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OLIVIA ROSANE OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTH

8183932054 7ace56d5b5 zSan Francisco and the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge. Doc Searls/Flickr

In a blow to the climate liability movement, Federal Judge William Alsup on Monday threw out a trendsetting lawsuit brought by the cities of Oakland and San Francisco against the five biggest fossil-fuel producing companies, The New York Times reported.

The two Bay Area cities were the first major U.S. cities to sue big oil over the costs of adapting to climate change, but other cities and counties around the country, including New York, Boulder and Seattle's King County, have followed their lead for a current total of 11 such lawsuits on the books.

Alsup, of the Federal District Court in San Francisco, stemmed the tide of the movement with his decision, ruling that the courts were not the appropriate place to decide issues relating to climate change.

"The problem deserves a solution on a more vast scale than can be supplied by a district judge or jury in a public nuisance case," Alsup wrote in his opinion, according to The New York Times.

Alsup acknowledged the scientific consensus surrounding human-caused climate change and agreed that it posed a significant risk to the planet, but did not think it was ultimately fair to hold the defendants―Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, BP and Royal Dutch Shell―responsible for supplying a global demand for energy that had transformed the modern world.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

8283138407 89ca65a832 zThe NRA will get its way with foreign gun sales. (Photo: Edward Kimmel)

The National Rifle Association (NRA) is a behemoth of campaign giving, almost all to Republicans. According to a February Los Angeles Times article, in the last election, its campaign arm contributed millions of dollars to Donald Trump, who considers the NRA members as representatives of a key contributor constituency. As the Times reported, "The 2016 election marked a high point in electoral spending by the NRA and its affiliate, the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, with donations totaling $54 million. Much of that was devoted to the presidential campaign." According to the Times, some $30 million of that amount went to assist Trump in defeating Hillary Clinton in the electoral college. Furthermore, the NRA's campaign expenditures have been increasing over the years.

It's the NRA's campaign spending that almost certainly poses the biggest roadblock to legislation that would stem the tide of gun violence in America. From 2010 through 2018 thus far, the organization donated $111 million to political campaigns of federal candidates.

Then there is the NRA Institute for Legislative Action's lobbying expenses, which the Los Angeles Times details:

The NRA's annual lobbying expenditures come to millions of dollars a year: Gun rights advocacy groups, of which the NRA is the kingpin, spent more than $135 million on lobbying in 1998-2017, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Gun manufacturers spent an additional $21 million. Those figures swamped the spending of gun control advocacy groups, which mustered only about $19 million in that period.

The gun lobby is strengthened by its affiliation with the right-wing libertarian lobby. In 2014, for example, the NRA Institute for Legislative Action received a $4.9-million donation from what was then known as the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, which is affiliated with the Koch brothers. The president of Freedom Partners at the time was Marc Short, who is currently President Trump's director of legislative affairs — in other words, his chief lobbyist on Capitol Hill.

These are just a few of the examples of how Trump is joined at the hip with the NRA, and to paraphrase an expression, he's giving away the gun store. 

 

Spill 0625wrpOil spill. (Photo: Gloson Teh / Flickr)

OLIVIA ROSANE OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

A train derailment spilled 230,000 gallons of crude oil into an already-flooded Iowa river Friday, endangering downstream drinking water, the Des Moines Register reported Sunday.

Thirty-two cars of a Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) train derailed, 14 of which leaked crude oil into the Rock River in Doon, Iowa. The cause of the derailment is unknown, but officials including Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds attributed it to heavy rain Wednesday and Thursday which led to flooding.

To aid recovery from extreme weather and its consequences, including the derailment, Reynolds issued a proclamation of disaster emergency Saturday for Lyon County, where the train derailed, as well as Plymouth, Sioux and Woodbury counties.

