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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaadetainA pro-immigration advocate holds a poster at a Washington DC rally that reads (in English): "No to Detention, Deportation and Family Separation" (Photo: Stephen Melkisethian)

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has granted a contract to a subsidiary of the private prison company GEO Group to manage the cases of refugee families after they are released from physical detention. In doing so, it is subjecting children and parents in crisis to the care of a company whose umbrella company profits from their prison-like confinement. 

"There, at every turn in the expansion of the immigration enforcement system, are the for-profit prison and detention corporations," Mary Small, policy director for the Detention Watch Network, told BuzzFlash at Truthout. "They encourage the expansion of the entire system, and the biggest expansion in the last year has been family detention and management." 

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In this case, the parent corporation of the contracted case management firm - GEO Care LLC - makes a profit off of high detention-center occupancy, meaning a steady influx of detainees, primarily from Mexico and Central America, is necessary. With a subsidiary of GEO Group, the fate of these refugees in crisis is not in neutral hands. One can speculate that it would be in the interest of the parent corporation for the case manager working for the subsidiary to find reasons to re-detain families - particularly should a detention facility run by GEO not be full.

Washington Post article from the spring of 2015 discusses the fact that for-profit incarceration companies often have agreements that guarantee a certain (high) level of prison occupancy. As for the immigration detention side of the business, the Washington Post notes,

There’s even a lockup quota at the federal level: The Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s detention budget includes a mandate from Congress that at least 34,000 immigrants remain detained on a daily basis, a quota that has steadily grown each year, even as the undocumented immigrant population in the United States has leveled off.

In 2013, Lee Fang wrote a lengthy article in The Nation detailing extensive lobbying efforts and financial contributions that the for-profit prison and detention industry uses to push "for enforcement-heavy" immigration laws.

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaaabushnoGeorge W. Bush enabled the devastation of New Orleans and privatization of the schools. (Image: DonkeyHotey)

On the 10th anniversary of the decimation of New Orleans due to Hurricane Katrina, the bursting of the levees and the negligence of the the Bush administration, George W. Bush made a visit that was meant to appear as a triumphant return to the city. The press centerpiece was an appearance at Warren Easton Charter School on August 28.

The ABC affiliate in New Orleans, WGNO, reported on the event:

Despite some protesters outside, former President George W. Bush said, "New Orleans is back, better than ever!" during a short speech at Warren Easton Charter High School...

Warren Easton is part of the Gulf Coast School Library Recovery Initiative, funded the Laura Bush Foundation for America's Libraries, which was established to help Gulf Coast schools that were damaged by the hurricanes to rebuild their book and material collections.

The President and Mrs. Bush's also attended an education roundtable, where they honor the exceptional work accomplished by New Orleans school leaders, nonprofit partners, educators, parents, and communities.

However, a recent investigation by In These Times indicates that the Bushes were indulging in privatization puffery at the expense of the facts. As the article's author, Colleen Kimmett, states, "10 years after Katrina, New Orleans’ all-charter school system has proven a failure.... A three-month investigation by In These Times reveals the cracks in the education reform narrative."

Published in EditorBlog
Wednesday, 16 September 2015 06:09

Global Warming Could Lead to Worldwide Wars

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT 

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaresourcewarWill global warming lead to worldwide resource wars? (Photo: Environmental Illness Network)

It would be a simplification to assert that the mass movement of refugees to Europe is currently primarily caused by global warming. As we've noted previously, wars of empire and economic deprivation have been the leading factors behind the recent surge of people struggling to reach the relative safety and economic stability of European Union nations.

However, a September 9 article in the Guardian reports on the warning issued by the former head of Britain's Liberal Democrats, Lord Paddy Ashdown, that "the world will undergo more resource wars and huge movements of desperate people unless it tackles climate change effectively."

Ashdown's warning is based on both logical and scientific premises. If global warming damages or destroys the yield of large areas of agricultural production, for example, there will be likely be wars fought over an increasing limited availability of food. In addition, deadly conflicts would also result from a decreasing supply of fresh water.

