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ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaSlaveryKoehler(Photo: Eastman Johnson)Step on the gas, step on a man . . .

Writing recently in The Nation, Chris Hayes drew an intensely unnerving parallel between the use of fossil fuels as an energy source and the use of slave labor — not a moral parallel, but a financial one, though money and morality have a perversely symbiotic relationship. Where there's money to be made — especially enormous quantities of it — moral justifications come awfully cheap.

Hayes points out that the movement to end dependence on fossil fuels, drastically reduce carbon emissions and reverse global warming faces a financial hurdle of staggering proportions: ". . . the total amount of known, proven extractable fossil fuel in the ground at this very moment is almost five times the amount we can safely burn," he writes. Possession of this unexcavated carbon is claimed by global corporations: It's theirs to pull out of the ground, and it's worth . . . uh, somewhere between $10 and $20 trillion.

But there is, it turns out, a precedent for divesting rich and powerful people of a comparable amount of wealth, Hayes says. It was called the abolition movement.

By the time of the Civil War, some 4 million human beings were in bondage in the South — "owned," for God's sake: legally possessed and controlled to the last heartbeat. The precedent of slavery goes back to the beginning of human history, of course. Before the industrial era and the releasing of the energy of fossil fuels, the relatively privileged gained control over their environment by putting animals and other human beings to work for them. The moral and legal justifications for doing so accompanied the practice.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014 09:36

Jim Hightower | The Power of Organizing

Coalition of Immokalee Workers at a Trader Joe's Demonstration in Monrovia, California in 2011. (Photo:<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/63169273@N02/6269854387"> hihaivo / Flickr</a>)Coalition of Immokalee Workers at a Trader Joe's Demonstration in Monrovia, California in 2011. (Photo: hihaivo / Flickr)

JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Hard work, we're told, always pays off. Sure it does - ask a farmworker, a roofer, or a home health aide. In our economy, those doing the hardest work get the worst pay, the weakest job protections, the least respect and zero say in the way things work. Such laborers are the downest and outest people in our country's workforce, totally vulnerable to the boss' whims and not even allowed the legal right to organize for better treatment.

So what can they do? Organize!

To hell with taking "no" for an answer. Although these workers are poorly paid and treated, they're rich in spirit. Told they weren't allowed to organize, they went out and did it anyway. Groups such as the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in Florida's vast agribusiness fields, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network and the National Domestic Workers Alliance have formed within occupational categories to rally and be advocates for millions of the hard-hit, previously voiceless and largely invisible people who do the back-breaking, sweaty, insecure, exhausting and thankless - yet essential - labor in our society.

2014.5.14.Benham.BFJason Benham. (Screengrab via Right Wing Watch)BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

This fall, twin brothers Jason and David Benham, the sons of anti-abortion zealot Flip Benham, were slated to host a new reality program on HGTV called "Flip It Forward." After a batch of their homophobic, anti-choice and anti-Muslim statements came to light, the network decided to drop the show. However, there's no need to cry for the Benham twins as they are rapidly ascending the evangelical conservative Christian martyrdom ladder, recently occupied by Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson and Chick-fil-A's Dan Cathy.

When the network, which airs such popular programs as "House Hunters", "Property Virgins", "Design on a Dime", and "Curb Appeal", announced the show, it stated that the brothers will "leverage their good-natured sibling rivalry to help families find a fixer-upper and transform it into the dream home they never thought they could afford."

After hearing about HGTV's change of mind, David Benham told The Hollywood Reporter, "I think it would be healthy for America to show a balanced approach, but at the same time, we're in the free market, and they have a choice to make. If they don't choose us, it's no big deal. We are not pushing this at all." He also said that HDTV was "bullied" into making its decision to not go ahead with the program.

WALTER BRASCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaBraschFracking(Photo: Joshua Doubek)Among the mission statements of the University of North Dakota Department of Geology and Geological Engineering is that it "strives to develop in its engineering graduates keen insight and abilities to design an environmentally sound and sustainable future for humanity."

Like most college mission statements, it's a broad and vague goal, one that may not reflect reality. The Department is one of the better ones in the country, especially in training students to work in areas of gas and oil exploration and processing. However, their training—and research by the faculty—may be tainted by an industry bias, fueled by a $14 million gift.

The Department is now the Harold Hamm School of Geology and Geological Science. Hamm, CEO of Continental Resources, the ninth largest oil producer in the United States, provided $5 million to the renamed School; his company provided an additional $5. The other $4 million came from the Industrial Commission/Oil and Gas Research Program, a merger of the state of North Dakota and several gas and oil corporations.

Continental Resources, which had revenue of $3.65 billion and a net profit of $764.2 million in 2013, had opened up the oil shale in North Dakota, site of the Bakken Shale, and is currently the top producer of oil production in the country. Continental, which uses the controversial practice of high volume hydraulic horizontal fracturing (known as fracking) to extract the oil, predicts to produce 62.5–65.5 million barrels of oil, an increase in production of 26-32 percent.

