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LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH AT BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Push back against misinformation! Support real, independent media by clicking here to make a tax-deductible donation to Truthout and BuzzFlash.

PipeOil 0125wrp opt(Photo: Pipeline)An oil pipeline has leaked about 200,000 liters, or 52,834 gallons, of crude onto an aboriginal community in the oil-rich province of Saskatchewan, Canada.

This is the province's largest pipeline breach since July's disastrous 225,000 liter (59,438 gallon) Husky Energy Inc spill, in which some oil entered the North Saskatchewan River and cut off drinking water supply for two cities.

The latest spill happened on reserve lands of the Ocean Man First Nation. Ocean Man Chief Connie Big Eagle told Reuters that a local resident smelled the scent of oil for a week, located the spill and brought it to her attention on Friday.

While no homes were affected, the spill is about 400 meters (1,320 feet) from the local cemetery, Big Eagle said.

The Saskatchewan government was informed of the spill on late Friday afternoon, but the public was only notified of the spill on Monday.

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BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Push back against misinformation! Support real, independent media by clicking here to make a tax-deductible donation to Truthout and BuzzFlash.

Heritage 0125wrp opt(Photo: Amantio di Nicolao)During the Trump transition, staffers from The Heritage Foundation were quite active developing policies and pointing out potential nominees for government positions. That was only foreplay. Not since those halcyon days of the George W. Bush administration have folks at the Heritage Foundation been this giddy. If you are looking to understand where the underpinning of the Trump Administration's deregulation, tax breaks for the wealthy, Obamacare repeal and replace alternatives, climate change denial, and privatization agenda will be coming from, look no further than the Washington D.C. based Heritage Foundation, America's most influential right-wing think tank.

Almost every day for eight years, The Daily Signal, Heritage's e-mail newsletter, sounded the alarm about the Obama administration's misdeeds and the wrongheadedness of liberal policies.

Now Heritage, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, has pivoted to providing a broad-based agenda for Team Trump. Take Monday morning January 23rd for example. The Daily Signal's "Morning Bell's" headlines are bountiful and revelatory: "Trump Nominees Face 'Unprecedented' Democrat Obstructionism"; "Relief Is on the Way: What Trump's Obamacare Executive Order Will Do"; "Obama's Legacy Is a Weaker and More Divided America"; "How Obamacare Will Cost Native American Tribes Millions of Dollars"; "EPA's Top Priority Should Be to Eliminate Bogus Global Warming Models"; "Trump Should End Government Funding of NPR's Biased News."

Although Trump never seemed to be The Heritage Foundation's candidate of choice, nevertheless it appears that it has embraced him seamlessly. Perhaps most attractive to the Foundation was that Trump was an empty slate; devoid of political convictions or policy prescriptions. As the Huffington Post's Matt Fuller pointed out in August, "[F]or the Heritage Foundation ― and its cousin political operation, Heritage Action for America, which can more actively engage in political activities ― Donald Trump presents a rare opportunity: a politician without policies."

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DR. REESE HALTER OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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Gulls 0123wrp opt(Photo: Someone35)In last eight years, nearly 70,000 birds have been killed in the New York City area to make the skies safer for air travel.

On Jan. 15, 2009, three minutes after takeoff from New York City's La Guardia Airport, U.S. Airways Flight 1549 hit a flock of Canada geese just northeast of the George Washington Bridge and lost all engine power. Remarkably, pilots Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger and Jeff Skiles ditched the aircraft onto the Hudson River in midtown Manhattan. All passengers and crew, 155 people, escaped with only a few serious injuries.

It was the most successful ditching in aviation history known as the "Miracle on the Hudson."

Since then, the following birds have been eradicated by government agencies: 28,000 gulls, 16,800 European starlings, 6,000 brown-headed cowbirds, 4,500 mourning doves and approximately 1,800 Canada geese.

In the five years before the Hudson River emergency landing, there were 158 bird strikes per year. In the six years following the accident, 299 air strikes were recorded per year, according to statistics amassed by the Associated Press.

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PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Commentaries like this one aren't funded by corporate advertising, but by readers like you. Can you help sustain Truthout and BuzzFlash by making a tax-deductible donation?

