NIEL LAWRENCE OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Now the Obama administration has taken its first concrete steps to reduce future threats. Yesterday, it cancelled new lease sales scheduled for next year and 2017 in our Polar Bear Seas—the Chukchi and Beaufort—off the north Alaskan coast. And just said “No” to extension requests from Shell and others holding existing leases in the region.
This is big. Up to now, the federal government has treated Arctic Ocean drilling as a done deal. As recently as last May, the President tweeted: “we can’t prevent oil exploration completely in region.”
His administration focused on excluding some high value areas and saying drilling would be subject to high standards. It tentatively proposed to allow more leasing in the Arctic Ocean (and the Atlantic) after 2017.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Bernie Sanders showed his outrage about inequality at the Democratic Debate, and more and more Americans are understanding his message. Indignation is likely to grow with new data from the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook, which reveals the wealthy elite's continuing disdain for the poor, for the middle class, and for people all around the world.
Some of the most troubling disparities are hidden in the myriad tables of this remarkably comprehensive publication. The purpose here is to translate the numbers into wealth gap realities that victimize the great majority of Americans. Details can be viewed at You Deserve Facts.
1. At the Bottom: Of the Half-Billion Poorest Adults in the World, One out of Ten is an American
That seems impossible, with so many extremely poor countries, and it requires a second look at the data, and then a third look. But it's true. In the world's poorest decile (bottom 10%), one out of ten are Americans, many of whom are burdened with so much debt that any remnant of tangible wealth is negated. Other nations have high debt, most notably in Europe, but without an excessive burden on their poorest citizens.
Incredibly, then, nearly 50 million of America's 243 million adults are part of the world's poorest 10%. In contrast, over 110 million American adults are among the world's richest 10%.
BILL McKIBBEN OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Paris looming it’s time to be hopeful and I’m willing to try. Even amid the record heat and flooding of the present, there are good signs for the future in the rising climate movement and the falling cost of solar.I’m well aware that with
But before we get to past and present there’s some past to be reckoned with and before we get to hope there’s some deep, blood-red anger.
In the last three weeks, two separate teams of journalists—the Pulitzer-prize winning reporters at the website Inside Climate News and another crew composed of Los Angeles Times veterans and up-and-comers at the Columbia Journalism School—have begun publishing the results of a pair of independent investigations into ExxonMobil.
Though they draw on completely different archives, leaked documents and interviews with ex-employees, they reach the same damning conclusion: Exxon knew all that there was to know about climate change decades ago and instead of alerting the rest of us denied the science and obstructed the politics of global warming.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
At the next Republican presidential debate, are we going to hear a round of lamentations that the US - according to a study of the world's wealthiest individuals conducted by a Chinese financial publication, the Hurun Report - is no longer number one in billionaires?
An October 15 article in The Chicago Sun-Times states it bluntly:
The United States can no longer claim the title of being home to the world’s most billionaires.
....that distinction now belongs to China, where a reported 596 billionaires reside, surpassing the 537 billionaires the Hurun Rich List claims live in the U.S.
To make the top 100, you’d have to be worth at least $3.2 billion
By the list’s calculations, China produced 242 billionaires through the year ending on Aug. 14, which comes out to about five newly minted mega rich per week.
Will Donald Trump bellow that he is helping to hold onto the fabled notion of "the American Dream" by being a billionaire? After all, he has made China a major target of his campaign rhetoric, claiming the US has allegedly been economically superseded by the Communist nation turned aggressive capitalist economy. Is Trump's obsession with China really a battle over which nation will be the world champion in its number of billionaires?
ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUTHARVEY WASSERMAN OF
Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch
The chain reactor operator Entergy has announced it will close the Pilgrim nuke south of Boston. The shut-down will bring U.S. reactor fleet to 98, though numerous other reactors are likely to face abandonment in the coming months.
But Entergy says it may not take Pilgrim down until June 1, 2019—nearly four years away.
Entergy is also poised to shut the FitzPatrick reactor in New York. It promises an announcement by the end of this month.
Entergy also owns Indian Point 2 and Indian Point 3 some 40 miles north of Manhattan. Unit 2’s operating license has long since lapsed. Unit 3’s will expire in December.
Meanwhile California’s two reactors at Diablo Canyon are surrounded with earthquake faults. They are in violation of state and federal water quality laws and are being propped up by a corrupt Public Utilities Commission under fierce grassroots attack. With a huge renewable boom sweeping the state, Diablo’s days are numbered—and hopefully will shut before the next quake shakes them to rubble.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
According to an October 15 Associated Press article, the federal government has decided not to increase benefits this year for Social Security recipients:
The government says there will be no benefit increase next year for millions of Social Security recipients, disabled veterans and federal retirees.
It’s just the third time in 40 years that benefits will remain flat. All three times have come since 2010....
The announcement will affect benefits for more than 70 million people - that’s more than one-fifth of the nation’s population.
