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WILL DURST FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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In order to function like a properly greased money machine, the GOP requires a chew toy. Something to snarl and wave and get a good growl on. Railing against easy-to-digest injustices is the perfect lubrication. Nuance is not their strong suit. This party calibrates with pitchforks and 55-gallon drums of oil.
 
Their specialty is publicly declaring abhorrence for manufactured boogeymen. Communist takeover of the world-bad. Muslim President born with a racist agenda in an African country-bad. Socialist healthcare that kills old people bad. 
 
Having never met a dead horse they didn’t enjoy beating, the Party of Lincoln is prone to continuing their battering to microscopic detail. As long as the audience remains rapt, these guys will lambaste anything retaining a whiff of expired equine. Saddles. Baseballs. Horsehide ottomans. Cello bows. Glue.

JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaPumpjack(Photo: Eric Kounce)Two major stories are happening simultaneously that carry a predictably distinct odor of oil & gas: US control of Nigerian oil, and Ukrainian control of natural gas.

While climate change escalates to an emergency crisis, a growing national security concern, the US OILigarchy-government is on a "search and seize mission" for the very product that is obliterating our earth: Polluting Oil.

The earth is burning up before our eyes from trapped CO2 green house emissions—but that means very little to a government that is literally owned by oil firms. If a country is cursed with having oil, such as Nigeria or Venezuela, expect to see CIA-military intervention, deliberate incitements of violence, arrests of oil opponents, surveillance, PSYOPS,Blackwater (now operating under the new name , Academi LLC,) and drone attacks—all put into practice in the name of either "national security" or "humanitarian efforts."

In addition to South America, the Middle East and Africa, the US is also a new target for oil and gas drilling. With increased production, Americans have become the victims of Obama's "energy independence" agenda, which has produced an unprecedented number of oil and gas disasters that have poisoned our oceans, our rivers, our water supplies, and our agricultural lands due to gross negligence and a lack of regulatory oversight.

If US oil-gas companies have admitted to having former military psychological operations, or PSYOPs, specialists to counter opponents of drilling in the United States, you can be sure that they're applying the same techniques extensively in foreign oil-regions.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

peduc(Photo: Sean MacEntee)

In an Op-Ed published in Time this week, 16-year-old Kenyatta Collins argues that the education that she receives in a New Orleans charter school more closely resembles a prison than a place that advances her knowledge and creativity.

"Is my high school, Lake Area New Tech, a prison or school?" Collins asks. Her response is a withering indictment of the white elite push to privatize education:

Students arrive ready for school every morning, but unfortunately must wait outside the building until security guards unlock the doors at 7:30 a.m. It could be raining, hailing, or sleeting, but they will NOT open the doors until then. Once the doors are unlocked, it takes the guards 15 to 20 minutes to search each student and check for uniform violations. That leaves us with just a few minutes to eat breakfast before class starts at 8 a.m. That’s not enough time for 600 students to make it through the cafeteria line. On a typical morning, we are treated like prisoners, which causes students to react in a variety of negative ways.

As for the prevailing attitudes among many whites - and some wealthy people of color - that discipline is the cure for presumed violent and economically depressed urban areas - Collins has a response: 

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

afastgoodburger(Photo:SteFou!)Today, according to a Truthout article, fast food strikes and protests are going global, as they should:

Workers around the world are emulating the fast-food protests that started in New York in 2012. Their fight for dignity at work, better wages, stable hours, opportunities for advancement and no more wage theft has gone global.

On Thursday, May 15, in the largest job actions in the industry's history, fast-food workers in over 30 countries on 6 continents will participate in protests over poverty wages, lack of full-time positions, poor working conditions and management retaliation. US workers will protest in over 160 cities throughout the country, the tenth and largest round of strikes since the first actions in NYC in November 2012. Fast-food workers participating in the "Fight for 15" include those in Alabama, the Carolinas and other states not known for their labor activism....

