WALTER BRASCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Long before the price of gas and oil began to plummet, socially conscious churches, universities, nonprofit organizations, and local governments began to divest themselves of fossil fuel stock and shock the fossil fuel industry to understand the environmental and public health concerns.
The World Council of Churches, which represents about 590 million Christians in 520,000 congregations, decided in July that to continue to hold fossil fuel stock would compromise its ethics, and recommended that the 349 member denominations consider divesting oil and gas stock.
Six of the eight Anglican dioceses of New Zealand and Polynesia, and four dioceses in Australia divested their portfolios of fossil fuel stock.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Just 10 percent of Americans own 91 percent of the nation's stocks and mutual funds, according to economist Edward Wolff (Table 7). Most of the remainder is held by a "middle class" that is steadily losing ground. The bottom 60 percent is almost entirely shut out (Table 2).
Stock owners, some of whom made billions of dollars last year, can defer their income taxes indefinitely, pay a reduced capital gains tax when they decide to cash in, or pass on the capital gains tax-free to their heirs.
Making money is all a game to the super-rich - redistribution toward the top, trickle-down delusions, tax avoidance, and even, for some of them, dabbling in criminal activities. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) once said, "It's really American to avoid paying taxes, legally...It's a game we play...I see nothing wrong with playing the game because we set it up to be a game." Here's part of their game plan:
$2 of every $5 owned today was created in the last five years, most of it from the financial markets, and almost all of it going to the richest 10 percent.
GARY WOCKNER OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
This falls in the “You Can’t Make This Shit Up” category in Colorado.
Yesterday it was reported that a fracking waste company—NGL Water Solutions DJ LLC—that was linked to causing earthquakes is allowed by Gov. John Hickenlooper’s appointed oil and gas commission to increase their fracking waste injection operations, and it was determined that the company did not violate any law or rule when they likely caused the earthquakes.
Further, not only are the fracking waste injections increasing, but the earthquakes are continuing, the biggest of which, in May 2014, was a 3.4 on the richter scale that shook homes and rattled nerves across the region. And, the director of the Governor’s oil and gas commission stated, “We have actively managed this particular circumstance in a way that we feel comfortable with.”
You can read the latest on this Colorado earthquake morass in the BizWest newspaper.
JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
For those of you who can’t recall your Greek mythological beasts, the hydra is mentioned in the tale of the twelve labors of Hercules. It is a dragon-like monster that has many heads. There is no point in slaying the dragon because the heads grow back if they’re cut off. If one head is eliminated, two heads grow back in its place. It can’t be killed because, as legend has it, the middle head is immortal and that’s the one that’s most dangerous when it breathes its poisonous venom at its victims. The monstrous serpent would often rise from the murky waters and terrorize the people.
In a recent New York Times article, The Bushes, as Distinct and Alike as Brothers Can Be, the author attempted to draw a distinction between W. and Jeb Bush. Jeb Bush, who is gearing up for a possible campaign for the presidency, would like Americans to know that he is not one of the Bush heads linked to his brother, George. In other words, he really hates to carry the bad luggage left behind from W.
But as we all know, a hydra is a hydra, and a Bush is a Bush, no matter how many times you cut the head off, the same Bush serpent will grow back again, the same Bush policies of profiting from oil and wars will emerge again and again.
No matter what Jeb says on the campaign trail, he will be burdened with the family’s hydra-albatross around his neck, especially W.’s albatross that carries enormous “torturous” weight, beginning with the mass destruction of Iraq that left hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and thousands of our own soldiers, either dead, homeless, maimed or poisoned from depleted uranium, a country, incidentally, that had nothing to do with the 9-11 attacks, followed by the shocking CIA Torture Report, under the Bush-Cheney administration’s orders, barbaric torture practices were used on detainees at the US illegal prison,Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. As explained in a NY Times editorial, former military officers described this evil facility as a “betrayal of American values.”
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Yes, by all means, the VA is failing American veterans terribly, with wholesale claim denials and scandalous waiting times and a general, contemptuous dismissal of the psychological and physical wounds American vets are coming home with — that is, a rich man’s investment in the waging of war, to the tune of many trillions of dollars, but a pauper’s investment in its aftermath. Something else is going on here as well, however, that’s deeper and darker and not limited to the failure of government programs.
In a column I wrote almost a decade ago, I reflected: “Bush’s war to promote terror — the perfect self-sustaining fear machine — isn’t just generating an endless supply of hardened enemies beyond our borders. It is also creating the conditions of social breakdown and psychological blowback within our borders. Guess what? Under Plan Bush, we’ll never be safe.”
This seems to be coming to pass. If a word like “disgruntled” — which describes, at worst, an everyday sense of being mistreated or snubbed — can flow seamlessly into “mass killing,” then America is at a serious precipice. We’re becoming a heavily armed, mentally ill society. And our primary institutions are either contributing directly to the situation or, at best, failing to notice it.
