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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

adrought(Photo: EU Humanitarian Aid)Enviornmental journalist Mark Hertsgaard recently wrote a lamentation to future generations about the legacy of a lethal planet that we are leaving them. In The Daily Beast, he plaintively contemplates what his young daughter will be confronting in the years ahead: 

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

acensored33(Photo: Gueretto)

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.

HARVEY WASSERMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaSolar(Photo: US Bureau of Land Management)High above the Bowling Green town dump, a green energy revolution is being won. It's being helped along by the legalization of marijuana and its bio­fueled cousin, industrial hemp.

But it's under extreme attack from the billionaire Koch Brothers, utilities like First Energy (FE), and a fossil/nuke industry that threatens our existence on this planet.

Robber Baron resistance to renewable energy has never been more fierce. The prime reason is that the Solartopian Revolution embodies the ultimate threat to the corporate utility industry and the hundreds of billions of dollars it has invested in the obsolete monopolies that define King CONG (Coal, Oil, Nukes & Gas).

The outcome will depend on YOUR activism, and will determine whether we survive here at all. Four very large wind turbines in this small Ohio town are producing clean, cheap electricity that can help save our planet. A prime reason they exist is that Bowling Green has a municipal­owned utility. When it came time to go green, the city didn't have to beg some corporate­owned electric monopoly to do it for them.

In fact, most of northern Ohio is now dominated by FirstEnergy, one of the most reactionary, anti-­green private utilities in the entire US. As owner of the infamous Davis­Besse reactor near Toledo, FE continually resists the conversion of our energy economy to renewable sources. Except for the occasional green window­ dressing, First Energy has fought fiercely for decades to preserve its unsafe reactors while fighting off the steady progression of renewable generators.

FE's obstinance has been particularly dangerous at Davis­Besse, one of the world's most profoundly unsafe nukes. To the dismay even of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and other notoriously docile agencies, undetected boric acid ate nearly all the way through a reactor pressure vessel and threatened a massive melt­down/explosion that could have irradiated the entire north coast and the Great Lakes. FE's nuke at Perry, east of Cleveland, was the first in the US to be substantially damaged by an earthquake.

Both Perry and Davis­Besse are in the stages of advanced decay. Each of them is being held together by the atomic equivalent of duct tape and bailing twine. A major accident grows more likely with each hour of operation.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

ascottwalkerEco-terrorist Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (Photo: DonkeyHotey)The other day BuzzFlash at Truthout ran a commentary that pointed out that it is those industries who are destroying the Earth who are committing acts of eco-terrorism. The just-released United Nations report on the dire future of the planet due to climate change should be pulling the fire alarms in nations across the world, but it's not. The White House is pretty much ignoring it, and Congress will probably be revisiting the farcical debate over Benghazi soon.

It is, therefore, not just the fossil fuel industries who are eco-terrorists, it is also those politicians who support the plundering of the earth, its pollution, and backing industries that one way or another are involved in a process that leads to a faster rate of Earth's destruction.

Take Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, for example.  He is allowing the construction of the "world's largest open-pit iron ore mine" in a pristine wilderness in the northern part of the state.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

akleinNaomi Klein, author of "No Logo" (Photo: Truthout)For those of us who are mystified at the current penchant for self-destruction of the human species in an orgy of corporate and personal greed - aided and abetted by the ruling elite in DC who are part of the oligarchy - it is worth remembering that much of who we are as a species in the developed world is tied to brand names that reflect "aspirational identity."

Naomi Klein brilliantly described this modern global phenomenon in her book "No Logo." We are lured by brands that stimulate over-consumption through advertising and public relations campaigns that make us believe buying a brand will bestow upon us attributes that we desire.

At the time Klein wrote her book, about 15 years ago, the most brilliant company strategy in this area was Nike: "Just do it!" To wear the Nike swoosh - and buy its wildly over-priced products made using exploited labor overseas - was (and is) to assume a certain identity we desire, even if we are unathletic and indecisive.  The purchase and wearing (or use) of the product makes us feel as if we are what we want to be, not what we are.

ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaChildren(Photo: Shkumbin Saneja)A mind is a terrible thing to test, especially a child's mind — if, in so doing, you reduce it to a number and proceed to worship that number, ignoring the extraordinary complexity and near-infinite potential of what you have just tested.

"In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty."

What if?

What if the American education bureaucracy understood these words of Ralph Waldo Emerson and honored the latent genius of every student? What if it funded teachers and schools with as much enthusiasm as it did corporate vendors? What if, in some official way, we loved kids and their potential more than the job slots we envisioned for them and judged them only in relationship to their realization of that potential? What if standardized testing, especially the obsessive, punitive form that has evolved in this country, went the way of the dunce cap and the stool in the corner?

What if the education process were allowed to move the human race to a higher level of awareness? That is to say, what if it weren't stagnant and political but, instead . . . sacred, in the way that it feels sacred to hold an infant in one's arms?

I know that's asking a lot, but I feel emboldened to pose such questions as I become aware that standardized testing and the all-pervasive political hold it has on education is being challenged at the grass-roots level. Teachers across the country are standing up to the standardized testing system and parents are opting out of it: They're refusing to let their 8- to -13-year-olds take these "high stakes" tests that so many jobs and so much money rides on. And this movement, small as it is, has become news.

