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5160165148 19cb91e701 z Issac Kohane/Flickr

A pilot whale died in southern Thailand last week after swallowing 17 pounds of plastic waste, despite a five-day effort to save the animal's life.

A necropsy revealed that the plastic debris, which included 80 plastic bags, clogged the whale's stomach, Reuters reported.

The whale was found in critical condition in a canal near Thailand's border with Malaysia on May 28. Photos posted on Thai Whales' Facebook page show a group of people tending to the whale and trying to keep it afloat.

According to Thailand's Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, the whale vomited five plastic bags on Friday and eventually died that afternoon.

"This plastic rubbish made the whale sick and unable to hunt for food," the department said on its website.

Grisly photos on the marine department's Facebook page show dozens of black plastic bags exhumed from the whale.

"Ask your heart to see if you're still going to dump the trash," the post stated.


Mill 0604wrp(Photo: Bryan Geonzon / Flickr)


Ten years after the recession, most Americans, including Baby Boomers, are still struggling with finances. The Wall Street Journal, cheerleader for capitalist-driven recoveries, noted that Millennials, Gen-Xers, and Boomers are all still poorer than in 2007. But the incredible prosperity of about 10% of the Boomers is beyond dispute, as the numbers below will show. Most of those lucky people are older white males.

Booming Economy? Yes, for the Richest 10%, Who Took 85 Percent of the New Wealth

In the past eight years, the 1% gained $6.75 million each, the 2-10% gained $700,000 each, and the poorest 50% of American adults LOST an average of $3,000 each. The bottom 50%, which includes most of the indebted Millennials, saw their average net worth fall to about $8,000. That's the average wealth of people in many developing nations. Part of the reason is the refusal by employers to pay a living wage. The wages of America's poorest 50% have remained stagnant since the recession, continuing a 40 year trend.

Jesus 0604wrp(Photo: Secret Sinai / Flickr)


A 28-year old associate pastor with the First Baptist Church of Palo Alto, California, has righteously called out hypocrisy of liberals in Silicon Valley. Pastor Gregory Stevens held nothing back in a series of tweets: "Palo Alto is an elitist shit den of hate," Stevens wrote, in one tweet. "Any church that's not explicitly anti-capitalist isn't a church. It's a social club," he wrote in another.

Those tweets – which surfaced ahead of a city council meeting -- were followed soon after by his resignation, which was then followed by Pastor Stevens getting a smidgeon of Roseanne Barr/Samantha Bee-like national attention.

Stevens has an interesting story. He grew up in a conservative Christian family in Florida. He also grew up gay. As The Atlantic's Alana Semuels recently reported: "After finishing seminary at the progressive Claremont School of Theology, in Southern California, Stevens got a job as a pastor in Palo Alto, one of the wealthiest communities in the country, where the median family income is around $163,000 and the median home price is over $3 million."

Perhaps naïve, Stevens expected that wealthy liberals in Silicon Valley gave more then lip service to the issues they cared about. He certainly did his part to get community youths involved in activism. According to Semuels, Stevens "created a chapter of the Food Not Bombs meal-share group, planted a Black Lives Matter sign in the church's yard (it was promptly stolen), and set about preaching what he believed: that to truly help eradicate inequality, people needed to rethink capitalism."

Graham 0601wrpRev. Franklin Graham. (Photo: Matt Johnson / Flickr)


It's not Coachella, Bottle Rocket, or even San Francisco's up-coming Clusterfest comedy festival, but Franklin Graham is bringing a festival-like atmosphere to California with his 10-stop, three-bus caravan, Decision America tour featuring highly produced videos, Christian singers, laser light shows, and preaching from Graham himself. With a Bible in one hand and primary ballots in the other, Graham's Decision America tour is timed to put a dent in what he calls, the state's "blue wall."

In his first series of major events since the death of his father, the Reverend Billy Graham, Franklin Graham, the often un-hinged weapon of mass derision, will top off his tour with an appearance in Berkeley this weekend. Graham's political agenda is more like the second coming of Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority and Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition, rather than his father's less than enthusiastic embrace of politics, as he is encouraging evangelical Christians to get politically organized and run for office to beat back such things as sex-education programs in the schools and the so-called LGBTQ agenda.  

"If every church here put up one person for school board, got behind them financially and helped them to run, you could take over your school board," Graham has said. "If this happened in every community, in 10 years you could see a difference politically in this state."


hungryjpgday2Without a change in our capitalistic economic system, hunger will persist. (Photo: Justin See)

World Hunger Day came and went on May 28, but you would be hard put to find mention of it in the mass media. That is remarkably negligent considering that approximately 800 million people are estimated to go hungry everyday. That is according to the World Hunger Day website, which also notes that an estimated 60 percent of the world's hungry are women and 96 percent are in developing nations.

However, hunger is not limited to nations that are economically struggling. According to Feeding America,"41 million Americans struggle with hunger, a number nearly equal to the 40.6 million officially living in poverty." In a feature article, National Geographic Magazine elaborates on that figure:

Two-thirds of [households struggling with hunger] with children have at least one working adult -- typically in a full-time job … Privately run programs like food pantries and soup kitchens have mushroomed too. In 1980 there were a few hundred emergency food programs across the country; today there are 50,000. Finding food has become a central worry for millions of Americans. One in six reports running out of food at least once a year. In many European countries, by contrast, the number is closer to one in 20.

