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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

5396283920 1afc9b137b z(Photo: Liquefied Natural Gas tanker Paul Johnston)

In a BuzzFlash at Truthout commentary yesterday, "The Major Reason There Will Be No War With Russia: They Are Rasputin Capitalists Now," we speculated that there would be no armed conflict between the United States and Russia, because Moscow under Putin has become a full-fledged gangster capitalist nation -- a country Wall Street can love and admire for its brashness in being openly proud of its thuggishness oligarchy.  

However, that does not mean that there is not competition within the pantheon of titan capitalists.  Such is the case occurring in the United States using the Ukarine-Crimea "crisis" to launch an all out fossil fuel face-off with Russia's Gazprom, the number one natural gas supplier in the world. Europe and the Ukraine and many other nations depend upon Gazprom for a good percentage of their natural gas supply.

The United States may now be, or so the government claims, the largest producer of oil and natural gas combined, but the production frenzy of the US (and Canadian) fossel fuel industry is reaching a grand finale of maximum Earth destroying extraction, before global warming will force a possible too-late reduction of oil and gas production ravaging of the Earth.

So, what are US politicians doing in response to Russian incursion into Crimea? Why, crying for undercutting Russian natural gas exports by increasing US shipments to Europe and former Soviet Union republics, now independent nations.  

In fact, President Obama is encouraging not only increased shipment of natural gas overseas, but more fracking in Europe -- all destined to ratchet up the Earth's climate change, putting residents of the planet in perilous risk.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

149739864 8174b36b57 o(Photo: bws front)All this talk of a new cold war is just a lot of political blather coming out of DC due to the re-emergence of the neocons.

The reality is that there will be no war with the Russian Federation because Russia is now a raffish capitalist nation. Let us just remember Vladimir Putin was a lieutenant colonel in the KGB (for 16 years) at a time that they might have surpassed the CIA for lacking scruples, although probably not by much.

Since Putin assumed power in Russia in 2000, he has served as either president or prime minister of the Russian Federation, effectively being the most powerful man in the nation for the past 13 years.

There is no ideological conflict with Russia now, no wall to bring to down, no communism to overthrow.  Under Putin, the Russian Federation has become a full-fledged member of the global capitalist system, only with the sleight variation that the Russian mafia plays an open role in the free market system. Instead of bankers crushing people with financial maneuverings, the Russian oligarchs allegedly prefer using their friends "Smith and Wesson" to resolve business disputes.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR AT BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

6870878979 159c7e6104 m1(Photo: 401K 2012)Lost in the coverage of America's tale of two economies (the 1% who have recieved 95 percent of the financial gains since they busted the economy in 2008 -- and the rest of us), is that seniors are especially hard hit by the disparity between so-called savings account interest (currently .01 percent at most banks) and inflation.

Yes, there still is inflation. It is relatively modest, but is still there and has a palpable impact on those on low fixed incomes - such as Social Security.  According to a website that covers inflation:

Over the longer period from December 2012 to December 2013, the US inflation rate rose 1.5 percent. That increase compares to the 1.2 percent advance in the 12 months ended November. Inflation in 2012, as another comparison, rose 1.7 percent. Noted specifically by the Labor Department, it is the first time that inflation has been under 2 percent for consecutive years since 1997-98.

Wrapping everything up, core annual inflation in 2013 rose 1.7 percent, which is the same 12-month increase noted in each of the prior three CPI reports. The total in 2012 was 1.9 percent.

Yes, it is true that Social Security recipients received a 1.7 percent increase in 2013 payments. But given that the banks (ostensibly based on the overnight interest charged by the Federal Reserve) are only paying - in general - .01 percent interest on what are falsely called "savings accounts," seniors  are losing money.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aclimatejust(Photo: Rainforest Action Network)The fossil fuel companies commit so many egregious crimes against life and the planet - and the federal government is so complicit in playing down the damage - that a numbing sets in for most of the United States population.  In an age of riding the surf of pulsating news, it is hard to recall the seemingly unending incidents of fossil fuel company pollution and ravaging of the Earth - from minor spills to massive despoiling of the planet.

Even the largest offshore oil spill in US history -- the BP Gulf blowout -- is now pretty much forgotten (or is only vaguely remembered) by the average American.

However, the devastation caused by the fossil fuel drilling frenzy now being sanctioned by the federal - and most state governments - will have the long term impact of destroying our planet and causing untold deaths. Furthermore, in the short term, it is reaping a death knell to many species on earth, including causing cancer and other terminal illnesses in humans. 

That includes the disappearance of many species on Earth, as detailed in Truthout's Progressive Pick of the Week: The Sixth Extinction, by Elizabeth Kolbert.  Even if a species is not already eradicated, the toxic impact of oil spills is extremely wide-ranging. The Washington Post yesterday posted an article, "Deepwater Horizon oil left tuna, other species with heart defects likely to prove fatal." It is one of the kinds of stories that doesn't get a lot of mileage other than the original post because it is a small piece in a big puzzle of an incremental catastrophe, lost amidst wall-to-wall coverage of a sensationalistic story, such as the mystery of what happened to Malayasin Airlines Flight 370.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

adropwater(Photo: ERIO)

Truthout and BuzzFlash are able to confront the forces of greed and regression only because we don’t take corporate funding. Support us in this fight: make a tax-deductible donation today by clicking here!

You cannot live without water, but the fossil fuel industry is counting on squeezing the last drop out of the Earth to extract oil and natural gas.

