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LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Kochs 0629wrp opt(Photo: EcoWatch)Billionaire oil barons Charles and David Koch are reaching into their deep pockets to fund Republican candidates in the tight Senate races in Ohio and Nevada, two states that have seen powerful political and corporate interests block progress in renewable energy.

According to NBC News, the Koch Super PAC Freedom Partners Action Fund has announced it will buy $2.7 million television and digital ads to help Ohio Republican incumbent Sen. Rob Portman defeat Democrat Ted Strickland in the key swing state. The candidates are currently locked in a dead heat with each polling at 42 percent.

This news comes after the Super PAC’s announcement last week that it is spending $1.2 million on advertising to boost Nevada Republican Rep. Joe Heck’s race against Democrat and former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto to replace Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. That race is also pretty much tied.

The Koch brothers have notoriously dumped wild sums of money on conservative causes and campaigns, with more than $88 million in traceable funding to groups attacking climate change science, policy and regulation. According to NBC News, the two latest $3.7 million ad buy brings the Super PAC’s spending to $19.3 million in an effort to control the Senate.

So who are the Koch-approved Senate choices for Ohio on Nevada?

Rob Portman, who has been in office since 2011, is a pro-business conservative who has a prominent track record of choosing fossil fuel interests over environmental protection. As Cinncinati.com reported, he was a vocal opponent to the Obama administration’s regulations to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and has introduced an amendment that would let states opt out of those clean power rules.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2016June29 paramedicGovernment paramedic services in the United States are increasingly being privatized. (Photo: Jim Legans, Jr)

When the issue of privatization of public services is raised, we don't often hear about it in relation to ambulances and paramedics. However, these emergency services -- often a matter of life or death -- are not immune to the shift toward privatization. That is why a June 25 New York Times article on the growing ownership of public emergency services (including fire departments) by investors is particularly chilling:

A Tennessee woman slipped into a coma and died after an ambulance company took so long to assemble a crew that one worker had time for a cigarette break.

Paramedics in New York had to covertly swipe medical supplies from a hospital to restock their depleted ambulances after emergency runs.

A man in the suburban South watched a chimney fire burn his house to the ground as he waited for the fire department, which billed him anyway and then sued him for $15,000 when he did not pay.

In each of these cases, someone dialed 911 and Wall Street answered.

It is a specific branch of Wall Street -- private equity -- that is heavily investing in acquiring public services such as emergency transport. 

image 2016 06 28 1(Photo: Brian Negin)KATIE POHLMAN OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Buenos Aires is shutting down its zoo to give the animals a better life.

Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, mayor of Argentina's capital city, said keeping wild animals in captivity and on display is degrading, The Guardian reported. The zoo's 2,500 animals -- 89 species of mammals, 49 species of reptiles and 175 species of birds -- will be moved to nature reserves throughout the country, where they will live in more suitable environments. Older animals and those too sick to be moved will remain on site but not on display.

"This situation of captivity is degrading for the animals, it's not the way to take care of them," Rodríguez said.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2016June28 tppdncIt appears that Hillary Clinton is trying to have it both ways on the Trans-Pacific Partnership. (Photo: Cool Revolution)

As a concession to Bernie Sanders and his large electoral following in the Democratic primaries, the Clinton campaign got the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to let him appoint five delegates to the Democratic Party Platform Drafting Committee. Hillary Clinton got to name six representatives to the committee. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Chair of the DNC, named four. Considering that the prestigious and vocal progressives of the Sanders camp were outnumbered, you might think that the Clinton campaign had offered nothing more than a symbolic gesture -- and you would be partially correct.

The delegates appointed by Clinton and Wasserman-Schultz rejected many of the proposals put forth by Sanders' appointees. As Common Dreams reported on June 25:

During a 9-hour meeting in St. Louis, Missouri on Friday, members of the DNC's platform drafting committee voted down a number of measures proposed by Bernie Sanders surrogates that would have come out against the contentious Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), fracking, and the Israeli occupation of Palestine. At the same time, proposals to support a carbon tax, Single Payer healthcare, and a $15 minimum wage tied to inflation were also disregarded.