While companies try to hide behind the franchise system and the rhetoric of "small business owners," fast-food employers are global corporations with billions of dollars in annual profits. Fast-food workers must fight for decent wages and conditions on a global level.

At a time when corporations are becoming increasingly global, to a great degree they are starting to supercede national boundaries in terms of their labor policies and impact. Yes, it's true that each nation has different laws regarding wages, employment policies, etc., but the overall global capitalist approach to pay workers as a little as possible lessens the impact of isolated national strikes. (It should be noted that according to the Truthout report, a few nations do have wage laws that require a fair salary for fast food workers – but not many and not the US.)

Thursday, 15 May 2014 09:24

The Fascinating Bedlam of Creationism

STEVEN JONAS MD, MPH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaArk(Photo: Michel Wolgemut, Wilhelm Pleydenwurff)Recently, while preparing a review of the movie Noah, knowing that the Christian Right had their collective noses bent out of shape by the movie, I sought to gather some background on creationism. And so, I thought, what better place to go than the website that bears that name Creation.com. And what a fascinating visit it turned out to be.

Now, I should think that there are those of you who might have only a foggy remembrance of the creation story from the Judeo-Christian Bible (JCB). Be that as it may, you should know that there are almost as many variants on the JCB creation story as there are translations of the original Hebrew text with subsequent variants in Greek and Roman which then underwent further translations into many languages running into the hundreds.

At any rate, in summary it goes something like this...

ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaSlaveryKoehler(Photo: Eastman Johnson)Step on the gas, step on a man . . .

Writing recently in The Nation, Chris Hayes drew an intensely unnerving parallel between the use of fossil fuels as an energy source and the use of slave labor — not a moral parallel, but a financial one, though money and morality have a perversely symbiotic relationship. Where there's money to be made — especially enormous quantities of it — moral justifications come awfully cheap.

Hayes points out that the movement to end dependence on fossil fuels, drastically reduce carbon emissions and reverse global warming faces a financial hurdle of staggering proportions: ". . . the total amount of known, proven extractable fossil fuel in the ground at this very moment is almost five times the amount we can safely burn," he writes. Possession of this unexcavated carbon is claimed by global corporations: It's theirs to pull out of the ground, and it's worth . . . uh, somewhere between $10 and $20 trillion.

But there is, it turns out, a precedent for divesting rich and powerful people of a comparable amount of wealth, Hayes says. It was called the abolition movement.

By the time of the Civil War, some 4 million human beings were in bondage in the South — "owned," for God's sake: legally possessed and controlled to the last heartbeat. The precedent of slavery goes back to the beginning of human history, of course. Before the industrial era and the releasing of the energy of fossil fuels, the relatively privileged gained control over their environment by putting animals and other human beings to work for them. The moral and legal justifications for doing so accompanied the practice.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014 09:36

Jim Hightower | The Power of Organizing

Coalition of Immokalee Workers at a Trader Joe's Demonstration in Monrovia, California in 2011. (Photo:<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/63169273@N02/6269854387"> hihaivo / Flickr</a>)Coalition of Immokalee Workers at a Trader Joe's Demonstration in Monrovia, California in 2011. (Photo: hihaivo / Flickr)

JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Hard work, we're told, always pays off. Sure it does - ask a farmworker, a roofer, or a home health aide. In our economy, those doing the hardest work get the worst pay, the weakest job protections, the least respect and zero say in the way things work. Such laborers are the downest and outest people in our country's workforce, totally vulnerable to the boss' whims and not even allowed the legal right to organize for better treatment.

So what can they do? Organize!

To hell with taking "no" for an answer. Although these workers are poorly paid and treated, they're rich in spirit. Told they weren't allowed to organize, they went out and did it anyway. Groups such as the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in Florida's vast agribusiness fields, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network and the National Domestic Workers Alliance have formed within occupational categories to rally and be advocates for millions of the hard-hit, previously voiceless and largely invisible people who do the back-breaking, sweaty, insecure, exhausting and thankless - yet essential - labor in our society.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

 

apublicschool(Photo: TheeErin)On Tuesday, May 13, Newark elected Ras Baraka (with 54% of the vote) as its new mayor, filling the vacancy left by Cory Booker. Booker had recently won a special election to fill the vacancy in the US Senate left by Frank Lautenberg, who died in June 2013.

