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aaaAR15MassShootings(Photo: TheAlphaWolf)Shortly after the mass murders at Umpqua Community College near Roseburg, Ore., President Obama predictedthe extreme right wing would crank out press releases declaring the nation needs fewer gun control laws and more guns.

The rabid pro-gun lobby didn’t disappoint him.

Shortly after the mass murders in a Charleston, S.C., church in June, NRA board member Charles Cotton, an attorney who fired his first shot when he was four years old, had claimedif the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, a state senator “had voted to allow gun owners to carry their own weapons [into churches], eight of his church members  . . . might be alive.” After the shootings in Oregon, Cotton saidhad the students been carrying guns, there would have been no mass murder. “How carefree do you have to be with all of the mass shootings that are going on throughout America to not have something as simple and convenient as a small knife when you go to class, let alone a gun with which to protect yourself?” Cotton asked.

The Republican presidential herd called for even more guns in a culture that has made Americans inured to violence. Presidential candidate Jeb Bush said, “Stuff happens.”

One absurdity of arming all of America is that there are no requirements that anyone with a gun needs to know how to use that gun. The possibility of any one person with a hand gun being able to react faster than the shooter, be more accurate than the shooter, or not accidentally wounding or killing others is high. Heavily armed police, better trained in weapons than most Americans, did not kill the shooter, who wore body armor; the shooter killed himself.

Thursday, 08 October 2015 09:15

Monsanto vs. Freedom of Information Act

2015.8.10 BF Nader(Photo: Stephen Melkisethian)RALPH NADER OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Next year, the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) will celebrate its 50th anniversary as one of the finest laws our Congress has ever passed. It is a vital investigative tool for exposing government and corporate wrongdoing.

The FOIA was championed by Congressman John E. Moss (D-CA), who strove to "guarantee the right of every citizen to know the facts of his government." Moss, with whom I worked closely as an outside citizen advocate, said that "without the fullest possible access to government information, it is impossible to gain the knowledge necessary to discharge the responsibilities of citizenship."

All fifty states have adopted FOIA statutes.

As the FOIA approaches its 50th year, it faces a disturbing backlash from scientists tied to the agrichemical company Monsanto and its allies. Here are some examples.

On March 9, three former presidents of the American Association for the Advancement of Science—all with ties to Monsanto or the biotech industry—wrote in the pages of the Guardian to criticize the use of the state FOIA laws to investigate taxpayer-funded scientists who vocally defend Monsanto, the agri-chemical industry, their pesticides and genetically engineered food. They called the FOIAs an "organized attack on science."

The super-secretive Monsanto has stated, regarding the FOIAs, that "agenda-driven groups often take individual documents or quotes out of context in an attempt to distort the facts, advance their agenda and stop legitimate research."

2015.8.10 BF koehler(Photo: Debra Sweet)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

"We tried to take a look into one of the burning buildings. I cannot describe what was inside. There are no words for how terrible it was. In the Intensive Care Unit six patients were burning in their beds."

So said Lajos Zoltan Jecs, a nurse at the hospital the US bombed in Kunduz, Afghanistan, killing 22 people: doctors, staff, patients (including three children). This image is now spiraling through the Internet and across the global consciousness.

The hospital was not "collateral damage"; it was deliberately targeted, deliberately destroyed, in multiple bombing runs that lasted at least half an hour. Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), which operated the hospital, contacted its sources in the US government immediately, pleading for the attack to stop — to no avail. The bombing continued until the hospital, with more than 180 occupants, was destroyed.

And we're left with the aftermath of a mass murderer spree, except the killer isn't dead or hogtied and shoved into a police wagon. The killer gives a press conference.

Oh same old, same old!


aaaGMopesticides(Photo: EcoWatch)As an Episcopal pastor, Dan Hinkle is a man of peace and faith, but the issue of genetically modified foods (GMOs) makes him angry.

“We don’t know the long-term effects of genetic engineering; this is a questionable process,” said Hinkle, who lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. “We have been force fed something we should not have been. People are being hurt by this technology. If GMOs are so safe and feed the world, why not tell us about it? These issues have gotten me fired up.”

Hinkle’s concern about GMOs led him to become a founding member of GMO Free Lancaster, a non-profit group that is working to ban GMOs and pesticides in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

Zoe Swartz, a mother, started the group after the first March Against Monsanto in May 2013.

“There was no one involved in the march in Lancaster so we started organizing,” she said.

Hinkle calls GMO Free Lancaster a “classic American grassroots organization of concerned citizens.”

Wednesday, 07 October 2015 06:48

Jim Hightower | A Flagrant Liar for President?


aaaCarly(Photo: Gage Skidmore)We've got a new darling in the GOP presidential race: Carly Fiorina!

Being the darling du jour, however, can be dicey — just ask Rick Perry and Scott Walker, two former darlings who are now out of the race, having turned into ugly ducklings by saying stupid things. But Fiorina is smart, sharp-witted, and successful. We know this because she and her PR agents constantly tell us it's so. Be careful about believing anything she says, though, for Darling Fiorina is not only a relentless self-promoter, but also a remorseless liar.

Take her widely hailed performance in the second debate among Republican wannabes, where she touched many viewers with her impassioned and vivid attack on Planned Parenthood. With barely contained outrage, Fiorina described a video that, she said, shows the women's health organization in a depraved act of peddling body parts of an aborted fetus. "Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking," said a stone-faced Fiorina, looking straight into the camera, "while someone says, 'We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.'"

Oh, the horror, the monstrosity of Planned Parenthood! And how moving it was to see and feel the fury of this candidate for president!

Only ... it's not true. Although she dared the audience, President Obama and Hillary Clinton to go watch it, turns out that there is no such video — no fetus with kicking legs and no demonic Planned Parenthood official luridly preparing to harvest a brain.

