JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
This piece is dedicated to Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald for their attempt to preserve our liberties by law in the People's Bill of Rights.
In case you didn't catch the irony of the title, "Tear down this wall!" was the challenge issued by President Ronald Reagan to Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev to destroy the Berlin Wall, June 12th 1987, as a demand to increase freedom in the Eastern Bloc, freedom to come and go as one pleases, and freedom from state controlled surveillance.
My, my, my—how the tables have turned, no?
Protesters around the world are demanding that President Obama fulfill his 2008 promise to shut down Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility, a prison known for torture and abuse, and for its illegal "indefinite detention" practice.
Guantanamo Bay Prison stands as a blatant violation of Constitutional Laws. So how did it happen in the first place?
Worst still, Obama's National Defense Authorization Act made certain that American citizens can also be held indefinitely without trial or charge. The Patriot Act pales by comparison to the NDAA. President Obama used Executive Action to pass it into law on New Year's Day 2012—as if it were something to celebrate. He refuses, however, to take Executive Action for shutting down GITMO. Morally speaking, the president doesn't seem to know right from wrong.
As the president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights, Michael Ratner, put it: "Barack Obama is the first president ever in the United States to sign into law indefinite detention as part of the policy of the United States."
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
TIME online reports:The US economy shrunk (according to just released revised figures) for the first time in three years.
The U.S.' Gross Domestic Product contracted by 1 percent in the first quarter of 2014, marking the first contraction in years as government economists revised earlier figures by taking stock of additional glum measures
The U.S. economy shrunk by 1% in the first quarter of 2014, according to government data released Thursday, marking the first economic contraction in three years.
The figure, from revised estimates released by the Commerce Department, was revised downwards from an earlier estimate of 0.1% growth in gross domestic product, as government economists took stock of additional glum measures. The Commerce Department noted that on top of a winter wallop to retail and construction, real GDP was dragged down further by a rise in imports and a marked decline in inventory growth. The last time real GDP contracted was in the first quarter of 2011 at the tail end of a punishing recession.
Even though many mainstream media reports quote "analysts" who claim that the downturn was an anomaly - and that consumer demand should increase in the second quarter - the anemic performance of the Gross Domestic Product has implications for an increase in equality.
That is the outlook if you agree with the one of the basic tenets in economist Thomas Piketty's widely discussed new book: "Capital in the Twenty-First Century."
WALTER BRASCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
During this past week, in Scranton, Pa., a 16-year old put two bullets into the head of a taxi driver and then stole about $500 earned by the cabbie that evening.
The teen, who showed no remorse when arrested a few hours later, mumbled a few words about his reasons. He said he murdered the cabbie "'Cause that's what I do to people that don't listen." The teen thought the cabbie was taking too long to get him to his destination. The driver was a 47-year-old man with a wife and two children. The gun was an unlicensed 9-mm.
A few days later, in Payson, Ariz., a three-year-old boy found a loaded semi-automatic gun in the apartment of family friend, began playing with it, and accidentally killed his 18-month-old brother. Police recovered several other weapons from the apartment.
In Homestead, Fla., a 28-year-old man, who admitted he was drinking and using cocaine, was showing off an AK-47 at a picnic. His six-year-old nephew picked up the gun when no one was watching, played with it, and accidentally killed his own grandfather.
In Isla Vista, Calif., a 22-year-old man with a history of mental problems, stabbed his three roommates, and then drove near the campus of the University of California at Santa Barbara. In about 10 minutes, he murdered three more students and wounded 13 more before committing suicide. Police say the killer had three 9 mm. weapons and about 400 rounds of ammunition, all of it purchased legally.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Although it has been one of the worst kept secrets in professional sports, the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) is finally coming out of the closet with a series of monster slam-dunk marketing projects aimed at the LGBT community. The league recently announced that each of its teams would be turning its marketing efforts towards the LGBT community, becoming the first pro sports league to specifically recruit gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender fans to its games. At some point in the season, each team will stage an event acknowledging and honoring the LGBT community.
According to the Associated Press, "The launch of the effort coincides with a surge of political and legal advances for the gay-rights movement in the U.S., and shifting public opinion behind many of those advances."
