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BF 8 22 13 RainforestAerial view of the Amazon Rainforest. (Photo: CIFOR)JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Coincidentally, after reading that the world’s last Amazon rainforest is disappearing for oil profits, a review on Matt Damon’s new film “Elysium” appeared on the same page.  It described the earth as gray, barren, little more than a polluted prison for all those not wealthy enough to live on the luxury space station “Elysium,” hovering a short 20-minute shuttle ride above earth. The poor are left to fight in squalid conditions, which is the deplorable situation right now for over half the world’s children. 

They are poor because for the last two centuries, industrialists have been raping the earth’s resources without restoring what they took, depleting community economies as they go; it’s a form of capitalism that is so ruthless that it defies the meaning of capitalism; it benefits a few thousand people at the expense of the human race, wildlife habitats, fresh water, oceans, forests—nearly everything that makes the earth a heaven instead of a hell.  Read Naomi Klein’s “The Shock Doctrine” for an in-depth explanation of this parasitical model of capitalism based on corporate privatization.

Published in Guest Commentary

 BF 8 22 13 Report Brasch(Photo: Rachael Moore)WALTER BRASCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Sen. Diane Feinstein and a horde of members of Congress of both parties want to decide who is and who isn’t a reporter. Sen. Feinstein says a “real” reporter is a “salaried agent of a media company.”

She mentions the usual suspects—New York Times, ABC News. She dismisses part-time staff. She dismisses freelancers. She dismisses those who write, often without pay, for the hundreds of alternative publications, and often break news and investigative stories well ahead of the mainstream media. She dismisses anyone who, she says, “have no professional qualifications.”

The reason she wants to define what a reporter is or isn’t is because there’s a proposed federal Media Shield Law that would protect reporters from revealing their sources. Forty states and the District of Columbia currently have shield laws. Sen. Feinstein wants to amend the federal bill to take away existing First Amendment protections from anyone not involved in—apparently—salaried establishment media.

There are people who have minimal qualifications to be a reporter. Many write nothing but screeds. Many have problems with basic language skills. Many have little familiarity with the AP Style Book. Many have an inability to ask probing questions of government officials; many merely transcribe what they’re told, whether from the president, a council member, or a local reader who is the focus of a feature. Some of them are paid salaries and are agents of media companies, which Sen. Feinstein believes are acceptable requirements.

There are also those who frequently allow “deep background” and “off-the-record” comments. Many news media won’t allow sources to go “off-the-record.” If the information isn’t available to the general public, it shouldn’t be available only to reporters. Access to news sources is something reporters enjoy that the average reader doesn’t; but there is a responsibility to the reader and viewer and listener not to hide information.

Published in Guest Commentary

BF 8 21 13 KingofPop(Photo: bernissimo)BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Does Philip Anschutz, the conservative billionaire owner of Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) – a wholly owned subsidiary of the Anschutz Company -- and/or his company, an entertainment and sports empire, bear any responsibility in the death of Michael Jackson?

Anschutz Entertainment Group’s AEG Live knew it could make a fortune if Michael Jackson‘s comeback tour was even mildly successful. During preparation for the “This Is It” tour, which might have been the biggest comeback tour in entertainment history starting with 50 shows in London and then possibly moving on to other worldwide venues, an out-of-shape, exhausted and prescription drug-dependent Jackson died of an overdose of drugs.

Published in Guest Commentary
Wednesday, 21 August 2013 08:05

Eugene Robinson: Arbitrary and Uncalled For

BF8 21 13(Photo: longislandwins)EUGENE ROBINSON FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Washington -  For all who believe in colorblind justice -- and want to see fewer African-American and Hispanic men caught up in the system -- there are two items of good news: a judge's ruling ordering changes in New York's "stop and frisk" policy and Attorney General Eric Holder's initiative to keep nonviolent drug offenders out of prison.

First, "stop and frisk." Mayor Michael Bloomberg is having a hissy fit over U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin's finding that the policy amounted to "indirect racial profiling." On his weekly radio show, the mayor wouldn't even say Scheindlin's name, calling her "some woman" who knows "absolutely zero" about policing. In an op-ed article for The Washington Post, Bloomberg went so far as to accuse Scheindlin of being "ideologically driven."

Published in Guest Commentary

Buchheit CharlesKoch81913(Photo: Free Press)PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Scary because he claims "We don't have the power to coerce anybody" while providing massive funding to organizations that attack public education, social programs, worker salaries, business regulations, and the environment.

Scary because he refers to himself with words like 'integrity' and 'principles' while saying "I want my fair share - and that's all of it."

Scary because he declares, "I want my legacy to be...a better way of life for...all Americans." Here is some of the legacy of Charles Koch.

Published in Guest Commentary

Buchheit81213 2PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

U.S. Representative Marlin Stutzman said, "Most people will agree that if you are an able bodied adult without any kids you should find your way off food stamps." That depends on whether those ways can be found. If Stutzman and other members of Congress believe it's that easy to find a job with a living wage, they're either ignorant of middle-class life or victims of free-market delusion. In either case, Congress, with its shameful response to the people who elected them, has not only made the job search more difficult for average Americans, but has also impeded the process.

