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MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

 

An examination of the INTERPOL web site would lead one to believe that Sweden intentionally heightened the media frenzy around the sex charges against Juilan Assange as compared to similar sex charges against others.

Why does BuzzFlash make this contention?

For several reasons, but first it is important to point out BuzzFlash's perspective on the charges themselves: Assange should answer to them, and we would hope that there would be a day that most governments, including Sweden, pursued sex charges by women with the vigor Sweden is pursuing Assange.

Yes, the US government is out to get Assange, and it is very possible that the Swedish government is using the charges to achieve a political goal of extraditing him to Sweden and then to the US, because extradition from the UK would take longer. But it is wrong to vilify the women who made the legal accusations. They have a right to have their claims taken seriously.

That being said, the international handling of the case by the Swedish government in relationship to Assange appears to be based more on Assange's role as head of WikiLeaks than how the charges would normally be handled via INTERPOL.

One of INTERPOL's duties for its member countries is to disseminate "wanted" information, at the request of a nation, to law enforcement agencies

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

If the 9/11 terrorists wanted to cause the deaths of many Americans, Republicans in the Senate are aiding and abetting them.

That may sound like a monstrous, sensationalistic accusation, but there is really no other way to characterize a GOP filibuster last week to prevent funding that would assist the medical needs of 9/11 first responders in serious ill health due to exposures to toxins at the site. ABC News headlined the act of betrayal, "9/11 Health Bill Falls Short in Senate Test Vote: Senate Republicans block bill to help 9/11 responders, survivors sickened by trade center dust."

As far as the federal budget goes, this is small potatoes: $7.4 billion. But the Republicans were sticking to higher priorities at the time for them: a vote on a tax break for the super rich. Now that the bank accounts of billionaires have been padded, Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York holds out hope that

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

Did you hear the joke about CNN sponsoring a Republican presidential candidate debate with the Tea Party as a partner?

Well, it's not a joke.

According to Mother Jones, "Sam Feist, CNN's political director, says the arrangement was designed to give undecided voters a way to educate themselves about 'diverse perspectives within the Republican Party, including those of the Tea Party.' It's not the first time CNN has partnered with the group. Earlier this year, CNN embedded with Tea Party Express on one of its bus tours, giving the group extensive coverage."

Hold that outraged laughter for a moment. Each year, the corporate media gets more and more skewed toward titillation and craven appeals to "targeted news marketing." And that is dangerous to a democracy.

Television news, in particular, has long since become an entertainment product, something that is sandwiched between commercials. To get higher fees for ads, the media conglomerates need to attract more viewers. And to attract more viewers, they need to sensationalize and reinforce a viewer's worldview, not objectively report

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

Does Pennsylvania Avenue eventually become Wall Street, or does it just seem that way?

Obama's former budget director, Peter Orszag, is becoming Citigroup's vice chairman of global banking, at a salary speculated to be well in excess of one million dollars a year - and that doesn't include the "bonuses."

Orszag is just one in a long line of top-level Democratic and Republican economic advisers in D.C. who make seamless rides back and forth from Wall Street to Pennsylvania Avenue and Capitol Hill. As a Reuters article notes:

He [Orszag] follows in the footsteps of another prominent Democratic government official - former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, who became a senior counselor to Citigroup and helped shape the bank's strategy during the years leading up to the financial crisis. Rubin resigned under a cloud of criticism in early 2009, after the struggling bank accepted $45 billion in U.S. government bailout funds.

Rubin has come to symbolize the continuous "neoliberal" school of finance that has been the course of both parties for the last few decades - and many Rubin fellow travelers - such as Geithner

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

What a difference a few days makes in government "evaluations" of the longest war in American history.

On Monday, The New York Times reported on an ominous assessment - circulating on Capitol Hill - of the Afghanistan war. But by Thursday, the White House was touting the Bush/Obama ongoing "optimism" that the "fragile" war is "showing progress" and troops will be withdrawn at some point in the future.

But given that recent polling indicates that an increasing number of Americans (60 percent in one poll) are opposed to the nearly decade-old conflict, it's hard to see how Afghanistan is anything but an albatross around the neck

 

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

Christian fundamentalists and the right wing are once again obsessed with a nonexistent "War on Christmas."

This is a fanciful war generated by a mixture of politics and feelings of victimization in which there is only a phantom army, with no soldiers as an enemy.

