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Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch.

Photo credit: Erik S Lesser / EPAThe language included in the TPP is more aggressive than previous trade deals and provides broad new powers for other countries and foreign corporations to challenge U.S. food safety and food labeling measures. Photo credit: Erik S Lesser / U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 

The Obama administration released the long-secret text of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal that would weaken consumer protections, undermine U.S. food safety standards and prevent commonsensefood labeling. The language included in the TPP is more aggressive than previous trade deals and provides broad new powers for other countries and foreign corporations to challenge U.S. food safety and food labeling measures. 

The TPP is a giveaway to big agribusiness and food companies that want to use trade deals to attack sensible food safety rules, weaken the inspection of imported food and block efforts to strengthen U.S. food safety standards. The food and agribusiness industries inserted language into the text of the TPP that will undermine U.S. food safety oversight and expose consumers to risky imported foods.

The TPP includes a new provision designed to second-guess the government inspectors who monitor food imports. The so-called Rapid Response Mechanism allows companies to challenge border inspection procedures that companies claim cause unnecessary delay—like holding suspect shipments while awaiting laboratory test results—and demand that a TPP panel of experts review and provide guidance on the inspection. This would create a chilling-effect on rigorous border inspection that would be especially dangerous for problems that are not obvious, like chemical or drug residues that would only appear after more thorough examination and testing.


It may be the greatest hypocrisy of The US's conservative leaders, that they demand control over a woman's body, but then show every sign of neglect after a child comes into the world. It reaches beyond neglect to disdain for the poor. In a perversely unequal nation in which the well-off blame impoverished people for their own struggles, the children of the poor become the innocent victims.

Children of all ages are deemed disposable:

The Littlest Children - Deprived of Their Most Important Year of School

Over half of America's 4-year-olds are NOT attending pre-school, even though numerous studies have shown that pre-school helps all children to achieve more and earn more through adulthood, with the most disadvantaged benefiting the most. We're near the bottom of the developed world in the percentage of 4-year-olds in early childhood education.

2015.9.11 BF Brasch(Photo: Gage Skidmore)WALTER BRASCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

One of the basic tenets of journalism ethics and practices is that reporters must keep their distance from news sources.

They’re allowed to be friendly. They’re even allowed to share a meal with a news source. But, they must be independent. It’s a “Caesar’s wife” thing—they must be above suspicion.

This past week, Lara Spencer, co-anchor of ABC-TV’s “Good Morning America,” snuggled up to Donald Trump.

In a photo posted to Instagram, she is seen with her left arm around Trump’s shoulder, her right hand across his stomach. Both are looking at each other and smiling. Spencer posted the following message to the photo: “Can’t beat having the REAL DonaldJTrump on.” She added the emoticon of a smiley face.


Another deep cry, followed by a shrug. The world is at war, at war, at war. But it only hurts them, the helpless ones, the anonymous poor, who absorb the bombs and bullets, who bury their children, who flee their broken countries.

Sixty million people have been displaced by the current wars, the highest number of uprooted since World War II. But who cares?

“In the face of blatant inhumanity, the world has responded with disturbing paralysis.”

The words are those of Ban Ki-Moon, executive-secretary of the United Nations, who, along with Paul Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, issued a joint cry of anguish last week: Things are worse than they’ve been in a long time. Not only are wars tearing apart Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Nigeria, South Sudan and other countries, but the conflicts seem to be increasingly lacking in moral constraint.


Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch.

I love our national parks. Writer and historian Wallace Stegner called them “the best idea we ever had.” And yet, like the rest of the planet, our parks are under siege from climate change. From bigger and bigger fires threatening Yosemite to rising seas disrupting the Everglades’ fragile ecosystem, the evidence is everywhere.


By now, most conscious beings know a little something about the Koch Brothers. In a recent interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Charles Koch claimed that politically speaking, he and his brother David are “largely failures.” Thus far, despite the fact that the campaign of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker -- the brothers’ first choice for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination -- sunk like a stone, they have reportedly given $20 million to Super Pacs supporting GOP candidates. As the interview with MSNBC suggested, the brothers are no longer choosing to lead the semi-secret/semi-private lives they once professed to prefer. And, while it’s true that they are not involved in every nefarious anti-democratic initiative coming down the pike, they’ve sure got a lot of coals in the fire.

A few things about the Koch Brothers clearly stand out: Their incredible wealth derived from private oil, chemical and manufacturing conglomerate Koch Industries Inc.; their attempts to mold the politics of the country – read that free market über alles; their non-political charitable donations to medicine and the arts; and, their ability to draw myriad Republican Party politicians to their events. Perhaps most importantly, however, is their commitment to the long game.