Senate Republicans killed a proposed $447 billion jobs bill in 2011 that would have added about two million jobs to the economy. They filibustered Nancy Pelosi's "Prevention of Outsourcing Act," and temporarily blocked the "Small Business Jobs Act." Most recently, only one member of Congress bothered to show up for a hearing on unemployment.

Congress' unwavering support of big business donors shows a callous disregard for the needs of the millions of Americans they're supposed to be representing.

Published in Guest Commentary

Romney BF 8 7 13BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

“Even on Election Day, November 6, 2012, the Romney team was confident of victory.” Stuart Stevens, the campaign’s chief strategist and speechwriter was certain that Romney’s message “would resonate with the electorate across the nation, easily trumping any computer-driven, Internet-based get-out-the-vote strategy the technological geeks running the Obama campaign could devise and implement.”

– Jerome R. Corsi, What Went Wrong

Jerome R. Corsi, the conspiracy-crazed, fear mongering, race baiting, factually challenged best selling conservative author, reached the height of his powers during the run-up to the 2004 presidential election when a book he co-authored helped take down John Kerry’s presidential campaign. In his new book, What Went Wrong: The Inside Story of the GOP Debacle of 2012…and how it Can Be Avoided Next Time, Corsi offers his post-election analysis and advises Republicans how to win future presidential elections.  And, ironically, if you disregard the nutty – which will take a heap of disregarding – he makes some interesting observations. 

Corsi’s editors, however, do let Corsi be Corsi: To get Obama “over the top with the last few votes necessary to win an election, the Democratic Party has engaged in the systematic vote registration of ‘a shadow group’ of illegal aliens, felons, dead people, multiple-state voters, and assorted others in a massive, nationwide campaign to enable voter fraud.” All of which was “masterminded” by … wait for it … ACORN. 

Published in Guest Commentary

dreamdefenders8513A group of Trayvon Martin Protesters along with the Dream Defenders did a sit-in rally at the Sanford Police Department in April of 2012. (Photo: Werth Media)BILL QUIGLEY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Packed into the small reception area of the Florida Governor’s office in Tallahassee, a couple dozen determined Dream Defenders conducted a people’s hearing on racial profiling. Black and brown college and high school youth took turns giving compelling testimony of being profiled at school, in public and by the police. In one corner was a court reporter. A camera was live streaming the proceedings.

On the coffee table, a can of iced tea and a bag of skittles. On the floor were strips of tape to keep an aisle clear so the Governor’s people could find get in and out of their offices. Over the couch was a hand lettered sign of a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

These are the Dream Defenders. They are an inspiring and organized black and brown student movement going into week four of their sit in and occupation of the Florida Governor’s office. They are demanding changes in Florida laws which criminalize young black and brown people.

Published in Guest Commentary

8WaysPrivatizationHasFailed BF(Photo: elycefeliz)PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Some of America's leading news analysts are beginning to recognize the fallacy of the "free market." Said Ted Koppel, "We are privatizing ourselves into one disaster after another." Fareed Zakaria admitted, "I am a big fan of the free market...But precisely because it is so powerful, in places where it doesn't work well, it can cause huge distortions." They're right. A little analysis reveals that privatization doesn't seem to work in any of the areas vital to the American public.

Health Care

Our private health care system is by far the most expensive system in the developed world. Forty-two percent of sick Americans skipped doctor's visits and/or medication purchases in 2011 because of excessive costs. The price of common surgeries is anywhere from three to ten times higher in the U.S. than in Great Britain, Canada, France, or Germany. Some of the documented tales: a $15,000 charge for lab tests for which a Medicare patient would have paid a few hundred dollars; an $8,000 special stress test for which Medicare would have paid $554; and a $60,000 gall bladder operation, which was covered for $2,000 under a private policy.

Published in Guest Commentary

BrazilFlag73113(Photo: Nuno Cardoso)NIKOLAS KOZLOFF FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

As whistleblower Edward Snowden releases more and more sensitive National Security Agency (NSA) files, the public is gaining unique insights into Washington’s underhanded foreign policy in South America.  It’s no secret that both the Bush and Obama administrations have viewed Venezuela as a threat, but Snowden’s disclosures suggest that Washington has a bead on Brazil, too. For some time I’ve been writing about such rivalry, and recent explosive reports merely confirm what many US diplomats already concede privately: that is to say, Brazil is a force to be reckoned with and the country may even undermine or upset traditional regional US dominance in the not too distant future.

Snowden’s revelations, which have given rise to a firestorm of international controversy, underscore the growing importance of the NSA, which worked in tandem with the CIA to set up a spying operation in Brasilia.  The joint espionage program, code-named “F6” but more commonly known as the “Special Collection Service,” sought to scoop up and obtain valuable satellite data.  According to a recent article in The Week, “the men and women of the Special Collection Service are responsible for placing super-high-tech bugs in unbelievably hard-to-reach places.”  According to the publication, Special Collection Service teams comprised of two to five people rotate into American embassies around the world, working undercover as diplomats.  When the State Department is unable to offer official cover, agents may pose as businesspeople.   

Published in Guest Commentary
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