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2015.1.6 BF EcoWatch(Photo: Ed Mullin)COLE MELLINO OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch.

Solar Impulse 2, the first solar airplane able to sustain flight at night with a pilot on board has been making its way around the world over the past few months. The plane took off today a little after 2 a.m. on Sunday in Nanjing, China. The flight from Nanjing to Honolulu, Hawaii is the seventh and longest leg of the first round-the-world solar flight. It will take an estimated six days to complete the roughly 5,000-mile journey. The first leg of the journey took place in early March, taking off from from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates and landing in the Omani capital, Muscat.

If the flight is successful, it will be the longest ever flight on solar power, both in terms of distance and time.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaiowacaucusPassion for a candidate, not a tentative preference, is key to turnout in caucus states such as Iowa. (Photo: DonkeyHotey)

This past weekend, the self-described newspaper "of record" decided that Bernie Sanders might possibly be a "credible challenge" to Hillary Clinton in the Iowa caucuses. That was the verdict of a Sunday article in The New York Times (NYT).

In fact, the NYT - some eight months before people assemble in gyms and rooms throughout Iowa to decide the Democratic nominee for president - gave an official green light to the mass media (which had generally been ignoring Sanders as a candidate) to state that the senator from Vermont is "gaining momentum."

It's key to remember how important horse-race-like coverage of presidential campaigns is to generating viewership and profit for major media outlets. It would not be difficult to conflate ESPN with CNN in this regard: Sports and elections are covered very similarly.

How significant is the transition from the dominant media mostly ignoring Bernie Sanders as a presidential candidate to now taking him somewhat seriously, as indicated by the NYT article? To gain perspective on that, it is worthwhile to revew a key dynamic in the mass media coverage of the last presidential race Hillary Clinton in which Hillary Clinton ran. 

Monday, 01 June 2015 06:45

US Policies Discard the Elderly

2015.1.6 BF Buchheit(Photo: Kevin Dooley)PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Elder abuse is defined as "harmful acts toward an elderly adult, such as physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, financial exploitation, and neglect.." Financial exploitation comes from the banking industry; neglect emanates from the halls of Congress; and emotions are stirred through the stories of impoverished seniors:

From Reno, Nevada: Here I am at an age when I should be thinking about retiring, desperately trying to find a job. I have used my savings...I'm seeking a court injunction to try and save my home.

From Laurel, Maryland: I am over 60, and I was pushed out of my job because of my age. My rent, car note, and electricity are all two months behind. I can barely get food. Utilities will be cut off soon.

From Bend, Oregon: I exhausted all my 401(k) retirement savings...I'm one month away from losing everything and am now on Food Stamps. I'm an unhappy Republican...

In Detroit, Michigan: 74-year-old Willie Smith saw her monthly SNAP benefits cut from $73 to $57. Also in Detroit, 63-year-old J.B. Hillman-Rushell and her 83-year-old mother were going to four different church food pantries for nearly all of their food.

ANASTASIA PANTSIOS OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaCAdrought(Photo: EcoWatch)The Salton Sea, a huge, shallow manmade lake located in the Sonoran Desert in California’s Imperial and Coachella valleys, has had problems for years. Its increasing saltiness has killed off most of its once-abundant fish species. Its shrinking water level has caused a reduction in water available for agricultural use, along with many dramatic photos of exposed lakebed and abandoned towns that were once seaside resorts. While the sea is no longer a resort destination for Hollywood celebrities as it was in the ’50s and ’60s, it’s still a playground for birds, with more than 400 species living along its shores or migrating through the area. But those populations could also be in jeopardy if its waters continue to recede.

And that exposed lake bed is expected to grow, thanks to California’s prolonged drought, now in its fourth year, and reductions in apportionment of water from the Colorado River which feeds the 360-square-mile sea. For many years, farmers in the agriculturally rich Imperial Valley would take more than their allocation of Colorado River water, viewing water as an infinite resource. But with growing demand from other southwestern states, with their growing populations and their own stresses due to drought, they became less able to do do. And now the drought and state-mandated water reductions have increased competition for whatever water is available, putting the Salton Sea at risk.

And that’s only the beginning of the problems that could be fueled by the sea’s receding water level.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

atoxhaz(Photo: eek the cat)

Why would a nonprofit organization need to launch a website that provides the public with data on exposure to toxic chemicals in the workplace? Quite simply, because the US government isn't doing a good job of it.

In a recent news release, PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility) states, "Workplace chemical exposures are the nation’s eighth leading cause of death but the US lacks any strategy for preventing the more than 40,000 premature deaths each year." PEER goes on to note:

"More Americans die each year from workplace chemical exposure than from all highway accidents, yet we have no national effort to stem this silent occupational epidemic," stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, pointing out that allowed chemical exposure on-the-job is roughly 1000 times higher than in the general ambient environment. "In the US, environmental protection stops at the factory door."

As a result, PEER has established a web resource that does the work that the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) should be offering online. The database is called, "Put the H back in OSHA."

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaFriess(Photo: Gage Skidmore)Now that former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum has thrown his hat into a Republican ring full of hats, you can bet that Foster Friess will not be far behind. While we know a fair amount about billionaire GOP puppet masters like Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and the Koch Brothers, and while we are quite familiar with Santorum's conservative politics, we know little about Santorum's top financial backer, Foster Friess, bad jokes about using aspirin between a "gals" knees as birth control notwithstanding.

