Facebook Slider
Optional Member Code
Get News Alerts!

EditorBlog (1504)


aaaaaaaaaaaharperCanadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper would feel at home at the GOP presidential debates, standing just to the right of Ted Cruz. (Photo: DonkeyHotey)

If you still think of Canada as sort of a reasonable Scandinavian-style democratic socialist government, you've been living in a time warp.

Without getting into the complicated factions and different regional interests of Canada, suffice it to say that Stephen Harper has been the Prime Minister of Canada since 2006, implementing and advocating many Conservative Party policies that would be right at home in the US House of Representatives. Harper is sort of a cross between Dick Cheney and George W. Bush. He combines the ardent pro-fossil fuel industry position of the Koch Brothers with the appeals to xenophobic fears espoused by Donald Trump.

Harper would fit in well with the current GOP presidential primary appeal to white voters who fear a loss of power in a multicultural society. He also offers an Ottawa version of the anti-government rhetoric that is the mantra of the Republican Party.

If you want a sampling of Harper's right-wing credentials, here are some excerpts from a 1997 speech he gave to members of the elite right-wing US Council for National Policy:

Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term....

In terms of the unemployed, of which we have over a million-and-a-half, don't feel particularly bad for many of these people. They don't feel bad about it themselves, as long as they're receiving generous social assistance and unemployment insurance....


aaaaaaaaaawarren32Elizabeth Warren took on a corporate-funded study by a Brookings think tank fellow and won. (Photo: AFGE)

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) continues to pierce the veil of how the DC professional class of "experts" is frequently corrupted by financial gain. In this case, a fellow for the Brookings Institution received $40,000 from an investment firm to write a study that was critical of a proposal supported by Warren and the White House.

The regulation in question would simply compel transparency by financial advisors, requiring them to disclose to investors if they or their firms would monetarily benefit from advice given to clients.

According to a September 29 article in Boston.com, Warren tenaciously pursued the exposure of a financially compromised report co-author by writing a letter to Brookings:

On Tuesday morning, the Washington Post reported that Sen. Elizabeth Warren wrote a letter to the Brookings Institution, a prestigious Washington think tank, over a study that criticized a proposed Labor Department regulation on financial advisors.

Warren wrote that the report’s co-author Robert Litan—who was commissioned nearly $40,000 by an investment firm that also reviewed the report—was “highly compensated and editorially compromised work on behalf of an industry player seeking a specific conclusion.”

On Tuesday afternoon, The Hill reported that Litan, Brookings’ nonresident senior economic fellow, will resign....

It [the study] was also funded by the Capital Group, a investment firm that manages $1.4 trillion in American funds and had “made opposition to Labor’s rule one of its top priorities,” according to the Post.

Brookings is often described by the corporate mass media as a “liberal” think tank. However, in reality, Brookings is not particularly "liberal."


aaaaaaaaaachristcolPlaque dedicated to Christopher Columbus in Washington State asserting in self-justifying Eurocentric arrogance that he "gave to the world a continent." (Photo: C Hanchey)

September 25 article in The Huffington Post by Julian Brave NoiseCat identifies a linchpin essential to understanding the legal framework that allowed the US slaughter and conquest of Native Americans.

The precedent begins with legal Papal Bulls that sanctified - prior to the landing of Columbus in the Caribbean in 1492 – the subsequent brutal Spanish and Portuguese seizure of South America and the Caribbean. It was the Vatican's assertion of a divine right to lands occupied by “heathens” that ultimately became the legal basis for the ruthless United States expansion westward through the theft of land occupied by Indigenous peoples.

Based on what is known as the Doctrine of Discovery, the Vatican issued a series of decrees in the 15h Century, providing so-called divine authority for the beginning of slave trafficking, among other merciless acts of empire expansion, carnage and profiteering. Eventually, the Papal Bulls condoned - “in God's name” - the seizure of the Americas by European Christians, for exploitation of their mineral and agricultural riches - and for the brutalization, torture, killing and enslavement of Indigenous peoples in the name of Christ.


aaaaaaaaaaaatrickledAfter more than three decades of "trickle down economics," facts show that the money is only flowing in one direction: up. (Photo: DonkeyHotey)

An analysis of data by David Cooper of the Economic Policy Institute reveals some startling statistics:

As of 2014, only two states - North Dakota and Colorado - have poverty rates at or below their 2007 values, before the Great Recession....

