Guest Commentary (3481)
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Feeling that moviegoers didn't get their full bang for their buck the first time around, Cloud Ten Pictures is rebooting "Left Behind." According to leftbehindmovie.com, the "Left Behind" reboot, "will focus on the hours immediately following the rapture," but it won't "cover everything that the first book includes." if an amped-up "Left Behind" is successful at the box office, will more servings of the bestselling "Left Behind" series of End Times novels be green-lighted?
Since the public can't seem to get enough of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic movies, it will be interesting to see how it responds to a souped up remake – bigger budget, celebrity actors, and a theatrical release -- of "Left Behind," a film based on Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins' series of 16 wildly popular and mega-bestselling End Times/Rapture-ready novels. Total sales for the series surpassed 65 million, and in 1998, four "Left Behind" books occupied the top four places on The New York Times bestseller list.
The Christian Post reported that Paul Lalonde, the founder and CEO of Cloud Ten Pictures, which released the first film adaption of "Left Behind," is the producer and writer of the reboot (along with John Patus). According to the Christian Post, they said they were remaking the film in order "to give it the blockbuster treatment many fans had felt the original version deserved."
EUGENE ROBINSON FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
President Obama's words from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial were bound to be criticized as underwhelming, no matter what he said. The context, though, was nothing short of mind-blowing.
It was a classic no-win situation: On Wednesday, at the 50th anniversary commemoration of the March on Washington, Obama stood where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered one of the greatest speeches in the nation's history. No one could possibly measure up. It was wise not to try.
Instead of trying to match King's poetic cadences and imagery, Obama paid homage to the "I Have a Dream" speech by echoing some of King's rhetorical devices and using some of the same biblical references. The bulk of the speech, though, was vintage Obama, and anyone unfamiliar with his analysis of the social and economic challenges we face has not been paying attention.
But the context: As Obama spoke, everyone in the crowd knew that he must have been preoccupied with events halfway around the world. Faced with compelling evidence that the government of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad had shelled a Damascus suburb with chemical weapons, killing hundreds, Obama had spent the past week laying the groundwork for a punitive military strike.
STEVEN JONAS MD, MPH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
According to Wikipedia: "Elysium or the Elysian Fields is a conception of the afterlife that evolved over time and was maintained by certain Greek religious and philosophical sects and cults. Initially separate from the realm of Hades, admission was initially reserved for mortals related to the gods and other heroes. Later, it expanded to include those chosen by the gods, the righteous, and the heroic, where they would remain after death, to live a blessed and happy life, and indulging in whatever employment they had enjoyed in life."
In his movie "Elysium," set in 2154, writer director Neil Blomkamp has a rather different view of the place. It is not reserved for the dead, but for the very much alive super/super/ultra-rich (read: ruling class) who have apparently survived the dead-zone for everyone else that their policies have created on Earth. And as is well-known by now to most readers of these pages, they have retreated to a vast satellite world that, even though they are hardly dead, they have for some reason named "Elysium."
Perhaps it is because even now, there are members of the present ruling class, not only in the U.S. but around the world from here to China, to Russia, to the oil Kingdoms, to certain European and South American enclaves, who think of themselves as truly above everyone else. They are in their own minds god-like perhaps, and certainly totally entitled to their riches, even if in the process of gaining them they are dooming the rest of mankind to the kind of existence that Blomkamp portrays in his movie.
JOE GIAMBRONE FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
“I’m an upstanding citizen and I’m not doing anything wrong.
I just don’t want the government invading my privacy.”
I got into a heated argument, a disagreeable shouting match over that idea today – mostly being shouted at for nitpicking someone on my own side. I find the above rationale to be a surface response without any thought behind it or any acknowledgement of how actual surveillance-societies of the past devolved into Orwellian abominations. Worse still, the current drive for a “Total Information Awareness” society, where birth to death communications will be stored forever by the government, looms over us.
NSA / Booz Allen Hamilton whistleblower Edward Snowden has said:
“…they are intent on making every conversation and every form of behavior in the world known to them.”
To that end the NSA’s operating budget has increased steadily, avoiding any cutbacks from the so-called “sequester.” The new NSA storage facility in Utah is a central piece of this total data capture society.
“An article by Forbes estimates the storage capacity as between 3 and 12 exabytes in the near term… advances in technology could be expected to increase the capacity by orders of magnitude in the coming years.” (Wikipedia)
NSA Whistleblower William Binney revealed further problems at the National Security Agency and its runaway capabilities:
ROSEMARY AND WALTER BRASCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Almost one-third of Louisiana Republicans blame President Obama for the slow and largely ineffective response to Hurricane Katrina, which hit the Gulf Coast, Aug. 31, 2005. More than 1,800 were killed in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana; estimates of property damage exceeded $100 billion.
