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Guest Commentary (4498)

Thursday, 05 May 2016 06:49

Cowardice and Exoneration in Kunduz

AC-130 gunship(Photo: BattleSpartan)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

"The people are being reduced to blood and dust. They are in pieces."

The doctor who uttered these words still thought the hospital itself was a safe zone. He was with Doctors Without Borders, working in Kunduz, Afghanistan, where the Taliban and government forces were engaged in hellish fighting and civilians, as always, were caught in the middle. The wounded, including children, had been flowing in all week, and the staff were unrelieved in their duties, working an unending shift.

Their week ended at 2 a.m. last Oct. 3 when -- as the world knows -- a U.S. AC-130 gunship began strafing the hospital, the crew apparently acting on the mistaken belief that this was a Taliban compound. The strike lasted for an hour, continuing even though the humanitarian organization contacted the Pentagon and pleaded that it stop.

A total of 211 shells hit the hospital. The Intensive Care Unit was wiped out. Every patient in the unit except for a 3-year-old girl was killed, some burning to death in their beds. A total of 42 people -- patients, staff and doctors -- died because of this lethal mistake.

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Target 0504wrp opt(Photo: Mike Kalasnik)Thus far, the only problems with Target’s new policy of allowing transgender people to use restrooms and dressing rooms that correspond with their gender identity, are being caused by a number of conservative Christian activists --several of whom are being sent out with video cameras by the American Family Association -- rushing into Target stores to test the policy.

Not a big fan of Target stores. Shopped there occasionally over the years. Have a Target REDCard, and to the best of my knowledge it wasn’t hacked in 2013. However, now that Target is under attack by the American Family Association, the Christian Right’s boycott-launching king, I may consider doing some REDcard damage in the near future.

The dust-up over the Minneapolis-based Target began in mid-April, when the company’s management decided that employees and customers who are men according to their birth sex could use women's bathrooms and dressing rooms. A statement posted on the company’s website on April 19, under the headline “Continuing to Stand for Inclusivity” read: "[W]e welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity. ...Everyone deserves to feel like they belong."

By making this decision, Target jumped into what has become this year’s number one wedge and fundraising issue for the Christian Right; Keeping transgender people out of bathrooms.

As of this writing, Christian Right groups are claiming that more than 1 million people have signed an American Family Association-initiated petition.

pledging a boycott over the store’s bathroom policies. At the AFA website, the headline reads “Sign the Boycott Target Pledge!”

JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Ammunition 0504wrp opt(Photo: Department of Defense)I’ve been thinking about Mother’s Day—and all the mothers that will never receive flowers and cards again from their beloved children that were unnecessarily killed in the U.S. pre-emptive invasion of the Middle East.

I vaguely remember presidential candidate Barack Obama during the 2008 primary. So many different masks on this man that it’s hard to recollect that he argued for “peaceful negotiations,” and that “sending our troops into combat should be our very last resort…”

However, President Obama not only expanded instability throughout the Middle East by allowing the CIA to play havoc with Libya and Syria, which led to the deaths of tens of thousands of families, including the bombing of hospitals with wounded children under Doctors without Borders care (Afghanistan, Yemen and Syria), his decision led to eight million refugees pounding the doors of neighboring European countries.

As I explained in my last Buzzflash-Truthout commentary, dictators or no, before the Bush-Obama administrations invaded these countries, the majority of families had homes, water, food, jobs, sewer systems, electricity, and even if they didn’t like their leaders, and even if conditions may have been challenging in Syria, they at least had their families and homes and food on the table.

Like the U.S., Europeans have been financially struggling since the Wall Street banksters’ “unregulated” greed reached a 2008 global crisis. In addition to the suffering in Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen, Obama and his CIA advisors decided to make the lives of Libyans and Syrians go from difficult to unbearable. Europeans are also desperate—and they don’t know how they’re going to support millions of starving people when their own families are in dire straits much like middle-class Americans that are being crushed beneath the corporate oligarchic wheel.

Fracking infrastructure(Photo: Eric Gustafson)WENONAH HAUTER OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Colorado's high court today struck down the rights of Coloradans to enact local fracking bans. It's no surprise, given the massive sway of the oil and gas industry in the state. The suit was brought against Longmont (which passed a popular fracking ban in 2012) by Gov. John Hickenlooper and his industry cronies. While it's easy to be discouraged by this decision, the fact is, it will help activate citizens to pass statewide ballot measures to ban fracking in November.

And let's not forget: The movement to stop fossil fuel development just keeps winning.

On Earth Day, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo put a stop to the Constitution pipeline, a dangerous project to shipped fracked gas from Pennsylvania into New York, intersecting almost 300 bodies of water. His action sent a clear message that protecting the safety of the state's drinking water was more important than expanding Big Oil's profits. And the move didn't come out of nowhere; the same grassroots pressure that successfully pushed Cuomo to ban fracking in 2014 pushed him to reject this dirty fracked gas pipeline.

corporate controlled US politics(Photo: AK Rockefeller)WALTER BRASCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Joe Sestak is a slow learner.

It isn't because he's dumb -- he graduated second in his class of 900 midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy, one of the most rigorous colleges in the country; a decade later, he earned a Ph.D. in political economics from Harvard.

It isn't because he doesn't have reasoning ability -- as a Naval captain, he was director of defense on the National Security Council under President Bill Clinton; as a rear admiral, he commanded a carrier battle group; as vice-admiral, he was the deputy chief of naval operations, with a specialty in warfare strategy.

