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Guest Commentary

Guest Commentary (3945)

Monday, 10 November 2014 06:24

Peace as a Human Right

2014.11.10.Peace.BF

ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

“Individuals and peoples have a right to peace.”

In the beginning was the word. OK. This is the beginning, and these are the words, but they haven’t arrived yet — at least not officially, with full force of meaning.

It’s our job, not God’s, to create the new story of who we are, and millions — billions — of people fervently wish we could do so. The problem is that the worst of our nature is better organized than the best of it.

The words constitute Article 1 of the U.N.’s draft declaration on peace. What alerts me that they matter is the fact that they’re controversial, that “there is a lack of consensus” among the member states, according to the president of the Human Rights Council, “about the concept of the right to peace as a right in itself.”

2014.11.10.Buchheit.BF (Image: Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t)PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Our national wealth has grown by an astonishing $30 trillion since the recession, but most of it has gone to people who were already wealthy.

We are living through a massive redistribution of America's net worth to the beneficiaries of a financial industry that has used cunning and money and power to impose their version of economic "freedom" while deregulating any policies that might have stopped the incessant transfer of wealth.

It's getting worse, by the year and by the month. President Obama's claim that "We've recovered faster and come farther than almost any other advanced country on Earth" applies largely to the people whose wealth accumulation has dramatically pulled up the averages. The evidence is staring us in the face, but the super-rich are only watching their portfolios.

2014.11.9.Talen.BF (Photo: Simon Forsyth / Flickr)

REV. BILLY TALEN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT​

During the six weeks since the "biggest climate march in history," the CO2 emissions have entered the atmosphere from American cars at two trillion pounds a week. Not only that, Republicans overtook the US Senate. The first one is an odorless gas and the second one farts in suits; they both damage the atmosphere.

Actually, the first Peoples Climate March was wonderful. Our joyous carnavale for the Earth gave us such a release. So many of us felt from the march that finally our climate change issue was expressed openly by as many people as care about it. The hard work in making giant puppets and banners and the declarations on signs – created intense partnerships that could be key in a future climate march that has more impact in the world.

The motive for Peoples Climate March was to change perceptions of the scale of the climate movement, in the eyes of our fossil-fueled politicians and in our own eyes, too. The feeling that we are powerful and on the rise – this is key to our faith that we can change this gone-wrong system. However, the no-politics-please soft center of the march leaves us after a couple months with a very big selfie and a lot of fading pixels.

AKIRA WATTS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

akirachoiceShouldn't an election be about clear choices? (Photo: photosan0)“Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for the real Republican all the time”

- Harry S Truman

Tuesday, the 4th of November, was a bad night. Call it a shellacking or a drubbing or some other gerund signifying a vicious back alley beating. Whatever you call it, it comes down to a rough election for the Democratic Party. Governorships were lost. At least 11 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives were lost. And the one that really stings is the loss of the Senate: at least eight, most likely nine, Senate seats flipped to give the Republican Party decisive control of the Senate.

It was a bad night.

But you know what it wasn’t? It wasn’t a mandate. It wasn’t a sweeping call for anything. It was a midterm election, with abysmal turnout, in a political landscape that overwhelmingly favored the Republican Party. As disasters go, the 2014 election is all full of sound and fury, signifying, in the end, nothing much at all.

Except that John Boehner and Mitch McConnell are now talking about once more attempting to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Meanwhile, professional political buffoon Ted Cruz is preparing to unleash another blast of idiocy on the nation, by acting as de facto majority leader and turning the Senate into a right-wing morass. McConnell has issued a stern warning to Obama, calling for him to move to the center and not to “poison the well” by doing anything remotely associated with Democratic Party ideals. These are the actions of people who feel they have the weight of history behind them, who think they speak with the voice of the American people, who inexplicably believe that they have a mandate to change the fundamental course of the nation.

I have a frank and anatomically improbable suggestion for all that noise.

STEVE JONAS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

 joniernst(Image: DonkeyHotey)

If the Democrats play their cards right (well, I know, I know, I’m asking for a lot) Joni Ernst should become a major new face of the Republican Party. First, she came from behind in the Iowa Republican primary last June to win the nomination for the upcoming Senate seat over a group of wealthy businessmen. Apparently an important factor in that victory was her famous “as a kid I castrated hogs” ad.

 

Now she has won the general election against a popular Congressman, a protégé of long-time Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, one of the last old-timey liberals in the Senate. On her way to winning the general election, she made this campaign comment: 

 

‘I have a beautiful little Smith & Wesson, 9 millimeter, and it goes with me virtually everywhere,’ Ernst said at the NRA and Iowa Firearms Coalition Second Amendment Rally in Searsport, Iowa" 

 

As reported in The Huffington Post, “ ‘But I do believe in the right to carry, and I believe in the right to defend myself and my family -- whether it’s from an intruder, or whether it’s from the government, should they decide that my rights are no longer important.’ ” 

2014.11.5.Wasserman.BF"No matter which corporate party tries to lead us there, the path to the promised land does not go through the deadly quicksand of imperial war, empty rhetoric or corrupted elections." (Image: Lance Page / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: The U.S. Army, Burns! )HARVEY WASSERMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

The GOP/corporate coup d'etat is nearly complete.

The Republicans now control the major media, the Supreme Court, the Congress and soon, the presidency.

