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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

asunkshipofstateIs the US ship of state sinking due to a grossly imbalanced distribution of wealth? (Photo: Donna)

Another study (published last month) confirms the startling imbalance of wealth in the United States.

According to The Guardian, the analysis "shows how the top 0.1% of families now own roughly the same share of wealth as the bottom 90%." If a ship had that disproportionate distribution in terms of weight, it would list to one side and sink. That is, perhaps, what the analogy portends for a functioning democracy in the US: the ship of state is taking on water and is unable to right itself.

Professors of economics Emmanuel Saez (University of California, Berkeley) and Gabriel Zucman (London School of Economics and Politics) based their findings on "evidence from capitalized income tax data" since 1913 combined with an analysis of the "flow of funds" during that period. In the abstract for their research paper, they conclude:

The bottom 90% wealth share first increased up to the mid-1980s and then steadily declined. The increase in wealth concentration is due to the surge of top incomes combined with an increase in saving rate inequality.

ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaChicago(Photo: Daniel Schwen)The vision is a city interlaced with restorative justice hubs — community centers that bring hope and promise to troubled kids in a town where too many of them are dying. "It is not OK that my friends and I have already planned our funerals," then-high school senior Keann Mays-Lenoir told a crowd of 300 people a year ago, at a rafter-shaking meeting where the idea was introduced.

It builds slowly, from the bottom up. Reclaim common sense. Reclaim community. Reclaim Chicago.

I've written a fair amount about restorative justice — RJ — over the last few years. It's a movement about healing and sanity, truth, dignity, respect, wholeness. It's catching on in Chicago, where I live: in the schools, in the juvenile justice system, in the broken 'hoods. RJ is about repairing harm, not punishing wrongdoers and, in the process, saddling them with a lifelong identity as criminals. It's also about telling the truth, and building relationships with truth as the bedrock. It's about connecting.

"This is about making kids irresistible forces for positive change."

The speaker was Judge Sophia Hall, presiding judge of the Resource Section of the Juvenile Justice and Child Protection Department of the Circuit Court of Cook County, who hosts a semiannual, region-wide meeting about restorative justice, held, appropriately, at Juvenile Court. The topic was the hubs: the vision of a different kind of city, where teenagers aren't planning their own funerals but, rather, figuring out their futures, with the help of mentoring adults, in a world in which they feel welcome.

2014.11.12.Berkowitz.BFEbola-fearing Fox News host Elisabeth Hasselbeck schooled by Dr. Anthony Stephen Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. (Screen grab via Sam Seder / YouTube)

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

As of this moment (unless something happened overnight that I'm not aware of), there are no Ebola cases in the US. Was Ebola in the US really President Obama's Katrina, as so many right-wing commentators, radio & television talk show hosts and conservative evangelical Christian preachers claimed? Will the fear mongering/flight-suspending/border-closing advocates apologize to President Obama? Will Bill O'Reilly, Megyn Kelley and Sean Hannity apologize to President Obama? Will Chris Christie apologize to President Obama? Will Pastor John Hagge, who maintained that through his godless policies, Obama was bringing Ebola into the country, apologize?

Will there be more Ebola cases here? Very possible. Is our health system gearing up to make sure it doesn't get out of hand? I think so. Do we need to do much more to stop the spread of Ebola in West Africa. No doubt about that.

We've got an Ebola Czar. Will the Senate please get off their collective duffs and approve a Surgeon General?

2014.11.12.GOP.BF (Image: Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: j-fi, Gage Skidmore)BOB FITRAKIS AND HARVEY WASSERMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Since the Bush-Cheney-Rove theft of the 2000 election in Florida, the right of millions of American citizens to vote and have that vote counted has been under constant assault.

In 2014, that systematic disenfranchisement may well have delivered the US Senate to the Republican Party.  If nothing significant is done about it by 2016, we can expect the GOP to take the White House and much more.

The primary victims of this GOP-led purge have been young, elderly, poor and citizens of color who tend to vote Democratic.  The denial of their votes has changed the face of our government, and is deepening corporate control of our lives and planet.

