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KATHY KELLY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

AbdulhaiKabulWe, the Afghan Peace Volunteers, are finding strength amidst our dark nights because, in the daylight of a global awakening, we see people throughout the world refusing to comply with oppressive systems.   We see that we aren’t alone in rejecting governments and militant groups that wage wars and make deals at the expense of ordinary people.

Artificial borders may attempt to divide us, but through connections with ordinary people worldwide, we are affirmed as free human beings, free to nurture ways of living that aren’t monopolized by a few.

Daylight, in our hearts and everywhere, is laying bare the abusive, authoritarian power and wealth amassed by elitist hoarders who control governments and militaries. These elite secure the interests of the privileged and neglect the interests of commoners who need food, water, education, decent shelter and employment, and peaceful relationships.

“The leaders of the world, like Assad, Obama and others, should not involve the people in their wars,” said Ghulamai, age 16, as we talked together last night “We people are very tired of the games that politicians play, killing the people while they profit. They are killing us.”

Published in Guest Commentary
Thursday, 19 September 2013 09:56

Corporatizing Animals: From Cuteness to Cruelty

JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Kitten2Both the old and new media agree on this: If you need a story that's guaranteed to be wildly popular — go with animals. "Kute kittens," for example, are surefire winners, as is the entire p-group: puppies, porpoises, penguins and polar bears. And don't forget baby chicks, goats and other farm animals — they can be awfully cute and cuddly, too.

One group that's noticed this is corporate America, and some of the biggest corporations have jumped on the animal ploy as a way to push some of their ugliest profiteering schemes. For example, the Keystone XL pipeline, a project involving TransCanada Corp. and such oil giants as Exxon Mobil. They want to shove this massively polluting, ozone-depleting, wildlife-threatening pipeline from Alberta, Canada, down through the very center of America, carrying a toxic petro-sludge called tar sands oil all the way to export terminals on the Gulf Coast.

This is not exactly a popular idea in our country, and it was made less popular by a couple of recent, very nasty spills of this tar from existing pipelines — one into Michigan's Kalamazoo River, and the other in the town of Mayflower, Ark. So, cue the animals!

Larry Kudlow, a shameless, corporate-hugging host of his eponymous TV show on CNBC, proclaimed in an August episode that — by gollies — Keystone would be terrific for wildlife. Why? Because, explained this noted expert on the habits of beasts in the wild, the loveable bears, deer, and such "like to snuggle under the pipeline (for) warmth." An economist at the American Petroleum Institute — the chief lobbying group for big oil — immediately agreed with Kudlow, asserting that, "animals like the Alaskan crude oil pipeline quite a bit."

How darling! And how wrong.

Published in Guest Commentary

ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Tomahawk"Imagine if we sent 5,000 well-trained nonviolent peacekeepers from throughout the world to protect civilians and work with local civil society in building the peace."

Indeed, imagine if we knew that doing this was an option.

Mel Duncan, cofounder of an organization called Nonviolent Peaceforce, was talking about Syria, the country we almost bombed and maybe still will. In lieu of tossing godlike lightning bolts at Bashar al-Assad, "The CIA has begun delivering weapons to rebels in Syria, ending months of delay in lethal aid that had been promised by the Obama administration," the Washington Post reported last week.

"The shipments began streaming into the country over the past two weeks, along with separate deliveries by the State Department of vehicles and other gear — a flow of material that marks a major escalation of the U.S. role in Syria's civil war."

So our war with Syria is only partially averted, apparently. It plunges back into something covert, minimally publicized, silently lethal, silently insane: our normal relationship with so much of the world. ". . . the efforts have lagged because of the logistical challenges involved in delivering equipment in a war zone and officials' fears that any assistance could wind up in the hands of jihadists."

The aim of peacebuilding is peace, not strategic advantage. It's not an "international chess game" or any other sort of game. It's basic humanity. With an extraordinarily small commitment of money — and a large commitment of courage — we could have peace and stability on this planet in relatively short order.

