Guest Commentary (4878)
NIKOLAS KOZLOFF FOR BUZZFLASH
Having overstated the political potency of Colombia’s Green Party, I’ve felt a bit shame faced in recent days. In the Andean nation’s first presidential runoff election, Green Party candidate Antanas Mockus garnered more than 20% of the vote, which allowed him to proceed to the second round on June 20th. But while the news was certainly encouraging for environmentalists across South America, Mockus's electoral performance failed to live up to expectations.
Indeed, prior to the election some pollsters predicted that Mockus might even beat conservative challenger Juan Manuel Santos outright in the first round. Such prognostications led me to pen an article speculating about what a Mockus presidency might mean for the wider region in an environmental and geopolitical sense. In the end, however, Mockus received less than half the votes which Santos garnered, and some observers now openly suggest that the Green Party faces daunting electoral math and cannot hope to prevail later this June.
DANNY SCHECHTER FOR BUZZFLASH
An Appeal for a Financial Crisis Education Outreach Campaign from “Plunder” Filmmaker and Author Danny Schechter
We have less than a month to go before the Congress votes on financial reform.
Ironically, the deadline seems to be July 4th, our independence day, an occasion that will likely usher in ever more dependence on Wall Street despite appearances.
The conference on the Hill formally begins this week after weeks of behind-the-scenes legislative "reconciliation" --a fancy name for horse-trading and compromising between the House and Senate over different versions of the "reforms" with thousands of lobbyists for the financial industry using every trick in their infinite playbooks of persuasion and payoffs to assure that the final bill is loop-hole full, weak, and easy to maneuver around.
JACUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH
Frank Rich raised doubts about Adm. Thad Allen of the Coast Guard who was still publicly reaffirming his trust in the BP chief executive, Tony Hayward, as recently as two weeks ago, more than a month after the rig exploded.” (NY Times; op-ed; 6-06-10)
Why should we doubt the White House’s designated point man Thad Allen? Well, for starters, it’s clear that he’s taken BP’s CEO Tony Hayward’s side from the get-go. It was shocking to hear him reiterate Hayward’s denial of the 10 and 20 mile underwater oil plumes detected and verified by scientists in the Gulf of Mexico.
That was the first impression that conveyed a “cozy relationship” between Allen and Hayward. Thad Allen’s response to reporters’ questions on the plumes was an echo of Hayward’s answer: “We can’t definitely prove that they exist.”
So who is Adm. Thad Allen working for? Tony Hayward? or President Obama? or the people of the U.S.?
This is the fifth installment of a project that is likely to extend over a two-year-period from January, 2010. It is the serialization of a book entitled The 15% Solution: A Political History of American Fascism, 2001-2022. Under the pseudonym Jonathan Westminster, it is purportedly published in the year 2048 on the 25th Anniversary of the Restoration of Constitutional Democracy in the Re-United States. It was actually published in 1996 by the Thomas Jefferson Press, located in Port Jefferson, NY. The copyright is held by the Press. Herein you will find Chapter 4.
2002: The Preserve America Amendment (30th)
The 30th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States (2002):
Commencing on the day following ratification of this amendment, no person not at that time a citizen of the United States may in the future become a citizen unless at least one parent of that person is a citizen of the United States.
JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH
Here we go again. The corporate networks, owned by the oil companies, are pressuring Obama to lift the 6 month moratorium in the name of “the economy”—loss of oil drilling jobs. The networks have been perpetually airing complaints from those in the oil industry to lift it or else the oil men will find other waters to pollute.
Ask the folks that live and vacation on the Florida coast if they want to see the moratorium lifted. They refused offshore drilling, but because of the decisions made by the states bordering the Gulf of Mexico, they’re stuck with blobs of oil caked on their powder white beaches.
Jobs are important but when a job entails killing entire oceans and everything that lives in and above those oceans, when a job wipes out livelihoods from fishing to resort vacation rentals and real estate investments, when a job entails wiping out wildlife species and their habitats, from turtles to pelicans, from dolphins to whales, then it’s time to change jobs.