The lack of improvement in state poverty rates echoes the trends we’ve seen in household income. However, the data suggest that the lack of real income growth over the past decade and a half has been even more pronounced for households at the bottom of the income scale. As of 2014, 38 states had lower median household income than in 2000, yet 47 states—nearly the entire country—had higher poverty rates in 2014 than in 2000. [Italics inserted by BuzzFlash.]

Cooper attributes this stunning increase in poverty and decrease in median incomes, in part, to stagnant wages. Of course, there are other failures, such as the lack of employment - any employment - for many in the United States. Even with jobs, however, those with minimum wage work are often living in poverty - with their families - while employed.

As the economy is booming for the economic elite in the United States, Cooper's analysis represents the catastrophic failure of the trickle-down theory of Reaganomics. However, this has not prevented the likes of Jeb Bush and GOP economic policy point person Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) from continuing to advocate tax cuts for the wealthy.


aaaaaaaaabigotry32Bigotry is fueling the flames of the GOP primary. (Photo: Travis Wise)

It's appalling to watch so many of the GOP presidential candidates try to outdo each other in trolling for racist and xenophobic votes by using the low-hanging fruit of bigotry.

Their basic message is that if one is not white, one is part of that great "threatening" mass that so many whites fear: "the other." This morphs into Republican presidential aspirants throwing out molotov cocktail soundbites, announcing in thinly veiled language that "the other" - in whatever guise - is both an existential and lethal threat to whites in the US.

Truthout and BuzzFlash combat corporate power by bringing you trustworthy, independent news. Join our mission by making a donation now! Join our mission by making a tax-deductible donation now!

One particular "off to the races" moment for the 2016 fusillade of vile appeals to whites - and particularly white Christians - who feel that their white privilege and religious "values" are under siege was Donald Trump's demagogic statement about Mexican-American refugees, unleashed during his candidacy announcement:

When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists....

But I speak to border guards and they tell us what we’re getting. And it only makes common sense. It only makes common sense. They’re sending us not the right people. 


Tuesday, 22 September 2015 06:13

Colorado Marijuana Tax Revenues Are Soaring


aaaaaaaaaaaacolorfulcol34Will the decriminalization of marijuana be the first small step toward ending the ruinous "war on drugs"? (Photo: Kent Kanouse)

September 21 article in the Guardian US reports that marijuana sales in Colorado are exceeding state tax-revenue expectations:

Legal marijuana tax revenues have been breaking records in Colorado this summer, nearly doubling monthly numbers from last year and on pace to exceed projections of legal sales that bring revenue back to the state.

Through the first seven months of this year, Colorado has brought in nearly $73.5m, putting the state on pace to collect over $125m for the year.

As the article notes, the new estimate of $125 million in state tax revenue far exceeds the previous projection of $70 million.

Truthout and BuzzFlash combat corporate power by bringing you trustworthy, independent news. Join our mission by making a donation now! Join our mission by making a tax-deductible donation now!

Why are marijuana sales increasing at such a rapid rate in Colorado? The Guardian US offers a couple of possible explanations:

Tim Cullen, CEO of Colorado Harvest Company, said: "People who would never have considered pot before are now popping their heads in." His company has three dispensaries in the Denver area and plans for a fourth. He noted that in his stores, where customers are primarily Colorado residents purchasing recreational marijuana, sales have been averaging 8% to 12% growth month over month for much of this year.


aaaaaaaaadetainA pro-immigration advocate holds a poster at a Washington DC rally that reads (in English): "No to Detention, Deportation and Family Separation" (Photo: Stephen Melkisethian)

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has granted a contract to a subsidiary of the private prison company GEO Group to manage the cases of refugee families after they are released from physical detention. In doing so, it is subjecting children and parents in crisis to the care of a company whose umbrella company profits from their prison-like confinement. 

"There, at every turn in the expansion of the immigration enforcement system, are the for-profit prison and detention corporations," Mary Small, policy director for the Detention Watch Network, told BuzzFlash at Truthout. "They encourage the expansion of the entire system, and the biggest expansion in the last year has been family detention and management." 

Truthout and BuzzFlash combat corporate power by bringing you trustworthy, independent news. Join our mission by making a donation now! Join our mission by making a tax-deductible donation now!

In this case, the parent corporation of the contracted case management firm - GEO Care LLC - makes a profit off of high detention-center occupancy, meaning a steady influx of detainees, primarily from Mexico and Central America, is necessary. With a subsidiary of GEO Group, the fate of these refugees in crisis is not in neutral hands. One can speculate that it would be in the interest of the parent corporation for the case manager working for the subsidiary to find reasons to re-detain families - particularly should a detention facility run by GEO not be full.

