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DR. HAKIM YOUNG FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Piling 1115wrp optDigging a well in Kabul. (Photo: Dr. Hakim Young)"My family's water well has dried up," 18-year-old Surkh Gul said.

"Ours too," echoed 13-year-old Inaam.

A distressed Surkh Gul lamented, "We have to fetch water from the public well along the main road, but that water is muddy, not fit for drinking. I get bottled water for my two-year-old daughter. At least someone in the family should stay healthy."

Inaam chipped in, "Fortunately, for now, the water that we fetch from a nearby mosque is clean."

A U.S. and Afghan Geological Survey of Kabul Basin's water resources found that about half of the shallow groundwater supply wells could become dry by 2050 due to declining recharge and stream-flows under projected climate change.

Published in Guest Commentary

EMERSON URRY OF ENVIRONEWS ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Radioactive 1115wrp opt(Photo: Reyhan Dhuny / Flickr)An airborne plume of radioactive ruthenium 106 from a nuclear accident was detected "in the atmosphere of the majority of European countries," from late September through mid-October, according to France's Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety Institute (IRSN) — but the source is still unknown. As of November 10, 2017, the manmade element has been identified in at least 28 countries.

While many news agencies are calling the cloud "harmless" and reporting the good news — that radiation levels are low and that no health consequences have been observed — radiation experts tell EnviroNews the scene may not be so peachy at ground zero where the release occurred. The question is: where exactly is ground zero?

In a report, the IRSN used wind and weather patterns, coupled with readouts from radiation monitoring stations throughout Europe, to deduce the "most plausible zone of release lies between the [Volga River] and the [Ural Mountains]." According to NPR, Jean-Christophe Gariel, Director for Health at the IRSN, said, the plume "has been traced to somewhere along the Russia-Kazakhstan border."

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HASSAN EL-TAYYAB FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Missile 1114wrp opt(Photo: Farrukh / Flickr)The escalating war of words between Trump and Kim Jong-un has put the world in more imminent danger of nuclear holocaust than at any time since the end of the Cold War. The US should revisit a vital proposal, known as the "freeze for freeze" approach, which offers the best hope for jump starting diplomacy with North Korea and turning our nation back from the brink.

Under this proposal, the US and South Korea would freeze their joint military exercises in the region in exchange for North Korea freezing its testing of ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads. This would achieve highly desirable goals for both nations, namely assurances for the US that North Korea is not making progress towards a nuclear-tipped ICBM that can reliably strike the US mainland, and assurances for North Korea that the US and South Korea are not preparing for war.

North Korea has already voiced willingness to consider a "freeze for freeze" approach. During a June 21 interview, North Korean Ambassador Key Chun-yong explained that "Under certain circumstances, we are willing to talk in terms of freezing nuclear testing or missile testing. For instance, if the American side completely stops big, large-scale military exercises temporarily or permanently, then we will also temporarily stop." Russia and Germany have also voiced support this proposal, as have American nuclear policy experts like former Secretary of Defense William Perry.

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LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Lineman 1113wrp optPhoto: Cara / Flickr)Whitefish Energy, the controversial energy firm repairing Puerto Rico's hurricane-wrecked power grid, is under fresh scrutiny for charging the island's power authority hundreds of dollars more per hour than its linemen receive.

The New York Times reported that the tiny Montana-based company—which doesn't have many of its own employees—contracted electrical workers from Florida at rates that range from $42 to $100 per hour, with an average rate of $63. Whitefish, however, has been charging the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) $319 an hour for each worker.

The Times pointed out that $319 per hour is wildly above the industry standard, even for emergency work. Notably, the rate is 17 times higher than what it would have cost to hire a lineman in Puerto Rico.

Whitefish spokesman Chris Chiames defended its costs to the newspaper, explaining that "simply looking at the rate differential does not take into account Whitefish's overhead costs" built into the rate.

Published in Guest Commentary

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Pizza 1110wrp optPizza 1110wrp optFreedom of speech? Pizza sales? Freedom of speech? Pizza sales? For John Schnatter, founder and CEO of Papa John's International Inc., the hell with freedom of speech when business is down 8.5 percent. In 2010, Schnatter, a significant donor to President Donald Trump, a combatant in the administration's war against government regulations, and a vigorous critic of Obamacare, paid enough money to have his pizza designated the official pizza of the NFL. He is also the seemingly happy-go-lucky guy hamming it up in commercials alongside former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning. And to top it all off, Papa John's has been designated the "official pizza of the alt-right," a claim it quickly and vigorously distanced itself from.

Schnatter knows whose to blame for the pizza dip; NFL players protesting police brutality and racial injustice, and the feeble response by NFL owners and commissioner Roger Goodell. If it was up to Schnatter, the protest "should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago."

"The NFL has hurt us by not resolving the current debacle to the players' and owners' satisfaction," Schnatter, the company's CEO said on a conference call, according to Bloomberg News. "NFL leadership has hurt Papa John's shareholders."

According to Bloomberg News, "It's hard to quantify the connection between the NFL and pizza sales, but Papa John's did post disappointing results in the latest quarter. … [as] [i]ts shares fell as much as 13 percent … -- the most in two years -- after same-store sales missed analysts' estimates." The company, which is headquartered in Jeffersontown, Kentucky, a suburb of Louisville, and is the third largest take-out and pizza delivery restaurant chain in the United States, "trimmed its revenue and profit forecasts for the year."

