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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafightterorThe Indigenous people of the Americas have been experiencing the terrorism of white settler colonialism since 1492. (Photo: Marc Moss)

The use of waterboarding at military "black sites," the horrors of Abu Ghraib, the midnight raids to kill and terrorize "suspected militants" in Afghanistan and Iraq, and numerous other instances of torture and abuse by the US military are well-documented. Indeed, the failure of the Obama administration to prosecute any members of the Bush administration for condoning torture - including the grotesque infliction of pain that resulted in the deaths of "suspects, " as these photographs from Abu Ghraib illustrate - is appalling.

It's been a remarkable feat of the government and corporate media that the question of prosecuting high-ranking officials for condoning torture and murder has barely been raised. Neocon proponents of torture claim that it is necessary to protect "the homeland," but that's a plot line for television shows, not reality.

Even a few years ago, when torture was regularly making headlines, the argument was over a very limited definition of torture - usually focusing on waterboarding. Yet torture has always been pervasive in the US. Torture was used on the Indigenous population whose land was stolen during settler colonialism.  Torture was systematically used against slaves, while slavery remained an essential economic engine in the United States (for nearly its first 100 years).

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Does the use of drones to assassinate and murder people symbolize a segue into a robotic battlefield?Does the use of drones to assassinate and murder people symbolize a segue into a robotic battlefield? (Photo: Frank Serritelli)

The spring Unmanned Ground Systems Conference, sponsored by the Institute for Defense and Government Advancement, will feature discussion of the development of robotics and autonomous systems (RAS) strategy for the military-industrial complex. In essence, this means creating a battlefield of the future in which the US employs robotic support and fighting technology.

A staff member of the Unmanned Ground Systems Conference interviewed this year's chairperson of the military-contractor confab, Lt. Col. (retired) Matt Dooley. He is the former chief of the lethality and robotics branch for the US Army, but denies that robotics and autonomous military "devices" are meant to kill people and replace soldiers. "The goal remains to change the culture of the Army to view robots as 'teammates,' rather than tools," Dooley asserts in the interview.

Dooley's "qualification" should be viewed with skepticism. Although drones, for instance, have an individual in the Southwest of the United States pushing a button to kill "targets" and "collateral damage," they are basically robotic. Given mission creep, at some point the drones will likely make their own decisions about who to murder based on image identifying technology. So it is plausible that "teammate" robotic weaponry would possibly lessen the number of battlefront military personnel in the future. In turn, this outcome would make war more acceptable in the United States because military casualties would be dramatically reduced.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

It's galling enough that the mainstream corporate media has been in tacit collusion with Donald Trump's sensationalist, racist, bombastic campaign because it is titillating and attracts viewers - which means more advertising dollars and profit. However, when evidence like the Instagram clip above, posted (with a comment) by Celeste Chorniak - a student at Radford University in Virginia - shows a US Secret Service agent assaulting a veteran TIME photographer for attempting to stray from the Trump-campaign designated media pen, it is appalling to contemplate the federal government's complicity in enforcing the spectacle rules that enhance Trump's demagoguery.

If you play Chorniak's Instagram clip, you will see that the Secret Service agent lunges toward the TIME photographer before he even leaves the media pen, putting a choke hold on him and then throwing him to the ground. You can see the attack occur at the bottom of the video, about midway across the screen, a few seconds after the clip begins. The comments below the video are those of Chorniak.

The Washington Post - in its frequent namby-pamby way - actually wrote up the assault on the photographer as if it was unclear if he was roughed up by the Secret Service agent without "cause." In an article today, the Post curiously conjectures:

You know those inkblot tests that are supposed to reveal something about your personality, based on what you see in confusing, splattery images? Well, the cellphone video clips of a physical altercation involving a photographer at a Donald Trump rally on Monday are like a real-life Rorschach.

How you react says a lot about what you think of Trump, the media and law enforcement.

Here's what we know: There was a violent confrontation between a photojournalist and a Secret Service agent during Trump's campaign event in Radford, Va.

According to numerous reports, the photographer uttered an expletive at the Secret Service agent who was blocking his way and tried to get around him to document a Black Lives Matter protest that was marching through the Trump event in Virginia. 