Washington Post article from the spring of 2015 discusses the fact that for-profit incarceration companies often have agreements that guarantee a certain (high) level of prison occupancy. As for the immigration detention side of the business, the Washington Post notes,

There’s even a lockup quota at the federal level: The Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s detention budget includes a mandate from Congress that at least 34,000 immigrants remain detained on a daily basis, a quota that has steadily grown each year, even as the undocumented immigrant population in the United States has leveled off.

In 2013, Lee Fang wrote a lengthy article in The Nation detailing extensive lobbying efforts and financial contributions that the for-profit prison and detention industry uses to push "for enforcement-heavy" immigration laws.


aaaaaaaaaaaabushnoGeorge W. Bush enabled the devastation of New Orleans and privatization of the schools. (Image: DonkeyHotey)

On the 10th anniversary of the decimation of New Orleans due to Hurricane Katrina, the bursting of the levees and the negligence of the the Bush administration, George W. Bush made a visit that was meant to appear as a triumphant return to the city. The press centerpiece was an appearance at Warren Easton Charter School on August 28.

The ABC affiliate in New Orleans, WGNO, reported on the event:

Despite some protesters outside, former President George W. Bush said, "New Orleans is back, better than ever!" during a short speech at Warren Easton Charter High School...

Warren Easton is part of the Gulf Coast School Library Recovery Initiative, funded the Laura Bush Foundation for America's Libraries, which was established to help Gulf Coast schools that were damaged by the hurricanes to rebuild their book and material collections.

The President and Mrs. Bush's also attended an education roundtable, where they honor the exceptional work accomplished by New Orleans school leaders, nonprofit partners, educators, parents, and communities.

However, a recent investigation by In These Times indicates that the Bushes were indulging in privatization puffery at the expense of the facts. As the article's author, Colleen Kimmett, states, "10 years after Katrina, New Orleans’ all-charter school system has proven a failure.... A three-month investigation by In These Times reveals the cracks in the education reform narrative."

Wednesday, 16 September 2015 06:09

Global Warming Could Lead to Worldwide Wars


aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaresourcewarWill global warming lead to worldwide resource wars? (Photo: Environmental Illness Network)

It would be a simplification to assert that the mass movement of refugees to Europe is currently primarily caused by global warming. As we've noted previously, wars of empire and economic deprivation have been the leading factors behind the recent surge of people struggling to reach the relative safety and economic stability of European Union nations.

However, a September 9 article in the Guardian reports on the warning issued by the former head of Britain's Liberal Democrats, Lord Paddy Ashdown, that "the world will undergo more resource wars and huge movements of desperate people unless it tackles climate change effectively."

Ashdown's warning is based on both logical and scientific premises. If global warming damages or destroys the yield of large areas of agricultural production, for example, there will be likely be wars fought over an increasing limited availability of food. In addition, deadly conflicts would also result from a decreasing supply of fresh water.


aaaaaaaaaaaaroosevelthooverflickrTheodore Roosevelt (R) and Herbert Hoover (L) lead off the walkway of the "White Savior" presidents across from the island's capitol in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Photo: OZinOH)

You might ask why immediately across the street from the capitol building of Puerto Rico - crossing the broad boulevard of Constitution Avenue - there are prominent life-size statues of nine United States presidents, beginning with Theodore Roosevelt. After all, although Puerto Ricans who live on the island are US citizens, they are prohibited from voting in US presidential elections.

There are other commemorative and memorial sites located on the south side of Constitution Avenue, but none so prominent as the nine presidents who face the capitol building, as if they were vigilantly monitoring every activity taking place there. In essence, this symbolizes what the United States has been doing in relation to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico - or as critics call it, the colony of Puerto Rico - since the island was wrested from Spain in the Spanish-American War in 1898.

Nelson A. Denis, author of War Against All Puerto Ricans: Revolution and Terror in America's Colony, told BuzzFlash that this "commemoration," called El Paseo de los Presidentes (Walkway of the Presidents), was constructed by the Puerto Rican pro-statehood party, when in power, to curry favor with the US government: "In February 2010, Gov. Luis Fortuño and his PNP Party (the statehood party) spent $987,000 in public dollars on these statues, to prostrate themselves to the US government. Now five years later, Puerto Rico is broke. You figure it out."

Page 3 of 108