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COLE MELLINO OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaGoldCoinKoch(Photo: Benedetto Pistrucci)Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and “a coalition of deep-pocketed liberal groups, including a pair of super PACs backing Hillary Clinton” have been holding strategic meetings for months “examining the 2016 map and plotting attacks against the powerful Koch brothers‘ network,” according to Politico.

A key organizer of the effort, David Brock will present his findings tomorrow, using polling and research, to the Senate Democratic Caucus. The Koch brothers network of conservative mega-donors plans to spend a staggering $889 million for the 2016 presidential race.

Brock believes that highlighting the “massive political spending” of the Koch brothers network is a “critical component” of boosting Democratic candidates, including Clinton, in 2016.

In August, the billionaire brothers held a donor conference in California, in which several of the top presidential candidates—former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (who has now withdrawn from the race) and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina—flocked to the event to seek donations. This led Donald Trump to call these candidates “puppets” of the Koch brothers.

Published in Guest Commentary

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaPesticides(Photo: Doc James)Two separate U.S. agricultural workers have slapped lawsuits against Monsanto, alleging that Roundup—the agribusiness giant’s flagship herbicide—caused their cancers, and that the company “falsified data” and “led a prolonged campaign of misinformation” to convince the public, farm workers and government agencies about the safety of the product.

The first suit, Enrique Rubio v. Monsanto Company, comes from Enrique Rubio, a 58-year-old former field worker who worked in California, Texas and Oregon. According to Reuters, he was diagnosed with bone cancer in 1995, and believes it stemmed from exposure to Monsanto’s widely popular weedkiller and other pesticides that he sprayed on cucumber, onion and other vegetable crops. Rubio’s case was filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Sept. 22.

That same day, a similar lawsuit, Fitzgerald v. Monsanto Company, was filed in federal court in New York by 64-year-old Judi Fitzgerald, who was diagnosed with leukemia in 2012. She claims that her exposure to Roundup at the horticultural products company she worked for in the 1990s led to her diagnosis.

The plaintiffs have accused the company of falsifying the safety of the product and putting people at risk.

Published in Guest Commentary

RONNIE CUMMINS OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaRonnie bigfood(Photo: EcoWatch)Welcome to Degeneration Nation.

After decades of self-destructive business-as-usual—empire-building, waging wars for fossil fuels, selling out government to the highest bidder, lacing the environment and the global food supply with GMOs, pesticides, antibiotics, growth hormones, toxic sweeteners, artery-clogging fats and synthetic chemicals, attacking the organic and natural health movement, brainwashing the body politic, destroying soils, forests, wetlands and biodiversity and discharging greenhouse gas pollution into the atmosphere and the oceans like there’s no tomorrow—we’ve reached a new low, physically and morally.

Distracted by know-nothing media conglomerates and betrayed by cowardly politicians and avaricious corporations, homo sapiens are facing and unfortunately in many cases still denying, the most serious existential threat in our 200,000-year evolution—catastrophic climate change, compounded by deteriorating public health and the dictatorial rise of political elites and multinational corporations such as Monsanto.

Unless we move decisively as a global community to transform our degenerative food, farming and energy systems, we are doomed.

To reverse global warming and re-stabilize the climate, we will need not only to slash CO2 emissions by 90 percent or more, taking down King Coal and Big Oil and converting to renewable sources of energy, but we must also simultaneously remove or draw down 100-150 ppm of the excess (400 ppm) CO2 and greenhouse gases that are already overheating our supersaturated atmosphere. How do we accomplish the latter? Through regenerative agriculture and land use.

Published in Guest Commentary

WILL DURST FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaCapsules(Photo: Würfel)Get this. And get it straight. Gordon Gekko was wrong. Greed is not good. Greed is bad. Greed eats away the core of society like a golden parasitic leech the size of Manitoba. Or Saskatchewan. One of those Provinces or Territories or Protectorates or whatever they use in Canada to keep their license plates distinct.

And practicing and/or defending greed makes you nothing but a blood sucking tick no matter how fancy a suit you're wearing. Or size of the diamonds around your wrist. Or how free range the organic heirloom Chicken Florentine is on your plate.

The movie "Wall Street" came out in 1987. And after Vietnam and Watergate and an oil embargo and 4 years of scolding by Jimmy Carter, a little irrational exuberance may have seemed warranted. But that was 30 years ago. Too much is no longer not enough. Too much has gotten way out of hand. Today's too much is much much too much.