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaatehranThe Azadi Tower serves as an entrance into Tehran. (Photo: Christiaan Triebert)

In Iran, the polls are just closing in the national election for two governing bodies: the parliament and the "Assembly of Experts." The former is nominally the secular governing body, but it is secondary in power to the theological "Assembly of Experts," which is composed of religious figures. The Assembly elects the Supreme Leader (an ayatollah), currently Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, is described in Western media as a pragmatist who wants to integrate Iran into the international community. 

Reuters reports that a large number of moderate or relatively liberal candidates to both elective bodies were "disqualified" from running, leaving mostly "hardline" conservatives on the ballot:

The Guardian Council, appointed half by Khamenei and half by the ultra-conservative judiciary, disqualified thousands of candidates for the legislature and vetoed 80 per cent of those seeking election to the Assembly of Experts. They included Hassan Khomeini, the moderate grandson of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution and Khamenei’s predecessor.

Yet, there was an overwhelming turnout for the Iranian election - albeit an election with pre-limited choices. (Of course, we should bear in mind that in the United States, democracy is also compromised by pre-limited voting, the influence of billionaires and suspect vote-tallying practices, among other factors.)

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaaaaablankfein32Lloyd Blankfein, head of Goldman Sachs, caustically attacked Bernie Sanders but paid Hillary Clinton $675,000 in speaking fees. (Photo: DonkeyHotey)

According to an article in The Hill a few weeks back, Lloyd Blankfein - head of Goldman Sachs and symbol of Wall Street's lack of accountability - warned that Bernie Sanders is "dangerous." Blankfein told CNBC that Sanders is too set in his ways, adding, "It's a liability [in this anti-Wall Street environment] to say, 'I'm willing to compromise'… It's just incredible. It's a moment in history. Eventually people, the electorate, will notice nothing is getting done."

At no time did Blankfein, who personally supported Hillary Clinton against Barack Obama in 2008, find fault with Clinton; his alarm is solely focused on the senator from Vermont. He contrasted Sanders with more flexible candidates who are willing to work with Wall Street when he emphasized that a candidate must be "willing to compromise."

The Sanders campaign - supported by public records - charges that Wall Street donations make up a considerable portion of the Clinton war chest. She is supported by at least one huge Wall Street PAC, and, of course, has made millions of dollars in speaking fees from Wall Street financial firms.  

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaatrumpbackLooming over the United States is the possibility that the nation may elect its first Snake-Oil-Salesman-in-Chief. (Photo: Tony Webster)

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A few years back, taking advantage of his brand identity and the emergence of for-profit educational corporations, the current leading GOP presidential candidate established Trump University.  Donald Trump announced the "academic" venture, which offered no degrees or transferable credits, with his usual bombastic flourish at a news conference in 2005.

However, the unaccredited "university" became increasingly tainted by charges of fraud, profiteering, and courses that were allegedly often just high-pitch sales session for other Trump University and Trump organization products. The attorney general of New York, Eric Schneiderman - who called Trump University a scam - filed a lawsuit against Trump and The Trump Organization in 2013, according to an article last year in The Washington Post:

Schneiderman filed a $40 million civil lawsuit against Trump and the institution, accusing both of charging more than 5,000 people big money to supposedly learn Trump’s successful real estate techniques but failing to deliver. The suit says Trump U — often using high-pressure sales tactics and telling students that the next, more expensive seminar would reveal important secrets — earned about $40 million from students and seeks to the money recovered.

Last year [2014], a judge found Trump personally liable for the university’s violation of New York education laws, and this past April, and a Manhattan Supreme Court judge ruled in April that the case would have to resolved at a trial.

Meanwhile, a class-action suit was filed in California by a former Trump University student named Art Cohen who said he spent more than $36,000 on courses that failed to deliver the top-notch education the university had promised. A judge in that case ordered both sides to complete “fact discovery” by Aug. 10, according to a Courthouse News story.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaatrumppunchIn openly espousing thuggish violence, Trump is unleashing a firestorm. (Photo: DonkeyHotey)

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Donald Trump is a demagogue who is unleashing the barely restrained violence that simmers under the "grievances" of many Americans who benefit from white supremacy. About that, there is no doubt.