For those who qualify, the US government offers SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) subsidies, but the aid is often insufficient. Furthermore, the SNAP program is under siege by the Republican Congress, with a $4 billion cut in assistance signed by Trump last year. Further efforts are being made to reduce SNAP's allotment in this year's farm bill in the House.


Thursday, 31 May 2018 07:24

A Wall Street Sin Tax

hightowe 5 31 18It's time to put the Wall Street tax back on the table. Rafael Gonzalez


The moneyed populace is adroit at getting Congress to shift America's tax burden to workers, consumers, small businesses -- anyone but them. Sen. Russell Long, the former chair of the finance committee, used to quote a little back-country ditty on this point: "Don't tax me, don't tax thee, tax that fellow behind the tree."

Some extremely rich fellows who've been hiding behind the tree to avoid taxation for years are the global financial speculators engaged in the high-rolling, computer-driven, fast-buck, multi-trillion dollar, casino gambles that now define Wall Street. Unbeknownst to most people, the dominant investment banks today have been converted into casinos. Rather than amalgamating capital to finance the real economy, the bulk of Wall Street transactions are purely speculative -- such as gaming foreign currency exchanges, collateralized debt obligations, credit default swaps, crude oil and farm commodity futures and more.

These transactions create nothing but quick profits for those few big traders who can afford to play, with most of them using automated tracking systems and superfast computers to invest millions of dollars at a time into these exotic financial instruments. They buy into a scheme one day and sell it the next -- or even turn the transaction around in a matter of minutes. And we're talking about huge sums of money every year -- a mindboggling $700 trillion according to the Wall Street Journal.


homelessheartlessAs twitter becomes an increasingly major news feed, issues like youth homelessness get short shrift. (Photo: Hawaii County)

It is not that tweets are worth ignoring. How could there not be consequences for Roseanne Barr's abhorrent racist tweet, for instance? Then there's Donald Trump's daily Twitter storms that become the fodder of the mainstream corporate press. Trump uses Twitter like a circus ringmaster snaps a whip to ensure media coverage. Reporting on tweets is sometimes appropriate, but all too often Twitter journalism has replaced the coverage of important public policy issues. 

Take for instance the issue of youth homelessness. According to a late-2017 study by Chapin Hall of the University of Chicago, approximately 4.2 million young people between the ages of 13 and 25 are, at some point, homeless during a given year. That includes one in 30 youth between the ages of 13 and 17. The total number of youth who are homeless in a given year increases, however, when you include children under the age of 13 who are homeless with their families.

Some websites such as Truthout do repeatedly address the youth and general homeless crisis through both original content and reposts.

6935896100 00fd37f81a z Peter Miller/Flickr


America does what it wants.

This is obvious, except it’s also monstrously unnerving. Let’s at least add some quote marks: “America” does what it wants -- this secretly defined, self-obsessed, unelected entity that purports to be the United States of America, all 325 million of us, but is, in fact, a narrowly focused amalgam of generals, politicians and corporate elites who value only one thing: global dominance, from now to eternity.

Indeed, they’re capable of imagining nothing else, which is the truly scary part. Until this changes, “peace” is a feel-good delusion and “disarmament” (nuclear and otherwise) is the butt of a joke. The American empire may be collapsing, but the war games continue.

So I realized with a sudden start as I read Nick Turse’s analysis of a collection of U.S. military documents, which the TomDispatch website got hold of via the Freedom of Information Act. The documents contained a detailed description of the 33rd annual Joint Land, Air, and Sea Strategic Special Program, “an elaborate war game,” Turse explains, “carried out in 2016 by students and faculty from the U.S. military’s war colleges, the training grounds for its future generals and admirals.”

The war game was wrapped around a fantasy future of “dystopian dangers,” set in 2020, in which, “as the script for the war game put it, ‘lingering jealousy and distrust of American power and national interests have made it politically and culturally difficult for the United States to act unilaterally.’”

Opioid 0530wrp(Photo: Penn State / Flickr)


A surprising finding from the waters of Seattle's Puget Sound reveals that the opioid epidemic devastating human communities in the U.S. could be harming marine life as well.

Every two years, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) transplants bay mussels raised in clean waters in Whidbey Island, WA to locations around Puget Sound in order to monitor pollution levels in the water. Since mussels are filter feeders, area scientists can get a good idea of what contaminants are present in the environment by examining which have built up in the mussels' tissue after two to three months of exposure.

This year, for the first time, one of those contaminants was oxycodone.

Wind 0530wrpWind farm at sea. (Photo: David Hill / Flickr)


The world's most powerful wind turbines have been successfully installed at the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) off Aberdeen Bay in Scotland's North Sea.

The final turbine was installed on Saturday just nine weeks after the first foundation for the 11-turbine offshore wind farm was deployed, according to the developers Vattenfall.

Incidentally, the project was at the center of a contentious legal battle waged—and lost—by Donald Trump, before he became U.S. president. Trump felt the "ugly" wind turbines would ruin the view of his Menie golf resort.

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