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abpoil(Photo: Kevin Baird)Perhaps what best explains why the US government restored BP's right to federal contracts and drilling the other day is this fact: It is the sixth largest corporation in the world in revenues (as calculated by FORTUNE).  Public Citizen sent out an email excoriating the federal action:

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today [March 13] that it had reached a settlement with BP to allow the oil giant to once again secure new federal government contracts and drilling leases. Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program, issued the following statement:

Today’s announcement lets a corporate felon and repeat offender off the hook for its crimes against people and the environment. This is a company that was on criminal probation at the time of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, and it has failed to prove that it is a responsible contractor deserving of lucrative taxpayer deals.

The EPA’s condition of the retention of an independent auditor to ensure the company complies as a responsible contractor is inadequate protection for taxpayers. While we applaud the EPA for initiating the ban, it is premature to end it. BP has failed to demonstrate that the corporate culture that allowed the Alaskan pipeline spill, the Texas City refinery explosion, the propane market manipulation and the Gulf Coast tragedy has changed.

Given that the BP Gulf spill was the largest accidental oil pollution of a body of water in history, one would think that the company (which earned a $13.4 billion profit in 2014) would be on its best behavior.  That is hardly the case.

Published in EditorBlog


aharperobamaNorth American "Petro-Machismo" Leaders Barack Obama and Stephen Harper (Photo: Wikipedia)

Anyone in the US who is still under the illusion that the Canadian national government is enlightened and progressive has not been following the right-wing policies of Prime Minister Stephen Harper of the Conservative Party.

Harper makes George W. Bush look like a moderate. 

Nothing represents how far Canada has gone from being a government for the people -- and a good citizen of the world -- than Harper's relentless drive to develop Alberta tar sands oil production, build new high-volume pipelines in Canada and the US (including, of course, the northern section of the Keystone XL) and steadfastly support the large Canadian extraction industry, known for its exploitation of labor and toxic pollution domestically and particularly in Latin and South America.

Yet, it is still a bit shocking that the government of Canada is sponsoring (and paying for with Canadian taxpayer money, one can assume) a deceitful public relations campaign to push for the Keystone XL northern route and tar sands production as environmentally friendly.  You can find the website version of this propaganda as click-throughs in publications such as The Hill, filled with jingoistic articles such as the first one: "America and Canada: Standing together for energy independence." A writer in a progressive publication recently called this kind of fossil fuel bragging "petro-machismo."

Published in EditorBlog


abankbonus(Photo: A. Golden)It was a banner year for Wall Street bonuses in 2013, a Reuters March 12th article reports:

Wall Street's average cash bonus swelled last year to its highest since the financial crisis and the third largest on record, New York State's budget watchdog said on Wednesday.

The cash bonus pool jumped 15 percent to $26.7 billion in 2013, pushing the average cash bonus was $164,530, according to the New York state comptroller's annual estimate based on personal income tax trends.

The increased bonuses came as Wall Street posted a fifth consecutive year of profits after record losses during the 2008 financial crisis. 

The uptick in bonuses reflects statistical evidence that 95 percent of revenue and asset gains in the economy since the bust of 2008 have gone to the top one percent. According to an Associated Press analysis:

The gulf between the richest one percent and the rest of America is the widest it's been since the Roaring '20s....

Published in EditorBlog


asinpay(Photo: niXerKG)Here are two basic facts to remember about the health care system in the United States. First, there is the high cost, as noted in a 2012 report on PBS: 

How much is good health care worth to you? $8,233 per year? That’s how much the U.S. spends per person.

Worth it?

That figure is more than two-and-a-half times more than most developed nations in the world, including relatively rich European countries like France, Sweden and the United Kingdom. On a more global scale, it means U.S. health care costs now eat up 17.6 percent of GDP....

Whether measured relative to its population or its economy, the United States spends by far the most in the world on health care.

The U.S. spent $8,233 on health per person in 2010. Norway, the Netherlands and Switzerland are the next highest spenders, but in the same year, they all spent at least $3,000 less per person. The average spending on health care among the other 33 developed OECD countries was $3,268 per person.

That statistic brings up the much-beloved free market criteria of return on investment (ROI), at which the US performs abysmally according to many studies when it comes to health.  

Published in EditorBlog


adetroitShould Detroit annex itself to the Ukraine to receive US financial aid? (Photo: dreaming_of_rivers)

Biting satire, as The Daily Show and The Colbert Report so uproariously reveal, is often closer to the heart of reality than the "packaged reality" it mercilessly skews. 

In the BuzzFlash at Truthout e-mail this weekend, we received our weekly quips from Howard Albrecht, an octogenarian comic writer who staffed many of the top shows of the golden age of comedy during the '50s and '60s.  Retired now, Albrecht's audience is his list serve.  This Saturday, his package of one-liners included this one: "To help stabilize the region, the US is giving a billion dollars to Ukraine. In an effort to uplift their city, Detroit just declared war on Russia."

Like the cutting remarks on Comedy Central, there is a ring of absurdist truth in Albrecht's sarcastic proposition: if we want to save an American city decimated by national and corporate financial neglect and abandonment, then instead of declaring the city bankrupt, why don't the remaining citizens of Detroit issue a declaration of war against Putin's Russian Federation?

