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Trump vs. Hillary caricature(Photo: DonkeyHotey)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

What would it take to cause Hillary Clinton to distance herself from the newly launched bombing campaign in Libya? Or call for a congressional debate on it? Or suggest the obvious: that the war on terror isn't working?

Of course it won't happen. But the fact that it sounds so absurd -- almost as fanciful as the notion of movie characters stepping off the screen into real life -- indicates how illusory, how unglued from reality, American democracy is at the presidential level. It's a spectator sport -- mud wrestling, say -- doled out to us as entertainment by the media in sound bites and poll numbers.

Public input couldn't be less relevant to what we actually do as a nation, and as an empire.

And mostly what we do is wage war. Now more than ever. Since 9/11, war has become, in essence, self-authorizing, thanks to the Authorization for Use of Military Force, which gives the Executive Branch free rein to fight the war on terror without congressional approval. Thus, according to the New York Times: "By linking the Libya action to the authorization for force, the administration will not have to officially notify Congress. That means that the campaign in Libya can continue indefinitely, or until the administration concludes that the airstrikes have accomplished their objective."

JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Fist 0803wrp opt(Photo: Genusfotografen)What an amazing Democratic primary season it was! And we now have this happy result: WE WON!

"We" being the millions of young people, mad-as-hell working stiffs, independents, deep-rooted progressives, and other "outsiders" who felt The Bern and forged a new, game-changing, populist force of, by, and for grassroots Americans. True, this progressive-populist coalition did not win the White House on its first go 'round behind the feisty Sanders insurgency (which the the smug political establishment had literally laughed at when he began his run). But they are not laughing now, for even they can see the outsider revolt against the power elites won something even more momentous than the 2016 election: The future.

Back in April 2015, when the blunt, democratic socialist from Vermont issued a call for disenchanted voters to join him, not merely in a campaign for the presidency, but in a long-term movement to "revitalize American democracy so that government works for all of us," even his more optimistic backers couldn't have dreamed the movement would come so far so quickly. Let's reflect on some fundamental changes this progressive uprising has achieved in the past 15 months:

- It yanked the national debate out of the hands of the Washington and corporate elites: both devoted for more than 30 years to rigging all the rules to further enrich the 1 percenters at the expense of everyone else — and proved that future success requires Democrats to abandon their effete namby-pambyism and embrace the vision, message, and issues of unabashed populism.

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Marcmaron 0803wrp opt(Photo: Sowhat12)In the ever-expanding universe of unique, diverse and extraordinary podcasts, “WTF With Marc Maron” – broadcast from Maron’s garage in Southern California -- stands out. In September 2009, Maron started his WTF podcast and it now garners, according to the WTF website, “more than six-million downloads each month.” While Maron, a longtime and notable comedian, who has appeared on numerous television talk shows and still tours the country on a regular basis doing what his website calls “raw, honest and thought-provoking comedy,” usually sticks to interviewing guests from the entertainment industry, probably his most notable and surprising interview occurred last year when President Barack Obama visited Maron’s garage.

Maron usually begins each episode with some housecleaning; could be a story about his cats; could be a report from one of his performances; could be a tribute to someone who recently passed away; could be extending heartfelt condolences to the families of those slaughtered in Orlando. Although once a politics-slinging voice on the late radio enterprise called Air America, these days, Maron generally stays away from directly discussing politics.

However, in the opening to Episode 729 (an interview with Roseanne Barr) Maron gave a unique, passionate and earnest spiel on what he perceives to be the emptiness and despair that many of the people – obviously including his listeners -- who may be voting for Donald Trump seem to be feeling.

Via email, I asked Maron what motivated his remarks. “Elections are emotional times and sometimes you just have to speak your mind,” Maron said. “I don't talk politics publicly that often anymore but I was trying to make some sense, empathetically, of a phenomenon I am trying to understand. I was thinking out loud. Which is what I do.”

Wednesday, 03 August 2016 07:36

Is Trump Eager to Let the Nukes Fly?

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2016august3 nuclearwarheadNuclear warhead on Titan missile (Photo: Tommaso Galli)

In just a few days, on August 6, it will be the anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. It was the beginning of the nuclear age: an age in which the US, the Soviet Union and now many other nations have the ability to annihilate the people of the world with nuclear weapons.

