BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
We’re watching Katy Perry’s Super Bowl half-time show and out pops Missy Elliott, and she’s wearing a Jumpsuit, and there, on the left thigh of her outfit, is what looks like a peace symbol. While it may be a little incongruous/bizarre in this age of US acts of war, terrorist beheadings, US Drone strikes and other acts of state and non-state violence to think about the Peace Symbol, Elliot’s outfit reminded me that fifty-seven-years after its creation, the Peace Symbol is still found even in the most unlikely of places, i.e. the National Football League’s 49th Annual Super Bowl.
Over the years, the Peace Symbol has endured charges by the far right, including the John Birch Society, which claimed that it was “associated … with a broken cross, Communism, [the] anti-Christ, and Satanism,” and it has survived twentieth, and now twenty-first, century crass commercialism.
People wear the peace symbol – as jewelry, and on shirts, scarves, dresses, raingear; carry it around on their lunchboxes, book bags, umbrellas; and, I am guessing here, more than a few folks have it tattooed somewhere on their bodies. In short, the Peace Symbol has become as American as hot dogs, crappy television programs, income inequality, and mass shootings.
Few, however, know of its origins. I know this to be true because I have occasionally stopped a peace symbol wearer, and after mentioning that I admired their peace symbol, I‘ve asked them if they knew of its derivation. The question invariably draws a smile, and a blank look.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Good and evil leap from the headlines: “Egyptian planes pound ISIS in Libya in revenge for mass beheadings of Christians.”
It’s nonstop action for the American public. It’s the history of war compressed into a dozen words. It’s Fox News, but it could be just about any mainstream purveyor of current events.
Once again, I feel a cry of despair tear loose from my soul and spill into the void. Our politics are out of control. There’s no sanity left — no calmness of strategic assessment, no impulse control. At least none of that stuff is allowed into the mainstream conversation about national security, which amounts to: ISIS is bad. The more of them we (or our allies of the moment) kill, the better. USA! USA!
We’re in a state of perpetual war and have no intention of escaping it. Certainly we have no intention of critiquing our own actions or — don’t be silly — questioning the effectiveness of war, occupation or high-tech terror (think: “shock and awe”) as a means to create a stable, secure world. The interests of war have dug in for the long haul, fortified by the cynicism of the media they own. The voices of reason cry from the margins. When a trickle of sanity finds its way into the mainstream, it’s mocked until it goes away.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Fear is a primary, primordial emotion.
It can easily be manipulated so that reason and logic are bypassed, as people cower in support of anything that will allegedly save them from what they perceive as a threat to their lives.
Since 9/11, the US government has been masterful at using fear to manipulate voters into supporting large-scale military intervention and intrusive surveillance policies. Fear is the fuel for the expansion of a military-industrial-surveillance state.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) has long used fear as the basis for justifying unrestricted gun availability. However, just scratch the surface of much of the NRA's inflammatory rhetoric and you will find racism. Indeed, the subtext of the NRA's alarmist appeal on behalf of gun ownership primarily appeals to white males. White people need guns, the NRA says with a coded nod and a wink, because "the other" - males of color - are, in this racist sub-narrative, a daily threat to the lives of "law-abiding" white males and their families. You can draw a straight line from the institution of slavery - justified by disputing the humanity of Africans - to the NRA's appeal to white males.
This practice of creating a stereotyped class of people to fear - let us call them "the other" - is as prevalent in US government and corporate media today as it is in the NRA. These days, "the other" label is categorically applied to Muslims.
WILL DURST FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Kind of sad being forced to watch the death struggle of these modern-day dinosaurs. Responsible parents should keep their kids from peering over the Plexiglas railing into the tar pits below to see the huge lumbering antediluvian beasts frenziedly dig themselves deeper into the sticky morass that is gay marriage. Not a sight for the queasy or squeamish.
For some unfathomable reason, the thought of other people having sex makes certain folks crazier than a three-legged, drunken squirrel on a telephone wire covered in ice. Judge Roy Moore, the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, is one of those; and frankly, his obsession is becoming more than a mite suspicious.
Last week, Moore ordered probate judges in the Yellowhammer State to ignore a federal court order and refuse to issue marriage certificates to gay couples. Like the Civil War, these guys are programmed to never give up. Hey, South! Get over it. Unless you have compromising photos of US Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy with a baby brontosaurus, gay marriage is a done deal. And guess what, you lost. Again. Deal with it.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
A group of conservative Catholics and evangelical Protestants are gearing up for the culture war battle of the century. A new manifesto – to be revealed in the March edition of the conservative publication First Things -- is meant to set the tone for the upcoming decision on same-sex marriage by the U.S. Supreme Court, and perhaps the 2016 presidential election as well.
The document maintains that same-sex marriage is "a graver threat" to the social order than "easy acceptance of divorce" or "widespread cohabitation." "We must say, as clearly as possible, that same-sex unions, even when sanctioned by the state, are not marriages," the document stated. "Christians who wish to remain faithful to the Scriptures and Christian tradition cannot embrace this falsification of reality, irrespective of its status in law."
With temperate rhetoric tossed aside, and a new mean-spirited attack on the gay community being launched, language in the new document makes signees like the Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest Calif., and Robert George, professor at Princeton University and vice-chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedoms, sound like the second coming of the late Rev. Fred Phelps.
