Facebook Slider
Optional Member Code
Get News Alerts!

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaPPFA(Photo: S. MiRK)Singing a few lines from "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" -- a song from the Disney 1946 live action and animated movie Song of the South, sung by James Baskett – and sporting a jaunty bounce in his step, Speaker of the House John Boehner stepped up to the podium and announced he was giving up his speakership and leaving Congress. Two years ago, Boehner wasn't nearly as playful after he gave in to demands to shut down the government over a fight over Obamacare. This time around, Boehner, and his Senate partner Mitch McConnell, were determined not to shut down the government despite pressure from his far right conservative brethren to shut-it-down if necessary in the battle over defunding Planned Parenthood.

However, he did give his right flank a gift; a new "select" committee to investigate Planned Parenthood. "Recent videos exposing the abortion-for-baby parts business have shocked the nation, and demanded action. At my request, three House committees have been investigating the abortion business, but we still don't have the full truth," Boehner said last week.

He topped off his gift by appointing Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn to head the committee, which will include seven other GOP representatives (four of whom will be women), and, I presume -- should they choose to participate – several congressional Democrats. The Editorial Board of the Sacramento Bee characterized Blackburn as "a partisan so far to the right that she earlier this year told BBC Radio that she doesn't accept the theory of evolution."

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaaaaceoretire345Economic injustice benefits the few at the expense of the many in retirement years. (Image: Institute for Policy Studies)

A just-released study on the enormous gap between retirement assets and benefits for the wealthy as compared to the rest of Americans - "A Tale of Two Retirements" - blames the divide on "a shift in the rules to favor corporate executives over other working people."

Key findings of the report, which was authored by Sarah Anderson and Scott Klinger for the Institute for Policy Studies and the Center for Effective Government, include:

  • The company-sponsored retirement assets of just 100 CEOs add up to as much as the entire retirement account savings of 41% of American families (50 million families in total).

  • The 100 largest CEO retirement accounts are worth an average of more than $49.3 million—enough to generate a $277,686 monthly retirement check for each executive for the rest of their lives.

  • David Novak of YUM Brands had the largest retirement nest egg in the Fortune 500 in 2014, with $234 million, while hundreds of thousands of his Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and KFC employees have no company retirement assets whatsoever. Novak transitioned from CEO to Executive Chairman in 2015.

Meanwhile, as BuzzFlash pointed out in an October 15 commentary, US "seniors face year of increased hardship as Social Security benefits stagnate." We pointed out that the government is denying seniors on Social Security a cost-of-living increase next year, even though their costs for food, medical care and rent are increasing. 

COLE MELLINO OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaJonStewartAnimals(Photo: David Shankbone)The rumors are true. Jon Stewart and his wife Tracey are turning their 12-acre farm in Middelton, New Jersey into an animal sanctuary affiliated with Farm Sanctuary. The organization has been working for the last three decades to end inhumane farm practices and create better lives for animals. Tracey revealed the news on Saturday night at Farm Sanctuary’s annual gala at the Plaza Hotel in New York City.

“We bought a farm in New Jersey, with the intention of starting a farm sanctuary of our own,” she said at the gala, where she and Jon were honored with an award. “We’re getting married. Farm Sanctuary and us, we’re getting married.”

It will be the fourth such Farm Sanctuary site with the original in upstate New York and two in California, according to Farm Sanctuary’s website.

The Stewart’s farm is called Bufflehead, and it’s currently home to four rescue pigs. Future inhabitants, the New York Times reports, will likely include more pigs, as well as cows, sheep, goats, chickens and turkeys.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaaaatblairProtestors at a UK Iraq War inquiry in 2010 respell Tony Blair's last name to emphasize that he is a liar. (Photo: Chris Beckett)

In a highly qualified "apology" for the Iraq War - offered in an interview with Fareed Zakaria on CNN - Tony Blair grudgingly admitted that the war may have been partially responsible for the unleashing of ISIS. 

Many British news outlets, such as the Guardian US, speculate that Blair was savvily using preemptive public relations to insulate himself from the expected criticisms of the upcoming publication of the UK Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq War:

Did Tony Blair’s statements about taking Britain to war in Iraq constitute an apology? As far as Britain’s national newspapers were concerned, they certainly did not.

Most of the editorials and commentaries view his CNN interview as a spin operation ahead of the publication of the Chilcot report, which is expected, wrote the Guardian’s Richard Norton-Taylor, to be "damning."

The Daily Mail accused the former prime minister of weasel words in "an apology of sorts." The Daily Mirror thought he had delivered a "half-hearted apology" that "will bring no comfort to families whose loved ones never came home."

Blair, while acknowledging that the accusations that Iraq's Saddam Hussein was amassing weapons of mass destruction were false, doesn't concede that he knew that they were false as the Bush administration and the UK used the lie to feverishly market the war.

2015.26.10 BF Odendahl(Photo: Karen Simmons)TERRY ODENDAHL OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

At age 13, I participated in civil rights marches and other activities. A few years later I was also active in anti-war marches and events. By the time I was 16, I helped lead a protest at my high school, which ended with a ceremonial tree-planting on the first Earth Day in 1970. I was fortunate because my family supported and encouraged my activism, as they have throughout my career.

As I look toward our planet’s future, I reflect on numerous examples from our past, in which young generations not only helped lead, but also provided the main spark that forced older decision-makers to push through change. The 1960s and ’70s in the U.S. are one big example. The Berliners tearing down the wall in 1989 is another. The Arab Spring in 2010/11 changed that corner of the world forever. And more recently, the rise of 350.org and its mass mobilization of young people, which included the People’s Climate March in New York in 2014, is a big new force in the fight to address climate change.

