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microplastics found in most toiletries(Photo: Oregon State University)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

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Microplastics, the scourge of beaches, oceans, waterways and aquatic life worldwide, might also be polluting the air we breathe, according to environmental health experts.

The Guardian reported that a research team at King’s College in London is looking into the issue.

"There is a possibility, a real possibility, that some of those microparticles will be entrained into the air, and they will be carried around and we will end up breathing them," said Frank Kelly, a researcher and professor of environmental health at King’s College, at an evidence session at the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) in the UK.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2016may17 financereformIf large corporate donors didn't have influence over presidential candidates, senators and congresspeople, why would they contribute to them? (Photo: Barry Solow)

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An analysis, released on May 18 by Public Citizen, a nonprofit citizens' rights advocacy groupfound that in 2016 the "financial sector accounts for more than half of all money given by donors contributing $1 million or more to presidential super PACs." According to a news release announcing the findings, Public Citizen verified that,

The financial services sector is on pace to obliterate its records for political spending this election cycle, led by a select group of donors who have given at least $1 million to super PACs devoted to presidential candidates, according to a new report (PDF) by Public Citizen....

The securities and investment industry, a subset of the finance sector that includes hedge funds and private equity funds, also has given more to outside groups than in any full election cycle.

“This pace of giving is particularly remarkable for two reasons,” said Taylor Lincoln, research director for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division and author of the report. “First, the financial sector and securities industry already were the biggest donors in every election cycle on record. Second, they set these records without supporting two of the three remaining candidates.”

Who is the only candidate still in the Democratic-Republican race to benefit from this largesse? Hillary Clinton, who received financial sector services donations (as well as donations from other sectors) through three super PACs. However, she is not the only candidate to receive super PAC funding. The Republican candidates who have now dropped out of the presidential race received large amounts of Super PAC money. Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump rejected super PAC backing, but it is very possible that Trump will segue from a primarily self-funded (plus free massive media coverage) campaign to PAC, super PAC and large donor funding in the general election. Sanders continues to run a purely individual-donor-fueled campaign.

What is a super PAC?

wind turbines(Photo: Aaron)KATIE POHLMAN OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

BuzzFlash is ad-free because of sustaining support from readers like you. Help keep independent media strong by making a tax-deductible donation today!

Portugal just took a huge step forward in the renewable energy arena. The country ran on solar,wind and hydropower energy for 107-hours straight from 6:45 a.m. May 7 to 5:45 p.m. May 11,The Guardian reported.

This was a landmark event for Europe and renewable energy. In that four-day period, the European country didn’t have to turn to coal or fossil fuels for its electricity needs.

Francisco Ferreira, president of Portuguese sustainability NGO Zero, told The Independent:

Portugal has been investing considerably in renewables, particularly in electricity, since this will be the main final energy within the next decades with the transition from fossil fuels in road transportation to electric vehicles.

KATIE POHLMAN OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Paris 0518wrp(Photo: EcoWatch)Parisians can walk, skate or cycle down the iconic Champs Elysees one day a month without worrying about traffic. The first Sunday of every month is a car-free day, an attempt to reduce pollution in the French city. The initiative began in September 2015 as the brainchild of Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo.

The Paris Breathes campaign, responsible for implementing the program, blocks off 13 sections of the city at various times throughout the day. Sections are closed for various time periods ranging from four to 10 hours, according to the campaign’s website. There are an additional four locations that go car-free for the summer months only. The first car-free day—Sept. 27, 2015—led to a 40 percent drop in nitrogen dioxide in Paris, The Guardian reported.

Paris residents seem to love the car-free days. “I think especially when the weather is like that, beautiful sunshine, we feel like it’s the holidays for us. We can walk easily, no pollution, no noise. We are very happy,” one of the participants said in the below NowThis video.

Paris leads the pack in monthly car-free days, but several large metro cities participate in international car-free day on Sept. 22 every year, including Washington, DC, Seattle and Long Island, New York.

OUR CHILDREN'S TRUST OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

DEP 0518wrp opt(Photo: EcoWatch)The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court found in favor of four youth plaintiffs, the Conservation Law Foundation and Mass Energy Consumers Alliance Tuesday in the critical climate change case, Kain et al. v. Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

The court found that the DEP was not complying with its legal obligation to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions and ordered the agency to “promulgate regulations that address multiple sources or categories of sources of greenhouse gas emissions, impose a limit on emissions that may be released … and set limits that decline on an annual basis.”