In his UN address, the Pope said it best. "A selfish and boundless thirst for power and material prosperity leads both to the misuse of available natural resources and to the exclusion of the weak and disadvantaged." You know what; he's right. Got to love Papa Frankie. The guy is like a slightly older more lovable Argentinian Bernie Sanders. With the crank dialed down to a manageable hum.

Let's be honest; what we're really talking about here is that idiot CEO, Martin Shkreli who raised the price of the life saving drug, Daraprim, from $13.50 a pill to $750 each, because, and I quote, he "needs to start making a profit." A 5,455% increase: which if produce distributors did to onions would make a side of rings about 3 grand.

This predatory price gouge follows in the carnivorous footsteps of Gilead Sciences who developed a drug called Solvadi, a cure for Hepatitis C. The treatment regimen consists of 84 pills. Each one costing 1000 dollars. That's right. 84 thousand dollars. But then you're cured. And after all, how much is your life worth? Half of what you own? Everything? Your first born?

Published in Guest Commentary

JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaCoalRemoval(Photo: JW Randolph)From the time I was a teenager, I’ve wrestled with the question of good and evil. The question led me to the study of philosophy and literature. When I was sixteen years old, I began reading the Russian authors, starting with Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment.   Naïve, I sided with Alyosha Karamazov, a saintly loving monk—a man who, despite the despicable things that humans do to one another, held faith in the goodness of God, and in the idea that humans are fundamentally good, but they do evil things in a state of ignorance.

This idea that evil is committed in a state of ignorance goes back to Plato’s definition of wrongdoing, a concept that St. Augustine accepted, only he referred to the Higher Good as God and that a person could do evil acts only in the absence of God’s Love, i.e., he/she lived in ignorance, a kind of dark void of the soul.

But what if you know what you’re doing is wrong and you do it anyway?

It wasn’t until I came across a profound statement, uttered by Alyosha’s brother, Ivan, an intellectual skeptic, that this inquiry of good and evil became far more confusing than initially conceived. At the time, I didn’t know that it was a famous hypothesis:

If God is dead, then everything is permitted.

I reasoned that if you took that statement to its final conclusion—it would most likely point to the end of humanity because without moral guidance, and enforced legal restrictions, men would push the limits of their greed and avarice to mass suicide.

Published in Guest Commentary

COLE MELLINO OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaGlacierPeruEcowatch(Photo: Edubucher)While countries have dragged their feet for years on meaningful climate action, many cities around the world have forged ahead with sustainability efforts. In July, about 60 mayors pledged to fight climate change at a two-day conference hosted by Pope Francis.

Several cities have even made impressive strides to ditch fossil fuels in favor of renewables. Two recent reports have confirmed that 100 percent renewable energy is possible. Earlier this summer, professors out of Stanford and U.C. Berkeley laid out a plan for the U.S. to convert to 100 percent renewable energy in less than 40 years, and Monday Greenpeace published its Energy Revolution 2015 report, which proposes a pathway to a 100 percent sustainable energy supply by 2050.

A report issued last week by CDP, a a U.K.-based nonprofit, and AECOM shows that “96 cities—one third of cities participating in CDP—are already taking action to decarbonize their electricity supply. And 86 percent of these cities say taking action on climate change presents an economic opportunity.”

This year, 308 cities reported to CDP. Nearly half a billion people call these cities home—equivalent to the combined population of the U.S., UK and France. The report found that “currently over a third of cities get more than three quarters of their electricity from non-fossil fuel sources, showing that cities are actively using cleaner energy sources.”

Published in Guest Commentary

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaSerra(Photo: Olivier)During his July visit to Bolivia, Pope Francis “apologized for the ‘grave sins’ of colonialism against the native people of the Americas,” USA Today’s Bill Theobald recently reported. “I humbly ask forgiveness, not only for the offense of the church herself, but also for crimes committed against the native peoples during the so-called conquest of America,” the pope said. Why then is Pope Francis canonizing Junípero Serra, the embodiment of crimes committed against native peoples in California?

Why is Pope Francis conferring sainthood on a man whose actions led to the destruction of native peoples in California? Sainthood for Serra, a man who founded missions where native peoples were imprisoned and tortured, and where thousands died? At the time of the announcement, it seemed that Pope Francis, who seems to be a man with a great yearning for social justice, might be unfamiliar with the complete Serra story?

In January, when Pope Francis announced plans to canonize Serra, it opened deep and old wounds. On Wednesday, however, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., Serra, who the pope called an “evangelizer of the West,” will become America’s first Hispanic saint.

Serra the “evangelizer,” was also an agent of colonialism, death and destruction.

