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LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Solar 0506wrp opt(Photo: BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT)The price of solar power dipped to another record low on May 1 when five international companies bid as little as 2.99 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to develop the latest phase of work at Dubai’s enormous Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum solar park, which will be one of Earth’s largest solar plants when complete.

At less than 3 cents per kWh, that’s 15 percent lower than the previous record-low bid of 3.5 cents per kWh from Italy’s Enel Green Power for a solar project in Mexico, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

The latest bid is also nearly 50 percent cheaper than last year’s winning bid of 5.84 cents per kWh for developing the 200-megawatt second phase of the same solar park, which already broke records then, The National pointed out.

“This not only marks the lowest cost ever for solar power, but also easily beats all available fossil-fuel options in Dubai on cost,” explained Dr. Moritz Borgmann, a partner at of the cleantech advisory group Apricum.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2016may6 bclinton24Hillary Clinton has suggested that she might appoint her husband, who played a leadership role in championing trade deals that have hemorrhaged jobs from the US, as jobs czar to create manufacturing positions. Say what? (Photo: Eric Austin)

Politicians in tight spots often say the most puzzling things. While campaigning in coal country, where large numbers of miners are without jobs, Hillary Clinton has been met by grassroots opposition to her (hopefully accurate) comment earlier this year that coal, as a fuel, is on its last legs.

As Politico reported on May 2,

Clinton has faced increased scrutiny and backlash from coal-producing areas of the country after boasting at a March town hall, "We're going to put a lot of coal companies and coal miners out of business." Though she followed up by saying that the United States should "make it clear that we don't want to forget those people," the remark created consternation in the coal community. On Sunday, Bill Clinton confronted protesters in West Virginia unhappy with his wife's comments.

The Hill reported on May 5 that current polling shows Clinton potentially facing an embarrassing loss to Bernie Sanders in the upcoming West Virginia primary on May 10, but also confronting the possibility that Donald Trump could carry the state in November:

West Virginia is shaping up to be a terrible state for Hillary Clinton

2016.5.5 BF Durst(Photo: DonkeyHotey)WILL DURST FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

One of the oddest moments in a presidential campaign filled brim-spillingly with them, is the sight of the Republican Party struggling to rally around its presumptive nominee, Donald J. Trump. Perhaps "rally" is too strong of a word. More of a depressed dawdle. A lackluster loiter. Melancholy mosey. Crematory crawl.

The party is exhibiting all the enthusiasm of a condemned man walking barefoot to the gallows up 13 steps of broken glass like an eight-year old forced to rip a switch off a birch tree prior to a paternal spanking. A film critic trudging through the lobby of a multiplex for a preview of the next Transformers movie.

A shame that Elizabeth Kubler-Ross died a decade ago, and can't witness all five of her Stages of Grief being spun out at the same time. Depending on where you look, the GOP can be seen going through denial, anger, bargaining, depression and a reluctant acceptance. She could even update her classic with new stages: dejection, mortification, suicidal gloom, self- immolation and eye gouging panic.

Mark Karlin, Editor of BuzzFlash at Truthout

2016 May5AmericanDreamThe so-called "American Dream" needs to be less about money and materialism and more about justice, quality of life and the common good. (Photo: James Walsh)

According to the findings of a Marist Poll commissioned by Boston PBS station WGBH earlier this year, "The American Dream [is] still alive, but ... a majority of U.S. residents believe the American middle class is just a vestige of the past." That WGBH summary of the poll notes:

While 58% [of parents] think their children will be better off than they are now, about one-third, 33%, say their children will be in a worse position. The picture becomes bleaker when the focus shifts to the future of America’s youth, in general. Nearly half of residents, 48%, believe most children in the United States will grow up to be worse off than their parents while 43% say children, overall, will be better off....

A news release that I received on April 5 from a publicist for WGBH put it more bluntly:

A majority of U.S. residents believe the American middle class is just a vestige of the past, according to an Exclusive Point Taken-Marist Poll, commissioned by WGBH Boston for its new late-night, multi-platform PBS debate series Point Taken. But, despite a pessimistic view about the viability of the American middle class, most adults nationally think the American Dream is attainable for themselves, 69%. Although fewer, many think it is in reach for other Americans, 58%, as well.

