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Ah Thanksgiving, that quintessential of US holidays when the warmth of family and appreciation for the bounty of our nation are celebrated.  The tantalizing and comforting aroma of turkey -- with all the trimmings -- lingers as we give thanks and bask in the warmth of those we love.

Some begin the groaning board meal with a prayer; some begin with secular thanks; and some don't have enough money for a proper holiday meal.  But this is the day that symbolizes the harvest, the fruit of one's labor, the emotional recognition of the value of work and life and family and friends.

Except that the creeping consumerism of American society has been encroaching upon Thanksgiving.  Last year some big box stores started "black Friday" by opening up on Thanksgiving eve.  That new retailing strategy is continuing in 2013, with K-Mart breaking a new regrettable milestone by throwing open its doors at 6 AM on turkey day.

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bombtime11 14Climate Change: A Time Bomb for Planet EarthA recent study by the International Forum on Globalization (IFG), provides evidence that the Koch Brothers could earn at least $1 billion from Alberta tar sand land holdings (with additional profit from their processing plants and related products and services).  This is despite the unconvincing Koch Brothers claim that they have no personal interest in the pipeline.

That disconnect reflects a larger problem that befuddles the northern section of the Keystone XL Pipeline decision.  Tar sands oil is already flowing into the US and the Koch Brothers are already profiting from it through its conversion into petroleum coke.

Think Progress recently detailed the toxic pollution caused by coke pilings in Detroit and Chicago.  The owners of the processing facilities that turn the tar sand oil into petroleum coke at these two sites are, you guessed it, the Koch Brothers.  The name of the parent company is, hold your gasp, Koch Carbon.

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bushturkeyGeorge W. Bush Gets Set to Celebrate Thanksgiving/HannukahAfter 9/11, then President George W. Bush spoke of leading a Crusade against Afghanistan and Iraq.  His handlers quickly walked back the use of the word Crusade, given its connotations of endless bloodletting of non-Christians during several journeys of butchery conducted by Christian knights in the Middle Ages. Jews were killed and Muslims in the Holy Land were slaughetered mercilessly.

So it not surprising that Bush is speaking (his spokesperson won't say whether or not he is being paid his usual six digit fee) on November 14 at a Jews for Jesus fundraisier in Dallas.  Of couse, the Bush public relations machine is crying fowl at criticisms, that this is just akin to the many other speeches he gives (and gets paid for) as he avoids the public eye (most of his gigs are closed to the press).

According to The Atlantic: "Bush's chief of staff Josh Bolten previously told the magazine that the Bush family is 'very open to and respectful of faiths of all kind, but particularly Judaism.' This decision, to say the least, complicates that reputation." Did we just hear something like, "some of my best friends are Jewish"?

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childrenclimate11 12Save Our Children From Climate ChangeWith more than 10,000 estimated to be dead as a result of a typhoon in his homeland, Yeb Sano -- the chief Philippine delegate to the current UN climate change talks in Poland -- vowed to stop eating until serious actions are taken to reduce global warming.

According to The BBC online,

At the opening of the two-week Conference of the Parties (Cop), Mr Sano said he was not just speaking for those who lost their lives but for the thousands who were now orphans.

He told the meeting he would refuse to eat until progress is made.

"In solidarity with my countrymen who are struggling to find food back home, I will now commence a voluntary fasting for the climate, this means I will voluntarily refrain from eating food during this Cop, until a meaningful outcome is in sight."

"What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness, the climate crisis is madness. We can stop this madness right here in Warsaw," he said.

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ahealthcare11 11In a recent CNN online article on its "Belief" blog, a scandal about the Affordable Care Act that is rarely written about was explored:

When people talk about the Affordable Care Act, most focus on the troubled launch of its website. But another complication of the law has received less attention: a “coverage gap” that will leave nearly 5 million poor Americans without health care, according to a Kaiser Health Foundation study.

The coverage gap was created when 25 states refused to accept the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare. The people who fall into this gap make too much money to qualify for Medicaid and not enough to qualify for Obamacare subsidies in their state insurance exchanges. If they lived elsewhere, they would probably get insurance. But because they live in a state that refused the new health care law, they likely will remain among the nation’s uninsured poor after Obamacare coverage kicks in come January.

