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2016.8.3 bf marcus(Photo: John Eckman)JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

It's a good feeling when you can drive past a gas station in an electric vehicle with little concern about the fluctuating prices of fuel, a product that is literally pushing us rapidly towards mass extinction. Yes, I know mass extinction is hard to believe—so if you don't take my word for it, read New Yorker's scientist Elizabeth Kolbert's Pulitzer-prize winning book The Sixth Extinction on how human activity (pollution) is turning our earth into a toxic mass cemetery.

It's also a good feeling to know that you're not contributing to global warming, at least not as much, and reoccurring oil disasters, if you drive an electric vehicle.

Just last week another pipeline ruptured—this time in the rainforest of Peru, contaminating Peru's rivers with thick tarry oil that immediately poisoned their fragile ecosystem of water and valuable medicinal plants.

2016.8.3 bf quigley(Photo: Hrag Vartanian)BILL QUIGLEY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Many see families in poverty and seek to help. Others see families in poverty and see opportunities for profit.

Here are six examples of billion dollar industries which are built on separating poor people, especially people of color, from their money, the reverse Robin Hood.

Check Cashing Businesses

Check cashing businesses. Cash a $100 check? At Walmart that will be $3. At TD bank non-customers pay $5 to cash a check from their bank.

Nearly 10 million households containing 25 million people do not have any bank account according to the FDIC. Most because they did not have enough money to keep a minimum balance in their account.

Check cashing business are part of a $100 billion industry of more than 6,500 check cashing businesses in the US, many which also provide money orders, utility bill payments and the like, according to testimony provided to Congress by the industry.  

COLE MELLINO OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaCattle(Photo: EcoWatch)More than 9 billion animals are slaughtered in the U.S. every year for meat with global demand skyrocketing. Animal agriculture is putting an ever-increasing strain on world resources, particularly global water supplies, according to VICE’s two-part episode, Meathooked and End of Water, which premieres March 4 at 11 p.m. on HBO.

In Vice’s fifth episode of season 4, Isobel Yeung traveled to feedlots, farms and slaughterhouses to learn where our meat comes from and to uncover its true costs, and Vikram Gandhi traveled to the Central Valley in California and São Paulo, Brazil to find out just how severe the global water crisis has become.

In California’s Central Valley, farmers are quickly depleting the state’s groundwater as the state remains mired in a drought, despite El Niño rains. São Paulo’s drought has become so bad that water in at least one of the area’s reservoirs is below what engineers consider zero, meaning that they have to pipe the remaining water uphill just to get it to the intake pipes.

“Meat production, globally, is an environmental disaster now,” Ken Cook, president of Environmental Working Group, said. “If we try and expand production to reach 9 billion people by 2050, it will be a complete and unthinkable disaster.”

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaChapel(Photo: Herry Lawford)To say that numerous top-tier Christian conservative evangelical leaders are having a difficult time facing the more-likely-by-the-primary reality that Donald Trump will head the GOP ticket in the fall is like saying the Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry has a pretty good 3-point shot. In other words, it is an understatement of historic proportions. From just about every conceivable angle, with just about every conceivable argument, conservative evangelicals are trying to slow down the Trump train. A recent editorial in The Christian Post was headlined “Donald Trump Is a Scam. Evangelical Voters Should Back Away.”

In his recent column, a clearly disappointed Charles Krauthammer wanted to know “What happened to the evangelicals? They were supposed to be the bedrock of the Ted Cruz candidacy. Yet on Super Tuesday he lost them to Donald Trump.” According to Krauthammer, “This time around, evangelicals are not looking for someone like them. They're looking for someone who will protect them. They've tried backing exemplary Scripture-quoting Christians - without result. After Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum and considerations of Cruz himself, they are increasingly reluctant to support like-minded candidates who are nonetheless incapable of advancing their cause in a hostile political arena so dominated by secularism.”

