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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

armstrade(Photo: fotdmike)According to a new report by the Conflict Armament Research (CAR), which is a project funded by the European Union, a large number of the guns - including high-capacity rifles - used by ISIS were originally supplied to other forces by the US military. "Islamic State forces have captured significant quantities of US-manufactured small arms and have employed them on the battlefield," the report states.

The Conflict Armament Research report and an article in The Independent include a large number of photos indicating the US origin of the weapons. The Independent article states:

James Bevan, CAR director, told [The Independent] that around 30 to 40 per cent of arms his team were able to document were US-made, reflecting the fact that Isis captured most of its weaponry from the Iraqi army when it made stunning territorial gains earlier this year.

Other nations - including Russia and China - were the source of some ISIS weapons, captured as the self-proclaimed caliphate swept across a wide swath of territory in Syria and Iraq and seized arsenals from defeated forces.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

healthhumanright(Photo: United Workers)

Yes, of course single-payer universal health care coverage would be the preferable health coverage program for people in the United States. After all, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) - a.k.a. Obamacare - is a jerry-rigged system that relies on a private insurance market (except for the important Medicaid expansion component) and still leaves many in the US uninsured.

Nevertheless, the Affordable Care Act has, now that it has gone through its growing pains, enabled millions more people to be covered by health insurance. In April of this year, the White House announced that 7.5 million people had signed up on the state exchanges. In addition, another three million people were enrolled in Medicaid in states that accepted federal government funds. It is a demonstrable gain for the health and economic wellbeing of millions of individuals and families in the US, helping many people avert crushing medical debt.

On September 8, Talking Points Memo offered the analysis that the Republican Party had pinned its key electoral strategy on launching a years-long fusillade against Obamacare, including repeated attempts in the House of Representatives to repeal it. However, despite the rocky rollout of the program, it is now viewed fairly favorably, perceived as a vital link to medical and health insurance by the millions of people who are benefitting from it. 

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

citizensucorrupts(Photo: Light Brigading)

On September 4, Public Citizen held a news conference to urge the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to consider a rule that would prohibit corporate campaign contributions from being cloaked in secrecy.

The organization announced that one million people in the United States had either sent formal comments to the SEC or signed a petition to bring transparency to corporations contributing shareholder-owned funds to elections without full disclosure. Public Citizen is urging the SEC

to require all publicly traded companies to disclose political spending information to their shareholders.

The rule was placed on the agency’s agenda by departing SEC Chair Mary Shapiro in 2013 but was removed by Chair Mary Jo White earlier this year. The rulemaking petition has garnered historic support from investors and the general public. Its removal sparked outrage among its advocates, who contend that White is not taking into account the changing needs of investors since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. That ruling gave corporations and the wealthy the green light to spend unlimited sums to influence elections and led to a flood of “dark money” groups that don’t disclose their donors. In addition, White is ignoring the material nature of political spending information (with its inherent risks) to shareholders.

In short, SEC Chair Mary Jo White - who many thought would bring sunlight to bear upon corporate involvement in politics - is actually enabling them to keep their contributions in the dark.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

kochconclave2Masks of the Koch brothers (Photo: peoplesworld)Early this summer, the Koch brothers held another one of their 1% planning sessions to keep the other 99% of people in the United States under the permanent rule of the oligarchy. Some BuzzFlash and Truthout readers learned a bit about the gathering through a leaked recording of the plutocratic remarks and political obstruction plans of Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell.

It was a noteworthy audiotape of McConnell because it is difficult to imagine him saying anything more shocking privately than he has said publicly.

The Koch summit McConnell spoke at in June, however, was apparently filled with speakers who advocated strategies to elect a longterm government to increase the wealth of the richest people in the US and protect their interests. To this end, the gathering was filled with slanderous statements and self-serving political theory that demonized and dismissed the poor as a cargo of leeches that is dragging down the ship of state.