MAX WOLFF FOR BUZZFLASH
The good news is that unemployment declined to 9.7% in May 2010. The bad news is there remains virtually no private sector hiring and state and local governments are cutting. 95% of non-farm payroll growth in the US in May came from temporary Census hiring. A fragile Europe is battered by sliding Euros, a Hungary’s woes and Italian debt worries, US employment remains very weak. 46% of our unemployed have been out of work for at least 27 weeks. This can be seen as a measure of severity of unemployment.
We remain in a labor market with breadth and depth of employment pain. Increases in average hourly wages- while anemic- were positive at .3% and average work weeks were slightly higher. In addition, we did see a reduction in involuntary part time work.
NIKOLAS KOZLOFF FOR BUZZFLASH
What if, instead of a nasty oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the U.S. public was now confronted with a natural catastrophe in the Grand Canyon or in California Redwood forests? Within the popular imagination, certain types of ecosystems elicit more sympathy than others, and very low on the totem pole are mangrove forests. Located in the tropics, mangroves are a mess of thick, tangled salt-tolerant trees and shrubs which thrive in brackish tidal waters. When I paddled through the Florida Everglades in a canoe some fifteen years ago, I found mangroves bizarre looking: trees have long roots which stick out above the water level.
Perhaps because they are swampy and inhospitable, mangroves have failed to capture the public’s attention. Yet, they fulfill a vital environmental purpose as they are home to a wide diversity of plant and animal life. What’s more, their myriad exposed roots provide a nursery for many commercial and recreational fish species, including shrimp and spiny lobster. Above water, they serve as a nesting and foraging area for wading and fish-eating birds.
While whales and dolphins are adored by the public and receive attention from environmentalists, few are aware of other aquatic mammals such as manatees and dugongs which rely on mangrove habitat [to read my article about the plight of one manatee now on its way from Florida to Alabama, click here].
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH
Joel C. Rosenberg, a conservative evangelical Christian best-selling author, suggests that as U.S.-Israeli relations gets icier, it is likely that Jewish voters will desert Obama in 2012.
The hastily arranged White House meeting that was supposed to take place between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week has been canceled. Netanyahu, who was visiting Canada, rushed back to Israel to deal with fallout from a raid by Israeli naval commandos on an flotilla in international waters that was carrying hundreds of peace activists and aid for Gaza. Early reports indicated that at least 9 people were killed and dozens wounded by the commandos. Thus the meeting between Obama and Netanyahu, which might have signaled a step toward healing what to some appears to be a growing rift between the two countries, was cancelled.
Prior to the meeting’s cancellation, Joel C. Rosenberg was pretty darned excited. But it had little to do with the meeting. (*See below for Rosenberg’s reaction to the Israeli raid.)
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH
“All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” — 1 Samuel 17:47
I’ve heard the Palestinians called “Hitler’s last victims.” That starts to get at the history of all this — the seed that sprouts anew every generation. Israel, born of the Holocaust, brings to the world not some new way of envisioning a nation, not an experiment in compassion between and among peoples, but the old cruelty, the old wish to be rid of an inconvenience, to grind a defenseless “enemy” out of existence.
Maybe the Gaza blockade, which has wreaked economic devastation on the region, destroyed its infrastructure and kept one and a half million people “food insecure” for the last year and a half, will now be broken by world opinion. Let us hope so, for Israel’s sake as well as the Palestinians’.
SHAMUS COOKE FOR BUZZFLASH
The corporate media is brutally honest on rare occasions. Take for example a recent article in The New York Times Magazine, titled "The Teachers’ Union’s Last Stand" (05-23-10).
The title itself is surprisingly sincere, since it admits that the nation’s teachers are being targeted for attack by the Obama Administration through his “Race to the Top” education reform. And although the article has an inherently corporate bias, it contains many revelations that have been otherwise ignored in the mainstream media.
The article outlines the two contending forces behind the national education “debate”: the corporate “reformers” and the “anti-change” teacher unions. Who are the reformers? The New York Times answers:
“…high-powered foundations, like the [Bill] Gates Foundation…and wealthy entrepreneurs, who have poured seed money into charter schools.”
