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HARVEY WASSERMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaPeoplesClimateMarch(Photo: Kingdebater)Okay, so we had this historic march a little while ago.

It was....

...joyous, beautiful, exhilarating, inspiring, life-confirming...and in many ways turning point.

Now that the dust has settled a bit, we can see that it will change things for a long time to come.

It proved to ourselves and the world that we have a huge, diverse, broad-based movement. And that we can put aside our differences and all get along when we have to.

We are our species' ever-evolving immune system. We are the survival instinct that must defeat the corporate profit motive.

We are also part of a mighty activist stream that's campaigned for peace, civil rights, social justice, workers' rights, women's rights, gay pride, election protection, No Nukes and so much more.

We've endured the circular firing squad and want it abolished.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aewarrenporch(Photo: mdfriendofhillary)

In the wake of the release of 46 hours of secretly recorded tapes revealing that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York consciously backed off regulating Wall Street, Sen. Elizabeth Warren is calling for the Senate to investigate. The tapes were released to NPR's "This American Life" host Ira Glass, and unveiled on a show that aired September 26.

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In a September 27 entry on her official Facebook page, Warren wrote:

When regulators care more about protecting big banks from accountability than they do about protecting the American people from risky and illegal behavior on Wall Street, it threatens our whole economy. We learned this the hard way in 2008. Congress must hold oversight hearings on the disturbing issues raised by yesterday's whistleblower report when it returns in November - because it's our job to make sure our financial regulators are doing their jobs.

Carmen Segarra, the whistleblower who revealed the tapes, was subsequently fired from her job at the Fed. Segarra has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the Federal Reserve. One of the major reasons she believes that she was dismissed from her job, according to ProPublica, was that she would not comply with the New York Fed's deference to Goldman Sachs.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

alec(Photo: watchingfrogsboil)

While systemic changes in the United States and global economic system remain a vital goal, it is somewhat reassuring to know that there are businesses that promote progressive causes such as internet neutrality, the reversal of the Citizens United decision, divestment of funding in the fossil fuels industry and efforts to reduce global warming.

BuzzFlash and Truthout are accountable to our readers, not big business or billionaire sponsors. Will you make a tax-deductible donation now to sustain independent journalism?

Indeed, the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) just issued a news release praising companies who have canceled their American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) memberships. David Levine, co-founder and CEO of the Sustainable business group, said:

Recently, several major companies including Google and Facebook have distanced themselves from the American Legislative Exchange Council over ALEC’s obstruction of America’s transition to a renewable energy economy. These announcements mark a continuation of an awakening that started when Apple and PG&E parted ways with the U.S. Chamber over the Chamber’s climate position.

We commend those companies that recognize that their true long-term interest is aligned with the imperative to combat climate change. They understand that the global economy cannot prosper in the face of trillions of dollars of economic damage that will result from rising seas and extreme weather.

JANE STILLWATER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaSugar(Photo: Lauri Andler)Despite all of its vivid past history of enlightened protests in favor of Truth and Justice, my home town of Berkeley hasn't been very radical at all lately.  In fact, the city has pretty much turned into a Yuppie paradise and a developer's dream.  But, boy, Berkeley has still managed to somehow put its foot in the lion's mouth! 

And all that we did to raise this huge nation-wide brouhaha was to simply propose a new November ballot measure wherein a small tax would be levied on sodas -- then suddenly all Hell has broken loose here.  Suddenly we woke up one morning to find that the American Beverage Association was staging a full frontal assault on our town. 

The ABA has taped "Vote No on Measure D" posters on almost every one of our lamp posts, has hired friendly ladies to hand out "Vote No on Measure D" fliers at our flea market -- and has begun distributing large numbers of "Vote No on Measure D" T-shirts, fliers, billboards, push-polls and mailers that follow us everywhere we go.

The American Beverage Association has spent $300,000 on its campaign against Measure D so far -- and apparently has another $200,000 more yet to spend.  Its minions come and bang on our doors.  I dare not even answer the phone any more! 

The American Beverage Association has gone total beast-mode on Berkeley.

Thursday, 25 September 2014 10:02

Climate Reckoning: My Family’s Coal Story

JEFF BIGGERS OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaCoalEagleCreek(Photo: Jeff Biggers)Four years after the publication of my memoir/history, Reckoning at Eagle Creek: The Secret Legacy of Coal in the Heartland, I found myself sitting in the front row of an Illinois Environmental Protection Agency hearing in southern Illinois. It was a historic evening in Harrisburg, only a few miles from where Peabody Energy sank its first coal mine in 1895, and a few blocks from where I had sat on the front porch as a kid and listened to the stories of my grandfather and other coal miners about union battles for justice. For the first time in decades, residents in coal country were shining the spotlight on issues of civil rights, environmental ruin and a spiraling health crisis from a poorly regulated coal mining rush.

The total destruction of my family’s nearby Eagle Creek community from strip-mining was held up as their cautionary tale. The takeaway: Strip-mining more than stripped the land; it stripped the traces of any human contact.

“We have lost population, we have lost homes and we have lost roads,” testified Judy Kellen, a resident facing an expanded strip mine in Rocky Branch. “We have lost history. We have to endure dust, noise levels to the pitch you wanted to scream because you couldn’t get any rest or sleep, earth tremors, home damages, complete isolation of any type of view to the north, health issues, a sadness in your heart that puts a dread on your face every day, and an unrest in the spirit that we knew nothing of.”

