NIKOLAS KOZLOFF FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
On a certain level, I wonder whether Baltasar Garzón, the Spanish judge who is now defending WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, agreed to take the assignment for personal reasons.
In recent years, Garzón has come to international attention for pursuing a number of high profile international cases. In 1998 for example, the judge sought to apprehend brutal Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, Washington's ally during the Cold War. Not stopping there, the pugnacious judge issued an order for British authorities to detain Henry Kissinger no less.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
"In the end, after he has felt the full force of our justice system, what will be remembered are the good people who were impacted by this tragedy," President Obama said this week in Aurora, Colo., after the shootings.
That's probably not true.
From Charles Whitman up to the present day, the collective American memory preserves the name of the killer . . . the lone psycho, the shadow hero. We're far too fascinated with violence not to mythologize its perpetrators. And just as we all know (because the media tell us) that there will be a "next war," we know, oh God, in the deep churnings of the heart, that there will be more murder victims - schoolchildren, college students, shoppers, churchgoers, theatergoers, bystanders. We know because we live in a culture that tolerates and perpetuates violence.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Any enterprise that has Rupert Murdoch's fingerprints on it should be accompanied by a, "Warning: Danger Ahead" sign. A recent report by Education Week's Jason Tomassini detailing Murdoch's News Corporation's rebooting of its efforts to develop and market digital educational products to public schools will either have you shaking your head in disbelief, or make your head explode.
According to Tomassini, Murdoch's News Corporation recently "jump-started its fledgling - and mostly quiet - education division ... unveiling Amplify, a new brand for its education business that will include education software products and, in a surprising move, curriculum development."
SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today questioned why President Barack Obama has not defended Social Security against Republican calls for deep cuts in the program that benefits some 55 million retired and disabled Americans, widows and orphans.
"I do not believe that we should cut Social Security," Sanders said in a major Senate floor speech. "I would like to know, and I think the American people would like to know, if President Obama feels the same way. It is past time that the president told the American people in no uncertain terms that he will not cut Social Security on his watch."
PETER MICHAELSON FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
I've been trying for some time to fathom the psychology of educated and supposedly sophisticated people who, in paralysis and resistance, are unwilling to respond rationally to the perils of global warming. We need to look deeply into the heart of this issue.
Why haven't we taken rational or logical steps to shut down our lethal fossil-fuels industry and to replace it with better conservation and renewable-energy technologies? An assortment of psychological reasons for our paralysis present themselves, including denial, greed, fear, passivity, stubbornness, self-centeredness, self-sabotage, and our species' lack of compassion for future generations.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
When it comes to the economy, too many Americans continue to be numbed by the soothing sounds of conservative spin in the media. Here are three of their more inventive claims:
1. Higher taxes on the rich will hurt small businesses and discourage job creators
A recent Treasury analysis found that only 2.5% of small businesses would face higher taxes from the expiration of the Bush tax cuts.
As for job creation, it's not coming from the people with money. Over 90% of the assets owned by millionaires are held in a combination of low-risk investments (bonds and cash), the stock market, real estate, and personal business accounts. Angel investing (capital provided by affluent individuals for business start-ups) accounted for less than 1% of the investable assets of high net worth individuals in North America in 2011. The Mendelsohn Affluent Survey agreed that the very rich spend less than two percent of their money on new business startups.
The Wall Street Journal noted, in way of confirmation, that the extra wealth created by the Bush tax cuts led to the "worst track record for jobs in recorded history."
2. Individual initiative is all you need for success.
President Obama was criticized for a speech which included these words: "If you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own...when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together."
'Together' is the word that winner-take-all conservatives seem to forget. Even the richest and arguably most successful American, Bill Gates, owes most of his good fortune to the thousands of software and hardware designers who shaped the technological industry over a half-century or more. A careful analysis of his rise shows that he had luck, networking skills, and a timely sense of opportunism, even to the point of taking the work of competitors and adapting it as his own.
WILL DURST FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
You might say it was a turbulent week for Mitt Romney. You could also say a light lemon sugar wash makes for ineffective mosquito repellent. He claims to have totally left Bain Capital to run the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics even though his company handed the government multiple signed documents stating otherwise and now financial questions plague his campaign like a swarm of dive-bombing bees in a bathroom stall.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In a world where Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is hands-down the champion of wackiness, two new contenders are challenging her for the title: Judson Phillips, president of the for-profit Tea Party Nation, and veteran conservative Dinesh D'Souza, author and president of The King's College in New York City, a subsidiary of Campus Crusade for Christ.
NIKOLAS KOZLOFF FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
For isolated and impoverished countries, it can sometimes prove difficult to pursue an independent foreign policy which challenges Washington's traditional sphere of influence. Take, for example, tiny Paraguay which has recently been convulsed in political instability. Four years ago, Fernando Lugo was elected president after pledging to take on political and economic elites on behalf of Paraguay's poor.
A former bishop, Lugo promised to tackle pressing social problems like land reform. His record, however, on proceeding with that agenda was considered inordinately supporters by his erstwhile supporters. But the threat of such reform was enough to spook the few families that owned most of the private land in Paraguay.
On the international front too, Lugo was making waves: though he continued to maintain friendly ties to the U.S., he also made overtures toward the populist regime of Hugo Chávez of Venezuela.
Not surprisingly, such policies did not go over well either in Washington or with the ruling elite in Paraguary (who built up their near monopoly power over the economy and land under the dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner, who was the dictator of Paraguay for most of the half century - and, of course, a reliable US ally).
As I explained in another recent column, Lugo was recently impeached under very questionable circumstances, and indeed some have labeled the President's rushed removal a kind of soft coup. Following a skewed vote in the opposition-controlled Congress, Lugo was impeached for allegedly encouraging land seizures and Vice President Federico Franco assumed the presidency. Needless to say, however, the actual circumstances surrounding the land occupations are subject to much debate. According to authorities, peasant squatters opened fire on police as the security forces moved in to eject them. The peasants, however, claim that the police had in fact conducted a massacre.
There's no public evidence yet that the US had a direct hand in Lugo's removal, yet judging from secret correspondence recently released by whistle-blowing outfit WikiLeaks, Washington will be somewhat relieved to have rid itself of Paraguay's "liberation theology", the former bishop now president. Indeed, from the Bush administration to the Obama White House, the American political establishment viewed Lugo's reformist presidency with a degree of suspicion applied to any Latin American leader who pledges to take on the oligarchy. Though hardly what one would call a radical, Lugo nevertheless refused to ostracize Chávez and as a result the U.S. State Department spent a fair amount of time monitoring Paraguay's new leader.
Condi's Paranoid Mindset
STEFHANIE PENN SPEAR FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In 2009 it seemed as though Congress was finally going to pass legislation that would transition our country to a renewable energy future. The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, also known as the Waxman-Markey Bill, would have created a cap and trade system on greenhouse gases, required electric utilities through a renewable electricity standard (RES) to meet 20 percent of their electricity demand through renewable energy sources and energy efficiency by 2020, subsidized renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies, and financed modernization of the electrical grid, among many other provisions.