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Guest Commentary

Guest Commentary (4497)

Larry Ross, a Christian PR man extraordinaire, has been working to take ‘The Road’ to a religious audience in search of buzz, box office and discussion


By Bill Berkowitz
 
Two movies with doomsday scenarios highlight this year’s pre-holiday Cineplex fare.  “2012,” a special effects spectacular starring John Cusack, is based on the Mayan calendar, whose end date -- not the end of the world most scholars agree -- is December 21, 2012. In its first weekend at the box office it took in $225 million -- $65 million domestically and $160 million internationally. The other film, “The Road,” is adapted from Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, and opened in theaters on Wednesday, November 25. (McCarthy is the author of “No Country for Old Men” and “All The Pretty Horses.”) “The Road” is a complicated tale about a father and son attempting to survive in post apocalyptic America.
 
Larry Ross, president of A. Larry Ross Communications -- a Christian media company -- was asked by the movie’s production company to take the film to the faith-based community. Ross believes that since “The Road” has already generated significant buzz as well as Oscar chatter, Christians should get in on the action: "The impact [of this film] will not be in the theater but over coffee when discussions happen," said Ross.

BUZZFLASH GUEST COMMENTARY
by Jacqueline Marcus

Last night, I was shocked to hear that the U.S. plans on staying in the Middle East for at least another 10 more years, according to NBC Nightly News. AND they're planning on raising every kind of tax to pay for it.

Obama failed us. Instead of firing General McChrystal, a ruthless commander who is responsible for "covering up the killing of football star Pat Tillman and condoning torture practices under his earlier command in Iraq," Obama is taking orders from him. More troops for a futile occupation with no end in sight.

It's clear that the U.S. Corporate-Military-Government is in the business of making wars on countries possessing oil. We all know that defense contractors have a lock on our treasury worth billions and billions of dollars. Obama can give all the "rationale" excuses he wants. We know why the CIA-military is in Iraq and Afghanistan and now -- Pakistan. It's always been about the largest source of oil in the world; and the pipeline is necessary if the oil polluters are going to steal it. The "extremists" are the guys that are hindering the U.S. from constructing the pipeline. After all, it's THEIR country, a little fact that our Government and corporate media like to ignore.

And then, of course, there's the CIA's obsession for those drug potential, poppy fields that are worth billions of dollars. This is all common knowledge, easily accessible on the Web. The networks and White House perpetuate the same deceptive and offensive lies and excuses, as if we were incapable of knowing the real facts for invading Iraq and occupying Afghanistan. Just SAY IT, President Obama: The U.S. Government wants control of the Middle East for its resources. Stop lying.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009 03:12

Jeff Fleischer: Permanently Off Base

BUZZFLASH GUEST COMMENTARY
by Jeff Fleischer

On November 9, Germany celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall's fall. The ceremony was properly affecting, from Angela Merkel and Mikhail Gorbachev walking through a former checkpoint to the thousands cheering for former dissidents such as Lech Walesa. Officials from around the world came to commemorate the long-overdue reunification and what one scholar famously called "the end of history."

That event's impact is hard to overstate. A reunited Germany has continued to rank among the world's strongest economies and become a leader in the creation of the European Union -- a continental cooperative that seemed impossible just a generation ago. For those of us old enough to remember watching young Germans take sledgehammers to the manmade monolith, it's still pretty difficult to believe two decades have passed since the day reunification moved from pipe dream to reality.

Unfortunately, what's equally difficult to believe is that, 20 years later and without any serious threat, Germany remains under heavy military occupation.

There's no longer any realistic chance of any superpower invading Germany. But you wouldn't know it considering the American military still owns 235 sites in Germany -- that's not a typo -- and those sites hold more than 50,000 troops. Exact troop numbers are hard to determine, given that many of those stationed in Germany were temporarily shifted to Iraq or Afghanistan, but the Department of Defense's own records show it still owns or leases nearly 10,000 buildings encompassing more than 39 million square footage in Germany (and uses even more sites it doesn't own). Obviously, this is only a fraction of the presence the military had there during its "Cold War" heyday. Still, polls consistently show that a clear majority of Germans want the bases gone and, more to the point, this costs Americans unnecessarily billions.

