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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaimigrants"We are all immigrants." Translated from the Spanish. (Photo: Kevin Hoogheem)

In 1986, Jackson Browne released a withering song that decried the Reagan wars in Central America. In it, Browne pleaded that "there are lives in the balance." Although Browne was responding in particular to US government support of the Contras in the Nicaraguan civil war and military massacres in Latin America, many of the song’s lyrics are also relevant to the deaths of other people who are treated as disposable. Take for instance this passage in the song:

I've been waiting for something to happen
For a week or a month or a year
With the blood in the ink of the headlines
And the sound of the crowd in my ear

You might ask what it takes to remember
When you know that you've seen it before

Yesterday I posted a commentary entitled, "Global Neoliberalism and Wars of Empire Play Roles in Migrants' Fatal Efforts to Reach Europe." Given how many refugees of economic, political and violence crises were precipitated - in large part - by Western intervention in northern Africa and the Middle East, Jackson's impatient and urgent lyrics could apply equally well to the deaths of global refugees.

While the media this year have been more focused on migrant deaths in Europe fatalities, Donald Trump has been using migrants from Mexico and Central America as the focus of his incendiary rallying cry. Trump is stoking hatred and base fears among a segment of the US population as refugees die crossing through the desert to bypass the border wall.

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaapeopleBelgian supporters of Amnesty International advocate on behalf of migrants to Europe. (Photo: Amnesty International)

Almost daily, there are reports of deaths of desperate migrants to Europe seeking economic refuge or safety from wars.

For example, an August 27 CNN article reports,

The discovery of a number of dead migrants in the back of a truck in Austria, just a day after the Italian coast guard said 54 people lost their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean, has highlighted once again the scale of the migration crisis gripping Europe.

Europe is not alone in experiencing an increase in refugees seeking jobs or fleeing war zones. Needless to say, for example, migration from Mexico and Central America are at the forefront of Donald Trump's appeal to bigoted xenophobia and exploitation of economic uncertainty among white voters in the US.

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaagrandcanEven the Grand Canyon can't escape toxic pollution. (Photo: Ronnie Macdonald)

That is also a point to remember in the case of pollution in general. For example, even though the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon National Park is free of industry, it is apparently not free of pollutants. The Nature World Report recently drew attention to this ominous reality:

A UNSECO World Heritage site and the 15th oldest national park in the U.S. the Grand Canyon is about as far removed from the congestion and pollution associated with our nation’s industrial and urban centers. And yet, according to a study by the United States Geological Survey [USGS], even the mighty Grand Canyon (and the Colorado River that forms it) isn’t immune to pollution: The levels of mercury and selenium now regularly exceed the “risk threshold” for fish and local wildlife.

Should the toxic elements enter the food supply, they could be harmful to fish and wildlife that eat them. It seems that the Grand Canyon’s remote location is of little import – the pollutants are airborne, and come from as far away as entire other countries.

The breathtaking beauty and wonder of the Grand Canyon connects us spiritually to this planet on which we reside. It is a sobering portent that this wondrous natural creation is now showing signs of measurable mercury and selenium pollution.

Incrementally ruinous global warming and pollution often do not seem to pose an immediate threat to our daily experience – they may appear remote and not worthy of immediate attention.

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaajebbredJeb Bush may want you to think he's the "statesman" riding in the clown car, but he's not above appealing to nativists. (Photo: DonkeyHotey)

Although Jeb Bush's campaign tries to position him as the "statesman" of the Republican candidates, he is often just another Republican candidate stirring the racist cauldron. Yes, Bush tries to generally wrap his appeal to the GOP white nativist vote in wily words  - and remind the media that he speaks Spanish and his wife is Mexican-born. However, he also mixes in occasional raw appeals to voters who viscerally hate people of color.

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In this presidential primary election cycle, following the precedent set by Donald Trump, one of the main targets for white biliousness and racism toward people of color is focused on Mexican and Central American migrants.  

As a result, Jeb Bush not too long ago attempted to hitch himself to the growing train of Republican presidential aspirants who are opposed to birthright citizenship in at least some circumstances. Their objective is to keep babies born in the United States to non-citizen parents from being granted US citizenship upon birth. Some of the candidates are even urging a repeal of the 14th Amendment.

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaapuertoricochildIf you are a Puerto Rican living on your homeland island, you cannot vote for the president of the United States nor have voting representation in Congress. (Juan Cristobal Zulueta)

Why would Republican or Democratic presidential candidates - such as Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton - take campaign time to visit Puerto Rico, even though islanders can't vote for president?

