The environmental Christmas hangover

Graham Peebles writes:

Christmas may seem like a distant memory but the environmental effect of the annual consumer frenzy, over-indulgence and extravagance is lasting damage. And year on year the cost to the planet grows.

For the best part of a week in early January the street in which I live in London was littered with mountains of rubbish and discarded Christmas trees, real and fake. The use of both live and artificial trees as decorative emblems of Christmas is ecologically damaging and, like many aspects of this materialistic pantomime, needs to be consigned to a bygone era and replaced with either a naked corner, or a rented potted tree from a garden centre, which can be returned to the growers afterwards. 

In Europe an estimated 60 million live trees are bought, decorated and dumped; it’s around 30 million in America. The majority of real trees are grown specifically for Christmas, so forests are not being depleted but after the festivities most real trees are thrown away and as they decompose, methane (a greenhouse gas) is produced. Artificial trees leave their own carbon footprint due to their production and transport. Most are made in China and amass a great many polluting air miles en route to their Western destination, and when discarded also end up in landfill sites. In order to make up for the amount of energy used in its production, according to the Woodland Trust, a plastic tree would need to be reused every Christmas for 20 years. Under the tree, of course, is to be found the festive Icons – the presents. Worldwide, adults are said to spend on average $475 on gifts, half of which are unwanted, but in this throwaway world of ours, instead of returning them, most of these rejected trinkets are dumped in the rubbish bin and end up in a landfill site. 

In the capital of consumerism, America, a colossal $10 million is spent on wrapping paper, most of which is not recyclable, and the number of Christmas cards sold requires 300,000 trees to be cut down.

Christmas and rubbish are synonymous terms in more ways than one. It’s the time of year when the largest amount of consumer waste is produced and the overwhelming bulk it ends up in a hole in the ground. Over 114,000 tonnes of plastic waste is estimated to have been produced in Britain over Christmas and not recycled, together with “more than 88,000,000 square metres of wrapping paper and 300,000 tonnes of card packaging”, The Times relates. In the capital of consumerism, America, a colossal $10 million is spent on wrapping paper, most of which is not recyclable, and the number of Christmas cards sold requires 300,000 trees to be cut down.

Then there’s the unbridled cruelty reserved for the animals that are raised for the festive table; around 10 million turkeys are eaten in Britain; its closer to 25 million in America, where the major turkey cull is Thanksgiving. The vast majority of the birds that are stuffed and roasted are factory farmed. Their short lives are spent in appalling conditions and end when they are plunged head first into electrified stunning baths, after which they have their throats cut in the slaughterhouse. The industrial farming of turkeys is not just barbaric. Like all animal farming, it produces huge amounts of the greenhouse gases which fuel man-made climate change. Add to this Christmas travel by road and air, and the enormous environmental impact of Christmas begins to become clear: from 15 December to 4 January, a record 52 million people in America took to the air and 97 million hit the highways. In Britain over 13 million vehicles clogged the roads in the days leading up to the big day, and both Heathrow and Gatwick airports had their busiest days on record: around four million people in total, with record numbers taking long-haul flights. Aviation is a major source of greenhouse gases, and the further one flies the greater the environmental damage.

Simplicity and sufficiency

While the festive period allows much needed time for rest, and for some, warm family gatherings (and tense misery for others), in its current form it is little more than an exercise in mass consumerism. The “Christmas Spirit”, which suggests peace, brotherhood and “goodwill to all men”, is widely absent, replaced by an exaggerated version of how life is conducted the rest of the year; contemporary values (which are not values at all, of course) of greed and selfishness are relentlessly encouraged and to a large degree, prevail.

Like much of contemporary living, it [Christmas] needs to be simplified and redefined, not necessarily in a way that corresponds to Christian doctrine, but in a manner rooted in what we might more broadly call “spiritual”, or simply human values: sharing, social/environmental responsibility, tolerance and kindness to one another and, crucially, to the Earth itself. 