BUZZFLASH GUEST COMMENTARY
by Danny Schechter

Funny how, back in 1929, we had Black Thursday and then Black Friday as the market crashed, plunging the country into a depression. Now we have every retailer in every mall in America on their knees praying for a prosperous Black Friday this week.

Here's the scenario as Thanksgiving rolls around.

TV advertising spikes. Local TV channels start hyping the action at the local malls announcing plans to "go live" without mentioning that they are doing it to attract more advertising, or as part of the deal they already have with sponsors.

If the past is any guide, we will be told how packed the parking lots are -- and they will, thanks to the hype, probably be packed. Part of the reason is the deep discounting and special sales -- what are called "loss leaders" to get customers into the store even if you have to bribe them to come.

What happened last year was that most consumers only bought the sales items and left most of the other goods untouched. No wonder, a number of malls are now in foreclosure.

BUZZFLASH GUEST COMMENTARY
by Dee Evans

[Editor's note: The following is in reference to a story about Google's purchase of online ads to explain why an offensive image of Michelle Obama keeps appearing in its Google Image search results, and how high it ranks. The story can be found here, but the article does show the offending image of the First Lady.]

Per the article above, can we imagine the uproar had a similar photo of Laura Bush or Nancy Reagan been posted like this?

I am sick and tired of people thinking that they can treat this family like trash. This is the President and First Lady of the United States and regardless of your political views, they still deserve some modicum of respect.

As offensive as the image is, what offends me even more is that they have made a concerted effort to have this photo as the VERY first image that pops up from the Michelle Obama image search. It's funny that some things that have been previously taboo have become "in vogue" with this First Family.

BUZZFLASH GUEST COMMENTARY
by George Lakoff

Cost-benefit analysis can kill. The failure to distinguish statistics from arithmetic can kill. In the current debate over mammograms, the number of women projected to be at risk of death due to cost-benefit analysis is about 47,000.

That is the approximate number projected to die by the United States Preventative Task Force if their recommendations on scaling back mammograms had been accepted. It is their number, if you do the arithmetic, which they apparently did not.

Their statistics say that the life of "only" one woman in 1900 will be saved if mammograms start at age 40 instead of age 50. In other words, a 40-year-old woman's "risk" of dying from breast cancer in the next ten years is only 1 in 1900. That seems like no risk at all. 1 divided by 1900 equals .000526. About half a woman per thousand. Miniscule, right?

Now, how many women in America would be affected?

The most recent (July 2008) census figures say there are about 304,000,000 Americans, of which 50.7 percent are female. That's about 154,000,000 females. Roughly 80,000,000 of them are under 40 and about another 20,000,000 between 40 and 50. Of the 80,000,000 under 40, each one, under the proposed guidelines, would not get a mammogram until age 50. If "only" 1 in 1900 die as a result, that would be .000526 times 80,000,000, which equals about 42,000.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009 06:33

Michael Winship: A Jane Goodall Thanksgiving

BUZZFLASH GUEST COMMENTARY
by Michael Winship

Give thanks. Because this isn't one of those Thanksgiving lists of things for which we should be grateful -- although health, family, friends, laughter, etc., would certainly all be on mine.

And Jane Goodall.

Yes, that Jane Goodall, the woman we all grew up with watching those National Geographic specials on TV as she communed with the chimpanzees of Tanzania's Gombe National Park in East Africa. Everyone I know seems especially to remember those scenes of chimps ingeniously utilizing straw and blades of grass to poke around in mounds hunting for termites, proof that they know how to make and use tools. I still have trouble opening a can of tuna.

Goodall was interviewed by my colleague Bill Moyers for this week's edition of "Bill Moyers Journal" on PBS. She began her work in Africa in 1960 at the age of 26, spurred by the encouragement of her English mother and the great anthropologist Louis Leakey, as well as the African adventure books she read as a child. "I was in love with Tarzan," she told Moyers. "I was so jealous of that wimpy Jane. I knew I would have been a better mate for Tarzan."