Take Senator John Kyl, who is accusing Harry Reid of being part of the nonexistent War on Christmas because he might call the Senate back into session after December 25. Apparently, the birth of Jesus took a whole week, according to Senator Kyl.

Then, there are the daily emails BuzzFlash gets about how saying "Happy Holidays" is an insult to Christians - and, of course, to the long-deceased and resurrected Christ himself. Today, we received one from the "Pennsylvania Pastors' Network: In the Footsteps of the Founders." The email lambasted an alleged "atheist tree of knowledge" that used to sit beside a Christmas tree and Menorah in front of the court house in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

Colin Hanna, president of Let Freedom Ring and the Pennsylvania Pastors' Network, excoriated an alleged conspiracy of "atheist anti-Christmas campaigns across the country [that] seek to steal joy, and dampen the spirits, of those who believe in and celebrate Christmas."

"It is impossible," Hanna wrote in the email, "to take Christ out of Christmas, and it is impossible to take him out of our nation. For as long as non-believers may use the constitution to support their anti-religion, Christians will also have the constitutional right to celebrate Christmas openly, and joyously. Our true goal is not to alienate those who don't believe, but to show them the limitless forgiveness of Christ. America's Christian foundation is under attack, and it is up to us to fight for it, through our preaching, our votes, and the living out of Christian values in our lives. What better time of year to do this?"

On one level, the now chronic War on Christmas saber rattling is farcical. On another

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

Will America continue on a path of transferring our governance to corporations and the very rich?

As a reader of BuzzFlash and Truthout, you are obviously concerned about the preservation of a democracy of the people, by the people and for the people.

We've often noted on BuzzFlash that the oligarchy and plutocracy understand that if a lie is repeated five times - and echoed by the corporate media - it "becomes the truth." Far too many Americans then proceed to vote and support public policies that are built on a foundation of lies.

If there has been a bright light amid the increasing trend of the "gullible being guided by the cynical and the greedy" (as one writer recently put it), it has been the Internet.

And if there have been sites on the web that have stayed true to their progressive mission, then Truthout and BuzzFlash - with more than 20 years of 24-hour-a-day dissemination of the truth between them - are proudly among them.

With no advertising, Truthout - recently joined by BuzzFlash - is not beholden to any corporate agenda. That is something - when you think about it - that is priceless

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

If you want some love from the White House, you may just have to become a Republican - or a Wall Street financial firm or a big oil corporation.

According to Politico, the White House "launches charm offensive with new GOP chairs." Meanwhile, progressive voices for social and economic justice get taken to the woodshed by the Obama administration.

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

"GOP Gives Billions in Extra Tax Breaks to Billionaires, But Not a Few Crumbs to Social Security Recipients"

That's the headline BuzzFlash gave to an effort by Bernie Sanders to pass a bill that would give an extremely modest $250 check to approximately "58 million Social Security recipients and disabled veterans." As Sanders' Senate office noted, "Without action by Congress, there will be no cost-of-living adjustments for retirees and the disabled for only the second time since 1975, when a law took effect linking benefits to inflation."

But the chronic threat of a Republican filibuster ensured the failure of the legislation to pass on December 8. Just two days later, Sanders launched his historic day-long, "truth to power" filibuster of the Senate.

As Sanders noted about the GOP opposition to assisting many people who are barely surviving, "It's hard for me to understand how my Republican colleagues can fight for a million-dollar-a-year tax break for billionaires but deny a $250 check for seniors

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

The spirit of Emile Zola's "J'Accuse" was reborn on December 10 inside of a determined Bernie Sanders, who held viewers across the nation spellbound with an eight-and-a-half-hour temporary "filibuster" of the Senate.

This was an indictment unlike any we have heard, an exercise in threading together the patches of truth about our economic system and how Washington, DC enabled the biggest institutionalized financial scam and defrauding of a population in history.

BuzzFlash has known Bernie for years, and he has been a loyal reader. He's always been on target about the issues that matter, including relatively obscure ones for politicians, such as media consolidation and net neutrality.

And, although most Americans don't know it because he caucuses with the Democrats, he officially and proudly considers himself a socialist, and is classified as an independent in terms of party affiliation.

For years as a congressman and then as a senator from Vermont, he would blast away at the mistruths and the false, DC-insider, GOP/Democratic portrayal of our economic system, which has consolidated an extraordinarily large percentage of the nation's wealth in the hands of a few over the past three decades. Meanwhile, he has noted that salaries for the working and middle classes have stagnated, even as

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