“This is an historic victory for young generations advocating for changes to be made by government. The global climate change crisis is a threat to the well being of humanity, and to my generation, that has been ignored for too long,” youth plaintiff Shamus Miller, age 17, said.

“Today, the Massachusetts Supreme Court has recognized the scope and urgency of that threat and acknowledges the need for immediate action to help slow the progression of climate change. There is much more to be done both nationally and internationally but this victory is a step in the right direction and I hope that future efforts have similar success.”

In 2012, hundreds of youth petitioned the DEP asking the agency to comply with the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) and adopt rules reducing the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, but that petition was denied. As a result of DEP’s reluctance to comply with the GWSA, youth filed this case arguing that the DEP failed to promulgate the regulations required by Section 3(d) of the GWSA establishing declining annual levels of greenhouse gas emissions.

2016.17.5 bf hauter(Photo: Chlot's Run)WENONAH HAUTER OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

One day before the National Research Council (NRC) is scheduled to release a multi-year research report about genetically engineered(GMO) crops and food, Food & Water Watch has released an issue brief detailing the far-reaching conflicts of interest at the NRC and its parent organization, the National Academy of Sciences.

Under the Influence: The National Research Council and GMOs charts the millions of dollars in donations the NRC receives from biotech companies like Monsanto, documents the one-sided panels of scientists the NRC enlists to carry out its GMO studies and describes the revolving door of NRC staff directors who shuffle in and out of agriculture and biotech industry groups. The new issue brief also shows how NRC routinely arrives at watered-down scientific conclusions on agricultural issues based on industry science.

 

2016.17.5 bf berkowitz(Pjptp: Darron Birgenheier)BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

While he professes to love the Lord, and he and his staff attend Monday morning Bible study, he also loves living large; Cuban cigars, high fashion suits, blue alligator shoes, a gold Rolex watch for starters. He's loud, outgoing, and charismatic. Based in Ohio, he's also got a Washington, D.C. multi-million dollar row-home office called Eastgate, named after the East Gate of Jerusalem. As bonuses, successful employees -- described in one report as a "small army of raucous, elbow throwing … mischief makers" -- receive Tag Heuer watches, keys to luxury sedans, lavish business trips, and more. He has a history of creating negative political advertisements that might make the late Lee Atwater blush. Meet Rex Elsass, who in an excellent profile by Jason Zengerle in the March issue of GQ, is described as "the most powerful Republican operative you've never heard of."

And in my case, someone who has been monitoring and reporting on conservative movements for quite some time, Zengerle was right on the money; I never had heard of Rex Elsass until reading the GQ piece.

Elsass is the founder and CEO of the Strategy Group for Media which, according to Zengerle, is a "consulting firm [that has] a knack for launching a certain kind of politician -- and a record of recent success that has turned [him] into one of the richest, not to mention most controversial, operatives in Republican politics."

Mark Karlin, Editor of BuzzFlash at Truthout

2016may18 bullyingWhat happens when bullying is in the bloodstream of a nation, as it is in the US?     (Image: Ken Whytock)

Bullying is an essential tactic used by Donald Trump -- and that's not just analysis; it is a fact readily acknowledged by Trump himself.  

In what was meant as a rapprochement of sorts, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly interviewed Trump, which aired on May 17. The Boston Globe reported on an excerpt in which Trump lectures Kelly about how bullying, in essence, tests the survival of the fittest. He prided himself on bullying and urged her not to feel victimized, but to "fight back" ten times harder:

Trump says he is a counterpuncher who goes after people when they go after him....

But he said bullying doesn’t just happen to children. "People are bullied when they’re 55," he said.

Kelly responded pointedly, with a smile: "Can happen when you’re 45." She is 45.

"You know, it happens, right?" Trump went on, as if he didn’t hear her. "But you gotta get over it. Fight back, do whatever you have to do."

The rest of the interview took on a lighter tone, however. Erick Wemple of The Washington Post speculates that Fox was pivoting to make nice with the presumptive Republican nominee and to publicize Kelly's new book (published by HarperCollins, which is, like Fox, owned by Rupert Murdoch). The book is coming out after the election, and she shilled it on the program while interviewing Trump.

