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ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaGlock(Photo: Ken Lunde)The world withheld love and he went to war. He was an army of one — another army of one, laying out his plans in secret torment, plotting his "day of retribution."

"The rampage shooters see themselves as moralistic punishers striking against deep injustice," Peter Turchin wrote a year and a half ago, in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre. In his essay, ominously titled "Canaries in a Coal Mine," which was published at Social Evolution Forum, he notes the upward trajectory of mass murders. Since the '60s, they've increased more than tenfold. Something's going wrong in the world we've created.

The killers are always described as loners . . . monsters, psychopaths. They're not like us, and so the motives for the killings are sought only in the rubble of their lives — in the left-behind writings and YouTube videos, the psychological reports, the fragmentary reflections of acquaintances — and they're nothing more than sterile curiosities, with a sort of reality-TV entertainment value.

So it turns out that Elliot Rodger, the 22-year-old who killed six UC Santa Barbara students, then committed suicide, last week in Isla Vista, Calif., was shut out of human connection, nailed into a coffin of isolation. He wrote in his journal some years earlier:

"I was desperate to have the life I know I deserve; a life of being wanted by attractive girls, a life of sex and love. Other men are able to have such a life . . . so why not me? I deserve it! I am magnificent, no matter how much the world treated me otherwise. I am destined for great things."

Unlike most lonely people — but like all the others who make screaming headlines out of their loneliness — he sought a military solution to his troubles. His enemies were wrecking his life, so he armed himself and went after them. He "went to war" and, in so doing, dignified his predicament and justified his course of action. Calling it "war" is a nearly airtight justification for violence — for murder.

Published in Guest Commentary

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaTeaPartyBerkowitz(Photo: NYyankees51)After Mitt Romney's crushing defeat in the 2012 presidential election, and the Republican Party's failure to capitalize on seemingly winnable Senate seats, Karl Rove and his financial community decided they'd had enough of flawed Tea Party-identified and backed candidates with predilections for saying outrageous ridiculous things.

In order to attain a Mitch McConnell-run Senate in January 2015, Rove decided to back so-called establishment conservatives in the 2014 primaries, that is, candidates who are far right ideologically, but wouldn't expound nonsensical gibberish when quizzed by the media. The Tea Party on the other hand, claiming that it wanted nothing more to do with McConnell and his capitulating ilk, fielded and supported more ideologically compatible candidates against Republican "establishment" figures.

Now that the dust has just about settled from the GOP primaries, Rove has built a roster of candidates he believes can win control of the Senate in November. And the Tea Party? After experiencing a number of losses in big races, many in the mainstream media, as is their wont, are writing them off, claiming that their influence has diminished.

The Wall Street Journal proclaimed, "GOP sees primaries taming the tea party." The Washington Post's conservative columnist, Jennifer Rubin, talked about "the tea party's demise," while the Post's Jaime Fuller said the Tea Party "isn't just losing; it's losing badly." Rick Sanchez, writing for Fox News Latino, said "Good Bye Tea Party, We Hardly Knew Ye." CNBC wondered if "the tea party was over" And Time magazine pointed out "GOP rolls tea party in primaries."

Published in Guest Commentary

STEVEN JONAS MD, MPH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaButt(Photo: Sillyputtyenemies)Maria Bartiromo was a longtime financial market analyst for CNBC who recently left that channel and transferred over to the Fox Business Network. She appeared occasionally on CNBC's pre-market-opening show, "Squawk Box." On one of those occasions, she was engaged in a discussion about the problems that capitalism is facing. I believe that it was in the context of what one of Squawk Box's co-hosts, Andrew Ross Sorkin (also of The New York Times), was saying about the subject. In the course of it, she uttered a quite remarkable phrase, hailing what she termed "the moral imperative of capitalism."

The phrase came to mind in considering the current battle over climate change and what, if anything, to do about it. It is already affecting us. And of course, the degree of potential damage to the Earth as know it, physically, and for many of its species including ours in terms of long-term survival, is accelerating at ever-increasing rate. Indeed, there is a newly discovered major threat, the melting of a significant part of the Antarctic Ice Shelf, about which, apparently, nothing can be done. That is, in this case, even if there were a will, there is no way. For example, major parts of the State of Florida and of New York City, may well eventually be under water. Not fun, I should think. Nevertheless, there are some folks who [view this outcome from different perspective.

