PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The concept of "freedom" is at the very least ambiguous, and, at the most, destructive to those being deceived by false patriotism. The people who benefit from the uncontrolled pursuit of money push the concept of individual freedom on the rest of us, making us feel unpatriotic if we disagree. "Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself," once blathered Milton Friedman, whose economic theories made America the most unequal developed nation. However we interpret the concept, we may not be as "free" as we're led to believe.
Is Our Nation Really "Free"?
According to the watchdog organization Freedom House, in terms of political and civil liberties the U.S. is tied for 44th freest country, after UK, Chile, Japan, Portugal, and most of the Scandinavian nations. The organization's 2016 synopsis states: "The United States received a downward trend arrow because of the cumulative impact of flaws in the electoral system, a disturbing increase in the role of private money in election campaigns and the legislative process, legislative gridlock, the failure of the Obama administration to fulfill promises of enhanced government openness, and fresh evidence of racial discrimination and other dysfunctions in the criminal justice system."
ELLIOT D. COHEN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
On Saturday, Donald Trump tweeted an image of a red Star of David next to a picture of Hillary Clinton with hundred dollar bills in the background, with the caption "Most Corrupt Candidate Ever" superimposed on the Star of David. A few hours later, amid strong condemnation from social media respondents, Trump deleted the image and reposted the same image except with a circle replacing the original Star of David. Unequivocally, the message is that Clinton is in the pocket of rich Jews, a stereotypical image that was harnessed by Hitler himself to build a "justification" for sending millions of Jews to their slaughter. So where was the media in covering the story? Unfortunately, the great corporate watchdog has sanitized the story, having failed to learn from history.
During the ascent of Adolf Hitler to power, the U.S. media helped to paint a positive image of this demagogue. Not unlike corporate media’s soft pedaling of Trump, coverage of Hitler's campaign played up the support he had from the German people, based on the numbers attending his campaign speeches, while playing down his hateful demagoguery. Shortly after Hitler became Chancellor in 1933, an article appeared in the New York Times stating, "There is at least one official voice in Europe that expresses understanding of the methods and motives of President Roosevelt -- the voice of Germany, as represented by Chancellor Adolf Hitler." The Christian Monitor even touted the virtues of Nazism, proclaiming that it had a "capacity for organization unequaled in our times by any except the Bolshevik leaders."
LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch
Monsanto has been staring down an increasing number of cancer lawsuits ever since the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) infamously classified Roundup’s main ingredient glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans” in March 2015.
One such plaintiff, Yolanda Mendoza, is now speaking out about her personal injury and product liability lawsuit against the chemical titan.
Three years ago, Mendoza was diagnosed with stage four non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma when she was only in her mid-thirties. When asked how she felt about the worrisome diagnosis, she recalled to CBS News, “[I felt] that I was going to die. I had only like a few days.”
The mother of three explained to CBS that she would walk around her one-acre property with a backpack sprayer containing the controversial weedkiller and believes the product led to her illness.
After a five-month battle with the disease and intense chemotherapy, Mendoza’s cancer is in remission. But she now finds herself facing another giant: Monsanto.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Behind the "right to bear arms" lies concealed the right to make money. You know, a lot of it.
The right to . . .
I pause here, torn apart by the political sacredness of these words. We have the right to speak freely and worship the God or our choosing or none at all, the right to reasonable privacy, the right to choose our leaders, the right to fair and equal treatment under the law. These rights are inscribed in the national bedrock: the Constitution. They activate our humanity; without them, we're so much less than our fullest selves. Without them we're perpetual victims, forced to live in fear and secrecy.
This bizarrely worded right is also etched in the Constitution: "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
With Donald Trump as the presumptive Republican nominee for president, it's sometimes hard to pick which outrageous action or statement to focus on. It's a bit like trying to decide which door to open in a Halloween haunted house. The difference is that at the haunted house, you may scream, but you know that whatever is frightening you isn't real. With Trump, however, you fear that the daily scares may be monstrously real threats.
Yesterday, June 29, offers a fine example of the Trump fright fest, with several possible options for dismay. First, The Washington Times, a right-wing newspaper itself, prominently posted an article that repeated a charge that the "Trump campaign [is] illegally soliciting donations from foreign nationals":
Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is illegally soliciting campaign donations from foreign nationals, according to a complaint being filed Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission.
Mr. Trump’s campaign has emailed solicitations to foreign nationals in Iceland, Scotland, Britain, and Australia requesting that they make contributions to his presidential campaign, according to a copy of the complaint being filed by the Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21, two campaign finance watchdog groups.
“Donald Trump should have known better,” said Paul S. Ryan, deputy executive director of the Campaign Legal Center.
