BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
about the rise of Debtors' Prisons in the U.S. The piece focused on how regular people, convicted of relatively minor crimes, were assessed fines by the court that they could not afford to pay, and subsequently were sent off to jail. At this point in this story, I might write something like "meet so and so," one of the many people caught up in the criminal justice system. In this case, however, you will never meet Eileen DiNino.Last year, I wrote a piece
On June 7, Eileen DiNino, 55, a mother of seven, was found dead in a Berks County, Pennsylvania jail cell.
DiNino's crime? Unemployed, on welfare, and trying to raise seven kids by herself, DiNino was unable to pay several thousand dollars "in fines relating to her children's truancy from schools in the Reading, PA. area," Think Progress' Alan Pyke reported. The fines weren't solely based on her children's truancy. Once individuals get caught in the cycle of fines, it can tend to spin out of control.
According to a World Socialist Web Site report by Samuel Davidson, "An Associated Press examination of Ms. DiNino's fines shows that for one truancy violation $10.00 was added for postage, $60.00 for the county constables and $8.00 for a "computer project."
The 48 hours DiNino was to spend in jail would have supposedly eliminated her debt, Christine DiGangi reported at blog.credit.com.
BRANDON BAKER OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
While the president recognized that coal-fired power plants are responsible for about 40 percent of the country's emissions, he didn't denounce oil and gas. His federal Interior Department on Friday gave us all a reminder of that when it announced its first step in selling offshore oil and gas leases that would allow companies to explore the nation's waters for energy sources.
Perhaps anticipating pushback, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Acting Director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Walter Cruickshank stated early that Friday's announcement was only the first step toward a lease auction. It was simply a "Request for Information and Comments on the Preparation of the 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program."
Still, the thought of offshore drilling upset many environmental groups.
"Our beaches and coastal wildlife, like seabirds, dolphins and turtles are too precious to be threatened by oil spills," said Anna Aurilio, director of the Washington D.C. office of Environment America. "President Obama should not open new areas to drilling. Instead, he should be protecting all our coasts from the kinds of environmental and economic devastation the 2010 BP oil spill brought to the Gulf of Mexico."
STEVEN JONAS MD, MPH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Were wars since Vietnam won or lost by the US? The answer to those questions may not appear to be the obvious ones. If the unspoken government objectives of the various wars are taken into account, indeed they aren't. Let us start with Vietnam.
The standard interpretation of the US War on Vietnam is that the US lost it. The classic picture is of that last helicopter taking off from the roof of the soon-to-be former US Embassy in Saigon. But if one considers the original US objectives of the intervention-to-become-war in Southeast Asia, it was actually a win.
The French-Vietnamese War ended in 1954. The Geneva Conference of that year produced a treaty signed by the French and the Vietnamese and guaranteed by Great Britain and the Soviet Union. It brought hostilities to an end, temporarily divided the country in two, and provided for national elections to be held in 1956 -- elections that everyone knew would be won by Ho Chi Minh and his people. Pointedly, the US refused to sign or recognize the treaty.
They knew that if the plan in it were allowed to proceed, the chances were very good that Vietnam would peacefully progress to socialism and could be an economic success. If that happened, the same thing might well peacefully occur in other Southeast Asian countries, were democracy to be given a chance. Even as certain US analysts attempt in hindsight to disavow it, the "domino theory" about the spread of "socialism with a national face," distinguished from and not necessarily allied with the Soviet Union, and certainly not with the traditional enemy, China, communist or not, was quite correct.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
revolution. If a revolution is to take place, Americans - especially young Americans - need to know the facts, and they need to know how they're getting cheated, and they need to get angry. The following should help.
1. $1,000,000,000,000,000 in Sales. Not One Cent for Sales Tax
The trading volume on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) reached an incomprehensible $1 quadrillion in notional value in 2012. That's a thousand trillion dollars. In comparison, the entire U.S. GDP is $17 trillion.
On that quadrillion dollars of sales CME imposes transfer fees, contract fees, brokerage fees, Globex fees, clearing fees, and contract surcharges, many of them on both the buyer's and seller's side. As a result, the company had a profit margin higher than any of the top 100 companies in the nation from 2008 to 2010, and it's gotten even higher since then.
But not a penny in sales tax for the taxpayers who provide publicly-funded infrastructure, technology, systems of law, and security to help them process billions of financial transactions.
Instead -- incredibly -- CME complained that its taxes were too high, and they demanded and received an $85 million tax break from the State of Illinois.
BRANDON BAKER OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
climate denying machine, it turns out, is the lawsuit.The newest innovation of the
Despite the fact that President Barack Obama's emissions rule remains a proposal for at least a year, the mere idea of a limit on carbon has incensed an Ohio coal executive to the point of threatened litigation. Robert E. Murray, founder of Murray Energy Corp., said he would sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for spreading what he believes to be misinformation and attempting to enforce legislation based on it—violations of the federal Data Quality Act in Murray's view.
"Under the act, they are obligated to tell the truth, and they are not telling the truth about global warming," Murray said of the EPA in an interview with West Virginia Executive. "They are not telling hardly any truth about the science.
"The earth has actually cooled over the last 17 years, so under the Data Quality Act, they've actually been lying about so-called global warming," he continued. "This lawsuit will force them to not just take data from the environmentalists and publish it, as they have been doing, but to review that data and make sure it's accurate."
Clearly, the EPA doesn't "just take" data from environmentalists. If that were the case, a project like Keystone XL would have been nixed a while ago. Instead, the agency considers information like the study of nearly 12,000 abstracts concluding with 97 percent of scientists agreeing that climate change is manmade.
EUGENE ROBINSON ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The Republican Party's reliance on tea party support is like an addict's dependence on a dangerous drug: It may feel good at first, but eventually it eats you alive.
