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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

amittromking(Image: Donkey Hotey)

Mitt Romney and some other renowned Republicans are now attempting to rebrand themselves as "anti-poverty" fighters.

This is a bit like the Koch Brothers waking up one day, calling a press conference and announcing that they are beginning a campaign to end personal, corporate, PAC and organizational giving to political candidates and affiliated support groups.

The GOP is great at disseminating and emphasizing top-down Frank Luntz-style memes. That's in large part due to the authoritarian nature of the Republican Party, which is a well-disciplined machine of candidates, media and political stunts. A bit like the military or police, Republicans, in general, follow the chain of command. 

That is why the new Republican emphasis on the so-called elimination of poverty extends down from Romney to two local Wisconsin legislators. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel,

Two influential Republican lawmakers proposed a plan Wednesday to fight poverty in Milwaukee's inner city by pushing big changes in the state's schools, tax code and regulations.

Many of the proposals are controversial, including creating urban zones without corporate taxes, typical union rules and state markup requirements on retail sales, and a plan to convert struggling public schools in Milwaukee into independent charter schools answering to a new board....

"People all over the place are hurting, but particularly in these neighborhoods, people are hurting," Rep. Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield) said as he introduced the proposals.

"It's trying to invite new people to the table and try new approaches," Kooyenga said of the agenda he put forward with Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills).

The pattern is clear: Word has come down from the Republican pollsters and sloganeers on high that the GOP must repackage Bill Clinton's "I feel your pain" empathy strategy to position itself for 2016.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

abringbaIt is racist just to be concerned about violence against whites. (Photo: Michael Fleshman)

One can deplore and be appalled by the loss of life that occurred on 9/11, at the ghastly destruction of families and grief that rippled across the nation, as BuzzFlash was and is. One can also feel horror for the staff at Charlie Hebdo who were gunned down in a summary execution, as well as the killings that occurred in the Kosher supermarket in Paris. We at BuzzFlash felt the grief of lives cut short by such appalling premeditated murders.

It is an injustice, however, to confine the outpouring of public mourning for victims of violence to those of white European identity.

It is human nature, in general, to associate with the identity group that an individual feels is most like him or her. That may be one exlanation why so many in the Eurocentric nations and their white colonialized offshoots - including the US and Canada - are aghast at the killings of people like themselves, but hardly appear to notice or grieve for people of other colors and backgrounds who suffer horrible massacres.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

apopeonincomein(Image: Devendra Makkar)

It is rare for a corporate media outlet to focus on those killed by the grindstone of economic inequality. That is why a profile of the final hours of 32-year-old Maria Fernandes's life, chronicled in The New York Times last year, still stands out. The victims who die from economic inequality are not abstract collateral damage in public policy debates; they are real people.

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The cause of death among those struggling to survive might be stress, punishing manual labor, inadequate diet or a variety of other factors. In the case of Maria Fernandes, The New York Times' headline observed, "For a Worker With Little Time Between 3 Jobs, a Nap Has Fatal Consequences."

No one directly killed Fernandes, but she died as a result of the circumstances of living on a minimum-wage income that forced her to often live out of her SUV in order to juggle part-time jobs at three different Dunkin' Donuts in and around the Newark, New Jersey, area. The Times described the precipitating factor of her fatality:

Ms. Fernandes slept in her running S.U.V. so often that she started keeping a container full of fuel in the back. Mr. Carter [her boyfriend] warned that this wasn’t safe, but Ms. Fernandes brushed aside his concerns. She couldn’t run the risk of waking up to an empty tank.

Last summer, a convenience store employee noticed Fernandes slumped over in her car.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

anypd(Photo: longislandwins)

In a revealing informal survey conducted in late 2014, Reuters found that, among a random sampling of Black New York Police Department (NYPD) officers, almost all had experienced racial profiling by other police when off duty.

According to Reuters:

From the dingy donut shops of Manhattan to the cloistered police watering holes in Brooklyn, a number of black NYPD officers say they have experienced the same racial profiling that cost Eric Garner his life….