(Photo: Will Munger)(Photo: Will Munger)

BROOKE LARSEN AND WILL MUNGER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

The current map of drought conditions across the Colorado Plateau shows a sea of deep, bright red. According to the US drought monitor, the Four Corners region is in exceptional drought. As fires burn up the San Juan National Forest and rivers that quench the region's thirst near record lows, it's hard to not fall into complete despair at early signs of climate chaos. However, alongside heat waves and low water flows, a rising movement for climate justice invites hope.

The Colorado Plateau, the high desert of the American Southwest, has long been an energy sacrifice zone. More than 90 percent of the public lands in the Greater Chaco region of northwest New Mexico have been leased to oil and gas. The last uranium mill in the country rises a couple miles north of the Ute Mountain Ute White Mesa community. Coal mining on Black Mesa continues to deplete and contaminate precious water resources for the Diné and Hopi people. The region exists at the frontlines of extreme extraction. The people of the Colorado Plateau remain far from idle, though. The rising movement for a just transition away from fossil fuels builds off decades and centuries of resistance while responding to new challenges climate change poses. In May, we witnessed a constellation of interconnected movements while supporting actions sprouting across the Colorado Plateau.

Friday, 22 June 2018 08:00

What Do Those People Want? Progress!

Corners 0622wrpWhere is the Democratic Party? (Photo: nikki / Flickr)

JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Where is the Democratic Party? The Party of the People is stuck in the status quo—- the still reigning, old-line hierarchy of the Democratic party is unwilling to just be dedicated to well, to the democratic interests of its own political base. People know from real-life experience that the economy has been rigged against them for the benefit of the uber-rich and the political system has been totally corrupted by the bipartisan pay-to-play ethic that protects the status quo from interference by us commoners. While Republicans are a wholly-owned corporate subsidiary, unabashedly dedicated the narrow interests of the moneyed elites, the Dems' congressional elders, key party officials, entrenched consultants and corporate funders continue to push bland, business-as-usual candidates running on a pusillanimous policy agenda of vague "reforms" that don't actually change anything. Then the party establishment wonders why such people stray or stay home in November!

What do those people want?

Progress! Meaning a national commitment to advance the economic, political and social circumstances of the American majority of workday families and poor people. Yes, that requires major change, and that will definitely make powerful enemies among wealthy elites plotting to impose Koch-style plutocratic rule over our society. Nonetheless, most voters want BIG populist changes in government policy that will lift up average Americans and hold down corporate greed and abuse.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

trumpchildrenjpgTrump's separation of children from their parents is likely to be permanent for a great many of them. (Photo: Melbourne Streets Avant-Garde)

On Wednesday writer Jesse Mechanic wrote a provocative commentary on BuzzFlash accusing Donald Trump of being kidnapper-in-chief. To some, the assertion may seem hyperbolic, but Mechanic made a strong case that Trump fits the profile of a kidnapper:

A kidnapper takes a child and holds them until the kidnapper gets what he or she wants. Trump wants full funding for his border wall. A wall which, it's worth noting, was supposed to be paid for in full by Mexico. He's essentially saying, When I get my reform bill passed, I'll let the kids free.

That is a pretty compelling argument that the president of the United States engaged in kidnapping in the name of the state. This was the United States government -- our government -- that forcibly snatched children from their parents, in essence kidnapping children for political objectives.

Yes, Trump backed down this week after lacerating criticism from family advocates, the media, politicians on both sides of the aisle (although only a few Republicans), and a solid majority of the US public. He replaced his policy that had removed more than 2,000 children traveling as refugees from their parents as they crossed into the United States.

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

straws 3193715 960 720Seattle’s effort to ban disposal plastic food service ware had been in the books since 2010. manfredrichter /Pixabay

Starting next month, Seattle eateries will no longer provide plastic straws, utensils and cocktail picks to customers.

Starting next month, Seattle eateries will no longer provide plastic straws, utensils and cocktail picks to customers.

