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AKIRA WATTS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaAmericanFlags(Photo: Lipton Sale)Sunday night President Obama made an appearance on 60 Minutes to talk about the ongoing efforts against ISIS. The quote that everyone is focusing on, of course, is Obama’s admission that they “underestimated ISIS.” The right is predictably working itself into a fine froth over this. Had we only carpet bombed everything back in 2013, the Middle East would now be a virtual utopia and nothing would ever go wrong in the region again. Personally, I don’t find the president’s admission to be a huge shock. Given that our last president had a bit of trouble thinking of a single mistake that he might have made, ever, it is refreshing to hear Obama utter words along these lines. I wouldn’t call myself a fan of the actions we have taken, as we try to correct for our underestimation, what with the unforeseen consequences crawling out of the woodwork, but still, it’s nice to hear some acknowledgement of our fallibility.

Which is why the bit that does irk me is the following gem:

“America leads. We are the indispensable nation. We have capacity no one else has. Our military is the best in the history of the world. And when trouble comes up anywhere in the world, they don't call Beijing. They don't call Moscow. They call us.”

If that statement were a vehicle, it would be a Hummer with chrome-plated bumper nuts. It’s belligerent. It’s remarkably tone-deaf, coming from a man whose words are typically finely crafted. And it is, yes, stupid. There is a truth in it – no denying that. Given the amount of money we pour into our military, it certainly has the capacity to bomb, shoot, and generally wreck vast swathes of the world. We have enough nuclear weapons to ignite the Earth’s atmosphere. Our capacity is huge.

We are freaking awesome.

Monday, 29 September 2014 09:18

The Climate Change Deniers Hall of Infamy

STEVEN JONAS MD, MPH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaGlacier(Photo: Luca Galuzzi)The science of anthropogenic global warming/climate change is quite clear, and has been for quite some time. It is supported by observational evidence, such as the massive melting of sea ice, Antarctic ice, and the glaciers. Indeed, the data and reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, supported by 97% of the scientists world-wide concerned with the wide variety of related matters, has concluded, and reported with an ever-increasing sense of urgency, that massive, anthropogenic changes in our climate, due to global warming and the associated acidification of the world's oceans, are underway. If they not reversed, soon, major irreversible changes in life on Earth will take place over the next century or so, with many species, including possibly our own, either not surviving or being reduced greatly in numbers. That is, in a century or so the Earth will be frying and drowning at the same time. At the same time, we are told by the vast majority of scientific opinion that the process can be significantly slowed down and then hopefully stopped --- if major actions to reduce the anthropogenic production of Greenhouse Gases and related pollutants are taken now.

But right now, that seems unlikely, unlikely at least at the levels at which such actions would need to be taken in order to be effective. And who is standing in the way of that process? Why the Global-Warming/climate-change Deniers, of course, virtually all of whom are or were or will be connected to the fossil fuels and related industries in one way or another. They are a tough bunch. And so, I should think that, even if they are wrong (and they most surely are), they will want the world then to know who they were now. If the frying/drowning process does occur, I am sure that they would want to be known far and wide as the folks who were responsible for those outcomes. And so, I propose that they be given their very own Hall of Infamy, so that down the road, whoever is left can readily identify those who were responsible for their plight.

HARVEY WASSERMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaPeoplesClimateMarch(Photo: Kingdebater)Okay, so we had this historic march a little while ago.

It was....

...joyous, beautiful, exhilarating, inspiring, life-confirming...and in many ways turning point.

Now that the dust has settled a bit, we can see that it will change things for a long time to come.

It proved to ourselves and the world that we have a huge, diverse, broad-based movement. And that we can put aside our differences and all get along when we have to.

We are our species' ever-evolving immune system. We are the survival instinct that must defeat the corporate profit motive.

We are also part of a mighty activist stream that's campaigned for peace, civil rights, social justice, workers' rights, women's rights, gay pride, election protection, No Nukes and so much more.

We've endured the circular firing squad and want it abolished.

