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Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

There is no reason why India should face hunger and malnutrition and why our farmers should commit suicide. India is blessed with the most fertile soils in the world. Our climate is so generous we can, in places, grow four crops in a year—compared to the industrialized west where sometimes only one crop is possible per year. We have the richest biodiversity of the world, both because of our diverse climates and because of the brilliance of our farmers as breeders. Our farmers are among the most hardworking, productive people in the world. Yet India faces an emergency, in our food and agricultural system. This emergency is man-made.

Firstly, the poor and vulnerable are dying for lack of food. According to the Deccan Herald, Lalita S. Rangari, 36, a Dalit widow and mother of two children of the Gondiya tribal belt, allegedly died due to starvation. Justice Bhushan Gavai and Justice Indu Jain of the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court have served notice to the government of Maharashtra seeking its reply to the starvation death of a Dalit widow.

2015.17.8 BF berkowitz2Conservatives don't want just to destroy the present; they want to control the future through science fiction. (Photo: IanVisits)BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

If you think America's culture wars are only taking place over such hot-button issues of health care, gay rights, abortion, and/or religious freedom, think again. Unbeknownst to those of us who are neither regular readers of speculative fiction nor follow it in the blogosphere, for a short time awhile back it looked like the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) might fall into the hands of an ultra-conservative culture warrior. It didn't. However, culture war battles – particularly as related to gender and social justice issues – have found a new front; the prestigious Hugo Awards,

This week, the Hugos - awards given annually for the best science fiction or fantasy works and achievements - will be announced. Given out annually since 1955, the awards were originally called the Science Fiction Achievement Awards until 1992, and then they were renamed for Hugo Gernsback, the founder of the science fiction magazine Amazing Stories.

Like just about any awards ceremony, controversy is guaranteed.

This year, however, the controversy over the Hugo awards may have reached a tipping point, as a well-organized conservative-minded group called the "Sad Puppies," and their allies, dominate the Hugo nominations.

First, a few not-so-secret confessions: I have never seen Star Trek or Star Wars; I haven't read much science fiction, fantasy novels or short stories (except for those written by the late Kurt Vonnegut, Shirley Jackson, and my second cousin Michael Greenhut); I have great respect, and admiration, for Rod Sterling and have probably seen just about every Twilight Zone episode ever made; and, finally, I am a fan of HBO's Game of Thrones. In short I am not an expert on the genre or sub-genre or even micro-genre.


aaaAbramsElliott(Photo: Gage Skidmore)I am thinking about Elliott Abrams, the neoconservative former advisor to both the Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush administrations, and a great line from a song by Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks has popped into my head: "How can I miss you if you won't go away?" In a strange way, it is almost comforting to read Abrams' recent accusations in The Weekly Standard that President Barack Obama, with his advocacy for the Iran nuclear deal, is "feeding a deep line of anti-Semitism." In critiquing the president's speeches on the issue, Abrams wrote: "The president ... must know that he is here feeding a deep line of anti-Semitism that accuses American Jews of getting America into wars."

One expects nothing less from Abrams, who, over the years has worked assiduously to torpedo diplomatic efforts on several continents.

With this accusation of anti-Semitism, Abrams has joins a gaggle of Iran deal-snuffers who are throwing off their rhetorical shackles: Writing for the Jewish magazine Tablet, Lee Smith, a senior editor at the Weekly Standard and a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, claimed Obama is "hinting broadly at anti-Semitic conceits — like dual loyalties, moneyed interests, Jewish lobby" and calling his opponents "dual loyalists who are willing to send Americans out to make war on behalf of Jewish causes"; in a not so subtle reference to the Holocaust, Mike Huckabee, Republican Party presidential hopeful, maintained that the president's deal would "take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven"; Eli Lake, a Bloomberg View columnist, recently wrote that Obama's "dog whistling" supporters who harbor fears of "the power of a bunch of disloyal bureaucrats eager to shed American blood for Israel"; Wall Street Journal editorial-page columnist Bret Stephens has charged Obama with exploiting anti-Semitism.


aaaaaaaisaac33Since adults continue to accelerate global warming, 21 young people are suing the federal government in an effort to protect their futures on the earth. Isaac Vergun is one of them. (Photo: Our Children's Trust)

Politicians may dither and delay in reducing global warming, but 21 young people in the United States are taking action to try and save the planet from an environmental implosion. They know their future depends on it.

