Facebook Slider
Optional Member Code
Get News Alerts!
EditorBlog

EditorBlog (1443)

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.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aharvarddiv(Photo: 350.org) 

Recently, Truthout featured Lani Guinier's book The Tyranny of the Meritocracy, which focuses on the need to change the type of students selected by prestigious universities. She encourages the transformation of institutions such as Ivy League schools from factories for the elite status quo into schools that prepare future generations of engaged citizens who can work collaboratively for the common good.

Guinier focuses on how the most competitive universities largely base their admissions' policies on standardized test scores, competitiveness, individual ambition and, of course, likely candidates to perpetuate the economic and social status quo.

In an excerpt from Guinier's book recently posted on Truthout, she writes:

Merit as defined by test-based admissions has harnessed "schools and universities to the task of sieving people" according to a "narrow band of values."  Those values, as it turns out, are the production and reproduction of privilege but without obligation or shame. The rise of the testocratic meritocracy has enabled those already at the top of the heap to continue to preside without a sense of moral or political accountability. The privileged have come to believe that their "advancement comes from their own merits," and thus they are entitled to their power.

Guinier advocates that changes in admissions' policies can alter the impact of institutions in creating a truly robust and socially responsible democracy.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aimmidetArrest at immigration protest at detention center. (Photo: Carrie Sloan)

The for-profit prison system in the United States is not only a major factor in the emergence of "manufactured crime," it also makes money off of a national war on Latino migrants through the "detention" (in other words, incarceration) of persons - including minors - seeking economic and security refuge in the US.

A ministry located in Georgia - Alterna: Love Crosses Borders (El Amor Cruza Fronteras) - that provides compassionate assistance to migrants from south of the Mexican border monitors the nearby Stewart Detention Center, run for profit by the Corrections Corporations of America (CCA). The facility is the largest incarceration complex specifically for migrants in the US, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). 

The ACLU has also conducted a study of Stewart and found rampant violations of human rights:

For purposes of this documentation project, the ACLU of Georgia interviewed 68 individuals who were detained at the Georgia immigration detention facilities, as well as detainees' family members and immigration attorneys. We also toured the detention centers and reviewed documents obtained from Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other agencies. The findings in “Prisoners of Profit: Immigrants and Detention in Georgia” raise serious concerns about violations of detainees’ due process rights, inadequate living conditions, inadequate medical and mental health care, and abuse of power by those in charge.

Among the problems we documented: inadequate information about available pro bono legal services, inadequate conditions for attorney visits which raise attorney/client confidentiality issues, and delays in gaining access to the law library.  Detainees also face unreasonable delays in receiving medical care and in the case of detainees with mental disabilities, punitive rather than care-oriented treatment. We also documented numerous concerns about cell conditions including temperature extremes and overcrowding; hygiene concerns including instances where facilities ran out of hygiene items and detainees simply had to go without; used underwear provided to detainees at Irwin; food concerns including unusual mealtimes, insufficient quantity, and poor quality; limited recreation; and a work program at two corporate run detention centers where detainees are paid $1.00 to $3.00 per day and sometimes are coerced to work. Other findings point to a failed grievance procedure where detainees who filed grievances did not always receive responses, verbal and physical abuse, and retaliatory behavior from guards including placing detainees in segregation.

The Alterna ministry's findings concur with the ACLU about the abuses that take place in these facilities, run under contract by companies listed on stock exchanges. They may be euphemistically labeled as "detention centers," but if a person is detained against his or her will, we should really just call it jail.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aborderdrone2US Border Patrol drone. (US Customs and Border Protection)

As BuzzFlash at Truthout has documented many a time, the US war on immigration from Mexico and Central America is cruel, political, fueled by fear of "the other" and inhumane.

BuzzFlash has also provided evidence of how the drumbeat of xenophobia against immigration by Latin Americans of limited means has resulted in large allocations of tax-payer dollars being shifted to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for "securing the Mexican border." Exactly what the hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars spent annually are "protecting" the US from is not clear, but the allocations continue to accelerate for keeping people - who are trying literally to survive - from entering the nation by crossing the Mexican border.

With all the corporate and Wall Street strident denunciation of big government, there is nothing that they love more than billions and billions of dollars in federal defense and "homeland security" spending. The military-industrial-surveillance complex excels at finding a funding spigot and turning it into a torrent. 

Incendiary language designed to create apprehension and panic further constructs the context for increased spending on the military and - in this case – halting the migration of non-whites in need. The gusher of money that results from such pandering is not often effectively spent. Even if the goals are reprehensible, the flood of money often doesn't achieve those unworthy objectives. In short, the policies - in this case denying compassionate shelter to refugees from a situation that the US has largely helped to create south of the Mexican border - are not only bad; vast amounts of taxpayer dollars are spent on enriching corporations and contractors for equipment and strategies that don't even achieve their blameworthy intended purposes.

Such is the case with US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) drones - as revealed in a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) analysis.

Page 9 of 104