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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

asingpay2

New York State Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, who represents the Chelsea and Hell's Kitchen sections of Manhattan (D-75th District), has introduced a bill to implement a true single-payer healthcare system in New York State. Although the legislation made it out of the healthcare committee of the Assembly last year, it then was basically stonewalled from going much further.

Gottfried, chair of the health committee, told BuzzFlash at Truthout, the bill was re-introduced at the beginning of this session on January 8th of 2014.

What makes Gottfried's bill distinct is that it would -- if implemented in its ideal configuration -- be a true single-payer healthcare system for all New Yorkers (except Veterans, who receive care through a government-administered system of providers employed by the Veterans Administration.)

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

arichp490265631 6a2ba0e78bAccording to a new study by Oxfam, as reported (by McClatchy) in the Miami Herald, less than 100 of the richest people in the world have amassed economic assets and income roughly equal to 50% of the world's population:

The world’s richest 85 people control the same amount of wealth as half the world’s population, according to a report issued Monday by the British-based anti-poverty charity Oxfam.

That means the world’s poorest 3.55 billion people must live on what the richest 85 possess. Another way to look at it: Each of the wealthiest 85 has access to the same resources as do about 42 million of the world’s poor, a number equal to the populations of Canada, Kentucky and Kansas, taken together.

The report was issued just before The World Economic Forum opens on Wednesday in Davos, Switzerland. The forum is a gathering spot for world political, academic and business leaders where, the forum’s website says, they “shape global, regional and industry agendas."

Oxfam echoes what many have warned: the mega-concentration of the world's financial assets in the hands of so few undermines the very viability of democracy.

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

abankster6309947640 5218b95030 nA politican wants to hold Wall Street accountable for its criminal and willfully negligent behavior -- and lo and behold, it's a Chicago alderwoman, according to the Sun-Times:

Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th Ward) plans to introduce a City Council ordinance ...deleting the bank from its list of 19 designated financial heavy hitters.

Chase as a municipal depository.

..about $350 million in city municipal funds are now deposited with 
Chase.

Hairston argues that JPMorgan Chase should be treated like any other person or business prohibited from doing business with the city.

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

asocsec221 15According to RT.com, the 900 wealthiest Americans paid their full Social Security tax obligation for 2014 by January 2nd.

How is that possible?

As BuzzFlash at Truthout has pointed out before, there is an inexplicable cap on collecting Social Security tax above an income of $117,000 a year.  Most payrolled Americans pay 6.2 percent of their income into the Social Security Trust Fund (the employer pays another 6.2 percent).  But if you are a high-flying CEO who earns $50 million a year, $49,883,000 of your income is exempt from Social Security taxes.

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

abanker1 14

I got to admit that I keep a barf bag with me for everytime I see a member of the Wall Street 1% or a Republican poobah repeat their perennial meme of the wealthy being "job creators."

In fact, I avert my eyes and put my fingers in my ears now whenever that phrase pops up -- which is far too often, given that the right wing is very good at repeating memes sent to them from the authoritarian leadership and their masters of propaganda.

There are far too many ways to list how the wealthy are the real "takers" in our society, but I will take a stab at a few.  In fact, many of the jobs that they create are for cleaning up after the messes that they make.

Think about how many people were employed to clean up after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, or on a smaller scale the many ongoing chemical and fossil fuel environmental catastrophes like the most recent one in West Virginia. Crisis management after these disasters means people are finally getting hired.

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

astoragta1 13According to the Charleston Gazette (West Virginia), "Freedom Industries, the company responsible for contaminating the water of 300,000 Kanawha Valley residents, was founded by a two-time convicted felon [and] benefited from the 2009 federal stimulus."

The Gazette identifies the co-founder as Carl Lemley Kennedy II. The Gazette also states that Kennedy, "In 1987 ... pleaded guilty to selling between 10 and 12 ounces of cocaine in connection with a scandal that toppled then-Charleston Mayor Mike Roark."  He eventually got his sentence reduced for his company related felonies by becoming a government informant to entrap cocaine dealers.