“It is a no-brainer that it violates the law to send fundraising emails to members of a foreign government on their official foreign government email accounts, and yet, that’s exactly what Trump has done repeatedly,” Mr. Ryan said.
According to the Federal Election Commission website, "Foreign nationals are prohibited from making any contributions or expenditures in connection with any election in the U.S."
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
What if anti-abortion activists really cared about the health care needs of women? What if they believed that health and safety standards at health care clinics where women go for abortions and other health care services really could be improved? What if they really think that clinic doctors having admitting privileges at local hospitals would provide an important safety net? What would they do?
Would they raise money to help bring those clinics up to the higher standards they claim to desire? Would they petition local hospitals -- the very same hospitals they've threatened to boycott -- to allow admitting privileges for clinic doctors? Or, would it continue to support onerous laws like Texas' HB2, designed essentially to shut down any abortion-providing health care clinics, making it nearly impossible for thousands of women to have access to basic health care services? Unfortunately, the former is a pipedream; the latter the reality!
KATIE POHLMAN OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana, has been inhabited by tribal communities since the Trail of Tears era. The island, which used to be the size of Manhattan, has lost 98 percent of its land over the last 60 years, MSNBC reported.
“We had our gardens, we had our cattle, we had our chickens, so we had all our livestock here, we had all of our vegetation so we were good,” Chief Albert Naquin of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw tribe said. “We were self sufficient in this little community here.”
Now residents can’t farm on the land. The two-lane road connecting the island to terra firma often floods during storms, isolating the island for various lengths of time, sometimes years. When the road isn’t flooded, the water is lapping at the shoulders of the road.
Many Isle de Jean Charles residents have already relocated, but about 70 still remain. They now have to decide between staying or relocating as their island quickly disappears.
But Isle de Jean Charles don’t have to relocate on their own.
LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Koch are reaching into their deep pockets to fund Republican candidates in the tight Senate races in Ohio and Nevada, two states that have seen powerful political and corporate interests block progress in renewable energy.Billionaire oil barons Charles and David
According to NBC News, the Koch Super PAC Freedom Partners Action Fund has announced it will buy $2.7 million television and digital ads to help Ohio Republican incumbent Sen. Rob Portman defeat Democrat Ted Strickland in the key swing state. The candidates are currently locked in a dead heat with each polling at 42 percent.
This news comes after the Super PAC’s announcement last week that it is spending $1.2 million on advertising to boost Nevada Republican Rep. Joe Heck’s race against Democrat and former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto to replace Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. That race is also pretty much tied.
The Koch brothers have notoriously dumped wild sums of money on conservative causes and campaigns, with more than $88 million in traceable funding to groups attacking climate change science, policy and regulation. According to NBC News, the two latest $3.7 million ad buy brings the Super PAC’s spending to $19.3 million in an effort to control the Senate.
So who are the Koch-approved Senate choices for Ohio on Nevada?
Rob Portman, who has been in office since 2011, is a pro-business conservative who has a prominent track record of choosing fossil fuel interests over environmental protection. As Cinncinati.com reported, he was a vocal opponent to the Obama administration’s regulations to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and has introduced an amendment that would let states opt out of those clean power rules.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
When the issue of privatization of public services is raised, we don't often hear about it in relation to ambulances and paramedics. However, these emergency services -- often a matter of life or death -- are not immune to the shift toward privatization. That is why a June 25 New York Times article on the growing ownership of public emergency services (including fire departments) by investors is particularly chilling:
A Tennessee woman slipped into a coma and died after an ambulance company took so long to assemble a crew that one worker had time for a cigarette break.
Paramedics in New York had to covertly swipe medical supplies from a hospital to restock their depleted ambulances after emergency runs.
A man in the suburban South watched a chimney fire burn his house to the ground as he waited for the fire department, which billed him anyway and then sued him for $15,000 when he did not pay.
In each of these cases, someone dialed 911 and Wall Street answered.
It is a specific branch of Wall Street -- private equity -- that is heavily investing in acquiring public services such as emergency transport.
ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUTKATIE POHLMAN OF
Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch
Buenos Aires is shutting down its zoo to give the animals a better life.
Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, mayor of Argentina's capital city, said keeping wild animals in captivity and on display is degrading, The Guardian reported. The zoo's 2,500 animals -- 89 species of mammals, 49 species of reptiles and 175 species of birds -- will be moved to nature reserves throughout the country, where they will live in more suitable environments. Older animals and those too sick to be moved will remain on site but not on display.
"This situation of captivity is degrading for the animals, it's not the way to take care of them," Rodríguez said.