Guest Commentary (3944)
STEVEN JONAS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Much has been written about the horror perpetrated on journalists at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, and shoppers at a kosher grocery store in store in Paris on January 7-8, 2015. One question about which not much has been written, about the attacks and their aftermaths, is the old one from the days of Rome: "Cui Bono" (who benefits)? But before we get to that one, let's consider who didn't.
First of all, the two brothers who committed the massacre at Charlie Hebdo, Cherif and Said Kouachi, said that they were doing it avenge the various depictions of the Prophet Mohammed that they found sacrilegious (the latter, of course, like obscenity, all being in the eye of the beholder). Well, A) they are dead and B) their actions will hardly stop others from depicting the Prophet in the terms that Charlie Hebdo did, or worse. (Of course, in their next issue, the Charlie Hebdo survivors came out with a depiction of Mohammed, sympathetically this time, but nevertheless, a prohibited "graven image.")
Then there was Amedy Coulibaly, the killer at the Jewish grocery. He said that he was protesting against the US, French, and other interventions in the Middle East. Well, there are lots of opponents of those actions, both in the Muslim (and especially Arab) and Western worlds (including yours truly and, I might surmise, many of the readers of BuzzFlash). Coulibaly's action is unlikely to win over many, if any, converts to his cause. So neither they (to be sure) nor their causes can said to have benefitted.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The United States is gradually, but unrelentingly, destroying part of itself. The facts to support this are well-documented, told in many ways from past to present.
The most egregious example of Americide is our country's treatment of African-Americans. Almost everyone agrees about the evils of slavery, once dismissed simply as a Peculiar Institution. But a debate goes on about reparations, with passionate arguments on both sides, ranging from a demand for a Reparations Superfund for jobs and education, to a claim that blacks actually benefited from slavery because of the years of 'reparations' received through poverty programs.
Reparations opponents insist that there is no clear modern connection to the era of slavery. But there is a connection, and it's exhibited in the many profitable corporations -- manufacturers, banks, insurance, railroad -- that had their roots in slavery. Reparations haven't been paid, or, if they have been extended in the form of poverty programs, they haven't worked. Standards of living for blacks have worsened relative to whites in the past half-century. Many of the modern-day practices of our free-market capitalist system are at least partly responsible for this.
WENONAH HAUTER OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
genetically engineered dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton. This approval follows that of 2,4-D tolerant soybeans and corn, billed as the next generation of herbicide-tolerant crops to tackle glyphosate (Roundup)-resistant weeds.Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved the sale and planting of Monsanto’s
Dicamba-tolerant soy and cotton are simply the latest example of USDA’s allegiance to the biotechnology industry and dependence upon chemical solutions. This continues the disturbing trend of more herbicide-tolerant crop approvals taking place under President Obama’s watch.
Once again, the USDA has neglected to look at the full range of impacts associated with these GMO herbicide-tolerant crops. Instead the agency has opted for a short-term solution to superweeds that have become resistant to herbicides because of previous approvals of GMOs, thereby perpetuating and escalating chemical use.
The USDA’s Environmental Impact Statement predicted that dicamba use will increase 88-fold and 14-fold for soybeans and cotton, respectively, compared to current levels. Dicamba-tolerant crops will allow for wider windows of spraying throughout the season at unprecedented levels. Now that dicamba will be used in larger quantities, Monsanto has petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to increase the tolerance level of dicamba on cottonseed 150-fold. Higher levels of dicamba in the environment and our food pose unacceptable risks to human health and a wide variety of flora and fauna.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
I can't be absolutely certain, but I'm pretty sure that Pope Francis is not walking around with Mao's Red Book stuffed into an inside pocket of his papal robes, or that he's starting a study group for Das Capital. Nevertheless, with the release of a new book titled "Pope Francis: This Economy Kills," the Pope's critics are sure to ratchet up their labeling of him with the "C" word (Communist), and the "M" word (Marxist). The Christian Post headlined its recent story about the new report: "Communist or Christian? Pope Francis Defends Vatican Report Titled 'This Economy Kills' in Criticism of Global Financial System."
Stoyan Zaimov's story in the CP (oops, there we go again), uh ... Christian Post, starts by pointing out that Pope Francis maintains he's not a communist, but he says that he will continue to criticize the global economic system because of "Jesus' call for Christians to serve the poor."
"Jesus affirms that you cannot serve two masters, God and wealth," Francis said in an interview with the Italian newspaper La Stampa. "Is it pauperism? No, it is the Gospel."
Pope Francis said that "Markets and financial speculation cannot enjoy absolute autonomy. We cannot wait any longer to resolve the structural causes of poverty in order to cure our society of an illness that can only lead to new crises."
ROBERT REDFORD OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
There are plenty of reasons to block these bills and this pipeline.
Keystone XL would carry the dirtiest oil on the planet from Canada through the American heartland. The vast majority of it would be shipped overseas, while people here at home cope with the threat of contaminated water and difficult-to-clean-up oil spills.