War 0123wrp opt(Photo: German Federal Archive)Donald Trump said, "I’m going to make our military so big, so powerful, so strong, that nobody — absolutely nobody — is gonna mess with us."

Simple-minded but deadly thinking at the top derives from influential groups and individuals who think we have to KILL to keep the rest of the world in line. The compliant mainstream media scares us into accepting wars and drone killings overseas, military-style defenses on our own streets, surveillance of our private lives. For the war-happy leadership of America, certain realities are better left unsaid, or at most reported quickly and quietly.

1. Terrorist Acts in the U.S. Were More Common 40 Years Ago

Terrorist acts are deadly, but the panicky reports of mainstream news sources scare us more than they should, as when a FOX reporter called ISIS "the single biggest threat in [America’s] 200-year history."

This graphic derived from the Rand Corporation's terrorism database shows that the frequency of terrorist acts was greatest in the 1970s and 1980s. CNN notes that "There were literally hundreds of terrorist bombings, shootings and hijackings in States during the 1970s."

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LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Commentaries like this one aren't funded by corporate advertising, but by readers like you. Can you help sustain Truthout and BuzzFlash by making a tax-deductible donation?

Apple 0120wrp opt(Photo: fir0002)The first genetically modified (GMO) apples, which are engineered to resist browning when sliced, will arrive in select midwestern U.S. stores next month. The fruit, produced by Okanagan Specialty Fruits and sold under the brand name Arctic Apples, will be packaged as "grab-and-go" slices, according to Capital Press.

A customer will only know that the fruit is genetically modified by scanning the packaging with a smartphone. The company is adhering to the new GMO food labeling act which allows businesses to use a QR code instead of clear wording that informs consumers if a product contains GMO ingredients.

"We are selling it under the Arctic brand and we've had a lot of press and attention, so I assume most people will know what it is," Okanagan's founder and president Neal Carter told Capital Press.

The company's product can be identified with its logo of a snowflake inside an apple outline.

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LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

SolarFarm 0118wrp opt(Photo: US Bureau of Land Management)U.S. solar employs more workers than any other energy industry, including coal, oil and natural gas combined, according to the U.S. Department of Energy's second annual U.S. Energy and Employment Report.

6.4 million Americans now work in the traditional energy and the energy efficiency sector, which added more than 300,000 net new jobs in 2016, or 14 percent of the nation's job growth.

"This report verifies the dynamic role that our energy technologies and infrastructure play in a 21st century economy," said DOE Senior Advisor on Industrial and Economic Policy David Foster. "Whether producing natural gas or solar power at increasingly lower prices or reducing our consumption of energy through smart grids and fuel efficient vehicles, energy innovation is proving itself as the important driver of economic growth in America, producing 14 percent of the new jobs in 2016."

The solar industry is particularly shining bright.

"Proportionally, solar employment accounts for the largest share of workers in the Electric Power Generation sector," the report, released on Jan. 13, states. "This is largely due to the construction related to the significant buildout of new solar generation capacity." Overall, the U.S. solar workforce increased 25 percent in 2016.

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JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Pitchfork 0118wrp opt(Photo: Robert Couse-Baker)Buckle up, friends. Most Americans are about to be detoured onto a rough and rocky back road called "Trump Way." The autocratic tycoon was unabashed on the campaign trail in promising his victory would ensure millions of people a dire future, including mass deportations of immigrants, refugee bans and frontal assaults on women. But they're not the only ominous prospects. It will surprise many of the working stiffs who voted for the blustery billionaire to learn something he didn't communicate in his hectoring, "truth-telling" speeches: His little-discussed economic agenda is filled with provisions that would permit 1-percenters to travel more luxuriously than ever in the smooth, fast lanes of life, while the middle class and the poor are flagged onto Trump Way for a hairy, four-year ride of even more downward mobility. The proposed package includes:

—Immediately seizing control of the National Labor Relations Board, turning it into a corporate bulldozer to destroy workers' rights, particularly the right to organize unions

—"Yuuuuge" new tax cuts for corporations and the super rich, busting the budget for addressing human needs

—Privatization of such basics as public education, Medicare and Social Security

—Deregulation of corporate profiteers — from Wall Street banksters to Big Oil polluters

—Eliminating the federal minimum wage

—Freeing corporations from rules that prohibit discrimination in hiring, paying, promoting and firing workers

Published in Guest Commentary

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Rex 0113wrp opt(Photo: Rex Tillerson, by ExxonMobil)ExxonMobil was dealt a major blow on Wednesday after a Massachusetts judge ordered the company to hand in more than 40 years of climate research.