JANE STILLWATER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaSugar(Photo: Lauri Andler)Despite all of its vivid past history of enlightened protests in favor of Truth and Justice, my home town of Berkeley hasn't been very radical at all lately.  In fact, the city has pretty much turned into a Yuppie paradise and a developer's dream.  But, boy, Berkeley has still managed to somehow put its foot in the lion's mouth! 

And all that we did to raise this huge nation-wide brouhaha was to simply propose a new November ballot measure wherein a small tax would be levied on sodas -- then suddenly all Hell has broken loose here.  Suddenly we woke up one morning to find that the American Beverage Association was staging a full frontal assault on our town. 

The ABA has taped "Vote No on Measure D" posters on almost every one of our lamp posts, has hired friendly ladies to hand out "Vote No on Measure D" fliers at our flea market -- and has begun distributing large numbers of "Vote No on Measure D" T-shirts, fliers, billboards, push-polls and mailers that follow us everywhere we go.

The American Beverage Association has spent $300,000 on its campaign against Measure D so far -- and apparently has another $200,000 more yet to spend.  Its minions come and bang on our doors.  I dare not even answer the phone any more! 

The American Beverage Association has gone total beast-mode on Berkeley.

Thursday, 25 September 2014 10:02

Climate Reckoning: My Family’s Coal Story

JEFF BIGGERS OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaCoalEagleCreek(Photo: Jeff Biggers)Four years after the publication of my memoir/history, Reckoning at Eagle Creek: The Secret Legacy of Coal in the Heartland, I found myself sitting in the front row of an Illinois Environmental Protection Agency hearing in southern Illinois. It was a historic evening in Harrisburg, only a few miles from where Peabody Energy sank its first coal mine in 1895, and a few blocks from where I had sat on the front porch as a kid and listened to the stories of my grandfather and other coal miners about union battles for justice. For the first time in decades, residents in coal country were shining the spotlight on issues of civil rights, environmental ruin and a spiraling health crisis from a poorly regulated coal mining rush.

The total destruction of my family’s nearby Eagle Creek community from strip-mining was held up as their cautionary tale. The takeaway: Strip-mining more than stripped the land; it stripped the traces of any human contact.

“We have lost population, we have lost homes and we have lost roads,” testified Judy Kellen, a resident facing an expanded strip mine in Rocky Branch. “We have lost history. We have to endure dust, noise levels to the pitch you wanted to scream because you couldn’t get any rest or sleep, earth tremors, home damages, complete isolation of any type of view to the north, health issues, a sadness in your heart that puts a dread on your face every day, and an unrest in the spirit that we knew nothing of.”

A lot has changed in these four years—much of it troubling, and much of it inspiring.

2014.9.24.UN.BFUN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks at the opening of the launch of the UN Decade of Sustainable Energy for All 2014-2024. (Photo: United Nations Photo / Flickr)

ANASTASIA PANTSIOS OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

The issue of climate change skyrocketed in public awareness this week as the UN Climate Summit yesterday in New York City, and the historic People’s Climate March Sunday joined by 400,000 people, attracted attention and news coverage around the world.

The UN Climate Summit was convened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who invited world leaders from government, finance, business and civil society “to galvanize and catalyze climate action.” The event was not intended to strike binding agreements but to build momentum for the December 2015 UN climate conference in Paris.

“The human, environmental and financial cost of climate change is fast becoming unbearable,” Ban said at the opening ceremony of the UN Climate Summit. “We need a clear shared vision.”

Wednesday, 24 September 2014 06:11

We Have Met the Existential Threat, and It Is Us

2014.9.24.BF.Watts(Image: Lance Page / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: Francisco Cendejas)AKIRA WATTS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.

- Sun Tzu

Let me make a bold prediction. ISIS will never invade the United States. We will never have a Red Dawn moment, when jihadist troops parachute into sleepy, Midwestern towns. The Wolverines, alas, will never be called out of retirement. Not everyone seems to see it that way, as might be gathered from the fact that we are now bombing multiple countries, in the belief that an insurgency can be neutralized by purely military means. The circle of violence widens, as Israel has decided to get in on the fun, by shooting down a Syrian jet. Oh, and the bombing doesn’t really seem to be working.