So did Fiorina make up this big, nasty lie herself, or did her PR team concoct it as a bit of showbiz drama to burnish her right-wing credentials and advance her political ambition? Or maybe she's just spreading a malicious lie she was told by some vicious haters of Planned Parenthood. Either way, there's nothing darling about it, much less presidential.


aaaMonsantoWheat(Photo: USDA)EcoWatch can exclusively confirm that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has ended its corporate partnership with Monsanto following the efforts of a group with surprising clout: Mom bloggers.

It appears that the severing between the divisive biotech company and the pediatricians association was spearheaded by Mamavation founder and “food activist” Leah Segedie, who confronted the AAP’s public affairs team after learning about this “unholy alliance,” according to a Mamavation blog post which first announced news of the split.

“I reached out to the AAP behind the scenes to discuss the negative impacts a company like Monsanto could have on their image,” Segedie told EcoWatch via email. “It was a very logical decision for them. I think it may have felt like breaking up with a bad boyfriend that never calls.”

A few months after Segedie first made contact, the AAP’s public affairs team informed her that the organizations had decided to cut ties.

EcoWatch contacted the AAP and confirmed that the academy will not renew its corporate partnership with Monsanto. According to a source at the organization familiar with the decision, the AAP regularly reviews its partnerships to make sure these companies have values that “align with what the Academy believes is in the best interest of children’s health.”


aaaOKC(Photo: Leonard Brakebill)In late-September, Thomas David Deegan, a man described by authorities as an anti-government sovereign citizen, was arrested and accused "of plotting to overthrow the state government in West Virginia, hoping to establish a prototype for extremists to follow in other states," the Southern Poverty Law Center reported. At the same time, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, issued a report "advising contractors, property inspectors, Section 8 housing administrators and Realtors how to recognize antigovernment sovereign citizens occupying vacant properties or using false deeds to support leasing."

In just seven years, the Sovereign Citizen movement, a movement that most Americans know little about, has vaulted to the top of the list of terrorist threats to the homeland according to a survey of law enforcement officials. Sovereign citizens has leaped over such better-known entities as local militias/patriots, environmental extremists, animal rights extremists, racist skinheads, neo-Nazis, and Islamic extremists, to grab the number one spot in a survey conducted by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism.

According to vox.com's Zack Beauchamp, "In a 2014 survey, the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) surveyed hundreds of law enforcement personnel at the state and local level, all of whom had training in intelligence gathering or counterterrorism. They were presented with a list of radical groups and asked to rate, on a scale of 1 to 4, how much they agreed that this group posed a terrorist threat to the US."

Given that the report was done last year before ISIS started grabbing headlines and before several mass shootings by homegrown white males, the list might look different today.

2015.5.10 bf redford(Photo: Oxfam International)ROBERT REDFORD OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Pope Francisaddress to Congress will go down in history as a day when the needle finally moved on climate change. The pontiff’s timely message of more dialogue and less discord, respect for life in all of its stages, and a call to protect our common home was irrepressible and impossible to ignore. Sometimes you need a friend to tell you the truth. It took someone from outside the US to come and remind us who we are - and who we are supposed to be.

The choice has never been clearer. If we carry on polluting our planet with dirty energy, our children will pay the greatest price. Filthy air is already killing hundreds of thousands every year. Flooding, drought, wildfires and hurricanes—all you have to do is open your eyes to see the damage being done, and it’s going to get worse.

We can no longer claim ignorance as an excuse for inaction. The jury is no longer out—climate change is real. It is not just a threat for the future, but happening here and now. And as Pope Francis so eloquently points out, climate change is a moral imperative that transcends politics.

2015.5.10 BF Buchheit(Photo: Christopher Dombres)PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

In 1955 Mrs. Dale Carnegie, whose husband wrote the best-seller How to Win Friends and Influence People, advised her fellow housewives: "The two big steps that women must take are to help their husbands decide where they are going and use their pretty heads to help them get there. Let's face it, girls. That wonderful guy in your house – and in mine – is building your house, your happiness and the opportunities that will come to your children."

Women were second-rate members of society and marriage in the 1950s. Those who went out to work were relegated to low-paying clerical, nursing, teaching, and domestic jobs, and to even lower-paying jobs for the nearly invisible Black female population. The newspaper want-ads had a separate section for women. The same type of humiliation existed in higher education, where many medical schools, law schools, and graduate schools were rejecting the "frivolous" applications of women, while female undergraduate students were often said to be pursuing an M.R.S. (Mrs.) degree.


aaaCoalMinersDon Blankenship’s, the former CEO of Massey Energy Co., trial started yesterday in what NBC News describes as “the biggest corporate accountability case in years.” Blankenship resigned as CEO eight months after one of its mines exploded in West Virginia in 2010, killing 29 miners.

Last November, a federal grand jury indicted Blankenship on charges that he deliberately flouted safety standards leading to the death of the 29 miners at Upper Big Branch Mine (UBB). He has been accused of “having tipped off managers about federal safety inspections ahead of time before the explosion and of having tried to cover up the company’s mismanagement after the explosion,” according to NBC News.

“Blankenship knew that UBB was committing hundreds of safety-law violations every year and that he had the ability to prevent most of the violations that UBB was committing,” the indictment said. “Yet he fostered and participated in an understanding that perpetuated UBB’s practice of routine safety violations, in order to produce more coal, avoid the costs of following safety laws and make more money.”

The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration investigation in 2011 revealed that “broken equipment failed to douse a small methane gas fire, which ignited coal dust in a giant blast that ended up as the deadliest U.S. mine accident in more than 40 years.” Blankenship, to this day, denies any wrongdoing.

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