The Cold War stand-off between the US and the Soviet Union, with nuclear "mutually assured destruction" (MAD) as an ever-present threat was a key motivating factor in the clamor for nuclear disarmament. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, "No Nukes" was a thriving movement with frequent protests.

Although anti-nuclear-weapons advocacy has dramatically decreased since the Cold War ended, the threat of nuclear conflict is still a looming issue.

According to the Arms Control Association, the United States currently maintains around 7,100 nuclear warheads, while Russia still has 7,300 (although it is in the process of dismantling some of them). Another seven nations are known to have nuclear weapons.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio(Photo: Gage Skidmore)BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Florida Senator Marco Rubio appears to be building his Senate reelection campaign on Hillary hatred and the underbelly of anti-gay bigotry, as he's been courting some of Florida's and the nation's most bigoted anti-gay organizations and leaders. After running an unsuccessful/lackluster campaign for the Republican Party's presidential nomination, he is back on the campaign trail, this time, seeking re-election to the Senate. His opponent in the Republican primary is Carlos Beruff, a Manatee County developer.

Rubio is on Twitter ranting about Hillary Clinton's acceptance speech at the Democratic convention, and on the campaign trail "Little Marco" -- as he was dubbed by the now GOP standard-bearer Donald Trump -- is heartily endorsing Trump. And while he is undoubtedly salivating over the possibility of receiving wads of Koch brothers' money, over the past few weeks Rubio has been focusing on solidifying the anti-gay vote.

He recently welcomed the endorsement of John Stemberger, the head of Florida Family Action, and one of the state's most well known anti-gay activists.

GMO Wheat(Photo: Susanne Nilsson)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Monsanto's experimental genetically engineered wheat has been found growing in a field in Washington state, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirmed last week.

This discovery not only raises concerns over GMO contamination, it could be another legal headache for Monsanto, as the agritech giant has paid millions to settle recent lawsuits over illegal GMO wheat.

Reuters reported on Friday that a farmer found 22 unapproved GMO wheat plants in a field that has not been planted since 2015. Federal and state officials are now conducting an investigation.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2016august1 phoenixArid Phoenix doesn't need its piped in water bottled by Nestlé. (Photo: Jerry Ferguson)

 Phoenix is the sixth-largest city in the United States. It draws all of its water from sources that exist far beyond the horizon of the arid desert and craggy mountains that surround it.

Although some city officials claim Phoenix has excess water at the moment, other analysts claim that with the rise in global warming and the battle in the Southwest between municipalities and states over dwindling water supplies, Phoenix will face a water crisis in the not-so-distant future. A 2015 Slate article warns that "as Lake Mead hits record lows and water shortages loom, Arizona prepares for the worst."

This scenario is seen as an opportunity by Nestlé Waters -- the biggest bottled water company in the world -- not as a cause of concern for the survival of Phoenix residents. After all, if you can tip your privatization toe in a dwindling water supply, your product -- necessary to life -- becomes more valuable over time.

A May 13 article in The Arizona Republic states:

Nestlé Waters will spend $35 million to revamp a west Phoenix warehouse into a plant treating city water and selling it as Pure Life brand bottles, city and company officials said.

The plant is projected to fill 264 million half-liter bottles in its first year, or almost 35 million gallons.

That's more than enough water to supply 200 Phoenix households for a year. The plant is expected to create 40-50 jobs.

KATIE POHLMAN OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Wastewater 0801wrp opt(Photo: EcoWatch)Florida regulators voted to approve new water quality standards that would increase the amount of carcinogenic toxins allowed in Florida's waterways.

The Environmental Regulation Commission voted 3-2 Tuesday to approve a proposal by state regulators that would set new standards on 39 chemicals not currently regulated by the Sunshine State and revise regulations on 43 toxins, most of which are carcinogenic. State regulators claim the new plan will protect more Floridians than current standards, the Miami Herald reported.

"We have not updated these parameters since 1992," Cari Roth, chairwoman of the commission, told the Miami Herald. "It is more good than harm. The practical effect is, it is not going to increase the amount of toxins going into our waters."

Under the new proposal, acceptable levels of toxins in Florida waters will increase for more than 24 known carcinogens. The acceptable levels would decrease for 13 chemicals that are currently regulated.