In a statement, Sanders said he was "disappointed and dismayed" that representatives of Hillary Clinton and DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schulz rejected the proposal on trade put forth by Sanders appointee Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), despite the fact that the presumed nominee has herself come out against the 12-nation deal.

"Inexplicable" was how Sanders described the move, adding: "It is hard for me to understand why Secretary Clinton’s delegates won’t stand behind Secretary Clinton’s positions in the party’s platform." 

image 2016 06 28(Photo: DonkeyHotey)BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Celebrating Brexit, Sarah Palin, the former Alaska Governor and failed vice-presidential candidate, posted on Facebook that the "smart Brits" outsmarted the "globalists" who want "apocalyptic One World Government." Congratulating the "Leave" voters, Palin added: "It is time to dissolve political bands that connect us to agendas not in our best interest. May UN shackles be next on the chopping block." During a recent freewheeling conversation with James Carville at Politicon, a gathering of political junkies with panels, standup comedy, film screenings and art displays at the Pasadena Convention Center, Palin took out after gun control advocates, vigorously defended the second amendment.

Palin also kind of took credit for getting the "ball rolling" on the Trump phenomenon. "Maybe my endorsement was able to kick off -- logistically, I’m speaking, about the timing of everything -- kick off and make an empowering movement for other conservatives, other proud clingers to their guns or God and our Constitution, the Tea Partiers, to empower them, allow them to go ahead and support the guy!" 

JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Eye 0627wrp opt(Photo: Alexageev)This year's freakish presidential election has now devolved into an ethnic brouhaha between two foreigners: A Mexican and a German.

The "Mexican" is Gonzalo Curiel. He's a federal judge who was actually born in Indiana, raised and educated as a Hoosier, and is presently presiding over a U.S. district court in San Diego. The German is Donald Drumpf, soon to be the Republican nominee for America's highest office. Drumpf has had fraud cases against him by former students of his Trump U (U as in "university"). These students who paid tens of thousands of dollars say they were conned out of their hard-earned money by Trump U. The judge presiding over this case is Gonzalo Curiel, and Trump the candidate recently became unhinged over the idea that "a foreigner" would be allowed to pass judgment on an upstanding American citizen like himself.

But, wait — Curiel is a full-blooded American citizen! No he's not, cried The Donald, he's "a Mexican," pointing to the jurist's family heritage. But, wait again — Donnie himself is not pure-blood Americano (only Native Americans can claim that). In fact, The Donald's forbearers have been in our country for only about 120 years. His grandfather, Friedrich Drumpf, immigrated to the U.S. from Kallstadt, Germany, about 120 years ago and Anglicized his name from Drumpf to Trump.

Still, the GOP's nativist and racist 2016 flag bearer insists that even though we Americans are proud to be a nation of immigrants, an American with Mexican genes should be disqualified from overseeing the fraud trials, for he'd inherently be biased against the candidate who has promised to "build a wall" between the U.S. and Mexico. So, does his screwy, self-serving claim that one's background trumps one's commitment to fairness also mean that a Muslim -American judge should also be disqualified from any trial of his wrongdoings, since the GOP presidential wannabe says he intends to ban all Muslim immigrants from entering the U.S.? "Absolutely," he said flatly.

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Solar 0506wrp opt(Photo: US Bureau of Land Management)Missouri’s Department of Transportation (MoDOT) has announced plans to install solar panels at a rest stop alongside the iconic Route 66 as part of the department’s “Road to Tomorrow Initiative.”

The Historic Route 66 welcome center in Conway, Missouri will receive the nation’s first solar roadway panels on a public right of way.

“… part of why we picked this location is because of the the historic Route 66 concept,” Laurel McKean, MoDot assistant district engineer, told KY3. “You know, here’s one of the main roadways that’s iconic for the United States, and being able to use the history to create potentially the future.”

