Recycling Won’t Cut It, We Must Reduce Plastic Use

One thing not mentioned in the article is we can use shampoo bars rather than liquid shampoos in bottles.

Want to Leave the World Less Cluttered? Stop Relying on Recycling and Do This Instead

We can no longer rely on simple solutions like recycling to solve our plastic waste problem.

The severity of the problem of plastic pollution can be seen on almost any roadway or beach today.
Photo Credit: 5 Gyres

The following article, part of a content partnership between Stone Pier Press and Earth | Food | Life (EFL), a project of the Independent Media Institute, is the first installment of “Plastic Pollution — Plastic Solutions,” an exclusive five-part EFL series. Check the EFL site for new weekly installments.

Many Americans who diligently recycle know little about where their plastic ends up, but we could count on China to take it in and process it for us—until recently. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, we recycle roughly 66 million tons of material each year, and our waste systems aren’t equipped to handle such large quantities, which is why close to one-third of those materials got exported. That changed this year, however, when the Chinese government said it would “ban imports of various types of plastics and papers” and reject shipments that were more than 0.5 percent impure.

As China and other buyers continue to ratchet up their quality standards, the amount of plastic occupying landfills has grown to worrying heights. What doesn’t land there quickly finds its way into the world’s oceans. It’s estimated that more than 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic are floating on the ocean’s surface and that virtually every seabird will be eating plastic by 2050. Seabirds are just some of the thousands of marine species affected; if fish are eating plastic, that plastic moves up the food chain.

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Graphical abstract from Science Direct.

Once in the water, plastic breaks down into microplastics, tiny particles less than five millimeters in size. “These microplastics can act like sponges, attracting persistent pollutants like chemical fertilizers and pesticides,” explains Rachel Sarnoff, executive director of 5 Gyres, one of several organizations working to combat the problem of plastic pollution, and highlighting what can be done about it. “Tiny organisms eat these toxic microplastics, then are eaten by small fish, and then by larger animals,” she says.

Even among those of us trying to pick food that’s healthy for our bodies and our planet, little thought is given to where or how

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Financial Rollercoaster Scaffolding Set to Break

Why Killing Dodd-Frank Could Lead to the Next Crash

July 8, 2018

killing dodd frank next crash taibbi bull

Illustration by Brian Stauffer

In the age of Trump, bipartisanship is considered a sin. So one would think that when Republicans and Democrats do pass a law together, it’d be for something so popular, it couldn’t be questioned politically: a nonbinding resolution on the cuteness of puppies, maybe, or a national ice cream giveaway.

Nope. The rare bipartisan bill turned out to be a rollback of the Dodd-Frank financial-reform act. More than 80 percent of Democrats and two-thirds of Republicans want tougher rules on banks. Yet this was our Trump-era kumbaya moment: a bank deregulation bill!

Ostensibly passed to address the causes of the 2008 crash, the Dodd-Frank Act has instead spent more than half a decade now as a hostage to a payola Congress, with both parties taking turns cutting it down and delaying its implementation. The latest indignity is S.2155, a.k.a. the “Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act.” Supposedly designed to help some banks by reducing capital requirements and ending regular “stress tests,” the act is really more like helping ships steam faster by allowing them to ditch their lifeboats.

But the bill isn’t just unnecessary – the banking sector smashed records with $56 billion in profits in this year’s first quarter – it’s also a Wall Street handout disguised as an aid to “Main Street” banks.

Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, a longtime critic of the “Too Big to Fail” banking system, opposed the bill. He pointed out upon passage that in one section of the act, “the change of just one word . . . forces the Fed to weaken the rules even for the largest banks.”

The microchange Brown refers to is a masterstroke of deregulatory trickery, one that should go in the Hall of Fame of legislative chicanery. The original Dodd-Frank Act said

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What Is Fascism, and What Is Not

I remember when I first heard the story of the NSA keeping servers in the switching rooms of major telecommunications companies, shortly after 9/11.  Of course, the 9/11 attacks were used as the justification for the nationwide surveillance.  Funny though, that the surveillance was reported to have started in February, 2001, about six months before the Trade Center buildings went down.  This information came out during discovery in a telecom industry lawsuit.  — W

 

Conspiracy Theorist 7/10: Fascism, American-style

W hen we think of fascism, we think of military parades and Hitler and Mussolini appointing directors of corporations to make them agents of the government. While Americans have our own version of military parades—every parade in America worships the military—we don’t roll missiles down Main Street. At least we haven’t so far. President Trump […]

Corporate, economic, police, military, left, and right

By Mark Luedtke

When we think of fascism, we think of military parades and Hitler and Mussolini appointing directors of corporations to make them agents of the government. While Americans have our own version of military parades—every parade in America worships the military—we don’t roll missiles down Main Street. At least we haven’t so far. President Trump plans to do that later this year. Police drive military vehicles down Main Street in parades though.

