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EditorBlog (1778)

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

dollars6 28The Bank of America Loves Dollars More Than JusticeAs reported in a Thursday evening, June 27, BuzzFlash at Truthout update to the chilling San Diego (SD) city attorney prosecution of Jeff Olson, an SD Judge placed an unprecedented gag order on a misdemeanor trial -- in particular muzzling Olson. But it also apparently included witnesses, the jury and others.

Judge Shore also chastised the Mayor of San Diego, Bob Filner. Filner apparently in the judge's eyes had the temerity to call the trial of Olson a waste of time and taxpayer money. According to the San Diego Reader, Filner sent out a memorandum on June 20 that read in part:

This young man is being persecuted for thirteen counts of vandalism stemming from an expression of political protest that involved washable children's chalk on a City sidewalk. It is alleged that he has no previous criminal record. If these assertions are correct, I believe this is a misuse and waste of taxpayer money. It could also be characterized as an abuse of power that infringes on First Amendment particularly when it is arbitrarily applied to some, but not all, similar speech.

Judge Shore, in essence, warned the mayor of San Diego, who happens to be a Democrat in a traditionally conservative city, to keep his comments to himself, and would likely have issued a gag order on the mayor if Judge Shore were able.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

chalk6 27SEE IMPORTANT UPDATE AT END:

Jeff Olson, 40, of San Diego is currently on trial for writing messages on sidewalks protesting big banks and their predatory practices.  Olson used water soluble chalk to express his advocacy on public walkways in front of three Bank of America branches in San Diego.

Yes, by water soluble it means that when it rains or is hosed down the chalk dissolves.

Months after he finished chalking his protests, he was charged with 13 misdemeanors that could, conceivably, land him in jail for nearly 13 years. 

The trial, which is now underway, resulted from the contracted head of security for Bank of America in San Diego, Darell Freeman, leaning on his apparent former colleagues in the SD police department. Paige Hazard, deputy city attorney, informed Bank of America's local security chief of the charges against Olson, after a prosecution referral was received from -- get this -- the city's gang crimes unit. Olson had moved onto more personal pursuits months ago, but Freeman and the Bank of America didn't like his disappearing chalk protests during the Occupy movement and. as in Les Miserables, were in unrelenting hot pursuit of the sidewalk protestor.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

davis6 26Deep in the Heart of Texas, thousands of Planned Parenthood supporters jammed the state capitol in Austin and literally stood with Democratic State Senator Wendy Davis to filibuster the harshest anti-abortion bill in the nation, preventing it from becoming law.

It was a stunning defeat for a fired-up right wing Republican dominated state senate that thought it had down for the count a women's right to choose.  In fact, at first the GOP majority tried to alter the time stamp of the bill's progress to show that it had been enacted before the midnight deadline, as detailed in an article posted on The Moderate Voice website.

But forced by a jeering and hooting crowd of choice supporters who had packed the galleries, David Dewhurst, the lieutenant governor of Texas (who had to sign the bill to make it law), relented and admitted -- in the wee hours of the morning -- that the onerous bill was not signed by midnight and therefore would not become law in this legislative session.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

wapo6 25What a difference a few decades make.

Yes, there was a time that the Washington Post brought down an administration because the paper had the guts to allow two DC urban reporters to pursue the Watergate burglary to the end, over months and months.  There was a time that the Washington Post and the New York Times published the Pentagon Papers in open defiance of the Nixon administration, knowing that disseminating the classified information was a public service to debating a war that had been sold with lies.

Fast forward and the New York Times and the Washington Post became cheerleaders for the Iraq War, gobbling up the barest wisps of manufactured lies as evidence that Saddam Hussein was harboring weapons of mass detruction.   The New York Times and Washington Post were stenographers for the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld Iraq "Shock and Awe" war public relations offensive.

Now, around a decade later, the Washington Post is running stories such as
"Obama’s hands-off approach to extraditing Snowden draws criticism":

It was bright and sunny in Washington on Saturday as President Obama stepped out of the White House in flip-flops and khaki shorts to hit the golf course with his buddies.

At the same time, officials throughout his administration were scrambling to keep one of America’s most-wanted fugitives from evading extradition in Hong Kong.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

greenwald6 24Glenn GreenwaldIf you haven't heard about the shellacking Glenn Greenwald gave David Gregory on "Meet the Press" on Sunday, June 23, here's a little background. 

Gregory represents the pablum punditry with a status quo bias. His weekly panel of DC insiders passes for serious discussion of public policy without ever piercing the veil of what's behind the curtain in the capital. The program is on a station formerly owned by General Electric and is now the property of Comcast.

So on Sunday, June 23, Gregory was discussing the Edward Snowden NSA leaks and popped this starling question to Greenwald (who was a split-screen guest via satellite transmission on the program): "To the extent that you have aided and abetted Snowden, even in his current movements, why shouldn't you, Mr. Greenwald, be charged with a crime?"

Greenwald, who has remained a stalwart oasis of constitutional principle during a period of two different presidents defiling the founding document with a vengeance, is a Guardian UK columnist who used to write a daily column for Salon.  

That he is an advocate of the Constitution there is no doubt.  That he is a journalist having written for years now for widely known journalistic publications cannot be contested.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

maskca6 21The conservative Canadian government, as of June 19, has made the wearing of a mask during an "unlawful assembly" a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

According to the Canadian Broadcasting Company website, the bill's sponsor in the Canadian parliament claims it is aimed at rioters who cause vandalism or violence (which sometimes is, however, precipitated by police intervention). However, it would be up to the police or prosecutors to determine if a spontaneous protest without a permit is a riot or just an exercise in free speech. That leaves a lot of law enforcement discretion in terms of criminalizing dissent.