As LGBT issues have gained wider support both politically and legally, the sports world has been part of the changing landscape. AP pointed out that "NBA player Jason Collins became the first player in men's professional basketball to come out and played with the Nets. Former Missouri football player Michael Sam, who came out in print and televised interviews earlier this year, was drafted in the seventh round by the St. Louis Rams. And Derrick Gordon, a UMass basketball player, recently described his experience as a gay Division I player."
The WNBA campaign "includes having teams participate in local pride festivals and parades, working with advocacy groups to raise awareness of inclusion through grassroots events and advertising with lesbian media. A nationally televised pride game will take place between Tulsa and Chicago on Sunday, June 22. All 12 teams will also have some sort of pride initiative over the course of the season."
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
New revelations about the Chilean military overthrow of the popularly elected Salvador Allende regime in 1973 once again confirm that the US is supportive of democracies that enhance US economic interests, but it is the enemy of those that don't.
According to a May 23 article on the History News Network website:
Covert U.S. planning to block the democratic election of Salvador Allende in Chile began weeks before his September 4, 1970, victory, according to just declassified minutes of an August 19, 1970, meeting of the high-level interagency committee known as the Special Review Group, chaired by National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger. "Kissinger asked that the plan be as precise as possible and include what orders would be given September 5, to whom, and in what way," as the summary recorded Kissinger's instructions to CIA Director Richard Helms. "Kissinger said we should present to the President an action plan to prevent [the Chilean Congress from ratifying] an Allende victory and noted that the President may decide to move even if we do not recommend it."
The document is one of a compendium of some 366 records released by the State Department as part of its Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series. The much-delayed collection, titled "Chile: 1969-1973," addresses Richard Nixon's and Kissinger's efforts to destabilize the democratically elected Socialist government of Salvador Allende, and the U.S.-supported coup that brought General Augusto Pinochet to power in 1973.
The placement of Pinochet in power led to a brutal reign that resulted in the imprisonment, torture and murder of thousands of Chilean citizens considered Allende supporters.
In addition, Henry Kissinger (in his roles as National Security Advisor and then Secretary of State) oversaw US support for the heinous and barbaric Operation Condor. This was a US-approved (although Kissinger denies it, of course) backing of military governments in the Southern Cone nations in South America. The result was a murderous purge of anyone suspected of sympathizing with alternative economic systems to capitalism or even of populist governments that were run by the non-ruling elite.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The world withheld love and he went to war. He was an army of one — another army of one, laying out his plans in secret torment, plotting his "day of retribution."
"The rampage shooters see themselves as moralistic punishers striking against deep injustice," Peter Turchin wrote a year and a half ago, in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre. In his essay, ominously titled "Canaries in a Coal Mine," which was published at Social Evolution Forum, he notes the upward trajectory of mass murders. Since the '60s, they've increased more than tenfold. Something's going wrong in the world we've created.
The killers are always described as loners . . . monsters, psychopaths. They're not like us, and so the motives for the killings are sought only in the rubble of their lives — in the left-behind writings and YouTube videos, the psychological reports, the fragmentary reflections of acquaintances — and they're nothing more than sterile curiosities, with a sort of reality-TV entertainment value.
So it turns out that Elliot Rodger, the 22-year-old who killed six UC Santa Barbara students, then committed suicide, last week in Isla Vista, Calif., was shut out of human connection, nailed into a coffin of isolation. He wrote in his journal some years earlier:
"I was desperate to have the life I know I deserve; a life of being wanted by attractive girls, a life of sex and love. Other men are able to have such a life . . . so why not me? I deserve it! I am magnificent, no matter how much the world treated me otherwise. I am destined for great things."
Unlike most lonely people — but like all the others who make screaming headlines out of their loneliness — he sought a military solution to his troubles. His enemies were wrecking his life, so he armed himself and went after them. He "went to war" and, in so doing, dignified his predicament and justified his course of action. Calling it "war" is a nearly airtight justification for violence — for murder.
ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUTRHONE RESCH OF
Reposted with permission from EcoWatch.
In the ongoing war on pollution, there’s an increasingly bright light shining through the haze: solar energy.
Today, solar is providing a big boost to our environment. The 14,800 megawatts (MW) of solar currently installed in the U.S. can generate enough pollution-free electricity to displace 18 billion pounds of coal or 1.8 billion gallons of gasoline. That’s the equivalent of removing 3.5 million passenger cars off our roads and highways. For state’s trying to meet new, enhanced air quality standards, solar can be a real game changer.
