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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaaaacivilwarmarch10The Union and Confederate Armies may have signed an armistice in 1865, but the Civil War continues for the soul of the United States. (Photo: Alvin Trusty)

There is an uncivil Civil War taking place in the Republican Party.

In part, it is animated by whether the festering racism inherent in this nation's founding premise of white superiority -- a premise that fueled slavery and the decimation of Indigenous populations -- will resurface in a contemporary form of governance by bigotry.

Donald Trump's slogan, "Make America Great Again," contains demagogic appeal. It is a coded call to "make America white again": to ensure that it is a nation characterized by white patriarchal rule, the oppression of people of color, the condoning of violence to resolve perceived grievances of white privilege, the use of torture, and all the trappings of white settler colonialism.

The Civil War ended more than 150 years ago, but an armistice was never signed concerning the conflict over white patriarchal privilege.

Here's the essential conundrum: The United States was founded -- and the Constitution was written -- by men who rejected the notion of a monarchy, but believed in a federal government that was elected and run by white males. It was also "unified" with the acceptance of slavery as a practice in half the nation, along with the belief that killing off the Indigenous population was a patriotic act of expanding white civilization.

2016.10.3 bf wasserman(Photo: Paolo)HARVEY WASSERMAN OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Seven top Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) experts have taken the brave rare step of publicly filing an independent finding warning that nearly every U.S. atomic reactor has a generic safety flaw that could spark a disaster.

The warning mocks the latest industry push to keep America’s remaining 99 nukes from being shut by popular demand, by their essential unprofitability, or, more seriously, by the kind of engineering collapse against which the NRC experts are now warning.

As of January 1, the world has more installed wind capacity than nuke. More than $360 billion was invested last year in renewables, dwarfing new reactor investments.

2016.10.3 bf abramsky(Photo: Gage Skidmore)SASHA ABRAMSKY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

J'accuse....

For the past several months, I have written about Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, and listened, in horror, as his positions have become evermore extreme and evermore publicly violent. Trump’s extraordinary comments come so fast and thick these days that they end up something of a blur. But they’re worth paying attention to, each and every one.

Trump has repeatedly advocated that he would change American law so as to make torture permissible and widely usable. He has repeated, gleefully, the much-disputed story of General Pershing ordering his soldiers to dip bullets in pigs’ blood and then summarily shooting dozens of Philippino terrorists, making it clear he favors similar measures against America’s enemies today. He has urged the collective, and violent, punishment of the families of terrorists. And, at one rally after another, especially in southern states where many in his audience remember the Jim Crow years with nostalgia, he has said he longs for “the good old days” when protestors could be beaten and when police would remove them from events “on a stretcher.” He has, repeatedly, said that he, personally, longs to smash in the faces of his enemies.

WENONAH HAUTER OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaBernieClimate(Photo: NASA)The Democratic debate Sunday night discussed important issues to our food and water, including the contamination of Flint, Michigan’s water supply and climate change. The fact that CNN allowed University of Michigan student Sarah Bellaire to ask the candidates whether or not they support fracking—bringing a real discussion about dirty fossil fuels to center stage—shows how large and influential our movement to ban fracking has become.

Bernie Sanders’ concise response after Hillary Clinton‘s long list of “conditions” that must be met in order for her to support fracking was met with thunderous applause: “My answer is a lot shorter. No, I do not support fracking.”

Watch here.

While the Obama administration—including Clinton herself as secretary of state—has been a staunch promoter of fracking, touting industry claims about energy security and that it could be a bridge to renewables, a growing movement is forcing Democratic leaders to acknowledge that fracking is bad for our environment and public health and a disaster for our climate.

COLE MELLINO OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaOrca(Photo: EcoWatch)Tilikum, the killer whale at the center of the 2013 documentary Blackfish, is in deteriorating health. SeaWorld’s teams are treating him for what they believe is a bacterial infection in his lungs, the company announced on its Facebook page Tuesday.

“We are saddened to report that over the past few weeks, Tilikum’s behavior has become increasingly lethargic, and the SeaWorld veterinary and animal care teams are concerned that his health is beginning to deteriorate,” the company said.

The 35-year-old male orca is not responding to treatment and “a cure for his illness has not been found,” SeaWorld said.

“Since Tilikum became a part of SeaWorld’s family 23 years ago, he has received the best in marine mammal health care and life enrichment available for killer whales—including a focus on his physical health, mental engagement and social activity with other whales,” SeaWorld said. “Despite the best care available, like all aging animals, he battles chronic health issues that are taking a greater toll as he ages.”

