Guest Commentary (4466)
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Mahatma Gandhi said, "A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members."
The visions of "greatness" coming from America's political and business and military leaders are quite the opposite, with an emphasis on the 'exceptional' people who would prefer to have nothing to do with the weaker members of society.
1. Let Government and the Media Ignore 90% of Us
Based on a study of 1,779 policy issues, Princeton researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page concluded that "the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy."
Government doesn't listen to us, and the mainstream media fails to inform us about matters that might offend their corporate bosses. As Bernie Sanders explained, "The corporate media does everything they can to keep us entertained without addressing the real issues... [Young people] don’t even know that we are the only major country without healthcare for all. They don’t know that in Germany or in Scandinavia college is free...Media is not telling them that...If you talk about the real issues and people get educated on the real issues, you know what happens next? They actually may want to bring about change."
2. Sell Arms to 96 Countries
As we continue to spend half our discretionary budget on the military, one of five U.S. children live in food insecure households. President Obama said, "They are not very good at feeding their people, but they invest a huge amount in their weapons." He was talking about North Korea.
It would seem unthinkable, with fears of terrorism and new Middle East wars, to keep shipping arms to half the world, to countries where failed insurgencies leave weapons in the hands of the people who hate us. But according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the USA has sold or donated major arms to at least 96 nations in the past five years. Here again our political leaders ignore us. Most voters favor defense cuts, but most politicians don’t.
The weapons we sell to Saudi Arabia are destroying villages in Yemen, killing entire families and leveling their homes. As Glenn Greenwald summarizes, "You’ll almost never hear any of those victims’ names on CNN, NPR, or most other large U.S. media outlets...You’ll never know anything about them – not even their names, let alone hear about their extinguished life aspirations or hear from their grieving survivors."
BILL QUIGLEY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Two Texas mothers, who police said had no criminal record, spent five days in a notorious Louisiana jail over charges they ate two hot dogs, milkshakes and an icee at a convenience store. The women were ordered held on $1500 dollar bond each despite the fact they had just voluntarily driven over 400 miles from Dallas to show up in court to contest the charges against them.
On January 15, 2016, Ms. Walnetta Reid and Ms. Tristan Ellis, mothers from Dallas, were stopped by a police officer in New Iberia, Louisiana. The police told the women they had been accused of eating two hot dogs and drinking milkshakes and an icee in a gas station convenience store without paying. The police officer handcuffed the two women and placed them in the back of the patrol car. The women told the police officer they had not taken anything from the store. They pleaded with the officer to look at the store surveillance videotape which would prove their innocence. They told the officer they did go into the store but only to use the store microwave to heat up some soup they had bought at another store and for which they had a receipt. The officer ran their names through his computer and found out they had no criminal records. He released the women with a summons to appear in New Iberia City Court on March 14, 2016.
Both Ms. Reid and Ms. Ellis are active in volunteer work in Dallas helping young people. They told a friend who does volunteer work with them, C.J. Bible, they had to return to Louisiana to clear their names.
Ms. Reid and Ms. Ellis drove the 400 miles to appear in New Iberia City Court on Monday March 14, 2016. They expected their case to go to trial. They planned to show the court their receipt for the soup and explain to the judge that Ms. Ellis is a vegan and never eats meat of any kind, much less a hot dog. Though they could not afford an attorney, they expected to be found innocent once the judge looked at the store videotape.
But when their case came up, they were told there was not going to be a trial. Court was only for them to plead not guilty or guilty. They plead not guilty and the court set the trial for May 25. They thought it was all over for the day until the Prosecutor asked the Judge to set cash bail on them since they had showed up on a summons and were from out of state. Despite that they had voluntarily driven 400 miles one way to appear in court, and they had no criminal record, the judge ordered each women to put up a $1500 bail, plus $240 in court fees.
HARVEY WASSERMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Our American president’s long-overdue visit to Cuba has been a great thing for many reasons.
But maybe our elected officials should cease their hypocritical yapping about the human rights situation in Cuba until they come clean about what’s happening here in the United States.
To be sure, there is much to say about how this authoritarian regime has handled dissent. The details abound in the corporate media.
But the idea of the United States lecturing Cuba or any other country on this planet about human rights comes down somewhere between embarrassing and nauseating.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The pols cry glory and revenge. They cry security. They cry greatness.
Then they stick in the needle, or the missile or the rifle shell, or the nuclear bomb. Or at least they imagine doing so. This will fix the world. And they approve more funding for war.
U.S. militarism, and the funding -- and the fearmongering -- that sustain it are out of control . . . in the same way, perhaps, that stage 4 cancer is out of control.
We talk about "the Pentagon" as though it were a rational entity, hierarchically in control of what it does, dispensable as needed to trouble spots around the world: a tool of America’s commander in chief and, therefore, of the American people. The reality, undiscussed on the evening news or the presidential debates, is something a little different. The American military is an unceasing hemorrhage of cash and aggression, committed -- perhaps only at the unconscious level -- to nothing more than its own perpetuation, which is to say, endless war.
LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Leonardo DiCaprio has advocated for a number of worthy causes, from fighting climate change to the importance of conservation. Now, with a single tweet, the planetary steward shines a light on the colossal environmental impact of animal agriculture.Oscar-winning actor
In his tweet, DiCaprio included a link to a stunning video from Mercy For Animals, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing cruelty to farmed animals, and promoting compassionate food choices and policies.
