BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Despite being swatted around more in the past few years than any other time in its forty-plus year history, despite the organization's past and current operations finally becoming of interest to mainstream journalists, despite it's bleeding sponsors, and despite being directly linked to the odious and controversial "Stand Your Ground" laws in more than twenty states, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) – a Republican Party-oriented lobbying group -- is launching an ambitious new initiative aimed at expanding its influence by providing model legislation to governments in villages, cities, towns and counties across the country.
The new ALEC-sponsored initiative is being called the American City County Exchange (ACCE). On the ALEC website the organization is already touting ACCE as "America's fastest-growing volunteer membership organization of policymakers from villages, towns, cities and counties. ACCE works with local officials to promote efficiency and minimize waste by implementing limited government, free market solutions."
According to the Guardian's Ed Pilkington, ACCE "is looking to take its blueprint for influence over statewide lawmaking and drill it down to the local level."
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
there is the high cost, as noted in a 2012 report on PBS:Here are two basic facts to remember about the health care system in the United States. First,
How much is good health care worth to you? $8,233 per year? That’s how much the U.S. spends per person.
That figure is more than two-and-a-half times more than most developed nations in the world, including relatively rich European countries like France, Sweden and the United Kingdom. On a more global scale, it means U.S. health care costs now eat up 17.6 percent of GDP....
Whether measured relative to its population or its economy, the United States spends by far the most in the world on health care.
The U.S. spent $8,233 on health per person in 2010. Norway, the Netherlands and Switzerland are the next highest spenders, but in the same year, they all spent at least $3,000 less per person. The average spending on health care among the other 33 developed OECD countries was $3,268 per person.
That statistic brings up the much-beloved free market criteria of return on investment (ROI), at which the US performs abysmally according to many studies when it comes to health.
EUGENE ROBINSON ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
When the new Ukrainian prime minister visits the White House this week, President Obama should offer continued support -- but also ask pointedly why several far-right ultra-nationalists have such prominent roles in Ukraine's new government.
I don't know of any reason to doubt Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk's commitment to democracy and pluralism. The same cannot be said for some other members of the provisional regime that is trying to reverse Russia's grab of the Crimean Peninsula.
Oleksandr Sych, one of three vice prime ministers, is a member of the controversial Svoboda party, whose leader charged that Ukraine was being controlled by a "Muscovite-Jewish mafia" before last month's revolution. Members of Svoboda also run the agriculture and environment ministries. Last year, the World Jewish Congress called on the European Union to consider banning what it considered neo-Nazi parties, including Svoboda.
The head of the National Security and Defense Council, in charge of the armed forces, is Andriy Parubiy, who founded the Social-National Party of Ukraine, an openly neo-fascist precursor to Svoboda. Parubiy's deputy is Dmytro Yarosh, the leader of Right Sector, a far-right paramilitary group that clashed violently with the security forces of deposed leader Viktor Yanukovych.
All of which is to say that the situation in Ukraine is not as simple as it might seem.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Biting satire, as The Daily Show and The Colbert Report so uproariously reveal, is often closer to the heart of reality than the "packaged reality" it mercilessly skews.
In the BuzzFlash at Truthout e-mail this weekend, we received our weekly quips from Howard Albrecht, an octogenarian comic writer who staffed many of the top shows of the golden age of comedy during the '50s and '60s. Retired now, Albrecht's audience is his list serve. This Saturday, his package of one-liners included this one: "To help stabilize the region, the US is giving a billion dollars to Ukraine. In an effort to uplift their city, Detroit just declared war on Russia."
Like the cutting remarks on Comedy Central, there is a ring of absurdist truth in Albrecht's sarcastic proposition: if we want to save an American city decimated by national and corporate financial neglect and abandonment, then instead of declaring the city bankrupt, why don't the remaining citizens of Detroit issue a declaration of war against Putin's Russian Federation?
WALTER BRASCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The oil and gas industry, the nation's chambers of commerce, and politicians who are dependent upon campaign contributions from the industry and the chambers, claim fracking is safe.
First, close your mind to the myriad scientific studies that show the health effects from fracking.
Close your mind to the well-documented evidence of the environmental impact.
Focus just upon the effects upon the workers.
The oil and gas industry has a fatality rate seven times higher than for all other workers, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control. (CDC). According to the CDC, the death rate in the oil and gas industry is 27.1; the U.S. collective death rate is 3.8.
"Job gains in oil and gas construction have come with more fatalities, and that is unacceptable," said John E. Perez, secretary of labor.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
We may have once believed that the darkest days were behind us, and that slow and steady progress for middle-class workers would continue to be made. But greed and good sense are forever in competition. Gains made in our country's progressive years are, a century later, once again in serious jeopardy.
1. The Commons: A Toll Gate in the Grand Canyon
In the early 1900s the Grand Canyon had been taken over by speculators, especially Ralph Henry Cameron, an entrepreneur and soon-to-be Arizona Senator who laid claim to much of the canyon land. He built a hotel on the main trail, set up a toll gate, and even charged exorbitant prices for water at the steamy canyon bottom.
