ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
At the climate rally in Chicago last week, people started drumming in the rain.
Pardon me while I walk uncertain ground here, looking for clues and connections in a smattering of unlikely places. The world is in a fragile, dangerous place. We need to create peace, fairness and sustainability. We need to create a world that doesn’t yet exist, but this is only possible if we look at the world we have with awareness that transcends the limits of our knowing. I don’t know how to do this, but I’m going to try.
And so I listen again to the native drums beating in the rain, in the bitter wind, in the company of several thousand people huddled next to each other in the city’s Federal Plaza, many of them bearing signs that expressed fragments of hope and alarm:
"Defend Our Mother."
"We are the Earth, rising up to defend herself."
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Over the years since the financial meltdown of 2008, BuzzFlash has published numerous commentaries about banks being fined for deceptive practices relating to subprime mortgages. Here we are in 2017, and banks are still being fined for illicit activity dating back 10 or more years. A May 3 Reuters article reports:
Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN.S) paid $400 million to settle claims that the Swiss bank sold toxic mortgage securities that contributed to the demise of three federal credit unions, a U.S. regulator said on Wednesday.
The National Credit Union Administration said the settlement resolves the 19th of 20 lawsuits it filed in the last six years against banks over their underwriting or sale of securities to five credit unions that failed in 2009 and 2010.
Including a $445 million accord with UBS Group AG (UBSG.S) announced on Monday, the NCUA said it has recovered roughly $5.1 billion from the banks from these lawsuits.
The collapsed credit unions were persuaded by the banks to invest in high-risk mortgage securities in the years before their demise. In fact, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) has successfully argued that the banks' insidious profiteering off of knowingly distressed securities led to the failure of the credit unions.
TOM H. HASTINGS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The Trump budget—pure profit for Pentagon corporate contractors. The Trump tax “reform”—massive tax cuts for the rich. Really? We are going to stand for this?
Compared to last year, if his corporations truly paid the going corporate tax rate, Trump would “richly benefit,” in multiple ways when his proposed cuts kick in. His corporate tax burden would be cut by at least 4.9 percent—millions of dollars—and his personal taxes would likely be cut even more massively, although since he alone amongst modern presidents has refused to let the American people see his returns, we cannot pin a number on his projected undeserved gains.
This is the textbook definition of corruption.
Fortunately for him, the Senators are wealthy too and love these ideas, as are most of the members of the House of Representatives. Corrupt Congress, corrupt president—and somehow the white male voters generally suppose this will all work out for them, since a reported 96 percent of his voters say they would vote for him again (and white males voted for him in overwhelming numbers, with white males without a college education voting for him a 72 percent rate).
MICHAEL SEIFERT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
About a month ago I was part of a group of people assaulted by a guy who used the National Anthem as a weapon.
About a hundred of us were standing in line, waiting to offer our testimony before the Texas House of Representatives’ State Affairs’ Committee. We were part of more than a thousand people gathered that day, determined to testify on the multiple ways that Senate Bill 4, the Texas "anti-sanctuary cities" bill, was a curse, a pox, and a bad law. The law would authorize, indeed, would require local police officers to act as immigration agents.
We were chatting easily in the hallway, enjoying the remarkable hospitality of fellow traveller, when an older fellow, an American flag bandana tied around his forehead, swaggered up the hall. His name tag identified him as a member of the Fredericksburg Tea Party. The man stopped about fifteen away, scowled at the group for a long moment, and then launched into the Star-Spangled Banner.
To give him credit, he was brave to attack us with such a clumsy weapon. This is a tune with some impossible high notes -- and it goes on forever and ever. It seems to me that it would be just plain hard to express passionate anger for that long a time, but this guy apparently had a lot of bile to fuel his effort.
KATHY KELLY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
On April 26th, 2017, in Yemen's port city of Hodeidah, the Saudi-led coalition which has been waging war in Yemen for the past two years dropped leaflets informing Hodeidah's residents of an impending attack. One leaflet read:
"Our forces of legitimacy are heading to liberate Hodeidah and end the suffering of our gracious Yemeni people. Join your legitimate government in favor of the free and happy Yemen."
And another: "The control of the Hodeidah port by the terrorist Houthi militia will increase famine and hinder the delivery of international relief aid to our gracious Yemeni people."
Certainly the leaflets represent one aspect of a confusing and highly complicated set of battles raging in Yemen. Given alarming reports about near famine conditions in Yemen, it seems the only ethical "side" for outsiders to choose would be that of children and families afflicted by hunger and disease.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Many wealthy Americans complain about the amount of government subsidies going to the poor. Their complaints demonstrate ignorance, or greed, or a total lack of fair-mindedness, or a combination of all those symptoms of entitlement at the top.
