Guest Commentary (4907)
TWIGA FOR BUZZFLASH
You may or may not recall that 5 years ago TWIGA concluded that the Big Money had decided to go global, abandoning the interests of this country, allowing it to devolve into Third World conditions for the American
people. I reviewed Berman's Dark Ages America and Jared Diamond's Why Societies Choose to Fail.
Much has happened since then. We seem to have lost our integrity as a nation, like a whale
turning into a slug, beset by giant, vampire, blood-sucking squid. Tax breaks for corporations
that export jobs?? Nomi Prins, former Goldman Sachs managing director itemizes the total
bailout at $13.7 trillion which the bankers used in their global activities, not to stimulate the
U.S. economy. We funded the buyout of GM, which resurfaces 2 years later as the leading automaker
in China--jobs for Chinese--selling more cars in China than in the U.S.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH
Municipal landfills, often located near majority minority communities, have become the final resting place for tons of toxic debris from BP’s Gulf Coast oil spill.
What’s happening with the hazardous waste from the Gulf gusher – the biggest environmental disaster in American history? Where is it being shipped to?
Would it surprise you to learn that several municipal landfills located near majority minority communities are the final resting place for tons of toxic debris?
From the first hours of BP’s oil spill, most of the coverage concentrated on: how and when the well would be capped; how much oil was spilling into the Gulf; what the overall economic damage would be to Gulf Coast communities, and to those dependent on the Gulf for their livelihoods; and, how would BP’s feet be held to the fire in terms of it paying for all the damage it had caused.
These were, and continue to be, essential questions.
Other issues, including what the long-term health hazards for the workers involved cleaning up the spill, hasn’t received a great deal of attention from BP or the media.
Even less attention has been paid to how the thousands of trash bags with tar balls; disposable oil-soaked booms that can’t be recycled; the oil-stained sand; the oil-soaked sea-grass; medical waste used for wildlife rehabilitation; and the tons of oil contaminated rags, gloves, protective gear and now-toxic clothing used by clean-up workers are being disposed of.
PAUL ROGAT LOEB FOR BUZZFLASH
Imagine if you were talking on the phone and Verizon or ATT decided they didn't like where your conversation was going. You'd be in the middle of a sentence and suddenly disconnected. Or maybe they didn't like the person you were talking to, or the subject. You'd be unable to connect or your conversation would become so slow and poor quality you'd give up and call someone else. Or maybe you lived in an area of the country where they didn't want to give you telephone service. So you'd be unable to call at all. The telecom companies would justify all this by explaining that the fiber optic lines or wireless frequencies were simply their private property. They had a right, they'd say, to do whatever they wanted with them.
They can't do this because telephone service has long been held to common access standards. The Internet has similarly developed and flourished as a commons open to everyone, through what we've come to call Net Neutrality. But Bush's FCC ruled that all our new communications technologies were in a different category, effectively the property of their physical carriers. In the wake of this decision Verizon refused to distribute a text message alert from NARAL Pro Choice America and AT&T muted singer Eddie Vedder's criticism of President Bush during a live Pearl Jam webcast. The telecom companies are also pushing to be able to sell the right for websites or applications whose owners wanted them to load faster, while relegating other sites to second-class service. Such a shift would devastate nonprofits, small businesses, and all kinds of political advocacy groups, which couldn't afford the rates that the most lucrative sites could pay.
JAY DIAMOND ON BUZZFLASH
The momentum, the mass, and the driving force behind the anti-tax, anti-government cult of the last thirty years, has been RACISM.
In the alleged minds of rightist, low-brow talk radio, which represents the thrust and the avante garde of movement rightwingism, any money "confiscated" from hard working (White) people is simply picked from their pockets and immediately deposited into the pockets of the "undeserving" poor (Blacks)!
That is how taxation, and therefore government is understood by tens of millions of Americans, owing to the relentless invocation of "redistribution of income".
Rightwing cadres understand "redistribution" as a racial tax, and a racial transfer, from whites to blacks.
In reality, however, what happens in taxation is the transfer of private assets to a public purpose, and middle class whites are a public purpose, but many of them owing to innate racism and/or the racism stoked by the low-brow talk radio cadres, are ignorant of the real transfer (to them!), explicit in taxation.
TONY PEYSER FOR BUZZFLASH
by Tony Peyser
“I have nothing to offer but
Blood, toil, tears and sweat.
Oh, and little green men are
Actually our biggest threat.”
STEPHEN PIZZO FOR BUZZFLASH
So we gather this Sunday to learn that six Christian missionary eye doctors were summarily executed in Afghanistan. They were on a mission to treat poor rural Afghan villagers. They were killed by Islamic radicals who were offended that the group had Bibles with them, figuring they were trying to poach their Islamic flock. Meanwhile radical Zionists in Israel continue using Old Testament title reports to justify stealing land from Palestinians, some Muslim, some Christians. And, in return Palestinians, some Muslim, some Christian, kill Jews in retaliation.
