic part of the Great Lakes are two 62-year old pipelines.
The pipelines have never been replaced, despite the well-documented risk of a rupture. “If just one of the pipelines ruptured, it would result in a spill of 1.5 million gallons of oil—and that’s if Enbridge, the company that owns them, is able to fix the pipeline immediately,” says Motherboard. “I can’t imagine another place in the Great Lakes where it’d be more devastating to have an oil spill, University of Michigan research scientist Dave Schwab told Motherboard.
Enbridge does not have a good record when it comes to spills either. It’s responsible for more than 800 spills between 1999 and 2010, totaling 6.8 million gallons of spilled oil. And in 2010, it spilled more than 800,000 gallons into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan—creating the biggest inland oil spill in the country’s history. It did not receive as much national attention because the country was fixated on another oil spill: the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
As we all know, the only reason why we are still dependent on fossil fuels is because Big Oil has forced the world to rely on their product since the late 1800s. It’s a barbaric and antiquated form of energy that should have been phased out a long time ago with scalpels and blood leeching, given the advancement of renewable energy technologies.
The one thing that Big Oil fears most is the lack of demand for their product. When public demand diminishes, supply is not worth the trouble and expense. It’s basic economics.
Recently, environmental activists and commentators have pointed to President Obama’s hypocrisy of traveling to the Arctic to talk about the melting ice and climate change, and at the same time, he allowed Royal Dutch Shell to begin oil and gas drilling in the Chukchi Sea, off Alaska’s northwest coast despite massive protests and demonstrations.
But this is the way it always goes down. The truth is President Obama is generally pro-oil and gas. His actions-decisions on oil drilling speak far louder than his empty speeches on climate change.
As usual, Big Oil wins and every living thing on this earth loses. When are we going to stop being victims? We approach the problem of climate change from the same strategy of begging politicians to do the right thing when they will never do the right thing for the reason that the oil industry writes the checks and buys them off. And they own the corporate networks as well. That’s why meteorologists are not allowed to connect the dots between extreme weather disasters and global warming or else they’ll be fired on the spot.
Round and round we go on this insane merry-go-round until there is nothing left to speak of regarding the emergency crisis we’re facing with the clock ticking as the last ice melts in the Artic: We are categorically facing mass extinction produced by man-made pollution, and it’s happening rapidly, faster than scientists predicted.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Who are all these people?
Here’s another global problem — this flow of refugees — that national governments are apparently incapable of dealing with in a long-term, cooperative, globally responsible way. As with climate change, as with warand disarmament, they retreat into insularity in the face of such matters and become protective of their short-term, individual “interests,” which mostly concern the bureaucratic sacredness of their borders and an obsessive distinction between us and them.
“The European Union, (French President François Hollande) said, needed to create ‘hot spot’ reception centers at those borders under the greatest onslaught — in Greece, Italy and Hungary — to register new arrivals and turn back those who do not meet the requirements for asylum,” reports the New York Times.
And: “(British Prime Minister David) Cameron said Monday that Britain would accept up to 20,000 Syrian refugees, but they would most likely be limited to those who apply for asylum from camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. The British government is wary of giving migrants any incentive to make the dangerous journey into Europe, officials said. . . .”
Of course, it gets a lot worse than that: razor wire, brute force, big walls. Desperate people risk their lives. Boats capsize. Children die as racist slogans reverberate. Families flee war and poverty, hell on earth. They need new homes. What a nuisance.
ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUTLORRAINE CHOW OF
Reprinted with permission from EcoWatch
In a first for the country, California’s Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) has issued plans to list glyphosate—the toxic active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide—as known to cause cancer.
According to a “notice of intent” issued last week by the Cal/EPA’s California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), the effort falls under California’s Proposition 65, in which the state is required to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm.
The same law, otherwise known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, also requires that certain substances identified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)—the World Health Organization’s cancer arm—be listed as known to cause cancer.
“Case-control studies of occupational exposure in the USA, Canada, and Sweden reported increased risks for non-Hodgkin lymphoma that persisted after adjustment for other pesticides,” the IARC said about the herbicide. There is also “convincing evidence” that it can cause cancer in laboratory animals.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
As if there weren't enough Christian evangelical groups beating the drums against the Obama administration's nuclear deal with Iran, another one, American Christian Leaders for Israel (ACLI) has joined the fray. Last week, ACLI, a networking project of the U.S. branch of International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ), sent a petition to the White House railing "against any agreement that does not dismantle Iran's nuclear program," according to an ACLI Press Release. The press release claims that "Some 650 Pastors and Christian leaders representing tens of millions of grassroots Americans have signed onto that letter."
"Through this joint initiative, we want to demonstrate that this is not a partisan issue, nor a Jewish issue, nor only an Israel issue, but it is an American issue, and millions of grassroots Americans are opposed to this disastrous deal," stated Susan Michael, U.S. Director for the ICEJ. "This network of Christian leaders in support of Israel is unprecedented," added Michael, "and reflects the gravity of the situation. We are asking all members of Congress to set aside partisan issues and vote against the agreement."
So while it appears nearly certain that Christian Zionists, along with the conservative pro-Israeli lobbying group AIPAC, the Republican Party and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have lost the battle over the nuclear deal with Iran, Christian evangelicals are vowing to fight on.
BILL QUIGLEY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
- 5.1. The official unemployment rate is 5.1 percent, or 8 million people, according to the US Department of Labor. However, this widely reported “official” number overlooks the millions of people unemployed for more than a year nor does it count those who are working part-time and looking for full-time work. The Department of Labor monthly report which includes people working part-time and looking for full-time work shows the real rate of unemployment is 10.3 percent.
- 6. It has been 6 years since the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour was raised.
- 8.9. Millions of adults, 8.9 million in fact, work full-time, year round and earn too little to lift their families out of poverty.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
A thought for Labor Day: In the not-too-distant future we might wait around for a package delivery, hurry off to class, grab a taxi downtown, meet the family for dinner, and then take the train home. All without being served by a single human being. No delivery person, no teacher, no cab driver, no food server, no train conductor.
Our jobs are disappearing. The benefits of a half-century of productivity, in which we and our parents all played a role, have largely accrued to the relatively few people who know how to make money by coordinating all the technological components, or by managing the money themselves.
And despite the relentless optimism of starry-eyed pundits and tech leaders, the great majority of Americans will NOT be prepared to turn new technologies into life-sustaining employment.
1. Our Jobs Are Disappearing
The jobs that kept the middle class out of poverty -- education, construction, social services, customer service, transportation, administrative support -- have dramatically declined since the recession. Programmers and engineers and financial experts are still in demand. But nine of the ten fastest growingoccupations don't require a college degree.