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2016.16.2 BF Buchheit(Photo: Images Money)PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

It came up in the Republican debate again, the curious notion that striving for less inequality is somehow a form of "class warfare." The implication is that the richest people earned everything they have through their own initiative and hard work. But most of them have exploited an American financial system that has facilitated the transfer of our national wealth to the people who manage that wealth. 

Informed Americans understand that an economic war has been waged against the middle and lower classes. As a result, there are at least five good reasons why the tax rate on the upper classes should be much higher.

1. Massive Redistribution Has Occurred. Upward.

Total U.S. wealth increased by a stunning 60 percent since 2009, from $54 trillion to $86 trillion, but 3/4 of that massive increase went to the richest 10% of Americans. According to the New York Times, the wealthiest Americans have formed an "income defense industry" to shelter their riches, with, "a high-priced phalanx of lawyers, estate planners, lobbyists and anti-tax activists who exploit and defend a dizzying array of tax maneuvers, virtually none of them available to taxpayers of more modest means." From 2003 to 2012 the average income tax rate paid by the richest 1% went down, while for the 99% it went up.

MARY ANNE HITT OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Articles reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

aaaaaaaaaaacoal62Coal use and production in the US is declining, and that is good for the planet. (Photo: Oatsy40)

Let’s make one thing perfectly clear—while the Supreme Court’s decision to put a temporary hold on the Clean Power Plan was disappointing, it won’t revive the fortunes of the coal industry, slow the transition to clean energy or cripple progress toward meeting the climate commitment the U.S. made in Paris last year.

Tuesday’s decision means the Supreme Court is temporarily pausing the Clean Power Plan from going into effect, while the courts consider the merits of the case. As that legal process unfolds, likely into 2017, something else will continue unfolding as well—the steady progress of the Sierra Club and our allies to retire coal plants and replace them with clean energy. As we outlined in a report released late last year, our strategy gives us a pathway to meet our climate targets, even as the Clean Power Plan makes its way through the courts.

Thanks to coal retirements and the rise of clean energy, U.S. carbon emissions are at their lowest level in two decades and are continuing to fall. In 2015, the U.S. got just 34 percent of our electricity from coal, the lowest level in recorded history and experts don’t see a reversal of that trend. Since 2010, we’ve won retirement of 231 coal plants that make up one-third of the U.S. coal fleet and we’re just warming up, with the goal of securing retirement of half the U.S. coal fleet no later than 2017.

COLE MELLINO OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Articles reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

aaaaaaaaaaaaaacalcrops32(Photo: Spotlight California)

When most people think of California, the first images that probably come to mind are the state’s sun-soaked beaches, the Hollywood hills and the fog-drenched Golden Gate Bridge. But a new documentary web series, Spotlight California, wants to show viewers the California you don’t see on postcards.

The five-part series, hosted by actress and comedian Kiran Deol, is investigating the impact of drought, water and air pollution, and gas price gouging in California.

The goal is to “raise awareness of these issues, give voice to the Californians being directly impacted and create an opportunity for people to join together and to take positive actions in communities across the state,” explained NextGen Climate, which is funding the project.

“With this project, I want to shed some light on the powerful players who have tilted the economic tables in their favor, profiting at the expense of our families,” Tom Steyer, president of NextGen Climate, said. “But I also want to highlight stories from people working hard to balance the scales; folks who maintain a positive attitude during tough times, while making a big difference.”

ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaatoxicWhat if we found the political will to reprioritize the national budget and reclaim the future? (Photo: eek the cat)

Maybe if we declared “war” on poison water, we’d find a way to invest money in its “defeat.”

David Rosner and Gerald Markowitz, writing at Tom Dispatch this week about what they called “The United States of Flint,” make this point: “The price tag for replacing the lead pipes that contaminated its drinking water, thanks to the corrosive toxins found in the Flint River, is now estimated at up to $1.5 billion. No one knows where that money will come from or when it will arrive. In the meantime, the cost to the children of Flint has been and will be incalculable.”

I sit with these words: “No one knows where the money will come from.”

In the president’s latest budget proposal, $7.5 billion is earmarked to “fight ISIS,” an absurd non-threat to the nation’s survival, but no matter. We’re engaged in endless war with whoever the latest enemy happens to be and this war is endlessly funded, no questions asked. Mostly we’re engaged in war preparation, of course (and the containment of the consequences of past wars — at least the ones that can’t be ignored). As usual, the Pentagon and other war-engaged institutions will consume well over half the nation’s discretionary spending, including a $59 billion “slush fund that permits the Pentagon to break through Congress’ legislated budget caps,” according to the National Priorities Project.

2016.10.2 bf chow(Photo: Mike Mozart)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Articles reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Monsanto Co. is facing another lawsuit alleging that exposure to glyphosate, the primary ingredient in the company’s flagship product Roundup, causes cancer.

Christine and Kenneth Sheppard, the former owners of Dragon’s Lair Kona Coffee Farm in Honaunau, Hawaii, have accused the multinational agribusiness of falsely masking the carcinogenic risks of glyphosate and is responsible for causing the woman’s cancer, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported.

The civil suit, Sheppard et al v. Monsanto Company, was filed Feb. 2 in U.S. District Court in Honolulu by the Miller Firm of Orange, Virgina and Honolulu attorney Brian K. Mackintosh on behalf of the husband-and-wife duo.