Of course, in the United States in particular there is a very large, very well-funded, and therefore very loud chorus that denies that global warming and one of its major consequences, climate change, is even taking place. And if it is taking place, human beings have nothing to do with it, and even if we did, doing anything to moderate the future certain changes, like enacting a "carbon tax" would just "ruin the economy" donchaknow. So where, you might be asking at this point, does the concept of "morality" come into all of this? Well, one kind of behavior that virtually everyone, atheist, theist, and everyone in-between, believes is immoral is stating as fact and truth something that you know to be false. This is where the "tobacco" in the title above comes in.

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EUGENE ROBINSON ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaTeaPartyProtest(Photo: Freedom Fan)What's happening in the Republican primaries is less a defeat for the tea party than a surrender by the GOP establishment, which is winning key races by accepting the tea party's radical anti-government philosophy.

Anyone who hopes the party has finally come to its senses will be disappointed. Republicans have pragmatically decided not to concede Senate elections by nominating eccentrics and crackpots. But in convincing the party's activist base to come along, establishment leaders have pledged fealty to eccentric, crackpot ideas.

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, who easily won his primary this month against a weak tea party challenger, said Tuesday that there isn't "that big a difference between what you all call the tea party and your average conservative Republican. We're against Obamacare, we think taxes are too high, we think the government's too big."

That doesn't sound so crazy. But is it reasonable for Republicans to keep voting to repeal all or part of the Affordable Care Act -- more than 50 times, so far -- knowing full well that they have zero chance of success? Does it make sense, if taxes are excessive, to refuse President Obama's invitation to begin serious talks about tax reform?

If Boehner wanted to be honest, he'd have said his party is in favor of posturing and opposed to reality.

Published in Guest Commentary

ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaFascism(Photo: Edward Alexander Powell)Europe has a special worry about a broken, uncaring economy.

Things rip apart. More and more people fall into desperation. Some of them decide it's the fault of immigrants. Or homosexuals. Or . . .

"Today, Nazi influences are growing in Europe for the same reasons they did back then. The social safety nets have been torn, and people are left behind. Left alone. The hopelessness is what comes first, then the hatred. It's never the other way around."

A campaign led by Sweden's Social Democratic Party (quoted above), in the run-up to the European Union elections on May 25 — which features Rainer Hoess, grandson of the commandant of Auschwitz, warning people that democracy and human rights can never be taken for granted — is called: NEVER FORGET. TO VOTE. Its point is that far right politics, including a blatant neo-Nazism bent on rekindling the old agenda of "blood purity," racial solidarity and loyalty to the homeland, is spreading across the EU just as unemployment and austerity are spreading and Europe's economy comes to resemble, more and more, the economy of the 1930s.

In other words, malignant racism combined with a bad economy can still foment social poison. Hatred seeks power and power seeks hatred, and they sometimes find each other. And what we call the "social safety net" might better, perhaps, be called the social immune system — because society is a living organism.

Published in Guest Commentary

BRANDON BAKER OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaFrackingEcowatch(Photo: Ohio Environmental Law Center)Reposted with permission from EcoWatch.

Transparency is the least you could hope for if you're against fracking for energy. If North Carolina Republicans get their way, such transparency could result in a felony.

Three state senators introduced a bill late last week that would charge people with a felony if they disclose what chemicals companies are using to extract dirty energy from shale formations. That might even include the officials who respond to the explosions and other emergencies caused by the dangerous process.

"The felony provision is far stricter than most states' provisions in terms of the penalty for violating trade secrets," Hannah Wiseman, a Florida State University assistant law professor who studies fracking regulations, told Mother Jones.

"I think the only penalties to fire chiefs and doctors, if they talked about it at their annual conference, would be the penalties contained in the confidentiality agreement. But [the bill] is so poorly worded, I cannot confirm that if an emergency responder or fire chief discloses that confidential information, they too would not be subject to a felony."

However, Wiseman believes "that appears to be the case" in some sections of the potential legislation.

Published in Guest Commentary

EUGENE ROBINSON ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaVetsIraq(Photo: Sean A. Foley)Finally, an authentic scandal: incompetence and deception at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Given what we know so far, more heads need to roll — and a criminal investigation should be launched.