In an historic editorial the senior editors of The Christian Post -- which they describe as “the most popular evangelical news website in the United States and the world” – declared that “Trump does not represent the interests of evangelicals and would be a dangerous leader for our country.”

The CP editorial called Trump “a misogynist and philanderer,” an admirer of dictators, and a man who refused to quickly “disavow” the racism of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. He has a history of “untruthfulness, questionable business practices, reported association with organized crime, and abrupt changes in fundamental positions.” Take that Jerry Falwell Jr., one of the few evangelical leaders who have endorsed Trump!

2016.3.3 Bf Chow(Photo: Antoine.Couturier)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

The GMO label law fight took an turn Tuesday after the Senate Agriculture Committee voted to pass the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act (SAFE) in a 14-6 vote.

Dubbed by opponents as the Denying Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act, if voted into law, the bill would block states from requiring labeling on genetically modified (GMO) foods and pre-empt state laws that require labeling from going into effect—like the one taking effect in Vermont in July.

The Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.)-introduced bill would establish a national voluntary labeling standard for foods made with GMOs, similar to the bill already passed in the House. Proponents of the bill—such as the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), which represents more than 300 food and beverage titans—argue that a 50-state patchwork of GMO labeling policies would be costly.

The GMA, which has slapped numerous lawsuits and spent millions in lobbying against mandatory labels at the state and federal level, commended the vote.

“We thank Senator Roberts for his leadership to find a common-sense solution that now goes to the full Senate with bipartisan momentum,” said GMA president and CEO Pam Bailey, in a statement. “It is critically important that the full Senate pass this legislation as quickly as possible and for the bill to be voted on by the House. Vermont’s mandatory labeling law goes into effect on July 1, and this law could increase food costs for families across the nation by an average of $1,050 a year.”

2016.3.3bf lakoff(Photo: Darron Birgenheier)GEORGE LAKOFF FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Donald Trump is winning Republican presidential primaries at such a great rate that he seems likely to become the next Republican presidential nominee and perhaps the next president. Democrats have little understanding of why he is winning — and winning handily, and even many Republicans don't see him as a Republican and are trying to stop him, but don't know how. There are various theories: People are angry and he speaks to their anger. People don't think much of Congress and want a non-politician. Both may be true. But why? What are the details? And Why Trump?

Many people are mystified. He seems to have come out of nowhere. His positions on issues don't fit a common mold.

BILL QUIGLEY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaCompton(Photo: PD-US)Luz Herrera, social justice lawyer and UCLA law professor, was born in Tijuana to Mexican parents and grew up in the Latino neighborhoods of Los Angeles.    

Not only the first lawyer in her family, she is the first woman in her family to go to college.

Herrera did not know any lawyers and never even thought of being a lawyer until meeting some  Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) attorneys her senior year in high school.   “I decided to become a lawyer when California was in the middle of many anti-immigrant campaigns, a redistricting battle, and the tensions that lead to the 1992 civil disturbance (aka riots) in Los Angeles were brewing.”

Law school was tough.  Herrera attended Harvard Law and later wrote an article detailing her frustrations in the Harvard Latino Law Review there.   

“The first-year courses were teaching me to think like a lawyer, and while I acknowledged that I was changing, I was not all that pleased by what I was becoming. My discomfort in the law school classroom was due to my identity as a first-generation, working-class Chicana. The idea that laws were neutral and that their application was fair did not ring true in my world of working-class individuals. Despite being a student leader in college, I found myself staying silent in much the same way my parents had when they were forced to deal with legal matters.”

Law came alive only in law clinic when she found she had a real passion for providing direct services to people like those in her family and neighborhood.    She helped people who were working towards self-employment by starting businesses and nonprofits and doing real estate. 

When she graduated in 1999, she, like most of her classmates, went to work in a large corporate law firm.  Earning a six figure salary right out of law school, in her corporate work she never entered a court room and she had very little interaction with clients.   That ended after two years.