2016.9.2 bf chow(Photo: prilfish)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

A turtle hospital in Marathon, Florida is treating an increasing number of green sea turtles affected by fibropapillomatosis (FP), a global sea turtle disease caused by a herpes virus. The disease leads to the formation of tumors on the turtles’ eyes, flippers and internal organs. The possible culprits? Pollution and warming waters.

In all, the Florida Keys-based Turtle Hospital rescue and rehab facility has admitted 93 sea turtles in 2014, 68 in 2013 and 56 in 2012, The Miami Herald reported.

“Marine turtles with FP have external tumors that may grow so large and hanging as to hamper swimming, vision, feeding and potential escape from predators,” hospital manager Bette Zirkelbach told the publication. “Over 50 percent of the green sea turtle population in and around the Florida Keys is infected with FP.”

2016.9.2 bf berkowitz2(Photo: DonkeyHotey)BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Almost a year ago, Jeff Roe, the founder and principal of the Kansas City, Missouri-based Axiom Strategies, was knocking out attack ads aimed at trashing the gubernatorial candidacy of former Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich. A sixty-second radio ad "labeled Schweich as a weak candidate for governor and pointed out that his political foes would 'squash him like the little bug that he is,'” The Kansas City Star reported. The radio ad also compared Schweich to Barney Fife, the hapless fictional deputy sheriff of Mayberry, on "The Andy Griffith Show."

According to a 2011 Kansas City Star piece by Steve Kraske, Team Roe was involved with "instances of Dumpster diving when Roe's minions would sift through an opposing candidate's household garbage to find something embarrassing. There were stories about Roe employees dashing out of the nighttime shadows to snap photos for use in unflattering campaign fliers. The thing was, Roe admitted it all. 'Politics ain't beanbag,' he would say. In 2006, there were TV ads that chastised one opponent in a wheelchair for working for Penthouse magazine. In reality, she sold ads for a company that owned the magazine."

2016 0208waterf"It's time to acknowledge the national water pollution crisis we face, which will only get worse with climate change wrought by fossil fuels extraction and consumption responsible for fouling so much of our precious water in the first place," writes Mark Ruffalo. (Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout; Adapted: Kevin Jaako)MARK RUFFALO OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

For the past two years, the 100,000 residents of Flint, Michigan, drank, cooked and bathed with lead-contaminated water. Rates of lead poisoning - which can impair brain development and cause other serious health ailments - among the area's children have skyrocketed, from 5 percent before the water turned bad to 16 percent today.

Residents have long reported brown, bad-tasting and foul-smelling water and unexplained sicknesses. Almost a year ago, water tests showed dangerous levels of lead. Yet state, local and federal officials did nothing. Worse, they assured residents that the water was safe. In recently released emails, state officials demonstrated indifference and even contempt toward the complaints that came mostly from poor, black residents. Furthermore, according to some witnesses and media reports, state officials diluted water samples or took incomplete "slow drip water samples" to game results and claim that the water was safe.

Flint's man-made water disaster is an outrageous tragedy and a human health crisis. And unfortunately, it's not an isolated case. It's one instance in a pattern of government failures to take water testing seriously and respond to evidence of water pollution.

2016.2.8.BF.BuchheitFor every three homeless children in 2006, there are now five. For every three children on food stamps in 2007, there are now five. And yet spending on children's programs recently declined for the first time in nearly 20 years. (Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout; Adapted: D Sharon Pruitt, Leo Reynolds, GrungeTextures)PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

US plutocrats are afraid of too much change. But it's too late for gradual change. Only a popular uprising against big business greed can restore a semblance of justice to our perversely unequal society.

The election should be about oppression and the economy - but the economy of the 99% in the US, not of establishment wealth. So many in the US are in need of justice, including the following members of the US commons.

Black Americans and Other People of Color in the United States

"I cringed when people would ask me where I lived ... Just to say 'public housing' was basically saying that you're dirty, you're bad, you're dumb, you're lazy, you're a problem." - Shana Griffin, New Orleans activist

Emergency home repairs? Not for Black families. The average African American family had readily available liquid wealth of only $200 in 2011, less than $1 for every $100 owned by whites.

We tend to believe that education is the great equalizer. But a middle-aged Black person with a graduate degree has about the same odds of being a millionaire as a white person with only a high school diploma.

Friday, 05 February 2016 08:02

Pro-GMO Group Crosses Ethical Line

KEN ROSEBORO OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaDNA(Photo: Thomas Splettstoesser)The Genetic Literacy Project (GLP) has been accused of unethical journalistic practices after it published personal information about individuals opposed to genetically modified food and changed the text of an article without the author’s permission.

GLP is an organization that heavily promotes genetic engineering of foods and attacks critics of the technology.

GLP has posted phone numbers, email and home addresses and other personal information about GMO critics. According to David Murphy, executive director of Food Democracy Now, GLP posted the phone number and email and home addresses of Don Huber, Emeritus Professor of Plant Pathology at Purdue University. Murphy contacted GLP asking them to remove the information, which they did, but shortly after GLP posted Murphy’s cell phone number and home address.

“It’s one thing to have a public disagreement with highly trained scientists and activists on a controversial subject like GMO safety, but publishing personal information, home addresses and cell phone numbers, is a new low, even for Monsanto’s smear merchant,” Murphy said. “Does Monsanto really want us publishing their CEO and top scientists like Robb Fraley’s home addresses? One wonders what they really have to hide if they’re willing to employ such slimeball tactics against their critics.”

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