 

Ras Baraka, son of the late poet and activist Amiri Baraka, is a public high school principal. A key plank of his campaign was an attack on the privatization of K-12 education. The Star-Ledger (New Jersey’s main newspaper) ran a pre-election article in which Baraka scathingly criticized a state plan to convert public schools to charter schools in Newark:

 

Newark mayoral candidate and South Ward Councilman Ras Baraka blasted the school reorganization plan released by State Superintendent Cami Anderson earlier this week, calling it "radical" and "disruptive" and predicting it will damage the city’s school system.

 

"They say this is about choice, but it is about anything but choice. They are saying we’re going to get rid of your neighborhood schools," Baraka said today. "This is a dismantling of public education. It is an irresponsible and radical plan. It needs to be halted...."

 

"The buildings are the property of the taxpayers of Newark. They are not the state superintendent’s property, they are not the governor’s property," he said. "We don’t want to sell them. We want to repair them."

 

"We will not stand idly by and let this happen," he continued, listing the meetings and rallies by parents and alumni in response to the proposal. "We want to say to parents, we are with you."

 

The Baraka victory in Newark provides a significant boost to opponents of the abandonment of public education in poor communities of color.

2014.5.14.Benham.BFJason Benham. (Screengrab via Right Wing Watch)BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

This fall, twin brothers Jason and David Benham, the sons of anti-abortion zealot Flip Benham, were slated to host a new reality program on HGTV called "Flip It Forward." After a batch of their homophobic, anti-choice and anti-Muslim statements came to light, the network decided to drop the show. However, there's no need to cry for the Benham twins as they are rapidly ascending the evangelical conservative Christian martyrdom ladder, recently occupied by Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson and Chick-fil-A's Dan Cathy.

When the network, which airs such popular programs as "House Hunters", "Property Virgins", "Design on a Dime", and "Curb Appeal", announced the show, it stated that the brothers will "leverage their good-natured sibling rivalry to help families find a fixer-upper and transform it into the dream home they never thought they could afford."

After hearing about HGTV's change of mind, David Benham told The Hollywood Reporter, "I think it would be healthy for America to show a balanced approach, but at the same time, we're in the free market, and they have a choice to make. If they don't choose us, it's no big deal. We are not pushing this at all." He also said that HDTV was "bullied" into making its decision to not go ahead with the program.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aloanstudOccupy PostersOne of the masterful characteristics of Elizabeth Warren is her discipline when it comes to progressive advocacy. She knows how to stay on point.

Of course, progressives rightfully love Bernie Sanders. He is the professor of underscoring the narrative of economic injustice in the United States with facts. His multi-hour filibuster of the Senate in December of 2010 was a tour de force, offering up a true State of the Union address. Bernie is the progressive Jeremiah, the articulator of a righteous public policy path.

Warren may or may not be more progressive than Sanders (we really don't know a lot of her positions on issues that are non-economic, particularly foreign policy), but she is a figure who is focused, disciplined, passionate and has a compelling narrative. On television, Sanders looks like a rumpled liberal professor with whom you nod your head in agreement, but it is not clear that he is breaking through to the middle and working classes. (It should be noted that Sanders was a regular BuzzFlash reader in our early years and always receptive to interviews.)

Warren, however, is a radiant media presence. She has the ability to convey a confidence in her convictions that makes her assertions all the more credible to the viewer. On the verge of finishing up an extensive media exposure tour for her new book, A Fighting Chance, Warren brings a frame to the conversation of economic injustice that is compelling not really because of her academic background, but due to her common-sense phrasing of financial struggles experienced by the 99%.

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