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2016.14.1 bf mellino(Photo: Magharebia)COLE MELLINO OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

As oil prices continue to drop, renewable energy brought in a record $329.3 billion of investment last year, according to data released today from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

Spending on clean energy technology increased 4 percent from 2014, due to tumbling prices for photovoltaics and wind turbines, as well as large investments in offshore wind farms. According to BNEF, renewable energy installation in 2015 was up 30 percent compared to the same period in 2014, setting a record for the most installation of renewable power capacity in a year. Globally, wind and solar made up half of all new generation technologies, including fossil fuels. Around 64 gigawatts of wind capacity and 57 gigawatts of solar were commissioned.

“These figures are a stunning riposte to all those who expected clean energy investment to stall on falling oil and gas prices,” Michael Liebreich, chairman of the advisory board for BNEF, said. “They highlight the improving cost-competitiveness of solar and wind power.”

2016.14.1 bf chow(Photo: Casey Hugelfink)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

A 4.8-magnitude earthquake has indefinitely closed fracking operations in northern Alberta, an area that has experienced a spate of tremors in recent months.

While it is too soon to tell if the temblor was triggered by fracking, if fracking is indeed the culprit, Canada will once again set a world record for the largest earthquake triggered by the controversial drilling process.

The earthquake was reported Tuesday at 11:27 a.m. approximately 30 kilometres west of Fox Creek, Alberta.

Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) has ordered the shutdown of the site operated by multinational energy company Repsol Oil & Gas, CBC News reported. The regulator automatically shuts down a fracking site when any seismic activity registers above a 4.0.

“The company has ceased operations … and they will not be allowed to resume operations until we have approved their plans,” AER spokeswoman Carrie Rosa said.

A statement from Repsol confirmed that Tuesday’s earthquake occurred during fracking operations.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaascottFlorida Governor Rick Scott embodies why individuals and corporations should not profit from providing medical care. (Image: DonkeyHotey)

Two-term Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) heavily financed both of his campaigns (2010 and 2014) out of his personal fortune, estimated at more than $130 million according to recent tax filings. Scott became a member of the one percent by co-founding what would become the largest US for-profit hospital and health care system in the 1990s: Columbia/HCA.

However, the Department of Justice (DOJ) began investigating Columbia/HCA under Clinton's Attorney General Janet Reno, and Rick Scott was forced to resign as CEO of the company in 1997 after proof of massive illegal Medicare profiteering was discovered.

2000 Forbes article provided a glimpse into some of the defrauding of the taxpayer that occurred under Scott:

The company increased Medicare billings by exaggerating the seriousness of the illnesses they were treating. It also granted doctors partnerships in company hospitals as a kickback for the doctors referring patients to HCA. In addition, it gave doctors “loans” that were never expected to be paid back, free rent, free office furniture, and free drugs from hospital pharmacies.

In the tradition of the DOJ not prosecuting CEOs, Scott was never charged with overseeing the bilking of Medicare. However, after his departure, Scott's former company (by then simply called HCA), pled guilty to 14 felony counts. Forbes reported that the Department of Justice investigation revealed that "the fraud ... ran deep within HCA’s way of doing business."

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaGMOwheat(Photo: Bluemoose)Another country is taking action on genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Taiwan has banned schools across the nation from serving GMOs to students, citing health and safety concerns.

On Dec. 14, 2015, Taiwanese legislature passed amendments to the School Health Act to stamp out raw genetically modified ingredients as well as processed food containing GMOs.

The ban affects cafeterias and food stands in every elementary school, middle school and high school in Taiwan, The China Post reported. Schools have traditionally served food products such as soybeans, corn, salmon, tofu and soy milk that contain GMOs.

“Soy is a major ingredient in Taiwan’s school lunches,” said Lin Shu-fen of the Democratic Progressive Party, who advocated for the passage of the bill. “Genetically modified soy has been shown to contains toxic residue from pesticides.”

It’s not just schoolchildren eating tons of GMO soy. Taiwan, as a whole, is a large consumer of the crop. According to Agri-View, “Taiwan consumes more than 8 million bushels of soybeans used in soy foods. Ninety-five percent of those 8 million bushels originate in the U.S., and 7.2 million bushels of those soybeans are GMO soybeans from the U.S.”

COLE MELLINO OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaCombover(Photo: BostonJerry)Donald Trump has been having a tough time in the UK lately. First, he lost his appeal with the UK Supreme Court to halt a Scottish wind farm project near his resort in Aberdeenshire. Next, a parliamentary petition, backed by more than 500,000 people, was launched to bar Trump from entering the UK. And now, a UK agency is slapping him with a fine for carbon pollution from one of his private jets.

Trump faces fines of €2,152 ($2,339) for a flight to the UK in a plane owned by a firm called DJT Operations I LLC, part of the Trump Organization.

The UK’s Environment Agency, which is charged with enforcing the European Union’s Emissions Trading System (ETS), published an updated list of those facing fines on Tuesday. The agency issued the fines to 25 operators, totaling more than £750,000 (about $1.1 million), because they failed to purchase carbon permits to cover their emissions, The Guardian said.

Those fined along with Trump are various private and commercial jet operators, including the Bahrain Royal family, insurance giant AIG and 21st Century Fox America, the company chaired by Rupert Murdoch.

“The EU Emissions Trading System is an important means of regulating emissions from aviation operators,” Liz Parkes, Environment Agency deputy director of climate change and business services, told The Guardian. “The Environment Agency’s enforcement activity is part of coordinated action across Europe.”

