MARK VORPAHL FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Weeks after the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, Special Prosecutor Angela Corey has announced that his killer, George Zimmerman, will be charged with second degree murder. Though originally allowed to walk scot free without any charges, Zimmerman is now behind bars. It is hard to think of another case that has swung so widely from one extreme to another.
The mass actions that have taken place nationally, protesting how the killing of Trayvon Martin was initially handled, including an April 9th action organized by "Dream Defenders" that peacefully shut down the Sanford Police Department for five hours, have had a measurable impact. Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee was forced to temporarily resign because of the controversy. The Federal Justice Department's Civil Rights Division has opened up an investigation on the matter. And now the rallies and demonstrations have produced the announcement of Special Prosecutor Angela Corey. None of this would have occurred without the collective grass-roots efforts of thousands who were motivated not only by outrage over this particular tragedy, but all that it has come to epitomize.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
After nearly forty years, is the death knell beginning to sound for the once obscure American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)? Recently, ALEC was linked to the National Rifle Association (NRA) and a series of "Stand Your Ground" bills across the country - most notoriously the murder of Trayvon Martin. Now ALEC is hemorrhaging jittery corporate sponsors.
According to Yes! Magazine's Brooke Jarvis, the Trayvon Martin tragedy-Stand Your Ground laws' nexus is not the only reason corporate members are becoming disenchanted with this highly partisan organization. Exposure of ALEC's involvement in promoting voter suppression laws and prison privatization are creating too much notoriety.
Furthermore, ALEC's effectiveness, which was linked to its ability to operate secretly and behind the scenes, has been compromised.
DEE EVANS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
My Mother finally got her chance to be a stay at home Mom...at age 65. As a single mother with five kids, she didn't have a ‘choice' of staying home and raising her kids...she had to work to put food on our table, clothes on our backs and a roof over our heads. My Mom worked two jobs, riding the bus every day to clean homes in one of the richest parts of town to put me and my brothers and sisters through school and me through college. While we lived in a 2-bedroom apartment in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Dallas, I don't ever recall anything that I wanted that she didn't work hard to give me. And regardless of our economic circumstances, the values were always there. We had to do our homework before watching television, we had to go to church on Sundays, we had to be in the house before the sun went down and we had to eat out vegetables at dinner (I still hate beets!). My Mom wasn't a working Mom or a stay at home Mom...she was just a mom!
ANN DAVIDOW FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
These days ‘freedom of speech' is used to justify outlandish outbursts by candidates as well as officeholders. Screeds from people like Sarah Palin and those she supports are so ludicrous and irresponsible they shouldn't be taken seriously although they often are. Her suggestion that Florida Congressman Allen West, for instance, would be an appropriate vice presidential candidate underscores how outrageous her own run for that office was. His recent charge that 80 Democratic congressmen are Communists is beyond absurd and echoes the earlier nonsense Michele Bachman used to convey before she adopted a more reasonable tone during her presidential run.
It isn't only that West is a conservative, if that's the word for his beyond-the-pale comments and positions. It's that he falls way outside acceptable norms of discourse and that he fits the pattern of Palinesque candidates who seem to feel no need to actually know anything about the office they seek or the country they serve. In their world rhetorical excess is all that's required to secure a place on any ballot, truth and intellect be damned. Indeed why anyone would ask Palin her opinion about the vice presidential slot at this point is remarkable given a candidacy of such vacuous irrelevance as hers was.
HARVEY WASSERMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
At freedom's core is protection from arbitrary police power and the right to choose one's own medicine, as well as to express one's opinion, however controversial.
All three of these rights have taken very troubling recent hits.
Mired in imperial war and corporate privilege, the US Supreme Court and Obama Administration have escalated their attacks on our basic rights. The results are horrifying, and a huge warning to all Americans that the foul debris of a collapsing empire is falling directly on us all.
Since 1791 US citizens have had the right to expect basic legal protection from arbitrary search and seizure by the police. A key bulwark has been the Fourth Amendment, drafted by James Madison and adopted with the Bill of Rights two years after the ratification of the Constitution.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
When two local folks dared challenge the Koch brothers so-called contributions to the state, Koch's PR team landed with two feet.
What happens when two Kansans write letters disagreeing with a column headlined "Koch Industries and Koch brothers are assets to state," written by the editor and publisher of the Lawrence Journal-World? Koch's well-lubricated rapid response team, headed by a savvy public relations specialist, quickly jumps into the fray to "bat down the falsehoods."
