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image 2016 07 05 1(Photo: Roberto Raimondo)PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

The concept of "freedom" is at the very least ambiguous, and, at the most, destructive to those being deceived by false patriotism. The people who benefit from the uncontrolled pursuit of money push the concept of individual freedom on the rest of us, making us feel unpatriotic if we disagree. "Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself," once blathered Milton Friedman, whose economic theories made America the most unequal developed nation. However we interpret the concept, we may not be as "free" as we're led to believe. 

Is Our Nation Really "Free"? 

According to the watchdog organization Freedom House, in terms of political and civil liberties the U.S. is tied for 44th freest country, after UK, Chile, Japan, Portugal, and most of the Scandinavian nations. The organization's 2016 synopsis states: "The United States received a downward trend arrow because of the cumulative impact of flaws in the electoral system, a disturbing increase in the role of private money in election campaigns and the legislative process, legislative gridlock, the failure of the Obama administration to fulfill promises of enhanced government openness, and fresh evidence of racial discrimination and other dysfunctions in the criminal justice system."

image 2016 07 05(Photo: Gage Skidmore)ELLIOT D. COHEN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

On Saturday, Donald Trump tweeted an image of a red Star of David next to a picture of Hillary Clinton with hundred dollar bills in the background, with the caption "Most Corrupt Candidate Ever" superimposed on the Star of David. A few hours later, amid strong condemnation from social media respondents, Trump deleted the image and reposted the same image except with a circle replacing the original Star of David. Unequivocally, the message is that Clinton is in the pocket of rich Jews, a stereotypical image that was harnessed by Hitler himself to build a "justification" for sending millions of Jews to their slaughter. So where was the media in covering the story? Unfortunately, the great corporate watchdog has sanitized the story, having failed to learn from history.

During the ascent of Adolf Hitler to power, the U.S. media helped to paint a positive image of this demagogue. Not unlike corporate media’s soft pedaling of Trump, coverage of Hitler's campaign played up the support he had from the German people, based on the numbers attending his campaign speeches, while playing down his hateful demagoguery. Shortly after Hitler became Chancellor in 1933, an article appeared in the New York Times stating, "There is at least one official voice in Europe that expresses understanding of the methods and motives of President Roosevelt -- the voice of Germany, as represented by Chancellor Adolf Hitler." The Christian Monitor even touted the virtues of Nazism, proclaiming that it had a "capacity for organization unequaled in our times by any except the Bolshevik leaders."


Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

2016July1 monsantoroundupIs Monsanto's roundup causing cancer in humans? (Photo: SAIF*ANU)

Monsanto has been staring down an increasing number of cancer lawsuits ever since the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) infamously classified Roundup’s main ingredient glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans” in March 2015.

One such plaintiff, Yolanda Mendoza, is now speaking out about her personal injury and product liability lawsuit against the chemical titan.

Three years ago, Mendoza was diagnosed with stage four non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma when she was only in her mid-thirties. When asked how she felt about the worrisome diagnosis, she recalled to CBS News, “[I felt] that I ­­was going to die. I had only like a few days.”

The mother of three explained to CBS that she would walk around her one-acre property with a backpack sprayer containing the controversial weedkiller and believes the product led to her illness.

After a five-month battle with the disease and intense chemotherapy, Mendoza’s cancer is in remission. But she now finds herself facing another giant: Monsanto.

Thursday, 30 June 2016 07:56

The Right to Bear Courage

Stop gun violence signage(Photo: Tony Webster)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Behind the "right to bear arms" lies concealed the right to make money. You know, a lot of it.

The right to . . .

I pause here, torn apart by the political sacredness of these words. We have the right to speak freely and worship the God or our choosing or none at all, the right to reasonable privacy, the right to choose our leaders, the right to fair and equal treatment under the law. These rights are inscribed in the national bedrock: the Constitution. They activate our humanity; without them, we're so much less than our fullest selves. Without them we're perpetual victims, forced to live in fear and secrecy.

This bizarrely worded right is also etched in the Constitution: "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

Thursday, 30 June 2016 06:37

Watch Out for an Anti-Choice Backlash


What if anti-abortion activists really cared about the health care needs of women? What if they believed that health and safety standards at health care clinics where women go for abortions and other health care services really could be improved? What if they really think that clinic doctors having admitting privileges at local hospitals would provide an important safety net? What would they do?

Would they raise money to help bring those clinics up to the higher standards they claim to desire? Would they petition local hospitals -- the very same hospitals they've threatened to boycott -- to allow admitting privileges for clinic doctors? Or, would it continue to support onerous laws like Texas' HB2, designed essentially to shut down any abortion-providing health care clinics, making it nearly impossible for thousands of women to have access to basic health care services? Unfortunately, the former is a pipedream; the latter the reality!


Louisiana 0629wrp opt(Photo: EcoWatch)Residents of a Louisiana island are among the first American climate refugees. Encroaching water is forcing them off the land they have lived on for generations.

Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana, has been inhabited by tribal communities since the Trail of Tears era. The island, which used to be the size of Manhattan, has lost 98 percent of its land over the last 60 years, MSNBC reported.

