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2016.1.3 bf lorraien chow(Photo: micagoto)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

England will soon be home to Europe’s largest floating solar farm, if not the world. The 6.3 megawatt array consists of 23,000 solar panels that sit on the Queen Elizabeth II reservoir at Walton-on-Thames, a suburb of London near Heathrow Airport.

According to The Guardian, the £6 million (about $8 million) project will help power local water treatment plants that provide clean drinking water to London and south-east England’s 10 million residents

“This will be the biggest floating solar farm in the world for a time—others are under construction,” Angus Berry, energy manager for Thames Water, the utility which owns the site, told The Guardian. “We are leading the way, but we hope that others will follow, in the UK and abroad.”

2016.1.3 BF Chow(photo: Nattu)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

After six nominations, Leonardo DiCaprio won his first Oscar for Best Actor for his role inThe Revenantat last night’s Academy Awards. The noted environmental activist devoted half of his acceptance speech to call for urgent collective action to fight climate change, calling it “the most urgent threat facing our species.”

The 41-year-old actor, who was favored to win the Oscar and had swept the Best Actor category in every major award show leading up to the Academy Awards, first thanked the cast and crew in his speech and then shined a spotlight on his passion project.

Making The Revenant was about man’s relationship to the natural world. A world that we collectively felt in 2015 as the hottest year in recorded history,” he said, describing how the entire production needed to move to the southern tip of this planet in Argentina just to be able to find snow.

“Climate change is real, it is happening right now,” DiCaprio continued. “It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating.”

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

It's galling enough that the mainstream corporate media has been in tacit collusion with Donald Trump's sensationalist, racist, bombastic campaign because it is titillating and attracts viewers - which means more advertising dollars and profit. However, when evidence like the Instagram clip above, posted (with a comment) by Celeste Chorniak - a student at Radford University in Virginia - shows a US Secret Service agent assaulting a veteran TIME photographer for attempting to stray from the Trump-campaign designated media pen, it is appalling to contemplate the federal government's complicity in enforcing the spectacle rules that enhance Trump's demagoguery.

If you play Chorniak's Instagram clip, you will see that the Secret Service agent lunges toward the TIME photographer before he even leaves the media pen, putting a choke hold on him and then throwing him to the ground. You can see the attack occur at the bottom of the video, about midway across the screen, a few seconds after the clip begins. The comments below the video are those of Chorniak.

The Washington Post - in its frequent namby-pamby way - actually wrote up the assault on the photographer as if it was unclear if he was roughed up by the Secret Service agent without "cause." In an article today, the Post curiously conjectures:

You know those inkblot tests that are supposed to reveal something about your personality, based on what you see in confusing, splattery images? Well, the cellphone video clips of a physical altercation involving a photographer at a Donald Trump rally on Monday are like a real-life Rorschach.

How you react says a lot about what you think of Trump, the media and law enforcement.

Here's what we know: There was a violent confrontation between a photojournalist and a Secret Service agent during Trump's campaign event in Radford, Va.

According to numerous reports, the photographer uttered an expletive at the Secret Service agent who was blocking his way and tried to get around him to document a Black Lives Matter protest that was marching through the Trump event in Virginia. 

DR. VANDANA SHIVA OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaBackMonsanto(Photo: EcoWatch)Monsanto is in the news again. The Competition Commission of India, the country’s antitrust regulator, said last week that it suspects a Monsanto joint venture abused its dominant position as a supplier of genetically modified (GMO) cotton seeds in India and has issued an order citing prima facie violation of Sections 3(4) and 4 of the Competition Act, to be investigated by Competition Commission of India’s director-general.

Monsanto also faces cases brought by state governments and domestic seed manufacturers, for the astronomical royalty it charges. In previous cases, Monsanto defended itself by saying that it was “trait fees” (for using its technology in cotton hybrids) and not royalty.

Fact is that Monsanto has viewed the laws of our land as mere hurdles in its way to swindle India and our farmers. On March 10, 1995, Mahyco (Monsanto-Mahyco) brought 100 grams of cotton seeds, containing the MON531-Bt gene, into India without the approval of the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC).

Eager to establish a monopoly in India based on the smuggled MON531 gene, Monsanto-Mahyco started large scale, multi-centric, open field trials of Bt cotton in 40 locations spread across nine states, again without GEAC approval.

Article (7) of the Environment Protection Act, 1986, states: “No person shall import, export, transport, manufacture, process, use or sell any hazardous microorganisms or genetically engineered organisms/substances or cells except with the approval of the GEAC.” GMO traits, once released into the environment, cannot be contained or recalled.

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaDonTrumpyPoo(Photo: Gage Skidmore)In what might be one of their last opportunities to hack away at Donald Trump’s lead in the polls, Thursday night’s Republican Party debate had both Senator Marco Rubio and Senator Ted Cruz laying into Trump, blasting him for his vague and nebulous policy plans, financial contributions to pro-immigration politicians, his refusal to issue his tax returns, and his possible involvement as a defendant in a suit against his late for-profit and beleaguered Trump University. Trump, as is his wont, flicked the charges aside with a series of insults, facial contortions and blather. It remains to be seen as Super Tuesday rapidly approaches, whether Rubio and Cruz’s attacks have any affect at the polls.

The day before the debate, a clearly exasperated writer for the ultra-conservative Patriot Post wrote: “Once upon a time, the idea of Donald Trump's securing the Republican nomination for the presidency existed only in the realm of fantasy. But as primaries in four states now reside in the history books, and The Donald has claimed three wins and 81 delegates, fantasy is merging with possibility, if not quite yet reality.”

