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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

a2jimrisenJim Risen (Photo: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

In an interview with Truthout just recently posted, New York Times Reporter James Risen was adamant about not revealing a confidential source, even if the Supreme Course orders him to do so:

MARK KARLIN: In regards to your own travails as a journalist, the government is trying to force you to reveal a confidential source relating to the shadow intelligence gathering community. You have stood steadfastly against giving up a source for information contained within your book, State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration. The Obama administration is pursuing its legal case against you to the Supreme Court. You appear as resolute as ever to uphold the journalistic right to shield sources. Would anything change that courageous stance?

JAMES RISEN: No.

Risen revealed the background to the legal persecution that he is enduring - through the Bush and Obama administrations' obsessive disregard for journalistic investigative rights in a free society - in an excerpt posted on Truthout from his new book, PAY ANY PRICE:

As my legal battle against the government dragged on year after year, eventually making its way to the Supreme Court in 2014, I became convinced that I was fighting to protect press freedom in the post-9/11 age. But in the process, I discovered that I was no longer merely a journalist and author covering the war on terror. I had joined the many people whose lives had been upended by its excesses....

[Risen then details how The New York Times, at the request of the Bush Administration, refused to run a story on the NSA warrantless wiretapping that he had co-authored with Eric Lichtblau. It was refused publication twice by The New York Times, with direct presidential influence, and published only after Risen wrote a book that included the information, State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration]

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

coalminingdisPhoto of graves of miners from another disaster, the Sago Mine explosion in 2006. (Photo: Nancy)

 A member of the oligarchy is finally being held criminally responsible for worker deaths.

Don Blankenship, former CEO of Massey Energy (King Coal in West Virginia), was just indicted for putting profits above the lives of his company's employees resulting in a 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia.

Those are among the charges contained in a federal indictment announced on November 13 by the Department of Justice. According to the West Virginia MetroNews Network,

The 43-page four-count federal indictment of former Massey Energy president and CEO Don Blankenship portrays an operator obsessive about upping production at the cheapest cost. Federal prosecutors allege it was an attitude that led to the deadly explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in Raleigh County that killed 29 miners.

The indictment, announced Thursday by U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin, alleges Blankenship knew about UBB’s safety problems and the practice of alerting supervisors underground when federal mine inspectors arrived at UBB for inspections. It’s also alleged he lied to the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission about mine safety in the days after the April 5, 2010 explosion in an attempt to help Massey’s stock price.

Blankenship was charged with conspiracy to violate mandatory federal mine safety and health standards, conspiracy to impede federal mine safety officials, making false statements to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission and securities fraud....

The indictment alleges Blankenship was driven by the numbers and in doing so ignored dozens of safety violations at UBB and covered up others. Federal prosecutors said from April 3, 2009, to April 5, 2010, Blankenship received 249 daily safety violation reports from the UBB mines but did very little to correct the problems.

One can read the specific details of Blankenship's alleged culpability in the actual federal indictment.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

asunkshipofstateIs the US ship of state sinking due to a grossly imbalanced distribution of wealth? (Photo: Donna)

Another study (published last month) confirms the startling imbalance of wealth in the United States.

According to The Guardian, the analysis "shows how the top 0.1% of families now own roughly the same share of wealth as the bottom 90%." If a ship had that disproportionate distribution in terms of weight, it would list to one side and sink. That is, perhaps, what the analogy portends for a functioning democracy in the US: the ship of state is taking on water and is unable to right itself.

Professors of economics Emmanuel Saez (University of California, Berkeley) and Gabriel Zucman (London School of Economics and Politics) based their findings on "evidence from capitalized income tax data" since 1913 combined with an analysis of the "flow of funds" during that period. In the abstract for their research paper, they conclude:

The bottom 90% wealth share first increased up to the mid-1980s and then steadily declined. The increase in wealth concentration is due to the surge of top incomes combined with an increase in saving rate inequality.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

atarsandscanada(Photo: Peter Blanchard)

 

While activists trying to save the planet from global warming are trying to prevent construction of a new northern leg to the Keystone XL pipeline, Canada faces the retrofitting of what would could become North America's largest oil capacity tar sands pipeline – running from Alberta to Quebec and Nova Scotia.