Given the nation's radical and growing income inequality, the perceptions of those surveyed in the poll [as shown in charts]  appear rosier than the reality of the economic chasm in the US.  The poll raises the question about how the hope of achieving an economic dream can defy economic data, given that most of those polled thought the middle class was dying. Where will the 69 percent of those who believe that "the American Dream" is attainable end up? That's 69 percent too many people to squeeze into the 1 percent.

Thursday, 05 May 2016 06:49

Cowardice and Exoneration in Kunduz

AC-130 gunship(Photo: BattleSpartan)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

"The people are being reduced to blood and dust. They are in pieces."

The doctor who uttered these words still thought the hospital itself was a safe zone. He was with Doctors Without Borders, working in Kunduz, Afghanistan, where the Taliban and government forces were engaged in hellish fighting and civilians, as always, were caught in the middle. The wounded, including children, had been flowing in all week, and the staff were unrelieved in their duties, working an unending shift.

Their week ended at 2 a.m. last Oct. 3 when -- as the world knows -- a U.S. AC-130 gunship began strafing the hospital, the crew apparently acting on the mistaken belief that this was a Taliban compound. The strike lasted for an hour, continuing even though the humanitarian organization contacted the Pentagon and pleaded that it stop.

A total of 211 shells hit the hospital. The Intensive Care Unit was wiped out. Every patient in the unit except for a 3-year-old girl was killed, some burning to death in their beds. A total of 42 people -- patients, staff and doctors -- died because of this lethal mistake.

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Target 0504wrp opt(Photo: Mike Kalasnik)Thus far, the only problems with Target’s new policy of allowing transgender people to use restrooms and dressing rooms that correspond with their gender identity, are being caused by a number of conservative Christian activists --several of whom are being sent out with video cameras by the American Family Association -- rushing into Target stores to test the policy.

Not a big fan of Target stores. Shopped there occasionally over the years. Have a Target REDCard, and to the best of my knowledge it wasn’t hacked in 2013. However, now that Target is under attack by the American Family Association, the Christian Right’s boycott-launching king, I may consider doing some REDcard damage in the near future.

The dust-up over the Minneapolis-based Target began in mid-April, when the company’s management decided that employees and customers who are men according to their birth sex could use women's bathrooms and dressing rooms. A statement posted on the company’s website on April 19, under the headline “Continuing to Stand for Inclusivity” read: "[W]e welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity. ...Everyone deserves to feel like they belong."

By making this decision, Target jumped into what has become this year’s number one wedge and fundraising issue for the Christian Right; Keeping transgender people out of bathrooms.

As of this writing, Christian Right groups are claiming that more than 1 million people have signed an American Family Association-initiated petition.

pledging a boycott over the store’s bathroom policies. At the AFA website, the headline reads “Sign the Boycott Target Pledge!”

JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Ammunition 0504wrp opt(Photo: Department of Defense)I’ve been thinking about Mother’s Day—and all the mothers that will never receive flowers and cards again from their beloved children that were unnecessarily killed in the U.S. pre-emptive invasion of the Middle East.

I vaguely remember presidential candidate Barack Obama during the 2008 primary. So many different masks on this man that it’s hard to recollect that he argued for “peaceful negotiations,” and that “sending our troops into combat should be our very last resort…”

However, President Obama not only expanded instability throughout the Middle East by allowing the CIA to play havoc with Libya and Syria, which led to the deaths of tens of thousands of families, including the bombing of hospitals with wounded children under Doctors without Borders care (Afghanistan, Yemen and Syria), his decision led to eight million refugees pounding the doors of neighboring European countries.

As I explained in my last Buzzflash-Truthout commentary, dictators or no, before the Bush-Obama administrations invaded these countries, the majority of families had homes, water, food, jobs, sewer systems, electricity, and even if they didn’t like their leaders, and even if conditions may have been challenging in Syria, they at least had their families and homes and food on the table.