It’s clear that if we want change, we need to not only watch and listen to young people, but also embrace and support them to help create the change our planet needs. If the leaders at COP21 in Paris don’t get this message, they are simply missing the boat.

2015.26.10 BF Buchheit(Photo: Tax Credits)PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Rating capitalist despicability is a daunting task with Big Pharma and High Finance in the running, but Higher Ed's betrayal of a century-old trust with young Americans vaults it toward the top of the list.

Since 1862 public colleges had been expected to serve primarily as a means for the American people to achieve an inexpensive college education, and to benefit from academic research. The 1980 Bayh-Dole Act changed it all. It freed public universities from releasing new research discoveries to the public, allowing them instead to patent the results and make licensing deals with private companies. The University of California, anticipating big agri-business subsidies, took full advantage in 2013, siding with Monsanto in a lawsuit against a farmer who was accused of stealing the company's seed. The farmer lost. And universities became more deeply entrenched in the capitalist world.

COLE MELLINO OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaPoletoparis2(Photo: EcoWatch)You might have heard of Yeb Sano, the former climate change negotiator who became a climate activist after he got fed up with the slow progress of the UN climate conferences. His latest action involves walking from Rome to Paris ahead of the UN talks in Paris, COP21, to draw attention for the need to act on climate change.

Now, another group of people are kicking it up a notch and have decided to run and bike from the North and South Poles to Paris.

The group writes on its blog:

The 12,000 km [about 7,500 miles] long Southern Cycle follows Dr. Daniel Price, specialist in Antarctic climate, on his way from New Zealand to Paris. From the North, Dr. Erlend Moster Knudsen, specialist in Arctic climate, takes on the lead of the 3,000 km [1,800 miles] long Northern Run. Their team members Beth Ward and Oria Jamar de Bolsée join in the run throughout the UK, Belgium and France. They bring with them flags from the two Polar Regions—the regions where the fastest signs of climate change are now observed.

The team from the North started running from the tip of Norway a few weeks ago and crossed the Scottish border yesterday.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaaaabeng666The House of Representatives GOP promotes one of the endless Benghazi Committee "hearings." (Photo: House GOP)

One need not support Hillary Clinton's hawkish foreign policy (including her lamentable advocacy of the Libyan invasion in the first place - which most Congressional Republicans vigorously supported), her candidacy, or even her veracity to challenge the use of Congress by Republicans to hijack the legislative process and turn it into a junkyard dog. 

Yahoo Finance reported about Thursday's marathon Benghazi hearing:

After questioning Hillary Clinton for 11 hours in Congress, the head of the House Select Committee investigating the terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya didn't have a concrete answer about whether he'd learned anything new. 

Even the corporate mainstream media, which usually loves to report on the sparks that fly from the manufactured spectacle of such "hearings," is beginning to take note of the real motive of the Benghazi Committee. An October 22 USA Today editorial offered this opinion:

The situation raises any number of questions about the wisdom of U.S. involvement in Gadhafi's removal, the lack of follow-through and the right strategy to fight the spread of ISIL in the region. 

But, as former secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s marathon appearance Thursday before the Select Committee on Benghazi made clear, these questions are not being asked. Instead, an insular and hyperpartisan Washington is focused on just one aspect of the Libyan drama: Clinton’s actions around the time of a 2012 raid on a diplomatic compound that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

Thursday’s hearing was hardly a sober and thorough effort to find fact. That work has already been done in seven prior inquiries by Congress and one by a State Department review panel (which found that department personnel made misjudgments in a confusing situation). 

Thursday, 22 October 2015 09:02

Reasons Killer Whales Should Not Be Captive

2015.22.10 BF CHow(Photo: Alan Wolf)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

A disturbing new video of a SeaWorld San Diego orca too “depressed” to nurse her calf is going viral, and has once again shined a spotlight on the controversial practice of keeping killer whales in captivity.

The footage shows Orca Research Trust founder and marine biologist Ingrid Visser and former SeaWorld trainer John Hargrove observing a mother orca named Kasatka and her 2-year-old calf Makani at the ocean park’s orca facility, the Huffington Post reports.

The two observe signs of “stereotypic behavior,” such as the mother orca staring at the bottom of a concrete wall and ignoring her baby’s repeated head-bumps to get fed. They add that Makani’s constant nudging for food has left a bruise on the mother’s stomach.

“That head-bump is a precursor to nursing,” Hargrove says in the video.

“The calf is constantly trying to get food, so desperately hungry, so bored,” Visser says. “It’s a stereotypic behavior.”

Thursday, 22 October 2015 06:50

Bernie Sanders and the "Washington Consensus"

2015.22.10 BF KOEHLER(Photo: Brookings Institution)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Political wisdom always has a sharp, cynical edge. You can’t utter it without feeling the throb of ancient wounds.

For instance: “If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.”

Emma Goldman’s observation nestled into my subconscious decades ago, and each presidential go-around aggravates it with new intensity. The Washington consensus never changes. The mainstream media shills never cease their efforts to bully all seriousness — all reality — out of the process. And money and militarism silently, invisibly rule, no matter who wins.

The alleged result of this is an entrenched public complacency, as Americans settle for techno-consumerism as a substitute for participation in real, political life and a voice in who we are as a nation. Beyond our shores . . . whatever. Empires will be empires. What can you do?

Page 16 of 1398