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaFrancis(Photo: Edgar Jiménez)Unlike the National Football League, which took a small but significant step forward towards inclusiveness with the drafting of the openly (and proudly) gay Michael Sam, several Archdioceses around the country are taking giant leaps backwards.

Last September, Pope Francis made what many considered to be an extraordinary statement when in an interview "he criticized the church for putting dogma before love, and for prioritizing moral doctrines over serving the poor and marginalized," The New York Times reported. Throughout his first year, Francis has clearly been concerned with expanded the church, not further contracting its membership. It appears, however, that Archdioceses in Cincinnati, Ohio, Oakland, California, and the state of Hawaii have either not gotten the message or are being just plain ornery. Those districts are demanding that their teachers at Catholic schools pledge fealty to Catholic doctrine in their actions inside and outside the workplace.

Pope Francis told the interviewer, a fellow Jesuit: "It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time. The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church's pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently.

"We have to find a new balance," the Pope continued, "otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel." In words, if not church doctrine, Pope Francis was making a clear distinction from his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI.

Now, less than a year later, Archdioceses in Cincinnati, Ohio, Oakland, California, and the state of Hawaii are pressing teachers, employed in Catholic schools, to sign contracts, which can be read as loyalty oaths to Catholic doctrine.

Honey bee. (Photo:<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/andrew_ww/9531844222/in/photolist-fwiccL-4CgXDv-aoAtgi-aoAt4H-anxNid-dHt2Pm-6y4VtX-dsvgP4-fFBvXV-4CzMUA-a6jK3a-dsvgEi-6jvo19-fhP97K-9Vi4es-9Vi443-bAMi4o-gkXoQS-MVPoh-bJdPkk-eK9ebj-8eYsAJ-51HdmD-ajy93Z-eK9d63-cJXFQG-7UacKc-cJXFXU-jSW7aP-3dFbQG-NqgVG-4DgYZA-6FD55A-cE8xm3-cmVvzL-dQLkBF-dd9cuA-7LqqRi-bxUVuu-5ekpiU-bQisNn-ajAWwG-anxNnb-4TrGFh-4TnuU4-dHz26h-5wZs6j-d5QvQ-3bfY25-fnjCUv"> Andrew / Flickr</a>)Honey bee. (Photo: Andrew / Flickr)REV. BILLY TALEN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

On May Day, we marched honey bee-pollinated food (a cornucopia of fruits, vegetables, berries) into the Microrobotic Lab at Harvard University. We wore our bee-swarm costumes and the Queen Bee was regal (see video here). In this facility, scientists are sinning big time. They are accepting government money to design a replacement for the honey bee. The robot bee is called the RoboBee.

Two of the RoboBee project goals on the Microrobotics Lab website are artificial pollinaton and military surveillance. With the RoboBee research we have a blend of the visions of Monsanto's industrial agriculture and of world-wide military surveillance and control.

The project director, Dr. Robert J. Wood, is a wunderkind in drone technology, receiving grants and awards from the Navy and Air Force, as well as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency - also known as DARPA. The notorious terror of the skies has long heralded the arrival surveillance and bombs that would have the flight capabilities of insects.

WALTER BRASCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaPSU(Photo: George Chriss)Two of the reasons Pennsylvania has no severance tax and one of the lowest taxes upon shale gas drilling are because of an overtly corporate-friendly legislature and a research report from Penn State, a private state-related university that receives about $300 million a year in public funds.

Opponents of the tax cited a Penn State study that claimed a 30 percent decline in drilling if the fees were assessed, while also touting the economic benefits of drilling in the Marcellus Shale. What wasn't widely known is that the lead author of the study, Dr. Timothy Considine, "had a history of producing industry-friendly research on economic and energy issues," according to reporting by Jim Efsathioi Jr. of Bloomberg News. The Penn State study was sponsored by a $100,000 grant from the Marcellus Shale Coalition, an oil and gas lobbying group that represents more than 300 energy companies. Dr. William Easterling, dean of Penn State's College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, said the study may have "crossed the line between policy analysis and policy advocacy."

The Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research (MCOR), a part of Penn State, announced that with funding provided by General Electric and ExxonMobil, it would offer a "Shale Gas Regulators Training Program." The Center had previously said it wasn't taking funding from private industry. However, the Center's objectivity may have already been influenced by two people. Gov. Tom Corbett, who accepted more than $2.6 million in campaign funds from oil and gas company personnel, sits on the university's board of trustees; billionaire Terrence (Terry) Pegula, owner of the Buffalo Sabres hockey team, was CEO of East Resources, which he had sold to Royal Dutch Shell for $4.7 billion in July 2010.

