BILL QUIGLEY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Police officers should approach Ferguson protestors with caution and fully respect their constitutional rights. That is the clear message from recent court awards and settlements against police force abuses against demonstrators.
New York City just paid out $17.9 million to more than 1800 protestors arrested during the 2004 Republican National Convention, according to CNN.
An Iraq War veteran injured by police during Occupy protest in Oakland has been awarded $4.5 million after being struck in the head by a beanbag fired by police.
UC Davis paid out $1 million to 21 demonstrators who were pepper sprayed during Occupy protests November 2011. This was $30,000 per demonstrator and $250,000 in attorney fees. The University apologized and the officer who pepper sprayed the protestors was fired.
Oakland paid $1.1 million to members of the Occupy movement for police misconduct during the protests.
AKIRA WATTS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Here’s a story for you. My uncle-in-law is a good man. He’s 73, a twice decorated Vietnam veteran, and lives with his wife in New Mexico, a few miles south of the Colorado border. She suffers from an autoimmune condition so, every month, he drives her 150 miles south, to Albuquerque, where she receives the infusion that keeps her alive. This past week, due to some bureaucracy and miscommunication, he found himself making that drive on a license that had been suspended. And, as luck would have it, he was pulled over for driving a few miles an hour under the speed limit. The officer ran his license, saw that it had been suspended, and listened to my uncle explain that he was simply trying to take his wife to the hospital for lifesaving treatment. At that point, the officer had a choice. She could have written my uncle a warning. She could have written him a ticket. She could have let him drive off with nothing more than a friendly admonition.
She chose to put him in a double pair of handcuffs, place him in back of her police car, and haul him off to the county jail, leaving my aunt to make her own way to Albuquerque. I showed up an hour later and, after I posted his bail, they made him sit in a concrete cell for another two hours for reasons that were never actually divulged.
Here’s another story, albeit less of a personal one. The city council of Santa Fe, NM, where I live, recently voted to decriminalize the possession of marijuana. This was followed by a non-binding referendum, in support of decriminalization, that overwhelmingly passed. Now here’s the funny thing: when police officers in Santa Fe stop someone who turns out to be in possession of marijuana, they are often choosing to file charges under the old state law, which comes with a heftier penalty. As the city police department has yet to issue any directive on the new law to its officers, it falls to the discretion of the arresting office, and it is, ultimately, his choice which law to charge the offender under.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
BuzzFlash at Truthout has often asserted that without systemic changed to the economic system, the notion that a lowering unemployment rate means workers are living better is highly flawed. That is because corporations and other employers are reducing the pay and benefits to hourly workers through a variety of means. These include lowering wages, decreasing or eliminating raises, turning full-time jobs into two part-time jobs to avoid providing benefits, creating temporary jobs to replace more expensive permanent employees, converting employee hires into consultant relationships (to eliminate benefits and payroll taxes for the companies), charging workers for items such as uniforms and instituting "work irregular hours at the will of the company" policies, among other employee exploitation tactics.
On Sunday, November 23, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune profiled a college-educated single mother of two who is representative of the new wave of underemployed workers who require government assistance just to survive:
Finding a job in Southwest Florida that pays well enough to support two children as a single mother has been a challenge for Ceci Linton.
The $20-an-hour, part-time position doing substance abuse prevention education in Manatee County schools came close, but Linton was laid off earlier this year. Her new job pays substantially less — $14.50 an hour — and it’s also part time.
Most of Linton’s paycheck from her new position in retail sales goes toward rent. The irregular hours add to her child care costs, and she relies on the government to help with food and health care expenses.
WALTER BRASCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
For the first time since high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as non-conventional fracking, was developed, more Americans oppose it than support it.
According to a national survey conducted by the independent non-partisan Pew Research Center, 47 percent of Americans oppose fracking, while 41 percent support it. This is a 7 percent decline in support from March 2013, and a 9 percent increase in opposition.
The poll also reveals those who support fracking tend to be conservative men over 50 years old with only a high school education, and living in the South. However, support for fracking has decreased in all categories, while opposition has increased.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
There are so many to choose from. Every one of these selections is an act of corporate treachery that takes billions of dollars from the American people.
1. Selling Medication for Up to 100 Times More Than It's Worth
Pharmaceutical companies reap billions of dollars in subsidies for research and development, but they've successfully lobbied Congress to keep Medicare from bargaining for lower drug prices. An extreme example is Gilead Sciences, the manufacturer of the drug Sovaldi, which charges about $10 a pill to its customers in Egypt, then comes home to charge $1,000 a pill to its American customers. Other outrageous examples are noted by Ralph Nader.
As a further insult, Americans are cheated when corporations pay off generic drug manufacturers to delay entry of their products into the market, thereby forcing consumers to pay the highest prices for medicine.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
What the governor did, in the tense uncertainty preceding the decision, was pre-declare a state of emergency and activate the Missouri National Guard to help contain the possibility of violent, anti-police protests. He also appointed 16 people, including several of the protesters, to a newly created “Ferguson Commission” to recommend solutions to the racial problems plaguing that community, which the killing of Michael Brown last August made unavoidably apparent.