The consumer culture, of which Christmas is the pinnacle expression, is an essential part of the neoliberal economic system under which we live. It is maintained by insatiable desire and the false notion that happiness is to be found within the Christmas wrapping paper, the “Black Friday” deals or Saturday shopping outings, in “success” and sensory pleasure. However, far from creating the conditions in which contentment and joy can flower, discontent and conflict is maintained, and an atmosphere created for anxiety and depression to grow. As it is currently constituted, Christmas perpetuates and strengthens this materialistic and highly damaging approach to life – for humanity and the planet. Like much of contemporary living, it needs to be simplified and redefined, not necessarily in a way that corresponds to Christian doctrine, but in a manner rooted in what we might more broadly call “spiritual”, or simply human values: sharing, social/environmental responsibility, tolerance and kindness to one another and, crucially, to the Earth itself. 

A treeless, gift-free Christmas, where little or no travel is involved, and money usually spent on gifts is donated to an environmental charity, would be the ideal. If you can’t face Christmas without presents, then environmental considerations should be paramount when choosing what to give – not necessarily what to buy. If we are to overcome the environmental catastrophe and reverse the colossal ecological damage, greed, selfishness and excess must come to an end, replaced by simplicity and sufficiency – and a new environmental consciousness urgently cultivated, at Christmas and throughout the year.

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Source Article from http://www.redressonline.com/2018/02/the-environmental-christmas-hangover/

WaPo Just Admitted ‘Russian Propaganda’ Was Actually US Mainstream Media, and Was ‘Factual’

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During the 2016 election, the narrative that interference from “the Russians” had an impact on Donald Trump’s success was alive and well, and it was pushed heavily by the Washington Post. However, the Post is now claiming that the propaganda it accused Russian bots of spreading was actually American, and it was “factually accurate.”

In a new story titled “Russia used mainstream media to manipulate American voters,” the Post admitted that instead of creating and spreading “fake news,” the accounts it claimed were controlled by Russians actually focused on sharing stories from American mainstream media outlets, and one of their most used sources just happened to be The Washington Post.

Citing an analysis by Columbia University social-media researcher Jonathan Albright, the Post noted that the majority of the “Russian propaganda” spread by these accounts was made up of “factually accurate” stories from American sources:

“Some well-chronicled hoaxes reached large audiences. But Russian-controlled Twitter accounts, Albright said, were far more likely to share stories produced by widely read sources of American news and political commentary. The stories themselves were generally factually accurate, but the Russian accounts carefully curated the overall flow to highlight themes and developments that bolstered Republican Donald Trump and undermined his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.

Among the tweets Albright studied, the most common links were to Breitbart News, followed by The Washington Post and the San Francisco Chronicle. The list of the top 25 linked sites had a conservative bent, with the Daily Caller, Fox News and the Gateway Pundit appearing.”

While the Post did not admit it directly, the claim that so-called Russian accounts on social media were frequently sharing mainstream media reports that elevated Trump or criticized Clinton, is a far cry from the claims the Post made during the election.

In November 2016, the Post published a story titled, “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say” in which it cited a list of 200 sites it accused of spreading Russian propaganda, compiled by “a group that insists on public anonymity.” However, the group, which went by the name of “PropOrNot,” lacked both credentials and evidence.

As The Free Thought Project reported following the hit-piece:

“Literally nothing in that Post article was true. None of the claims were backed by evidence, no research or investigation had been performed, nothing. WaPo just printed the claims of PropOrNot and inserted plausible deniability by failing to link to the list the site. A subsequent retraction at the top of the page was akin to plugging a crack in a dam that’s already burst—damage to many reputable and award-winning outlets listed had already been done.

Additional stories from the Post—none including any proof—blamed The Russians for everything from meddling in the U.S. election to install Trump, to hacking into the power grid in Vermont. ‘We’re all in peril because Russia,’ WaPo repeatedly claimed — without so much as a shred of evidence.”