Pegula and his wife had also contributed about $380,000 to Corbett's political campaign. On the day Pegula donated $88 million to Penn State to fund a world-class ice hockey arena and support the men's and women's intercollegiate ice hockey team, he said, "[T]his contribution could be just the tip of the iceberg, the first of many such gifts, if the development of the Marcellus Shale is allowed to proceed." At the groundbreaking in April 2012, Pegula announced he increased the donation to $102 million.

ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaWWI(Photo: Gsl)"Peace, as we have seen, is not an order natural to mankind: it is artificial, intricate and highly volatile. All kinds of preconditions are necessary." — Michael Howard, The Invention of Peace

And here comes World War I, wrapped in World War II, wrapped in the Cold War: tremors on one of Planet Earth's human fault lines.

We have enough angry, manipulable people on this planet to carry out the game plan of the political ideologues and war profiteers, who are always on the lookout for the next war, the one that's too volatile and "inevitable" to stop. As David Swanson, author of War Is a Lie, put it: "The search for a good war is beginning to look as futile as the search for the mythical city of El Dorado. And yet that search remains our top public project."

And the searchlight stops at Ukraine, full of neo-Nazis, corrupt oligarchs, nuclear reactors, an unelected government, a wrecked economy, a simmering civil war. God help us. Old animosities and ideological divisions come back to life. The United States and NATO stand off against Vladimir Putin's Russia. Thirty-one people — maybe more — die in a burning building in Odessa. This kind of thing could be the pretext for a world war. Sanity is up in flames.

"The crisis in Ukraine is serious," Floyd Rudmin writes at Common Dreams. "At some point soon, reality needs to become the priority. No more name-calling. No more blaming. If there are any adults in the room, they need to stand up. The crisis in Ukraine is going critical, and that is a fact."

Lackawanna College building. (Photo:<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/macgodbrad/7815427418/in/photolist-cUC7hA-cAKKqs-74Ujn5-75G1u7-9jYeSt-271VUC-9X5Lqo-CvL48-fARX9w-fARWp9-fARPQs-fARMsh-fARQEN-fABzvk-fABCoV-fABvur-fABA9Z-is29zK-5FQWZd-eipEDs-8Wr63x-gcRKxF-8QRXNn-5FSgpy-eiVnup-eLyV6R-bVX8d6-aymsfC-6iu5LF-749UL6-6ngs6S-bW1q1n-7giqye-ajE3Bj-ayiKHH-aymsiq-dN26tW-f2htem-ajXLd6-fMTvoe-749UPx-6iu5E4-irZujv-femSoN-is1sAg-is1mJB-irZtz4-is1t7r-is1ERv-is2a8m"> bclinesmith / Flickr</a>)Lackawanna College building. (Photo: bclinesmith / Flickr)

WALTER BRASCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Lackawanna College, a two-year college in Scranton, Pennsylvania, has sold out its academic integrity.

Its price was $2.5 million.

That's how much Cabot Oil & Gas paid to the School of Petroleum and Natural Gas, whose own nine building campus is in New Milford in northeastern Pennsylvania. On the School's logo are now the words, "Endowed by Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation."

That would be the same Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation that has racked up more than 550 violations since it first used horizontal fracking to extract gas in the Marcellus Shale almost six years ago.

The White Student Union "celebrates European heritage” during May Day demonstrations in Washington DC, May 1, 2013. (Photo: <a https://www.flickr.com/photos/coolrevolution/8703172252"> cool revolution / Flickr</a>)The White Student Union "celebrates European heritage" during May Day demonstrations in Washington DC, May 1, 2013. (Photo: cool revolution / Flickr)STEVEN JONAS MD, MPH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Racism in the United States and its predecessor colonies has a long history, dating back virtually to the original founding of those colonies. In the North, it began in the Massachusetts Bay Colony with paternalistic attitudes towards Native Americans, which quickly degenerated into military aggression, forced removal/eviction, and eventually genocide. In the South of course, it began with the importation of the first slaves. During the course of the 17th century, slavery was justified by the artificially developed dogma of white supremacy, which quickly bred the twin dogma of racism.

The intellectual justification of slavery in the Southern United States was based entirely on the concept of white supremacy, as stated clearly by the Alexander Stephens, the Vice President of the Confederate states of America:

"Many governments have been founded upon the principle of the subordination and serfdom of certain classes of the same race. Such were, and are in violation of the laws of nature. Our system commits no such violation of nature's law. With us, all of the white race, however high or low, rich or poor, are equal in the eye of the law. Not so with the Negro. Subordination is his place. He, by nature, or by the curse against Cain, is fitted for that condition which he occupies in our system. Our new government is founded on the opposite idea of the equality of the races. Its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests upon the great truth, that the Negro is not equal to the White man; that slavery - subordination to the superior race - is his natural condition."

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