No House majority leader had ever been ousted in a primary before Eric Cantor's shocking defeat on Tuesday. Republicans who tell themselves it was Cantor's own fault -- he lost touch with his Virginia district, he tried to have it both ways on immigration, he came to be seen as part of the Washington establishment -- are whistling past the graveyard.
Cantor didn't just lose, he got clobbered. His opponent, college professor Dave Brat, spent just $200,000 on the race -- not much more than Cantor's $5 million campaign spent on meals at steakhouses. Yet a powerful incumbent, running in a district whose boundaries were custom-designed for his benefit, lost by an incredible 11 percentage points.
There can be no doubt that the tail is now wagging the dog. The tea party should no longer be thought of as just a faction of the GOP. It's calling the shots.
JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
At last, our political leaders in Washington are taking action for low-wage workers and the middle class, striking a bold blow for America's historic values of economic fairness and common good.
Gosh, I hope you don't think I meant Washington, D.C.! No, no — the same old corporate mentality of stiffing workers and stripping any semblance of ethics from the work ethic still rules in that plutocratic roost. Rather than Washington, D.C., it's Washington state I'm talking about, specifically the progressive forces of Seattle who've just produced a landmark $15-an-hour minimum wage. Instead of just talking about the widening gap of inequality and wishing our do-nothing Congress might give a damn about the millions of hard-working Americans being knocked down, the good people of Seattle are providing some much-needed national leadership.
"We did it — workers did this," said Kshama Sawant. She has been a leader of Occupy Seattle, and then became the tenacious, articulate leader of a large grassroots coalition of low-wage workers called "15 Now." Last year, Sawant was elected to the City Council by putting the case for the $15 wage floor directly to the voters.
In addition, Mayor Ed Murray campaigned last year for raising the minimum to $15 — indexed to inflation. Having won, he pulled together a 24-member working group of both labor and business interests this year, and they spent the last four months working together to hammer out details of the local ordinance. On June 2, all nine city council members voted unanimously to adopt it.
WALTER BRASCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
For awhile, it appeared the NRA leadership committed an act of sanity. But, a few hours later, the pills wore off.
The story begins with a group called Open Carry Texas (OCT). This fringe group rubbed both its brain cells together, wrapped itself in what it erroneously believes is the Second Amendment, and decided it would be great theatre to bring semi-automatic carbines into family restaurants. Waving the yellow "Don't Tread on Me" flags, a common sight at Tea Party rallies, OCT members handed out leaflets, proclaimed their rights to carry weapons and confronted citizens who had little desire to be in a place where civilians were carrying weapons and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, any one of which could shred any one of their internal organs.
Openly carrying handguns in Texas is illegal, but the law permits anyone to openly carry long guns, from BB guns to semi-automatic military weapons.
Almost all OCT members are white men, but there are a few white women who also believe in their "right-to-carry." Among them was a woman in Dallas who openly carried her 10-month-old twins and a semi-automatic assault weapon.
When Chipotle, Jack in the Box, Starbucks, and other coffee shops, restaurants, and department stores told these thugs, who can even make the rural folk of "Deliverance" appear to be civilized, they were welcome to eat, shop, and browse—but leave the weapons at home—Open Carry Texas escalated its public demonstrations.
STEVEN JONAS MD, MPH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Bush/Cheney War on Iraq. Entitled The Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of Truth in Bush's America, it definitively took the cover off the Bush/Cheney lies that led the United States into what to date has been the most disastrous war the nation has ever been engaged in.Close to ten years ago Frank Rich, formerly of The New York Times, presently of New York Magazine, wrote one of the best books on the
In a recent issue of the New York Magazine, Rich visits the role of the so-called "liberal media" in making the BushCheney initiative a "go." In a side-bar, he summarizes his overview of the initiative: "The massive blunder of Iraq remains the nation's inescapable existential burden two and a half years after our last troops departed." Now, one must say that in terms of Bush/Cheney's true objectives, that is the establishment of permanent war or at least the permanent preparation for permanent war, that objective has been achieved. True, President Obama has announced that most U.S. troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan by 2016.
However, one never knows A) what war or wars "of necessity" might pop up in the interim, B) what would happen were a Republican of the neocon persuasion (Ted Cruz, anyone?) were to win the Presidency in 2016. Why there might be just the smallest of gaps in the Permanent War sequence, and certainly the Permanent Preparation for Permanent War would be fully restored. (And even President Obama seems to be moving in the latter direction.) But for our nation as a whole, Rich is right: it was a "massive blunder."
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In late May, the BBC reported that "Eurosceptic and far-right parties have seized ground in elections to the European parliament, in what France's PM called a 'political earthquake'." Aftershocks from the far-right's European "political earthquake" are being felt in the United States, as America's White supremacists are celebrating like it's 1999.
It takes an experienced researcher and writer with an international perspective to dissect the recent European parliament elections and try and understand what it means to, and for, the far right in the United States. And, Devin Burghart is the perfect person for the job. In a recent post at the website of the Institute For Research & Education On Human Rights (IREHR), Burghart pointed out that for the most part, America's far right is rejoicing over the results of the elections.
"Many on the American far right, from the Tea Party to hardened white nationalists, paid close attention to the European results," Burghart, vice president of IREHR, wrote in a story titled, American Far Right Jubilant Over European Election Results. "Looking at these votes for nationalist, anti-immigrant, racist, anti-Semitic, and anti-European Union political parties — the American hard right saw hope for the future here at home."
Burghart pointed to several emergent themes including: "1) nationalist, anti-globalist arguments in the age of austerity and financial turmoil, 2) anti-immigrant politics as a winning message, and 3) the necessity of a white electoral strategy here at home."