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RONNIE CUMMINS OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaGMOno(Photo: EcoWatch)It is now blatantly obvious that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are nothing more than patented Pesticide Delivery Systems (PDS) designed to increase sales of poisonous agrochemicals such as Roundup, glufosinate, Bt, 2,4 D and neonicotinoids. To claim that GMOs are perfectly safe is equivalent to saying that pesticides, herbicides and fungicides—systemically laced at ever-higher levels into GMO-tainted human food and animal feed—are perfectly safe. And to make matters worse, hundreds of millions of pounds of Monsanto’s Roundup, the most widely used herbicide in the world, are now routinely sprayed on 160 different crops, just before harvest, including wheat, potatoes, oats, canola, flax, peas and dried beans. In other words, just about every non-organic item in your supermarket, or every item on your restaurant menu (bread, potatoes, meat, milk) is now tainted with Roundup.

The anti-GMO and organic movement has come a long way in the past two decades. But given the dangers posed by GMOs and Roundup, it’s time to move aggressively forward. Here are a dozen crucial steps we need to take in 2015 to drive GMOs and Roundup off the market.

Published in Guest Commentary

BILL QUIGLEY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaHomelessQuigley(Photo: Eric Pouhier)Question One: In 1990, twenty percent of all children in the US lived in poverty. What percent of the children in the US live in poverty today?

A: Ten percent

B: Fifteen percent

C: Twenty percent

Question Two: The median wealth of black households in the US is $11,000. What is the median wealth of white households?

A: $22,000

B: $62,000

C: $141,000

Question Three: In 1960 the median earnings of women who work full-time year-round were about 60 percent of men's. In 2010, women's median earnings were about 77 percent of men's. At this rate, in what year will women's median earnings equal men's?

A: 2028

B: 2038

C: 2058

Published in Guest Commentary
Friday, 09 January 2015 09:59

The Suicide of Capitalism

STEVEN JONAS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaFlood(Photo: Kingbob86)"Suicide" means, literally, killing oneself. Most often, suicide is voluntary. However, by definition, it can be involuntary as well, as in accidentally killing oneself while cleaning a loaded handgun (which apparently people do from time-to-time). Capitalism, the world's dominant socio-economic system, is in the process of killing itself. Like the cleaner of a loaded hand-gun, capitalism thinks that there is absolutely nothing to worry about, that whatever its doing will result in no harmful outcomes, and that anyone who tells it not to do such a thing is a hoaxer of the worst order. Inadvertently killing oneself with a loaded handgun is bad enough. What capitalism is doing of course is far worse. Not only will it kill itself as a system, but it will likely take our species along with many others right along with it.

Most readers of these pages are familiar with the mountain of data dealing with global warming/climate change and its increasingly negative projected outcomes. As the cited article by Justin Gillis says: "Failure to reduce emissions, the group of scientists and other experts found, could threaten society with food shortages, refugee crises, the flooding of major cities and entire island nations, mass extinction of plants and animals, and a climate so drastically altered it might become dangerous for people to work or play outside during the hottest times of the year."

Currently, 2100 has been cited as the "tipping point" year, if no major policy changes in terms of carbon (to say nothing of methane) emissions are undertaken. However, a recent projection by the organization Green Physicists moves the "tipping point" year up to 2050. By then they estimate that: atmospheric carbon dioxide levels will have risen to twice the pre-industrial level; the global average surface temperature of our planet will have increased 2.5 degrees Centigrade [the current projected "tipping point" for irreversible catastrophe is 2.6 Deg. C.]; the temperature rise in the Arctic has been about twice that of the global mean, so that the permafrost has been melting rapidly, with the release of enormous quantities of methane (which adds to the global warming effect of CO2); the Greenland ice sheet will be virtually gone, with a likely resulting sea level rise of more (39"); and so on and so forth.

Published in Guest Commentary

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaPistolPile(Photo: Joshuashearn)Before I heard about the horrific terrorist attack on the offices of the Paris-based humor magazine, Charlie Hebdo, which resulted in the deaths of at least twelve people and the wounding of many more, I was reading a report in the Washington Examiner about a poll taken by McLaughlin & Associates that found "74.2 percent of likely voters said they fear terrorists affiliated with the Islamic State will strike U.S. targets if they aren't stopped." Now that cable television's news networks are covering the Paris events twenty-four/seven, it is likely that a similar poll taken today might reveal even higher numbers.