Professor Herrera is clear that “Justice is forged and earned, not given.”

JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaRobinHood(Photo: Louis Rhead )The financial transaction tax is not an idea whose time has just now come; it simply has returned. From 1914 to 1966, our country taxed all sales and transfers of stock. The tax was doubled in the last year of Herbert Hoover's presidency to help us recover from the Great Depression. Today, 40 countries have FTTs, including the seven with the fastest-growing stock exchanges in the world. Eleven members of the European Union (including Germany and France) voted for a financial transaction tax to curtail poverty, restore services and put people back to work.

This is no soak-the-rich-idea. Rather than asking the Wall Street crowd to join us in paying a 6 to 12 percent sales tax, the major FTT proposal gaining support in the U.S. calls for a 0.5 percent assessment on stock transactions. That's 50 cents on a $100 stock buy versus the $8.25 I would pay for a $100 bicycle.

Even at this minuscule rate, the huge volume of high-speed trades (nearly 400 billion a year) means an FTT would net about $300 billion to $350 billion a year for our public treasury. Plus, it's a very progressive tax. Half of our country's stock is owned by the 1 percenters, and only a small number of them are in the high-frequency trade game. Ordinary folks who have small stakes in the markets, including those in mutual and pension funds, are called "buy and hold" investors: They only do trades every few months or years, not daily or hourly or even by the second, and they'll not be harmed. Rather it's the computerized churners of frothy speculation who will pony up the bulk of revenue from such a transaction tax.

An FTT is a straightforward, uncomplicated way for us to get a substantial chunk of our money back from high-finance thieves, and we should make a concerted effort to put the idea on the front burner in 2016 and turn up the heat. Not only do its benefits merit the fight; the fight itself would be politically popular. One clue to its political potential is that the mere mention of FTT to a Wall Street banker will evoke a shriek so shrill that the Mars rover hears it. That's because they know that this proposal would make them defend the indefensible: themselves.

First, the sheer scope of Wall Street's self-serving casino business model would be exposed for all to see. Second, they would have to admit that they're increasingly dependent on (and, therefore, making our economy dependent on) the stark-raving insanity of robotic, high-frequency speculation. Third, it'll be completely ridiculous for them to argue that protecting the multi-trillion-dollar bets of rich market gamblers from this tax is more important than meeting our people's growing backlog of real needs.

2016.1.3 bf lorraien chow(Photo: micagoto)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

England will soon be home to Europe’s largest floating solar farm, if not the world. The 6.3 megawatt array consists of 23,000 solar panels that sit on the Queen Elizabeth II reservoir at Walton-on-Thames, a suburb of London near Heathrow Airport.

According to The Guardian, the £6 million (about $8 million) project will help power local water treatment plants that provide clean drinking water to London and south-east England’s 10 million residents

“This will be the biggest floating solar farm in the world for a time—others are under construction,” Angus Berry, energy manager for Thames Water, the utility which owns the site, told The Guardian. “We are leading the way, but we hope that others will follow, in the UK and abroad.”

2016.1.3 BF Chow(photo: Nattu)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

After six nominations, Leonardo DiCaprio won his first Oscar for Best Actor for his role inThe Revenantat last night’s Academy Awards. The noted environmental activist devoted half of his acceptance speech to call for urgent collective action to fight climate change, calling it “the most urgent threat facing our species.”

The 41-year-old actor, who was favored to win the Oscar and had swept the Best Actor category in every major award show leading up to the Academy Awards, first thanked the cast and crew in his speech and then shined a spotlight on his passion project.

Making The Revenant was about man’s relationship to the natural world. A world that we collectively felt in 2015 as the hottest year in recorded history,” he said, describing how the entire production needed to move to the southern tip of this planet in Argentina just to be able to find snow.

“Climate change is real, it is happening right now,” DiCaprio continued. “It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating.”

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