Trump has frequently condoned, praised and even incited physical attacks on protesters at his rallies. The Guardian US reports on a weekend appearance in Nevada, in which Trump continued to ratchet up his incitement of mob rage. A heckler interrupted Trump, and the frontrunner for the GOP nomination responded with direct references to violence:

"You know what they used to do with guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks," [Trump] said.

Noting the protester was smiling as he was escorted out, Trump quipped: "I’d like to punch him in the face, I tell you that." It was a remarkable comment from a presidential candidate who appears to be building a momentum that could soon be unstoppable

In a nation awash in violence - particularly gun violence - in which predominantly white males engage in mass and domestic shootings, Trump is providing an authoritative license for resentful white men to act violently. Just replace "I'd like to punch him in the face" with "her" instead of "him," or "them" instead of "him," or "shoot" instead of "punch." Given Trump's open racism toward non-whites, you could also place Blacks, Muslims, Mexicans or other groups that he has defamed in the context of this sentence. This is the fury that Trump is letting loose.

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaascaliachinAntonin Scalia: the late Supreme Court justice and chief pitch man for the charlatan notion of "originalism." (Photo: DonkeyHotey)

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Those who lost a loved one when Supreme Court Antonin Scalia passed away - particularly his family - deserve our compassion as he is mourned and buried.

However, when it comes to his professional legacy, Scalia left a corrosive trail of rulings and opinions that have been devastating to the principles of democracy and the legal concept of equal justice under the law. We have opined many times over the years about Scalia's pernicious court influence and voting, often based on the most absurd of arguments and defiance of both the Constitution and common sense.

Scalia's ability to wrap up partisan right wing extremism in lofty sounding legalese earned him praise for being "brilliant" from both the right and, not infrequently, left (even if liberals and progressives scorned his conclusions). However, that's like declaring a rotten fish was savory because it was wrapped in a sacred text.

It would be too lengthy to recount all of our columns that revealed how Scalia repeatedly smashed the Constitution and its amendments with a wrecking ball while burnishing the image of a venerable legal scholar. Scalia's University of Chicago law professor background came with a briefcase filled to the gills with hokum.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaivankatrumpProfits trump promises to US workers as Donald Trump and Ivanka Trump, his daughter, manufacture a large segment of their fashion lines in China. (Photo: Marc Nozell)

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Yes, Donald Trump actually does have a few written position statements on major issues other than his bombastic, snarky and not infrequently vulgar soundbites. On his home website you can find, for instance, his stance on "reforming the U.S.-China trade relationship to make America great again." He holds out the promise to US workers displaced by the movement of their jobs to China that a Trump presidency will bring the jobs home:

The most important component of our China policy is leadership and strength at the negotiating table. We have been too afraid to protect and advance American interests and to challenge China to live up to its obligations. We need smart negotiators who will serve the interests of American workers – not Wall Street insiders that want to move U.S. manufacturing and investment offshore. [Last sentence has been italicized by BuzzFlash.]

In September of last year, we posted a BuzzFlash commentary noting that "[Donald] Trump manufactures his clothing line in China and Mexico while bashing them for 'stealing' US Jobs." We embedded a 2012 video clip - that you can still view by clicking through to the essay - in which David Letterman challenges Trump to move his fashion apparel jobs back to the United States. In response, Trump just mumbled and shrugged. His official campaign position on China compared with his own offshoring of jobs to that nation exposes him as a full-fledged faux-populist billionaire hypocrite.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT 

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaparmesanIs it Parmesan or wood filler with other assorted less expensive cheese additives? (Photo: JaBB)

Before you sprinkle that bowl of rigatoni with a dusting of Parmesan cheese, you might want to reconsider.

That's because a February 16 article in BloombergBusiness warns, "Some brands promising 100 percent purity contained no Parmesan at all."

Here you were, just about to savor steaming pasta with a tasty flavoring of traditional Parmesan cheese, only to learn that the company who is supplying the cheese to your food mart is using less expensive cheeses - not to mention wood pulp - to create falsely-labeled Parmesan.

However, the issue of wood pulp in grated Parmesan cheese - and other grated and shredded cheeses - as disgusting as it may strike one, is overshadowed by the reality, mentioned above, that some cheeses labeled Parmesan don't include an iota of Parmesan.

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