Facebook Slider
Optional Member Code
Get News Alerts!
Guest Commentary

Guest Commentary (4675)


Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Monsanto's experimental genetically engineered wheat has been found growing in a field in Washington state, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirmed last week.

This discovery not only raises concerns over GMO contamination, it could be another legal headache for Monsanto, as the agritech giant has paid millions to settle recent lawsuits over illegal GMO wheat.

Reuters reported on Friday that a farmer found 22 unapproved GMO wheat plants in a field that has not been planted since 2015. Federal and state officials are now conducting an investigation.


Wastewater 0801wrp opt(Photo: EcoWatch)Florida regulators voted to approve new water quality standards that would increase the amount of carcinogenic toxins allowed in Florida's waterways.

The Environmental Regulation Commission voted 3-2 Tuesday to approve a proposal by state regulators that would set new standards on 39 chemicals not currently regulated by the Sunshine State and revise regulations on 43 toxins, most of which are carcinogenic. State regulators claim the new plan will protect more Floridians than current standards, the Miami Herald reported.

"We have not updated these parameters since 1992," Cari Roth, chairwoman of the commission, told the Miami Herald. "It is more good than harm. The practical effect is, it is not going to increase the amount of toxins going into our waters."

Under the new proposal, acceptable levels of toxins in Florida waters will increase for more than 24 known carcinogens. The acceptable levels would decrease for 13 chemicals that are currently regulated.

The new regulations are based on a one-of-a-kind scientific method the Florida Department of Environmental Protection created, called "Monte Carlo." The method is being criticized by environmental groups, warning the new standards would allow polluters to dump high concentrations of dangerous chemicals into Florida's rivers and streams.

"Monte Carlo gambling with our children's safety is unacceptable," Marty Baum, of Indian Riverkeeper, said.


Coin 0801wrp opt(Photo: Jeff Belmonte)Corporations are viewed as untouchable by big business media giants like the Wall Street Journal, which blurts out inanities like "Income inequality is simply not a significant problem." and "Middle-class Americans have more buying power than ever before."

In the real world, inequality is destroying the middle class. The following four issues, all part of the cancer of corporatocracy, have grown in intensity and destructiveness in just the last few years. They should be campaign issues, given more than just lip service from corporation-funded candidates like Hillary Clinton, and given more than just passing reference in the news reports of an unresponsive, irresponsible mainstream media.

1. Monopolies: Increasing Prices, Cutting Jobs

The Busch/Miller merger is the latest attack on competition, joining the recent surge toward oligopolies in the banking industry, pharmaceuticals and hospitals, wireless companies, and airlines. Contrary to any condescending claims that mergers contribute to price-lowering efficiencies, they have actually led to price increases in 75 percent of examined cases, according to a Northeastern University study. The resulting corporate profits are often used for investor-enriching stock buybacks.

And jobs are cut. When Merck took over Cubist Pharmaceuticals, the latter's research and development staff was eliminated, ending their studies of other promising medicines.

2. Finance: Now Costing Us More Than the Military

A Roosevelt Institute study estimates that "the financial system will impose an excess cost of as much as $22.7 trillion between 1990 and 2023. That comes to about $660 billion per year, more than the discretionary military budget. That's over $5,000 per U.S. household in excess financial costs.

Banks once spent the majority of their money on business investments; now it's just 15 percent. Rana Foroohar summarizes: "US companies today make more than ever before by simply moving money around."

Corporations are viewed as untouchable by big business media giants like the Wall Street Journal, which blurts out inanities like "Income inequality is simply not a significant problem." and "Middle-class Americans have more buying power than ever before."

In the real world, inequality is destroying the middle class. The following four issues, all part of the cancer of corporatocracy, have grown in intensity and destructiveness in just the last few years. They should be campaign issues, given more than just lip service from corporation-funded candidates like Hillary Clinton, and given more than just passing reference in the news reports of an unresponsive, irresponsible mainstream media.


Mouse 0729wrp opt(Photo: Darkone)Trump publically invited the Russians to hack into 30,000 email messages at least three of which were “classified” or “top secret,” and promised the Russians that they would be rewarded by the media. At a press conference, Trump stated, "Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press." Unequivocally, Trump was inviting a foreign power to hack into government email messages. This may be a crime under 18 US Code § 373, “Solicitation to commit a crime of violence” and/or the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). Unfortunately, the corporate media have not done their due diligence in covering the criminal implications of Trump’s action. Instead, they have, at their boldest, denounced it as “irresponsible,” “unprecedented,” “stupid,” and “silly.”