So, who is Foster Friess?

Back in 2012, it was Friess, an evangelical conservative Christian and the founder of Friess Associates -- a Wyoming investment firm that has managed several billion of equities for such clients as the Nobel Foundation of Stockholm, Vanderbilt University, and the Brandywine and Brandywine Blue mutual funds -- who practically single-handedly kept Santorum in the primary race with a fair amount of money; much of it going to Santorum's super PAC called the Red, White and Blue Fund.

In January, Friess -- who maintains he is not a billionaire; in 2012 The Wall Street Journal estimated his wealth at a little over a half-billion -- organized a meeting of "a group of Republican business executives, as well as GOP consultants from South Carolina and Iowa, ... to have conversations with Santorum about his strategy and with Friess about financing a national political operation," The Washington Post reported.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

8260830302 00bb81341d zStrengthen the US by investing in education, not Wall Street and government profits on student loans. (Photo: Michael Fleshman)

As college tuition rises in the US, the government and private profiteers are making more money at the expense of students. This hits economically disadvantaged students particularly hard. Higher education is becoming increasingly unaffordable for them, even with loans. Indeed, all young people who think about attending college - except for the scions of the richest families - face an increasing deterrent to receiving a degree: years and years of indebtedness.

Why? Because the potential high debt of going to college versus the uncertainty of financial returns is now a high-risk decision for many young people. This is particularly true in an economy in which even many of those with college degrees face an uncertain and volatile job market.

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A recent article by Susanne Soederberg posted at Dollars and Sense makes the point that the United States is severely weakening its future educational capital, as the government and private sector rake in profits while sacrificing advanced educational opportunities. Soederberg also writes that "educational debt has become a ticking time bomb." 

2015.28.5 BF ECoWATCH(Photo: Socially Responsible Agricultural Project)ANASTASIA PANTSIOS OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch.

Factory farming has been expanding in the U.S. over the last two decades, and the size of those farms has increased dramatically—dominating the market, squeezing out smaller producers and setting the agenda for farming practices—to the detriment of food consumers.

That’s the conclusion of a new study, Factory Farm Nation: 2015 Edition, released by Food & Water Watch.

“Over the last two decades, small- and medium-scale farms raising livestock have given way to factory farms that confine thousands of cows, hogs and chickens in tightly packed facilities,” says the report. “Farmers have adopted factory farming practices largely at the behest of the largest meatpackers, pork processors, poultry companies and dairy processors. The largest of these agribusinesses are practically monopolies, controlling what consumers get to eat, what they pay for groceries and what prices farmers receive for their livestock.”

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This is occurring as the public is marching in the other direction, as demonstrated by McDonald’s declining profits, the positive public response to Chipotle’s moving toward organic, non-GMO and locally raised products, and raised awareness of the issues around meat and dairy products containing growth hormones and antibiotics used for preventive purposes due to factory farming confinement practices.

2015.28.5 BF Koehler(Photo: Daniel Grosvenor)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

There’s a category of political intellectuals who proudly proclaim themselves “realists,” then proceed to defend and advance a deeply faith-based agenda that centers on the ongoing necessity to prepare for war, including nuclear war.

These intellectuals, as they defend the military-industrial status quo (which often supports them financially), have made themselves the spokespersons for a deep human cancer: a soul cancer. When we prepare for war, we honor a profoundly embedded death wish; indeed, we assume we can exploit it for our own advantage. We can’t, of course. War and hatred link all of us; we can’t dehumanize, then proceed to murder, “the enemy” without doing the same, ultimately, to ourselves.

That isn’t to say there’s an easy way out of the mess we find ourselves in, here in the 21st century. Indeed, I see only one way out: a critical mass of humanity coming to its senses and groping for a way to create a peace that that has more resonance than war. We don’t have much political leadership around this, especially among the planet’s dominant — and nuclear-armed — nation states. But there is some.

Finding it and connecting with it, however, seems almost beyond the realm of possibility. Robert Dodge of Physicians for Social Responsibility wrote recently, for instance, that the U.N.’s recent, month-long Review Conference on the 45-year-old Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons “was officially a failure due to the refusal of the nuclear weapons states to present or even support real steps toward disarmament.”

COLE MELLINO OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaHotShit(Photo: EcoWatch)India is in the midst of a major heatwave, which has killed at least 800 people and melted roads in New Delhi as temperatures neared 122 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius). India’s Meteorological Department issued heat warnings to several states where temperatures are projected to reach beyond 113 degrees Fahrenheit (45 degrees Celsius) over the next few days, according to AFP.

The worst-hit state Andhra Pradesh in southern India has recorded 551 deaths in the last week alone. Every summer, across the country, hundreds of Indians, especially the poorest members of society, die from extreme heat, while tens of thousands deal with power outages from an overstrained electric grid as air conditioning use soars, reports AFP.

But this summer season is particularly bad, the most severe since 2010 when an estimated 250 people died from heat-related causes, which was said to be the worst since record-keeping began in the 1800s. The maximum temperature in the capital hit a two-year high of 45.5 degrees Celsius on Monday, which is five degrees higher than the seasonal average, reports the Hindustan Times. And, the death toll from heat mortality could be much higher than estimated because, according to Scroll.in, “the government counts only death by heat stroke and heat exhaustion as heat wave deaths. The narrow definition does not account for the way ‘heat exposure stresses underlying physiological systems,’ a study on heat mortality in Ahmedabad said.”

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