MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
An article posted in The National Journal asserts that fracking -- dangerous to the environment, the earth and humans -- has resulted in huge price breaks in natural gas for businesses, but comparatively little for consumers.
The article reveals that the industrial sector has seen the wholesale price of natural gas decrease by 66% -- attributed to fracking increases in the supply of natural gas -- but only 23% for residential consumers. This, of course, raises the issues yet again of who is benefitting from the large risk of fracking, which uses toxic chemicals, pollutes the environment, and ravages the earth's outer layer.
On a web page revealingly filled with large adds for Chevron -- "Which Industry is Creating American Jobs and Strengthening the Economy? The Answer Is Energy," one huge Chevron banner ad proclaims -- the article makes clear who is economically get a windfall from fracking:
Fracking has sent the price of natural gas plummeting, just not for the people who need it most.
The straight-out-of-the-ground price of natural gas is way down since the start of the boom in hydraulic fracturing. Back in 2008, users buying gas directly from drillers were paying an average of $7.97 per thousand cubic feet, according to the Energy Information Administration. By 2012, that cost—known as the “wellhead” price—had dropped to $2.66 in nominal dollars (not adjusted for inflation) resulting in a two-thirds discount in just five years.
EUGENE ROBINSON ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
U.S. drone attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries may be militarily effective, but they are killing innocent civilians in a way that is obscene and immoral. I'm afraid that ignoring this ugly fact makes Americans complicit in murder.
It is understandable why President Obama has made drone attacks his go-to weapon in the fight against terrorists and the Taliban. Armed, pilotless aircraft allow the CIA and the military to target individuals in enemy strongholds without putting U.S. lives at risk. But efficacy is not legitimacy, and I don't see how drone strikes can be considered a wholly legitimate way to wage war.
This is an unpopular view in Washington -- especially at the White House, where Obama and his aides have done much to erase the stain on the nation's honor left by the excesses of George W. Bush's Global War on Terrorism. It is to his great credit that Obama ended torture, shut down the CIA's secret overseas prisons and made a good-faith effort to close the detention center at Guantanamo.
But Obama has greatly expanded the use of drones, and his version of the terror war looks a lot like a campaign of assassination.
Even if the intelligence agents and military officers who operate the drones have perfect knowledge -- meaning they are absolutely certain the target is a dangerous enemy -- and fire the drones' missiles with perfect accuracy, this amounts to summary execution. Is such killing morally defensible?
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Amidst the difficulties of rolling out the private insurance company model of the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA), it has almost gone unnoticed by the national corporate media that one state is going ahead with plans for a "single-payer" non-profit system to be implemented by 2017.
Back in 2011, the Vermont legislature passed and Governor Peter Shumlin (D) signed the single-payer goal into law, which has its signifying slogan: "Everybody in, nobody out."
This "Medicare for all" precedent was made possible by the latitude allowed in the ACA for states to create their own health insurance models.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
We already pay dearly for energy, medicine, banking, and telecommunications services. But a little research reveals that we're paying more -- much more -- in a variety of ways that our business-friendly mainstream media won't talk about.
1. Drug Companies: The Body Snatchers
A report by Battelle Memorial Institute determined that the $4 billion government-funded Human Genome Project (HGP) will generate economic activity of about $140 for every dollar spent. Although that estimate is controversial, drug industry executives say it's just a matter of time before the profits roll in.
Big business is quickly making its move. Celera Genomics was first, as the company initiated a private version of the genome project, incorporating the public data into their work, but forbidding the public effort to use Celera data. Abbott Labs is developing products based on the HGP. Merck's automated biotechnology facility was made possible by the HGP. Two-thirds of the products at Bristol-Myers Squibb have been impacted by the HGP. Pfizer is starting to make big profits from its genome-based cancer treatments.
BOB KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
What goes around comes around . . . and around, and around.
Last month, the day after I left Santa Rosa, Calif., a 13-year-old boy carrying a toy replica of an AK-47 was shot and killed on the outskirts of that town by a Sonoma County deputy sheriff with a reputation for being trigger-happy. The officer had ordered the boy to drop the “gun,” then in a matter of two or three seconds opened fire, giving him no chance to comply.
This is not an isolated incident, which is why it’s yet one more tragedy I can’t get out of my mind — one more logical consequence of the simplistic militarism and mission creep that’s eating us alive. This is gun culture running unchecked from boyhood to manhood, permeating national policy both geopolitically and domestically. This is the trivialization of peace. It results in the ongoing murder of the innocent, both at home and abroad, at the hands of government as well as criminals and terrorists.
“That’s America, we say, as news of the latest massacre breaks,” Henry Porter wrote in September in the U.K. Observer. The massacre of the moment was lone gunman Aaron Alexis’ slaying of 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard.
