Guest Commentary (4710)
JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
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
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.
DR. DAVID SUZUKI OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch
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 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.India is steeped in a synthesized controversy created by
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.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
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
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 ...
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.
ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUTLORRAINE CHOW OF
Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch.
Clean power superstar Costa Rica has hit another renewable energy milestone. The Central American country's electric grid has been powered entirely by its mix of hydropower, wind, solar, geothermal and biomass for 150 days this year and counting.
Impressively, as Mashable reported, the country has not used fossil fuels for electricity for the last 76 days, from June 16 to Sept. 2, according to data from the country's power operator, Costa Rica Electricity Institute (ICE).
According to an ICE report, hydropower contributed about 80 percent of the country's electricity needs in August, followed by geothermal (12 percent), wind (7 percent) and solar energy (0.01 percent).
Costa Rica hasn't needed to rely on fossil fuels for electricity since June 16. "Since then, it's been 76 consecutive days in which all electricity has come from plants that use renewable resources," the ICE said.
"We are a small country with great goals!" ICE wrote on Facebook. "We remain committed to the goal of carbon neutrality for 2021."
Costa Rica is becoming well-known for its renewable energy accomplishments. Last year, the country generated nearly all of its electricity from renewables.
JAX JACOBSEN OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
study from professors at Oklahoma State University has found that Republicans and Democrats have never been so far apart on climate issues.A new
"What was once a modest tendency for Congressional Republicans to be less pro-environmental than their Democratic counterparts has become a chasm—with Republicans taking near-unanimous anti-environmental stances on relevant legislation in recent years, especially 2015," the study said.
This distance between the parties was further exacerbated by the rise of the Koch-funded Tea Party, which took the hard line of fully dismissing the climate change threat, often making climate change a lightning rod for voters who were outraged at Washington.
As they stoked fears about the U.S. government attempting to pass legislation to limit greenhouse gas emissions, the Tea Party normalized climate denial throughout the Republican Party, according to Oklahoma State University's Prof. Riley E. Dunlap and Jerrod H. Yarosh, and Michigan State Associate Professor Aaron M. McCright.
Another study, cited by The Guardian Tuesday, concludes that the growth of conservative media has cemented this gap.
Conservative newspaper The Wall Street Journal was found to publish inaccurate information on the topic, according to a report by Media Matters for America.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the National Anthem as a protest against racial inequality in America is hands-down the biggest sports-related story in America. On Labor Day, in an attempt to keep up with the avalanche of new developments, I posted the following on my Facebook page:
#kaepernickchronicles, #meganrapinoerocks -- Colin Kaepernick is still making headlines in The Bay and The Nation: Latest stories include: him not showing up Sunday morning at SF's Third Baptist Church (presided over by the much revered Rev. Amos Brown), although there are questions about whether he had actually accepted the invitation; more talk about Kaepernick's girlfriend, Nessa Diab, a New York radio personality, MTV star and a Muslim, and what her political influences might be; Kaepernick and Diab's donation of $60,000 worth of school backpacks to kids in Harlem and the South Bronx; and, U.S. women's soccer national-team member Megan Rapinoe kneeling on one knee before the Seattle Reign's game on Sunday night "in a little nod to Kaepernick and everything that he's standing for right now." Rapinoe added that "it's actually pretty disgusting the way he was treated." She went on to say that as a gay American, "I know what it means to look at the flag sand not have it protect all your liberties. … It's important to have white people stand in support of people of color on this."
Just about every day since the media discovered that Kaepernick was protesting racism in America and police murders of black people by not standing for the National Anthem before the start of NFL exhibition games, sports talk radio, the nation’s sports pages, and social media has been ablaze. For Kaepernick, the media, his critics, and his supporters, it has been one heck of a ride. And it doesn’t seem to be abating anytime soon.
According to nfl.com, Kaepernick explained to NFL Media's Steve Wyche “that his decision is based on perceived societal wrongdoings against African-Americans and minorities in the U.S. ‘I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,’” Kaepernick said. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
If the Hate Hillary Industry has a Godfather, that would be David Bossie. Now, Bossie, who has been toiling in the bone-yard of misinformation and disinformation, digging up skeletons and polishing them with half-truths for years, is ready for his close-up. The man who has been called a political hit man, a dirty trickster, an attack dog, and more, was recently appointed deputy campaign manager of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, tasked with a role he’s being playing for more than two decades; taking down Hillary Clinton.
Trump told The Washington Post’s Robert Costa that Bossie has been “a friend …for many years,” and that he is "Solid. Smart. Loves politics, knows how to win."
Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said that Bossie, who will take a leave of absence from Citizens United, “is a battle-tested warrior and a brilliant strategist. He's a nuts-and-bolts tactician as well, who's going to help us fully integrate our ground game and data operations, and help with overall strategy as my deputy."
