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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

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. 

Published in EditorBlog
Thursday, 30 October 2014 07:45

Christ Gets Kidnapped by Prosperity Theology

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

afortknoxDoes God reside in Fort Knox? (Photo: cwdiaz)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus Christ has been kidnapped.

That's right: proponents of prosperity theology have hijacked the religious legacy of the biblical and historical Jesus. In an age when 95 percent of the nation's economic gains since 2008 have gone to the top 1 percent, what could be more appropriate than a revisionist view of Christ as a promoter of greed?

Prosperity theology is not a new assertion that God and his only son (according to Christian doctrine) are cheerleaders for billionaires. A recent email received by BuzzFlash is a reminder that there is a strong strain within Christianity, particularly in the United States, that emphasizes mammon over compassion.

The email was promoting a book called Prosper, written by Olaolu Oladosu. On the book's website, it states:

Prosper is a book written for Christians to show them they have the right to prosper in Christ. It helps the Christian remove every barrier or preconceived mindset concerning prosperity and makes him convinced beyond the shadow of doubt that prosperity is his/her right in Christ.

Only a mind that is certain on what the will of God concerning prosperity is can function in it, the reading of this book will leave you with no doubt that as a Christian you are meant to live in abundance. It communicates deep spiritual truths in understandable, easy to grab language that leaves the reader at a climaxed level of faith ready to believe God for a life of abundance.

The public relations firm promoting Prosper claims in its email,

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

astudenthomeless(Photo: scribbletaylor)

Of all the compelling statistics about a nation that is seeing most of its wealth consolidated in the hands of a few oligarchs, one of the most distressing is that the number of homeless students in the United States is rising every year - and is currently at record levels.

The Huffington Post recently reported on a government study that provided the statistical proof:

The number of homeless students in the United States reached a record high during the 2012-13 school year, according to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Education.

The report released Monday shows that homeless children enrolled in public preschool and grades K-12 jumped 8 percent from the previous school year to hit 1,258,182.

Yes, that is more than 1.25 million students in the United States who meet the definition of being homeless. It is hard to think of a greater indication of the degradation of values in the US than this trend. 

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

asurvcameraParody of a Homeland Security poster. (Photo: ThreeErin)I am currently reading two books that brilliantly illustrate the destruction and corrosion caused by the exponentially expanding covert branch of government: Tom Engelhardt's Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World; and James Risen's Pay Any Price: Greed, Power and Endless War. (Shadow Government is currently a Truthout Progressive Pick of the Week, and Pay Any Price will become one in about two weeks.)

Engelhardt, editor of the venerable TomDispatch.com, writes of an increasingly sprawling post-9/11 shadow government that is growing into a covert parallel government, with only token accountability to Congress and the FISA court. In a Truthout interview with Engelhardt (which will be posted on October 30), he describes the US surveillance and "global security" state as a "proselytizing warrior religion": "As with so many religions, its god an eye in the sky, an all-seeing being who knows your secrets." Of course, the implication is that those who are the high priests also paradoxically control the image and power of the God they worship. In their minds, the chiefs of all the homeland security offshoots are both believers and deities.

It's not only the power of faith in this intelligence and military cult that keeps it expanding at a feverish pace. As James Risen recounts in Pay Any Price, so much taxpayer money has been tossed at post-9/11 "Homeland Security" projects that there is a new class of members of the oligarchy: those who joined the 1% as a result of US government privatized intelligence and military contracts.

Published in EditorBlog
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