The latest update from the Washington Post on alleged Russian meddling also cited Clinton Watts, a former FBI agent who is now working for the Foreign Policy Research Institute. He claimed that instead of using obscure alternative sources, the “Russian accounts” on Twitter opted to share American mainstream media stories because it appeared to enhance their credibility. 

“The Kremlin, they don’t need to create a false narrative. It’s already there,” Watts said. “You’re just taking a narrative and elevating it.”

In the same way that the Washington Post is criticizing Twitter accounts for sharing links to their stories that promoted Trump or cast doubt on Clinton, the Post should also be held accountable for the many stories its outlet published pushing the narrative that Russian meddling and “fake news” were alive and well—only to then completely shift the story when the original claims fell apart.

Source Article from http://thefreethoughtproject.com/wapo-finally-admits-election-russian-propaganda-was-actually-american-and-it-was-factually-accurate/

WATCH: FOX News Cuts Off Reporter When She Links Psychotropic Drugs to Florida Shooter

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Stephen Paddock, Omar Mateen, Gavin Long, Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold, James Holmes, and now, Nikolas Cruz all have one thing in common other than the mass murders they carried out. They were all reportedly taking prescription drugs which alter their state of mind and carry a host of negative side effects ranging from aggression and suicide to homicidal ideation.

Suicide, birth defects, heart problems, hostility, violence, aggression, hallucinations, self-harm, delusional thinking, homicidal ideation, and death are just a few of the side effects caused by the medication taken by the monsters named above, some of which are known as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), or antidepressants.

There have been 150 studies in 17 countries on antidepressant-induced side effects. There have been 134 drug regulatory agency warnings from 11 countries and the EU warning about the dangerous side effects of antidepressants.

Despite this deadly laundry list of potential reactions to these medications, their use has skyrocketed by 400% since 1988. Coincidentally, as antidepressant use went up, so did mass shootings.

The website SSRIstories.org has been documenting the link between selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and violence. On the website is a collection of over 6,000 stories that have appeared in local media (newspapers, TV, scientific journals) in which prescription drugs were mentioned and in which the drugs may be linked to a variety of adverse outcomes including most of the mass shootings which have taken place on US soil.

As the Citizens Commission on Human Rights notes, before the late nineteen-eighties, mass shootings and acts of senseless violence were relatively unheard of. Prozac, the most well known SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) antidepressant, was not yet on the market. When Prozac did arrive, it was marketed as a panacea for depression which resulted in huge profits for its manufacturer Eli Lilly. Of course other drug companies had to create their own cash cow and followed suit by marketing their own SSRI antidepressants.

Subsequently, mass shootings and other violent incidents started to be reported.  More often than not, the common denominator was that the shooters were on an antidepressant, or withdrawing from one.  This is not about an isolated incident or two but numerous shootings.

The issue of psychotropic medication playing a role in mass shootings is not some conspiracy theory. It is very real and the drug manufacturers list these potentially deadly side effects on the very inserts of every one of these drugs. But the mainstream media and the government continue to ignore or suppress this information. Why is that?

In a clear example of how beholden mainstream media is to the pharmaceutical industries who manufacture and market these drugs, FOX News’ Sean Hannity was recorded this week, blatantly cutting off a reporter who dared mention Nikolas Cruz’s reported association with antidepressants.

In a news segment this week, Hannity was interviewing radio talk show host, Gina Loudon who tried to bring up Cruz’s association with SSRIs.

“I think we have to take a hard look at one thing we’re not talking about yet too, Sean, and that is psychotropic drugs,” Loudon says.

“My guess is, we’ll find out like most of these shooters…..” she says, just before Hannity jumps in to silence her.

Hannity then shuts up Loudon and moves to the doctor next to her. Just like that, all talk which was implicating big pharma in their role in mass shootings was effectively silenced.