In the US, several organizations fit the classic fascist model. The president appoints the governing board of the ostensibly private Federal Reserve Bank which controls all other banks and counterfeits money. Government appointees run Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It’s no coincidence all three organizations were at the center of the last financial crisis.

But American-style economic fascism is more covert. The Sunlight Foundation reports, “Between 2007 and 2012, 200 of America’s most politically active corporations spent a combined $5.8 billion on federal lobbying and campaign contributions. A year-long analysis by the Sunlight Foundation suggests, however, that what they gave pales compared to what those same corporations got: $4.4 trillion in federal business and support.”

That’s a return of 75,862%. This is why we have a system of crony socialism, also called economic fascism. Government as we know it, coercive government, the state, exists for the sole purpose of empowering rich people to legally steal money from everybody else.

While economic fascism superficially resembles capitalism—the government allows nominal private ownership of giant corporations—the fundamental difference means everything. Capitalism is a system in which investors voluntarily risk their own capital in an unrestricted market. In our fascist economy,

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Democratic Socialism

Why Not Democratic Socialism?

B y Rana Odeh

Can you imagine getting paid 100% of your salary for 18 months of maternity leave? What about never stressing over health care costs when you, your child, or your family members get sick? What about free college education, free childcare, and subsidized (healthy) food and housing? Does it sound too good to be true? This is not a utopian dream; this is the life that Scandinavians enjoy and Americans have come to fear. What if you could have that life with the added benefits of democracy and freedom? Well, this is what the Scandinavian economic systems looks like. Socialist policies such as universal health care, free college education, paid maternity leave and free childcare, do not take away democracy and freedom, but rather enhance the quality of life.

For a better understanding of Scandinavian systems, I interviewed Dr. Janet Spitz, Professor of business and expert on globalization and international economic systems. “When we hear that the Scandinavian socio-economic system would reduce democracy and freedom, we have to ask, in what ways are the Scandinavian people (Swedes, Finns, Danes, Norwegians) less free and less democratic than people in the U.S.?  In all of these lands, people are well-educated in public schools and, indeed, can take advantage of universities that are free of cost or cost a very minimal amount. Since a well-educated and informed electorate is essential to democracy, the Scandinavians are, in that sense, better off democratically than are we in the U.S.” Dr. Spitz said.

The election of President Barack Obama in 2008 has reignited anti-socialism sentiment and has caused many right-wing Tea Partiers to fear the rise of socialism. For those who accuse Obama of being a socialist; do not worry, there is not a single ounce of socialist ideology in his system or his administration. Obama has done a great job of continuing on the same path of free market corporatist capitalism like most of his predecessors in the White House since the 1980s. With the post-crisis handouts to big banks, and tax cuts to corporations, the Obama administration has

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Trump SCOTUS Appointment Will Disperse Illusion of Court’s Impartiality

Anthony Kennedy and Our Delayed Constitutional Crisis

By Yves SmithJuly 3, 2018

By Gaius Publius, a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States and frequent contributor to DownWithTyranny, digby, Truthout, and Naked Capitalism. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius, Tumblr and Facebook. GP article archive  here. Originally published at DownWithTyranny

Image credit: Mike Thompson / Detroit Free Press

Like “swing vote” Justice Sandra Day O’Connor before him, “swing vote” justice Anthony Kennedy has been one of the worst Supreme Court jurists of the modern era.

With swing-vote status comes great responsibility, and in the most consequential — and wrongly decided — cases of this generation, O’Connor and Kennedy were the Court’s key enablers. They

  • Cast the deciding vote that made each decision possible
  • Kept alive the illusion of the Court’s non-partisan legitimacy

Each of these points is critical in evaluating the modern Supreme Court. For two generations, it has made decisions that changed the constitution for the worse. (Small “c” on constitution to indicate the original written document, plus its amendments, plus the sum of all unwritten agreements and court decisions that determine how those documents are to be interpreted).

These horrible decisions are easy to list. They expanded the earlier decision on corporate personhood by

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