In short, Red States adopting the total GOP assault on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) refused to accept federal funda for expanding Medicaid eligibility, leaving many of their citizens without coverage that they could receive under the act.  But the Republican politics of damning anything associated with the ACA as the work of the devil has left many white and minority Americans in healthcare Hell.

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awallst11 7As pointed out in The Huffington Post, the president of the New York Fed said the unmentionable about Wall Street:

After all, collectively these enhancements to our current regime may not solve another important problem evident within some large financial institutions—the apparent lack of respect for law, regulation and the public trust.  There is evidence of deep-seated cultural and ethical failures at many large financial institutions.  Whether this is due to size and complexity, bad incentives or some other issues is difficult to judge, but it is another critical problem that needs to be addressed.

The top New York Federal Reserve Bank official, William Dudley, made this rare allegation among Wall Street insiders and government officials late on in his remarks delivered on November 8 at the Global Economic Policy Forum in NYC.

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beer11 6Will "Don't Bogart That Joint" Replace "Pass Me a Beer" Soon?Overshadowed by the recent budget and deficit grand farce in DC, Washington State and Colorado have promulgated the regulations under which marijuana will be sold. This comes in the wake of 2012 referendums that legalized the private growth and use of pot in the two states.

The Seattle Times reported in mid-October that the state Liquor Control Board -- without controversy -- adopted guidelines for cultivation and sales in Washington. Colorado had already set up a framework for implementing the de-criminalization of pot there.

Beyond the social and cultural issues -- and polls -- trending toward the legalization of pot use, the two states will become national models on whether or not the sale of marijuana will lead to sizable increased tax revenue for barebones public budgets.

It is worthy of note that in Washington the Liquor Control Board is in charge of overseeing marijuana legalization.  The alcohol industry has generally worked against ending marijuana prohibition.  It fears that events such as the Super Bowl will become a pot fueled munchy fest instead of the traditional downing of beer and shots of whiskey and bourbon.

In short, given a pot of consumer money to spend on getting high, marijuana is likely to cut into liquor industry sales.

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5684982044 070ac0d112As our numerous commentaries on Fukushima and its perilous implications to life on planet earth have indicated, the nuclear industry is high-risk.  Anti-nuclear advocate Harvey Wasserman warned again of the nuclear power threat in a BuzzFlash at Truthout commentary posted today, "Pro-Nuke Scientists Should Go to Fukushima."   

Now The Independent UK reports that an island of trash, some of it presumed toxic from the Fukushima radiation leaks, is floating across the Pacific, headed toward North America:

An enormous floating island of debris from Japan’s 2011 tsunami is drifting towards the coast of America, bringing with it over one million tons of junk that would cover an area the size of Texas.

The most concentrated stretch – dubbed the “toxic monster” ... - is currently around 1,700 miles off the coast, sitting between Hawaii and California, but several million tons of additional debris remains scattered across the Pacific.

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bigbro11 1Who is watching the watchers?It's not official, and it may never come to pass.

But various press sources are reporting about a growing movement to have NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden testify in Germany.

According to the newspaper that broke the Snowden NSA revelations, The Guardian UK:

Some German politicians and newspaper columnists have backed calls for Snowden to be invited as a witness. The justice minister, Sabine Leuheusser-Schnarrenberger, told the Passauer Neue Presse newspaper: "If the allegations build up and lead to an investigation, one could think about calling in Snowden as a witness."

Thomas Oppermann, of the Social Democrats, said: "Snowden's claims appear to be credible, while the US government has blatantly lied to us on this matter. That's why Snowden could be an important witness, also in clearing up the surveillance of the chancellor's mobile."

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oct10 31This actual photo (from the National Archives) has nothing to do with the commentary, but BuzzFlash at Truthout couldn't resist posting it. Then again, maybe it has everything to do with the commentary.

Obama is the great man of reason, one of the smartest presidents we have had. Therefore, he is constantly astonished that Americans don't listen to reason when it comes to public policy.

Well, President Obama welcome to the real world: this is the visual age. Most Americans receive their "news" from television, and that news is largely derived from visual images.

This realization first came into its zenith in politics when the television advisers packaged the actor known as Ronald Reagan for the "television moment." Every appearance during the 1980 campaign was designed for how it looked on television.  That also became the hallmark of his presidency.

In fact, the marketing of his presidency policies were in large part dependent upon the visual frame of Reagan's television appearances.  In those messages to the nation, he also often relied on two techniques: charts and anecdotes.

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