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2016.29.12 BF Chow(Photo: Gage Skidmore)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Throughout the ups and downs of 2016, Truthout and BuzzFlash have been there to bring you reliable news and analysis. Click here to support us with a donation before the year ends!

Scott Pruitt -- Donald Trump's controversial pick to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) -- is under fire for his supposed ties to a nonprofit controlled by billionaire oil tycoons, Charles and David Koch.

POLITICO has received a copy of a letter sent to Pruitt that was signed by six Democratic senators on the Environment and Public Works Committee. The letter raises questions about the Oklahoma attorney general's director status at a nonprofit called the Rule of Law Defense Fund that accepted $175,000 from Freedom Partners, the political arm of the Koch brothers' network.

Freedom Partners has been described as a "dark money umbrella group," likened to a secret bank that disburses contributions from wealthy conservatives.

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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WalkerDurr 1228wrp(Photo: Michael Vadon)Whoever is managing Wisconsin's Department of Natural Resources website must be wearing out the delete key. The word "climate" has been quietly stripped from the department's webpage dedicated to explaining the state's response to climate change, Raw Story reported.

In total, 13 original appearances of the word "climate" have been kiboshed. The only place you'll see the word now is in the "climatechange.html" URL and a tiny footnote link. Not only that, any reference to humanity's contribution to global warming has been deleted.

The text that appears on the webpage now inserts classic climate skeptic arguments, in which Earth's "changes" are being "debated." This is the text on the website as of today:

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

There's still time to support independent journalism before the end of the year. Click here to make a tax-deductible donation to Truthout and BuzzFlash. Ensure real news survives in 2017!

TheSun 1228wrp opt(Photo: Jessie Eastland)Renewable energy has reached an important milestone. The World Economic Forum (WEF) has determined that in many parts of the world, solar energy is now the same price or even cheaper than fossil fuels for the first time.

In a handbook released this month, the WEF observed how the price of renewable technologies, particularly solar, has declined to unprecedented lows.

While the average global LCOE [levelized cost of electricity] for coal and natural gas is around $100 per megawatt-hour, the price for solar has plummeted from $600 a decade ago to $300 only five years later, and now close to or below $100 for utility-scale photovoltaic. For wind, the LCOE is around $50.

According to the WEF, more than 30 countries have already reached grid parity—even without subsidies. ("Grid parity" is the point when an alternative energy source, say solar, can generate power at a LCOE that's equal or even less than the price of traditional grid power.)

"It is relevant to note that the mentioned evolution, market share gain and continued potential for renewable energy do not hinge on a subsidy advantage," the report added. "In fact, according to [International Energy Agency], fossil-fuel consumption has received $493 billion in subsidies in 2014, more than four times the value of subsidies to renewable energy."

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2016silenceTrumpism demands activism, not silence. (Photo: Jemma D )

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The election of Donald Trump has seen the religious right gearing up to fight against abortion rights, defund Planned Parenthood, target transsexual rights, and re-litigate same sex marriage; economic conservatives dusting off plans to eliminate as many government regulations (and possibly departments) as possible, support school choice, the privatization of social security, Medicare, and craft a new tax code; and white supremacists and nationalists –operating under the media-friendly banner of the “alt-right” -- are looking to mainstream their anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic vision of a white America, and broaden their constituency.

As reports of hate incidents and harassment soar, people are responding: Petitions are being circulated; websites are setting up mechanisms for reporting incidents of hate; demonstrations are being held in cities across the country; and, fight-back organizations are crafting plans and soliciting donations.

So how best to cope with and combat what many see as a coming maelstrom of hate attacks?

Information is key to any struggle. Naming the attackers, decoding their messages, and speaking out against hate groups, and incidents of hate and harassment is essential, and, finally, taking the long view regarding political engagement is crucial.

2016.22.12 BF Chow(Photo: United Nations Photo)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

If everything goes to plan, New York City and Long Island will be harnessing the Atlantic Ocean's strong and dependable winds as a source of renewable energy.

Norway's biggest oil company will be developing an offshore wind farm outside of New York. Statoil submitted the winning bid of $42.5 million to the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management last Friday to lease nearly 80,000 acres of federal waters roughly 14 miles off the coast of Long Island, the Huffington Post reported.

The company estimates that the leased area could host a 1,000-megawatt offshore wind farm, with the first phase of development expected to begin with 400 to 600 megawatts. The first plan of action is to survey seabed conditions which can be as deep as 131 feet, grid connection options and wind resources at the site.

Thursday, 22 December 2016 06:52

​I Pledge Allegiance to What?​

2016.22.12 BF Koehler(Photo: Charles Salutan)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

I pledge allegiance to . . . what?

The Electoral College, to no one's serious surprise, voted Donald Trump in as the nation's 45th president, and the pot of outrage in the American spectator democracy begins to boil.

No, no, no, no, no, no, no -- no to all his right-wing and idiotic cabinet and Team Trump appointments, no to his conflicts of interest and serial tweets, no to his sexism, his reckless arrogance, his ego, his finger on the nuclear button.

The word of the day is resistance. For instance, Nancy Altman and Ira Lupu, writing at Huffington Post, point out that Trump, though legally the new American president, lacks political legitimacy, thanks to widespread voter suppression, his huge loss in the popular vote and the anachronistic absurdity of the Electoral College; and even more disturbingly, is a thin-skinned, dishonest, immature jerk, utterly lacking the moral authority a national leader must project. These are flaws that cannot be ignored.