Nearby, in the 12th Century Islamic theme park that the Mullahs in Iran are trying to maintain, a woman is about to be stoned to death. For murder? No. For cheating on her husband. Because, you see, the Muslim “holy book” -- a book almost as old as the Christian Bible, and filled with at least as much utter nonsense -- commands that cheating dames be stoned to death. So one half of the sinful pair is gonna get stoned, (and not in the good way.) What about the other half of this “sinning” duo? Where’s he? He skipped town -- in fact he skipped the whole country -- leaving her holding the bag (of stones.)
Here in the US we are not insulated from the “blessings" of ancient superstitions. While Jews and Muslims are relative minority faiths, America is lousy with fundamentalist Christians who are -- to use a British term -- all about being “up everyone else’s nose all the time.” Like fundamentalist Muslims and radical Zionist Jews, born-agains are all about trying to force the rest of us to get with the program -- their program, their god’s program… the program dreamed up by uneducated nomadic farm folk thousands of years ago.
LORENZO A CANIZARES FOR BUZZFLASH
Should President Barack Obama Not Appoint Elizabeth Warren to Look Out for Consumer Financial Interests But Go with a Geithner and Summers Approved Candidate Instead, Will It be the Straw that Broke the Camel's Back with the Progressive Base that Put Him Into the White House? After All, in Our Memory, Never Has a President been More Concerned About Appeasing the People Who Didn't Elect Him Than Those Who Did.
All kinds of excuses are flying around trying to disparage the candidacy of Elizabeth Warren for the head position at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
Warren, a law professor at Harvard University, picked to be Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel which was created to investigate the banking bailout, has developed a reputation as an incorruptible force and has become one of our nation’s most respected defenders of the middle/working class (which also happens to be the subject of two of her books.)
Elizabeth Warren is widely recognized as the inspiration behind CPFB. Her prodding and resilience got the American people an agency that if properly run could significantly benefit our lives. But, a coalition of greedy bankers, Republicans and "centrist" Democrats are trying to fend her off. Their main argument is that Elizabeth Warren has no management experience. We must assume then that chairing the Congressional Oversight Panel, a bipartisan body, doesn’t count as experience. Ridiculous! How many objections were raised regarding experience when Michael Brown “Brownie” was selected to head FEMA? The real reason objections are being raised against Warren is that bankers can’t trust her to side with them in their pursuit of their profiteering no matter what the cost is to the society at large.
The main danger to Warren’s nomination is coming from the Democratic side. We have the New Democratic Coalition (NDC) with their Chair, Joseph Crowley, who were in the forefront of emasculating the Financial Reform Bill. The NDC, as per the Washington Spectator 7/15/10 edition says, have been working on behalf of the big banks since the House Financial Services Committee began shaping the legislation last year. They were responsible for blackmailing the outcome of the legislation if the Blanche Lincoln’s derivatives provision was not watered down. How many of the NDC 43 house votes do you think Warren would get after their being wined and dined by executives from JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs.
BILL QUIGLEY, DAVIDA FINGER AND LANCE HALL FOR BUZZFLASH
It will be five years since Katrina on August 29. The impact of Katrina is quite painful for regular people in the area. This article looks at what has happened since Katrina not from the perspective of the higher ups looking down from their offices but from the street level view of the people – a view which looks at the impact on the elderly, the renter, people of color, the disabled, the working and non-working poor. So, while one commentator may happily say that the median income in New Orleans has risen since Katrina, a street level perspective recognizes that is because large numbers of the poorest people have not been able to return.
Five years after Katrina, tens of thousands of homes in New Orleans remain vacant or blighted. Tens of thousands of African American children who were in the public schools have not made it back, nor have their parents. New Orleans has lost at least 100,000 people. Thousands of elderly and disabled people have not made it back. Affordable housing is not readily available so tens of thousands pay rents that are out of proportion to their wages. Race and gender remain excellent indicators of who is underpaid, who is a renter, who is in public school and who is low income.
In short, the challenges facing New Orleans after Katrina are the same ones facing millions of people of color, women, the elderly and disabled and their children across the US. Katrina just made these challenges clearer in New Orleans than in many other places. Here is where we are five years later.
TOM HASTINGS FOR BUZZFLASH
On 6 August 1945 an atomic weapon was used on a city full of civilians. It was a war crime of staggering and eternal proportions, committed against an aggressor nation's children rather than its military.
That attack marked the dawn of an age that needs to close out, the atomic age. We have lived with the nuclear Sword of Damocles suspended over humankind for 65 years and it's past time to retire these weapons of fire and mass death, poisonous beyond any other ever invented. Each nuclear weapon is a crime. Merely owning one is criminal intent and possession of criminal instrumentalia.
At the onset of this nuclearism, a fatal disease if not treated, just a small percent of our species lived in a country with such devastating devices. Now more than half of humanity lives in a nation--the US, Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Israel or Pakistan--with these godawful terrorist tools.
JACUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH
It happens during night when no one can see: near the Gulf of Mexico, thousands of oil-poisoned seabirds and fish, countless whales, dolphins and turtles were and are secretly disposed of like so much garbage hidden from the public’s view.
