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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

awalrus(Photo: claumoho)

Maybe the desperation of 35,000 walruses forced to crowd onto a beach in Alaska because of global warming will awaken more people to the destructive impact happening now. After all, many polls have shown that a majority of people in the United States - this past Sunday's huge protest march in New York aside - regard climate change as an abstract future possibility. It does not generally show up as a top concern of voters.

Yet in Alaska, the walruses are evidence of a real impact happening now. According to The Guardian: 

An estimated 35,000 walruses were spotted on the barrier island in north-western Alaska on 27 September by scientists on an aerial survey flight.

The biggest immediate risk factor for the walruses now is a stampede – especially for baby walruses – but they have been facing a growing threat from climate change, the scientists said.

The extraordinary sighting – the biggest known exodus of walruses to dry land ever observed in the Arctic under US control – arrived as the summer sea ice fell to its sixth lowest in the satellite record last month.

“Those animals have essentially run out of offshore sea ice, and have no other choice but to come ashore,” said Chadwick Jay, a research ecologist in Alaska with the US Geological Survey.

Given that the "summer sea ice fell to its sixth lowest in the satellite record," the walruses are our canaries in a mineshaft. Their plight is so serious that planes are being diverted away from the beach to prevent setting off a stampede on dry land that might trample and kill many of them.

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

afeudal(Photo: david_shankbone)

Since 2008, the disproportionate growth in money flowing to the top 10 and 1 percent has exponentially increased - and the wages of the bottom 90 percent of the population have, in general, either fallen or stagnated.

This has created, according to Irwin, an astonishing statistic:  

But in the first three years of the current expansion, incomes actually fell [according to the Tcherneva data] for the bottom 90 percent of earners, even as they rose nicely for the top 10 percent. The result: The top 10 percent captured an impossible-seeming 116 percent of income gains during that span. [Italics inserted by BuzzFlash.]

In short, as 90 percent of the US population loses ground, 10 percent - and particularly the top 1 percent - are actually drawing in more than 100 percent of the economic gains since 2008. This is due to adjusting figures to reflect the decrease in income for 90 percent of earners in the US.

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aewarrenporch(Photo: mdfriendofhillary)

In the wake of the release of 46 hours of secretly recorded tapes revealing that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York consciously backed off regulating Wall Street, Sen. Elizabeth Warren is calling for the Senate to investigate. The tapes were released to NPR's "This American Life" host Ira Glass, and unveiled on a show that aired September 26.

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In a September 27 entry on her official Facebook page, Warren wrote:

When regulators care more about protecting big banks from accountability than they do about protecting the American people from risky and illegal behavior on Wall Street, it threatens our whole economy. We learned this the hard way in 2008. Congress must hold oversight hearings on the disturbing issues raised by yesterday's whistleblower report when it returns in November - because it's our job to make sure our financial regulators are doing their jobs.

Carmen Segarra, the whistleblower who revealed the tapes, was subsequently fired from her job at the Fed. Segarra has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the Federal Reserve. One of the major reasons she believes that she was dismissed from her job, according to ProPublica, was that she would not comply with the New York Fed's deference to Goldman Sachs.

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

alec(Photo: watchingfrogsboil)

While systemic changes in the United States and global economic system remain a vital goal, it is somewhat reassuring to know that there are businesses that promote progressive causes such as internet neutrality, the reversal of the Citizens United decision, divestment of funding in the fossil fuels industry and efforts to reduce global warming.

BuzzFlash and Truthout are accountable to our readers, not big business or billionaire sponsors. Will you make a tax-deductible donation now to sustain independent journalism?

Indeed, the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) just issued a news release praising companies who have canceled their American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) memberships. David Levine, co-founder and CEO of the Sustainable business group, said:

Recently, several major companies including Google and Facebook have distanced themselves from the American Legislative Exchange Council over ALEC’s obstruction of America’s transition to a renewable energy economy. These announcements mark a continuation of an awakening that started when Apple and PG&E parted ways with the U.S. Chamber over the Chamber’s climate position.

We commend those companies that recognize that their true long-term interest is aligned with the imperative to combat climate change. They understand that the global economy cannot prosper in the face of trillions of dollars of economic damage that will result from rising seas and extreme weather.

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT 

pacificocbeachThe Califonia Pacific Ocean beachfront (Photo: Curtis Gregory Perry)

The surfer dudes have won a battle for all of us against a leading plutocrat. 

Here's the headline of a September 25 Los Angeles Times article,"California surfers beat tech billionaire in fight over beach access" that explains the stakes:

It was surfers versus a Silicon Valley tech billionaire, and on Wednesday, the surfers won -- for now.

A San Mateo County judge ruled tentatively Wednesday that Vinod Khosla, a co-founder of Sun Microsystems, had wrongly denied public access to Martin's Beach, which for decades was visited by thousands of locals who picnicked, surfed and fished in its protective cove.

The case resonated with some people because it reflected fears that tech billionaires were buying up coastal properties with the intention of keeping others out.

Joe Cotchett, an attorney for the nonprofit Surfrider Foundation, which brought the suit, called Superior Court Judge Barbara Mallach's decision "a huge victory for all of the people of California."

On August 29, BuzzFlash at Truthout posted a commentary that detailed how some wealthy California beachfront property owners were impeding state-mandated public access to the Pacific Ocean Beachfront.

