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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

8036143615 c34c5348ce m(Photo: origamidon)The war on the homeless - in which some cities have passed laws outlawing giving food to the homeless, not to mention longstanding laws against "vagrancy" - has taken a cruel turn. Now, some municipalities are outlawing living in cars and other vehicles.

People who live in cars are one step above the penury of complete homelessness. Denying them the shelter that an automobile provides is another cruel step in the war against people without economic means. Such actions give the term "the war on poverty" a whole new perspective: punishment for not having enough money to afford increasing rents.

The growing war on car dwellers is featured in an April 8 article in The Wall Street Journal: "Homeless Lose a Longtime Last Resort: Living in a Car: Cities in Silicon Valley, Elsewhere Crack Down on Vehicle Dwellers Driven Out of Apartments by Rents."

Nearly 70 cities are considering such crackdowns on people whose vehicles have become their homes, according to the Journal.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

anyttransit(Photo: Wikipedia)As BuzzFlash at Truthout has been beating the drum about the gloomy imminence of the disastrous impact of climate change, it is worth noting that among the larger contributors to global warming are gas-powered vehicles (think cars and trucks). 

It's not just the carbon dioxide emitted by automobiles, it's the fossil fuel nightmare that has been created by expanding urban areas to exurban locations located at great distances from city centers.  This, in turn, requires more inefficient use of energy (most of it still fossil fuel based) and more car use through the building of more expressways.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists:

Passenger cars and light trucks represent the lion’s share of US transportation emissions and collectively produce almost one-fifth of the nation’s total global warming pollution. 

All together, transportation generates nearly 30 percent of America’s global warming emissions, including more than one-third of all US carbon dioxide emissions.

The remaining transportation-related emissions come from medium and heavy-duty vehicles (primarily freight trucks and buses), plus aircraft, shipping, rail, military, and other uses.

Remember, as we just noted, that automobiles actually contribute a greater percentage to climate change, due to the creation of an inefficient energy disbursement structure (housing, office parks, shopping) that the car makes possible.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

amethaneMethane bubble (Photo: Nutch Biser)In 1965, a singer-songwriter, Barry McGuire, wrote a song called "The Eve of Destruction." It was inspired by the decade of violent foreign wars and civil rights clashes, but applies to the current acceleration of global warming:

But you tell me
Over and over and over again, my friend
Ah, you don't believe
We're on the eve
of destruction.

Don't you understand what I'm tryin' to say
Can't you feel the fears I'm feelin' today?

Some readers may find the recent BuzzFlash at Truthout commentaries on the devastating climate change that is occurring a bit gloomy and lugubrious.  After all, if US residents turn on the television or listen to the radio, few news outlets are discussing the looming cataclysm.  Also, like carbon monoxide, it is odorless. In the air around us, it is not visible.

More frequently, nonetheless, we are seeing reports of its volatile impact in hurricanes, droughts, deluges and the melting of glaciers and the Arctic ice, among other ominous signs of its growing destructive power. 

Yet, still most people don't believe "we are on the eve of destruction," as fossil fuel plunderers are granted the rights - even subsidized by the US government - to continue their destruction of our ecosphere.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

adrought(Photo: EU Humanitarian Aid)Enviornmental journalist Mark Hertsgaard recently wrote a lamentation to future generations about the legacy of a lethal planet that we are leaving them. In The Daily Beast, he plaintively contemplates what his young daughter will be confronting in the years ahead: 

My daughter Chiara, the central character in HOT [Hertsgaard's 2011 book], is turning nine this weekend....

The grief and fear the [UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] IPCC report triggered in me stems from a central fact of our climate future: Everyone on earth below the age of 25 is already fated to spend much of their lifetime coping with the hottest temperatures our civilization has ever encountered. The laws of physics and chemistry—above all, the fact that carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for many decades after being emitted—mean that even if humans stopped all carbon emissions overnight, global temperatures would nevertheless keep rising for at least 30 more years.

Now apply that calculation to the first great human disaster with a scientifically attributable climate fingerprint: the record heat wave that scorched Europe in 2003. It caused 71,499 excess deaths, considerably more than the number of U.S. casualties in the Vietnam war. But thanks to the physical momentum of climate change, the record heat of 2003 will be routine before Chiara is my age. By 2050, Europeans will experience summers as hot as 2003 one year out of every two.

The higher temperatures locked in for the forthcoming decades will, in turn, unleash climate impacts that will affect every person on earth.

Hartsgaard's gloomy recognition of the reality that runaway industrial civilization has sown is only moderately tempered by the hope of an uprising resulting in immediate action to mitigate the ever-brewing perfect storm of desolation.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

ascottwalkerEco-terrorist Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (Photo: DonkeyHotey)The other day BuzzFlash at Truthout ran a commentary that pointed out that it is those industries who are destroying the Earth who are committing acts of eco-terrorism. The just-released United Nations report on the dire future of the planet due to climate change should be pulling the fire alarms in nations across the world, but it's not. The White House is pretty much ignoring it, and Congress will probably be revisiting the farcical debate over Benghazi soon.