On August 12 - International Youth Day - Our Children's Trust and the Earth Guardians filed a lawsuit in the US District Court in Oregon on behalf of these youth. The suit, according to a news release issued jointly by Our Children's Trust and Earth Guardians, charges "that, in causing climate change, the federal government has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, property, and has failed to protect essential public trust resources."

According to the two organizations that focus on youth advocacy for a sustainable planetary future,

The [legal] complaint alleges the Federal Government is violating the youth’s constitutional rights by promoting the development and use of fossil fuels. These young Plaintiffs are challenging the federal government’s national fossil fuel programs, as well as the proposed Jordan Cove LNG [Liquefied Natural Gas] export terminal in Coos Bay, OR. Plaintiffs seek to hold President Obama and various federal agencies responsible for continued fossil fuel exploitation. The Federal Government has known for decades that fossil fuels are destroying the climate system. No less important than in the Civil Rights cases, Plaintiffs seek a court order requiring the President to immediately implement a national plan to decrease atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (“CO2”) to a safe level: 350 ppm by the year 2100....


aaaaacourageStructural racism will only be dismantled by people with the courage to disrupt and demand transformative change. (Photo: Stephen Melkisethian)

It's just a step in the direction of transparency, but California is to be praised for banning grand juries as the entity that decides whether to prosecute police accused of killing individuals. According to the San Jose Mercury News,

Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Tuesday making California the first state in the nation to ban the use of grand juries to decide whether police officers should face criminal charges when they kill people in the line of duty.

The ban, which will go into effect next year, comes after grand juries in Ferguson, Missouri, and Staten Island, New York, made controversial decisions in secret hearings last year not to bring charges against officers who killed unarmed black men, sparking protests across the country. Calls for transparency also have come amid national concerns about disparate treatment of blacks and other racial minorities when encounters with cops turned deadly in Baltimore, Cincinnati and South Carolina.

"What the governor's decision says is, he gets it - the people don't want secrecy when it comes to officer-involved shootings," said retired judge and former San Jose independent police auditor LaDoris Cordell, the first African-American appointed as a judge in Northern California and a key supporter of the bill.

This change is not a solution to endemic racism among police forces across the United States, but it will prevent states' attorneys - who generally are protective of the police - from secretly stacking the evidence to favor police officers. Now, charges against police officers who kill will have to be presented in open court in California

Thursday, 13 August 2015 10:41

A Wedge for Nuclear Disarmament


“Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith . . .”

What if words like this actually meant something?

This is Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which the United States signed in 1970. It continues: “. . . on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”

Please read it again, slowly, understanding that 190 nations have signed onto these words: “a treaty on general and complete (nuclear) disarmament.” Here’s a wild thought. What if they were recited aloud every Sunday in churches and other public spaces across the nation, the way congregants at my parents’ church recited the Apostle’s Creed when I was a boy? Each word, slowly uttered, welled up from the soul. The words were sacred. Isn’t a world free of nuclear weapons — and beyond that, free of war itself — worth believing in?

The treaty’s preamble also calls for “the cessation of the manufacture of nuclear weapons, the liquidation of all their existing stockpiles, and the elimination from national arsenals of nuclear weapons and the means of their delivery . . .”


It's been shown that those who abuse animals also abuse humans. - German philosopher, Emmanuel Kant, Responding Ethically to Animal Abuse

On the July 30th “NBC Today Show,” Savannah Guthrie and Matt Lauer were asking NBC’s legal analyst, Lisa Bloom, about whether or not the US citizen, dentist-hunter Walter J. Palmer could be prosecuted for slaughtering the African lion, Cecil. Cecil lived in a protective Oxford University refuge, WildCru.org.  

The commentators on “The Today Show” never once referred to the lion in any sympathetic way, nor did they describe the abominable method Palmer used for torturing and then killing the Cecil, who was a father of new-born cubs.

