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EditorBlog (1153)


dictators9 20Although normally the Washington Post (WP) editorial board hawks war, it sharply criticized the White House for its hypocrisy on denouncing cruel dictators who defy the United States while embracing cruel dictators who are pro-US, particularly when they ship us a lot of oil and allow the Navy's 5th fleet to establish headquarters there.

The case in point here is the Obama administration's ongoing support for the reigning al-Khalifa family in Bahrain:

Bahrain’s leaders regularly assure the Obama administration that they are open to reforms and compromise with their opposition. But massive human rights violations, including the torture of detainees, continue. Leading political figures and human rights advocates remain imprisoned.

Bahrain has violently suppressed dissent, but what drew the ire of the WP editorial board was the apparently trumped arrest of a moderate opposition leader Khalil al-Marzooq.


320px-Cattle Lot9 19Old Style Cattle YardThat the overuse of anitbiotics by Americans is leading to more strains of bacteria that are antibiotic resistant is widely accepted.  There are many reasons for this including overprescription by physicians, over marketing by pharmaceutical firms and unnecessary consumer demand at times, among others.

However, one of the main use of antibiotics that contributes to at least 23,000 deaths a year as a result of new strains of antibiotic resistant bacteria, according to a recent report, is their administration to livestock to increase animal growth -- and, therefore, larger corporate and individual profits in larger amounts of meat to sell and faster turnover.  Another use is to keep farm animals who are kept in cramped warehouse conditions from outbreaks of bacterial epidemics through the "preventive" use of antibiotics.

According to a September 16 San Francisco Chronicle article, "Report links antibiotics at farms to human deaths":

The Centers for Disease Control on Monday confirmed a link between routine use of antibiotics in livestock and growing bacterial resistance that is killing at least 23,000 people a year.


garbage9 18Yesterday, BuzzFlash at Truthout wrote about how the 400 richest Americans have seen their collective monetary value rise to two trillion dollars, up 300 billion dollars from last year.

Most of that imbalance in wealth has come at the expense of workers who now are getting paid less if they are lucky enough to have a job.

The ability to produce consumer products overseas at slavish wages has increased the profitability of corporations because their profit margins rise as their cost of production decreases.  Think of Apple Computers as a prime example of this contemporary model: big ticket price, bargain basement production costs.


antoinette9 17Marie Antoinette Would Have Been Summering in the Hamptons Instead of VersaillesIt's worth delaying breakfast when you open up your computer to stories such as this one from CNBC:

The 400 richest Americans are now worth a combined $2 trillion, according to Forbes.

That sets a record, Forbes said, and marks a jump from last year's total of $1.7 trillion.

The average net worth of a Forbes 400 member is now $5 billion—also the highest ever. And the costs of being part of the 400 Club rose to $1.3 billion.

But it's the $2 trillion number that remains the most interesting. The 400 richest are now worth more than the GDPs of many nations—and they are worth more than most governments spend or tax.

The Economist September 14 edition has a round-up of financial news with this tidbit posted as its sixth item, showing the lack of importance of the declining incomes of the non-wealthy to the financial press:

An ongoing study of income distribution found that the richest 1% in America took 19% of national income last year, their biggest share since 1928. The top 10% of earners held a record 48.2%. During the recovery between 2009 and 2012 real family incomes rose by an average of 4.6%, though this was skewed by a 31.4% increase for the top 1%. For the other 99% incomes rose by just 0.4%.


revbilly9 16Quite honestly, until I got an e-mail from the Rev. Billy Talen -- street theater minister for the anti-consumer movement -- I hadn't really thought about how the same banks that nearly turned America into an economic dust bowl in 2008 are the ones financing the earth-destroying companies that promote toxic climate change like heroin to junkies.

Talen and singers wearing toad heads performed a flash mob protest at a JP Morgan Chase branch in NYC last Thursday. There was a quick "presentation" (see photo to the right) and rapid exit to stay ahead of the police.

Alas, the Bloomberg NYPD is apparently instructed to take any mocking of a bank as a serious crime. The cops caught up with Talen and his music director Nehemiah Luckett on an F train platorm and handcuffed them. As Talen then recounts: "We were taken to jail, charged with disorderly conduct and riot. riot? We sat in the prison cell through the afternoon, waiting to go to The Tombs."

(Special thanks to Erik McGregor for permission to use the Thursday flash mob photograph inside JP Morgan Chase.)


voting9 14While some among us are busy congratulating themselves on our democracy, others , like Hal Crowther in the September 1st issue of “The Progressive Populist” refer to our form of government more accurately as “democracy on trial.”

After all we may have managed to change administrations without taking to the streets in bloody confrontations, at least not recently. But at the same time we have yet to acknowledge that we live in a violence-tolerating society that allows an unconscionable level of ignorant, racist behavior in the name of freedom - - as if we never have to question whose freedom we’ve been celebrating. Lately the term ‘exceptionalism’ has become a popular expression of our national ethos although it is essentially meaningless rhetoric politicians use to inflate their dialogue and self-importance

How have we come to claim that the right to bear arms is a basic ‘freedom’ that must not be curtailed in any way? What perverse definition has come to bear in our society making it seem that a privilege is a right? And how is someone like George Zimmerman, for example, cast in the role of protector of hearth and home when he is an example of how misguided our gun laws are - - a small man whose stature is defined by a firearm, just as every thug and miscreant is so defined. 


earth3449 11The number of people living on this planet has now topped seven billion. A few hundred thousand more and the earth might start careening out of orbit, like an airplane that exceeds its weight limit (which would likely result in a crash).