“But what,” Porter asked, “if we no longer thought of this as just a problem for America and, instead, viewed it as an international humanitarian crisis — a quasi civil war, if you like, that calls for outside intervention?”
CHESTER KULIS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
"The only premise of the book was to just go out and listen."
And the book, edited by Miles Harvey, who is quoted above, is remarkable. It's one of a kind, as far as I know – How Long Will I Cry? – the first publication of a newly formed nonprofit organization called Big Shoulders Books, which is affiliated with Chicago's DePaul University. It's available free of charge, because . . . how could a cry in the wilderness be otherwise?
It's a cry in the wilderness punctuated by gunfire. Usually all we hear is the gunfire, emanating from "those" neighborhoods, the violent ones, "so physically and spiritually isolated from the rest of us," as Alex Kotlowitz describes them in his foreword. How Long Will I Cry? is an attempt – no, I mean a beginning – at ending that isolation.
It's the dream and collaboration of lots of people who live in and love Chicago, cultural mecca and, in recent years, "murder capital" of America. This book begins telling the city's untold story, which is the untold story of so much of the country. It lets loose the voices of children, teenagers, adults who have been wounded by the violence that is the shadow side of American and human culture: the voices of those who have lost their children and their friends to it; the voices of those who have grown up with it; the voices of those who have participated in it and been dragged into it.
There are 35 interviews in all. Together they convey the complex dynamic of poverty, despair and hope beyond hope. We need to listen. We need to find a collective resolve to end the violence.
ROBERT SCHEER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Finally, Barack Obama may prove deserving of his Nobel Peace Prize by joining with England, France, China, Russia and Germany in negotiating an eminently sensible rapprochement with Iran on its nuclear program. Following on his pullback from war with Syria and instead, successfully negotiating the destruction of that country's supply of chemical weapons, this is another bold step to fulfill the peacemaking promise that got him elected president in the first place.
As Obama reminded his audience at an event Monday in San Francisco, he was fulfilling the pledge from his first campaign to usher in a "new era of American leadership, one that turned the page on a decade of war." As a candidate in 2007, he committed to engage in "aggressive personal diplomacy" with Iran's leaders, and he has now done just that.
This is potentially an international game changer comparable to Richard Nixon's opening to Mao's Red China and Ronald Reagan's overtures to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, two examples of heroic diplomacy that combined to destroy the underpinnings of the Cold War. Those who continually call for regime change in Iran as a condition for improved relations with that country, as Obama's critics are now doing, ignore that history.
EUGENE ROBINSON ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The U.S.-led deal to freeze Iran's nuclear program is a great accomplishment on many levels. Begin with the most basic: What if the talks in Geneva had failed?
If Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had gone home empty-handed, we would likely be drifting toward war. Iran's uranium-enrichment centrifuges would continue whirling until it became unambiguously clear that the nation, if it chose, could make a "breakout" dash to build a nuclear weapon in a matter of weeks -- something President Obama has said he will not allow.
The president could decide to attack Iran's nuclear facilities or he could wait until Israeli military action forced his hand. Either way, we'd be engaged in another Middle East war -- one whose economic, political and human consequences could be dire.
So what did Kerry do in Geneva? He won an agreement that not only freezes Iran's nuclear-enrichment program for six months but actually rolls it back; that prevents new nuclear facilities from coming online; and that provides for unprecedented daily inspections to ensure that Iran is living up to it commitments.
Let me restate that to make it clearer: In May of next year, Iran will be further away from being able to build a bomb than it is today.
And this achievement is being attacked with the word "appeasement" and references to Munich? Give me a break.
REV. BILLY TALEN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
On September 16, BuzzFlash at Truthout posted a commentary on how Rev. Billy Talen -- street theater minister for the anti-consumer movement -- and his choir leader were arrested for leading a performance art protest at a Chase bank branch in Manhattan. The target of the theatrical presentation was how JP Morgan Chase is one of the key banks financing industries that are tumbling earth toward a climate implosion. On December 9th, Talen and his choir master will appear in a NYC court and face the prosecution's charges that could result in up to a year in jail.
Meanwhile, Jamie Dimon, Washington D.C.'s made man on Wall Street and the don of JP Morgan Chase, has not faced a criminal investigation (that has been made public) or charges for his role in Wall Street's crash. Yes, JP Morgan Chase was recently fined $13 billion dollars, but that is largely -- as large as it may appear -- a public relations stunt on the part of the Department of Justice to make it appear that it is cracking down on errant banks.
Meanwhile, Jamie Dimon rakes in the millions and remains the talk of the town. But Rev. Billy and his associate may go to jail for entertaining some Chase stuffed suits with their presentation on behalf of saving life on the planet.
The following is a commentary Rev. Billy wrote recently for BuzzFlash at Truthout about the tragic irony of his prosecution, in the face of Wall Street crooks being as untouchable as the mafia.