Republicans have accused the Obama administration of so many faux scandals that it's hard to recognize the real thing. Yes, the Internal Revenue Service seems to have given extra scrutiny to conservative organizations, but it gave extra scrutiny to liberal groups, too. Yes, Operation "Fast and Furious" was a mistake, but it wasn't some kind of sinister plot. No, it doesn't matter whether the evil people who took four American lives in Benghazi , Libya, are called terrorists, militants or simply killers.

The VA situation, however, looks more serious day by day. If VA hospitals really are falsifying records to disguise lengthy waiting times — and if veterans are dying as a consequence — then President Obama needs to bring in new management to fix the problems and fast.

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, speaking Sunday on CBS's "Face the Nation," described Obama as "madder than hell" about the VA scandal. By now, we should all be used to the fact that Obama is never what you would call demonstrative with his anger, at least publicly. No frothing, no foaming, no gnashing of teeth. I take McDonough at his word that the president is royally steamed.

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JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaPumpjack(Photo: Eric Kounce)Two major stories are happening simultaneously that carry a predictably distinct odor of oil & gas: US control of Nigerian oil, and Ukrainian control of natural gas.

While climate change escalates to an emergency crisis, a growing national security concern, the US OILigarchy-government is on a "search and seize mission" for the very product that is obliterating our earth: Polluting Oil.

The earth is burning up before our eyes from trapped CO2 green house emissions—but that means very little to a government that is literally owned by oil firms. If a country is cursed with having oil, such as Nigeria or Venezuela, expect to see CIA-military intervention, deliberate incitements of violence, arrests of oil opponents, surveillance, PSYOPS,Blackwater (now operating under the new name , Academi LLC,) and drone attacks—all put into practice in the name of either "national security" or "humanitarian efforts."

In addition to South America, the Middle East and Africa, the US is also a new target for oil and gas drilling. With increased production, Americans have become the victims of Obama's "energy independence" agenda, which has produced an unprecedented number of oil and gas disasters that have poisoned our oceans, our rivers, our water supplies, and our agricultural lands due to gross negligence and a lack of regulatory oversight.

If US oil-gas companies have admitted to having former military psychological operations, or PSYOPs, specialists to counter opponents of drilling in the United States, you can be sure that they're applying the same techniques extensively in foreign oil-regions.

Published in Guest Commentary
Thursday, 15 May 2014 09:24

The Fascinating Bedlam of Creationism

STEVEN JONAS MD, MPH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaArk(Photo: Michel Wolgemut, Wilhelm Pleydenwurff)Recently, while preparing a review of the movie Noah, knowing that the Christian Right had their collective noses bent out of shape by the movie, I sought to gather some background on creationism. And so, I thought, what better place to go than the website that bears that name Creation.com. And what a fascinating visit it turned out to be.

Now, I should think that there are those of you who might have only a foggy remembrance of the creation story from the Judeo-Christian Bible (JCB). Be that as it may, you should know that there are almost as many variants on the JCB creation story as there are translations of the original Hebrew text with subsequent variants in Greek and Roman which then underwent further translations into many languages running into the hundreds.

At any rate, in summary it goes something like this...

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ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaSlaveryKoehler(Photo: Eastman Johnson)Step on the gas, step on a man . . .

Writing recently in The Nation, Chris Hayes drew an intensely unnerving parallel between the use of fossil fuels as an energy source and the use of slave labor — not a moral parallel, but a financial one, though money and morality have a perversely symbiotic relationship. Where there's money to be made — especially enormous quantities of it — moral justifications come awfully cheap.

Hayes points out that the movement to end dependence on fossil fuels, drastically reduce carbon emissions and reverse global warming faces a financial hurdle of staggering proportions: ". . . the total amount of known, proven extractable fossil fuel in the ground at this very moment is almost five times the amount we can safely burn," he writes. Possession of this unexcavated carbon is claimed by global corporations: It's theirs to pull out of the ground, and it's worth . . . uh, somewhere between $10 and $20 trillion.

But there is, it turns out, a precedent for divesting rich and powerful people of a comparable amount of wealth, Hayes says. It was called the abolition movement.

By the time of the Civil War, some 4 million human beings were in bondage in the South — "owned," for God's sake: legally possessed and controlled to the last heartbeat. The precedent of slavery goes back to the beginning of human history, of course. Before the industrial era and the releasing of the energy of fossil fuels, the relatively privileged gained control over their environment by putting animals and other human beings to work for them. The moral and legal justifications for doing so accompanied the practice.

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