According to 18 US Code § 373, “Whoever, with intent that another person engage in conduct constituting a felony that has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against property … solicits, commands, induces, or otherwise endeavors to persuade such other person to engage in such conduct,” is guilty of a crime punishable by imprisonment and/or fine not more than one-half of the punishment for the crime solicited. So did Trump solicit or attempt to persuade the Russians to commit a felony?

According to 1030(a) of the CFAA, it is a felony to (1) knowingly access a computer without authorization, (2) obtain national security information, (3) have reason to believe the information could benefit a foreign nation, and (4) attempt to cause the information to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted to any person not entitled to receive it. So, arguably, Trump committed a felony pursuant to 18 US Code § 373 by soliciting the Russians to commit a felony pursuant to the CFAA 1030(a).

According to FBI Director, James Comey, “With respect to the thousands of e-mails we found that were not among those produced to State, agencies have concluded that three of those were classified at the time they were sent or received, one at the Secret level and two at the Confidential level. …” So, Trump attempted to persuade the Russians to hack into email messages some of which are, or were, classified or top secret, which means that they contained “national security information.” He has also expressed reason to believe that the Russians, a foreign power, could benefit from obtaining the information inasmuch as, he has stated “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.” Finally, Trump “attempted to cause the information to be “communicated, delivered, or transmitted” to the Russians by inviting them to hack into it, and then give it to the press.


Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

You'll never find ads or sneaky "sponsored content" here at BuzzFlash. Help keep BuzzFlash and Truthout ad-free by making a tax-deductible donation today!

Neonicotinoids, a common and highly controversial class of insecticides linked to catastrophic bee deaths, could be significantly lowering the sperm count of male drone honey bees and cutting their life span by a third, Swiss researchers found.

Researchers from the Institute of Bee Health at the University of Bern, Switzerland discovered that male drone honeybees that ate pollen treated with two popular "neonics" -- thiamethoxam and clothianidin -- produced nearly 40 percent less sperm than those that did not.

When sperm from both sets of drones were put under the microscope, the ones treated with neonics produced 1.2 million living sperm on average while the control group produced 1.98 million. The authors said that the insecticides "can serve as inadvertent insect contraceptives." A drone's main role is to mate with the queen bee.

Thursday, 28 July 2016 06:47

Slavery, War and Presidential Politics

28484966812 fb24c3c6ce o 1 (Photo: Victoria Pickering)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

BuzzFlash isn't funded by ads or subscription revenue, but by readers like you. Can you help sustain us by making a tax-deductible donation now?

As I watched "unity" take hold of the Democratic Party this week, the believer in me wanted to be imbibe it -- bottoms up. 

Michelle Obama ignited the crowd. "That is the story of this country," she said. "The story that has brought me to the stage tonight. The story of generations of people who felt the lash of bondage, the shame of servitude, the sting of segregation, who kept on striving, and hoping, and doing what needed to be done."

And the Big Party opened its arms.

"So that today, I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves."


Wow. I can remember when we didn't talk like this in public, especially not on a national stage. Acknowledging slavery -- at a profound level, in all its immorality -- is so much deeper than simply acknowledging racism, which can be reduced to the behavior of ignorant people. But the ownership of human bodies and human souls, total control over people's lives and the lives of their children, was inscribed in law. And such ownership was a core principle of the "greatest country on earth," embedded in the economy, embraced by the Founding Fathers with no questions asked.


Apocalypse 0727wrp opt(Photo: Viktor M. Vasnetsov)On July 25, despite their being no signs of The Rapture, the Rev. Tim LaHaye slipped off this mortal coil, just days after suffering a stroke. Long before LaHaye, and his writing partner, Jerry Jenkins, teamed up to write the Left Behind series of mega-best-selling apocalyptic novels – which took The Rapture and apocalypticism to the mainstream -- LaHaye was a major figure in the founding and nurturing of the Religious Right.

In 1989, the Unification Church-owned Washington Times newspaper described him as “one of the lightning-rod clergy of the Religious Right.” In 2005, Time magazine declared LaHaye as one of the 25 most influential evangelicals in America. At the same time, Time named LaHaye and his wife Beverly -- who founded the conservative Christian Concerned Women for America in 1979 – “The Christian Power Couple.”