JOSHUA BROLLIER AND KATHY KELLY FOR BUZZFLASH
Islamabad -- “Our situation is like a football match. The superpower countries are the players, and we are just the ball to be kicked around.” This sentiment, expressed by a young man from North Waziristan, has been echoed throughout many of our conversations with ordinary people here in Pakistan and in Afghanistan. Most are baffled that the United States, with the largest and most modern military in the world, can’t put a stop to a few thousand militants hiding out in the border regions between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Just about everyone we have spoken with, Pashtuns included, has little to no sympathy for the Taliban or their tactics. Many people have lost limbs, homes and loved ones to the brutal assaults of suicide bombers or the indiscriminate violence of IEDs. Yet, people expressed frustrated confusion over uncertainties regarding U.S. government goals in relation to the Taliban. Some believe that the United States might be working with the ISI (Pakistani Intelligence Services) or at least not working against them, to enable continued Taliban resistance. If there is no resistance, according to this view, a military presence in the region cannot be justified. Nor can a so-called humanitarian presence further flood the Pakistani and Afghan economies with millions of dollars in aid that most often lines the pockets of the politicians, elite bureaucrats, and United States corporations involved in construction and security.
JAMES RIDGEWAY FOR BUZZFLASH
On June 5, 1944, the eve of the largest invasion in history, General Dwight Eisenhower visited the English airfield where paratroopers were preparing to take off for their drop into France. “Quit worrying, General,” one of the soldiers told him. “We’ll take care of this thing for you.’’ The following day, 175,000 men landed on the beaches and fields of Normandy.
For children growing up in Washington, D.C., shushed into silence behind the blackout curtains while our parents bent over radios bringing the long-awaited announcement of the attack, it was all beyond comprehension -– save that every little boy was climbing into a tree to pretend he was flying his Spitfire over the Channel or parachuting into the French countryside.
At age eight, I was one of those boys. Last week I had the good fortune to meet another member of my generation whose experience of D-Day was something quite different. His name is Pierre Bernard, and he is retired to his family’s farm in the village of Maisons, a stone’s throw from the beaches that became the site of what the French call the Débarquement. In the spring of 1944, Pierre was twelve; with his parents and siblings, he worked the farm and waited for the Allied troops to arrive and free them from Nazi occupation. When that day finally came, Pierre recalls, the Germans simply vanished. British and then American troops soon passed through the village, moving quickly inland. His family was luckier than many others: Some 12,000 French civilians were killed during the battle for Normandy, along with more than 75,000 troops on both sides.
DAVID SWANSON FOR BUZZFLASH
Muntadhar al-Zaidi famously threw his shoes at President George W. Bush in December 2008, kicking off a stream of shoe-throwing protests around Iraq and the world. He then spent nine months in jail. TheRealNews.com has now posted a four-part video interview in which al-Zaidi reveals, to the certain bewilderment of many Americans, that he has absolutely no notion of "hating us for our freedoms." In fact, al-Zaidi lists completely unrelated grievances not unlike those listed by every other individual ever alleged to have hated us for our freedoms. It's enough to make you almost suspect there was a pattern, if you didn't know better.
Al-Zaidi says in Part 1 of the interview, in which he also lists his grievances with the United States, that he expected and was prepared to be killed immediately for throwing his shoes at Bush's head. He left behind a videotaped statement and a will, he says. Al-Zaidi had been working as a broadcast journalist for Al-Baghdadia TV and writing about the U.S. occupation of Iraq. He says that he did not believe the world was reading his writings, and that throwing his shoes at Bush was a means of grabbing people's attention. It certainly worked, at least temporarily.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH
Better Courts Now’s candidates are on a ‘mission from God’ to transform San Diego’s court system.
If you’ve had your fill of athletes thanking God for their good fortune on the basketball court or gridiron, and/or politicians claiming that God directed them to run for public office –- think George W. Bush –- then do not read any further. If, however, you’re interested in and/or intrigued by the “Mission from God” conceit, and wondering if folks adopting that charge from on high just might be coming to your humble township, then check out what’s been happening in San Diego, California.
What may have started out as a small, almost stealth-like campaign –- similar to those that took over school boards across the country -- has evolved into a rock-em, sock-em, full-throated effort to remove four Democratic-appointed judges from Superior Court, and replace them with four bona-fide “Mission from God” Christian conservative attorneys.
The movement, called Better Courts Now, is supporting four San Diego Superior Court candidates that have the backing of “pastors, gun enthusiasts and opponents of abortion and same-sex marriages,” the Associated Press recently reported.