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Eurofire 0806wrpWildfires in Europe. (Photo: 15615 / Flickr)

DR. MEL GURTOV FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

By now we're accustomed to learning that every year brings record high temperatures around the world. Extreme weather, says Prof. Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University, "is the face of climate change. We literally would not have seen these extremes in the absence of climate change. The impacts of climate change are no longer subtle. We are seeing them play out in real time and what is happening this summer is a perfect example of that. We are seeing our predictions come true. As a scientist that is reassuring, but as a citizen of planet Earth, it is very distressing to see that as it means we have not taken the necessary action."

Ordinary folks, rich and poor, who live in low-lying areas such as port cities and towns on rivers and coastlines, and in certain forested areas, are in increasing danger of losing their homes—and possibly their lives—to floods and fires. But members of the governing and business elite always have the option to move away from flood and fire zones, not to mention pollution and hurricanes. So where's their incentive to think ahead and about others' wellbeing?  They need to be called to account!

 Hiroshima Peace Walkers Maya Evans 2Okinawa to Hiroshima Peace Walk. (Photo: Maya Evans)

MAYA EVANS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

I have just arrived in Hiroshima with a group of Japanese "Okinawa to Hiroshima peace walkers" who had spent nearly two months walking Japanese roads protesting U.S. militarism. While we were walking, an Afghan peace march that had set off in May was enduring 700km of Afghan roadsides, poorly shod, from Helmand province to Afghanistan's capital of Kabul. Our march watched the progress of theirs with interest and awe. The unusual Afghan group had started off as 6 individuals, emerging out of a sit-in protest and hunger strike in the Helmand provincial capital Lashkar Gah, after a suicide attack there created dozens of casualties. As they started walking their numbers soon swelled to 50 plus as the group braved roadside bombs, fighting between warring parties and exhaustion from desert walking during the strict fast month of Ramadan.

The Afghan march, which is believed to be the first of its kind, is asking for a long-term ceasefire between warring parties and the withdrawal of foreign troops. One peace walker, named Abdullah Malik Hamdard, felt that he had nothing to lose by joining the march. He said: "Everybody thinks they will be killed soon, the situation for those alive is miserable. If you don't die in the war, the poverty caused by the war may kill you, which is why I think the only option left for me is to join the peace convoy."

WindFarm 0803wrp(Photo: steeedm / Flickr) 

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Renewable energy is truly getting cheaper every day. The 800-megawatt wind farm Vineyard Wind project, the first large-scale offshore wind farm in the U.S., has offered a total levelized price of $65 per megawatt-hour (MWh)—a record low.

The planned wind farm, located 15 mies south of Martha's Vineyard, will be jointly developed by Avangrid Inc. and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners. Their contract was filed Wednesday with the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities.

In all, Massachusetts electricity users will save about $1.4 billion over the 20-year duration of the contract, Bloomberg reported.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

trumprallyTrump uses rallies to solidify an authoritarian base. (Photo: Michael Vadon)

Since the beginning of his campaign, Donald Trump has been determined to create a base of supporters who would support his authoritarian leadership without question. In this quest, he has largely succeeded. His tactics of identifying so-called enemies -- including non-white immigrants, people of color more generally, the alleged "deep state," Mueller and the Special Counsel's office as a whole, etc. -- are a means to consolidate cult-like control over the 35 to 42 percent of the voters who see him as a singular strongman to "Make America White Again." His tweets and rally statements serve to reinforce his stentorian leadership over a base of white voters who feel besieged by the changing demographics of the nation.

Although it is simplistic to make an analogy of Trumpism to Nazism, one can say with certainty that Trump -- knowingly or unknowingly -- follows some of the same propaganda techniques as Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's propaganda minister. One glaring example is how Trump tenaciously utilizes Goebbels' promotion of the big lie, as quoted here by Goebbels:

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.

OLIVIA ROSANE OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

6019737826 280d4fd29a methodshop .com /WikiCommons

Deadly heat waves are breaking records and making headlines around the world this summer, but they have nothing on the heat waves that the North China Plain is likely to see in the future if we don't act now to combat climate change.

A study published in Nature Communications Tuesday found that if we do nothing to curb emissions, China's most populous and agriculturally important region could see heat waves deadly even for healthy people by 2100.

"China is currently the largest contributor to the emissions of greenhouse gases, with potentially serious implications to its own population: Continuation of the current pattern of global emissions may limit habitability of the most populous region of the most populous country on Earth," study authors Elfatih A. B. Eltahir of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Suchul Kang of the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology wrote.

Thursday, 02 August 2018 06:44

Border Security: Wall vs. Principles

ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

800px May Day Immigration March LA37 Jonathan McIntosh /WikiCommons

Consider the limited thinking that produces a concept such as "border security." The essential assumption here is that the United States of America is primarily a physical container – three and a half million square miles of freedom and prosperity, whoopee, but the supply is limited. Sorry, have-nots, we don't have room for you.

