BRIAN J. TRAUTMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Voting rights was a priority of the African-American Civil Rights Movement. The struggle to secure these rights achieved real traction and impact in the early 1960s. While the Jim Crow South was rife with voter suppression, there was no place more in need of voting reforms than Mississippi. Although black Mississippians comprised nearly 50 percent of the state's population in 1960, less than 7 percent of its eligible black constituency was registered to vote, representing the lowest percentage in the union. In some counties, no blacks were registered to vote. Despite ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment ninety years early, terrorist tactics – from fear and intimidation to beatings and lynchings – prevented blacks from exercising their constitutional right to vote. Later, legislation in several states, i.e., the passage of state constitutional amendments beginning in 1890, severely restricted black voter participation – through measures such as poll taxes, background checks and literacy tests. By 1960, the southern black population had been politically disenfranchised for almost a century.
To effect social and political change for equality in voting, civil rights leaders understood that the Movement needed to challenge the status quo of racial intolerance being advanced by groups like the Citizens' Councils, a national network of pro-segregationists formed in 1954 following the Supreme Court ruling in Brown vs. Board of Education. The mission of Citizens' Councils was to preserve white power and oppose racial integration. To protect the voting rights of black citizens, the deep-rooted white segregationist and supremacist establishment, which considered African Americans second-class citizens and preserved this racist ideology with violence, had to be confronted directly. It was decided that there was no better place to embark on this monumental task than Mississippi, arguably the country's poorest and most violent and segregated state.
In 1961, building on the service and sacrifice of countless civil rights workers in initiatives aimed at ending racial segregation and unjust voting restrictions, Robert (Bob) Moses, a local field secretary for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), became the head of SNCC's voter education and registration operations in the state. Moses' seminal leadership over the next couple of years was instrumental in the formation of strong coalitions among SNCC leaders and other civil rights leaders as well as sympathetic whites. In 1963, Moses and SNCC carried out a mock election called "Freedom Vote," with the intention of demonstrating both the will of black residents to vote and that in the absence of violence and unfair administrative red tape they would be participating in the electoral process. To accommodate interested black Mississippians, organizers opened polling places in black churches and businesses all over the state, including in Jackson, the state capital and final stop of the "Freedom Rides" of 1961. For most, this was the first time in their lives they felt empowered to contribute to a free, democratic institution. Tens of thousands voted.
ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUTBRANDON BAKER OF
If the name Erin Brockovich only reminds you of a 2000 feature film starring Julia Roberts, you’ve got some catching up to do.
The Lawrence, KS native is a consumer advocate and environmental activist who took it upon herself to create a national reporting registry map where Americans can keep record of various health concerns and ailments brought on by the environments they live in. She did so simply because the government never made such a comprehensive tool available.
Brockovich, a consultant for Weitz & Luxenberg, a New York-based mesothelioma and asbestos law firm, loves galvanizing people to stand up for their beliefs. She told as much to IAMECO Warrior when the site saw her at the annual Captain Planet Foundation Gala, where she received the Protector of the Earth award.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Rarely is living in a car in an urban area a decision of choice.
The increasing economic impoverishment and long-term unemployment of people in the United States - as well as the number of people with mental health issues who do not have residences or access to residential facilities - is making a vehicle the residence of last resort.
In Los Angeles, a federal court struck down a municipal ordinance that made it a crime to use a car for overnight shelter. According to The Los Angeles Times:
For the second time in two years, a federal appeals court has struck down a key enforcement tool in Los Angeles' efforts to deal with burgeoning homelessness, declaring a ban on living in vehicles an invitation to discriminate against the poor.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decided unanimously Thursday that a city ordinance prohibiting people from living in vehicles was unconstitutionally vague. That ruling followed a 9th Circuit decision in 2012 that prevented Los Angeles from confiscating and destroying possessions that homeless people leave temporarily on sidewalks.