Tilikum, whose name means “friend” in Chinook, was captured from the wild in 1983 at the age of 2, according to Reuters. He came to SeaWorld 23 years ago from Sealand of the Pacific in Canada.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaawaynelapierremarch9Caricature of Wayne LaPierre, CEO and executive vice president of the NRA. (Image: DonkeyHotey)

In a March 8 news release, the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) charges the NRA with flouting IRS requirements to fully reveal political spending:

The National Rifle Association (NRA) failed to disclose more than $1 million in contributions to major Democratic and Republican leadership groups, bringing their total undisclosed political spending to nearly $60 million since 2008, according to a supplemental complaint filed today by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).  This is the third complaint CREW has filed regarding the NRA’s political spending scandal.Between 2008 and 2014, five 527 political organizations reported receiving more than $1 million from the NRA which the gun advocacy group failed to note.  These groups were the Democratic and Republican Governors Associations, the Democratic and Republican Attorneys General Associations and the Republican State Leadership Committee, with the vast majority of the funding going to the Republican organizations.  These donations increased as time went on, from nearly $55,000 in 2008 to more than $225,000 in 2014....

CREW’s initial complaint found that the NRA appeared to have violated federal law by failing to disclose to the IRS $33.5 million in political spending between 2008 and 2013.  CREW then supplemented this complaint after finding an additional $25 million the NRA failed to disclose in 2014.  While the NRA admits its tax records are incorrect, it appears to have done nothing to correct them.

An article on the CREW website points out that the implications of the NRA's politcal spending extend beyond the federal level and into the states.

2016.8.3 bf chow(Photo: ProgressOhio)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Ohio has become a major wastewater dump for the fracking industry, sparking fears of groundwater contamination and concerns that injection of wastewater into wells could trigger the same earthquakes currently rattling frack-happy Oklahoma.

The Columbus Dispatch cited new numbers from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) revealing that wastewater pumped into Ohio’s underground wells increased by more than 15 percent last year. In all, Ohio took in nearly 29 million barrels of fracking wastewater in 2015—4 million more barrels than in 2014, the Dispatch reported.

Thirteen million barrels of this wastewater came from states such as Pennsylvania and West Virginia that have strict rules against wastewater injection. About 55 percent of the fracking wastewater that ends up in Ohio injection wells came from the state itself, the Dispatch said.

2016.8.3 bf marcus(Photo: John Eckman)JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

It's a good feeling when you can drive past a gas station in an electric vehicle with little concern about the fluctuating prices of fuel, a product that is literally pushing us rapidly towards mass extinction. Yes, I know mass extinction is hard to believe—so if you don't take my word for it, read New Yorker's scientist Elizabeth Kolbert's Pulitzer-prize winning book The Sixth Extinction on how human activity (pollution) is turning our earth into a toxic mass cemetery.

It's also a good feeling to know that you're not contributing to global warming, at least not as much, and reoccurring oil disasters, if you drive an electric vehicle.

Just last week another pipeline ruptured—this time in the rainforest of Peru, contaminating Peru's rivers with thick tarry oil that immediately poisoned their fragile ecosystem of water and valuable medicinal plants.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaapovertymarch8Poverty is built into the current economic system in the United States. (Photo:Paul Downey)

In the last Democratic debate, held in Flint, Michigan - a city where, according to the most recent United States Census data, 41.6 percent of the population lives below the poverty line - presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders emphasized the importance of restoring the declining US middle class.

However appealing that almost universal bipartisan campaign meme is, it logically leads to a troubling conclusion: In order to have a "middle" class, one has to assume an ongoing "lower" class. In essence, a campaign promise to rebuild a "robust" middle class is based on the premise that a significant segment of people in the US will compose the bottom tier in the class structure - a tier that exists in a state of poverty.

As Critical Mass Progress Editor Nancy A. Heitzeg recently wrote:

Before the war on drugs became our national fixation, there was a short-lived, halfheartedly implemented war on poverty. Would that the same amount of resources and political will been expended here. But hyper-individualism, rampant capitalism, and a political discourse that persistently racializes poverty and stigmatizes governmental assistance continue to stand in the way.

We are left instead with the war on the poor...

The reality of course is that the over-whelming majority of the 47 million officially poor are there because of structure and policy - low wages, lack of affordable housing, a shrinking social safety net, a decimated public education system, a host of conservative and neoliberal "reforms" - not because of flawed personal choices.

Heitzeg goes on to write that poverty is often criminalized in a variety of ways, and certainly has become fodder for the vast expansion of the prison-industrial complex. In a BuzzFlash commentary today, law professor and columnist Bill Quigley also writes of the grotesque irony that corporations and the upper class make large profits off of those in severe economic distress. Quigley calls these predatory vultures "Reverse Robin Hoods."

2016.8.3 bf quigley(Photo: Hrag Vartanian)BILL QUIGLEY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Many see families in poverty and seek to help. Others see families in poverty and see opportunities for profit.

Here are six examples of billion dollar industries which are built on separating poor people, especially people of color, from their money, the reverse Robin Hood.

Check Cashing Businesses

Check cashing businesses. Cash a $100 check? At Walmart that will be $3. At TD bank non-customers pay $5 to cash a check from their bank.

Nearly 10 million households containing 25 million people do not have any bank account according to the FDIC. Most because they did not have enough money to keep a minimum balance in their account.

Check cashing business are part of a $100 billion industry of more than 6,500 check cashing businesses in the US, many which also provide money orders, utility bill payments and the like, according to testimony provided to Congress by the industry.  

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