Maude Barlow, chairperson of the Council of Canadians, recently wrote about TransCanada Corp's effort to create the Energy East project for tar sands oil by converting an existing natural gas pipeline. In Toronto's Globe and Mail, Barlow details three myths about the potentially ruinous Energy East proposal. She concludes:

More to the point, it's past time for our governments to strongly commit to seeing through a just transition off of fossil fuels.

There are already examples of communities and countries making great strides in reducing fossil fuel dependency. Investing in public transit, energy efficiency and renewable energy sectors generates far more jobs than pipeline and fossil fuel development....

This is where our future actually lies, not in picking our poison – or in the case of Energy East, shouldering the risk and enabling someone else's poison.

It is vital to remember that this is not just Canada's challenge. Approval of the Energy East project by the conservative government in Ottawa would have perilous implications for accelerating global warming on a massive scale.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

amoneycorrupts(Photo: Light Brigading)

An analysis of the 2014 election results, according to a "Morning Line" email from the PBS NewsHour, reconfirms that the torrent of money unleashed by Citizens United is continuing the trend of selling democracy to the highest contributors.

According to PBS "Morning Line" email received by BuzzFlash at Truthout:

We already know that the $4 billion spent on this midterm election was more than any other midterm in history. It was the most on congressional elections ever, including during a presidential year. What do the numbers really tell us? These two stats jumped out at us from a post-analysis done by the Center for Responsive Politics:

- 94 percent of biggest spenders in House races won, up slightly from 2012
- 82 percent of biggest spenders in Senate races won, up from 76 percent in 2012

What that means is, as one of us noted on NewsHour Monday night money, more specifically who spends the most, is about as good a predictor that there is of who will win a race.

Of course, there were other factors at work in the 2014 Republican rout, including ongoing voter suppression of non-whites and the poor, questionable electronic voting software and a seventy-two year record low turnout.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

abushdisaster(Photo: Nathan Collins)

BuzzFlash started publishing online in May of 2000, so the site was ready to pounce in outrage when five infamous justices of the Supreme Court stole the presidency for George W. Bush in the late winter of that year. 

The passion of opposition to the illegitimate presidency of Bush - and the commencement of the never-ending war in Iraq, opposition to social and economic equality, increased voter suppression and the continued packing of the federal courts with right wing ideologues, among other egregious assaults on democracy – ignited a simultaneously furious and dismayed response among progressives. At that time – up to around 2003 - there were not many daily internet sites that focused on the politics of the United States from a progressive perspective, and it was like picking low-hanging fruit to expose the lies, hypocrisy and manipulation of the US public by the Bush administration. That, of course, includes the still many unanswered questions about why Bush personally ignored warnings - including a CIA briefing - about the potential for 9/11 occurring.

In 2014, there are an untold number of sites breaking political stories about the truth behind covert government actions and the backstory behind public relations tales from the White House, Pentagon and the CIA. But in the first years of the new millenium, there were just a small number of sites like BuzzFlash (including Truthout) daily focused on exposing the dishonesty of the unelected White House. It wasn't that difficult: the corporate mainstream media - such as the megaphone for White House claims of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Judith Miller of The New York Times - transmitted Bush administration assertions much as stenographers would. 

For sites such as BuzzFlash and Truthout, all one had to do was go to secondary sources outside of the United States or articles in smaller papers to shed light on the truth: simply read from a lot of sources that were not part of the incestuous DC media-government collusion and connect the dots. The reality was the primary sources used by the likes of The Washington Post and The New York Times were echoing misinformation, while the secondary sources available from blogs and news sites throughout the world were more reliable than our own mass media.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

ajesusfeedWho would Jesus feed? (Kay Vee Inc.)

If you haven't read about the 90-year-old man, Arnold Abbott, arrested in Fort Lauderdale for preparing food for the homeless, it is a news item that reveals the legalization of heartlessness in many areas of the United States. 