In The Huffington Post, Lauren Windsor recently reported on more audiotape from the Koch brothers' billionaires retreat in an article entitled, "Top Koch Strategist Argues the Minimum Wage Leads Directly to Fascism":

“Psychology shows that it is the main recruiting ground for totalitarianism, for fascism, for conformism, when people feel like they’re victims,” said Richard Fink, described by Windsor as the top political strategist for the Koch brothers. “So the big danger of minimum wage isn’t the fact that some people are being paid more than their value-added -- that’s not great. It’s not that it’s hard to stay in business -- that’s not great, either. But it’s the 500,000 people that will not have a job because of minimum wage.”

The assertion that a sense of "victimhood" is what keeps people from a just wage - when it is an issue of paying the lowest possible wages in order for the 1% to achieve the highest possible profit - is a self-serving defamation of exploited laborers.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

cantor2Eric Cantor (Photo: Wikipedia)Maybe his theme song should be, "Don't Cry for Me, John Boehner." After all, former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost his congressional seat earlier this year after being defeated in the GOP primary earlier this year by a Tea Party zealot. It was, in the mainstream media narrative, an embarrassment of immeasurable proportion for the man who was next in line to the Speaker of the House.

Last month, Cantor unexpectedly resigned before his term was over in January. Now we know why.

Cantor is making his way through the perennial revolving door, in which a primary loss can lead to a treasure chest of Wall Street riches. The Los Angeles Times reports that Cantor will join the investment bank Moelis & Co. Notice, according to The LA Times, how his pay escalates after the first year, perhaps so as to make it appear that he is not immediately cashing in on his high-ranking congressional and government access: 

Cantor is the latest government official to cash in on Wall Street after working in Washington. His pay will jump from the $193,400 a year he earned as majority leader to a base salary of $400,000 a year to start.

He also will receive a $400,000 cash payment and $1 million in restricted stock that will vest in phases after his third, fourth and fifth anniversaries with the company, according to a filing Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Next year, he will receive a minimum incentive payment of $1.2 million in cash and $400,000 in restricted stock.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

toygunShot to Death for Holding a Toy Gun? (Photo:Tom Simpson)

Many gun laws vary by state, in the absence of strong national gun control. That explains the open carrying of semi-automatic rifles in stores such as Target in Texas without any police intervention. In every photo that I have seen of the gun toters of AK-47s and the like in Texas two realties are apparent: 1) All the defiant military-style gun carriers are white; and 2) there are no police to be seen as the gun fanatics swagger through housewares toting Uzis.

The reason that there are no police to be seen is that it is now legal to tote around handguns and semi-automatic long guns in stores and other public spaces in the longhorn state. Texas is not the only such state: In Ohio, state law allows people to carry firearms in many public spaces (though the NRA Institute for Legislative Action notes that "a person should exercise caution when carrying a firearm in public"). The state generally has loose firearms laws and can be considered a pro-gun-owner state. Nevertheless, a black man, 22-year-old John Crawford III, was shot dead by Beaver Creek, Ohio, police in early August - for holding a toy rifle in the toy section of a local Walmart. Apparently, a customer had called 911 and said a man was holding a rifle, and the police showed up, shouted a few disputed orders and then killed Crawford with real guns, as the toy Walmart rifle fell to the floor. (He did not enter the store with the toy rifle; he happened to pick it up while in the toy section of the store.)

It would be extremely difficult, given the recent events in Ferguson and the long history of racial bias shown by police in shooting black "suspects," to surmise that Crawford's skin color and dreadlocks didn't play any role in the decision of the Beavercreek police officers to murder a young adult holding a toy rifle.

 

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

malibubeachMalibu Beach, California (Photo: Michael Clesle)

A battle for public access to the California beaches on the Pacific Ocean is raging.

Although the outcome will impact anyone who wants to partake of the joy of walking on the sand, swimming and viewing the breathtaking natural beauty of the Pacific, the iconic California surfers are taking center stage in the battle to easily reach the beach. In fact, some of the best waves for surfing near Los Angeles are located in the exclusive Malibu area - where members of the 1% are trying to limit entryway to the oceanfront.