The judge who wrote the opinion - representing a 3-0 appeals court panel ruling - chastised the city of Los Angeles for punishing poverty instead of trying to assist those in need:
"The City of Los Angeles has many options at its disposal to alleviate the plight and suffering of its homeless citizens," wrote Judge Harry Pregerson, who was appointed by President Carter. "Selectively preventing the homeless and the poor from using their vehicles for activities many other citizens also conduct in their cars should not be one of those options."
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
San Francisco's Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone spent Thursday in Washington D.C., at the second annual March for Marriage, speaking to a crowd estimated to have been between 2,000 and 5,000. The event, which was supposed to bring tens of thousands of anti-same-sex marriage activists to Washington, was co-sponsored by the National Organization for Marriage and The Washington Times, who served as the official media sponsor, and had put together a special supplement for the rally.
According to news reports, some of the participants were bussed in from New York under the guise of a "free ride" to the nation's capital to view the monuments. And, as the day progressed, the thin crowd got thinner, perhaps taking the opportunity to visit some of D.C.'s memorials. And while March organizers had hoped for tens of thousands of "traditional marriage" supporters, Slate's J. Bryan Lowder pointed out that Brian Brown, NOM's president, had trouble "get[ting] a chant going."
Despite public opinion having shifted sharply in favor of same-sex marriage, the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins had his rose-colored glasses in place. He wrote in his daily Washington Update that "After months of hearing the courts' opinion on marriage, today America heard from the voters those courts trampled. Thousands of people from states all across the country descended on Washington, D.C. to show the nation that we care about protecting marriage and will do anything to stand up and fight for it."
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Add this to another adverse side effect of fracking: On some major (and secondary routes), long freight trains filled with fracking oils and extraction supplies allegedly delay Amtrak trains for hours, enraging passengers and likely decreasing Amtrak usage on the affected routes.
Although a quick Google search of Amtrak and fracking reveals that this disruption due to fracking shipments has occurred in various parts of the nation, the most affected route appears to be the Empire Builder, which runs from Seattle to Chicago. Indeed, the Midwest Amtrak PR representative, Mark Maglari, referred BuzzFlash at Truthout to an Amtrak service alert warning passengers of delays on the Empire Builder route:
Passengers traveling aboard Empire Builder trains can encounter significant delays due to very high volumes of freight train traffic along the route. During the previous weeks in May and June, delays averaged between three and five hours. While delays to the Empire Builder have primarily been occurring west of St. Paul, MN, passengers should anticipate delays in both directions.
Maglari pointed out what is confirmed by other sources: BNSF Railway Company owns the tracks that Amtrak uses in North Dakota. Given that the tracks are the property of BNSF, it decides which trains have de facto priority passage (even though a federal law is supposed to give priority to Amtrak), and it has apparently given fracking and oil container car shipments passage scheduling times that impede the passage of Amtrak passenger trains (and, apparently, trains carrying farm goods that are perishable).
BRANDON BAKER OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
CO2, Methane, and Brine Leakage through Subsurface Pathways: Exploring Modeling, Measurement and Policy Options is a first-of-its-kind study from Mary Klang that describes how abandoned oil wells serve as leakage pathways for carbon dioxide, methane, brine and more.
Based on records, Kang estimates that between 280,000 and 970,000 abandoned wells account for 4 to 13 percent of the state's methane emissions.
Three of the 19 wells measured by the team are considered high emitters. Leakage was found in both plugged and unplugged wells.
WALTER BRASCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Persons living in the Mid-Atlantic and New England states will experience increased rainfall and floods if data analysis by a Penn State meteorologist and long-term projections by a fisheries biologist, with a specialty in surface water pollution, are accurate.
Paul Knight, senior lecturer in meteorology at Penn State, compiled rainfall data for Pennsylvania from 1895—when recordings were first made—to this year. He says there has been an increase of 10 percent of rainfall during the past century. Until the 1970s, the average rainfall throughout the state was about 42 inches. Beginning in the 1970s, the average began creeping up. "By the 1990s, the increase was noticeable," he says. The three wettest years on record since 1895 were 2003, 2004, and 2011. The statewide average was 61.5 inches in 2011, the year of Tropical Storm Lee, which caused 18 deaths and about $1.6 billion in damage in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, and devastating flooding in New York and Pennsylvania, especially along the Susquehanna River basin.