A lot has changed in these four years—much of it troubling, and much of it inspiring.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT 

pacificocbeachThe Califonia Pacific Ocean beachfront (Photo: Curtis Gregory Perry)

The surfer dudes have won a battle for all of us against a leading plutocrat. 

Here's the headline of a September 25 Los Angeles Times article,"California surfers beat tech billionaire in fight over beach access" that explains the stakes:

It was surfers versus a Silicon Valley tech billionaire, and on Wednesday, the surfers won -- for now.

A San Mateo County judge ruled tentatively Wednesday that Vinod Khosla, a co-founder of Sun Microsystems, had wrongly denied public access to Martin's Beach, which for decades was visited by thousands of locals who picnicked, surfed and fished in its protective cove.

The case resonated with some people because it reflected fears that tech billionaires were buying up coastal properties with the intention of keeping others out.

Joe Cotchett, an attorney for the nonprofit Surfrider Foundation, which brought the suit, called Superior Court Judge Barbara Mallach's decision "a huge victory for all of the people of California."

On August 29, BuzzFlash at Truthout posted a commentary that detailed how some wealthy California beachfront property owners were impeding state-mandated public access to the Pacific Ocean Beachfront.

2014.9.24.UN.BFUN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks at the opening of the launch of the UN Decade of Sustainable Energy for All 2014-2024. (Photo: United Nations Photo / Flickr)

ANASTASIA PANTSIOS OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

The issue of climate change skyrocketed in public awareness this week as the UN Climate Summit yesterday in New York City, and the historic People’s Climate March Sunday joined by 400,000 people, attracted attention and news coverage around the world.

The UN Climate Summit was convened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who invited world leaders from government, finance, business and civil society “to galvanize and catalyze climate action.” The event was not intended to strike binding agreements but to build momentum for the December 2015 UN climate conference in Paris.

“The human, environmental and financial cost of climate change is fast becoming unbearable,” Ban said at the opening ceremony of the UN Climate Summit. “We need a clear shared vision.”

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aholdermoleUS Department of Education

The website Wall Street on Parade has been tenacious in uncovering misdeeds in the nation's financial capital, as well as various levels of government that enable the malfeasance. On September 23, it reported on an intriguing speech by Attorney General Eric Holder in an article entitled, "Eric Holder Says Justice Department Has Moles on Wall Street":

Avoiding detection as a mole becomes so much more challenging when the highest law enforcement officer in the land, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, comes to New York to address Wall Street’s lawyers and tells them, flat out, that he’s got moles stationed inside his Wall Street targets. (There were likely 100,000 text messages flying about Wall Street before Holder got to the next paragraph of his speech.)

The revelation by Holder came on September 17, not in off the cuff remarks, but in a carefully prepared speech delivered at NYU School of Law in Manhattan.

Wall Street on Parade points out that the moles are called "undercover cooperators" by the Department of Justice.

No doubt Holder's on the record objective in his speech was to warn Wall Street that they were being watched from the inside by an army of informers – and that this might dissuade them from wrongdoing. However, a more cynical perspective would posit that the attorney general was giving notice to Wall Street financial firms to be more careful about disclosing their legally questionable behavior to too many staffers - and alerting them not to leave any paper trails that indicate intent to commit illegal acts.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014 06:11

We Have Met the Existential Threat, and It Is Us

2014.9.24.BF.Watts(Image: Lance Page / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: Francisco Cendejas)AKIRA WATTS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.

- Sun Tzu

Let me make a bold prediction. ISIS will never invade the United States. We will never have a Red Dawn moment, when jihadist troops parachute into sleepy, Midwestern towns. The Wolverines, alas, will never be called out of retirement. Not everyone seems to see it that way, as might be gathered from the fact that we are now bombing multiple countries, in the belief that an insurgency can be neutralized by purely military means. The circle of violence widens, as Israel has decided to get in on the fun, by shooting down a Syrian jet. Oh, and the bombing doesn’t really seem to be working.

Better writers than I have argued that bombs alone are not going to bring about an end to the situation in Iraq and Syria, so I will leave that argument aside, beyond noting that it would be neat if it could receive more than passing acknowledgement from our bold and fearless leaders. Instead, let’s talk about ISIS. As is standard in beginning such a discussion, insert the obligatory disclaimer about them being Very Bad People. They are to Islam what the Westboro Baptist Church is to Christianity, were the WBC given military grade weapons. Very Bad People, yes?

You know who else is very bad? Joseph Kabila, president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Myanmar was run by very bad people until they became a kind-of sort-of democracy and now we like them. Iran is very bad except in those cases in which we need their help and support and then we’re totally cool and high-fives all around. Bashar al-Assad is a very bad person and we’re definitely not on his side except we sort of need to bomb a few of those very bad people who are rebelling against his very bad government.

There’s a whole lot of very bad people out there, is what I’m getting at.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

apoverty2(Photo: Aaaarrrrgggghhhh!)

The website of the Annie E. Casey Foundation makes clear that the well-being of children and families in the United States, regardless of income, is a key focus of its philanthropy. A important tool in focusing on this issue is providing up to date data and information. The goal is to provide policy makers and citizens with the tools to understand the extent of childhood and family poverty in the US. 

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On one of the foundation's web pages, it states the alarming reality that, "The United States continues to have one of the highest relative child poverty rates among all developed countries":

In order to compare rates of poverty across countries many researchers use “relative” poverty rates, which examine a family’s income relative to the average family in the country. A recent report by UNICEF found that the United States had more children living in relative poverty - defined as living in a household in which disposable income is less than 50 percent of the national median – than all but one other economically advanced countries, Romania.

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