After the debate, an ever-hopeful Patriot Post declared: “We certainly hope it's not too late for voters to realize that Trump is not the answer. He's nothing but insanely idiotic bluster, repeated over and over and over again, ad nauseum. We've endured eight months of it. Can you imagine four or eight years? To re-employ one of his phrases, that is not going to make America great again, believe us.”

Many of the headlines -- from all ends of the political spectrum – describing Trump’s march towards the Republican Party’s presidential nomination tend to maintain that the GOP is doomed if Trump heads the ticket.

However, if the campaign team of whoever is the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee thinks that running against Trump will be similar to previous presidential campaigns, I’ve got news for them: Taking on the bombastic, brash, bawdy, boastful Trump will be like nothing they’ve ever dealt with before.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaatehranThe Azadi Tower serves as an entrance into Tehran. (Photo: Christiaan Triebert)

In Iran, the polls are just closing in the national election for two governing bodies: the parliament and the "Assembly of Experts." The former is nominally the secular governing body, but it is secondary in power to the theological "Assembly of Experts," which is composed of religious figures. The Assembly elects the Supreme Leader (an ayatollah), currently Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, is described in Western media as a pragmatist who wants to integrate Iran into the international community. 

Reuters reports that a large number of moderate or relatively liberal candidates to both elective bodies were "disqualified" from running, leaving mostly "hardline" conservatives on the ballot:

The Guardian Council, appointed half by Khamenei and half by the ultra-conservative judiciary, disqualified thousands of candidates for the legislature and vetoed 80 per cent of those seeking election to the Assembly of Experts. They included Hassan Khomeini, the moderate grandson of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution and Khamenei’s predecessor.

Yet, there was an overwhelming turnout for the Iranian election - albeit an election with pre-limited choices. (Of course, we should bear in mind that in the United States, democracy is also compromised by pre-limited voting, the influence of billionaires and suspect vote-tallying practices, among other factors.)

Friday, 26 February 2016 06:44

Public Defender Meltdown in Louisiana

BILL QUIGLEY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaGavel(Photo: Jonathunder)Louisiana, which has the highest incarceration rate in the country, no longer provides public defenders to all its people accused of crimes; within months over half its public defender offices are expected to become insolvent.

“It’s a nightmare,” according to James Dixon, the chief Louisiana Public Defender. “You have people in jail that don’t have lawyers. It’s that basic.” In Louisiana, public defenders are appointed to represent nearly 250,000 people each year. Dixon has been warning of a constitutional crisis for years due to inadequate funding. His office has recently been sued in a federal class action by the ACLU.

The state public defender indicated that 24 of the 42 local public defender offices will become insolvent and restrict services in the next few months. Many already have broken down. Public defenders in 13 of Louisiana’s 42 judicial districts are already restricting services.

For example, the Lafayette Parish public defender has laid off 35 of its 52 attorneys, and imposed salary cuts of 20 percent on those who remain. The constitutional guarantee of speedy trial is gone and death penalty cases are grinding to a halt. The remaining public defenders face caseloads of 1000 felonies a year, a rate more than five times as high as recent Texas legislature mandated caseload study which concluded that public defenders should represent no more than 175 felonies a year.

New Orleans public defenders have been refusing to represent the most serious cases since January. The highly respected Marshall Project reports their budget has been cut from $9.5 million to $6 million in the past four years. That office, which represents 85 percent of those charged in criminal court, has already laid off lawyers, and cannot replaced the many lawyers who have resigned because of a hiring freeze. The office handles 10,000 misdemeanors and 8,000 felonies a year. One public defender wrote in the Washington Post that brand new lawyers have to handle cases with life sentences, carry double the number of cases that the American Bar Association recommends, do not have the time to even see their clients and are forced to plead people out to felony convictions on the day they meet them.

2016.25.2 BF Mellino(Photo: Percy)COLE MELLINO OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

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The city of Hamburg, Germany has banned single use coffee pods in state-run buildings as part of an initiative to reduce waste.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaaaaablankfein32Lloyd Blankfein, head of Goldman Sachs, caustically attacked Bernie Sanders but paid Hillary Clinton $675,000 in speaking fees. (Photo: DonkeyHotey)

According to an article in The Hill a few weeks back, Lloyd Blankfein - head of Goldman Sachs and symbol of Wall Street's lack of accountability - warned that Bernie Sanders is "dangerous." Blankfein told CNBC that Sanders is too set in his ways, adding, "It's a liability [in this anti-Wall Street environment] to say, 'I'm willing to compromise'… It's just incredible. It's a moment in history. Eventually people, the electorate, will notice nothing is getting done."

At no time did Blankfein, who personally supported Hillary Clinton against Barack Obama in 2008, find fault with Clinton; his alarm is solely focused on the senator from Vermont. He contrasted Sanders with more flexible candidates who are willing to work with Wall Street when he emphasized that a candidate must be "willing to compromise."

The Sanders campaign - supported by public records - charges that Wall Street donations make up a considerable portion of the Clinton war chest. She is supported by at least one huge Wall Street PAC, and, of course, has made millions of dollars in speaking fees from Wall Street financial firms.  

2016.25.2 bf berkowitz(Photo: Brian via Flickr)BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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Not everyone would elevate it to a matter for serious concern, but St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson’s latest broadside takes the cake, and maybe even the cookies. According to numerous reports, including a dailykos.com piece by Jen Hayden, in late-February Carlson issued a letter to area “Priests, Scout Leaders and Faithful of the Archdiocese,” warning them against falling prey to … wait for it … the Girl Scouts USA, and the parent organization of GSUSA, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS).

Archbishop Carlson’s letter is loaded with accusations against the Girl Scouts, many of them repeats from previous conservative-initiated anti-Girl Scout campaigns, many of which go back more than a decade. The letter strings together a church enemies list that includes Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan (nice to see her name resurfacing), Amnesty International, Oxfam and others.

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