Dr. Harvey Katz, of Montoursville, Pa., extended Knight's data analysis for five decades. Dr. Katz predicts an average annual rainfall of about 55 inches, about 13 inches more than the period of 1895 to 1975. The increased rainfall isn't limited to Pennsylvania, but extends throughout the Mid-Atlantic and New England states.
Both Knight and Dr. Katz say floods will be more frequent. The industrialization and urbanization of America has led to more trees being cut down; the consequences are greater erosion and more open areas to allow rainwater to flow into streams and rivers. Waterway hazards, because of flooding and increased river flow, will cause additional problems. Heavy rains will cause increased pollution, washing off fertilizer on farmlands into the surface water supply, extending into the Chesapeake Bay. Sprays on plants and agricultural crops to reduce attacks by numerous insects, which would normally stay localized, will now be washed into streams and rivers, says Knight.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The recent White House announcement of executive branch-mandated carbon cuts has evoked much debate about whether the incremental step is going to have any significant impact on rolling back the global warming juggernaut.
According to Environmental Protection Agency Chief Gina McCarthy, however, a key objective of the federal regulation to cut back on coal power plant emissions is not in question. McCarthy, in a meeting with Chicago corporate executives, revealed that the White House's primary aim in implementation of moderately increased carbon cutback requirements is to kick-start the US nuclear power industry.
In a June 18 business section article of The Chicago Tribune, Julie Wernau reports:
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said Tuesday that the federal agency's proposed carbon rules are designed to boost nuclear plants that are struggling to compete.
“There are a handful of nuclear facilities that because they are having trouble remaining competitive, they haven't yet looked at re-licensing (to extend their operating lives). We were simply highlighting that fact,” McCarthy said at a round-table discussion with business leaders in Chicago.
The comments by the highest-ranking official charged with carrying out the Obama administration's environmental policies firmly positions the U.S. as a supporter of nuclear power, which doesn't emit carbon. Those views run counter to Germany, which is phasing out nuclear power over health and environmental concerns after Japan's nuclear disaster in 2011.
The headline of the Tribune story reinforces McCarthy's statement on the White House's public policy goal: "EPA: Carbon rules could ensure nuclear power's survival."
As an Illinois state senator and as a candidate for president in 2008, Obama voiced his support of the nuclear power industry. However, since that time - particularly post-Fukushima - the revival of the nuclear energy has not been prominent in the president's remarks about reducing global warming.
JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
If you had to take America's temperature, predictably it would be raging hot.
Across the courts of America, citizens are being pushed off the cliff by corporate greed. There is practically no legal compensation for victims of pollution produced by oil and coal disasters.
Court rulings, with their lopsided scales heavily favoring the defense of corporate polluters, eliminate any hope for victims, leaving them in the ditch of poisonous toxins, polluted water, and contaminated lands. Once the land and water have been permanently polluted, there is no possible way residents can sell their homes. If homeowners get sick, they're out of luck—thanks to corrupt judges, big polluters don't even have to pay for the victims' medical bills.
When the government sows the seeds of injustice and corporate greed, it puts the country at risk; it's a recipe for upheavals and disaster.
JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Have you noticed "the powers that be" employ an entirely different standard for measuring the health of America's job market than they use for the stock market?
They're currently telling us that, "The job market is improving." What do they mean? Simply that the economy is generating an increase in the number of jobs available for workers. But when they say, "The stock market is improving," they don't mean that the number of stocks available to investors is on the rise. Instead, they're measuring the price, the value of the stocks. And isn't value what really counts in both cases? Quality over quantity.
Employment rose by 217,000 jobs in the month of May, according to the latest jobs report — and that brought us up to 8.7 million. That is how many new jobs the American economy has generated since the "Great Recession" officially ended in 2009 — and it also happens to be the number of jobs that were lost because of that recession. You can break out the champagne, for the American economy is back, baby — all of the lost jobs have been recovered!