Better writers than I have argued that bombs alone are not going to bring about an end to the situation in Iraq and Syria, so I will leave that argument aside, beyond noting that it would be neat if it could receive more than passing acknowledgement from our bold and fearless leaders. Instead, let’s talk about ISIS. As is standard in beginning such a discussion, insert the obligatory disclaimer about them being Very Bad People. They are to Islam what the Westboro Baptist Church is to Christianity, were the WBC given military grade weapons. Very Bad People, yes?

You know who else is very bad? Joseph Kabila, president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Myanmar was run by very bad people until they became a kind-of sort-of democracy and now we like them. Iran is very bad except in those cases in which we need their help and support and then we’re totally cool and high-fives all around. Bashar al-Assad is a very bad person and we’re definitely not on his side except we sort of need to bomb a few of those very bad people who are rebelling against his very bad government.

There’s a whole lot of very bad people out there, is what I’m getting at.

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaAntiChoice(Photo: Msci)Meet Dr. Willie Parker. He is one heck of a courageous man. Chances are you've never met anyone like him.

He grew up dirt poor in Birmingham, Alabama; as a teenager he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, and was a "boy preacher in Baptist churches"; he was "the first black student body president of a mostly white high school"; he went to Harvard, became a college professor, and successful obstetrician "who delivered thousands of babies and refused to do abortions."

Dr. Willie Parker had what some might call a second "come to Jesus" moment, deciding "to give up his fancy career to become an abortion provider" -- for the poorest of the poor and the most needy -- at the only surviving abortion clinic in the state of Mississippi. These days, he travels a "circuit roughly similar ... to the one traveled by Dr. David Gunn before an anti-abortion fanatic assassinated him in 1993."

Dr. Parker's "name and home address have been published by an antiabortion Web site with the unmistakable intent of terrorizing doctors like him. ...[and] he receives threats that say, 'You've been warned.'"

HARVEY WASSERMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaClimateMarch1(Photo: Shadia Fayne Wood)The most hopeful, diverse, photogenic, energizing and often hilarious march I've joined in 52 years of activism---and one of the biggest, at 310,000 strong---has delivered a simple messag​e: we can and will rid the planet of fossil fuels and nuclear power, we will do it at the grassroots, it will be demanding and difficult to say the least, but it will have its moments of great fun.

With our lives and planet on the line, our species has responded.

Ostensibly, this march was in part meant to influence policy makers. That just goes with the territory.

But in fact what it showed was an amazingly broad-based, diverse, savvy, imaginative and very often off-beat movement with a deep devotion to persistence and cause, and a great flair for fun.

For when push comes to shove---and it has---our Solartopian future will be won one victory at a time.

Oh....yes, yes, yes....we will try to influence the policy-makers. The UN, the Obama Administration, the bought and rented Congress, the usual suspects.

But we won't be begging. It needs to be the other way around.

(Photo: Samantha Allen)(Photo: Samantha Allen)

HARVEY WASSERMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Two vans and a big bus pulled up to the First Watch restaurant for breakfast ​Saturday​ morning in Columbus, Ohio.

They were filled with truly great people, the new Climate Riders, on their way to New York City.

Twenty-four hours on the road each way for a few hours to march against the corporations that are killing our planet.

"I hate the Koch Brothers," one of them tells me over pancakes. "They are wrecking the Earth for all of us."

I've come just five miles from my house on the east side. It's about a half-hour on the ​my bike​ through the flatlands of the state capital, where a corrupt, climate-killing legislature has been working to outlaw renewables, ban the sale of Tesla cars, kill passenger rail service, subsidize dying nukes and embrace fracking with all its corporate might.

These good folks have come from Kansas and Missouri. Overnight to Columbus, then all day to Allentown, Pennsylvania, where they'll stay the night. Then two more hours into the city tomorrow morning. March through the day. Get back on the bus and into the vans around 9pm. Then ride a full day back to the far midwest.

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