The total includes almost 60 million retirees, disabled workers, spouses and children who get Social Security benefits.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
“The Pentagon said on Saturday that it would make ‘condolence payments’ to the survivors of the American airstrike earlier this month on a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders in Kunduz, Afghanistan, as well as to the next of kin of those who died in the attack.”
Such a small piece of news, reported a few days ago by the New York Times. I’m not sure if anything could make me feel more ashamed of being an American.
Turns out the basic payout for a dead civilian in one of our war zones is . . . brace yourself . . . $2,500. That’s the sum we’ve been quietly doling out for quite a few years now. Conscience money. It’s remarkably cheap, considering that the bombs that took them out may have cost, oh, half a million dollars each.
If we valued human life, we would never go to war. Everybody knows this. It’s the biggest open secret out there, buried under endless public relations blather and — since the bombing of the hospital in Kunduz on Oct. 3, and the killing of 22 staff members and patients — a sort of international legalese.
Is it “really” a war crime? Simply asking the question implies that the law has a certain objective reality.
“The mere fact that civilians are killed, that a hospital is damaged, doesn’t automatically mean that there has been a war crime,” according to John Bellinger, a former legal adviser to the State Department, as quoted last week by National Public Radio. “It only becomes a war crime if it is shown that the target was intentionally attacked.”
JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The negotiations and the sales push behind Washington's latest (and biggest) "free trade" agreement amounts to Kabuki theater.
What theater? Kabuki. It's a 17th-century form of Japanese drama, featuring elaborate sets and costuming, rhythmic dialogue and stylized acting and dancing. That does, indeed, nicely sum up the White House's production of the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Its negotiations have been set in luxury resorts around the world, covered by elaborate secrecy; insiders wear the costumes of global corporate power; trade officials parrot rhythmic dialogue about high standards and incredible benefits for all. And the president himself is the main actor, dramatically proclaiming that TPP is "the most progressive" trade deal ever, and now he's doing a stylized political dance in hopes of winning congressional approval.
What a phenomenal show!
But it doesn't seem to be selling. Recent polls show broad public opposition to any more of these same old trade schemes, not only among Democrats, but independents and Republicans, too. Ten of the 2016 presidential candidates are against the deal. The counter movement is led by Democratic contender Bernie Sanders, who calls it flat-out "disastrous," and by GOP frontrunner Donnie Trump who dubs it "a horrible deal." Even corporate darling Carly Fiorina is "very uncomfortable with this deal." Congressional opposition is strong, and even Ford Motor Company — which was one of the corporate giants allowed inside the negotiations — has blasted it, calling on Congress to vote no.
Inexplicably, Obama views passage of this democracy-strangling corporate boondoggle as his "legacy-making" achievement, even though the only real support he has for it are Republican congressional leaders and the global corporate establishment. That's not just Kabuki; it's kooky. As the old aphorism puts it: "Tell me with whom you walk, and I'll tell you who you are."
COLE MELLINO OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The Wet Prince of Bel Air: Who Is California's Biggest Water Guzzler? The report, published earlier this month, found 365 California households each used more than 1 million gallons of water from April 2014 to April 2015.The Center for Investigative Reporting has outed California's biggest residential water users in
"One million gallons is enough for eight families for a year, according to a 2011 state estimate, and many of California's mega-users pumped far more than that," says The Center for Investigative Reporting. "Of the total, 73 homes used more than 3 million gallons apiece, and another 14 used more than 6 million." The biggest user used a shocking 11.8 million gallons of water. City Lab points out that's as much water as 90 households use in an average year and enough water to fill 18 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
State officials would not reveal the names or addresses of these users out of privacy concerns. They would only give their zip codes. Bel Air tops the list with four of the five biggest water users in the state. The wealthy LA neighborhoods of Beverly Hills, Brentwood and Westwood round out the top 10.
"San Diego's posh La Jolla beachfront community" and the "affluent suburbs of Contra Costa County in the Bay Area" also have a high concentration of what The Center for Investigative Reporting refers to as "mega-users."
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
CNN aired the first Democratic debate last night, October 13. It also aired two Republican debates (a "main event" and an "undercard" debate) on September 16. On August 6, FOX held the first Republican debates (also televised in separate lower and upper tier candidate - based on polls - segments).
CNN bragged on its CNN Money site that "23 million [viewers] watched [the] GOP debate, a record for CNN." Adweek reported that 24 million viewers watched the first FOX GOP "main event" debate. As CNN Money stated in its article,
Historically the most popular events on TV have been shown by broadcast networks, not cable channels like CNN. According to Nielsen data, Wednesday's debate ranked as the #10 cable program ever, behind 8 college football games on ESPN and the Fox debate last month.
The Democratic debate viewership totals were not in at the time of the writing of this commentary, but an October 14 CNN Money article has already predicted that "preliminary Nielsen ratings indicate that CNN's Tuesday night debate was the highest-rated Democratic debate ever."
So the CNN and Fox cable news channels have enhanced their branding, audience and potential advertising and campaign advertising revenue by burnishing their images as "go-to" television political outlets - with the full cooperation of both major political parties who negotiated details of the debates with the two stations.