We're heading back in that direction, and we don't have Teddy Roosevelt to knock some sense into Congress. Attempts to privatize federal land were made by the Reagan administration in the 1980s and the Republican-controlled Congress in the 1990s. In 2006, President Bush proposed auctioning off 300,000 acres of national forest in 41 states. Paul Ryan's Path to Prosperity has proposed to sell millions of acres of "unneeded federal land," and the libertarian Cato Institute demands that our property be "allocated to the highest-value use." Representative Cliff Stearns recommended that we "sell off some of our national parks." Mitt Romney admitted that he didn't know "what the purpose is" of public lands.
JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
latest advances in green energy technology, there's absolutely no excuse for not legislating rapid shifts to clean energy by 2020.It's time for the public to start calling 19th century barbaric fossil fuels what it is: Energy of Mass Extinction. Dirty energy companies, including nuclear power plants, have been owned by a few rich white families from the start, which is why production of energy has remained in the Dark Ages even though clean renewable energy could have lit up the world easily, cheaply and without pollution twenty years ago. Given the
Instead, world leaders, primarily the US government, not only serve as "barriers" to the advancement of green energy, they're the fossil fuel industry's sleaziest salesmen on earth: Big Oil pays for their seats on the Hill for the sole purpose of selling Energy of Mass Extinction to world markets. Oil executives are given an open door invitation to the White House any time and day of the week.
By contrast, lawyers that represent the public's welfare and our environment are not welcomed, or they are put on a long waiting list. In short, the oil oligarchs operate from the White House where the polluters meet and draw up their plans. Judges are also owned by the oil firms. For example, read Buzzflash editor at Truthout Mark Karlin's recent commentary about a federal judge that blocked U.S. courts from being used to collect a $9 billion Ecuadorean judgment against Chevron for turning a beautiful rainforest into a putrid toxic waste dump Thanks to a thoroughly corrupt US government, another victory for Chevron's oil tyrants who don't have to clean up the toxic sludge they leave behind after they've contaminated everything in sight for Energy of Mass Extinction.
EUGENE ROBINSON ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Hollywood has finally taken an unflinching look at slavery. It's past time for the rest of the country to do the same.
I wanted to wait a few days before writing about the best picture Oscar for "12 Years a Slave" to see if it still felt like an important milestone. It does. Academy Award recognition for one well-made movie obviously does not make up for a century of pretending that slavery never happened. But perhaps the movie industry's top prize can give impetus to the efforts of artists and scholars who are beginning to honestly confront this nation's Original Sin.
We tell ourselves that we know all about slavery, that it's ancient history. But we've never fully investigated its horrors, which means we've never come to terms with them, which means we've never been able to get beyond them. Where slavery is concerned, we are imprisoned by William Faulkner's famous epigram: "The past is never dead. It's not even past."
The success of "12 Years a Slave" may be a significant step toward our collective liberation.
The movie came just a year after "Django Unchained," the 2012 epic in which Quentin Tarantino reimagined slavery as a Southern-fried spaghetti Western. "Django" had one of those traditional hero-on-a-quest story lines that Hollywood can't get enough of, and Tarantino's blood-spattered style was perfect for capturing the unspeakable brutality that sustained American slavery. But "12 Years" is vastly more important, for two reasons: It won best picture, and it's based on a true story.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
state senator, John Coghill (GOP) from North Pole (a top-of-the-world themed suburb of Fairbanks), opposing birth control and Planned Parenthood, while avidly arguing Medicaid should only pay for abortions in extreme circumstances.Only in the state Sarah Palin was elected governor of could you find a
That fits right in with his colleague's -- Sen. Fred Dyson's (GOP) -- confounding argument that sex is "recreational" unless it is for procreation, and, therefore, family planning should not be funded by Medicaid (even though the federal government would pay 90% of the tab). According to the Anchorage Daily News,
Dyson says condoms cost a dollar apiece and for the price of four or five lattes, a woman could get birth control pills for a month. Dyson says sexual activity is largely "recreation" and the public shouldn't be required to finance "other people's recreation."
So if you are on limited means in Palin's home state, wouldn't this mean if you are married, for instance -- and of limited means, you might have to choose between a cup of coffee and making love with your husband or wife (or whomever).
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
in a compelling essay recently published at BillMoyers.com — a predatory consensus of money and political ideology that serves only its own endless growth and functions in pristine autonomy from any sort of democratic process — but defining it begs an enormous question: Can we actually build a world that isn't run by its shadow interests?There has always been a "deep state," as Mike Lofgren described it
And what is this going to take? Can good will and big principles stand up to Wall Street and the Washington consensus? Perhaps even more to the point, if it's even possible, how much time do we have before war and climate change rip the human experiment to shreds?
The significance of Lofgren's thesis is that we have to look well beyond the known world of governmental procedures, the electoral process and the mainstream media to begin effecting serious change. All of this has been effectively gamed and controlled by the deep state's interests. In other words, no matter how broke or paralyzed by partisan bickering the country is, there's always money available, without controversy or opposition, for war and overblown "security."
In recent years, as Lofgren points out, while headlines blared "austerity" and "debt ceiling" and "budget crisis," while our infrastructure was collapsing and schools were closing, the resources were available to overthrow the Gaddafi regime in Libya; help keep a civil war going in Syria and fund or engage in aggressive activities all over the planet; militarize local police departments; and finance a massive security state. None of this was subject to the least sort of democratic discussion. To the extent any of this was reported, it was reported as a done deal.