Public Policy Polling reveals that 29 percent of the state’s Republicans blame Obama. Only 28 percent blame George W. Bush. The rest, according to the poll, don’t know who to blame.
The disaster occurred in the first year of George W. Bush’s second term. Barack Obama did not become president until more than three years later.
While the Bush–Cheney administration was embroiled in Iraq and developing all kinds of plans to deal with foreign terrorists, it failed to keep the homeland safe—for the second time, the first being 9/11 itself.Natural disasters have been responsible for significantly more injuries, deaths, and property damage than all terrorist attacks, both past and projected.
More than a year before Katrina hit, we had written our first article about the probability that the U.S. would be unable to provide a quick response to any natural disaster of great magnitude. We concluded “While we can’t put natural disasters into the same category as an al-Qaeda attack, they both encompass a fear of imminent danger. Death and destruction by a Category 3/4 hurricane is more imminent than an attack by Iraq ever was—and could leave more death and destruction than 9/11. Neither our home nor our land is secure.”
JANE STILLWATER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
And just how many of those desperately cash-strapped former students will be staunch and faithful Republicans? Party loyalty doesn't pay off at all these days.
And major funders of the GOP such as the Koch brothers, Goldman-Sachs, Citizens United, Chevron, the American Bankers Association and the Chamber of Commerce don't seem to have a moral bone in their body when it comes to straight-out greed. More GOP voters actually die because of greedy corporate behavior than the number of Americans who were killed in the wars on Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and the Twin Towers combined. Too bad. But then most of these voters were old anyway.
And what about this new Super-NAFTA secret treaty called the Trans-Pacific Partnership that the Grand Old Party is pushing so hard through Congress right now? How is that going to effect seniors after even more of America's wealth is pumped out of our pockets and into the rich-dude Wall Street neo-con corporatist pipeline?
ROBERT CREAMER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
As lawmakers prepare to return to Washington after Labor Day, a few inside-the-Beltway pundits have blithely predicted that, "immigration reform is dead."
This, in the face of headlines that uniformly declare that the forces of reform – and Progressives of all sorts – have dominated the August town meeting circuit. And the vaunted anti-immigration reform backlash is nowhere to be found -- except perhaps in the imagination of Congressman Steve King.
In fact, there are many good reasons to predict that the odds are very good the GOP House Leadership will ultimately allow a vote on an immigration reform bill containing a pathway to citizenship this year. If such a bill is called, the odds are close to one hundred percent that it will pass.
That is because, right now, there are more than enough votes on the floor of the House to pass immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship if it is given an up or down vote. The only question now is whether the House Leadership decides that it is in their political interest to call the bill.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
When it comes to being restored, re-ordained and returned to the pulpit after confessing to a four-year extramarital affair with a member of his congregation, Sam Hinn, the younger brother of well-known televangelist and faith healer Benny Hinn, may have set a new speed record for fallen evangelical leaders.
Older brother Benny is a big-time brand, squirrelling the spotlight for a good chunk of his professional life, and his ministry reels in extraordinary amounts of money. He's traveled the globe, bought mansions, and has lived the good life.
He's also experienced a fair amount of controversy along the way. His prophesies have been way off the mark, including one made in 1989 that Fidel Castro wouldn't outlast the 1990s; he was one of a group of televangelists whose financial shenanigans inspired an investigation by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa); and, two years ago, he was accused of being involved in a messy extramarital affair with Paula White -- another well-known televangelist -- an accusation that threatened his worldwide ministry. Hinn self-recovered and is back televangelizing.
Now, younger brother Sam, who compared to Benny is a minor figure in the world of evangelicals, is grabbing some kinky headlines of his own.
BILL QUIGLEY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
“We believe most Americans would be stunned to learn the details of how these secret court opinions have interpreted…the Patriot Act. As we see it, there is now a significant gap between what most Americans think the law allows and what the government secretly claims the law allows. This is a problem, because it is impossible to have an informed public debate about what the law should say when the public doesn’t know what its government thinks the law says.”
- US Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall
JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Coincidentally, after reading that the world’s last Amazon rainforest is disappearing for oil profits, a review on Matt Damon’s new film “Elysium” appeared on the same page. It described the earth as gray, barren, little more than a polluted prison for all those not wealthy enough to live on the luxury space station “Elysium,” hovering a short 20-minute shuttle ride above earth. The poor are left to fight in squalid conditions, which is the deplorable situation right now for over half the world’s children.
They are poor because for the last two centuries, industrialists have been raping the earth’s resources without restoring what they took, depleting community economies as they go; it’s a form of capitalism that is so ruthless that it defies the meaning of capitalism; it benefits a few thousand people at the expense of the human race, wildlife habitats, fresh water, oceans, forests—nearly everything that makes the earth a heaven instead of a hell. Read Naomi Klein’s “The Shock Doctrine” for an in-depth explanation of this parasitical model of capitalism based on corporate privatization.