Reuters interviewed 25 African American male officers on the NYPD, 15 of whom are retired and 10 of whom are still serving. All but one said that, when off duty and out of uniform, they had been victims of racial profiling, which refers to using race or ethnicity as grounds for suspecting someone of having committed a crime.

Some of these incidents involved harrowing physical threats. 

2015.1.27.BF.COMMFaced with the facts presented by "Le Petit Journal," Fox not only apologized, but did it three times: for the mischaracterizing of embracing Paris communities; its use of a faulty poll; and its baseless claim of government-recognized "no-go zones" for non-Muslims. (Photo: Le Petit Journal via Facebook)

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

"Le Petit Journal," A French comedy show akin to "The Daily Show," used facts and satire to force Fox News to apologize for three "errors" the Murdoch network disseminated in its effort to whip up anti-Islamic hysteria through its "reporting."

Specifically, Fox had claimed that there were neighborhoods in Paris that were dangerous to non-Muslims; that there was a poll taken that showed a significant number of French young people supported ISIS; and that there were official "no-go zones" for persons who are not of the Islamic faith (this included baseless accusations that such "no-go zones" also existed in England, an assertion echoed by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal in a Fox interview).

You can watch the host of "Le Petit Journal," Yann Barthès, bask in satisfaction at the Fox admission of "errors" as he munches on popcorn and sips from a drink, here. The segment doesn't have subtitles, but you will understand most of it even if you don't speak French; the clips of Fox anchors admitting their Islamophobic claims about Paris (and England) were false are, of course, in English. It will also help to know three French expressions: La Carte (the map); Les Sondages (opinion polls); and Les No-Go Zones (the no-go zones).

Wednesday, 21 January 2015 08:47

Why I Didn't Watch the State of the Union

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

acapitolusUS Capitol (Photo: Tom Harris)

As the years progressed, BuzzFlash was a forerunner when it came to lacerating, scathing attacks on Republican hypocrisy, and even generated a spinoff (no longer on the web): GOPHypocrites.com. 

BuzzFlash took on the Bush administration's war policies following 9/11, particularly focusing on the administration's lies about the lead-up to the tragedy. We entered the lion's den of neoconservative gladiators and shredded their jingoistic, bellicose justifications of wars to advance hegemony.

Frankly, exposing the deceit of the Bush administration and ridiculing it was like picking low-lying fruit.  The DC press corps is so beholden to being part of the ongoing ruling social and financial hierarchy that all one had to do was read secondary sources from outside the country to be able to post scoops. 

Then came what appeared to be a dramatic rescue. The Obama campaign in 2008 was brilliantly scripted, featured a charismatic candidate and created the energizing, hopeful characteristics of a movement.

Obama, of course, won against grumpy John McCain, but more than six years later, those iconic Shepard Fairey posters of "hope" have long since peeled away. When Obama moved into the White House, he jettisoned movement politics and adopted the so-called "pragmatic politics" of DC. This was a conversion of "hope" into more of the same.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

akerryhoteyJohn Kerry (Photo: DonkeyHotey)

If you made a resolution in 2000 for peace in the new millenium, you were quickly disappointed. Clearly we didn't get an end to violence, wars and murders. World wars of the previous century now have generally morphed into micro-wars over economic hegemony, which create catastrophic loss of life and incite a backlash of more violence.

What were once wars between nation-states have now become largely conflicts between nation-states and non-nation-state adversaries. If you are in an armed struggle with a nation-state, but haven't been recognized by the UN, then your use of weapons is generally called terrorism. That is to say, unless you are battling a regime that is hostile to Western economic interests; in that case, you are a "freedom fighter."

Although the appalling murders that occurred at Charlie Hebdo and the Kosher supermarket in Paris are to be deplored, it has been frequently pointed out that nation-states - in particular the US - have caused the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians (with just one small source of these murders being drones that cause the euphemistic killing of "non-combatants," also known as "collateral damage").