"As of July 1, 2018, food services businesses should not be providing plastic straws or utensils," Sego Jackson, the strategic advisor for Waste Prevention and Product Stewardship for Seattle Public Utilities told Q13 FOX. "What they should be providing are compostable straws or compostable utensils. But they also might be providing durables, reusables, or encouraging you to skip the straw altogether."

There are roughly 5,000 eateries in the city, meaning the new ordinance could potentially make a big impact. Lonely Whale's Strawless in Seattle campaign in September eliminated 2.3 million plastic straws—and that was just from 150 participating restaurants and venues in that month alone, EcoWatch has learned. 

Thursday, 21 June 2018 06:39

Trump, Kim and the Nuclear Status Quo

ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

trump 2815558 960 720Trump’s and Kim Jong Un held their historic meeting on June 12, 2018. Pixabay

Peace, love and Donald Trump?

I get the skepticism regarding the tentative nuclear disarmament agreement the president and Kim Jong-un reached last week, but not the cynicism — not the outright dismissal.

It’s too easy to hate Trump, but he isn’t the point. In his reckless unpredictability — in his lust for applause and desperation to steal headlines from the Robert Mueller investigation — he snatched an opportunity to meet with the leader of North Korea . . . “Little Rocket Man” . . . and talk about reducing the danger of nuclear war. Say what?

It hardly seems possible — but maybe Trump has a mission far beyond anything he himself envisions: visiting creative destruction, you might say, on the planet’s geopolitical infrastructure, loosening the certainties of nationalism and armed self-defense. Perhaps the salvation of Planet Earth begins with cluelessness and ego: a superpower leader who has no idea what he’s doing. 

“It is unclear if President Trump knew the full implications of accepting a meeting with Kim or the fact that a direct meeting with the leader of the United States was a prize three generations in the making,” Alexandra Bell, senior policy director at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, wrote recently in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists newsletter. “It is also unclear if President Trump had a grand design for a nuclear agreement with North Korea in mind all along, or if he was equally willing to go to war. 

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

pruittcoloradoStates are fighting back against Scott Pruitt's intent to roll back auto emission standards. (Photo: Victoria Pickering)

As BuzzFlash has pointed out before, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt may be best known as an inveterate freeloader living the high life off of taxpayer dollars, but that narrative obscures the wrecking ball he is swinging through the environment. Pruitt is rolling back EPA regulations that are meant to reduce climate change (by decreasing standards on coal-fired power plant pollution, for instance) and proposing a decrease in goals for reducing car pollution.

As another example of the gutting of aggressive environmental enforcement, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) reports that criminal prosecution for violating EPA regulations is decreasing rapidly:

Belying Scott Pruitt’s claims to be a tough polluter prosecutor, criminal enforcement by his U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is in a freefall, according to figures posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The number of criminal investigators assigned to pollution cases continues to drop and virtually every measure of criminal enforcement under Pruitt is lower than it has been since the 1990s – and sinking.

At the same time, Pruitt has tripled the number of agents assigned to his 24/7 security detail, spending record amounts on travel and overtime. He also has this outsized escort run personal errands and turn on their sirens so he can cut through city traffic.

By contrast, the number of EPA criminal investigators as of April 2018 has dropped to 140.

So it should be no surprise that the EPA has submitted new guidelines that would lower the national requirements for automakers to reduce auto emissions. 

Wednesday, 20 June 2018 08:34

Donald Trump: Kidnapper-in-Chief

Teddy 0620wrp(Photo: Nick Greenbank / Flickr)

JESSE MECHANIC FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

The president of the United States is a kidnapper. This is not hyperbole or clickbait; it's the truth. Donald Trump and his administration are tearing children from their parents, locking them in cages and holding them for ransom. This is not a theory; he's said this is what he's doing multiple times.

Here's a recent example.

A kidnapper takes a child and holds them until the kidnapper gets what they want. Trump wants full funding for his border wall. A wall which, it's worth noting, was supposed to be paid for in full by Mexico. He's essentially saying, When I get my reform bill passed, I'll let the kids free.

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