The panels were developed by Solar Roadways, an Idaho-based startup founded by Scott and Julie Brusaw.

Their project received tons of attention in 2014 after the world caught wind of the couple’s ambitious plan to harness the energy being soaked up by the country’s roads and parking lots all day. Their viral video “Solar FREAKIN’ roadways” has been viewed more than 21 million times to date.

KY3 reported that MoDot will first test out a 12-by-20 foot patch of panels on a sidewalk leading to the rest stop’s main entrance.

“This is kind of the first phase, and we hope in the future that we then can move it out into maybe the parking lot, and then maybe into a travel area,” McKean said.

HARVEY WASSERMAN OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Diablo 624wrp opt(Photo: EcoWatch)As worldwide headlines have proclaimed, California’s Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) says it will shut its giant Diablo Canyon reactors near San Luis Obispo, and that the power they’ve been producing will be replaced by renewable energy.

PG&E has also earmarked some $350 million to “retain and retrain” Diablo’s workforce, whose union has signed on to the deal, which was crafted in large part by major environmental groups.

On a global scale, in many important ways, this marks the highest profile step yet towards the death of U.S. nuclear power and a national transition to a Solartopian green-powered planet.

For Californians, as we shall see, there’s an army of devils in the details, which cannot be ignored. But let’s deal with the big picture first.

The three most important lines on nuke power’s Diablo tombstone may be these ...

2016.23.6 BF Durst(Photo: Maryland GovPics)WILL DURST FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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If the goal is to cause both sides of the political spectrum to quiver and twitch and shiver and shake like a raccoon clinging to the outside of a cement mixer speeding through a railroad yard, just casually throw out the term, "gun control," and step back. The left considers all guns the reprehensible tool of warriors, criminals and primitives, while in most of red state America, the definition of gun control is using two hands and hitting the target.

Then some addled-brained, flippo-unit actually uses those techniques to take out a bunch of innocent people, and the blowback starts with a debate about how big our guns should be, further restrictions on who can purchase them and whether we need to know the identity and shoe size of the purchasers.

Yes. Indeed. You bet. We do. For crum's sakes, you need to present identification to apply for a card to take a book out of a library. Admittedly, in the right hands, a book can be more dangerous than a gun, but they hardly ever put holes in people's bodies that the blood leaks out of way too quick.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2016june23 rentafrientHas everything become monetized in the gilded age of the internet, even friendship? (Photo: Christopher Paquette)

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Rafie Drencheva came to the United States to study for an MFA in documentary filmmaking at Northwestern University. Upon settling in, thousands of miles from Bulgaria where she was raised, she came across a website -- RentaFriend.com -- that soon became the topic of her required graduation documentary. It also became the source of, well, some friendships that extended beyond a monetary agreement.

I saw Drencheva's film, "Friends for Sale," at a screening recently and was struck by how even finding friends now has been monetized on the web. Although Drencheva hasn't released the short doc for general viewing yet (she is reserving it for film festivals at the moment), suffice it to say that it documents interactions with "friends for rent." These range from fees of $20 for baking cookies with an affable woman to $100 an hour for someone who provides nurturing cuddling.  At one point, Drencheva -- who narrates the film -- exclaims that renting friends can cost as much as a Beyoncé concert.

What struck me as I watched the interactions between Drencheva and the friends she rented -- who all appeared earnest and comforting -- is what role technology has played in the creation of the rent-a-friend concept and site (which will no doubt be followed by a number of similar online endeavors). Is our increasing dependence on digital and mobile phone communication impeding our personal interactions with people? Or is the idea of renting a friend just another niche that already existed, that the internet is now technologically capable of fulfilling more readily? (Oftentimes, the assumption is made that "technology" has created a certain issue in society, when really, that issue was always with us; technology has just made it more widely visible.) The exchange of money for other people's time -- including for companionship -- is not a new concept.

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