The border agents, presumably, are protecting all the exclusive goodies that constitute America. 

With this assumption in place in the American mind, the concept of an "open border" is horrifying, conjuring up a land rush of the planet's wretched refuse, sort of on the order of the Europeans' land rush of earlier centuries that displaced the continent's native inhabitants. (What goes around comes around. Most people have at least a subconscious awareness of this.)

Penguin 0801wrpA King Penguin ckick. (Photo: Amanda Graham / Flickr)

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

The world's largest colony of king penguins declined nearly 90 percent in the last three decades, researchers announced Monday.

The colony inhabits France's subantarctic Île aux Cochons or Pig Island. Observations from the 1980s showed that it was once home to 2 million king penguins, making it the planet's largest colony of the species, and also the second largest colony of all penguins.

However, new satellite images and aerial photographs taken from a helicopter show that the colony's breeding grounds have been overrun by vegetation, according to a paper published in the journal Antarctic Science.

Wednesday, 01 August 2018 07:29

Let's Tax the Rich

Tax 0801wrp"Monopoly" in real life. (Photo: Ken Teegardin / Flickr)

LAWRENCE WITTNER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Progressive income taxes―designed to fund government services and facilities—go back centuries, and are based on the idea that taxes should be levied most heavily on people with the ability to pay them. In the United States, the federal government introduced its first income tax in 1861, to cover the costs of the Civil War. Although new federal income tax legislation in the 1890s was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, the resulting public controversy led, in 1913, to passage of the sixteenth amendment to the Constitution, firmly establishing the legality of an income tax.

The progressive income tax―levied, at its inception, only on the wealthiest Americans―was a key demand and political success of the Populist and Progressive reformers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As might be expected, most of the wealthy regarded it with intense hostility, especially as the substantial costs of World War I sent their tax rates soaring. The development of jobs programs and other public services during the New Deal, capped by the vast costs of World War II and the early Cold War, meant that, by the 1950s, although most Americans paid income taxes at a modest rate, the official tax rate for Americans with the highest incomes stood at about 91 percent.

Of course, the richest Americans didn't actually pay at that rate, thanks to a variety of deductions, loopholes, and its application to only the highest increment of their income. Even so, like many of the wealthy throughout history, they deeply resented paying a portion of their income to benefit other people―people whom they often regarded as inferior to themselves. Consequently, cutting taxes for the rich became one of their top political priorities.

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

EPAsaveThe Superfund toxic cleanup program is threatened by corporate pro-pollution policies. (AFGE)

Peter C. Wright -- the attorney appointed by Trump to head the EPA Superfund toxic cleanup program -- may have had over a decade of personal experience in working on cleanups, but there is cause for grave concern over his appointment: Wright was a lead attorney for none other than Dow Chemical Company in representing the corporation against the EPA's compliance orders.

According to a July 28 article in the New York Times, Wright's record for Dow involves protecting the polluting companies from the EPA, while allowing for some minimal compliance. The Times notes:

While he led Dow’s legal strategy there, the chemical giant was accused by regulators, and in one case a Dow engineer, of submitting disputed data, misrepresenting scientific evidence and delaying cleanup, according to internal documents and court records as well as interviews with more than a dozen people involved in the project....

The lawyer, Peter C. Wright, was nominated in March by President Trump to be assistant administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency overseeing the Superfund program, which was created decades ago to clean up the nation’s most hazardous toxic waste sites. He is already working at the agency in an advisory role as he awaits congressional approval. If confirmed, Mr. Wright would also oversee the emergency response to chemical spills and other hazardous releases nationwide...

He spent 19 years at Dow, one of the world’s largest chemical makers, and once described himself in a court deposition as “the company’s dioxin lawyer.”

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

800px Charlottesville Unite the Right Rally 35780276094An image from last year’s Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. Anthony Crider /WikiCommons

After having been denied a permit for a Unite the Right 2 rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on the one-year anniversary of the torch-carrying, swastika-bearing Unite the Right rally last year -- where Heather Heyer was killed -- Jason Kessler, the alt-right activist who was the lead organizer of the white nationalists' protests last August, decided not to fight that decision. Instead, on July 24, Kessler tweeted: "The latest update on #UTR2 is that we're going to be focusing exclusively on Washington, D.C. on August 12. Be ready by 2 p.m. that Sunday and check the email list for updates on the meetup location."

This year's rally is being billed as a defense of "white civil rights." "What I'm really trying to do is start a new movement," Kessler said. "I feel like the 'alt-right' has been a symbol for neo-Nazism." Although the theme is white rights, he said the rally is "open to everybody." However, several prominent alt-right and white nationalists, including Richard Spencer, have already indicated they would not appear at Unite the Right 2. 

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