ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Somewhere between these two quotes lies the future:
"And I would like to emphasize that nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change."
"The Judeo-Christian worldview is that man is at the center of the universe; nature was therefore created for man. Nature has no intrinsic worth other than man's appreciation and moral use of it."
The first quote is from Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, summing up the dire and much-discussed findings of its recent report: Human civilization — its technology, its war games, its helpless short-sightedness and addiction to fossil fuels — is wrecking the environment that sustains all life. Time is running out on our ability to make changes; and the world's, uh, "leadership" — political, corporate — has shown little will to step beyond more of the same, to figure out how we can reduce carbon emissions and live in eco-harmony, with a sense of responsibility for the future.
The second quote is from radio talk-show host Dennis Prager, writing recently in the National Review Online. He goes on, in his remarkable rant against environmentalism, to point out that "worship of nature was the pagan worldview" and "for the Left, the earth has supplanted patriotism." Eventually he compares environmentalism to loving wild dogs more than mauled children.
Prager's diatribe isn't my normal reading matter and I only bring it up here because I think it has relevance to the leadership void I've been pondering. The contemptuous dismissal of nature as lacking intrinsic worth — an unworthy competitor with God for human allegiance — may no longer have mainstream credibility, but, like racism, it's part of the mindset that has shaped Western civilization.
EUGENE ROBINSON ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Washington - Torture is immoral, illegal and irreconcilable with this nation's most cherished values. If defenders of the CIA's "enhanced interrogation" program disagree, they should come out and say so. Instead, they blow smoke.
Sexist smoke, at that: Former CIA Director Michael Hayden said Sunday that Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., is being "emotional" rather than "objective" as the intelligence committee, which Feinstein heads, moves toward release of a comprehensive report on CIA detention and torture during the George W. Bush administration.
Feinstein coolly responded that the report is indeed "objective, based on fact, thoroughly footnoted, and I am certain it will stand on its own merits. ... The only direction I gave staff was to let the facts speak for themselves."
Those facts, from what we know so far, are appalling.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
As BuzzFlash at Truthout has been beating the drum about the gloomy imminence of the disastrous impact of climate change, it is worth noting that among the larger contributors to global warming are gas-powered vehicles (think cars and trucks).
It's not just the carbon dioxide emitted by automobiles, it's the fossil fuel nightmare that has been created by expanding urban areas to exurban locations located at great distances from city centers. This, in turn, requires more inefficient use of energy (most of it still fossil fuel based) and more car use through the building of more expressways.
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists:
Passenger cars and light trucks represent the lion’s share of US transportation emissions and collectively produce almost one-fifth of the nation’s total global warming pollution.
All together, transportation generates nearly 30 percent of America’s global warming emissions, including more than one-third of all US carbon dioxide emissions.
Remember, as we just noted, that automobiles actually contribute a greater percentage to climate change, due to the creation of an inefficient energy disbursement structure (housing, office parks, shopping) that the car makes possible.
ERIC ZUESSE FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT Bloomberg News reported on April 8 that a Securities and Exchange Commission prosecuting attorney, James Kidney, said at his recent retirement party on March 27, that his prosecutions of Goldman Sachs and other mega-banks had been squelched by top people at the agency, because they "were more focused on getting high-paying jobs after their government service than on bringing difficult cases." He suggested that SEC officials knew that Wall Street would likely hire them after the SEC at much bigger pay than their government remuneration was, so long as the SEC wouldn’t prosecute those megabank executives on any criminal charges for helping to cause the mortgage-backed securities scams and resulting 2008 economic crash.
His "remarks drew applause from the crowd of about 70 people," according to the Bloomberg report. This would indicate that other SEC prosecutors feel similarly squelched by their bosses.
Kidney’s speech said that his superiors did not “believe in afflicting the comfortable and powerful.”
Referring to the agency's public-relations tactic of defending its prosecution-record by use of what he considered to be misleading statistics, Kidney said, "It's a cancer" at the SEC.