As I was listening to the interview, something inside of me rose up, a combination of repulsion, anger and shock. Lauer, Guthrie and Bloom established a defense for Palmer, as if he were the victim. Not once did the commentators mention how Palmer and his hunting friends lured the lion away from his protective refuge with bait; how Palmer then shot the lion with a bow and arrow. Cecil must have tried to escape, but he suffered for 40 hours with that arrow in him, and when Palmer found him, he and his hunting partners shot him, which means that Cecil was still alive, they skinned him and then cut Cecil’s head off.


aaaFukuDoomed(Photo: EcoWatch)Japan has restarted its first nuclear reactor to generate power since 2013. And that’s really bad news.

Remember what happened in 2013? Why Japan closed all of its reactors abruptly and why we’re still tracing the spread of radioactive material across our Pacific Coast and into the atmosphere?

First there was an earthquake that did significant damage to that island country—and then a tsunami quickly followed. And what happened next was the largest nuclear meltdown in the history of the world and the evacuation of 160,000 locals who lived in the area of the Fukushima power plant. We know now that Tepco—the owner of the Fukushima plant—had been warned years earlier about the dangers of an earthquake and a tsunami hitting the plant. No one did anything about it then—but even if they had—do we have any reason to believe it would have been enough? Because that’s the gamble that the Japanese nuclear industry is making with all of our futures right now. The simple fact about nuclear power generation—is that the risks and the costs dramatically outweigh any benefit. We’ve seen some of the risks—in Chernobyl we saw how human error can cause a meltdown. In the Three Mile Island incident we saw how the private corporations aren’t afraid to cut corners to pad their bottom line—even if that risks a partial nuclear meltdown. And in Fukushima we saw what happens when corporate negligence meets a natural disaster.

Considering nuclear power’s track record and the staggering risks involved—it’s amazing that anyone will insure the projects—and the simple fact is that without government backing, like the Price-Anderson Act here in the U.S., nuclear power would be impossible, because no private insurance company will cover them.


aaaGoldCoin(Photo: United States Mint)Once upon a time in our Good Ol' US-of-A, presidential contenders and their political parties had to raise the funds needed to make the race. How quaint.

But for the 2016 run, this quaint way of selecting our candidates is no longer the case, thanks to the Supreme Court's malicious meddling in the democratic process in its reckless Citizens United decision. In that decision, the five members of the Corporate Cabal decreed that "non-candidate" campaigns can take unlimited sums of money directly from corporations. Therefore a very few wealthy powers can pour money into these murky political operations and gain unwarranted plutocratic power over the election process.

And looking at the fundraising numbers, those wealthy powers have definitely taken charge of the electoral game. These very special interests, who have their own presidential agendas, now put up the vast majority of funds and run their own private campaigns to elect someone who will do their bidding.

So far, of over $400 million raised to back candidates of either party in next year's race, half of the money has come from a pool of only about 400 people — and two-thirds of their cash went not to candidates directly but to corporate-run super PACs. To get a get a grasp at what this looks like, take a peek at the super PACs supporting Ted Cruz. Of the $37 million they have raised, $36 million was pumped in by only three interests — a New York hedge fund manager, a corporate plunderer living in Puerto Rico and the owners of a franking operation who've pocketed billions from the explosive use of this destructive drilling technology.

So while Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Scott Walker and gang are the candidates, the driving forces in this election have names like Robert Mercer, Norman Braman, Diane Hendricks, Dan and Farris Wilks, Toby Neugebauer and Miguel Fernandez.


aaaaaundocWords, such as the use of alien for an undocumented immigrant, stereotype and defame.(Photo: People's World)

As of this week, California has a new law that prohibits the use of the word alien to refer to undocumented immigrants. Here’s the news as reported by the Huffington Post on August 11:

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D)signed legislation Monday removing the word "alien" in reference to undocumented immigrants from the state's labor code.

The measure, which will take effect Jan. 1, seeks to modernize the language used in California state law. Brown signed the legislation, SB 432, along with two other bills updating immigration policy on Monday.

“These bills reflect a state that both recognizes and respects the diversity — and contributions — of all Californians,” said Brown spokesman Evan Westrup, according to the Los Angeles Times

There will be, no doubt, those on the right who will charge that Brown's signing of the law is just one more example of "political correctness."

However, words have meaning.

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