The CBC provides the background:

Bill C-309, a private member's bill introduced by Conservative MP Blake Richards in 2011, passed third reading in the Senate on May 23 and was proclaimed law during a royal assent ceremony in the Senate this afternoon.

Richards, MP for Wild Rose, Alta., said the bill is meant to give police an added tool to prevent lawful protests from becoming violent riots, and that it will help police identify people who engage in vandalism or other illegal acts.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

puertoric6 20The Puerto Rico Senate agricultural committee is attempting to regulate experimentation with GMO seeds, specifically due to Monsanto research facilities located on the island.  According to the website Corpwatch, however, Monsanto wouldn't even send a representative to testify at a hearing about GMO research and its potential dangers.

As CorpWatch reports:

Puerto Rico has ... been a major location for the development of genetically modified crops since 1987, conducting open air field tests on corn and soy, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data. Crops developed on the island and other Monsanto research locations have a number of unusual properties – some are resistant to Monsanto's Roundup herbicide or any herbicide with glyphosate as active ingredient. Others secrete an insecticidal toxin called Bt and there are even combination strains that combine both these traits.

[Agricultural] Committee chair senator Ramón Ruiz-Nieves of the Popular Democratic Party told the media that he intends to summon Monsanto again, insisting that the company should be regulated locally since it receives substantial local and U.S. government subsidies for its activities in Puerto Rico, and is registered with the local Agriculture Department as a bona fide farmer.

This is not the first time local officials have targeted Monsanto. On April 22, senators María de Lourdes Santiago of the Puerto Rico Independence Party, and Larry Seilhamer of the New Progressive Party, introduced Senate Bill 524, which would mandate the labeling of foods with genetically modified content sold on the island. The Senate Health Committee is expected to hold hearings on this bill later this year.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

stopdruw6 19Let's stop beating around the bush.

The ongoing and daily police sweeps arresting minorities for marijuana use, sales and distribution is institutional racism, pure and simple.

There are no daily suburban police massive arrests of suburban white youth for marijuana violations, are there? BuzzFlash at Truthout hasn't read about or heard of any.

But it's more than that. As BuzzFlash posted a couple weeks back, the ACLU issued a report that found,

Black people are 3.7 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people despite comparable usage rates, according to a report released today by the American Civil Liberties Union. The report also found that marijuana possession arrests now make up nearly half of all drug arrests, with police making over 7 million marijuana possession arrests between 2001 and 2010. "The War on Marijuana in Black and White: Billions of Dollars Wasted on Racially Biased Arrests" is the first-ever report to examine nationwide state and county marijuana arrest data by race.

Of this racist use of drug arrests to incarcerate and subjugate black males in urban areas where there are few jobs beyond drugs – and where drugs are an opiate for lack of job opportunity – the only benefit to society is those who profit from or are employed by the prison-industrial complex.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

cyber6 18Nearly lost in the scandal of domestic data mining, spyng and possible phone call monitoring of US citizens revealed by Glenn Greenwald is an article he co-authored on June 7.  In the Guardian UK piece, Greenwald and co-author Ewen MacAskill discuss the implications of President Obama authorizing the targeting of nations, organizations, and just about anybody for US government initiated cyber-attacks.

(Here is the full document obtained by Greenwald and the Guardian and sub-titled by the paper, "Eighteen-page presidential memo reveals how Barack Obama has ordered intelligence officials to draw up a list of potential overseas targets for US cyber attacks.")

The directive focuses on overseas targets, which some might think is necessary in an age when digital technology may be as powerful a weapons as bombs and military might in wielding global power.  But that raises the concerns that cyber-warfare may lead to military conflict.  As the article cautions:

In the presidential directive, the criteria for offensive cyber operations in the directive is not limited to retaliatory action but vaguely framed as advancing "US national objectives around the world". The revelation that the US is preparing a specific target list for offensive cyber-action is likely to reignite previously raised concerns of security researchers and academics, several of whom have warned that large-scale cyber operations could easily escalate into full-scale military conflict.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

poverty6 17How often do you come across an article or a television news story that presents a poor person in a positive light?  Or for that matter when do you read about or see a story on an unemployed individual or the challenges of a working class American whose salary is receding as the stock market soars?

Oh, yes every once in awhile there will be a hard luck formula piece of reporting about the plight of the economically left behind – but it's comparatively rare and is often presented in a pitying, patronizing tone.

In short, if you are not a member of the economically made, political or corporate elite, you generally don't appear in the news. You are voiceless, faceless. The reality is that you are not news; your existence is hardly worthy of note, with the obligatory exception of an occasional "gee it's tough to live like this" profile of a "welfare mom" or person unemployed and looking for work for three or four years.

Otherwise, in urban areas, the only regular stories you see about the poor is the knife and gun coverage of violence, particularly on weekends, particularly on local television news.  These video accounts of weeping relatives, blood-stained crime scenes, and eyewitnesses only serve to reinforce stereotypes of the urban poor, particularly minorities. It's voyeuristic catnip for suburbanites and the well-to-do who gain comfort in their racial views being reinforced by tawdry and sensationalistic "news delivery systems."

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