The motif of the interview was the victory of the bully. It conveyed that Megyn Fox, who was a high-profile target of Trump's misogyny, was no longer upset with him.

In a new book Bully Nation: How the American Establishment Creates a Bullying Society, authors Charles Derber and Yale R. Magress incisively explain the prototype that has resulted in a surge of supporters for the truculent "strong man." This is stated in a pre-publication summary of Bully Nation by the publisher, University of Kansas Press:

Bullying looks very similar on the personal and institutional levels: it involves an imbalance of power and behavior that consistently undermines its victim, securing compliance and submission and reinforcing the bully’s sense of superiority and legitimacy.[Italics were inserted by BuzzFlash at Truthout.] The similarity, this book tells us, is not a coincidence. Applying the concept of the "sociological imagination," which links private problems and public issues, authors Charles Derber and Yale Magrass argue that individual bullying is an outgrowth—and a necessary function—of a larger social phenomenon. Bullying is seen here as a structural problem arising from systems organized around steep power hierarchies—from the halls of the Pentagon, Congress, and corporate offices to classrooms and playing fields and the environment. Dominant people and institutions need to create a culture in which violence and aggression are seen as natural and just: one where individuals compete over who will be bully or victim, and each is seen as deserving their fate within this hierarchy. The larger the inequalities of power in society, or among nations, or even across species, the more likely it is that both institutional and personal bullying will become commonplace. 

Ergo, Trump's bullying of Megyn Kelly in early primary debates and tweets was part of a strategy of asserting power and attempting to weaken an individual, as well as the media. It is a way of projecting "leadership" in a society that often values forceful, obdurate negotiators who achieve their goals. Trump said that he regretted some of his coarse and vulgar remarks about Kelly, but he did not apologize.

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Glypho 0516wrp opt(Photo: EcoWatch)Four Nebraskan agricultural workers have filed a lawsuit against Monsanto Co. alleging that the agribusiness giant’s cancer-linked product, Roundup, gave them non-Hodgkin lymphoma after many years of exposure.

The plaintiffs have also accused Monsanto of purposely misleading consumers about the safety of its blockbuster product, which contains glyphosate as its controversial main ingredient.

The plaintiffs allege that Monsanto mislabeled the product in defiance of the “body of recognized scientific evidence linking the disease to exposure to Roundup.”

Glyphosate, the most widely used herbicide in the world was infamously classified as “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in March 2015.

“Case-control studies of occupational exposure in the USA, Canada, and Sweden reported increased risks for non-Hodgkin lymphoma that persisted after adjustment for other pesticides,” the IARC said about the herbicide, adding that there is also “convincing evidence” that it can cause cancer in laboratory animals.

The plaintiffs in the case are farmers Larry Domina and Robert Dickey both of Cedar County, York County farmer Royce Janzen and Dodge County agronomist Frank Pollard, the Lincoln Journal Star reported. They are represented by Omaha-based Domina Law Group and New York-based Weitz & Luxembourg.

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

FrackingBad 0516wrp opt(Photo: EcoWatch)Unconventional oil and gas (UOG) operations such as fracking might allow for cheaper prices to heat your home, but a growing number of scientists are becoming concerned about its unacceptable health implications.

In the first comprehensive literature review to date on the respiratory health risks associated with UOG, experts from the Center for Environmental Health, the Institute for Health and the Environment, Physicians for Social Responsibility and the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments have found that these operations are particularly harmful to infants and young children.

The study, Hazards of UOG Emissions on Children’s and Infants’ Respiratory Health, was published today in the journal Reviews on Environmental Health.

The the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that there are nearly 700 chemicals used in the fracking process. Fracking fluids can contain a toxic slew of hazardous chemicals that can affect human health and the environment, but oil and gas companies are not required to disclose exactly what they are.

According to the study, at least five chemicals associated with unconventional oil and gas operations and fracking—tropospheric ozone, particulate matter, silica dust, benzene and formaldehyde—are linked to respiratory health issues on infants and children, including asthma, reduced lung and pulmonary function, increased susceptibility to infection, chest discomfort, difficulty breathing, lung inflammation and other adverse outcomes.

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