Facebook Slider
Get News Alerts!

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

anotfrack(Photo: Daniel Lobo)

The oil company Citadel Exploration didn't like that the citizens of San Benito County, California, passed a fracking ban this November. (The county is ironically located just west of a town called Bittersweet.)

Citadel Exploration believes that the right to frack away - with all its destructive impact - supersedes the passage of Measure J, which prohibits future fracking in San Benito. So Citadel filed a lawsuit that would require the county to pay it $1.2 billion in lost profits.

KSBW.com of Monterey California summarized the Citadel legal extortion:

Citadel owners claim they could have extracted 20-40 million barrels of oil [in San Benito county], a value they believe equals $1.2 billion.

"$1.2 billion. That's like asking for the moon. The county will file for bankruptcy and reorganize. He’s not going to get anything,” San Benito County Supervisor Jerry Muenzer said.

"We don’t have that kind of money ever, ever," supervisor Muenzer said. Such a judgement would leave the county broke....

The company is arguing that Measure J constitutes "regulatory taking," meaning, government regulation limits on the use of private property.

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT


annsaliftoff(Photo: Tjebbe van Tijen)

(Photo: Tjebbe van Tijen)

Putting aside for the moment the entire issue of the exponentially growing lead government Big Brother agency - the National Security Agency (NSA) - and all of the valid objections to most of what the agency does, the collection of data on citizens and others in the United States (first revealed in detail by Edward Snowden) is symbolic of an egregious evasion of the privacy of the people who elect the government.

Combat the epidemic of misinformation that plagues the corporate media! Make a tax-deductible donation to Truthout and BuzzFlash today.

The NSA has been challenged by many as being an agency out of control, like a virulent cancer that self-perpetuates its own inexorable expansion. Many critics contend that the assertion of spying powers, including on US citizens, has yielded little in terms of results - and that some of the information is ending up in the hands of other US agencies to be used for purposes that have nothing to do with the so-called war on terrorism.

As The Guardian recounted on November 19:

Nearly 18 months after Edward Snowden's disclosures upended the secret world of US surveillance, the US Senate has rejected the most politically viable effort to rein in the National Security Agency in almost four decades.

The USA Freedom Act, a bill introduced last year that sought to end the NSA's ongoing daily collection of practically all US phone data, failed to reach a 60-vote threshold to cut off debate and move to passage...

Although the domestic phone data dragnet has not thwarted any terrorist attacks, in the lead up to the vote critics savaged the bill as a gift to terrorists[Italics added by BuzzFlash.]

The bill defeated on November 18 - through a passive filibuster by Republicans (only one Democrat voted against it) - was a watered-down one to begin with.

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aceopay(Photo: binx)

The Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) released a study on November 18 entitled, "Fleecing Uncle Sam." The analysis concludes that "a growing number of corporations spend more on executive compensation than federal income taxes."

It's rather astonishing that such an economic betrayal of corporate financial obligations to society exists, but it is even more shocking - according to IPS - that it is growing:

Of America’s 30 largest corporations, seven (23 percent) paid their CEOs more than they paid in federal income taxes last year. 

    • All seven of these firms were highly profitable, collectively reporting more than $74 billion in U.S. pre-tax profits. However, they received a combined total of $1.9 billion in refunds from the IRS.

    • The seven CEOs leading these tax-dodging corporations were paid $17.3 million on average in 2013. Boeing and Ford Motors both paid their CEOs more than $23 million last year while receiving large tax refunds.

Of America’s 100 highest-paid CEOs, 29 received more in pay last year than their company paid in federal income taxes—up from 25 out of the top 100 in our 2010 and 2011 surveys.

“Our corporate tax system is so broken that large, profitable firms can get away without paying their fair share and instead funnel massive funds into the pockets of top executives,” remarked Scott Klinger, Director of Revenue and Spending Policies at the Center for Effective Government and a co-author of the report.

Published in EditorBlog

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]

Published in EditorBlog

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.

Published in EditorBlog

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.

Published in EditorBlog

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.

Published in EditorBlog

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.

Published in EditorBlog

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.

Published in EditorBlog

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."

Published in EditorBlog
Page 1 of 125