Official vote counts in Ohio indicate a major defeat for the nation's first corporate-sponsored marijuana legalization referendum.

But it's complicated.

And the ultimate issue is far from settled, as cannabis supporters are looking to 2016 to finally make pot legal here.

Amidst the usual "glitches" in vote counting, the state election apparatus says Issue 3 was defeated by about 2:1. Ohio's electronic voting machines usually "break down" somewhere in the state during a major election, and the reporting of this year's results were subjected to the expected delays.

Issue 3 was supported by a commercial cartel that spent $25 million pushing a plan to profit from legal marijuana sales.

For a full pre-election discussion of the issue, listen here.

Issue 3 would have allowed private individuals to grow up to four plants at home.


aaaaaaaaaaaatcruzTed Cruz drives around in his climate change denial clown car. (Photo: Visit W3Schools)

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz told Glenn Beck in a new interview that climate change is a religion, not a scientific position. According to the Texas senator, “global warming alarmists” (or the people who believe in climate change) don’t have evidence to prove that the planet is warming.

The card-carrying climate-denier was referring to his recent grilling of Sierra Club President Aaron Mair during a Senate hearing, in which Cruz pushed Mair for nearly 10 minutes on climate change.

Mair was at the hearing to explain how communities of color are disproportionately affected by pollution and climate disruption. However, Cruz used this time to push Mair on climate change with classic denier arguments, saying satellite data shows the Earth isn’t warming and that there has been a “pause” or “hiatus” in global warming, which NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has refuted. Mair has also posted a response to Cruz’s attack, refuting these claims.

During his interview with Beck, Cruz explained, “We had an exchange where I simply asked him about the data and he couldn’t answer the most basic questions … He couldn’t answer the most basic fact that for the last 18 years the satellite data showed no significant warming whatsoever.” 


aaaaaaaaaaaaclimatejusticeClimate Justice means holding big oil companies accountable for being duplicitous about global warming. (Photo: Rainforest Action Network)

I’m still trying to process recent revelations in the LA Times and the Pulitzer-winning Inside Climate News about the extent to which ExxonMobil has worked to deny climate change. It knew about the threat of a planet warmed by burning fossil fuels as far back as the 70’s, and while publicly denying these risks, built them into its business plans. Wait, what?!

To make matters worse, ExxonMobil‘s climate denialism isn’t just a thing of the past–it’s ongoing.

While deeply shocking, it’s sadly not surprising: Greenpeace has been exposing ExxonMobil’s climate denialism for more than a decade. Yes, it’s outrageous, but now we need to turn that outrage into action to get governments and citizens to hold ExxonMobil and other fossil fuel companies legally accountable for the damage their activities have caused.

How do we know ExxonMobil is still blocking climate action?

For one, ExxonMobil remains a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). This corporate “bill mill” pushes climate-denying legislation on lawmakers through closed-door meetings.

2015.2.11 BF Bwrkowitz"Davis conflates her responsibilities as an elected official with her self-aggrandizing and idiosyncratic religious notions," Author Frederick Clarkson said. (Photo: Chris Piascik)BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Elected official, check; multiple marriages, check; self-proclaimed apostolic Christian, check; Religious Right martyr, check; media star for a tad more than her 15 minutes, check; Pope meeting, check (sort of); Soldier for Christ, check. Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples after the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage, defied United States District Judge David Bunning’s court order, and spent five days in jail because of it, is all of these things and even more, the symbol of the fight over religious liberty and individual conscience, a battle that has been brewing for quite some time.

It was undoubtedly the summer of Kim Davis’ life. For a short time, the Davis Affair even gave Donald Trump a run for media attention. The stakes were always much greater than Davis herself: religious liberty and individual conscience, and a new iteration of the religious right’s culture wars. While religious liberty can seem like little more than a fall fashion, or in this case, a summer fling, for Christian Right organizations and candidates it is a theme that has been decades in the making, and one that has gained momentum in recent years.

“The Christian Right has been steadily reframing their culture war agenda in terms of religious liberty since at least the 2009 manifesto, the Manhattan Declaration, which for the first time brought the leaders of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops together with top leaders of Protestant evangelicalism to forge a common platform -- comprising three interrelated themes, ‘sanctity of life,’ ‘dignity of marriage,’ and ‘freedom of religion,’ Frederick Clarkson, author of the invaluable Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy (Common Courage Press, 1997) and one of the journalists that pioneered research and writing about the religious right, told Truthout in an email exchange.

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