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BILL QUIGLEY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

HotDog 0325wrp opt(Photo: Czar)Two Texas mothers, who police said had no criminal record, spent five days in a notorious Louisiana jail over charges they ate two hot dogs, milkshakes and an icee at a convenience store.  The women were ordered held on $1500 dollar bond each despite the fact they had just voluntarily driven over 400 miles from Dallas to show up in court to contest the charges against them.

On January 15, 2016, Ms. Walnetta Reid and Ms. Tristan Ellis, mothers from Dallas, were stopped by a police officer in New Iberia, Louisiana.  The police told the women they had been accused of eating two hot dogs and drinking milkshakes and an icee in a gas station convenience store without paying.  The police officer handcuffed the two women and placed them in the back of the patrol car.  The women told the police officer they had not taken anything from the store.  They pleaded with the officer to look at the store surveillance videotape which would prove their innocence.  They told the officer they did go into the store but only to use the store microwave to heat up some soup they had bought at another store and for which they had a receipt.  The officer ran their names through his computer and found out they had no criminal records.  He released the women with a summons to appear in New Iberia City Court on March 14, 2016.   

Both Ms. Reid and Ms. Ellis are active in volunteer work in Dallas helping young people.  They told a friend who does volunteer work with them, C.J. Bible, they had to return to Louisiana to clear their names.

Ms. Reid and Ms. Ellis drove the 400 miles to appear in New Iberia City Court on Monday March 14, 2016.  They expected their case to go to trial.  They planned to show the court their receipt for the soup and explain to the judge that Ms. Ellis is a vegan and never eats meat of any kind, much less a hot dog.  Though they could not afford an attorney, they expected to be found innocent once the judge looked at the store videotape. 

But when their case came up, they were told there was not going to be a trial.  Court was only for them to plead not guilty or guilty.  They plead not guilty and the court set the trial for May 25.  They thought it was all over for the day until the Prosecutor asked the Judge to set cash bail on them since they had showed up on a summons and were from out of state.  Despite that they had voluntarily driven 400 miles one way to appear in court, and they had no criminal record, the judge ordered each women to put up a $1500 bail, plus $240 in court fees. 

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2016march25 scgunsThe confirmation of a United States Supreme Court Justice is being held hostage, in significant part, by the NRA. (Photo: Envios)

Judge Merrick Garland's judicial rulings and Republican fans -- including arch-conservative Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and the more-right-wing-than-you-might-realize presidential candidate and Ohio Gov. John Kasich -- indicate that Garland is about as weak as you can get, when it comes to a "liberal" Supreme Court nominee. Yet many Republicans continue to refuse to even consider the nomination.

However, the reasons behind the Republican opposition are not as straightforward as they may appear. The New York Times (NYT) has offered an additional key factor behind Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's obdurate opposition to even allowing hearings on the Garland nomination: The NRA opposes it.

In a March 24 editorial, the NYT editorial board opined:

It turns out that the most important voice in the Supreme Court nomination battle is not the American people’s, as Senate Republicans have insisted from the moment Justice Antonin Scalia died last month. It is not even that of the senators. It’s the National Rifle Association’s.

That is what the majority leader, Mitch McConnell, said the other day when asked about the possibility of considering and confirming President Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, after the November elections. “I can’t imagine that a Republican majority in the United States Senate would want to confirm, in a lame-duck session, a nominee opposed by the National Rifle Association,” he told “Fox NewsSunday.”

We recently noted that the NRA represents a core financial backer of the Republican Party (and many individual non-urban Democratic politicians), and plays a vigorous role in turning out its members during elections. 

2016.24.3 BF wasserman(Photo: IIP Photo Archive)HARVEY WASSERMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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Our American president’s long-overdue visit to Cuba has been a great thing for many reasons.

But maybe our elected officials should cease their hypocritical yapping about the human rights situation in Cuba until they come clean about what’s happening here in the United States.

To be sure, there is much to say about how this authoritarian regime has handled dissent. The details abound in the corporate media.

But the idea of the United States lecturing Cuba or any other country on this planet about human rights comes down somewhere between embarrassing and nauseating.

Thursday, 24 March 2016 06:34

Recovering From Militarism

2016.24.3 bf koehler(Photo: Steve Stearns)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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The pols cry glory and revenge. They cry security. They cry greatness.

Then they stick in the needle, or the missile or the rifle shell, or the nuclear bomb. Or at least they imagine doing so. This will fix the world. And they approve more funding for war.

U.S. militarism, and the funding -- and the fearmongering -- that sustain it are out of control . . . in the same way, perhaps, that stage 4 cancer is out of control.

We talk about "the Pentagon" as though it were a rational entity, hierarchically in control of what it does, dispensable as needed to trouble spots around the world: a tool of America’s commander in chief and, therefore, of the American people. The reality, undiscussed on the evening news or the presidential debates, is something a little different. The American military is an unceasing hemorrhage of cash and aggression, committed -- perhaps only at the unconscious level -- to nothing more than its own perpetuation, which is to say, endless war.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

BuzzFlash and Truthout aren't funded by corporate advertising, but by readers like you. Can you help sustain this critically important work with a tax-deductible donation?