Bossie is apparently closely acquainted with Trump’s new CEO and former Breitbart News head, Stephen Bannon, talk radio host Laura Ingraham. And according to The Washington Post’s Costa, Bossie is close to the family of hedge-fund investor Robert L. Mercer, who has “funded his organizations and been major backers of Trump’s candidacy.” Costa also pointed out that “Casino magnate Steve Wynn, an influential Trump ally, is also a friend of Bossie's.”
DR. DAVID SUZUKI OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Brexit vote in Britain, Donald Trump's promise to build a wall between Mexico and the U.S. and the ongoing threats and violence against ethnic minorities in many parts of the world. I'm not a political or social scientist, but my training as a biologist gives me some insight.It's been shocking to watch news of the
When I began my career as a scientist, geneticists were starting to analyze the molecular properties of single genes within a species. When we started looking at highly evolved species such as fruit flies, we thought we would find that their genes had been honed through selection over time, so they would be relatively homogeneous within single species. Examining one kind of protein controlled by a specific gene, we expected to find them all pretty much the same. Instead, we learned there was a great deal of heterogeneity or diversity. A gene specifying a protein could exist in a number of different states.
This is now called "genetic polymorphism" and is considered to be the very measure of a species' health. Inbreeding or reduction of a species to a small number reduces genetic polymorphism and exposes harmful genes, thereby rendering the species more susceptible to sudden change. In other words, genetic polymorphism confers resilience by providing greater possibilities as conditions shift.
Within ecosystems, species diversity provides greater flexibility to adjust to disturbances. Around the planet, ecosystem diversity has enabled life to flourish under different conditions. Like nested Russian dolls, life seems to have been built on diversity within diversity of genes, species and ecosystems.
JACKSON KATZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Gender norms influence not just what we think, but how. Consider the pervasive presence of sports metaphors in contemporary American politics. Metaphors are not merely figures of speech. According to the cognitive scientists and philosophers George Lakoff and Mark Johnson (1980), human thought processes themselves are largely metaphorical.
Metaphors from sports such as basketball and baseball regularly surface in political speech. But arguably the two most metaphorically influential sports in presidential campaign rhetoric are boxing and football. Not coincidentally, they are both violent sports that attract a disproportionate percentage of male participants and fans. It is only possible to speculate about how much of the white male vote is determined by impressions about the relative "manliness" or "toughness" of candidates or political parties. But there is no doubt that for several decades, violence -- both our individual and collective vulnerability to it, and questions about when and how to use the violent power of the state to protect the "national interest" -- has been an ominous and omnipresent factor in numerous foreign policy and domestic political issues (e.g. the Cold War, Vietnam, the "War on Terror," the invasion of Iraq, the emergence of ISIS, gun control, and executive, legislative, and judicial responses to violent crime). The frequent use of boxing and football metaphors in political discourse did not cause violence to become such an important force in our politics, but this usage is one measure of how presidential campaigns can be less about policy differences and complex political agendas than they can be about the selling of a certain kind of executive masculinity, embodied in a particular man whom the public comes to know largely through television and other technologies of mass communication.
Boxing metaphors play a crucial role in defining presidential campaigns as the ultimate arena for masculine competition. Boxing is a prototypical working-class or poor man's (or, more recently, woman's) sport that strips the notion of physical combat to its barest essence: man against man in a fight to the finish.
ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUTROBERT F. KENNEDY, JR. OF
Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch
Earlier this month, my 15-year-old son, Aidan, and I joined a group of environmental activists on a six day float down Utah's Green River. In rafts and kayaks, we paddled Desolation and Gray canyons almost to the Colorado River confluence.
It was my second trip down the Green. In April 1966, I ran the prime white water stretches of the Yampa and Green through western Colorado and eastern Utah near Dinosaur National Park with my father and mother, U.S. Interior Secretary Stuart Udall and five of my 11 siblings. My father's friend, mountaineer Jim Whitaker, had organized that trip. Whittaker also accompanied my family on a Colorado River trip in 1964, down the Middle Fork of the Salmon in the summer of 1965 and on a kayak run on the upper Hudson's wild white water during a blizzard in May 1965. My father's purpose for the latter trip was to block an industry proposal to dam the Hudson River Gorge.
On each of those western trips, my father took us to nearby Navajo, Hopi and Ute reservations where we visited schools and health clinics and saw the despair among America's first nations mired in poverty, racism, oppression and hopelessness. My father taught us the history of the early American explorers, John Wesley Powell, John Charles Freemont, and Lewis and Clarke.
Following his brother, John Kennedy's assassination in 1963, he increasingly found spiritual renewal in wilderness which he considered "the undiluted work of the Creator." He saw white water as a way to struggle with nature without subduing it and he hoped that all that climbing, paddling and privation would imbue his children with the kind of beef jerky toughness he associated with the American character.