WALTER BRASCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
CNN is the 24/7 media trumpet for news about Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 that is presumed to have crashed in the Southern Indian Ocean, southwest of Australia. On that flight were 227 passengers and 12 crew members.
CNN grabbed every iota of information, pumped it full of digital frequencies, and broadcast it to what it thought was a world salivating for every syllable of thought.
When there was news, CNN broadcast it. When there was no news, CNN broadcast it. When there were outrageous theories, CNN was the source to find out who was saying what. When there was a rumor, CNN broadcast that, only to have to retract it hours later. Through chatter and repetition, CNN kept the story alive.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins are no dummies. And neither is Paul Lalonde. They understand that the first attempts at turning LaHaye and Jenkins' mega-best-selling Left Behind series of apocalyptic novels into a film franchise fell flat. Although three Left Behind films were made, there was little interest -- except amongst the most enthusiastic End Timers -- little buzz generated within the filmmaking community, and not much doing at the box office. Now, in the spirit of "pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again," LaHaye, Jenkins and Lalonde have garnered a multi-million dollar budget, and plucked a box-office legend for the lead role, and are poised to take full advantage of the latest flood of religion-themed films.
If you don't think religion-themed films are trending, consider this: As of this writing (Monday, April 7), Noah, now in it's second week in theaters, has brought in more than $72 million at the box office; God's Not Dead, more than $32 million in three weeks, and Son of God, more than $58 million in its sixth week in theaters.
The Denver Post's film critic, Lisa Kennedy, recently pointed out that "By fall, no fewer than a half-dozen films with religious themes will be aiming for audiences beyond the faithful. Yet it's not simply the number of movies in or entering theaters in the coming months that herald a change in what we've come to know as 'faith-based' cinema. It's the variety, the mix of some things old and some things new."
Jerry Jenkins, co-author of the Left Behind novels, recently tweeted: "Left Behind" [movie] is going to prompt important, life changing conversations. Are you ready? #leftbehindmovie."
STEVEN JONAS MD, MPH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
As is well-known, since their triumph in the 2010 elections, not only at the Federal but also at the level of the states, a number one priority for the Republican Party has been limiting the numbers of those voting, especially those who might vote Democratic. Further, they have also focused on limiting the significance of the votes of potential Democratic voters. The first step in this direction was the post-2010 re-districting for both Congressional and state legislative seats.
In those states where they had gained both a majority in both Houses of the legislature and the Governor's mansion, they very creatively re-drew both Congressional and state legislative district lines to, wherever possible concentrating potential Democratic votes while expanding the electoral impact of potential Republican votes. Indeed, they had succeeded Karl Rove's early-2000's goal of a "Permanent Republican Majority, which had proved illusory," with the goal-in-fact of creating a Permanent Republican Elected Government, without the bother of having to gain electoral majorities to do that.
Of course they did not put it that way. They used other terminology, like "dealing with voting fraud." Fox"News"Channel and Savagely Levin-itatingO'Rhannibaugh, laid on that one every day to a fare-thee-well. Never mind that voter fraud almost never occurs. It just had to be prevented, using such means as requiring photo ID for registration and then voting. Now if the GOP were really interested in preventing voter fraud, they would, for example, have set up systems in the states in which they were requiring this for registration and voting making acquiring one easy and cheap. They could, for example, have set up numerous photo ID-acquisition centers, at taxpayer expense. Funny. That just didn't happen.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
But you tell me
Over and over and over again, my friend
Ah, you don't believe
We're on the eve
Don't you understand what I'm tryin' to say
Can't you feel the fears I'm feelin' today?
Some readers may find the recent BuzzFlash at Truthout commentaries on the devastating climate change that is occurring a bit gloomy and lugubrious. After all, if US residents turn on the television or listen to the radio, few news outlets are discussing the looming cataclysm. Also, like carbon monoxide, it is odorless. In the air around us, it is not visible.