2026 March24drugwarsThe "War on Drugs" is a war on people of color, as a lost quotation from Nixon adviser John Ehrlichman now reveals.  (Photo: Neon Tommy)

Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman, in a 2015 commentary in Free Press, rightfully charged that the ruinous "war on drugs" had its origins in a nefarious motive that had little to do with concern about harmful drug use:

The Drug War was officially born June 17, 1971, when Richard Nixon pronounced drugs to be “public enemy number one.” In a nation wracked by poverty, racial tension, injustice, civil strife, ecological disaster, corporate domination, a hated Vietnam War and much more, drugs seemed an odd choice.

In fact, the Drug War’s primary target[s were] Black[s] and young voters.

As the Vietnam War ended -- and massive youth political protest subsided -- the war on drugs rapidly took a two-tier track: incarceration for even the most minor drug "offenses" for people of color, while whites of means were generally treated leniently by the legal system for drug use. The war on drugs became embedded in the post-Civil Rights era society as a gruesome and destructive re-emergence of Jim Crow policy. It was supported in full force by the national, state, county and city police and court systems, as a means of suppressing and punishing Blacks for having survived slavery -- and a means of continuing to systematically exploit them, long after official slavery had been outlawed.  

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

LeoMeat 0323wrp opt(Photo: EcoWatch)Oscar-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio has advocated for a number of worthy causes, from fighting climate change to the importance of conservation. Now, with a single tweet, the planetary steward shines a light on the colossal environmental impact of animal agriculture.

In his tweet, DiCaprio included a link to a stunning video from Mercy For Animals, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing cruelty to farmed animals, and promoting compassionate food choices and policies.

The 4-minute clip, with the tag-line “This is the video future generations will be wishing everyone watched today,” starts by showing the awe-inspiring, grandeur of our living, breathing planet Earth as well as its incredibly vast biodiversity. It then turns dark as footage rolls of crumbling glaciers and disappearing coastlines, and links these global catastrophes to mankind’s insatiable appetite for meat.

The video points out that animal agriculture and meat consumption is the number one cause of environmental destruction, species extinction and ocean “dead zones.” The agricultural industry has consumed one-third of all fresh water and has destroyed 91 percent of the Amazon.

WILLIAM RIVERS PITT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

TrumpMouth 0323wrp opt(Photo: Philip Cohen)Most people in the US get their Trump in small slices, in dribs and drabs, in snippets doled out by the TV networks. One sentence a day. That kind of parsimonious coverage does not do justice to the grim astonishment that is Trump on the campaign stump. Therefore, I bit the bullet and strung his comments together. Do yourself a favor and read this out loud, so you can get a taste of the words in your mouth. You’ll spit.

The following is what I would have to describe as stream-of-consciousness Trump, culled directly and verbatim from a variety of rallies and media appearances that can be sourced here and here. No words have been replaced or changed. This is the raw of it, to the bone. Deep thanks to KnowPolitical and CBS News for doing the legwork.

They laughed at Mussolini, too, until he took office. Then they stopped laughing.

I give you Donald Trump ...

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

march23 empirestrikesbackFor the US, the 2016 election symbolizes the sins of empire striking back. (Photo: Nick Normal)

Behind the vulgar, violent, racist, nationalist bombast of Donald Trump lies a profound and unsettling reality: This is what an empire looks like in the 21st century when it is imploding.  

The birth of the United States became known historically as a "revolution" because it created a government that was not monarchal. (Of course, non-monarchal governments had already been common throughout history, but in the narrow context of 18th century Western society, this development was framed as "new.") However, that "revolutionary" government did not break with the concept of empire, even though it overthrew one. In fact, as the British empire diminished, the US empire expanded into a global presence, positioning itself to achieve dominance (with only the Soviet Union as its competitor until the 1990s) after World War II.

The US may have overthrown rule by bloodline descent, but it fully adopted the tools of empire expansion, most notably through its two original sins: the massacre and displacement of the Indigenous population and the incorporation of slavery into the expanding nation as a legally condoned fuel for the growth of empire.

As we recently noted, the Civil War for this nation's soul will not end with this election. The grotesque ire that is born of white privilege -- descended from the Eurocentric origins of the United States -- have emerged in coded words and thinly veiled racist attacks, such as "Birtherism." 

2016.22.3 BF Ecowatch(Photo: David Rencher)JANET MACGILLIVRAY AND LEE ZIESCHE OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

In Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ masterpiece 100 Years of Solitude, the story of generations doomed to repeat history, the town of Macondo never learns from the past and is eventually wiped off the map. In a chilling and unconsciously ironic foretelling, BP nicknamed the ill fated oil field where the Deepwater Horizon oil exploded “Macondo.”

Now, the Obama administration’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has become the agency that never learns and may doom Louisiana to be wiped off the map.

The state was hit last week by another storm that dumped two feet of rain, causing widespread flooding in neighborhoods that can’t seem to get ahead of climate change induced weather events. Portions of 1-10 were so flooded they had to close down and the state is reporting more than 6,000 buildings and homes were damaged by floodwaters.

2016.22.3 BF biggers(Photo: lutmans)JEFF BIGGERS OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

As Peabody Energy teeters on the brink of bankruptcy, edging toward a Chapter II reorganization that will most likely allow it to walk away from massive reclamation and mine worker commitments, a flurry of poetic musings and giddy celebrations over of the death of Big Coal has begun to flow.

Spare me your coal requiems.

We’re long overdue for a reckoning in so-called coal country.

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