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aaaaaaaaabigotry32Bigotry is fueling the flames of the GOP primary. (Photo: Travis Wise)

It's appalling to watch so many of the GOP presidential candidates try to outdo each other in trolling for racist and xenophobic votes by using the low-hanging fruit of bigotry.

Their basic message is that if one is not white, one is part of that great "threatening" mass that so many whites fear: "the other." This morphs into Republican presidential aspirants throwing out molotov cocktail soundbites, announcing in thinly veiled language that "the other" - in whatever guise - is both an existential and lethal threat to whites in the US.

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One particular "off to the races" moment for the 2016 fusillade of vile appeals to whites - and particularly white Christians - who feel that their white privilege and religious "values" are under siege was Donald Trump's demagogic statement about Mexican-American refugees, unleashed during his candidacy announcement:

When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists....

But I speak to border guards and they tell us what we’re getting. And it only makes common sense. It only makes common sense. They’re sending us not the right people. 


Published in EditorBlog
Tuesday, 22 September 2015 06:13

Colorado Marijuana Tax Revenues Are Soaring


aaaaaaaaaaaacolorfulcol34Will the decriminalization of marijuana be the first small step toward ending the ruinous "war on drugs"? (Photo: Kent Kanouse)

September 21 article in the Guardian US reports that marijuana sales in Colorado are exceeding state tax-revenue expectations:

Legal marijuana tax revenues have been breaking records in Colorado this summer, nearly doubling monthly numbers from last year and on pace to exceed projections of legal sales that bring revenue back to the state.

Through the first seven months of this year, Colorado has brought in nearly $73.5m, putting the state on pace to collect over $125m for the year.

As the article notes, the new estimate of $125 million in state tax revenue far exceeds the previous projection of $70 million.

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Why are marijuana sales increasing at such a rapid rate in Colorado? The Guardian US offers a couple of possible explanations:

Tim Cullen, CEO of Colorado Harvest Company, said: "People who would never have considered pot before are now popping their heads in." His company has three dispensaries in the Denver area and plans for a fourth. He noted that in his stores, where customers are primarily Colorado residents purchasing recreational marijuana, sales have been averaging 8% to 12% growth month over month for much of this year.

Published in EditorBlog


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." 

Truthout and BuzzFlash combat corporate power by bringing you trustworthy, independent news. Join our mission by making a donation now! Join our mission by making a tax-deductible donation now!

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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
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