Joel C. Rosenberg, in an apparently self-serving move aimed at promoting his new book titled "The Third Target," commissioned the McLaughlin & Associates poll and has been touting the results at his blog. "The Third Target," according to Rosenberg is about "ISIS broadening its attacks outside of Syria and Iraq." Rosenberg, who years ago worked for current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and who currently runs a charity called The Joshua Fund, is the author of a series of best-selling novels dealing with the Middle East.

While Rosenberg's novels consistently deal with terrorist plots in the Middle East, radical Islamists, and his own apocalyptic visions, he steers clear of writing about white, homegrown, Christian-based anti-government radicals in the United States.

In actuality, there are more than enough domestic terrorist incidents to write about.

Published in Guest Commentary

ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaNYPDbadge(Photo: SGT141)Oh, the moral force of a snub.

Several hundred cops turn their backs on New York's mayor as he eulogizes one of their own, killed in the line of duty, and the media have another us-vs.-them story to report. Bill de Blasio's in trouble, accused of playing politics with the lives of heroes. And, of course, the story goes no deeper than the dramatic accusation.

As the sign of a lone protester at the officer's funeral proclaimed: "God bless the NYPD: Dump de Blasio."

There's nothing like a good, righteous condemnation to stop a national discussion. Criticizing police tactics means contributing to an anti-police atmosphere. End of debate.

Personally, I view the snub, by some New York police, as de Blasio's red badge of courage more than his moral condemnation. He stood for something outside the zone of official righteousness. He met with protesters. He ended stop-and-frisk, the tactic of warrantless street searches that primarily targeted blacks and Hispanics. He told his biracial son to "take special care in any encounter he has with police officers," in other words, refused to sugarcoat a pragmatic truth.

And he has eulogized about attaining peace other than through brute force: "As we start a new year, a year we're entering with hearts that are doubly heavy, let us rededicate ourselves to those great New York traditions of mutual understanding and living in harmony. Let us move forward by strengthening the bonds that unite us, and let us work together to attain peace."

Published in Guest Commentary
Thursday, 08 January 2015 07:10

You Are Not Your Beliefs

AKIRA WATTS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaCharlieH(Photo: Aftermath of 2011 Charlie Hebdo firebombing. Photo by Pierre-Yves Beaudouin)It has been a day since I woke to the news that the office of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo had been attacked by armed gunmen, leaving 12 dead. The magazine had last made international headlines back in 2011, when its office was firebombed after publishing an issue featuring cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, but it has a long and rich history of attacking pretty much anyone within reach.

It would be nice to imagine that the response to this will not follow a far too predictable pattern. The attacks will be, rightfully, deplored all around. Islam will be denounced. Radical Islam will be denounced. Richard Dawkins will shoot his mouth off. The entirely reasonable claim that the actions of two individual extremists do not represent the totality of the faith will be made. Charlie Hebdo will be attacked as racist and insensitive, and defended as a shining exemplar of free speech and satire.

And meanwhile 12 people are dead because offense was taken when someone’s beliefs were attacked.

Published in Guest Commentary

ANASTASIA PANTSIOS OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaMcConnellBoehner(Photo: EcoWatch)With Congress back in session, Republican leadership is putting at the top of its agenda an item that probably isn’t at the top of most Americans’ agenda: approving the Keystone XL pipeline.

Majority leader Kevin McCarthy said that the House of Representatives will vote on Keystone XL pipeline Friday, according to the Wall Street Journal. The House has voted ten previous times to approve the pipeline but each time, it failed to clear the Democratic-controlled Senate. Now, with Republicans in charge of the Senate and a larger Republican majority in the House, its passage is guaranteed. The last House vote was 252-16, and it’s sure to garner an even larger margin this time.

The Senate is scheduled to begin consideration of the pipeline bill tomorrow with hearings in the Energy and Natural Resource Committee, headed by Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, a supporter of the project. Senate Democrats are pushing for an open process that would allow them to offer amendments, and incoming Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell has said that will happen. That means a full vote on the Senate floor could be weeks away.

“Just about the only people who think the first thing Congress should do is force approval of Keystone XL are those working for oil and gas billionaires—which explains exactly why Congressional Republicans want to do it,” said Sierra Club’s legislative director Melinda Pierce. “For those in Congress who don’t share those pro-polluter goals, this first vote will be a chance to stand together and send the message to the public that we won’t go backwards. After all, Americans didn’t vote for dirty air, dirty water or dirty energy, even if Congress is committed to doing just that.”

