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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."


aaaaaaaaadetainA pro-immigration advocate holds a poster at a Washington DC rally that reads (in English): "No to Detention, Deportation and Family Separation" (Photo: Stephen Melkisethian)

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has granted a contract to a subsidiary of the private prison company GEO Group to manage the cases of refugee families after they are released from physical detention. In doing so, it is subjecting children and parents in crisis to the care of a company whose umbrella company profits from their prison-like confinement. 

"There, at every turn in the expansion of the immigration enforcement system, are the for-profit prison and detention corporations," Mary Small, policy director for the Detention Watch Network, told BuzzFlash at Truthout. "They encourage the expansion of the entire system, and the biggest expansion in the last year has been family detention and management." 

Truthout and BuzzFlash combat corporate power by bringing you trustworthy, independent news. Join our mission by making a donation now! Join our mission by making a tax-deductible donation now!

In this case, the parent corporation of the contracted case management firm - GEO Care LLC - makes a profit off of high detention-center occupancy, meaning a steady influx of detainees, primarily from Mexico and Central America, is necessary. With a subsidiary of GEO Group, the fate of these refugees in crisis is not in neutral hands. One can speculate that it would be in the interest of the parent corporation for the case manager working for the subsidiary to find reasons to re-detain families - particularly should a detention facility run by GEO not be full.

Washington Post article from the spring of 2015 discusses the fact that for-profit incarceration companies often have agreements that guarantee a certain (high) level of prison occupancy. As for the immigration detention side of the business, the Washington Post notes,

There’s even a lockup quota at the federal level: The Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s detention budget includes a mandate from Congress that at least 34,000 immigrants remain detained on a daily basis, a quota that has steadily grown each year, even as the undocumented immigrant population in the United States has leveled off.

In 2013, Lee Fang wrote a lengthy article in The Nation detailing extensive lobbying efforts and financial contributions that the for-profit prison and detention industry uses to push "for enforcement-heavy" immigration laws.


Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

New research reveals that nearly half (45 percent) of the world’s 100 largest companies are “obstructing climate change legislation.” And those that aren’t actively obstructing climate policy are members of trade associations that do. A full 95 percent of these companies are members of trade associations “demonstrating the same obstructionist behavior.”

With help from the Union of Concerned Scientists, UK-based nonprofit InfluenceMap has released a report identifying the best and worst of the world’s major companies when it comes to climate policy.

“More and more, we’re seeing companies rely on their trade groups to do their dirty work of lobbying against comprehensive climate policies,” said Gretchen Goldman, lead analyst at Union of concerned Scientists. “Companies get the delay in policy they want, while preventing nations from acting to fight climate change. It is unacceptable that companies can obstruct climate action in this way without any accountability.”


Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Unlike last month’s GOP primary debate, where climate change was not mentioned at all during the prime time debate and only briefly mentioned in the so-called “happy hour” debate, the topic finally received some airtime at last night’s debate. Held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, the debate was hosted by CNN. Over the course of the three-hour debate, there was one question on climate change. It lasted about four minutes, which is only slightly longer than the amount of time devoted to candidates picking out their secret service names.

“We received a lot of questions from social media about climate change,” says CNN moderator Jake Tapper. One group, NextGen Climate pushed very hard ahead of the debate for the candidates to talk about climate change. They rolled out a three-figure ad campaign ahead of the debate, invoking Ronald Reagan’s “Common Sense” speech to urge CNN moderator Jake Tapper to ask candidates how they would address climate change—specifically what their plans are to get the country to 50 percent renewables by 2030.


aaaaaaaaaaaabushnoGeorge W. Bush enabled the devastation of New Orleans and privatization of the schools. (Image: DonkeyHotey)

On the 10th anniversary of the decimation of New Orleans due to Hurricane Katrina, the bursting of the levees and the negligence of the the Bush administration, George W. Bush made a visit that was meant to appear as a triumphant return to the city. The press centerpiece was an appearance at Warren Easton Charter School on August 28.

The ABC affiliate in New Orleans, WGNO, reported on the event:

Despite some protesters outside, former President George W. Bush said, "New Orleans is back, better than ever!" during a short speech at Warren Easton Charter High School...