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aholdermoleUS Department of Education

The website Wall Street on Parade has been tenacious in uncovering misdeeds in the nation's financial capital, as well as various levels of government that enable the malfeasance. On September 23, it reported on an intriguing speech by Attorney General Eric Holder in an article entitled, "Eric Holder Says Justice Department Has Moles on Wall Street":

Avoiding detection as a mole becomes so much more challenging when the highest law enforcement officer in the land, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, comes to New York to address Wall Street’s lawyers and tells them, flat out, that he’s got moles stationed inside his Wall Street targets. (There were likely 100,000 text messages flying about Wall Street before Holder got to the next paragraph of his speech.)

The revelation by Holder came on September 17, not in off the cuff remarks, but in a carefully prepared speech delivered at NYU School of Law in Manhattan.

Wall Street on Parade points out that the moles are called "undercover cooperators" by the Department of Justice.

No doubt Holder's on the record objective in his speech was to warn Wall Street that they were being watched from the inside by an army of informers – and that this might dissuade them from wrongdoing. However, a more cynical perspective would posit that the attorney general was giving notice to Wall Street financial firms to be more careful about disclosing their legally questionable behavior to too many staffers - and alerting them not to leave any paper trails that indicate intent to commit illegal acts.

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

apoverty2(Photo: Aaaarrrrgggghhhh!)

The website of the Annie E. Casey Foundation makes clear that the well-being of children and families in the United States, regardless of income, is a key focus of its philanthropy. A important tool in focusing on this issue is providing up to date data and information. The goal is to provide policy makers and citizens with the tools to understand the extent of childhood and family poverty in the US. 

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On one of the foundation's web pages, it states the alarming reality that, "The United States continues to have one of the highest relative child poverty rates among all developed countries":

In order to compare rates of poverty across countries many researchers use “relative” poverty rates, which examine a family’s income relative to the average family in the country. A recent report by UNICEF found that the United States had more children living in relative poverty - defined as living in a household in which disposable income is less than 50 percent of the national median – than all but one other economically advanced countries, Romania.

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aearthna(Photo: NASA Goddard)

As more than 300,000 people marched in New York on Sunday to advocate a dramatic change in strategies to reduce global warming, it should not be forgotten that the groundwork for the destruction of our atmosphere - as far as the US role in the looming catastrophe is concerned - began with the near annihilation of Native-Americans.

It is generally accepted by Native American historians that Native religions and worldviews have long been grounded in the premise that the earth is sacred. An abstract of a research paper by J. Baird Callicott, a professor of philosophy and environmental ethics at the University of North Texas, sums up the contrast between the conquered and the conquerors:

A generalized traditional Western worldview is compared with a generalized traditional American Indian worldview in respect to the practical relations implied by either to nature. The Western tradition pictures nature as material, mechanical, and devoid of spirit (reserving that exclusively for humans), while the American Indian tradition pictures nature throughout as an extended family or society of living, ensouled beings. The former picture invites unrestrained exploitation of nonhuman nature, while the latter provides the foundations for ethical restraint in relation to nonhuman nature.

It may appear simplistic to summarize these two worldviews as the difference between respecting our environment and exploiting it, but in general, these trends hold true.

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aclivenbundy(Photo: DonkeyHotey)

Cliven Bundy is such an extreme caricature of egregious hypocrisy - not to mention being a crass racist - that he appears to be the invention of a cynical satirist. Alas, he's not.

Given how quickly the news cycle moves, here's a brief review of the Bundy farce. He's the Nevada rancher that became an icon of defiance of the government when he refused to pay grazing fees for his cattle to the Bureau of Land Management. The Bureau impounded Bundy's cows that were feeding themselves on federal land, because he owed more than a million dollars to the Bureau.

Bundy took to the media, and soon, armed militias - whose members believe government is an evil force that encroaches on their "God-given" rights - swarmed to "protect" Bundy from law enforcement officials and Bureau of Land Management officers. After a brief stand-off, the militarized swat teams and police stood down and essentially abandoned the area to Bundy's supporters, who continued to surround his ranch, acting as a de facto rebel military force. This included the setting up of armed check points. If these forces were in another nation defying US authority, they would be considered “militants” and targeted by drones.

Furthermore, the Bureau of Land Management - in full retreat - released Bundy's herd to again roam freely on federal land.

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

ajyellen2Janet Yellen (Photo: Public Domain)

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen has proven to be just another member of the financial ruling elite living in an alternative universe.

Accordingto the Associated Press (AP), Yellen believes the best approach to address the economic challenges faced by income inequality is to encourage people who are struggling to survive to save more money:

The Great Recession showed that a large number of American families are "extraordinarily vulnerable" to financial setbacks because they have few assets to fall back on, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said Thursday

Yellen said a Fed survey found that an unexpected expense of just $400 would force the majority of American families to borrow money, sell something or simply not pay.

"The financial crisis and the Great Recession demonstrated, in a dramatic and unmistakable manner, how extraordinarily vulnerable are the large share of American families with few assets to fall back on," Yellen said in a Washington speech.

She said the bottom fifth of households by income - about 25 million households - had median net worth in 2013 of just $6,400, and many of these families had nothing saved or negative net worth, meaning their debts were greater than their assets.

That is like telling a starving person to set aside a few crumbs of bread for the future.

Published in EditorBlog
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