The 4-minute clip, with the tag-line “This is the video future generations will be wishing everyone watched today,” starts by showing the awe-inspiring, grandeur of our living, breathing planet Earth as well as its incredibly vast biodiversity. It then turns dark as footage rolls of crumbling glaciers and disappearing coastlines, and links these global catastrophes to mankind’s insatiable appetite for meat.
The video points out that animal agriculture and meat consumption is the number one cause of environmental destruction, species extinction and ocean “dead zones.” The agricultural industry has consumed one-third of all fresh water and has destroyed 91 percent of the Amazon.
ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUTJANET MACGILLIVRAY AND LEE ZIESCHE OF
Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch
In Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ masterpiece 100 Years of Solitude, the story of generations doomed to repeat history, the town of Macondo never learns from the past and is eventually wiped off the map. In a chilling and unconsciously ironic foretelling, BP nicknamed the ill fated oil field where the Deepwater Horizon oil exploded “Macondo.”
Now, the Obama administration’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has become the agency that never learns and may doom Louisiana to be wiped off the map.
The state was hit last week by another storm that dumped two feet of rain, causing widespread flooding in neighborhoods that can’t seem to get ahead of climate change induced weather events. Portions of 1-10 were so flooded they had to close down and the state is reporting more than 6,000 buildings and homes were damaged by floodwaters.
ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUTJEFF BIGGERS OF
Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch
As Peabody Energy teeters on the brink of bankruptcy, edging toward a Chapter II reorganization that will most likely allow it to walk away from massive reclamation and mine worker commitments, a flurry of poetic musings and giddy celebrations over of the death of Big Coal has begun to flow.
Spare me your coal requiems.
We’re long overdue for a reckoning in so-called coal country.
JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
OK, people, we need to discuss billboards. Yes, we really must.
Billboards must be living creatures, for they appear to propagate, spreading everywhere, growing to enormous size, shouting corporate messages at us — and even watching and tracking us with their digital eyes.
Now, though, rather than billboards becoming human, we humans are becoming billboards. Literally. For the love of money, the National Basketball Association is transforming its chief human assets — i.e., basketball players — into advertising placards that run, dribble, leap, twist and dunk.
While individual golfers and racecar drivers have long splattered themselves with their sponsors' logos, NBA teams are now planning to become the first major U.S. sports teams to sell ad space on their players' game-day jerseys. Chintzy? Well, yes — but not cheap. Team owners expect brand-name corporations to pay at least $100 million to have their logos plastered on the chests of basketball stars.
Calling this a "stylistic move," the mammon-worshipping owners say the ads will be modest — each just a two-and-a-half inch patch displaying the corporate brand of, say, Budweiser, Bank of America, Hooters or Viagra. The ad size seems small, but ESPN's high-definition TV cameras will focus on them and show them to viewers hundreds of times in every game. And, of course, to squeeze ever-more cash out of each human billboard, both the owners and advertisers will steadily expand the commercial space to cover the entire uniform.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
When Donald J. Trump takes the stage at the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference, he’ll have lots of ‘splaining to do. In addition to support Trump is receiving from the likes of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and an assortment of white nationalists, Mediaite’s Josh Feldman recently reported on numerous anti-Semitic incidents at Trump campaign rallies including someone making a Nazi salute, a man who shouted at someone to “go to fucking Auschwitz,” and “the pastor at a Trump event who said that Bernie Sanders needs a come-to-Jesus moment.”
If protests erupt when he speaks will he start shouting “Get them out of here, get them out,” or “Go home to your mommy?” Will he urge audience members to “Take them outta here on a stretcher?” Will he tell the crowd he’ll pay their legal fees if anyone clocks a protester?
There’s a good chance a number of rabbis and Jewish organizations will stage some kind of protest – either inside or outside of the event -- and there is equally a good chance that Trump will not only profess his great love for Israel, and maybe even say something like “I love Israel and I will help make U.S.-Israeli relations great again,” and “I guarantee it will be the best relations ever.”
Theirs is also a good chance that Trump will attempt to detoxify himself and walk back remarks he’s made about being neutral on the issue of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
The Union of Reform Judaism recently issued a statement maintaining that Trump’s views are the antithesis of Jewish values, as he has "chosen to take the low road, sowing seeds of hatred and division in our body politic."
COLE MELLINO OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
break free from the Antarctic coast and form a massive iceberg more than twice the size of Manhattan.NASA scientists fear that a growing crack in the Nansen Ice Shelf may cause it to
“Over the course of two years, a small crack grew large enough to spread across nearly the entire width of the Nansen Ice Shelf,” NASA said in a post last week.
Ice shelves are thick plates of coastline ice that float over the ocean. This particular one, Nansen, measures about 20 miles wide and 30 miles long.
A team of scientists first noticed the crack in 2013, but two NASA scientists Christine Dow and Ryan Walker discovered in December 2015 that the crack had grown substantially. Dow and Walker were visiting the ice shelf to install GPS stations on it to track how it was affected by tides. When they flew over the area, they realized that it was no longer a small crack.
Satellite images taken when Dow and Walker returned confirmed what they saw on the ground.
“There’s a huge crack, miles long and sometimes over a hundred yards wide, which runs more or less parallel to the front of the ice shelf,” Walker wrote in a post in December 2015. “Over the winter, the sea surface freezes and traps small icebergs in the crack, producing a fascinatingly broken icescape.”
Antarctic winter is now setting in, and, as of this month, satellite imagery indicated the ice shelf was still attached. Though winter may not be enough to prevent the shelf from collapsing.