It is no secret that the pharmaceutical industry wields immense control over the government and the media. It is their control which keeps any negative press about their dangerous products from airing. However, most people likely do not know the scope of this control.

As Mike Papantonio, attorney and host of the international television show America’s Lawyer, explains, with the exception of CBS, every major media outlet in the United States shares at least one board member with at least one pharmaceutical company. To put that into perspective: These board members wake up, go to a meeting at Merck or Pfizer, then they have their driver take them over to a meeting with NBC to decide what kind of programming that network is going to air.

In the report below, Papantonio explains how the billions of dollars big pharma gives to mainstream media outlets every year is used to keep them subservient and complicit in covering up the slew of deadly side effects from their products.

How much longer will we allow these billion-dollar drug companies to control the narrative and not let this conversation take place? How many more mass shootings will take place before Americans wake up to this reality?

Source Article from http://thefreethoughtproject.com/watch-fox-news-cuts-off-reporter-links-psychotropic-drugs-florida-shooter/

Hero Citizen Stops Mass Shooting in a Church, Cops Show Up and Shoot HIM—Media Silent

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Amarillo, TX — As news of the tragic shooting in Parkland, Florida dominated the airwaves this week, a massive hostage situation—which was quickly turning into a mass shooting situation—was foiled by a hero in a church. That hero, however, is now in the hospital after police showed up to the scene and shot him.

The situation was well on its way to becoming one of the deadliest shootings in history as the gunman took over 100 people hostage inside the Faith City Mission church on Wednesday.

“They said there was a gun in the building everyone started running all different ways,” said Clay Murdock, a student at Faith City Mission.

According to WLOX, Murdock said he tried to get as many people inside their sound room as possible.

“We’re standing in there and everyone starts praying,” said Murdock. “I went outside to see what was going on if I could get more people in there and right when as I went outside the guy was standing right in front of me with the pistol.”

Murdock then ran outside.

According to the Amarillo police, the initial call came in around 8:45 a.m. and indicated that there was an armed suspect inside who was holding 100 people hostage.

Sergeant Brent Barbee told reporters that when officers breached the building, they encountered an individual who had a handgun.

The officers fired shots that struck the man,” said Barbee. “After some additional investigation, they’ve learned that the man that [had] the gun may have taken the firearm away from the original suspect in the call. The man who originally had the gun has been taken into custody.”

Later that day, police clarified that they indeed shot the wrong man.

“The initial investigation indicates that the man the officer shot had originally been in a struggle with the original suspect and had taken away the gun from the suspect. The initial suspect has been taken into custody and is not injured. No other persons were hit by gunfire. This is very early in the investigation and more details will be available at a later time,” read the report.

As Amarillo.com reports, the hero of the story is a student at Faith City Mission church. After he and the private church security officers wrestled the shooter to the ground and got the gun away from him, one or more Amarillo police officers opened fire on the student.

“Members of the security team took the gunman down and one of our students was able to wrestle the gun away,” she said. “Our thoughts are with our injured student and we praise God for his protection while honoring the heroic actions of our security team, students and everyone else involved — which prevented the situation from becoming far worse.”

The student was taken to a local hospital. The gunman, Joshua Len Jones, 35, of Amarillo was taken to jail unharmed.

Faith City Mission Executive Director Jena Taylor said the student, who was not identified, had surgery Wednesday but was in stable condition and remains hospitalized, reports Amarillo.com.

“One of our staff members visited the student that was shot and he is resting well after surgery,” Taylor said.

Predictably, this story received no coverage in the mainstream media as it is showed brave citizens in a positive light while highlighting the fact that cops shot and nearly killed the hero.

Please share this story with your friends and family to spread a bit of good news in what has surely been a tragic week of reporting.

Source Article from http://thefreethoughtproject.com/hero-citizen-stops-mass-shooting-church-cops-show-shoot/