Dolph Simons Jr.'s lilting praise for the Koch brothers in his original column immediately inspired a boatload of comments -- mostly critical. A week or so later, the LJW published two critical letters to the editor. Then, along came Simons' reinforcements; with Melissa Cohlmia, the director of corporate communication for Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC, leading the charge.
In his essay, Simons argued that critics of the Koch brothers were "liberal, anti-conservative forces in the country." He accused local detractors of being "liberal-leaning faculty members and administrators at KU."
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
"Ozzie Guillen called himself sad, stupid, and embarrassed yesterday at his press conference where he apologized for claiming he loved Cuban dictator Fidel Castro." - The Examiner
Ozzie Guillen may not fit any psychological profile. His outrageous comments coupled with his lofty status in the sports world seem to place him in his own standard deviation. But he's bowing down now, in a moment of adversity, to the impassioned opponents of socialism and the freedom to say something positive about it. He's acting like millions of other Americans conditioned to equate criticism of free market capitalism with a lack of patriotism.
"Benign envy," according to Princeton researcher Susan T. Fiske, is the act of longing for the status of another without wishing ill on that person. It is a feeling nurtured in the public by the 1%, through their self-promotion as American success stories, and by constant reminders of the superiority of individual initiative over government involvement. Much of America buys into it. Including Ozzie, who except for his position and salary would seem like a member of the 99%.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Because nothing explains what's the matter with Kansas better than a Kansas editor's essay elevating the Koch Brothers to free market Sainthood.
Nothing explains what's the matter with Kansas better than a Kansas editor's essay elevating the Koch Brothers to free market Sainthood. A recent op-ed piece in the Lawrence Journal World of Lawrence, Kansas, was headlined "Koch Industries and Koch brothers are assets to state." While the bullying anti-democratic actions of the Koch brothers are being called into question all across the country, why are they are still being held in such high esteem by at least one high-profile newspaper editor in perhaps the most liberal city in their home state?
In the 1890s, William Allen White, the revered Kansas newspaper editor whose name is attached to the University of Kansas' School of Journalism, blasted the growing Populist movement in an essay titled "What's the Matter with Kansas?" Some forty years later, White was considerably more charitable in his assessment of that movement, writing that the Populists had tried "to use government as an agency of human welfare[,] ... to establish economic as well as political equality, to help the underdog, to cut down some of the privileges that wealth carried by reason of its size and inherent power."
PAUL BUCCHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
This is tax time, or in the case of many big businesses, just another time without taxes. These companies deserve to be recognized. With the help of SEC data and the results of several excellent research studies, PayUpNow.org has selected the "winners" of the 2011 Tax Avoidance Awards.
First a review of last year's results. The top spot went to General Electric, which made pre-tax profits of $44 billion from 2008 to 2010 but received almost $5 billion in refunds. A GE spokesperson added, "We are committed to acting with integrity in relation to our tax obligations."
A close second was Exxon, notable for having the nation's highest pre-tax earnings three years in a row, a 2% federal income tax payment rate, and hubris comparable to that of GE: "Any claim we don't pay taxes is absurd...ExxonMobil is a leading U.S. taxpayer."
There were numerous other candidates, each no less unworthy than the next. Verizon and Boeing and Dow and DuPont all made profits three years in a row, but all paid zero taxes over the three-year period. Banking leaders Citigroup and Bank of America, with a combined $8 billion of pretax earnings in 2009 and 2010, each paid zero taxes two years in a row. From 2008 to 2010, Chevron paid less than 5% a year. Merck paid 5%. Hewlett-Packard 3%. IBM 2%. Carnival 1%.
RON RIDENOUR FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Ruling authorities confront the continuing crisis of capitalism by: 1) aiding the very firms that bankrupt the general economy by transferring workers' taxes to the capitalist class; 2) decreasing the welfare state, throwing huge numbers out of jobs and onto the streets; 3) increasing state repression against those who resist, and by allowing the growth of racist and fascist civilian groups.
State repression is used most clearly against the peaceful Arab Spring protestors; the use of police force in US cities where Occupy Wall Street has taken root; against the workers resistance and the "indignados" in Spain, Greece, Portugal, Italy, France...; against students struggling for democracy and against gays in Chile.
In Denmark, some unionists, traditional left organizations, and young anti-racists remind us how German Nazis and Italian Fascists used the race card against Jews to divide and conquer the world. These groups and individuals see history repeating itself in much of Europe with anti-Islamism and are determined to check its growth.