The obvious mega-contributor to our social breakdown is the unending War on Terror, of course. It’s a war cynically waged in two directions: at the enemies beyond our borders that we’ve manufactured and the collateral-damage-in-waiting who live with them; and at the lower and middle classes (the 99 percent) here at home, who have the nerve to expect a reasonable share of the empire’s wealth.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
As the years progressed, BuzzFlash was a forerunner when it came to lacerating, scathing attacks on Republican hypocrisy, and even generated a spinoff (no longer on the web): GOPHypocrites.com.
BuzzFlash took on the Bush administration's war policies following 9/11, particularly focusing on the administration's lies about the lead-up to the tragedy. We entered the lion's den of neoconservative gladiators and shredded their jingoistic, bellicose justifications of wars to advance hegemony.
Frankly, exposing the deceit of the Bush administration and ridiculing it was like picking low-lying fruit. The DC press corps is so beholden to being part of the ongoing ruling social and financial hierarchy that all one had to do was read secondary sources from outside the country to be able to post scoops.
Then came what appeared to be a dramatic rescue. The Obama campaign in 2008 was brilliantly scripted, featured a charismatic candidate and created the energizing, hopeful characteristics of a movement.
Obama, of course, won against grumpy John McCain, but more than six years later, those iconic Shepard Fairey posters of "hope" have long since peeled away. When Obama moved into the White House, he jettisoned movement politics and adopted the so-called "pragmatic politics" of DC. This was a conversion of "hope" into more of the same.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
With Jeb Bush is in full presidential exploration mode, Mitt Romney keeping us all on the edge of our seats about whether he’ll toss his hat into the ring yet again, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie taking it on the chin for being a Dallas Cowboy/Jerry Jones fan-boy while awaiting more Bridge-gate investigations to unfold, Dr. Ben Carson patenting the crazy, Ted Cruz being … well … Ted Cruz, Rand Paul being … well … Rand Paul, how is Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas Governor and former Fox News Channel talk show host, going to get any play?
The answer is simple: Excoriate President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama for their bad parenting choices in allowing their daughters to listen to the music of Beyoncé, which in Huckabee’s new book titled God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy, he calls “obnoxious and toxic mental poison.”
In an interview with People magazine, Huckabee said: "I don't understand how on one hand they can be such doting parents and so careful about the intake of everything - how much broccoli they eat and where they go to school ... and yet they don't see anything that might not be suitable [in the lyrics and a Beyoncé choreography] best left for the privacy of her bedroom.”
HARVEY WASSERMAN ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Swing state Ohio is plunging ever deeper into the fossil/nuke abyss.
Its Public Utilities Commission may soon gouge the public for $3 billion (BILLION!) to subsidize two filthy 50-year-old coal burners and America’s most dangerous nuke.
Approval would seal Ohio’s death notice.
STEVEN JONAS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Much has been written about the horror perpetrated on journalists at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, and shoppers at a kosher grocery store in store in Paris on January 7-8, 2015. One question about which not much has been written, about the attacks and their aftermaths, is the old one from the days of Rome: "Cui Bono" (who benefits)? But before we get to that one, let's consider who didn't.
First of all, the two brothers who committed the massacre at Charlie Hebdo, Cherif and Said Kouachi, said that they were doing it avenge the various depictions of the Prophet Mohammed that they found sacrilegious (the latter, of course, like obscenity, all being in the eye of the beholder). Well, A) they are dead and B) their actions will hardly stop others from depicting the Prophet in the terms that Charlie Hebdo did, or worse. (Of course, in their next issue, the Charlie Hebdo survivors came out with a depiction of Mohammed, sympathetically this time, but nevertheless, a prohibited "graven image.")
Then there was Amedy Coulibaly, the killer at the Jewish grocery. He said that he was protesting against the US, French, and other interventions in the Middle East. Well, there are lots of opponents of those actions, both in the Muslim (and especially Arab) and Western worlds (including yours truly and, I might surmise, many of the readers of BuzzFlash). Coulibaly's action is unlikely to win over many, if any, converts to his cause. So neither they (to be sure) nor their causes can said to have benefitted.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
If you made a resolution in 2000 for peace in the new millenium, you were quickly disappointed. Clearly we didn't get an end to violence, wars and murders. World wars of the previous century now have generally morphed into micro-wars over economic hegemony, which create catastrophic loss of life and incite a backlash of more violence.
What were once wars between nation-states have now become largely conflicts between nation-states and non-nation-state adversaries. If you are in an armed struggle with a nation-state, but haven't been recognized by the UN, then your use of weapons is generally called terrorism. That is to say, unless you are battling a regime that is hostile to Western economic interests; in that case, you are a "freedom fighter."
Although the appalling murders that occurred at Charlie Hebdo and the Kosher supermarket in Paris are to be deplored, it has been frequently pointed out that nation-states - in particular the US - have caused the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians (with just one small source of these murders being drones that cause the euphemistic killing of "non-combatants," also known as "collateral damage").
Given this background, Secretary of State John Kerry showed up in Paris on Friday to announce that he was offering a "big hug" of support to the French. As ABC News quoted Kerry, "I really wanted to come here and share a hug with all of Paris and all friends," he announced to a crowd at the Hotel de Ville, the city hall of Paris.