Why is this so important? Because on Monday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is set to announce new air quality standards for coal and natural gas-fired power plants.
JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
It might appear that the U-S-of-A has gone bonkers. So let me clear up any confusion that you might have: Yes, it has!
Yet, it hasn't. More on that in a moment.
First, though — whether looking at the "tea party" congress critters who've swerved our nation's political debate to the hard right, or at the peacocks of Wall Street who continue to preen and profit atop the wreckage they've made of our real economy — it's plain to see that America is suffering a pestilence of nuts and narcissists in high places. These "leaders" are hell bent to enthrone themselves and their ilk as the potentates of our economic, governmental and social systems, and they are aggressively trying to snuff out the light of egalitarianism that historically has been our society's unifying force.
Bill Moyers, America's most public-spirited journalist, summarized the state of or nation in these terms: "The delusion is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe to sit at the seat of power." Symptoms of this national insanity include these examples:
— We can't even keep the doors of our government open. In October of last year, Washington's tea party Republican faction, unable to win the budget cuts it had demanded, threw a procedural fit to get what its acolytes wanted. Their stunt literally shut down the nation's government for 16 days and bled $24 billion from the U.S. economy. They won nothing except the widespread public scorn they earned for being self-aggrandizing political fools.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Once again, the media pundits and spineless politicians are wearing somber faces about the misogynistic Isla Vista shootings and deaths. Once again, there are the cries for gun control. However, in the flow of news cycles, the issue of taking on the gun lobby will wash away like the tide until the next white male mass killing with firearms.
The failure of US law enforcement to arrest armed and threatening militia members during the Cliven Bundy standoff - and to stop them from commandeering roads - only reinforces white male entitlement when it comes to guns. Contrast that to Occupy movement protesters who were arrested, beaten and sent to jail (consider the case of recently sentenced Cecily McMillan as an example).
Yes, there are threats to national security, but the biggest ones aren't those we spend hundreds of billions of dollars on against a relatively small number of terrorists. The most significant peril to our ability to live peaceful and comfortable lives comes from menaces that the DC politicians do little or nothing about.
You can start with allowing the NRA to impose an Ayn Rand vision of guns unlimited on the nation and its resulting toll in about 30,000 deaths a year (homicides, suicides and accidents) and the rippling psychological impact of insecurity on the nation. If al-Qaeda wanted to create the death toll of 10 9/11s each year, they might have gotten better bang for their buck by just financing the gun lobby.
Add to that the scientific validation that we may have passed the threshold on reversing impending catastrophic climate change, as DC elected officials throw campaign fundraising events while the world's environment is deteriorating rapidly. What could be a graver risk to the nation than a sixth mass extinction on this planet? Yes, we have a military-surveillance-intelligence-industrial complex that is a beast that feasts on our tax dollars - but killing civilians in a faraway land with drones is not only a hideous act of murder, it represents the triumph of the self-interest of the so-called defense establishment over what the pressing priorities of ensuring national security really are.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
After Mitt Romney's crushing defeat in the 2012 presidential election, and the Republican Party's failure to capitalize on seemingly winnable Senate seats, Karl Rove and his financial community decided they'd had enough of flawed Tea Party-identified and backed candidates with predilections for saying outrageous ridiculous things.
In order to attain a Mitch McConnell-run Senate in January 2015, Rove decided to back so-called establishment conservatives in the 2014 primaries, that is, candidates who are far right ideologically, but wouldn't expound nonsensical gibberish when quizzed by the media. The Tea Party on the other hand, claiming that it wanted nothing more to do with McConnell and his capitulating ilk, fielded and supported more ideologically compatible candidates against Republican "establishment" figures.
Now that the dust has just about settled from the GOP primaries, Rove has built a roster of candidates he believes can win control of the Senate in November. And the Tea Party? After experiencing a number of losses in big races, many in the mainstream media, as is their wont, are writing them off, claiming that their influence has diminished.
The Wall Street Journal proclaimed, "GOP sees primaries taming the tea party." The Washington Post's conservative columnist, Jennifer Rubin, talked about "the tea party's demise," while the Post's Jaime Fuller said the Tea Party "isn't just losing; it's losing badly." Rick Sanchez, writing for Fox News Latino, said "Good Bye Tea Party, We Hardly Knew Ye." CNBC wondered if "the tea party was over" And Time magazine pointed out "GOP rolls tea party in primaries."