Like the U.S., Europeans have been financially struggling since the Wall Street banksters’ “unregulated” greed reached a 2008 global crisis. In addition to the suffering in Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen, Obama and his CIA advisors decided to make the lives of Libyans and Syrians go from difficult to unbearable. Europeans are also desperate—and they don’t know how they’re going to support millions of starving people when their own families are in dire straits much like middle-class Americans that are being crushed beneath the corporate oligarchic wheel.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2016May4 trumpburkeTrump International Hotel and Tower, the second tallest skyscraper in Chicago. (Photo: get directly down)

Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, may talk about ending government corruption and reducing the taxes of his followers. However, as an April 30 Chicago Sun-Times investigation reveals, Trump saved $11.7 million in Cook County property taxes on his Chicago complex by employing a clout-heavy Chicago alderman as his local attorney:

A law firm headed by Ald. Edward M. Burke, one of Chicago’s most powerful Democrats, has helped Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and investors in his luxury downtown hotel cut their property taxes by 39 percent over seven years, saving them $11.7 million, a Chicago Sun-Times analysis has found.

Burke — one of 47 Chicago aldermen who voted to approve development of Trump International Hotel & Tower in 2002 — won reductions in six of the seven years for the hotel, retail and other commercial space in the skyscraper, records show.

Now, Burke’s law firm, Klafter & Burke, is trying to get partial refunds of those taxes for the billionaire and his investors. The firm has filed appeals in court and to a state agency, arguing the taxes paid were too high in some years.

Burke is among an elite group of current and former Chicago politicians working for law firms that specialize in helping property owners navigate Cook County’s arcane property-tax system. These clout-heavy lawyers try to persuade other elected officials — the Cook County assessor, the Cook County Board of Review’s commissioners and judges — to lower the estimated values of buildings and other real estate.

Trump and his investors saw their property taxes on the opulent Chicago Trump Tower lowered by almost 40 percent – and they are now seeking a rebate on the reduced taxes that they have paid. What this means is that other property taxpayers in Cook County, where Chicago is located, will have to pony up to pay the amount that Trump's business is saving.

Fracking infrastructure(Photo: Eric Gustafson)WENONAH HAUTER OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Colorado's high court today struck down the rights of Coloradans to enact local fracking bans. It's no surprise, given the massive sway of the oil and gas industry in the state. The suit was brought against Longmont (which passed a popular fracking ban in 2012) by Gov. John Hickenlooper and his industry cronies. While it's easy to be discouraged by this decision, the fact is, it will help activate citizens to pass statewide ballot measures to ban fracking in November.

And let's not forget: The movement to stop fossil fuel development just keeps winning.

On Earth Day, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo put a stop to the Constitution pipeline, a dangerous project to shipped fracked gas from Pennsylvania into New York, intersecting almost 300 bodies of water. His action sent a clear message that protecting the safety of the state's drinking water was more important than expanding Big Oil's profits. And the move didn't come out of nowhere; the same grassroots pressure that successfully pushed Cuomo to ban fracking in 2014 pushed him to reject this dirty fracked gas pipeline.

corporate controlled US politics(Photo: AK Rockefeller)WALTER BRASCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Joe Sestak is a slow learner.

It isn't because he's dumb -- he graduated second in his class of 900 midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy, one of the most rigorous colleges in the country; a decade later, he earned a Ph.D. in political economics from Harvard.

It isn't because he doesn't have reasoning ability -- as a Naval captain, he was director of defense on the National Security Council under President Bill Clinton; as a rear admiral, he commanded a carrier battle group; as vice-admiral, he was the deputy chief of naval operations, with a specialty in warfare strategy.

Joe Sestak wasn't a slow learner when he left the military and entered civilian life. In his first of two terms as a congressman from a Philadelphia suburb, the House majority leader declared him to be the most productive member of Congress, sponsoring more significant legislation than any other member. He is a strong supporter of health care reform, the environment, and labor; he opposed the Defense of Marriage Act and discriminatory policies in the armed forces. He had a higher-than-average staff turnover because he pushed them hard and gave them little free time. But, he pushed himself even harder, not because of political ambition but because he wanted to help his constituents. Unlike many members of Congress, Sestak read and responded to all communications from his constituents, dealing with more than 10,000 items, about four times more than the average member of Congress.

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