Think Jeb Bush in 2016.

All throughout America, right down to the local level, buried in a tsunami of cash and corruption, our public servants are being morphed into corporate operatives.

Our electoral apparatus is thoroughly compromised by oceans of dirty money, Jim Crow registration traps, rigged electronic voting machines, gerrymandering, corrupt secretaries of state.

The internet may be next. Above all, if there is one thing that could save us a shred of democracy, it's preserving net neutrality. This fight could in fact outweigh all the others, and may be decided soon. Whatever depression you may now feel, shake it off to wage this battle. If we now lose the ability to freely communicate, we are in the deepest hole of all.

The roots of this corporate coup reach where they always do when empires collapse - useless, cancerous, debilitating, endless imperial war.

2014.11.5.Quigley.BFSt. Alphonsus Catholic Church in New Orleans, a church for the Irish Catholic community of the Lower Garden District section of the city. (Photo: Traveling Mermaid / Flickr)BILL QUIGLEY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

I used to live and work in the Irish Channel at Hope House in New Orleans. I worked with families who lived in the St. Thomas Housing Development. More than 1,500 families lived in brick buildings stretched three blocks by four blocks in the area which is now the River Garden apartments.

Some Catholic Sisters who were living in the St. Thomas asked me to join them in serving the poor and I agreed. One of the sisters received a small stipend for teaching religion at Mercy Academy. She told me she would give me her stipend of $250 per month if I joined them.

I knew Catholic social teaching put a priority on helping the poor, so I joined them so I could help people.

I worked with these sisters and the neighborhood families for several years before going to law school. I helped when someone was sick and needed help to go to the hospital, with responding to bill collectors and with filling out government forms.

2014.11.5.Obamacare.BFPro-Obamacare demonstrators at the US Supreme Court during arguments for and against Obamacare, March 2012. (Photo: majunznk / Flickr)

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

For those who may be convinced that Obamacare, aka The Affordable Health Care Act - signed into law of March 23, 2010, and now doing well in most states despite its herky jerky rollout and still somewhat negative polling numbers – will not be overturned even if Republicans win control of the Senate, consider how the conservative movement has dealt with the issue of abortion.

Codified as a right by the US Supreme Court in 1973, opponents of reproductive rights have been slashing away at abortion for more than forty years. And while the anti-abortion movement has spawned its fair share of terrorists - true believers willing to kill abortion providers, harass patients at clinics, threaten and intimidate health care workers, bomb and burn down clinics -- the movement has also hit upon a strategy that is literally stripping women of their right to an abortion.

Over the past few years, state legislatures have come up with more anti-abortion legislation than at any time in the law's forty-one-+-year history. State by state, abortion rights have been abridged through new restrictions including a twenty-four hour waiting period, parental consent, forced face-to-face counseling with an abortion provider, and a ban on the use of Medicaid funding (except in extraordinary cases). Clinics, forced by legislation to retool at the cost of many thousands of dollars, have been closing by the droves. In some states, recent legislation has imposed a requirement that abortion providers have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital; a requirement that the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists say is medically unnecessary.

ANASTASIA PANTSIOS OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaTonyPerkinsEcoWatch(Photo: EcoWatch)Anti-gay activists are sounding increasingly unhinged as marriage equality sweeps the U.S. Climate deniers are sounding increasingly unhinged as evidence piles up that we’ve got to do something about the way we’re ravaging our planet.

Put them together and what do you have? An epic level of head-scratching conspiracy-mongering emanating from the master of that craft, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, a man who has been professionally obsessed with LGBT people for years.

According to watchdog group Right Wing Watch, Perkins told a caller to his Washington Watch radio program last week that those who are advocating for action on climate change are behind the push for LGBT rights.

The caller offered him an opening, saying that homosexuality is “promoted” because it doesn’t lead to reproduction and that “there’s this anti-life agenda, there’s a total anti-human, anti-life, human beings are a virus type of mentality.”

Perkins took the opportunity to connect that with people working to stem and reverse climate change.

GARY WOCKNER OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaGagEcoWatch(Photo: EcoWatch)The Oct. 30 New York Times ran a story about how the oil and gas industry and its high-priced lobbyist/publicist Richard Berman are personally targeting Colorado activists who are working in anti-fracking campaigns. The story is based on a secretly recorded speech given by Berman and his colleague to industry officials in Colorado Springs in 2014 during which he described how the industry was going hard negative and using personal attacks against activists and how the industry must prepare for an “endless war” against environmentalists about fracking.

I am one of the activists targeted by Berman. If you go to the website Berman highlighted in his speech, BigGreenRadicals.org, then click on “Colorado,” then click on “Gary Wockner,” you’ll see Berman’s hit job (it’s not very accurate or insightful). I’m in good company there, joined by my Congressman Jared Polis, Yoko Ono, Mark Ruffalo and other local Colorado activists with whom I’ve been proud to work over the past couple of years.

A few environmental leaders are taking Berman and industry to task for their tactics targeting me and others. After reading the story in the Times, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said, “You know climate deniers and big polluters are desperate when they turn to the tired old tactics of the tobacco industry to try and save themselves.” Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. called Berman “The Oil Reich’s Minister of Propaganda” in this tweet:

Rick Berman: The Oil Reich's Minister of Propaganda & public information. ?

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