On Wednesday, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Heidi E. Brieger denied the oil giant a protective order that would have blocked Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey's subpoenas for Exxon's internal research on climate change.

"This affirms our authority to investigate fraud," Healey tweeted after the decision. "ExxonMobil must come clean about what it knew about climate change."

Exxon spokesman Alan Jeffers told Reuters the company was "reviewing the decision to determine next steps."

In June, the company filed a lawsuit at a federal court in Texas to block Healey's investigation. However, a Texas judge later ruled that the court had no jurisdiction over an investigation in Massachusetts.

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CARL POPE OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

House 0111wrp opt(Photo: Public Domain)Last, week, under the cover of a media bliss-out except among Koch funded right-wing channels, the House of Representatives passed a bill which would effectively repeal future standard setting under every important environmental, public health, consumer protection, labor standards, occupational safety and civil rights law on the books.

The bill, called the REINS Act, requires that any future major regulation adopted by an Executive Agency -- say a new toxic chemical standard required by the recently enacted Chemical Safety Act, or a new consumer protection rule about some innovative but untested kind of food additive -- must be approved by a specific resolution in each House of Congress within 70 days to take effect.

To give a sense of the scale of this road-block, in 2015 there were 43 such major federal regulations passed to protect the public; among them were food safety regulations, the Clean Power Plan regulating pollution from electrical generating facilities, net neutrality rules protecting the internet from monopoly, restrictions on predatory lending and energy efficiency standards for appliances.

If the REINS Act had been in effect, it unlikely that the Tea Party dominated Republican caucus in the House would have approved of any of these rules. Future standard setting under the entire body of legislation enacted over the past 40 years to protect the public, from the Clean Air Act to the Dodd Frank financial sector reforms, would be frozen. Over time, as new health, safety, consumer and labor protection issues arise, all of these laws will effectively have been repealed, with no public debate and no accountability. It will also be impossible to restore them as long as the REINS Act is in effect, because by requiring Congress to approve every regulation, it makes it impossible to pass technically complex and scientifically valid rules on any topic of controversy.

Published in Guest Commentary
Wednesday, 11 January 2017 06:36

Searching for Integrity in Trumplandia

JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

TrumpTower 0111wrp opt(Photo: New York City Mai)It's about time America has a president who will stand up to those greed-headed corporate executives who keep hauling our middle-class jobs out of country. Bring those jobs back home, Donald Trump bellowed, or I'll slap you with a huuuge tariff when you try to sell your foreign-made products here.

Great stuff, Donnie. And to prove you mean business, I know just the CEO you should target first: Her name is Ivanka. Yes, your daughter!

Ivanka's multimillion-dollar line of clothing and accessories are sold through major national retailers, ranging from Macy's to Amazon, and she pitches her Ivanka Trump-branded dresses, handbags, boots, blouses, etc. to America's working women. Yet, practically all of her products are made on the cheap in factories anywhere but America, with most coming from the low-wage bastions of China, Indonesia and Vietnam. Imagine the message it would send to runaway corporations and the integrity it would establish for The Donald if he slapped his first tariffs on Ivanka's goods!

But neither Daddy Trump nor his daughter wants to discuss the embarrassing conflict between his political bluster and her ethic of runaway capitalism. Instead, she's tried to dodge the issue by saying it doesn't matter, since she'll "separate" herself from the business if she becomes a White House advisor.

Nice try, Ivanka, but the stench of hypocrisy will only grow nastier if you're at your father's side while he castigates and punishes other corporations that have absconded from America. The only way to salvage even an iota of moral virtue is to repatriate the manufacturing of your brand-name apparel. And bringing those middle-class jobs home to the good ol' US of A would also make a powerful political statement.

Published in Guest Commentary
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