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaaaroosevelthooverflickrTheodore Roosevelt (R) and Herbert Hoover (L) lead off the walkway of the "White Savior" presidents across from the island's capitol in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Photo: OZinOH)

You might ask why immediately across the street from the capitol building of Puerto Rico - crossing the broad boulevard of Constitution Avenue - there are prominent life-size statues of nine United States presidents, beginning with Theodore Roosevelt. After all, although Puerto Ricans who live on the island are US citizens, they are prohibited from voting in US presidential elections.

There are other commemorative and memorial sites located on the south side of Constitution Avenue, but none so prominent as the nine presidents who face the capitol building, as if they were vigilantly monitoring every activity taking place there. In essence, this symbolizes what the United States has been doing in relation to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico - or as critics call it, the colony of Puerto Rico - since the island was wrested from Spain in the Spanish-American War in 1898.

Nelson A. Denis, author of War Against All Puerto Ricans: Revolution and Terror in America's Colony, told BuzzFlash that this "commemoration," called El Paseo de los Presidentes (Walkway of the Presidents), was constructed by the Puerto Rican pro-statehood party, when in power, to curry favor with the US government: "In February 2010, Gov. Luis Fortuño and his PNP Party (the statehood party) spent $987,000 in public dollars on these statues, to prostrate themselves to the US government. Now five years later, Puerto Rico is broke. You figure it out."

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaadronePeople may need to be looking to the skies to avoid taser strikes by police, if a North Dakota law starts a trend. (Photo: Crash Symbols)

The good news is that a new law that was passed this year in North Dakota requires police in the state to obtain a court order before using a drone for surveillance. 

The bad news, however, is that according to an August 27 Ars Technica article, the same legislation allows local police to equip drones with non-lethal weapons such as tasers and utilize them for law enforcement:

Legal experts are very concerned that a new North Dakota law which allows law enforcement drones to be armed with so-called less-than-lethal weapons—including stun guns and beanbag rounds—could be highly problematic. The law, however, explicitly forbids lethal weapons....

Among other reasons, such weapons have been shown that they can, in fact, kill people. According to research by The Guardian, 39 Americans have died this year alone at the hands of police wielding a Taser. Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported Wednesday that more than 20 North American cities are pursuing large silicone-based projectiles as yet another alternative weapon.

North Dakota is believed to be the first state in the union to allow such weapons aboard state and local police drones. 

Published in EditorBlog
Thursday, 10 September 2015 07:35

Humans: The Most Dangerous Animals on Earth

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaavietnamwarVietnam War weapons. (Photo: Visit W3Schools)

Jane Stillwater, an occasional commentator on BuzzFlash, recently wrote an essay asserting that "human beings are the most dangerous predators on the planet."

Stillwater recounts how her granddaughter wanted to have an animal-themed costume party. Jane was at a loss for what to wear, until she came up with this idea:

So I thought about it a lot and finally came up with a really great animal costume, one that would still let me wear my usual uniform of jeans and a tee. I simply printed out a sign that read, "I am a HUMAN BEING, the most dangerous predator on the planet," and then slapped said sign on my back. Problem solved.

I must admit, I was a bit bemused when I first read this. Perhaps I simply felt implicated, given that I am a member of the human race. Yet, after a moment, I became less defensive and realized that Stillwater was mordantly and morbidly accurate. My realization wasn't spurred only by Stillwater's examples - a smattering of incidents of global murder in the name of factions, religions, nation states and the oligarchy - but also by the sheer number of people killed in conflicts over the last hundred years alone.

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaaairplaneboneyardsDavis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, a "boneyard" for US military aircraft no longer in use. (Photo: Airman Magazine)

They are called "boneyards" by military personnel, but they aren't human ossuaries. Instead, they are graveyards for machines that kill.

After the military-industrial complex's life-destroying aircraft complete their mission of death and decimation, they are replaced by newly designed Molochs of the sky. The multi-billion dollar equipment that is being phased out has to go somewhere - and most US military planes end up in what are nicknamed "boneyards." Generally, these are enormous swaths of desert in the Southwest of the United States.

"Outdated" combat - and other Pentagon - aircraft in "boneyards" can be parked for years. Some of them are used for spare parts, some are scrapped, a few are occasionally called back to service and upgraded in times of large-scale war, and some are sold to foreign national military services. For the most part, however, these former killing machines simply become metallic bones.

How ironic.