Independent LA television station KCET - in an article entitled, "Why California Beaches Are Open to Everyone" - provides background on the issue:

California voters in 1972 passed Proposition 20, also known as the California Coastal Commission Initiative.

The ballot measure called for the temporary creation of the California Coastal Commission, a politically appointed body tasked in part with protecting and preserving the 1,100 miles that make up the Golden State's coast and guaranteeing the public's access to that sea and shore. In 1976, the state legislature passed the California Coastal Act, basically making Prop 20 permanent."These two laws were really instrumental in changing the way Los Angeles, Southern California and the whole state's coastline looks and the ability of people in California to enjoy those resources," says Molly Selvin, associate dean for interdisciplinary programs at Southwestern Law School....

Many super-rich beachfront property owners have found ways to block paths to the beach by taking advantage of poor enforcement. As a result, in June of this year California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law that empowered the California Coastal Commission to fine property owners who obstructed access to the ocean and beaches. 

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF TRUTHOUT AT BUZZFLASH

romneysequel(Photo: DonkeyHotey)Here is a recap of his most infamous and self-revealing statement of the 2012 campaign:

"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what," Romney said in the video. "All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what.

"And I mean the president starts out with 48, 49 percent … he starts off with a huge number," Romney continued. "These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. So he’ll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean, that’s what they sell every four years. And so my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

Romney is the distilled essence of the plutocracy: bloated with a sense of white entitlement and bursting with billions of dollars made, in large part, by lowering the income, benefits and standard of living of the US workforce. He is a guy who quintessentially - and cluelessly - represents the great redistribution of money from the working, middle class and poor to the wealthiest people in the United States. Moreover, a primary characteristic of the oligarchy - a lack of empathy - is a key element of Romney's character and an underpinning of his road to at least $250 million in personal wealth.

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

studentelderly(Photo: Occupy Posters)

An August 21 Bloomberg Businessweek article raises a shocking dilemma: Money is being garnished from senior citizens' Social Security checks for unpaid student debt.

How is it possible that the elderly may still owe money for college education, and how can anyone live on meager Social Security income, when the federal government is docking – in some cases - thousands of dollars a year?

Ensure an open, uncensored source of information on the Internet! Make a tax-deductible donation to Truthout and BuzzFlash today.

In the article, "Student Debt Threatens the Safety Net for Elderly Americans,"  Bloomberg Businessweek states the facts bluntly:  

Until his Social Security check arrived almost $300 lighter last June, Eric Merklein, 67, didn’t know he had outstanding student debt. He’d taken out a loan about 40 years ago to attend Southern Illinois University and believed it had been repaid by his grandmother after he graduated in the early 1970s. When he contacted the Department of Education to ask why he was getting less in his check, Merklein says he was surprised to learn the government was withholding a portion of his benefit to cover the debt.

Merklein is among the more than 2 million Americans age 60 and older carrying student debt, up from about 700,000 in 2005, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The debts are from old loans like Merklein’s and more recent ones that older Americans take to go back to school or pay for college for their kids. In total, this group has $43 billion in unpaid loans, five times what they owed in 2005. The average debt also has risen by more than 60 percent since 2005, to around $20,000 per borrower older than 60....

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aburgerking(Photo: rob_rob2001)Burger King will, according to the Los Angeles Times and other news outlets, abandon its US corporate citizenship in order to legally evade US taxes. This is a process the largest drugstore chain in the United States, Walgreen, was considering earlier this summer, as recounted in a BuzzFlash at Truthout commentary, "Unpatriotic US Corporations Increasingly Move Headquarters Overseas to Decrease Taxes."

Walgreen, after an onslaught of critical reactions to its plans, decided to maintain its world headquarters in Deerfield, Illinois. Burger King, however, is going ahead and flipping its incorporation to Canada by acquiring and then becoming a subsidiary of the Canadian fast food restaurant chain, Tim Horton's. This process is allowed by US law and called a corporate inversion.

The Los Angeles Times writes of the motivation for the move by the fast food hamburger franchiser: "The combined federal, state and local corporate tax rate in Canada is 26.3%, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The combined U.S. corporate rate is 39.1%."

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