On March 21, Bloomberg news ran an article, "Global Energy Thirst Threatens Water Supplies, UN Says." It's rather grim to foresee that when the fresh water runs out or becomes too polluted to drink -- and desalination plants can only provide a small portion of drinking water -- the only option that the fuel industry may leave us with is imbibing toxic oil sludge.

According to Bloomberg News coverage of the latest United Nations World Water Development Report on which its article is based:

Shale gas and oil production as well as biofuels “can pose significant risks” to water resources, pitting energy producers against farmers, factories and providers of drinking and sanitation services, the agency said....

Water-related needs for energy production have tripled since 1995, according to GE Water, while more than half of the global cotton production is grown in areas with high water risks. Electricity demand is forecast to rise at least two-thirds by 2035, driven by population growth.

"Significant risks" is perhaps an understatement as to the threat posed by such oil and other fossil fuel extraction processes that threaten a global non-salt water supply that is already inadequate and is highly likely to decrease due to global warming.  

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

afishgreatlak(Photo: Thoth, God of Knowledge)It is important to note, particularly given the predictions of an increasing shortage of fresh water due to global warming, that the Great Lakes (fly over country) contain 1/5th of the world's non-saltwater supply.  If these five large bodies of water, along with the thousands of smaller lakes in the upper Midwest and lower cental Canada, are polluted, the North American fresh water reserve will be devastated.

This brings us to the curious three-eyed walleye found in Lake Nipissing, a large lake in Ontario that is in the Great Lakes Basin, which Vice.com describes as:

Home to more than 4,000 species, including 100 rare plants and animals, many of which are on the brink of extinction. It stretches 244,000 square kilometers, holds 5,000 tributaries and 30,000 islands. In short, the basin is the largest freshwater ecosystem on earth. And it’s under attack.

Indeed - not to pile on the likely pending catastrophe of an eco-spheric breakdown due to toxic emissions that will cause havoc in the oceans, send global temperatures soaring, kill off an enormous number of species and cause mass migration - our fresh water is at risk, the Vice article points out, due to the ecological altering reality of daily sewage contamination.

 

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aflameretarda(Photo: PressReleaseFinder)It's really not an unusual occurence in our world of corporate influence on public policy: A man or woman expert in a field gets a consulting fee from an industry accused of causing harm -- and just "coincidentally" the credentialed individual testifies before legislative bodies in support of a specific corporate position.

After all, just look at the climate-denying scientists who have received some sort of economic gain from the fossil fuel industry.  

These relatively few members of the scientific community provide a tremendous public relations tool to corporations emitting carbon dioxide.  That is because the mainstream media presents almost all issues as a point/counterpoint debate, even if the vast majority of scientists have established that climate change is an established fact and threatens an ecospheric catastrophe.

The Chicago Tribune exposed one small part of "the expert for sale" scam a couple years back in an investigative report on a state of Washington surgeon. In a follow-up story last week, The Tribune reported:

In a stern rebuke of a noted surgeon, the state of Washington has issued disciplinary charges against Dr. David Heimbach, who told lawmakers misleading stories about fatally burned babies while testifying in favor of flame retardants.

Medical licensing authorities allege that Heimbach, whose activities were exposed in a 2012 Tribune investigation, fabricated testimony, failed to disclose his ties to the chemical industry and falsely presented himself as an unbiased burn expert when he was in fact collecting $240,000 from flame retardant manufacturers.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aborderpat(Photo: CBP Photography)If you follow the news along the US-Mexican border, it sometimes appears that the approximately 20,000 US Border Patrol agents and officers are given free reign to engage in human rights abuses and violent acts against undocumented immigrants.

That's not to say that every Border Patrol officer or agent is brutal and indifferent, but there is clear evidence that many of them act that way, and the system that keeps them in place fuels this ongoing violence.

In some ways it is shocking - and in some ways it is inevitable - that a Border Patrol officer in the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas kidnapped a mother and her two 14-year-old daughters crossing the border and sexually assaulted them.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

eugmo.gpg(Photo: greensefa)In a firm act of defiance against the chemical companies turned "food engineers," this past weekend France prohibited the MON 810 GMO corn seed. According to Reuters:

The French government, which maintains that GM crops present environmental risks, has been trying to institute a new ban on GM maize (corn) after its highest court has twice previously struck down similar measures.

The decision is timed to avert any sowing of GM maize by farmers before a draft law is debated on April 10 aimed at banning planting of GMOs (genetically modified organisms).

"The sale, use and cultivation of varieties of maize seed from the line of genetically modified maize MON 810 (...) is banned in the country until the adoption, on the one hand, of a final decision, and secondly, of (EU) community action, " said a decree published on Saturday.

Annual sowing of maize in France gets under way in the second half of March.

As reported in a BuzzFlash at Truthout commentary from June of last year entitled, "Protests Force Monsanto to Abandon GMO Expansion in Europe":

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aglobalwarmobama(Photo:FegA)

Obama's actions on global warming have long been similar to his go-to practices in general: He prefers lofty rhetoric over action, particularly when there are powerful financial forces that might aggressively challenge him. Yes, you can argue that Obama has supported renewables and - occasionally - has pointed out the destructive developing ecosphere that we are facing. However, distinguished rhetoric will not save the planet.

David Bromwich, an English professor at Yale, is perhaps the most astute dissector of the Obama character.  (You can here a few minutes of his acutely accurate analysis of Obama's role as president in a "Ring of Fire" excerpt here.)  As early as 2012, Bromwich understood the unusual dichotomy of Obama: "a blend of high resolve and extreme detachment, romantic idealism and an almost opaque unconcern with follow-through.

 

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