It is, therefore, not just the fossil fuel industries who are eco-terrorists, it is also those politicians who support the plundering of the earth, its pollution, and backing industries that one way or another are involved in a process that leads to a faster rate of Earth's destruction.

Take Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, for example.  He is allowing the construction of the "world's largest open-pit iron ore mine" in a pristine wilderness in the northern part of the state.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

akleinNaomi Klein, author of "No Logo" (Photo: Truthout)For those of us who are mystified at the current penchant for self-destruction of the human species in an orgy of corporate and personal greed - aided and abetted by the ruling elite in DC who are part of the oligarchy - it is worth remembering that much of who we are as a species in the developed world is tied to brand names that reflect "aspirational identity."

Naomi Klein brilliantly described this modern global phenomenon in her book "No Logo." We are lured by brands that stimulate over-consumption through advertising and public relations campaigns that make us believe buying a brand will bestow upon us attributes that we desire.

At the time Klein wrote her book, about 15 years ago, the most brilliant company strategy in this area was Nike: "Just do it!" To wear the Nike swoosh - and buy its wildly over-priced products made using exploited labor overseas - was (and is) to assume a certain identity we desire, even if we are unathletic and indecisive.  The purchase and wearing (or use) of the product makes us feel as if we are what we want to be, not what we are.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

3103989161 6503bd6ff3 z(Photo: David Moir)Truthout posted an inspiring article today about two Oberlin College students who were arrested for blocking a road in efforts to stall strip mining expansion in southern Illinois:

Police arrested two activists at a blockade set up on Rocky Branch Road in Harrisburg, Illinois, early on March 28, 2014, to stop Peabody Energy from continuing logging operations as part of the company's strip mine expansion.

Daniel Goering, 20, and Alice Fine, 19, laid down a tarp on the road to block the route to be used for logging that day. Along with other environmental activists and with the support of community residents directly impacted by Peabody's operations, the two tried to forestall and possibly prevent further strip mining and the proposed closure of Rocky Branch Road. 

Peabody is the largest private coal company in the US and world and it "finished the year with a total liquidity of $2.1 billion and $444 million cash, the company's 2013 annual report stated."  It is notoriously anti-union and not particularly welcoming of government safety regulations.

Coal remains a primary energy source in the United States and is also a primary factor in increasing global warming as it is extracted and processed.  Southern Illinois coal has characteristics that cause additional air pollution as it is utilized.  

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

4543884606 2e9421d584 zThe United States and North Korea lead the world in imprisoning people. (Photo: Mark Kwakman)

In a recent New York Times (NYT) column, Nikolas Kristof used a 12 question test to point out some of the tragic absurdities of posturing by the big powers and claims to moral legitimacy. He entitled it, "Do You Speak Dictator?"

For instance, if the United States is number one in anything, it is literally the first in the world in the percentage of its population incarcerated.  Kristof, in one of his questions, points out, however, that North Korea probably comes in second or maybe even a tie in this dubious distinction award (exact numbers of those imprisoned in North Korea are not available). That's a rather horrifying ranking to possibly share with the world's most isolated dictatorship.

President Obama and all of his predecessors are always claiming that we go to war and aid pro-democracy movements (as a guise for securing free market hegemony), so why then, as Kristof asks, "Equipment from which country is primarily used to suppress the pro-democracy movement in Bahrain?" The answer of course is the United States. Why? Because Bahrain has oil, large deposits in US banks, and is a "moderate" Arab nation. Therefore, democracy is dispensable there.

In fact, historically, democracy is fine with US foreign policy only if the results of an election lead to a pro-free market economy.  Democracies in this hemisphere and in countries throughout the world have been overthrown if they threaten US commerce or access to natural resources.  We only support democracies that allow US corporations open access to their markets, fossil fuels and the maintenance of an oligarchy. 

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

apreckwinkleA recent poll indicates Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle could defeat Rahm Emanuel for mayor of Chicago.  (Photo: Wikipedia)Although the Chicago Democratic mayoral primary is a little less than a year off (February of 2015), already the polls have begun to test how he would fare against a Democratic opponent. Emanuel is widely viewed by progressives as a corporatist mayor with an anti-union, pro charter schools, privatization, pro-wealth bias.  

Paying relatively little attention to neighborhoods in need in a city that is now an international service and financial hub, Emanuel has largely been considered to be invincible for reelection due to his alleged $6 million political war chest -- and his unstinting support from the business community.

The first public poll (released last week) indicates that he would lose next year's primary to County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.  Preckwinkle is a progressive who would represent the 99% against Emanuel's 1% backing and political viewpoints.  The poll results, for whatever they are worth at this point, conclude that Preckwinkle would win by 40 percent to 32%, with a large undecided vote at this time.

Chicago mainstream media is questioning the credibiity of the poll based on it being conducted by a lesser-known firm -- and the distance in time to the actual race.  Both of these are valid points, and isolated polls -- without others to establish trending -- should be judged with caution.

Furthermore, Preckwinkle is running for re-election as Cook County Board President in November. She has indicated that she wants to (given that her re-election is a lock-in) fill out her next four-year term.

However, as Chicago's ABC television affiliate notes online, Preckwinkle "has not ruled out challenging Emanuel in February 2015."

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.

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