Meanwhile, gun sales at local shops are through the roof and the local Klan is stirring, distributing fliers warning protesters that they’ve awakened a sleeping giant.
America, America . . .
Before we proceed further, let’s stir in a little Einstein: “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.”
That level of thinking — the political, governmental and media consensus of who we are — is blind and deaf to history and locked into us-vs.-them thinking. Security, whether domestic or international, is a game played against presumed and, often enough, imagined enemies. Thus, prior to the governor’s decision to call out the Guard, the FBI had issued an intelligence bulletin warning local officials that “the announcement of the grand jury’s decision … will likely be exploited by some individuals to justify threats and attacks against law enforcement and critical infrastructure,” according to the Washington Post.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The oil company Citadel Exploration didn't like that the citizens of San Benito County, California, passed a fracking ban this November. (The county is ironically located just west of a town called Bittersweet.)
Citadel Exploration believes that the right to frack away - with all its destructive impact - supersedes the passage of Measure J, which prohibits future fracking in San Benito. So Citadel filed a lawsuit that would require the county to pay it $1.2 billion in lost profits.
KSBW.com of Monterey California summarized the Citadel legal extortion:
Citadel owners claim they could have extracted 20-40 million barrels of oil [in San Benito county], a value they believe equals $1.2 billion.
"$1.2 billion. That's like asking for the moon. The county will file for bankruptcy and reorganize. He’s not going to get anything,” San Benito County Supervisor Jerry Muenzer said.
"We don’t have that kind of money ever, ever," supervisor Muenzer said. Such a judgement would leave the county broke....
The company is arguing that Measure J constitutes "regulatory taking," meaning, government regulation limits on the use of private property.
ANASTASIA PANTSIOS OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch.
Anyone following the Keystone XL pipeline vote in the Senate yesterday heard what appeared to be chanting or singing in the background when the final tally of 41-59 was announced, signaling that approval of the pipeline had failed to clear the bar of 60 votes and that congressional approval of the pipeline was delayed for the time being.
That sound was coming from Native Americans in the gallery, singing a traditional tribal tune. Five of them were removed from the gallery and arrested.
According to Red Power Media, one of the protesters was Greg Grey Cloud of the Rosebud Sioux tribe.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
It may not seem possible, but Jimmy Swaggart's son Donnie is making his father look pretty darned good. In the late 1980s, the Reverend Jimmy Swaggart, one of the most watched and wealthiest televangelists of his era, was involved in one of the Religious Right's most memorable and salacious sex scandals; he was caught with a prostitute in a hotel room located along New Orleans' notoriously sleazy Airport Highway. His tearful apology has become a YouTube classic. Some twenty-seven years later, Pastor Donnie Swaggart is raving about gays and lesbians wanting to behead Christians. Some one needs to find this guy a prostitute!
On the Houston, Texas television talk show "Frances and Friends," Donnie Swaggart, Jimmy and his wife Francis' only son, hosted a panel discussion "dedicated to discussing the controversy that had erupted in Houston, Texas, after the mayor's office subpoenaed sermons and other materials from a handful of pastors as part of a lawsuit anti-gay activists had filed in an effort to overturn a local antidiscrimination ordinance," People For the American Way's Right Wing Watch recently reported.
Donnie Swaggart told the audience that "LGBT activists are like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in that they want to destroy Christianity and behead its practitioners," Raw Story recently reported. "They want the Bible gone. And I'm going to make a statement: These people that are trying to do this in Houston, the only difference between them and ISIS, those thugs in Iraq, is those here cannot chop our heads off. That's the only difference. The heart is the same. The heart is the same. If they could silence us that way to intimidate others, that's exactly what they would do."
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Putting aside for the moment the entire issue of the exponentially growing lead government Big Brother agency - the National Security Agency (NSA) - and all of the valid objections to most of what the agency does, the collection of data on citizens and others in the United States (first revealed in detail by Edward Snowden) is symbolic of an egregious evasion of the privacy of the people who elect the government.
The NSA has been challenged by many as being an agency out of control, like a virulent cancer that self-perpetuates its own inexorable expansion. Many critics contend that the assertion of spying powers, including on US citizens, has yielded little in terms of results - and that some of the information is ending up in the hands of other US agencies to be used for purposes that have nothing to do with the so-called war on terrorism.
As The Guardian recounted on November 19:
Nearly 18 months after Edward Snowden's disclosures upended the secret world of US surveillance, the US Senate has rejected the most politically viable effort to rein in the National Security Agency in almost four decades.
The USA Freedom Act, a bill introduced last year that sought to end the NSA's ongoing daily collection of practically all US phone data, failed to reach a 60-vote threshold to cut off debate and move to passage...
Although the domestic phone data dragnet has not thwarted any terrorist attacks, in the lead up to the vote critics savaged the bill as a gift to terrorists. [Italics added by BuzzFlash.]
The bill defeated on November 18 - through a passive filibuster by Republicans (only one Democrat voted against it) - was a watered-down one to begin with.