The Rich Get as Much of the Safety Net as the Poor
Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, and Gabriel Zucman have calculated that, on average in 2014, the middle class received more of the safety net than the lower class. Specifically, the 40% of American adults with incomes just below the top 10% received more in safety net government transfers (Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps/SNAP, Veterans’ benefits, etc., but excluding Social Security) than the bottom 50% of Americans (Figure 11).
Even MORE STUNNINGLY, according to the same authors, when Medicare and Social Security are both included the richest 10% on average received approximately as much in government transfers as the poorest 50% (Figure S.13).
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Meet Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pennsylvania, a member of President Trump’s transition team, and a longtime loyal combatant in the nation’s drug wars.As a prosecutor in Pennsylvania, he steadfastly went after drug offenders, and, if as expected – and as CBS News has reported – Marino is appointed Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy” (ONDCP), it appears we’re headed for more ill-conceived and misguided drug policy initiatives, more wasted money, and greater imprisonment for minor drug offenders.
As a Congressman, according to the Portland Mercury’s Vince Sliwoski, Marino, who represents Pennsylvania’s rural 10th Congressional District, “voted against the Rohrabacher-Farr amendments, which prohibit the Department of Justice from using federal funds to prosecute state-compliant medical marijuana actors.”
He also “voted against allowing Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend medical cannabis to patients….[a]nd he opposed measures to ease federal restrictions on hemp and cannabidiol (CBD).”
The Seattle Weekly’s Meagan Angus recently reported that Marino “supports forced inpatient hospitalization for any non-dealer, nonviolent person who pleads guilty to possession to receive constant ‘treatment’ until a doctor thinks they are fit to re-enter society.”
MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
William Berkowitz rightly commented in April on the corporate media's cheerleading of war in his In These Times commentary, "Why the Corporate Media Loves a Bombing":
“The missiles flew, the explosives exploded, the nation was again at the cusp of war and the media were again at peace.” That's how media critic Bob Garfield led off a special edition of NPR's On the Media titled “How the Press Gets Seduced By War,” after President Trump ordered the dumping of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles on a Syrian airbase [recently]....
The problem with the media becoming unabashed cheerleaders for this, or any other military action, is that serious questions about the consequences of such actions don’t get asked. They get swept away in the fog of self-righteous blather and misguided patriotic fervor.
The corporate media becomes witting or unwitting enablers, in it for the phosphorescence, for the punch to the gut, for promoting the government’s narrative of “We’re all in this together and we’re doing something against evil.”
In many ways, the corporate media is still into "shock and awe" mode. There is nothing like submarine-launched missiles hurtling into the darkness of the night to make "good television." That means a larger viewership and higher ad revenue.
JIM HIGHTOWER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Journalism, which is supposed to help make sense of our turbulent world, can't seem to make sense of itself.
In addition to "news" (which involves reporting on stuff that's real) we're now getting "fake news" (stuff that's completely made up). But wait -- the barons of corporate news are adding to today's tumultuous state of journalism by putting out feeds of "BS news" (stuff they know is untrue but reported as fact, because it advances their political agenda).
For example, the mighty Washington Post keeps publishing a load of BS to denigrate our US Post Office. The paper's latest pot shot was in an alarmist editorial declaring, "The US Postal Service continues to hemorrhage red ink." Embracing their owner's anti-government ideology, the editors grumped that postal unions have made our mail service outmoded and insolvent, running up "a net loss of $5.6 billion last year."
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The American will to wage war -- endless war, pointless war, total war -- is, I fear, impervious to public opinion and even political action. It remains alive deep in the underground bunker of American militarism, protected from sanity.
This goes beyond the staying power of our loser generals, who have ever freer rein in the Trump administration to expand the war games of the 21st century. There is a quiet determination among those who serve the god of war -- or so it seems -- to engage in, and presumably win, a nuclear war.
This, at any rate, is the conclusion one could draw from an essay that ran last month in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, by Hans M. Kristensen, Matthew McKinzie and Theodore A. Postol, who point out how the US military has circumvented the global nuclear disarmament movement by increasing the accuracy -- and thus the "kill power" -- of the missiles it still holds onto, in the process intensifying the threat the United States poses to Russia (as the beloved Cold War returns) and minimizing the security of, oh Lord, mutually assured destruction.