Given this background, Secretary of State John Kerry showed up in Paris on Friday to announce that he was offering a "big hug" of support to the French. As ABC News quoted Kerry, "I really wanted to come here and share a hug with all of Paris and all friends," he announced to a crowd at the Hotel de Ville, the city hall of Paris.

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

amlkphoto(Photo: courtesy of caboindex)

During a recent appearance on the One America News Network’s “The Rick Amato Show,” Bishop Council Nedd II, a longtime member of the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Project 21 black leadership network, said: “If the election of President Obama is somehow some sort of fulfillment of Dr. King’s dream, you know, maybe, at this point, Dr. King’s dream has become a nightmare.  A horrible nightmare that’s sort of run amuck.” Nedd added: “There are hurting people in this country right now. There are a lot of people upset. There are a lot of people who are ill at ease for a variety of different reasons which, in my opinion, all fall on President Obama’s lap…”

Say what?

Black conservatives are consistent guests on the Fox News Channel; when the Religious Right and/or secular right needs to add some color to one of their gatherings, they call a Black conservative to the podium; Black conservatives have aligned with Christian Right organizations, leading the charge against Obamacare and same-sex marriage. When it comes to condemning police misconduct, there’s hardly a word from any of the better known Black conservatives.

In time for the celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday and the national holiday in his name, the Black conservative organization, Project 21, a project of the National Center for Public Policy Research, issued a Press Release titled “Black Conservatives Available to Discuss Importance, Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”

Friday, 16 January 2015 05:37

Get Ready to Buy Your Plane Tickets to Cuba

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

ahistorichavanaHistoric Havana (Photo: Gerry Balding)

Among the first specific steps toward implementing the normalization of relations with Cuba, the Obama administration announced on January 15 that it will allow commercial airlines to fly scheduled flights to the island. Currently, only charter flights to Cuba arranged by State Department-approved travel agencies are allowed. Individual waivers to travel to Cuba from the US will no longer be required from the Treasury Department. 

According to The Washington Post,

Freed from cumbersome requirements to obtain a Treasury Department license, individual Americans will be able to travel to Cuba provided they say the trip is intended to serve religious, educational or other approved purposes under the still-standing U.S. embargo. When they return, they can bring up to $400 in Cuban goods, including $100 worth of alcohol and tobacco.

U.S. airlines will be allowed to fly scheduled routes to Cuba for the first time in decades.

Currently, US citizens who want to travel to Cuba without meeting the bureaucratic requirements - and additional expense of going through a US-sanctioned travel agency and paying high charter fares - illegally fly from third-party nations, such as Mexico and Canada, to Havana. Cuban immigration complies with requests not to stamp the passports of such travelers, who fly back to the third-party nation and then buy a return ticket to the US.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

asamesong(Photo: bunky's pickle)

BuzzFlash has noted many a time that the Creation Museum in Kentucky has featured dinosaurs with saddles. Holding that evolution is a misguided theory, the creationists behind the museum exhibit attempt to show - by placing the saddles on dinosaurs - that people lived contemporaneously with dinosaurs. This, supposedly, proves that everything on earth was created simultaneously in a divine burst of benevolence.

Charles Pierce took note of this bizarre representation of something akin to a gigantic terrestrial reptile just waiting to be mounted by a cowboy. He told Truthout that it inspired his best-selling book, Idiot America. Indeed, the exhibition would have been a magical presidential visit photo op for Ronald Reagan's iconic image if the museum had been around for his years in office. Skeptics would have called it a dinosaur sitting atop a dinosaur.

However, that hypothetical Reagan-bashing image may now be replaced by another, less easy-to-depict reality: Perhaps, today, it is the two-party system in the United States that is riding the United States back into a social and economic Mesozoic Era. Even if one successfully argues that there are significant, though marginal, differences between Democratic and Republican politicians on social issues and perhaps on the environment, it is difficult to see major distinctions between the two parties on economic and foreign policy issues. (Both fall solidly in the neoliberal camp.)

Granted, the Republicans may often sound more strident and unhinged, but in the end, there is basically a consensus - as far as voting in Congress - on trumped up wars abroad and particularly on neoliberal global free trade and financial policies.

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