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2017.5.1 BF Roulac(Photo: Scott Thieman)JOHN ROULAC OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Yes, Houston, we have a problem: Our oceans are dying.

As the brilliant futurist Buckminster Fuller used to point out, our Spaceship Earth is hurtling through space at a great speed.

Imagine if someone told you (a passenger on that ship) that the main oxygen systems were failing because of how food was being grown.

What would you do upon receiving that dire warning? Perhaps work to make a change? Lobby the ship's captain? Maybe you'd simply deny that there was any such connection and keep going about your busy life.

But an imminent loss of oxygen just happens to be a current fact, because the ocean's phytoplankton (which provides two-thirds of the planet's oxygen) is rapidly dying off. Industrial agriculture not only contaminates our oceans with pesticide and nitrogen-fertilizer runoff, leading to massive dead zones; it is stripping our soils of carbon, which ends up in the oceans and creates acidification. At the current trajectory, in just a few decades there won't be much left alive in our oceans as the phytoplankton dies -- all because of how we grow our food.

2016.5.1 BF Koehler(Photo: Julie Tougne)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

It's too easy simply to blame Donald Trump for the void that's suddenly apparent at the center of American government -- or will be on Jan. 20.

In fact, I'm utterly sick of hearing his name, let alone accounts of his latest outrage or trivial impertinence, which is the equivalent of crack cocaine in the news cycle: all Trump, all the time. It's been that way for a year.

Trump is a symptom. But, come on, far less of a symptom -- of a deep, raw social and cultural wrongness -- than, for instance, the global war and terror, environmental exploitation, climate chaos, poverty, racism (old and new), infrastructure collapse, the commonness of mass murder, the limitless expansion of the security state, or the congealing of a one-party status quo that ignores all of the above.

We kind of live with this stuff and the vague pain it causes -- because we know it's wrong and feel the wrongness deep inside us -- and in the process of ignoring this pain we have devolved ever more deeply into techno-escapism. We allow ourselves to be lulled and distracted by the superficial media, continually presented with new enemies to blame. (The Russians! The Russians! They messed with our election!)

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Grapes 0104wrp opt(Photo: Howcheng)Wineries in Texas are worried that federal approval of two highly volatile and drift-prone herbicides used on neighboring genetically modified (GMO) cotton fields will cause widespread damage to their vineyards, The Texas Tribune details.

The herbicides in question are Monsanto's dicamba-based XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology, which was approved in November by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Dow AgroSciences' 2,4-D-based Enlist Duo, which the EPA also proposed to register for use on GMO cotton seeds. Enlist Duo is already used on GMO corn and soybean crops in 15 states.

"The approval of these formulations will wind up affecting every vineyard up there," explained Paul Bonarrigo, a Hale County vintner who believes that his withering grapevines have been damaged by the illegal spraying of dicamba and 2,4-D on nearby cotton farms. Bonarrigo believes that the state's $2 billion wine industry is in jeopardy.

The debacle is yet another chapter in the expanding issue of herbicide-resistant weeds, or superweeds, that have evolved to resist the herbicide glyphosate, or Roundup. In response to weeds such as pigweed that have infested farms across the U.S., agribusinesses such as Monsanto and Dow have developed ever stronger weedkillers to help farmers.

Wednesday, 04 January 2017 07:20

Jim Hightower: A Political Party Worth Joining

JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Bob 0104wrp opt(Photo: Sen. "Fighting" Bob LaFollette, Library of Congress)The best political party in America is not the Dems nor the Repubs. By far, the best political party is a real party named "Fighting Bob Fest."

It's a daylong, outdoor political festival run by a coalition of Wisconsin progressives who believe in "putting the party back in politics." Held in Madison every September, Bob Fest is like a "state fair" of politics, not only featuring give-'em-hell speechifying and hot populist issues — but also terrific edibles from a dozen food trucks, bottomless kegs of great local beers, lively music, dozens of activist booths, games, political humor, a farmers market and... well, fun!

The idea behind Bob Fest is to have a political event that people actually want to come to. Plus, not only is admission free, but Bob Fest is also proud to be corporate-free, rejecting any funding or ads by corporate interests. It's a volunteer-run festival of, by and for regular people, and it pays for itself each year by passing the bucket and getting staff support from The Progressive, the feisty, populist-spirited magazine founded 107 years ago by Sen. Robert "Fighting Bob" La Follette.

Yes, Fighting Bob Fest is named for La Follette, a truly great U.S. Senator who was renowned for battling the corruption of American politics by corporate money. In fact, when he was Wisconsin's governor a century ago, La Follette passed a law banning corporations from making donations to political candidates — a law that is still in effect.

2017.3.1 BF Berkowitz(Photo: Brook Ward)BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

San Francisco 49er quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, was recently voted by his teammates the prestigious Len Eshmont Award for inspiration and courage. This contradicts previously held assumptions that his protest against racial injustice in America caused irredeemable discord or rancor among his fellow players. While not every player or coach on the team may have agreed with Kaepernick's kneeling down for the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" before every game, they apparently agreed that what he did took courage, conviction, and a commitment to social justice that is rare among the modern-day athlete.

The Eshmont Award, is given to the teammate who "best exemplifies the inspirational and courageous play of Len Eshmont, an original member of the 1946 49ers team," according to the team website.