Published in Guest Commentary

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaForestFire(Photo: MGA73bot2)Headlines from newspapers across the Western U.S. are overwhelming and devastating; thousands of acres of forestland burning, rural communities evacuated, hundreds of homes destroyed. As huge swaths of land – 70,000 acres in California's Lake County alone -- are devoured by unprecedented wildfires, climate scientists and Forest Service officials are warning that recent megablazes, including those in the rainforest of the Olympic Peninsula, in Alaska, in eastern Oregon, and any of the ten currently raging in California, "is the present, and the future, of climate change," writes Rolling Stone's Tim Dickinson.

For the Forest Service, it's beyond an all hands-on-deck situation as large numbers of National Guard and active Army troops have been called on to fight the fires.

Despite incontrovertible evidence that climate change is magnifying and multiplying the damage caused by forest fires, climate change deniers push on.

The Republican Party's presidential candidates are standing firm with the deniers; some claiming that the debate over climate change has not yet been resolved, some suggesting that there is not enough evidence that climate change is man-made, and some maintaining that the costs of dealing with climate change is too high. And, it should be noted, with the Koch Brothers possibly pumping as much as $900 million into Election 2016, GOP candidates know very well where to turn to for there positions on climate change.

There is a searing political dimension to the issue of megablazes. Take Idaho for example, where, Jan Lee recently reported at Triple Pundit, that Gov. Butch Otter, a "stalwart against accepting any federal monies from the Obama administration," including "Medicaid allowances for the elderly and disabled, faced with increasing demand for firefighting resources, declared a state of emergency."

Published in Guest Commentary

COLE MELLINO OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaMosquito(Photo: JJ Harrison)Some Alaskans joke that mosquitoes are “Alaska’s state bird,” but the pesky insects are becoming no joke. Warming Arctic temperatures have caused their numbers to swell immensely in the region in recent years. Lauren Culler has been studying insects in Greenland for the last several years. Culler, a postdoctoral researcher for Dartmouth College’s Institute of Arctic Studies, along with a team of researchers published a study yesterday in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Their findings are not good for the humans, caribou and other mammals that call the Arctic home. The study answers why this is happening. With the Arctic warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, the Arctics waterways (mosquito breeding grounds) are melting up to several weeks sooner. Thus, mosquitoes are hatching earlier and earlier.

“It was really when the pond thawed that triggered the hatch,” Culler told National Geographic. “That’s not unexpected. Lots of biology is triggered by these melting events.” But that’s not all Culler found. The warmer environment also allowed mosquitos to reach maturity faster, thus allowing more and more to survive to adulthood. Mosquitos are most vulnerable and most likely to be picked off by predators in their early stage of life as most animals are.

“The faster they go through these life stages, the better off they are,” Culler says. “If you’re only exposed for 20 days instead of 24, that’s good for you. That’s four days you don’t have to worry about being eaten.”

Published in Guest Commentary

JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaScottWalker 2010(Photo: WisPolitics.com)Meet Scott Walker, corporate whore and lousy gambler (with taxpayer money, of course).

The Wisconsin governor says he should be America's next president because he's a proven budget whacker who, by golly, has dressed down teachers, slashed funding for higher education, busted unions and gone after welfare recipients. He's the Koch brothers' favorite because he's tough on government "moochers" — unless, of course, you're a corporate moocher. If a corporation wants public money, well, then Walker's your go-to Wisconsin whore.

Wesley Edens could vouch for the governor's willingness to bestow public favors on big men with big money. Edens is a New York City hedge-fund gazillionaire who bought the Milwaukee Bucks pro basketball team last year. Showing the usual ethical perversity that afflicts "private enterprise" sports owners, this flimflamming carpetbagger immediately demanded a $250-million subsidy from Wisconsin and Milwaukee taxpayers to build a sparkling new sports palace for him. Now, one gamble that's a more certain loser than throwing your money at Las Vegas casinos is letting public officials throw our tax dollars into building new stadiums for profiteering owners of sports teams. And Scottie was willing to take that bet.

Walker and officials of Milwaukee County are betting the farm to subsidize a flashy basketball arena for the Bucks. "Oh golly," one can imagine Scott squealing at Edens with unseemly delight, "it will be my exquisite pleasure to ramrod the deal through my Republican legislature for you, and I'll also schmooze secretly with Democratic officials of Milwaukee County to get them to put out for you!" Edens did his part to consummate this back alley affair by doling out ownership shares of his basketball team to prominent Republicans, including Jon Hammes, a developer who just happens to be co-chairman of the national finance committee for Walker's presidential run.

Published in Guest Commentary
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