AKIRA WATTS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaOverpass Logan International Hannah Bowman(Photo: Hannah Elise Bowman)When we're not actively engaged in killing each other, watching TV, or occupied in other such entertaining diversions, one of humanity's favorite hobbies is imagining that we live in the end times, with extinction lurking around every corner. I've never been a huge fan of this sort of thing. I tend to hold that, as Copernicus explained, we don't occupy a privileged position at the center of the universe, nor do we occupy a privileged position in time, either at the beginning or end of humanity's lifespan. But lately? Perhaps it's because I don't spend enough time perusing sites featuring cats and their regrettable tattoos, or places that promise to ram a positive mood down my throat, but lately I find that voice of imminent doom to be a lot louder and far more persuasive.

I'm not a betting man, but if I had to choose the horse that our destruction will ride in on, I'd go with climate change (if you want debate the for vs. against of climate change, look elsewhere; that debate involves everyone yelling the same thing over and over. I will treat the notion of climate change as the settled science that it, you know, is). And here's the thing about climate change: while we tend to focus on the big, sexy, Hollywood disasters – the IPCC's latest includes fun things like increased global conflict, health catastrophes, and mass extinction - the climate can kill us in ways that are far more prosaic and even a little boring.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

3103989161 6503bd6ff3 z(Photo: David Moir)Truthout posted an inspiring article today about two Oberlin College students who were arrested for blocking a road in efforts to stall strip mining expansion in southern Illinois:

Police arrested two activists at a blockade set up on Rocky Branch Road in Harrisburg, Illinois, early on March 28, 2014, to stop Peabody Energy from continuing logging operations as part of the company's strip mine expansion.

Daniel Goering, 20, and Alice Fine, 19, laid down a tarp on the road to block the route to be used for logging that day. Along with other environmental activists and with the support of community residents directly impacted by Peabody's operations, the two tried to forestall and possibly prevent further strip mining and the proposed closure of Rocky Branch Road. 

Peabody is the largest private coal company in the US and world and it "finished the year with a total liquidity of $2.1 billion and $444 million cash, the company's 2013 annual report stated."  It is notoriously anti-union and not particularly welcoming of government safety regulations.

Coal remains a primary energy source in the United States and is also a primary factor in increasing global warming as it is extracted and processed.  Southern Illinois coal has characteristics that cause additional air pollution as it is utilized.  

2014.Eastwood.BFClint Eastwood at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2010. (Photo: Gordon Correll / Flickr)BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Clint Eastwood, Gary Sinise, Kelsey Grammer, Jerry Bruckheimer, Jon Voight, Dennis Miller, Patricia Heaton, Robert Duvall, Pat Boone, and David Mamet are all members of Friends of Abe.

When Sinise founded it in 2004 -- with help from longtime screenwriter, producer and director, Lionel Chetwind -- Friends of Abe was a secretive and quasi-underground operation. Until recently, little was known about the organization other than it is named after Abraham Lincoln, and, that its events brought such top-shelf conservatives as Ted Cruz, Karl Rove, Scott Walker, Antonin Scalia, Liz Cheney, Rick Perry, Rush Limbaugh, Paul Ryan and Ann Coulter, out to Hollywood to meet up with conservatives in the entertainment industry.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz "suggested to the Hollywood Reporter that IRS's reluctance to immediately ordain FOA as a nonprofit tax-free charity was a left-wing government conspiracy," AlterNet's Adam Parfrey recently reported.

Now, after nearly three years of battling the Internal Revenue Service over its tax-exempt status, the Friends of Abe (FOA), which claims to have no political agenda and considers itself an educational fellowship, was granted 501(c)(3) status.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

4543884606 2e9421d584 zThe United States and North Korea lead the world in imprisoning people. (Photo: Mark Kwakman)

In a recent New York Times (NYT) column, Nikolas Kristof used a 12 question test to point out some of the tragic absurdities of posturing by the big powers and claims to moral legitimacy. He entitled it, "Do You Speak Dictator?"

For instance, if the United States is number one in anything, it is literally the first in the world in the percentage of its population incarcerated.  Kristof, in one of his questions, points out, however, that North Korea probably comes in second or maybe even a tie in this dubious distinction award (exact numbers of those imprisoned in North Korea are not available). That's a rather horrifying ranking to possibly share with the world's most isolated dictatorship.

President Obama and all of his predecessors are always claiming that we go to war and aid pro-democracy movements (as a guise for securing free market hegemony), so why then, as Kristof asks, "Equipment from which country is primarily used to suppress the pro-democracy movement in Bahrain?" The answer of course is the United States. Why? Because Bahrain has oil, large deposits in US banks, and is a "moderate" Arab nation. Therefore, democracy is dispensable there.

In fact, historically, democracy is fine with US foreign policy only if the results of an election lead to a pro-free market economy.  Democracies in this hemisphere and in countries throughout the world have been overthrown if they threaten US commerce or access to natural resources.  We only support democracies that allow US corporations open access to their markets, fossil fuels and the maintenance of an oligarchy. 

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