There are no words to describe the horror of it. BP, the corporate media, and our government want us to believe that five million barrels of oil followed by tons of toxic dispersants have had no deadly consequences. Thousands of birds were poisoned by BP’s criminally negligent oil spill. We can’t be sure how many whales, dolphins and turtles were killed because BP quickly bagged and buried the evidence. BP’s oil spill is the largest, most toxic oil spill in history. It is also the largest cover-up of mass seabird and animal poisoning in history.
In her excellent TruthOut.org report, Ann McClintock witnessed the media blockade orchestrated by the “federal Coast Guard officials, BP, the FAA, the National Guard, sundry private contractors, local law enforcement and parish officials which have all conjoined to prevent journalists, filmmakers, photographers and the general public from access to oil-damaged areas.”
NIKOLAS KOZLOFF FOR BUZZFLASH
The USS Makin Island, an amphibious assault aircraft carrier, is an intimading ship. Built by Northrup Grumman, Makin Island is 45,000 tons of cold steel and has living quarters for almost 3,200 sailors and Marines. Weighing in at a whopping 42,800 tons, the ship is 844 feet long and 106 feet wide. The vessel’s 70,000 horsepower hybrid propulsion system enables Makin Island to reach speeds in excess of 20 knots.
A multi-purpose ship, Makin Island is designed to transport and land Marines via helicopter, landing craft or amphibious assault vehicle. In an impressive show of force, the Navy recently deployed Makin Island to South American waters. There, the ship made visits to several ports of call including the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, the Chilean town of Valparaiso, and the Peruvian capital of Lima. More significantly, perhaps, the aircraft carrier could soon be deployed to the Central American country of Costa Rica.
If you just did a double take that is understandable. For years, this small nation has prided itself on its adherence to pacifistic principles. In a region plagued by violence, Costa Rica historically managed to stay above the fray and the nation has not had an army since 1949. The country, with a small population of just 4 million, is seen as safer than its Central American neighbors and an attractive destination for tourists and U.S. retirees.
Costa Rica’s Controversial Drug War
So why is the Costa Rican government now inviting the U.S. Navy to patrol its local waters? Offically, the Americans will be deployed to help stem the flow of drugs northward. The ships would arrive for at least six months to assist counter-narcotics operations by Costa Rican officials. The government argues that the help is well needed. For some time, smugglers have used Costa Rica as a transshipment point for drugs coming from Colombia and Panama. Without any armed forces and with long coastlines and poorly guarded borders, Costa Rica is vulnerable to the machinations of technologically advanced drug cartels.
Indeed, Costa Rican authorities report that powerful Mexican cartels are infiltrating their country. Recently, local police seized more than a ton of cocaine at a house outside the capital and detained two Mexicans with alleged ties to the Juarez cartel. Meanwhile, the Costa Rican prison system has been put under enormous strain as the inmate population has soared. With a spike in drug-related crime, the prisons have spilled over and become more violent.
BOB KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH
“I’m going to be killing people. I’m actually joining the Marines and will be doing this in real life.”
War springs eternal. Compare the words of the 18-year-old boy quoted above by Philadelphia radio station WRTI, as he was wielding a pretend machinegun at a video-game parlor/Army recruiting center at a Philly shopping mall, with those of two neocons, Charles Robb and Charles Wald (retired senator and general, respectively), writing last month in the Washington Post:
“We cannot afford to wait indefinitely to determine the effectiveness of diplomacy and sanctions. . . . Instead, the administration needs to expand its approach and make clear to the Iranian regime and the American people: If diplomatic and economic pressures do not compel Iran to terminate its nuclear program, the U.S. military has the capability and is prepared to launch an effective, targeted strike on Tehran’s nuclear and supporting military facilities.”
We’re running out of time to act, they add, turning the fear crank, ratcheting up the pressure like good used car salesmen. Iran could have a nuclear bomb by the end of the year, they warn, citing no evidence for this assertion. Evidence? They all but cried: “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH
The AFA’s Tim Wildmon is targeting Sears for allegedly "offering giant posters of total nud**y."
The headline of its recent “Take Action Now” email reads: “You won't believe what Sears is selling: Sears is content to sell pornography. And, if you are offended, they don't seem to care!”
That’s a pretty typical breathless headline from the non-stop culture warriors at the American Family Association; earnest, straight-forward, a little bit whiny, and always over the top. AFA headlines like this one has been the conservative Christian organization’s stock and trade for more than three decades. And, these type of headlines are often followed by a plea urging AFA supporters to send letters/e-mail/faxes and make phone calls to company officials; attempts by AFA leaders themselves to contact the company; claims that the company won’t adequately take its concerns seriously; the threatening of a boycott; the start-up of a full-throttled boycott; and, finally, after several months, a declaration of victory and an end to the boycott.
AFA is currently outraged with Sears because despite attempts to reach out to the company “more than a half-dozen times … quietly and professionally,” Sears continues to be “offering giant posters of total nud**y on its website”
TONY PEYSER FOR BUZZFLASH
Marilyn Cheeks Kilpatrick lost
Not so much for things she’d done
But because of scandals related
To Detroit’s ex-mayor, her son.
(This year, you really didn’t need
To be some kind of swami
To predict the many electoral perils
Of being Kwame’s mommy.)