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DAVID LEESTMA OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Pacific 1108wrp optThe Pacific Ocean seen from space. (Photo: blueforce4116 / Flickr)The Trump administration is considering cutting protections for two national monuments lying south of Hawaii in the central Pacific. The decision, scientists warn, will threaten reefs across the Pacific.

The move, according to a memo from Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke obtained by the Washington Post in September, would "allow commercial fishing" in the Pacific Remote Islands National Marine Monument and the Rose Atoll National Marine Monument.

The monuments, both created by former president Bush, protect the waters of a scattering of mostly uninhabited Islands south of Hawaii.

Although the shore reefs of these islands have long enjoyed protection from commercial fishing, the monument designations extended that protection between 50 and 200 miles from shore.

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LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Challenges 1108wrp opt(Photo: Chris Tse / Flickr)Two Philadelphia-area children are suing President Donald Trump and two of his climate skeptic cabinet members, Energy Sec. Rick Perry and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt, to try to stop them from rolling back existing environmental protections including the Clean Power Plan.

The plaintiffs, ages 7 and 11, are backed by the Clean Air Council, Philadelphia's oldest environmental non-profit. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on Monday.

The complaint alleges that the Trump administration's reliance on "junk science" to undo climate regulations are a threat to the young plaintiffs and other U.S. citizens.

The children are only identified by their first and last initials in the court papers. Seven-year-old plaintiff "S.B." claims to be suffering from medical issues, including severe seasonal allergies that cause recurrent nosebleeds and vomiting, that are "directly impacted by the climate" and "as a result of Defendants' affirmative acts in causing increased climate."

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PAT ELDER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Recruiters 1101wrp opt(Photo: Debra Sweet / Flickr)More than a hundred mothers have contacted me over the years, alarmed at the relationships their teenaged children were developing with military recruiters at school. They wanted to know what they could do about it. They were angry, and they were worried.

The fact these women reached out to me and other counter-recruitment activists demonstrates the degree of alarm they experienced. They feared their vulnerable children would enlist against their wishes. They were terrified their child would be killed while they stood by. This was the driving force of their resistance.

Several mothers told me they deeply resented the presence of military recruiters in their child's school and they described the influence recruiters were having over their child's thinking and behavior. They talked about difficult relationships they had with their children. Some said their child had forged close relationships with recruiters at school for over two years. These moms were certain their sons were going to enlist because their boys knew the pain it would inflict on their mothers.

In America, only a few are willing to risk public scorn for their opposition to the U.S. military or war in general. However, many of these mothers were hostile, like cornered prey protecting their young.

Published in Guest Commentary
Wednesday, 01 November 2017 07:38

Peace in Afghanistan From the Ground Up

KATHY KELLY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Mothers 1101wrp optAfghan mothers. (Photo: Afghan Peace Volunteers / Kathy Kelly)On a recent Friday at the Afghan Peace Volunteers' (APV) Borderfree Center, here in Kabul, thirty mothers sat cross-legged along the walls of a large meeting room. Masoumah, who co-coordinates the Center's "Street Kids School" project, had invited the mothers to a parents meeting. Burka-clad women who wore the veil over their faces looked identical to me, but Masoumah called each mother by name, inviting the mothers, one by one, to speak about difficulties they faced. From inside the netted opening of a burka, we heard soft voices and, sometimes, sheer despair. Others who weren't wearing burkas also spoke gravely. Their eyes expressed pain and misery, and some quietly wept. Often a woman's voice would break, and she would have to pause before she could continue:

"I have debts that I cannot pay," whispered the first woman.

"My children and I are always moving from place to place. I don't know what will happen."

"I am afraid we will die in an explosion."

"My husband is paralyzed and cannot work. We have no money for food, for fuel."

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MILO SHIFRA KESSELMAN GIOVANNIELLO FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Cops 1031wrp opt(Photo: Andrew Chang / Flickr)Last week, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) hosted their annual conference and exposition in Philadelphia, bringing together more than 10,000 law enforcement officers, major arms suppliers and weapons distributors. The IACP, an organization of police chiefs and other law enforcement officials, has long been responsible for promoting police practices that systematically violate the civil, constitutional and human rights of Black people and other people of color.

At the conference, companies profiting from the Trump administration's intensified targeting and surveillance of communities of color had the opportunity to present their newest tactics and tools. One such company was ELTA North America, the US subsidiary of an Israeli defense manufacturer and one of four companies selected to build aprototype of Trump's wall on the US/Mexico border.

The IACP conference bills itself as offering "gentler, reformist" policing methods through workshops like "Community-Police Relations and Public Trust." But for a long time, groups representing the communities most directly impacted by police violence have said these presentations are a dangerous farce, aimed at promoting the illusion that policing can be made less harmful through better training or by recruiting different individuals, when in fact the system of policing is designed to target and control communities of color. That weekend, there were powerful demonstrations and teach-insorganized byPhilly for REAL Justiceand other Philadelphia-based groups in opposition to the conference, bringing the message that the only way to end police violence is to abolish policing.

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