Published in Guest Commentary

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaBushTerrorist(Photo: CharlieTPhotographic)The role of health care workers in facilitating torture is one of the sickening details uncovered by the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence's 500-page executive summary of its investigation of George W. Bush's administration's torture program. Much of the reporting related to health care professionals has focused on the roles played by Jim Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, "two psychologists who ... [helped] develop and legitimize the torture program," New York magazine recently reported. Mitchell and Jessen's torture bounty added up to about $180 million for the company they founded -- $81 million for them -- prior to the termination of their contract in 2009.

However, according to a new report from Physicians for Human Rights, health care workers' involvement in Bush's torture project extended far beyond the work of only Mitchell and Jessen. "We now see clear evidence of the essential, integral role that health professionals played as the legal heat shield for the Bush administration — their get-out-of-jail-free card," Nathaniel Raymond, a research ethics adviser for Physicians for Human Rights and a co-writer of the organization's new report "Doing Harm: Health Professionals' Central Role in the CIA Torture Program," told Democracy Now's Amy Goodman and Aaron Mate.

Regarding Mitchell and Jessen, "Neither psychologist had any experience as an interrogator," the Senate report notes, "nor did either have specialized knowledge of al-Qa'ida, a background in counterterrorism, or any relevant cultural or linguistic expertise." Mitchell and Jessen "carried out inherently governmental functions, such as acting as liaison between the CIA and foreign intelligence services, assessing the effectiveness of the interrogation program, and participating in the interrogation of detainees in held in foreign government custody."

Published in Guest Commentary

HARVEY WASSERMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaSolartopia(Photo: NukeFree.org)The Vermont Yankee atomic reactor went permanently off-line on Dec. 29, 2014. Citizen activists have made it happen. The number of licensed U.S. commercial reactors is now under 100 where once it was to be 1,000.

Decades of hard grassroots campaigning by dedicated, non-violent nuclear opponents, working for a Solartopian green-powered economy, forced this reactor’s corporate owner to bring it down.

Entergy says it shut Vermont Yankee because it was losing money. Though fully amortized, it could not compete with the onslaught of renewable energy and fracked-gas. Throughout the world, nukes once sold as generating juice “too cheap to meter” comprise a global financial disaster. Even with their capital costs long-ago stuck to the public, these radioactive junk heaps have no place in today’s economy—except as illegitimate magnets for massive handouts.

So in Illinois and elsewhere around the U.S., their owners demand that their bought and rented state legislators and regulators force the public to eat their losses. Arguing for “base load power” or other nonsensical corporate constructs, atomic corporations are gouging the public to keep these radioactive jalopies sputtering along.

Such might have been the fate of Vermont Yankee had it not been for citizen opposition. Opened in the early 1970s, Vermont Yankee was the northern tip of clean energy’s first “golden triangle.” Down the Connecticut River, grassroots opposition successfully prevented two reactors from being built at Montague, Massachusetts, where the term “No Nukes” was coined. A weather tower was toppled, films were made, books were written, demonstrations staged and an upwelling of well-organized grassroots activism helped nurture a rising global movement.

Published in Guest Commentary
Friday, 26 December 2014 07:13

Refusing to Wage War Is Possible

ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaHandsUp2(Photo: Jamelle Bouie)And so we grieve over another national tragedy.

Two New York City police officers, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, were shot as they sat in their patrol car this past weekend. Let the needlessness of their deaths rip our hearts open. Let the humanity come first.

"Now is a moment for empathy and deep listening."

The words are from a statement issued by #BlackLivesMatter, a grassroots movement emerging this year over the spate of police killings of young men of color. The murder of the officers is part of the same tragedy. Black lives matter. Blue lives matter. All lives matter. Any thinking that embraces less than this is part of the problem, not the solution.

"The family of Michael Brown condemns today's senseless killing of two NYPD officers," a family spokesman said. "We reject any kind of violence directed toward members of law enforcement. It cannot be tolerated. We must work together to bring peace to our communities."

Far too many people, and far too many institutions, have vested interests in not working together. Bridging these artificial divides is the primary task of building peace. It requires setting aside our anger and our righteousness and walking toward one another with reverence, not with loaded weapons. If all lives matter, then we cannot declare war. With war you get nothing but losers.

Published in Guest Commentary
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