LaHaye had a long history of involvement in Religious Right organizations and activities. The Reagan-Bush campaign assigned LaHaye “to coordinate Christian Right voter registration projects,” Sara Diamond wrote in her book Roads to Dominion. Out of that project came the American Coalition for Tradition Values, which was “largely funded by television preachers.”

“In 1987, he was honorary national co-chairman of Representative Jack Kemp’s campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, but quit after published reports quoted anti-Catholic and anti-Jewish passages in his writings,” The New York Times pointed out.

Rev. LaHaye earned a bachelor’s degree at Bob Jones University in 1950, and received doctorate from Western Theological Seminary. He was president of Family Life Seminars, co-founder of the Moral Majority, founder of the American Coalition for Traditional Values, and an organizer of the Council on National Policy (CNP), a highly secretive, ultra-conservative organization comprised of almost every major right-wing leader and personality in the country.


Bern 0727wrp opt(Photo: Jake Bucci)The fervent prayer of old-line Democratic operatives and corporate funders is that the Sanders Storm will dissipate now that Hillary Clinton will get the nomination, thus allowing politics — as — usual to reestablish its grip on the system. Here's why I think they're dead wrong:

First, whatever else you think of Clinton, she's certainly smart, savvy, and accomplished, and she didn't come this far by ignoring important shifts in the political winds. As Sanders' tub-thumping message drew huge crowds, new voters, and that deep pool of small donors, she adjusted her wings to try riding some of the powerful thermals rising from America's grassroots. A career-long corporate Democrat, Clinton began sounding more and more like Sanders, sympathizing with the rising fury of working-class families and becoming at least Bernie-lite on several populist proposals.

You can view her adaptations as hopeful or hopelessly cynical, but the point is that Clinton recognizes that a new power is loose on the land. Understanding that the same old Bill and Barack moderate corporatism won't charge up the crowds she needs in November, she's scrambling to tap the electric populism of the Bernie Rebellion.

This rebellious spark is the true hope of a moribund Democratic Party that registers only 29 percent of eligible voters. Far from wishing away the energetic millions who "Feel the Bern," entrenched Democratic elders should beg these hot—blooded activists to revitalize the party. In fact, a June poll by Reuters/Ipsos found that three quarters of Democrats (including Hillary backers) want Sanders to have a "major role" in shaping the party's positions, and two-thirds wanted him as her VP choice.

Think about it: While Bernie was the oldest candidate running for president, in heart, soul, vigor, and vision he is by far the youngest. He won the majority of voters under 45 years old and a stunning 71 percent of under-30 voters. In the under-30 demographic, Bernie even won decisively among women, including African-Americans and Latinas. He also dominated among independents who voted Democratic. There's the future.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016 14:39

Offshore Wind Powers Ahead in Europe


WindFarm 0726wrp opt(Photo: EcoWatch)A building boom is underway offshore in Europe. Up to 400 giant wind turbines are due to be built off the northeast coast of the UK in what will be the world's largest offshore wind development.

Output from the Dogger Bank project will be 1.2 Gigawatts—enough to power more than 1 million homes.

Next year, a 150-turbine wind farm off the coast of the Netherlands is due to start operating and other schemes along the Dutch coast are in the works.

Denmark, Sweden and Portugal are major investors in offshore wind and China has ambitious plans for the sector.

Wind farms—both onshore and offshore—are seen as a key ingredient in renewable energy policy and an important element in the battle against climate change.


Bell 0726wrp opt(Photo: Bev Sykes)At high Noon Sunday, with temperatures heading toward 95 degrees, I'm confident I was not the only one preparing to march through the streets of downtown Philadelphia who recalled that old elementary-school story about the wig-wearing drafters of the Declaration of Independence huddled inside of Independence Hall on a sweltering July day.

In fact, on the eve of the Democratic National Convention (DNC), Independence Hall was the literal destination of this march to declare our independence from fossil fuels.

In spite of the dangerous heat—or maybe precisely because there are now simply way too many extremely hot days like this one—marchers showed up in huge numbers and they brought with them a revolutionary frame of mind.

Convened by Pennsylvanians Against Fracking and Americans Against Fracking—for which I serve as science advisor—the March for a Clean Energy Revolution attracted more than 10,000 people and was endorsed by more than 900 environmental, health, labor, political, faith, justice, indigenous and student organizations groups from all 50 states of the union.

The day kicked off with a press conference at city hall that featured local and national advocacy leaders as well as individuals from communities decimated by various fossil fuel extraction, transport and storage projects.

Page 8 of 334