I'm especially thankful to Jane Goodall after reading the passage in Sarah Palin's "Going Rogue" in which the erstwhile vice presidential candidate and Governor of Alaska writes that she doesn't "believe in the theory that human beings -- thinking, loving beings -- originated from fish that sprouted legs and crawled out of the sea. Or that human beings began as single-celled organisms that developed into monkeys who eventually swung down from trees."

BUZZFLASH GUEST COMMENTARY
by Nikolas Kozloff

Having survived a U.S.-supported coup d'état in 2002 that briefly removed him from power, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has sought to encourage solidarity amongst impoverished nations in an effort to counter Washington's hegemonic and imperial designs throughout Latin America and around the world. That impulse is certainly understandable, but Chávez has now gone so far overboard that he has lost all moral standing and any shred of credibility. Just in case you missed it, here is Chávez's latest gem for the ages: "I don't know, maybe he [the late Ugandan dictator Idi Amin] was a great nationalist, a patriot."

While Chávez has certainly made some obtuse statements over the years, this remark was so offensive, so insensitive, so utterly devoid of any moral compass that it ought to give severe pause to Chávez's international supporters. If Chávez were so inclined, he might have taken a moment to conduct a cursory Google search before holding forth on the subject of well-known African dignitaries. Perhaps the Venezuelan might have come up with the following obituary from London's Guardian newspaper, dated 2003: "Idi Amin," ran the piece, "was one of the most brutal military dictators to wield power in post-independence Africa."

After militarily seizing power in 1971, the Ugandan made himself president, dissolved parliament, and suspended elections. Under Amin, the secret police exercised absolute power over life and death while the courts and press were subjected to the president's whims. Even more disturbingly, Chávez's "patriot" killed hundreds of thousands of his real and perceived political opponents. To this day, the true death toll is not known with estimates ranging widely between 80,000 and 300,000. Amnesty International, compiling figures with the help of Ugandan exiles, put the number even higher at 500,000.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009 01:01

Sheila Samples: God Has Left The Building

BUZZFLASH GUEST COMMENTARY
by Sheila Samples

If you talk to God, you are praying; If God talks to you,
you have schizophrenia. --Thomas S. Szasz, The Second Sin
 

Several months ago, CNN published the results of a couple of disturbing polls about Americans and their religious beliefs. The first found that more Americans are rejecting religion and thus, according to CNN, America is becoming "less Christian." The second, a Pew survey of only 742 mostly white evangelical Protestants, revealed that more than six in 10 of them believe that torture is often or sometimes justified.

More than six in 10? What this says about those claiming to be God's own is that perhaps they should use their Bibles for more than "thumping." Because not one in 10 -- not one in 10 thousand -- not one in 10 million -- Christians believes that torture can ever be justified. Ever.

Anyone who has paid attention to the growing number of evangelical zealots over the past couple of decades must be aware that there is a growing chasm between Religion and Christianity. Today, the term, "religious Christians" is nothing if not oxymoronic. It seems when folks become apocalyptic frothing-at-the-mouth religious, they ultimately stray from the light and life of Christianity, while descending deeper into the darkness and death of Religion.

Because, all religion is politics. CNN quoted Mark Silk of Trinity College, who said, "In the 1990s, it really sunk in on the American public generally that there was a long-lasting 'religious right' connected to a political party, and that turned a lot of people the other way." Silk cited the obvious link between the Republican Party and groups such as the Moral Majority and Focus on the Family.

BUZZFLASH GUEST COMMENTARY

To: Fox and Friends

I hope NONE of you EVER have to visit an emergency room if the health care plan fails because you are going to find out the poor and uninsured in our country use an emergency room like a visit to a doctor's office.

Two months ago, I was suffering from severe chest pains and went to a Level One Trauma Hospital in the Chicago area and had to wait NINE HOURS before they admitted me and then they diagnosed my condition wrong.

Four days later, I had two stents put in my heart and the cardiologist told me I had a 99% blockage in the main left artery and I had "dodged a bullet."

I told the doctor I damn near died waiting NINE hours to be admitted and I made it abundantly clear that something has to be done about our health care system, now ranked 37th in the world behind even Costa Rica.

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