Warren Easton is part of the Gulf Coast School Library Recovery Initiative, funded the Laura Bush Foundation for America's Libraries, which was established to help Gulf Coast schools that were damaged by the hurricanes to rebuild their book and material collections.

The President and Mrs. Bush's also attended an education roundtable, where they honor the exceptional work accomplished by New Orleans school leaders, nonprofit partners, educators, parents, and communities.

However, a recent investigation by In These Times indicates that the Bushes were indulging in privatization puffery at the expense of the facts. As the article's author, Colleen Kimmett, states, "10 years after Katrina, New Orleans’ all-charter school system has proven a failure.... A three-month investigation by In These Times reveals the cracks in the education reform narrative."


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.”


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.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015 06:09

Global Warming Could Lead to Worldwide Wars


aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaresourcewarWill global warming lead to worldwide resource wars? (Photo: Environmental Illness Network)

It would be a simplification to assert that the mass movement of refugees to Europe is currently primarily caused by global warming. As we've noted previously, wars of empire and economic deprivation have been the leading factors behind the recent surge of people struggling to reach the relative safety and economic stability of European Union nations.

However, a September 9 article in the Guardian reports on the warning issued by the former head of Britain's Liberal Democrats, Lord Paddy Ashdown, that "the world will undergo more resource wars and huge movements of desperate people unless it tackles climate change effectively."

Ashdown's warning is based on both logical and scientific premises. If global warming damages or destroys the yield of large areas of agricultural production, for example, there will be likely be wars fought over an increasing limited availability of food. In addition, deadly conflicts would also result from a decreasing supply of fresh water.


aaaaaaaaaaaaroosevelthooverflickrTheodore Roosevelt (R) and Herbert Hoover (L) lead off the walkway of the "White Savior" presidents across from the island's capitol in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Photo: OZinOH)

You might ask why immediately across the street from the capitol building of Puerto Rico - crossing the broad boulevard of Constitution Avenue - there are prominent life-size statues of nine United States presidents, beginning with Theodore Roosevelt. After all, although Puerto Ricans who live on the island are US citizens, they are prohibited from voting in US presidential elections.

There are other commemorative and memorial sites located on the south side of Constitution Avenue, but none so prominent as the nine presidents who face the capitol building, as if they were vigilantly monitoring every activity taking place there. In essence, this symbolizes what the United States has been doing in relation to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico - or as critics call it, the colony of Puerto Rico - since the island was wrested from Spain in the Spanish-American War in 1898.

Nelson A. Denis, author of War Against All Puerto Ricans: Revolution and Terror in America's Colony, told BuzzFlash that this "commemoration," called El Paseo de los Presidentes (Walkway of the Presidents), was constructed by the Puerto Rican pro-statehood party, when in power, to curry favor with the US government: "In February 2010, Gov. Luis Fortuño and his PNP Party (the statehood party) spent $987,000 in public dollars on these statues, to prostrate themselves to the US government. Now five years later, Puerto Rico is broke. You figure it out."


aaaChickens(Photo: Snowmanradio)The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) released secret video footage today taken by an undercover reporter inside a Tyson Foods slaughterhouse in Texas. According to ALDF, the footage reveals an exploitative system for both workers and animals.

“The overall attitude towards the chickens at the Tyson plant is that they were thought of as objects and not living and feeling beings,” said the anonymous ALDF investigator. “They were nothing more than a commodity. It didn’t seem to matter to anyone if the chickens were hurt or killed in the pre-slaughter process. It was just part of ‘business.’”

Watch the undercover footage here.

The abuse of workers and animals in factory farms is well documented. Undercover footage from Mercy for Animals in July revealed equally appalling conditions at another Tyson’s facility. And a similar undercover investigation into Costco’s egg suppliers from The Humane Society earlier this summer sparked Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt and Bill Maher to call on the retail giant to make changes.

“Our investigation proves that the cruel treatment of chickens by Tyson Foods are not isolated incidents, but a systematic, companywide problem,” says Stephen Wells, Animal Legal Defense Fund executive director. “Tyson Foods is putting profits over not only ethical standards, but state and federal laws.”

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