The new regulations are based on a one-of-a-kind scientific method the Florida Department of Environmental Protection created, called "Monte Carlo." The method is being criticized by environmental groups, warning the new standards would allow polluters to dump high concentrations of dangerous chemicals into Florida's rivers and streams.

"Monte Carlo gambling with our children's safety is unacceptable," Marty Baum, of Indian Riverkeeper, said.

PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Coin 0801wrp opt(Photo: Jeff Belmonte)Corporations are viewed as untouchable by big business media giants like the Wall Street Journal, which blurts out inanities like "Income inequality is simply not a significant problem." and "Middle-class Americans have more buying power than ever before."

In the real world, inequality is destroying the middle class. The following four issues, all part of the cancer of corporatocracy, have grown in intensity and destructiveness in just the last few years. They should be campaign issues, given more than just lip service from corporation-funded candidates like Hillary Clinton, and given more than just passing reference in the news reports of an unresponsive, irresponsible mainstream media.

1. Monopolies: Increasing Prices, Cutting Jobs

The Busch/Miller merger is the latest attack on competition, joining the recent surge toward oligopolies in the banking industry, pharmaceuticals and hospitals, wireless companies, and airlines. Contrary to any condescending claims that mergers contribute to price-lowering efficiencies, they have actually led to price increases in 75 percent of examined cases, according to a Northeastern University study. The resulting corporate profits are often used for investor-enriching stock buybacks.

And jobs are cut. When Merck took over Cubist Pharmaceuticals, the latter's research and development staff was eliminated, ending their studies of other promising medicines.

2. Finance: Now Costing Us More Than the Military

A Roosevelt Institute study estimates that "the financial system will impose an excess cost of as much as $22.7 trillion between 1990 and 2023. That comes to about $660 billion per year, more than the discretionary military budget. That's over $5,000 per U.S. household in excess financial costs.

Banks once spent the majority of their money on business investments; now it's just 15 percent. Rana Foroohar summarizes: "US companies today make more than ever before by simply moving money around."

Corporations are viewed as untouchable by big business media giants like the Wall Street Journal, which blurts out inanities like "Income inequality is simply not a significant problem." and "Middle-class Americans have more buying power than ever before."

In the real world, inequality is destroying the middle class. The following four issues, all part of the cancer of corporatocracy, have grown in intensity and destructiveness in just the last few years. They should be campaign issues, given more than just lip service from corporation-funded candidates like Hillary Clinton, and given more than just passing reference in the news reports of an unresponsive, irresponsible mainstream media.

WILLIAM RIVERS PITT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

LolaArticle 0729wrp optPhoto: William Rivers PittTo my daughter:

Good morning, little bug! As I write this, you are fast asleep in your room, in all likelihood ensconced in one of your pillow forts on the floor for reasons passing understanding. You'll wake up in a bit and have your breakfast, unaware that you rose to greet a whole new world today. You're only three years old this morning, but if you're reading this, it means you're a booming seven and probably taller than me. I wanted to write this today and give it to you four years from now. Let me explain why.

First of all, again, you're three. Almost all of this would go right over your head, but I figure you'll have the chops to take it all in four years from now. More importantly, however, is the fact that you'll be reading this in an election year, and a woman might be running to remain president of the United States. Even if that isn't the case, the world you awoke to this morning is a profoundly changed place because of what happened last night. You're too young to understand, which is why I am writing this and saving it for you.

The convention itself was a masterpiece of content and passionate argument. The president spoke, the vice president spoke, a former president spoke, the First Lady spoke, the Senator from Massachusetts spoke, and they all knocked the paint off the walls. Very ordinary people also spoke and sang the songs of their lives. There were tears and music, there was dancing and celebration, and in the final act a woman strode forth and promised to lead the way.

Last night, a woman named Hillary Clinton was nominated by the Democratic Party to become the next president. It was the first time a woman won such a nomination in the United States, and the fact of it has changed everything once again. The United States has been around for 240 years, but women have only been allowed to vote for 97 of those years, and they had to fight like hell to get that vote. It is almost indescribably important that as many people in a democracy be allowed to vote as possible. That fight made many good things possible.

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