“We had our gardens, we had our cattle, we had our chickens, so we had all our livestock here, we had all of our vegetation so we were good,” Chief Albert Naquin of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw tribe said. “We were self sufficient in this little community here.”

Now residents can’t farm on the land. The two-lane road connecting the island to terra firma often floods during storms, isolating the island for various lengths of time, sometimes years. When the road isn’t flooded, the water is lapping at the shoulders of the road.

Many Isle de Jean Charles residents have already relocated, but about 70 still remain. They now have to decide between staying or relocating as their island quickly disappears.

But Isle de Jean Charles don’t have to relocate on their own.


Kochs 0629wrp opt(Photo: EcoWatch)Billionaire oil barons Charles and David Koch are reaching into their deep pockets to fund Republican candidates in the tight Senate races in Ohio and Nevada, two states that have seen powerful political and corporate interests block progress in renewable energy.

According to NBC News, the Koch Super PAC Freedom Partners Action Fund has announced it will buy $2.7 million television and digital ads to help Ohio Republican incumbent Sen. Rob Portman defeat Democrat Ted Strickland in the key swing state. The candidates are currently locked in a dead heat with each polling at 42 percent.

This news comes after the Super PAC’s announcement last week that it is spending $1.2 million on advertising to boost Nevada Republican Rep. Joe Heck’s race against Democrat and former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto to replace Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. That race is also pretty much tied.

The Koch brothers have notoriously dumped wild sums of money on conservative causes and campaigns, with more than $88 million in traceable funding to groups attacking climate change science, policy and regulation. According to NBC News, the two latest $3.7 million ad buy brings the Super PAC’s spending to $19.3 million in an effort to control the Senate.

So who are the Koch-approved Senate choices for Ohio on Nevada?

Rob Portman, who has been in office since 2011, is a pro-business conservative who has a prominent track record of choosing fossil fuel interests over environmental protection. As Cinncinati.com reported, he was a vocal opponent to the Obama administration’s regulations to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and has introduced an amendment that would let states opt out of those clean power rules.


Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Buenos Aires is shutting down its zoo to give the animals a better life.

Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, mayor of Argentina's capital city, said keeping wild animals in captivity and on display is degrading, The Guardian reported. The zoo's 2,500 animals -- 89 species of mammals, 49 species of reptiles and 175 species of birds -- will be moved to nature reserves throughout the country, where they will live in more suitable environments. Older animals and those too sick to be moved will remain on site but not on display.

"This situation of captivity is degrading for the animals, it's not the way to take care of them," Rodríguez said.

image 2016 06 28(Photo: DonkeyHotey)BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Celebrating Brexit, Sarah Palin, the former Alaska Governor and failed vice-presidential candidate, posted on Facebook that the "smart Brits" outsmarted the "globalists" who want "apocalyptic One World Government." Congratulating the "Leave" voters, Palin added: "It is time to dissolve political bands that connect us to agendas not in our best interest. May UN shackles be next on the chopping block." During a recent freewheeling conversation with James Carville at Politicon, a gathering of political junkies with panels, standup comedy, film screenings and art displays at the Pasadena Convention Center, Palin took out after gun control advocates, vigorously defended the second amendment.

Palin also kind of took credit for getting the "ball rolling" on the Trump phenomenon. "Maybe my endorsement was able to kick off -- logistically, I’m speaking, about the timing of everything -- kick off and make an empowering movement for other conservatives, other proud clingers to their guns or God and our Constitution, the Tea Partiers, to empower them, allow them to go ahead and support the guy!" 


Eye 0627wrp opt(Photo: Alexageev)This year's freakish presidential election has now devolved into an ethnic brouhaha between two foreigners: A Mexican and a German.

The "Mexican" is Gonzalo Curiel. He's a federal judge who was actually born in Indiana, raised and educated as a Hoosier, and is presently presiding over a U.S. district court in San Diego. The German is Donald Drumpf, soon to be the Republican nominee for America's highest office. Drumpf has had fraud cases against him by former students of his Trump U (U as in "university"). These students who paid tens of thousands of dollars say they were conned out of their hard-earned money by Trump U. The judge presiding over this case is Gonzalo Curiel, and Trump the candidate recently became unhinged over the idea that "a foreigner" would be allowed to pass judgment on an upstanding American citizen like himself.

But, wait — Curiel is a full-blooded American citizen! No he's not, cried The Donald, he's "a Mexican," pointing to the jurist's family heritage. But, wait again — Donnie himself is not pure-blood Americano (only Native Americans can claim that). In fact, The Donald's forbearers have been in our country for only about 120 years. His grandfather, Friedrich Drumpf, immigrated to the U.S. from Kallstadt, Germany, about 120 years ago and Anglicized his name from Drumpf to Trump.

Still, the GOP's nativist and racist 2016 flag bearer insists that even though we Americans are proud to be a nation of immigrants, an American with Mexican genes should be disqualified from overseeing the fraud trials, for he'd inherently be biased against the candidate who has promised to "build a wall" between the U.S. and Mexico. So, does his screwy, self-serving claim that one's background trumps one's commitment to fairness also mean that a Muslim -American judge should also be disqualified from any trial of his wrongdoings, since the GOP presidential wannabe says he intends to ban all Muslim immigrants from entering the U.S.? "Absolutely," he said flatly.

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