The attempt to margianalize and, in effect, starve the homeless is a topic that BuzzFlash at Truthout has written about in the past. The specifics of the detention of Abbott, however, ominously symbolize how compassion is increasingly becoming outlawed in some cities. According to the The Daily Signal,

Should a 90-year-old pastor face sixty days in jail and a $500 fine for simply giving food to homeless people? The authorities in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. seem to think so.

Arnold Abbott runs a non-profit charity called Love Thy Neighbor, Inc., which seeks to care for the homeless population in the Fort Lauderdale area. Abbott is a World War II veteran, who was awarded two Purple Hearts as an infantryman. He dedicates his charity in memory of his late wife, Maureen.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

afreedommural(Photo: the unnamed)

I was at the Seattle Airport (Sea-Tac) over the weekend, having just gotten off a flight on Southwest Airlines - which uses the word freedom as an associated branding word to such excess that the airline even has a "freedom shop" on their website - when I observed banners in the airport for a Mexican restaurant chain (Qdoba) that heralded "freedom tastes like guacamole." 

Given the jingoism and underlying assertions of so-called "American exceptionalism" in Tuesday's election, the concept of a food selection at a US chain of Mexican restaurants representing freedom struck me as symbolic of how we as a nation have trivialized the word freedom into sloganeering. When freedom becomes just another word for selling products, it isn't freedom.

The use of freedom in polishing up the brands of consumer items and services appears endless, once you begin to notice it. Banks, automobile companies, clothing manufacturers, appliance brands - and so many more - promote the idea that purchasing a product will give one more liberty.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

afearfactorJimee, Jackie, Tom & Asha

It is worth noting that the 2014 Republican rout took place amidst a pervasive resurgence of a "state of fear" in the US. ISIS and Ebola became the fear factors of this election - and an electorate that is trembling because of visions of being beheaded or contracting a frequently lethal disease tends to vote for authoritarian leadership.

Yes, there were numerous other factors in the election, including a likely low turnout of Democrats and Independents due to a variety of reasons. Ironically, many potential liberal voters no doubt see Obama as too militaristic and lacking in vision as an alternative to Republicans. In the absence of viable third party candidates in senate races (except in Kansas, where the Independent Greg Orman lost to incumbent Republican Senator Pat Roberts), the FOX pumping of endless fear - along with radio sensationalist brayers such as Rush Limbaugh - played a significant role in this year's off-year election. Add to that the abiding racism that is constantly being stoked against a black president - even if he governs much like George W. Bush on foreign policy and many "grand bargain" issues - and you have a perfect storm for fearmongers, extremists and peddlers of US jingoism.

Interestingly, BuzzFlash at Truthout received an email from a website that carries news of interest to - what James Risen in his new book, Pay Any Price - calls post-9/11 opportunists and entrepreneurs. The email is a weekly briefing on "Border Security Today: Enforcement, Interdiction and Immigration."  An offshoot of a for-profit site, HSToday.US - loaded with articles such as "Cybersecurity Set to be Fastest Growing Homeland Security Market, Report Says” - applauded Australia and Canada the other day for increasing their new legislation to "fight terrorism."

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

atoxiclie(Photo: Bill Baker)

Rick Berman a DC PR guru of the dark side has fought - for millions of dollars in fees - against "animal activists, labor unions and even Mothers Against Drunk Driving" (among other groups working for positive change). Now, according to BloombergBusinessweek he's selling his "attack and discredit" services to the fracking industry.

As BloombergBusinessweek reports, a tape of Berman's remarks to representatives of the fossil fuel industry at a Colorado gathering was secretly recorded and leaked to the press. His comments confirm that the perpetrators of global warming want to hear the advice of the Dick Cheney of public relations who does the unseemly work for predatory corporations. 

As the tape of Berman's recent remarks reveals, advocates for a healthier and more just planet should be aware that they are facing an opposition that plays dirty pool:

 “You can either win ugly or lose pretty. You figure out where you want to be,” Rick Berman told the Western Energy Alliance....“Hardball is something that I’m a big fan of, applied appropriately....”

“Think of it as endless war,” he said....

“Fear and anger have to be part of this campaign,” Berman told them. “You have to get people fearful about what is on the table...."

Fear has become the go-to emotion to manipulate the population of the United States, particularly in a post-9/11 world. 

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