Joe Sestak wasn't a slow learner when he left the military and entered civilian life. In his first of two terms as a congressman from a Philadelphia suburb, the House majority leader declared him to be the most productive member of Congress, sponsoring more significant legislation than any other member. He is a strong supporter of health care reform, the environment, and labor; he opposed the Defense of Marriage Act and discriminatory policies in the armed forces. He had a higher-than-average staff turnover because he pushed them hard and gave them little free time. But, he pushed himself even harder, not because of political ambition but because he wanted to help his constituents. Unlike many members of Congress, Sestak read and responded to all communications from his constituents, dealing with more than 10,000 items, about four times more than the average member of Congress.

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Orca 0429wrp opt(Photo: Mike Baird)At a press conference held Wednesday in San Diego, Jean-Michel Cousteau, oceanographic explorer and president of the Ocean Futures Society, urged SeaWorld to free its current population of captive orcas.

“They need to be released and put back into a place where we can keep an eye on them and they can reconnect with nature,” Cousteau, who is the son of legendary underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau, said.

On March 17, the scandal-plagued ocean theme park made a dramatic shift when it announced the end of it orca breeding program and that its current population of killer whales will live out their lives at the company’s habitats instead of in the wild or ocean sanctuaries. SeaWorld explained that the orcas were born under human care and have never lived in the wild, they “could not survive in oceans that include environmental concerns such as pollution and other man-made threats.”

SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby also explained in a Los Angeles Times op-ed published on the same day of the announcement that marine animals born in captivity would “likely die” if they were released.

But at the PETA-hosted conference, Cousteau argued against this reasoning seeing as how he and his team personally worked with Keiko after filming. Keiko was rehabilitated and moved to a seaside sanctuary in Iceland where he lived in ocean waters for more than five years.

No fracking signage(Photo: Helen Cassidy)TED GLICK OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

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Since April 2014, 10 fracking infrastructure projects have been canceled or delayed.

Here's the list:

April 2014: The Bluegrass Pipeline in Kentucky was stopped by a court decision upholding landowners' rights against the use of eminent domain to take their land for private profit.

November 2015: The Port Ambrose liquified natural gas (LNG) project was vetoed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. The project was proposed by Liberty Natural Gas off the shores of New York and New Jersey.

March 2016: The Jordan Cove LNG export terminal and 223-mile Pacific Connector pipeline in Oregon were rejected by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), signifying FERC's first gas infrastructure rejection in 30 years.

March 2016: The Republican-dominated Georgia legislature voted overwhelming for a one-year moratorium on any new gas pipelines, setting back efforts to build thePalmetto Pipeline.

2016.28.4 bf koehler(Photo: Alex Hanson) ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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The headline, from the Los Angeles Times, hit me like a sucker punch: "Voters' 'Bernie or Bust' efforts persist despite Sanders' vow not to be another Ralph Nader."

Actually, it was worse than that. When my brain cleared, I realized I was, once again, caught in a media straitjacket.

In just over a dozen words, the paper managed not only to trivialize everything two presidential candidates stood for, and not only to reference the myth that Nader caused Al Gore to lose an election he didn't in fact lose, but also, my God, to obliterate the last six months of a presidential campaign that had permanently shaken up the political status quo and return progressive voters to a place of permanent irrelevance to the national future.

MAX PHILLIPS OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

RiverFire 0427wrp opt(Photo: EcoWatch)The Greens New South Wales mining spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham called on governments today to stop the spread of coal seam gas (CSG) and for the true impact of fugitive emissions to be independently assessed after the video of methane gas burning through the Condamine River in Queensland, Australia went viral with millions of views and global media coverage.

“The methane gas bubbling through the Condamine River could be just a very visible tip of the iceberg when it comes to fugitive emissions and huge quantities of gas that could be venting into the atmosphere because of unconventional gas extraction,” said Greens MP Buckingham.

“The Greens want a ban on unconventional gas, but at the very least, government should stop the expansion of unconventional gas until the true extent of fugitive emissions is understood. Methane is a very potent greenhouse gas, so significant fugitive emissions caused by coal seam gas extraction could undo efforts to reduce emissions in Australia.

“Depressurizing the coal seams to allow the gas to flow may well be causing gas to migrate up natural or fracked pathways, or water bores or abandoned wells, to seep out of the ground. Farmers complain of gas in their water bores, while people living near gas fields report health complaints,” Buckingham continued.

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

PrincePhilanthropy 0427wrp opt(Photo: EcoWatch)The Purple One was secretly Green. In an emotional interview on CNN, political commentator Van Jones revealed that his close friend Prince wasn’t just a musical icon but also a major philanthropist.

One of his many initiatives included helping Oakland, California residents go solar.

“He worked for something called Green for All,” Jones told CNN host Don Lemon. “I was the public face of that, but he helped put the money in. There are people who have solar panels on their houses now in Oakland, California, that don’t know Prince paid for [them].”

“[Prince] did not want it to be known publicly, but I’m going to say it because the world needs to know that it wasn’t just the music,” Jones said. “The music was one way he tried to help the world. But he was helping every day of his life.”

Green for All helps create green jobs in disadvantaged communities and is also behind such initiatives as the #PollutersPay campaign which demands that Gov. Rick Snyder rebuild the lead-poisoned city of Flint, Michigan.

The campaign has been supported by scores of environmental advocates including actor and eco-activist Mark Ruffalo.

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