The answer to that question lies in the colonial relationship of Puerto Rico to the United States.

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Firstly, Bush and Clinton are looking to win the island's delegates to their respective party conventions (23 Republican delegates and 58 Democratic delegates in 2016). Remember, however, there is a dreadful joke on democracy at play in this strategy. That is because based on the terms of Puerto Rico's "commonwealth" status, residents who live on the island of Puerto are not allowed to vote in US presidential elections even though they are US citizens.

This, however, leads to the second reason that presidential candidates visit Puerto Rico. Although Puerto Ricans who live in their own homeland cannot cast a ballot for their choice for president, Puerto Ricans who move to the mainland can. In recent years, due to its severely deteriorating financial condition - evidenced by its current partially defaulted debt of more than $70 billion - the island has experienced a net loss of population. Several hundred thousand islanders have moved to the mainland seeking jobs.

Published in EditorBlog
Thursday, 20 August 2015 07:51

New Army Chief of Staff Warns of More War

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaikegn32The Allied Commander during WW II and later President Eisenhower came to have a disdain for war. (Photo: Joe Armstrong)

At a ceremony in which Gen. Mark A. Milley became the 39th chief of staff of the US Army, he offered a perplexing and troubling warning to the people of the United States. As the Washington Post reported on August 14, during Milley's speech at Fort Meyer, the new head of the Army made it clear that bellicose US militarism is not just an integral policy in the present, but it is a battle cry for the future. As he assumed command of the Army, Milley declaimed,

As America, we have no luxury of a single opponent. We have to be able to fight guerrillas and terrorists all the way up through nation-state militaries. If we do not maintain our commitment to remain strong in the air, on the sea and yes, on the ground, then we will pay the butcher’s bill in blood, and we will forever lose the precious gift of our freedom....

There is no cheap way to change, and more importantly, there is no cheap way to buy freedom. The only thing more expensive than fighting and winning a war is fighting and losing a war — and fighting and winning a war is what the United States Army is all about.

Milley's belligerent remarks were sparsely covered in the mass media. However, they are a frightening and ominous indicator that the nation's lust for war is still predominant at the highest levels of the Pentagon.

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaarottenappCultural violence in the US is not limited to a few "bad apples." (Photo: George Armstrong)

Sometimes it takes an infected orchard to create rotten apples.

That means that the decaying apples that fall into the mud aren't exceptions; they are created by blighted trees.

That is a metaphor I think about when the news media and most people in the US attribute gruesome and reprehensible behavior to "a few bad apples."

The examples of this frame being applied to corrupt, violent - and all too deadly – actions that are reported by the mass media are legion:

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HARVEY WASSERMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaadiablocan4Activists want the last two reactors at the Diablo Canyon Power Plant in California shut down. (Photo: Wikipedia)

The two reactors at Diablo Canyon are the last ones still operating in California. And the grassroots pressure to shut them down is escalating.

Together grassroots activists have shut three California reactors at San Onofre, between Los Angeles and San Diego and one each at Rancho Seco, near Sacramento and at Humboldt, perched on an earthquake zone in the north.

Proposed construction at Bodega Bay and near Bakersfield has also been stopped. 

But the two at the aptly named Diablo still run, much to the terror of the millions downwind.

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaajebtortJeb Bush is nostalgic for the days of Torture Inc. (Photo: Fibonacci Blue)

Jeb Bush apparently has stopped trying to put an inch of distance between himself and his brother, George W. Bush, when it comes to the Middle East. 

First, Jeb blamed the current horrors and chaos in Iraq, including ISIS, on President Obama and Hillary Clinton. Then NPR reported in an August 15 article: "Jeb Bush laid out his plan to defeat ISIS this week, calling for a bigger U.S. military presence in the Middle East."

Another one of the George W. Bush administration's pernicious policies also resurfaced recently: Jeb announced that he might reinstitute waterboarding if he were president, according to The New York Times

Jeb Bush said on Thursday that, as president, he would not rule out waterboarding in interrogations, another instance of how his plans to fight Islamic terrorism have drawn comparisons to his brother’s administration.

Enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, which were used by the C.I.A. against Qaeda suspects after Sept. 11 attacks, were prohibited in one of President Obama’s first executive orders in 2009.

Earlier on Thursday, at a forum on national security in Davenport, Iowa, Mr. Bush had declined to commit to preserving that order.

“I’m not ruling anything in or out,” he said in the evening when asked by reporters if he would prohibit waterboarding.

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