More frequently, nonetheless, we are seeing reports of its volatile impact in hurricanes, droughts, deluges and the melting of glaciers and the Arctic ice, among other ominous signs of its growing destructive power.
Yet, still most people don't believe "we are on the eve of destruction," as fossil fuel plunderers are granted the rights - even subsidized by the US government - to continue their destruction of our ecosphere.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The Daily Beast, he plaintively contemplates what his young daughter will be confronting in the years ahead:Enviornmental journalist Mark Hertsgaard recently wrote a lamentation to future generations about the legacy of a lethal planet that we are leaving them. In
My daughter Chiara, the central character in HOT [Hertsgaard's 2011 book], is turning nine this weekend....
The grief and fear the [UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] IPCC report triggered in me stems from a central fact of our climate future: Everyone on earth below the age of 25 is already fated to spend much of their lifetime coping with the hottest temperatures our civilization has ever encountered. The laws of physics and chemistry—above all, the fact that carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for many decades after being emitted—mean that even if humans stopped all carbon emissions overnight, global temperatures would nevertheless keep rising for at least 30 more years.
Now apply that calculation to the first great human disaster with a scientifically attributable climate fingerprint: the record heat wave that scorched Europe in 2003. It caused 71,499 excess deaths, considerably more than the number of U.S. casualties in the Vietnam war. But thanks to the physical momentum of climate change, the record heat of 2003 will be routine before Chiara is my age. By 2050, Europeans will experience summers as hot as 2003 one year out of every two.
The higher temperatures locked in for the forthcoming decades will, in turn, unleash climate impacts that will affect every person on earth.
Hartsgaard's gloomy recognition of the reality that runaway industrial civilization has sown is only moderately tempered by the hope of an uprising resulting in immediate action to mitigate the ever-brewing perfect storm of desolation.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The following are all relevant, fact-based issues, the "hard news" stories that the media has a responsibility to report. But the corporate-owned press generally avoids them.
1. U.S. Wealth Up $34 Trillion Since Recession. 93% of You Got Almost None of It.
That's an average of $100,000 for every American. But the people who already own most of the stocks took almost all of it. For them, the average gain was well over a million dollars -- tax-free as long as they don't cash it in. Details available here.
2. Eight Rich Americans Made More Than 3.6 Million Minimum Wage Workers
A recent report stated that no full-time minimum wage worker in the U.S. can afford a one-bedroom or two-bedroom rental at fair market rent. There are 3.6 million such workers, and their total (combined) 2013 earnings is less than the 2013 stock market gains of just eight Americans, all of whom take more than their share from society: the four Waltons, the two Kochs, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett.
3. News Sources Speak for the 5%
It would be refreshing to read an honest editorial: "We dearly value the 5 to 7 percent of our readers who make a lot of money and believe that their growing riches are helping everyone else."
Instead, the business media seems unable to differentiate between the top 5 percent and the rest of society. The Wall Street Journal exclaimed, "Middle-class Americans have more buying power than ever before," and then went on to sputter: "What Recession?...The economy has bounced back from recession, unemployment has declined.."
The Chicago Tribune may be even further out of touch with its less privileged readers, asking them: "What's so terrible about the infusion of so much money into the presidential campaign?"
4. TV News Dumbed Down for American Viewers
A 2009 survey by the European Journal of Communication compared the U.S. to Denmark, Finland, and the UK in the awareness and reporting of domestic vs. international news, and of 'hard' news (politics, public administration, the economy, science, technology) vs. 'soft' news (celebrities, human interest, sport and entertainment). The results:
-- Americans [are] especially uninformed about international public affairs.
-- American respondents also underperformed in relation to domestic-related hard news stories.
-- American television reports much less international news than Finnish, Danish and British television;
-- American television network newscasts also report much less hard news than Finnish and Danish television.
Surprisingly, the report states that "our sample of American newspapers was more oriented towards hard news than their counterparts in the European countries." Too bad Americans are reading less newspapers.