Published in Guest Commentary

JANE STILLWATER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

GoldCoinImagine that you get up every morning, go off to work, work your butt off all week and then wait in happy anticipation for your paycheck on Friday. And then it arrives. But instead of getting the full amount that you'd been eagerly expecting, you only get one-third of it. "Yikes!" you exclaim in dismay. "What happened to the rest!"

"But don't you remember," says your company's payroll clerk with a yawn, having heard all this stuff before from other employees time and again, "that you spent all the rest of your money on guns." Guns? I bought guns? "Sure you did."

"But what am I going to do about my rent money and my cable bill and paying off student loans and my trips to the mall and, er, not to mention food?"

"Sorry, guy, but our records show that for the past 60 years, you have definitely -- and apparently voluntarily -- spent at least two-thirds of your income on guns." 60 years? The last whole freaking 60 years? I did?

"But how come I've never noticed it before?"

Published in Guest Commentary
Friday, 13 September 2013 06:47

Exceptional, You Bet

EUGENE ROBINSON FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

PutinCockpitWASHINGTON -- As I read Vladimir Putin's sanctimonious op-ed article about U.S. policy in Syria, I imagined the Russian president sitting at the keyboard in a lovely pink negligee.

You will recall that when a satirical painting of Putin in lingerie went on display last month in St. Petersburg, police seized the offending artwork and shut down the exhibit. The artist, Konstantin Altunin, fled the country and is seeking asylum in France. No doubt he wanted to avoid the fate of the punk rock group Pussy Riot, three of whose members were arrested and sentenced to years in prison for an anti-Putin performance in a Moscow cathedral.

So when Putin tries to lecture "the American people and their political leaders" from a position of moral superiority, no one on earth can take him seriously. And as for Syria, the sinister and barbarous government of dictator Bashar al-Assad would not last one week without the military hardware that Russia generously provides. Putin thus has the blood of tens of thousands of innocent civilians on his hands.

Putin's piece in The New York Times does raise an interesting question, however: Has President Obama, the patient seeker of multilateral solutions, now embraced the idea of American exceptionalism

Published in Guest Commentary
Thursday, 12 September 2013 07:54

A Right-Wing Militia's Own Private Idaho

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

AK47While still basically a fantasy, in early September, organizers of The Citadel, an intentional community for Patriots located in Benewah County, Idaho, "gathered at a twenty-acre plot they have already purchased as a starter base-camp, according to county records," The Nation recently reported. "Whether or not the Citadel is built, the gathering itself is important: it could become the most significant turning point in the militia and survivalist world since Timothy McVeigh bombed the Oklahoma federal building in 1995 and the FBI crackdown on armed paramilitaries that followed."

In January, in a piece titled The Citadel: A Gunner's Paradise in Northern Idaho, BuzzFlash reported that The Citadel was "An ambitious project ... aiming to build housing for between 3,500 and 7,000 'patriotic American families who agree that being prepared for the emergencies of life and being proficient with the American icon of Liberty — the Rifle — are prudent measures. ... There will be no recycling police and no local ordinance enforcers from City Hall.'"

The artist's concept has The Citadel including a perimeter fenced road with numerous castle-style fortified walls towers, interior defensive walls and towers, an on-site gun factory ("III Arms Factory"), schools, an Amphitheatre, a firearms museum and reflecting pool, and a farmer's market.

Published in Guest Commentary
Thursday, 12 September 2013 06:55

Cherry-Picking the "Red Lines" of Evil

ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

WRIrifle2Why does the president need to address a classroom full of third-graders?

On Tuesday night — hallelujah — he stepped back from the brink of war, but in his address to the nation he spent most of his time justifying his earlier aggression toward Syria, detailing the Assad government's single, heinous deviation from the civilized norms of war.