 49ers wide receiver Torrey Smith discussed some of the criticism Kaepernick has received, saying: "Colin has handled that situation better than anyone could have imagined. It hasn't been a distraction in our locker room, and it probably helped him open up to a lot of our team and our teammates better. He's been very open in communication about that as well as football."

2017.3.1 BF Buchheit(Photo: YorkshirePhotoWalks)PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

In October, 1957 the U.S. suffered a blow to its pride when Russia's Sputnik soared 500 miles into space. The response from the White House was to call it "a useless hunk of iron" and "a silly bauble in the sky." But for the first time American Cold War superiority came into question. David Halberstam called Sputnik’s success "a kind of technological Pearl Harbor." All America was stirred up, determined to fight back, especially after Sputnik II, a month later, sent a dog into space. In a hurried effort to catch up, America fired off the Vanguard in December 1957, but after a journey of several feet it sputtered and blew up. Russia's Premier Khrushchev mocked us, saying "the sputniks are lonely...waiting for American satellites to join them in space." Americans mocked themselves, calling our first rocket the Flopnik.

In an important sense the failure was good for America, for in addition to humbling us it opened the floodgates to increased science funding in higher education. We weren't runners-up for long. In February of 1958 the American Explorer I satellite took us into space.

2016.29.12 BF Zukowski(Photo: Bureau of Land Management)DAN ZUKOWSKI OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

There's still time to support independent journalism before the end of the year. Click here to make a tax-deductible donation to Truthout and BuzzFlash. Ensure real news survives in 2017!

President Obama used his authority under the Antiquities Act to protect two large areas in the western U.S. The new Bears Ears National Monument in Utah preserves 1.35 million acres containing 100,000 significant Native American sites, while the Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada sets aside 300,000 acres, also home to Indigenous archeological sites.

Protection for both of these sites has been supported by Native American tribes. Looting and desecration of artifacts has been common in these areas.

"The rock art, ancient dwellings and ceremonial sites concealed within these breathtaking landscapes help tell the story of people who have stewarded these lands for hundreds of generations,"said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. "Today's action builds on an extraordinary effort from tribes, local communities and members of Congress to ensure that these treasures are protected for generations to come, so that tribes may continue to use and care for these lands, and all may have an opportunity to enjoy their beauty and learn from their rich cultural history."

2016.29.12 BF Chow(Photo: Gage Skidmore)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Throughout the ups and downs of 2016, Truthout and BuzzFlash have been there to bring you reliable news and analysis. Click here to support us with a donation before the year ends!

Scott Pruitt -- Donald Trump's controversial pick to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) -- is under fire for his supposed ties to a nonprofit controlled by billionaire oil tycoons, Charles and David Koch.

POLITICO has received a copy of a letter sent to Pruitt that was signed by six Democratic senators on the Environment and Public Works Committee. The letter raises questions about the Oklahoma attorney general's director status at a nonprofit called the Rule of Law Defense Fund that accepted $175,000 from Freedom Partners, the political arm of the Koch brothers' network.

Freedom Partners has been described as a "dark money umbrella group," likened to a secret bank that disburses contributions from wealthy conservatives.

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

There's still time to support independent journalism before the end of the year. Click here to make a tax-deductible donation to Truthout and BuzzFlash. Ensure real news survives in 2017!

WalkerDurr 1228wrp(Photo: Michael Vadon)Whoever is managing Wisconsin's Department of Natural Resources website must be wearing out the delete key. The word "climate" has been quietly stripped from the department's webpage dedicated to explaining the state's response to climate change, Raw Story reported.

In total, 13 original appearances of the word "climate" have been kiboshed. The only place you'll see the word now is in the "climatechange.html" URL and a tiny footnote link. Not only that, any reference to humanity's contribution to global warming has been deleted.

The text that appears on the webpage now inserts classic climate skeptic arguments, in which Earth's "changes" are being "debated." This is the text on the website as of today:

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

There's still time to support independent journalism before the end of the year. Click here to make a tax-deductible donation to Truthout and BuzzFlash. Ensure real news survives in 2017!

TheSun 1228wrp opt(Photo: Jessie Eastland)Renewable energy has reached an important milestone. The World Economic Forum (WEF) has determined that in many parts of the world, solar energy is now the same price or even cheaper than fossil fuels for the first time.

In a handbook released this month, the WEF observed how the price of renewable technologies, particularly solar, has declined to unprecedented lows.

While the average global LCOE [levelized cost of electricity] for coal and natural gas is around $100 per megawatt-hour, the price for solar has plummeted from $600 a decade ago to $300 only five years later, and now close to or below $100 for utility-scale photovoltaic. For wind, the LCOE is around $50.

According to the WEF, more than 30 countries have already reached grid parity—even without subsidies. ("Grid parity" is the point when an alternative energy source, say solar, can generate power at a LCOE that's equal or even less than the price of traditional grid power.)

"It is relevant to note that the mentioned evolution, market share gain and continued potential for renewable energy do not hinge on a subsidy advantage," the report added. "In fact, according to [International Energy Agency], fossil-fuel consumption has received $493 billion in subsidies in 2014, more than four times the value of subsidies to renewable energy."

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