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Bottles 1221wrp opt(Photo: whatsyourimpact.org)U.S. and Canada together discard 22 million pounds of plastic into the waters of the Great Lakes each year, according to a new Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) study. Most of it washes up along the shores, accounting for 80 percent of the litter found there.

Researchers said that Chicago, Toronto, Cleveland and Detroit are the worst contributors to the plastic pollution. Half of the plastic dumped into the Great Lakes—11 million pounds—goes into Lake Michigan. Lake Erie comes in at number two, receiving 5.5 million pounds. Lake Ontario gets 3 million pounds of plastic waste a year, with Lake Huron and Lake Superior receiving smaller amounts.

"This study is the first picture of the true scale of plastic pollution in the Great Lakes," said Matthew Hoffman, assistant professor in RIT's School of Mathematical Sciences and lead author of the study.

Plastic pollution in Lake Michigan is approximately the equivalent of 100 Olympic-sized pools full of plastic bottles dumped into the lake every year.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

4187193883 eb94c5f123 zInstead of falsely claiming that there is a "war on Christmas," why not support peace? (Photo: John)

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The longstanding right-wing propaganda crusade against a nonexistent "war on Christmas" has gained new steam during the campaign and election of Donald Trump. According to a December 20 Christian Science Monitor article, FOX News began promoting the false meme about secular liberals attacking Christmas (and, more broadly, Christians) about a decade ago.  The embedding of the "truthy" notion that there are hostile forces attacking Christmas got an extra boost when Bill O'Reilly took it on as a cause, hammering the accusation home in his TV show and writing.

According to the The Christian Science Monitor report, Donald Trump's adoption of the call to end the "war on Christmas" accusation has boosted it substantially:

But while discourse surrounding the "war on Christmas" has taken place primarily on Fox News and conservative talk radio shows in the past, this year the pro-"Merry Christmas" faction gained a voice on the national political stage thanks to a powerful ally: President-elect Donald Trump. Mr. Trump's adoption of the cause speaks to the concerns of conservative supporters who see a broader persecution of Christians in America and political correctness run amok. But once he takes office, Trump's explicit support of the holiday has the potential to expand beyond rhetoric into concrete political action.

"The 'war on Christmas' discourse sounds similar notes each season, so it's less the discourse that has changed than the context and the stakes," says Kevin Coe, an associate professor of communication at the University of Utah, in an email to The Christian Science Monitor. "More so than in the past, the 'war on Christmas' is connected to perceptions of a broader 'war on Christianity.'"

In essence, evoking a phony "war" against a religious holiday allows Christians who feel besieged by a multicultural world to feel that they are victims -- that their religion and personal beliefs are being belittled and censored. It is very consistent with Trump's appeal to the sense of white Christian victimhood that he manipulated to his advantage throughout the election, and continues to manipulate in the transitional period before he assumes the office of president.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016 06:18

Jim Hightower: What Is the "Trump Fix"?

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Crown 1221wrp opt(Photo: Gryffindor)In Donald Trump's presidential campaign, it was his frequent, unbridled slaps at Wall Street elites and arrogant, job-busting corporate executives that gave him the "populistic" patina he needed to win. But wait a minute: Who are those guys escorting The Donald into the Oval Office?

Oh, my God, they're Wall Street elites and arrogant corporate executives! Trump campaigned on the theme of remaking Washington by "draining the swamp" of pay-to-play corporate favoritism and cronyism. But those swamp critters are the very ones who are buying favors from the president-to-be by putting up tens of millions of dollars to pay for his inaugural extravaganza and his transition operation.

The transition team itself, which is literally shaping and staffing our next national government, is a viper's nest of pay-to-play corporate interests. The teams setting up the various agencies and writing their agendas are dominated by top operatives from anti-worker corporations and from the same Wall Streeters whose casino-style speculation crashed our economy in 2007 and crushed the middle class. Now they are on the inside, deciding who will fill more than 4,000 executive positions and run our government.

Some 850 of these corporate high rollers and lobbyists huddled with Trump early this month for a fundraiser at a posh Manhattan restaurant to pay for putting together his government — and theirs . The room was filled with moneyed elites, such as Paul Singer, the hedge-fund billionaire and extremist laissez-faire ideologue. These are not people who are going to finance any sort of working-class populism; they instead intend to use The Donald's victory to impose a plutocracy over America.

2016.20.12 BF Chow2(Photo: Torrey Wiley)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

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So much for separating business and politics. A Texas nonprofit co-chaired by notorious hunting enthusiasts Donald Jr. and Eric Trump will be hosting a wildlife-themed event to celebrate their father's incoming presidency. Donors who drop between $500,000 to $1 million will be entered for a chance to win multi-day hunting and/or fishing trips with the Trumps -- all in the name of "conservation."

TMZ posted a copy of the invitation of the "Opening Day 2017" fundraiser with the dress code "Camouflage and Cufflinks." It will take place at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC on Jan. 21, a day after Donald Trump's presidential inauguration.

According to the invitation, donors who donate $1 million for the "Bald Eagle" package will have a chance to win a private reception and photo opportunity with the President-elect, as well as a multi-day hunting and/or fishing excursion with Donald Trump. Jr. and/or Eric Trump, among other glitzy prizes. For $500,000, the "Grizzly bear" package offers a scaled down version of the hunting trip.

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