The ever-fresh PR stratagem of war is to cherry-pick an example of evil behavior on the part of the designated enemy and rally the outrage against it, never, never looking inward at one's own behavior, and in our ignorance bonding as a clan or a nation or whatever in our determination to destroy the perpetrator of said evil.

A little over a decade ago, just after we launched our shock-and-awe bombing campaign against Iraq, I wrote: "Pro-war logic ultimately undergoes a mysterious transformation — from a moral absolutism condemning Saddam to a moral relativism justifying the use of MOABs and daisy cutters and even first-strike nukes, if necessary, to get rid of him. Some of the nicest people you'd ever want to meet have no problem with the slaughter of civilians."

Published in Guest Commentary

RICHARD ROSENTHAL FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Medical cannabisAt age 87, with stage four breast cancer and a survival prognosis of three months, Rheba recaptured her revolutionary soul.

"I'm going to try marijuana for the pain," she told me on the phone from her continuing-care retirement community in Seattle. "Some of my old colleagues are shocked. It's legal here, but they think the only thing that works are M.D.-written prescriptions."

"The last time we discussed it," I reminded her, "you called marijuana 'habit-forming and evil.'"

"I know I did, Dick, and I'm ashamed. I did some research and found I was wrong. My M.D. knew nothing about it, so I got it from James, an emergency room nurse. I'll be taking it in prescribed dosages as liquid drops. If it works, I'll ask him to hold a workshop for the retirees here."

"I'll push my walker all the way from East Hampton to Seattle to see that one," I told her.

"We haven't the time, my dear," she said. "I'd love to see you again, but we haven't the time."

Published in Guest Commentary
Tuesday, 10 September 2013 07:08

Big Lies Need Big Liars

JOE GIAMBRONE FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

PinocchioThe propaganda nation has ascended, and Americans remain profoundly ignorant of what it is their empire does around the world. They largely believe what they are told by authority figures, even if what they are told makes no logical sense. Even if what they are told contradicts the evidence in front of their faces. Even if the liars have clear motives for lying to them. Even if similar situations floated right past the liars in the past without comment, clear hypocrisy.

I have called such pathetic ignorance criminal, naming a new category of misdemeanor, criminal ignorance. In a democracy the citizens are responsible for informing themselves about critically-important situations, and not relying on one side's baseless claims. Sitting back and being told what to think by the government or by the profit-driven media is not informing one's self. The responsibility of citizens, in a democratic republic, is to sort the liars from the truth tellers. When citizens shirk this responsibility they are derelict in their civic duties, as they cannot make sound, rational decisions. Thus the decisions they do make: giving support, voting, influencing others, are negligent, reckless, unsound and should be called out. That is criminal ignorance.

In America far too much of the public is criminally ignorant about most important issues, including war and peace. So they are ripe for the Big Lie, the technique of Hitler, which is now routinely executed by US politicians.

Published in Guest Commentary

JANE STILLWATER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

ApocalypseYeah, I know. The Bible says that there needs to be four horsemen involved if we are actually going to have a truly genuine Apocalypse -- so having only three horsemen arrive at our doorstep doesn't really count. Or does it? It certainly looks to me like only three lone riders, by working overtime and really putting their hearts and minds into the job, will actually be able to put it off all by themselves!

"And the greatest of these is..." war. Ever since mankind invented the machine gun, it's been all downhill for us human beings. From the trenches of World War I to the jungles of Rwanda and the halls of Columbine and Sandy Hook, war has been the curse of the modern world.

Oops, my bad. Most of the killing in Rwanda was done with machetes. And school shootings can't be considered real wars -- just kids using adult methods to solve problems. Plus World War I was supposed to be "The war to end all wars." Fat lot of good it did there.

In any case, War, our first Horseman of doom, has been doing pretty damn good for himself in the last 100 years, systematically killing hundreds of millions of people and polluting the Earth in the process. And yet people still keep falling for his sweet siren song, time after time -- and then always end up crashed to death on the rocks.

Published in Guest Commentary
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