Published in EditorBlog

COLE MELLINO OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaa350Is divestment driving down the profitability of coal? (Photo: 350.org)

The campaign around the world to divest from fossil fuels has really heated up this year. Students at SwarthmoreYaleHarvard and University of Washington among many others demanded their institutions put their money where their mouth is and stop investing “in an industry that is actively destabilizing the future that our education is meant to prepare us for,” as one student at Swarthmore put it.

Not all of the campaigns so far this year have been successful, but to date, 397 institutions have at least partially divested—including foundations, faith groups, pension funds, governmental organizations, universities, nonprofits and for-profits. One notable case came from the Norwegian Parliament, which took the unprecedented step of mandating that its sovereign wealth fund (the richest in the world) divest from coal burning and coal producing companies. And, in the past few weeks, there have been some more major divestment victories: 

1. California Assembly votes to divest pension funds from coal California lawmakers passed a bill on Wednesday that requires the state’s two largest pension plans—California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS)—to divest their holdings from thermal coal.

“Coal is the fuel of the past and it’s no longer a wise investment for our pensioners,” saidassemblyman Rob Bonta, who presented the bill before the assembly. “I’m pleased that my colleagues agree: it’s time to move on from this dirty energy source.” 

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaamarriageKentucky Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis is denying same-sex marriages such as this one (which was issued in Seattle) because of alleged divine mandates. (Photo: 12121stMarriageLicense182)

In Kentucky, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis continues to defy the law of the land by refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses - despite the Supreme Court's recent refusal to hear her appeal. Actually, Davis is not issuing any marriage licenses at all in her county right now, while her attorneys are assisting her in legally appealing a federal court order. This is a weak, cynical and mean-spirited legal tactic to deny same-sex marriage licenses.

September 1 New York Times article describes Davis's adamant refusal to comply with a legal mandate:

It was an unlikely scene for this rural county in northeast Kentucky and for Ms. Davis, a 49-year-old mother of four and a worshiper at Solid Rock Apostolic Church. But she said she had no choice.

“I owe my life to Jesus Christ who loves me and gave His life for me,” she wrote in a statement issued by Liberty Counsel, a conservative group that is representing her in federal court. She added: “To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God’s definition of a marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience. It is not a light issue for me. It is a Heaven or Hell decision.”

Ms. Davis grew up in Rowan County and has never lived anywhere else. It is hilly Appalachian country, with a nearly all-white population, home to sawmills, lumber companies and mobile homes. Morehead, the county seat, is full of churches and fast-food restaurants. The poverty rate is just below 29 percent. And a steady government salary is a prized thing.

The New York Times quotes Davis as claiming that she is "acting under God's authority."

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaapolarbearA Greenpeace activist, in a polar bear costume, draws attention to the impact of global warming on the Arctic region. (Photo: Greenpeace)

According the Guardian, President Obama is using an official visit to Alaska to launch a PR offensive against global warming. Obama will be utilizing evidence of massive glacier and Arctic ice melt-off to emphasize the widespread and large scale impact of climate change:

Shrinking Alaskan glaciers served as a vivid backdrop for Barack Obama’s latest push for action on climate change in Anchorage on Monday night as he warned that the equivalent of 75 blocks of ice the size of the national mall in Washington were melting from the state every year.

The president, who will visit the nearby Seward glacier on Tuesday to see its shrinkage for himself, urged international participants at the Glacier conference to act fast before it was too late to limit the impact not just on the region but the whole world.

"The Arctic is at the leading edge of climate change, a leading indicator of what the entire planet faces," warned Obama, who said new research showed 75 gigatons of ice were disappearing from Alaskan glaciers annually – each gigaton the equivalent of a block stretching from the Capitol to the Lincoln memorial and four times as high as the Washington Monument.

"Climate change is no longer some far-off problem," he added. "Climate change is already disrupting our agriculture and ecosystems, our water and food supplies, our energy and infrastructure."

One cannot deny that the president is offering a public education moment, spreading awareness about the ruinous impact of largely unfettered industrialization and fossil fuel use on the planet. However, while Obama is warning against the degradation of the earth, he is taking steps that further its deteriorating condition.

Take, for instance, Obama's authorization of Shell to begin deep-sea oil exploration in the Arctic. Simply put, this will contribute to global warming.

Published in EditorBlog
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