HARVEY WASSERMAN OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Now the plant’s owners are asking the Ohio Public Utilities Commission to force the public to pay billions of dollars over the next 15 years to subsidize reactor operations.
But Davis-Besse’s astonishing history of near-miss disasters defies belief. Its shoddy construction, continual operator error and relentless owner incompetence would not be believed as fiction, let alone as the stark realities of a large commercial reactor operating in a heavily populated area.
Time and again Davis-Besse has come within a fraction of an inch and an hour of crisis management time. Today its critical shield wall is literally crumbing, with new cracks opening up every time the northern Ohio weather freezes (like this week).
The company’s owners have blacked out the entire Northeast including 50 million customers—the largest such disaster in world history.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
National borders are often used to keep the "losers" in global capitalism confined to nations that, due to exploitation and neglect, are economic disaster zones for the majority of their citizens. One need look no further than the draconian, militarized wall on the Mexican border, which prevents people from crossing into the US in order to literally survive. In addition, hundreds of thousands of undocumented Mexican and Central Americans are arrested and deported from living within the US each year.
A short time ago, BuzzFlash interviewed Robert Neustadt about how US border policy with Mexico is in part designed to kill desperate migrants by forcing many of them to travel through the deadly gauntlet of the Sonoran desert.
However, a close reading of international news reveals that the deaths of migrants seeking economic survival or fleeing political turmoil is hardly confined to the Mexican border. In fact, the cruel treatment of those who flee poverty and violence is a worldwide reality.
Last week, Reuters posted an article with what would have been a shocking headline were it have been about the loss of life of white people from developed nations, "More than 300 migrants died this week trying to reach Italy: U.N. agency."
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
If revolution is to happen, we Americans must be made aware of the destructive failures of the free-market system, and we must be angry enough to act, and, most of all, we must agree on a single demand of the people with money and power who have perversely redistributed our national wealth. First some maddening facts:
1. For Every BILLION DOLLARS of New Stock Market Wealth, Most of Us Averaged ONE DOLLAR in Stock Gains
In the six years since the recession the stock market has risen by $8 trillion, the great majority of it going to the richest 10%. In 2013 alone it rose by $5 trillion. On average, each of us in the bottom 90% earned a dollar every time the market went up another billion. (Details here.)
2. Each Year Since the Recession, the "Upper Class" (Richest 10%) Has Accumulated Enough New Wealth to Pay the Total Cost of Social Security Four Times Over
The upper class is defined here as the top 10%, families with minimum wealth of $660,000 and minimum income somewhere between $114,000 and $140,000.
Social Security too expensive? Not in comparison to the flow of wealth to the upper class, many of whom, at the lower end of the 10%, may not consider themselves rich, but have still benefited. In the six years since the recession these 16 million families have increased their wealth by $4 trillion per year, which is more than four times the cost of Social Security.
JOHN HORNING OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
On Friday across our nation and the world conscientious members of churches, motivated students at universities and schools and civic-minded employees of many U.S. cities will join together in calling on the institutions that they love to take an act of fiscal prudence and global conscience to ensure that we have a future worth fighting for.
As a part of Global Divestment Day, they will be asking the leaders of their churches, schools and cities to divest from companies that extract and burn fossil fuels.
So far, the rapidly growing fossil fuel divestment movement has focused on investment assets of academic, religious and municipal institutions. While that’s a smart starting point, it misses a huge opportunity and challenge: expanding targeted assets to include those owned by all Americans. I’m referring to the coal, oil and gas that underlie our public lands and waters, the carbon that belongs to all of us.
Last year, a full quarter of all fossil fuels produced in the U.S. came from our public lands, our nation’s single biggest source which created a whopping $110 billion in royalty, rents and bonus payments to the U.S. treasury. Divestment won’t reach its full moral promise until we divest from burning the fossil fuels we all own.
Luckily, ending the sale of public carbon is very simple. Selling off future reserves is entirely up to the President. Without having to wait for a do-nothing Congress, President Obama can stop new sales from proceeding with the stroke of a pen. That federal divestment would be a real climate legacy.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
At the 1988 Republican Party convention the party’s nominee, George H.W. Bush, seemed to openly break with the cold-hearted, mean-spirited Reagan years, and declared in his acceptance speech that he sought a “kinder, gentler” nation. Twelve years later, during the presidential campaign of 2000, George W. Bush tried to separate himself from others in the GOP by basing his campaign around “compassionate conservatism.” Now, with Jeb Bush gallivanting around the country to line up big-pocket donors, and “exploring” the possibility of running for the presidency, it’s his turn to come up with a catch phrase that will separate him from the other potential candidates.
To add to an old saying, “Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me. Fool me a third time: Hello President Jeb Bush.”
As longtime conservative columnist Byron York pointed out recently in a column for the Washington Examiner, “When Bushes run for president, they portray themselves as more caring, more gentle and more compassionate than their sometimes heartless and harshly ideological fellow Republicans. It worked for George H.W. Bush in 1988, it worked for George W. Bush in 2000, and now Jeb Bush is preparing to give it another go in 2016.”