The trading system is designed to limit carbon pollution and mitigate climate change.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaobamahopeBarack Obama ran on a campaign of hope, but ended up with little change in the structural racism in the US. (Image: Thomas Hawk)

It was July 2004 and the Democratic Party was holding its presidential nominating convention in Boston. John Kerry would be nominated, and his team chose a nationally unknown candidate for US senator in Illinois as the keynote speaker: Barack Obama. Obama gave a dazzling 17-minute oration that catapulted him into becoming a political celebrity, helped him to win his US senate race and positioned him for the presidential race in 2008.

In light of his last State of the Union address as president, delivered last night to Congress and the nation, it is revealing to return to that 2004 pivot point in Obama's career. Included in his charismatic Boston keynote address were these words:

Tonight, we gather to affirm the greatness of our nation not because of the height of our skyscrapers, or the power of our military, or the size of our economy; our pride is based on a very simple premise, summed up in a declaration made over two hundred years ago: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness...."

Well, I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America; there's the United States of America.

There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America.

Although there are a plethora of issues to discuss concerning the Obama administration - domestic and foreign - perhaps the most glaring and intractable flaw in his 2004 rhetoric was the portrayal of a nation that wasn't divided by race. 

COLE MELLINO OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaNunWeed(Photo: EcoWatch)Two self-proclaimed nuns, Sister Kate and Sister Darcey, grow and sell marijuana for medicinal purposes in Merced, California. But the future of their business is now in jeopardy as the Merced City Council issued a temporary ban on marijuana cultivation after a 6-0 vote on Jan. 4.

The Sisters of the Valley sell their line of medicinal salves, tonics and tinctures on Etsy. Their products, which are independently certified as organic, are high in CBD, or cannabidiol, a cannabis compound that has been shown to have significant medical benefits, and low in THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the better known cannabis compound with psychoactive properties.

According to the sisters, they make the medicine based on “ancient ritual,” which involves turning their cannabis tinctures every morning and night, only bottling tinctures during a full moon and saying a healing prayer over every bottle and jar before it’s sold.

“We make CBD oil, which takes away seizures and a million other things,” Sister Kate told ABC News. “It’s very high in demand from cancer patients right now. And we make a salve that’s a multi-purpose salve, but we found out it cures migraines, hangovers, earaches, tooth aches and diaper rash.” The salve is made from cannabis trim, coconut oil, vitamin E, lavender oil, calendula oil and beeswax.

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaBibleKey(Photo: Malcolm Lidbury)There is a sexual harassment case that is rocking the headlines and it has nothing to do with Bill Cosby or any other Hollywood entertainer. At least ten women have thus far filed lawsuits accusing Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP) founder Bill Gothard, now 81, of sexual abuse and harassment, according to Christianity Today.

According to The Washington Post, “Each of the 10 plaintiffs -- Gretchen Wilkinson, Charis Barker, Rachel Frost, Rachel Lees, Melody Fedoriw, Jamie Deering, Ruth Copley Burger and three Jane Does -- are seeking at least $50,000 in damages, alleging that Gothard and the organization, claiming intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, willful and wanton and civil conspiracy.

“The lawsuit in DuPage County Circuit Court in Illinois, where IBLP’s headquarters is located, charges that IBLP, its employees and board members received reports of sexual abuse, sexual harassment and ‘inappropriate/unauthorized touching’ from women and girls. But, the women allege, the defendants never reported the ‘potentially criminal allegations’ to law enforcement authorities or the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services as required by state law.”

Gothard, who, the Washington Post noted had “resigned from the ministry in 2014 after more than 30 women had alleged that he had molested and sexually harassed women he worked with, including some who were minors.” is not a household name nor did he have a popular “family values” television program, but to evangelical Christians, he has been an exalted and revered figure.

COLE MELLINO OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

ecowatchfrack(Image: EcoWatch)

The state of Oklahoma was rocked by more than 70 earthquakes last week. Two of the largest quakes measured magnitude 4.7 and 4.8 and struck in the rural northern part of the state, beneath a major oil and gas producing area. The week before that, the state was hit by a dozen tremors in less than a week, prompting the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which regulates the state’s oil and gas industry, to order several injection well operators to reduce wastewater disposal volumes.

Scientists have linked this ongoing spate of tremors to the state’s drilling boom. The Oklahoma Geological Survey concluded that the injection of wastewater byproducts into deep underground disposal wells from fracking operations has triggered the seismic activity in the state.

In November 2015, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission reported that Oklahoma nowexperiences more earthquakes than anywhere else in the world. Oklahoma went from two earthquakes a year before 2009 to two a day.

PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

occbuchheit11456From the Occupy movement to today, the .01% still are controlling the nation's economic wealth.(Chris Wieland)


They consist of 16,000 individuals, about the size of a crowd at a professional basketball game. The inequality horror they've fomented is reaching far beyond the half of America that is in or near poverty, for it now impacts those of us well above the median, those of us in the second highest of four wealth quartiles. 


1. The .01% Have as Much Wealth as 80% of the US

The combined net worth of the 16,000 richest Americans is approximately the same as the total wealth of 256,000,000 people. Details for this statistic and other facts to follow are at You Deserve Facts


2. Americans with up to a Quarter-Million Dollars are Part of the Nearly 80% of Americans with Less Wealth Than the .01%

The 80% includes all Americans with a net worth up to about $277,000


3. The .01% Own about as Much as 75% of the Entire World

The world's poorest 75% own roughly 4 percent of total global wealth, approximately the same percentage of wealth owned by the .01% in the United States. Again, calculations are shown here

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