Although there are some signs that the water turned toxic by the massive chemical spill in the southern part of the state is becoming less polluted, nearly a third of a million West Virginia residents are still warned not to drink tap water for several days.

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR AT BUZZFLASH.COM

anopensecrets1 10According to a new analysis by OpenSecretsBlog, "Millionaires' Club: For First Time, Most Lawmakers are Worth $1 Million-Plus":

Of 534 current members of Congress, at least 268 had an average net worth of $1 million or more in 2012, according to disclosures filed last year by all members of Congress and candidates. The median net worth for the 530 current lawmakers who were in Congress as of the May filing deadline was $1,008,767 -- an increase from last year when it was $966,000. In addition, at least one of the members elected since then, Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), is a millionaire, according to forms she filed as a candidate. (There is currently one vacancy in Congress.)

Last year only 257 members, or about 48 percent of lawmakers, had a median net worth of at least $1 million.

Remember, of course, those in Congress who aren't millionaires have a very good chance of becoming ones after leaving office -- particularly senators -- by becoming lobbyists or working for corporations.

In short, we are ruled by people who have the perspective of wealth as something that they personally experience (or probably will if they aren't there already).

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

apartyis1 9A just-released Gallup Poll states it starkly:

Forty-two percent of Americans, on average, identified as political independents in 2013, the highest Gallup has measured since it began conducting interviews by telephone 25 years ago. Meanwhile, Republican identification fell to 25%, the lowest over that time span. At 31%, Democratic identification is unchanged from the last four years but down from 36% in 2008....

Americans' increasing shift to independent status has come more at the expense of the Republican Party than the Democratic Party. Republican identification peaked at 34% in 2004, the year George W. Bush won a second term in office. Since then, it has fallen nine percentage points, with most of that decline coming during Bush's troubled second term. When he left office, Republican identification was down to 28%. It has declined or stagnated since then, improving only slightly to 29% in 2010, the year Republicans "shellacked" Democrats in the midterm elections.

Regardless of the percentage of voters identifying themselves as Democrats remaining stable over the last few years, neither major political party should find comfort in the poll.

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

agovtrans1 8New New York Times (NYT) editorials have generally been more liberal in their outlook (although there are many exceptions to this, including its editorials supporting the Iraq War and Wall Street) than the news section that most often reflects an inside the beltway conventional wisdom perspective, it is still a red letter day when an editorial -- such as the one appearing on January 7th -- excoriates the president and attorney general for putting obstacles in the way of government transparency:

When President Obama took office in 2009, he promised an “unprecedented level of openness in government.” In a memo issued the day after his inauguration, he wrote, “The government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears.”

In the latest reminder that the Obama administration has failed to live up to that promise, the Justice Department last week won its fight to keep secret a memo that outlines the supposed legal authority for the Federal Bureau of Investigation to collect Americans’ telephone and financial records without a subpoena...

Many other opinions remain hidden under the specious claim that they are only working drafts, not adopted policies, and that if officials must worry about operating “in a fishbowl,” they will avoid seeking legal advice altogether. This rationale is largely a pretext for putting an ever-expanding shroud over almost any controversial, and potentially illegal, government action. 

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

amediaTheaterPatriots who have come in from the dark. The unraveling of FBI surveillance and suppression of dissent that began with the burglary of an FBI office in Media, PA, in 1971.John and Bonnie Raines, now senior citizens, were known as a model Philidelphia couple and parents in the early 1970s. They were also ardent anti-Vietnam War protesters.

In a video assembled by Retro Report (an online investigative documentary reporting site) for the New York Times, John Raines states simply of that period of large-scale anti-government protests, "We knew the FBI was systematically trying to squash dissent, and dissent is the lifeblood of democracy."

William C. Davidon, a professor of physics at Haverford College, recruited the Raines and five other activists against the war to carry off a daring 1971 burglary of an FBI outpost office in Media, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philly. Their goal was to expose the FBI as an agency that was conducting surveillance upon and interfering in the lives of citizens exercising their First Amendment rights.

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