Polluters are fighting hard to get Keystone approved. The oil and gas industry pumped $53.1 million into last year’s congressional campaigns—87 percent of which went to Republican candidates. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell raked in $608,000 from the industry for his 2014 campaign, and now he is putting Keystone XL at the heart of his big polluter agenda.
But this isn’t just a battle over industry influence. This is a choice about the kind of nation we want to live in.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
“Je suis Charlie. Tout est pardonné.”
Muhammad in tears adorns the new cover of Charlie Hebdo: “I am Charlie. All is forgiven.” This is bigger than satire.
I take a deep breath, uncertain how to write about last week’s insane shooting spree in Paris. My daughter and her husband live there. “Things are normal,” she told me a few days afterward, “but there’s a presence — this thing that has happened. It’s in the air.”
A few days later I came upon this headline at the McClatchy Washington bureau website: “U.S. airstrike in Syria may have killed 50 civilians.”
The story reports: “The civilians were being held in a makeshift jail in the town of Al Bab, close to the Turkish border, when the aircraft struck on the evening of Dec. 28, the witnesses said. The building, called the Al Saraya, a government center, was leveled in the airstrike. It was days before civil defense workers could dig out the victims’ bodies.”
The building, in fact, had been turned into a jail by Islamic State police. It contained guards and between 35 and more than 50 prisoners, according to different witnesses’ accounts. The prisoners “had been jailed shortly before the airstrike for minor infractions of the Islamic State’s harsh interpretation of Islamic law, such as smoking, wearing jeans or appearing too late for the afternoon prayer.”
IS arrested them. We killed them. Partners in terror.
ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUTSTEFANIE SPEAR OF
Keystone XL pipeline and yesterday Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont put his pledge to the test. Sanders introduced an amendment that would officially put Congress on record with their position on climate change. Sanders amendment will be offered to a bill that would force approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell promised to allow an open amendment process for the
Sanders amendment asks:
It is the sense of Congress that Congress is in agreement with the opinion of virtually the entire worldwide scientific community that—
- climate change is real
- climate change is caused by human activities
- climate change has already caused devastating problems in the U.S. and around the world
- a brief window of opportunity exists before the United States and the entire planet suffer irreparable harm; and
- it is imperative that the United States transform its energy system away from fossil fuels and toward energy efficiency and sustainable energy.”
“The American people need to know whether Congress is listening to the overwhelming majority of scientists when it comes to climate change,” Sanders said. “On this issue, the scientists have been virtually unanimous in saying that climate change is real, it is caused by human action, it is already causing devastating problems which will only get worse in the future and that we need to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel. Do members of Congress believe the scientists or not?” he asked.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
A prominent Christian right radio broadcaster recently claimed that the terrorist attacks in Paris was an example of God’s use of “idolators” to punish the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, for mocking Christianity. The perpetrators of the murderous attacks on the magazine, and a Jewish grocery store, stated that they were out to avenge the mocking of Muhammad by Charlie Hebdo. While both were correct in their assessments of the work of the cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo, and while they are not two peas from the same pod, their stated beliefs does make for a strange confluence of religiosity.
According to People for the American Way’s Right Wing Watch, on a recent broadcast the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer claimed that the terrorist murders in Paris were actually God’s way of punishing staff members of Charlie Hebdo for mocking Christianity.
“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain,” Fischer told his listeners. “They [Charlie Hebdo] made a career out of taking the name of God, the God of the Bible, the father of the Lord Jesus,” Fischer added.
RONNIE CUMMINS OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are nothing more than patented Pesticide Delivery Systems (PDS) designed to increase sales of poisonous agrochemicals such as Roundup, glufosinate, Bt, 2,4 D and neonicotinoids. To claim that GMOs are perfectly safe is equivalent to saying that pesticides, herbicides and fungicides—systemically laced at ever-higher levels into GMO-tainted human food and animal feed—are perfectly safe. And to make matters worse, hundreds of millions of pounds of Monsanto’s Roundup, the most widely used herbicide in the world, are now routinely sprayed on 160 different crops, just before harvest, including wheat, potatoes, oats, canola, flax, peas and dried beans. In other words, just about every non-organic item in your supermarket, or every item on your restaurant menu (bread, potatoes, meat, milk) is now tainted with Roundup.It is now blatantly obvious that
The anti-GMO and organic movement has come a long way in the past two decades. But given the dangers posed by GMOs and Roundup, it’s time to move aggressively forward. Here are a dozen crucial steps we need to take in 2015 to drive GMOs and Roundup off the market.
BILL QUIGLEY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Question One: In 1990, twenty percent of all children in the US lived in poverty. What percent of the children in the US live in poverty today?
A: Ten percent
B: Fifteen percent
C: Twenty percent
Question Two: The median wealth of black households in the US is $11,000. What is the median wealth of white households?
Question Three: In 1960 the median earnings of women who work full-time year-round were about 60 percent of men's. In 2010, women's median earnings were about 77 percent of men's. At this rate, in what year will women's median earnings equal men's?