It's hard to imagine how the natural resources of the earth can sustain an exponentially growing population.  The climate deniers, of course, believe that we can ravage the earth apart like carving a turkey on Thanksgiving. The difference is that in the belief of the climate deniers the meat on the turkey is somehow magically restored over time, while Thanksgiving eaters at the groaning board know that what you are left with at the end of one's gluttonous plunder is a bare carcass.

The climate deniers also, of course, don't believe that pillaging natural resources for profit -- instead of seeking sustainable alternatives -- creates a toxic imbalance that creates deadly climate change.  They don't believe it or simply are indulging in a billionaire's carpe diem, an orgy of excess that has no regard for future generations.

According to a September 12 article in Rolling Stone, scientists are now regrouping and fighting back against the corporate mass media assumption that there is even a debate about fossil fuel/extraction industry/corporate-caused/automobile guzzling degradation of the climate in which we live -- and the deadly impact of such alterations to our earth and atmosphere.


deblasiofam9 12The de Blasio Family

No, BuzzFlash at Truthout is not making this up.

After three terms of carefully grooming an image that the mainstream media referred to as an "independent thoughtful" mayor, Michael Bloomberg -- who got the City Council to change the rules and allow him a third term -- spent the last few weeks of the NYC mayoral primary (in which he had wisely chosen not to push for a fourth term) making a few remarks that normally one expects from a racist sexist cracker.

To start with, as BuzzFlash at Truthout wrote in its commentary yesterday, Bloomberg has been petulant and irritated by the thought of a populist Democrat becoming the next mayor, which is likely to happen. As BuzzFlash noted, with the Democratic nomination inevitably going (even if there is a run-off election) to NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio (who is the odds on favorite to win the general mayoral election), Bloomberg sees his legacy of "trickle down" NYC economics (mixed in with a few concessions to contemporary urban sustainability, such as bike lanes and garden programs) in dire danger of being rejected as a sham.

As the Washington Post (WP) reports, it may have been Bloomberg's remark that de Blasio was a racist for essentially having a bi-racial family that boomeranged in de Blasio's favor:

But the mayor saved his most controversial comment for last. Just before Tuesday’s primary, a New York magazine interview was published in which Bloomberg labeled de Blasio’s campaign “racist.” Why? Because de Blasio, who is white, had featured his black wife and bi-racial children in his campaign ads and his family had frequently joined him on the campaign trail. Bloomberg said de Blasio was “making an appeal using his family to gain support. I think it’s pretty obvious to anyone watching what he’s been doing.”


bloomberg29 10Oh to be a fly on the wall as the Big Apple's "Mayor 1%" -- Michael Bloomberg -- gobbled down antiacids as he learned that the next mayor of NYC is likely to be a hard-left-soak-the-rich advocate for the middle class, poor and jobless. Actually, that man who is the odds on favorite to occupy Gracie Mansion is literally the Public Advocate for the city of New York, a citywide elected position that literally speaks out on behalf of its citizens.

Not largely known outside of the NYC region, the Public Advocate is in essence the person who would replace a sitting mayor if he or she resigned or could not perform the duties of mayor. That man is Bill de Blasio, and he is on the verge of winning yesterday's NYC Democratic primary, possibly with the necessary 40% of the vote to avoid a run-off. (If there is a run-off, he is already the widely favored candidate to face a weak Republican opponent in the general election).

As CBS News just reported Wednesday morning:

After running as a hard-left populist who vowed to raise taxes on the rich in order to boost public education funding, New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio easily topped a field of competitors in the Democratic primary to succeed Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Tuesday.

With 98 percent of precincts reporting, de Blasio had 40.2 percent of the vote with former Comptroller Bill Thompson in second place at 26.2 percent. If de Blasio's share of the vote holds at 40 percent or more, he will avoid a mandatory Oct. 1 runoff with Thompson.

You can see why Bloomberg was running a public relations campaign against de Blasio by examaning his campaign site, including this section on issues in de Blasio's voice:

In so many ways, New York has become a Tale of Two Cities.

Nearly 400,000 millionaires call New York home, while nearly half of our neighbors live at or near the poverty line. Our middle class isn’t just shrinking; it’s in danger of vanishing altogether.

Addressing the crisis of income inequality isn’t a small task. But if we are to thrive as a city, it must be at the very center of our vision for the next four years.


warren9 9Over the past few years, it appears more and more that Eliizabeth Warren represents in body, spirit and tenacity the change Barack Obama promised in 2008.  Ironically, Obama became changed by Washington into a DC insider, stiff arming Warren's brand of consumer and middle class populism.

Meanwhile, after Larry Summers and Tim Geithner persuaded Obama not to select Warren as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which she designed, Warren went on to defeat Scott Brown (who had won the late Ted Kennedy's seat in a special election).  Now, she has seized the mantle that Obama promised.

What is most promising about Warren is that she is disciplined in the battles she takes on.  She is well aware that a politician that helter skelter picks fights on a daily basis becomes marginalized.  Instead, Warren has, for instance, taken on Eric Holder through formal correspondence for not thoroughly investigating or prosecuting those who committed Wall Street fraud.  Warren is not looking to make headlines everyday; she is looking to correct injustices through building her gravitas as a spokesperson for the middle class.

Take her appearance at the AFL-CIO convention last week which you can watch here, and which received a rousing reception. "If we don't fight we can't win," she told the union members and supporters, "but if we fight we will win."

Now, Obama is still spouting that sort of language now and then, but he seems to be going through the rhetorical motions, while being fully aware that -- to the contrary -- the people whom he is fighting for are on Wall Street and in the military-industrial-complex, as well as the likes of Monsanto.  He has somehow rationalized that this is good for the nation.

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