Published in EditorBlog


alatteLattes or Sex? Alaskan state senator says it is your choice. (Photo: My Sight, as You See)Only in the state Sarah Palin was elected governor of could you find a state senator, John Coghill (GOP) from North Pole (a top-of-the-world themed suburb of Fairbanks), opposing birth control and Planned Parenthood, while avidly arguing Medicaid should only pay for abortions in extreme circumstances.  

That fits right in with his colleague's -- Sen. Fred Dyson's (GOP) -- confounding argument that sex is "recreational" unless it is for procreation, and, therefore, family planning should not be funded by Medicaid (even though the federal government would pay 90% of the tab). According to the Anchorage Daily News, 

Dyson says condoms cost a dollar apiece and for the price of four or five lattes, a woman could get birth control pills for a month. Dyson says sexual activity is largely "recreation" and the public shouldn't be required to finance "other people's recreation."

So if you are on limited means in Palin's home state, wouldn't this mean if you are married, for instance -- and of limited means, you might have to choose between a cup of coffee and making love with your husband or wife (or whomever).

Published in EditorBlog



It is a good time to reach for the upchuck bag when a politician or billionaire lectures Americans "to work hard and play by the rules" when the idle rich regard such an attitude with undistilled cynicism.

In fact, you could argue that for many, if not most of the 1%, their motto is to get as much pleasure, leisure and opulent comfort out of life by not playing by the rules. 

Here are five examples of why it is brazenly hypocritical for the super wealthy and their political puppets to advise time-clock punching Americans to work hard and play by the rules:

1) The wealthy, their lobbyists, and the politicians that they control in Congress, the White House and in legislative bodies throughout the land write the rules.  To put it mildly, that is a conflict of interest.  In short, the rules that the working person plays by are written to favor the richest in the land -- and to assist them in becoming richer.  

Published in EditorBlog


atppcur(Photo: GlobalTradeWatch)It is difficult for critics to attack specifics of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), allegedly nearing a completed agreement.  That is because, as almost all progressives are aware, the TPP is being negotiated in secret with only corporations, lobbyists and governments privy to the talks.

The TPP represents the longstanding US doctrine that global corporations (led by US-based companies) and concentrated capital should determine -- with the consent of nation states -- international financial and, therefore, labor policy.

There are no dissenting advocacy groups involved in TPP (meaning no public input), no unions, no environmental groups that might urge the prevention of climate change, no one to challenge the power of the captains of industry and their fan clubs represented by officials of national governments (mostly in the developed world).

The TPP is rumored, from leaked sections and conversations, to be vast in scope and has been described as NAFTA on steroids.

Published in EditorBlog


astoptar(Photo: someones.life)As hundreds of activists were arrested (in front of the White House) Sunday protesting the proposed new northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline, the "toxic sludge" propaganda of its owner, TransCanada, is flooding the media.
First, here is some background.
BuzzFlash reported last week that while the focus of activists trying to save planet Earth has been on the new northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline, Canadian tar sands oil have already started to flow through the current older pipeline to Cushing, Oklahoma, and from there through the brand new sourthern leg of the Keystone pipeline that President Obama eagerly approved awhile back.  Tar sands oil, as we reported last year, has also flowed through other pipeline systems, causing massive spills in Michigan and Arkansas.
In short, the notion that stopping the new Keystone XL pipeline northern branch will keep tar sands oil out of the US is false.  The tar sands crude is already flowing into the US, just not at the volume its producers want in order to create more profit.  The increased damage to our atmosphere due to Alberta tar sands oil being transported via pipelines is already underway, as we again emphasized in a BuzzFlash at Truthout commentary last week, "First Canadian Tar Sands Oil Flows Through Southern Keystone XL Pipeline as Senators Warn of Cancer Risks."
Published in EditorBlog


adeadpeas(Photo: TheTim)Fortune Magazine (as posted on CNN Money) asks in a February 27 article, "Is there a suicide contagion on Wall Street? A series of untimely deaths at JPMorgan Chase and other banks has left observers wondering if there are more to come."

Apparently, there has been a rash of suicides in the financial executive community:

A few days ago, a Wall Street executive was debating whether he could get away from the office long enough to see his shrink uptown. In the midst of a busy workday, it was looking unlikely. Then he stumbled across an article in the New York Post with the disquieting news that a J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM) employee had jumped to his death from the bank's offices in Hong Kong, just three weeks after a fellow banker at the firm had committed suicide by jumping off the roof of the bank's London headquarters. "JPMorgan suicide is 3rd mysterious death in weeks," read the Post headline.....

The rash of suicides has sent a shudder through Wall Street and beyond. The third death referenced by the Post—that of a J.P. Morgan executive director who died inside his Connecticut home in January—did not appear to be intentional. (A report is still pending.) Yet the J.P. Morgan incidents are only the most recent in a string of at least a half-dozen suicides in the financial world since late August. Those include executives at Zurich Insurance Group (ZURVY), Deutsche Bank (DB), and Russell Investments, among other firms.

Whether this grim statistic is a trend or just a short-term cluster remains to be seen -- as well as the precipitating factors surrounding the suicides.

Published in EditorBlog
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