There’s no doubt the Democrats have alienated their core constituency and given millions of their former supporters little reason to vote.  Perpetual war, blank checks for mega-banks, stiffing the working poor while giving away the planet to the rich----these are all part of the malaise.   Our political landscape is currently defined by corporate personhood and its gutting of the Democratic Party.  

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

atarsandscanada(Photo: Peter Blanchard)

 

While activists trying to save the planet from global warming are trying to prevent construction of a new northern leg to the Keystone XL pipeline, Canada faces the retrofitting of what would could become North America's largest oil capacity tar sands pipeline – running from Alberta to Quebec and Nova Scotia.

Maude Barlow, chairperson of the Council of Canadians, recently wrote about TransCanada Corp's effort to create the Energy East project for tar sands oil by converting an existing natural gas pipeline. In Toronto's Globe and Mail, Barlow details three myths about the potentially ruinous Energy East proposal. She concludes:

More to the point, it's past time for our governments to strongly commit to seeing through a just transition off of fossil fuels.

There are already examples of communities and countries making great strides in reducing fossil fuel dependency. Investing in public transit, energy efficiency and renewable energy sectors generates far more jobs than pipeline and fossil fuel development....

This is where our future actually lies, not in picking our poison – or in the case of Energy East, shouldering the risk and enabling someone else's poison.

It is vital to remember that this is not just Canada's challenge. Approval of the Energy East project by the conservative government in Ottawa would have perilous implications for accelerating global warming on a massive scale.

WILLIAM RIVERS PITT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaArlington(Photo: Remember)My deepest and most sincere apologies to all of my veteran friends, but I need to be honest: I simply hate this day. I've had this low-and-slow weeping thing going on basically from the moment I got out of bed this morning. Tomas Young is dead, and I can't stop thinking about all the letters I've received from the loved ones of so many other fallen soldiers over the last 12 years.

What's worse, this maudlin weepiness makes me sick because my emotions are making it about me, and not them, and that sucks big rocks, but I can't seem to help it. When I was 13 years old, all I wanted was to serve the way my father who volunteered for service in Vietnam did. An accumulation of experiences and opinions culminated with the recruiter sitting in my living room some 25 years ago, days after my 18th birthday, telling me Saddam Hussein was worse than Hitler and his army was vast, but if I signed up right then and there, I probably wouldn't see combat for at least four years, and the only thing going through my head was BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT THIS GUY IS FULL OF BULLSHIT, so I didn't sign, and I never served, and I'm glad of it, because it was the correct decision...

...but all these years later, on this day of days, I recall that decision, and I think of the men and women who went when I didn't, and how very many of them are gone, or damaged, or simply done. We're averaging 22 veteran suicides a day these days. Once upon a time, I wrote that when a person dons the uniform of the armed services and swears the oath, the nation to which they have pledged their life also owes an oath: not to cast that precious life onto the pyre of profit and political ambition. I weep slowly today, to no small degree, because the other half of that oath has not been kept.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

amoneycorrupts(Photo: Light Brigading)

An analysis of the 2014 election results, according to a "Morning Line" email from the PBS NewsHour, reconfirms that the torrent of money unleashed by Citizens United is continuing the trend of selling democracy to the highest contributors.

According to PBS "Morning Line" email received by BuzzFlash at Truthout:

We already know that the $4 billion spent on this midterm election was more than any other midterm in history. It was the most on congressional elections ever, including during a presidential year. What do the numbers really tell us? These two stats jumped out at us from a post-analysis done by the Center for Responsive Politics:

- 94 percent of biggest spenders in House races won, up slightly from 2012
- 82 percent of biggest spenders in Senate races won, up from 76 percent in 2012

What that means is, as one of us noted on NewsHour Monday night money, more specifically who spends the most, is about as good a predictor that there is of who will win a race.

Of course, there were other factors at work in the 2014 Republican rout, including ongoing voter suppression of non-whites and the poor, questionable electronic voting software and a seventy-two year record low turnout.

RICHARD A. STITT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaPoorCamden(Photo: Phillies1fan777)Observe any post-election geographical map of the United States whether it is in a presidential election year or a midterm election and close to 90% of the country is red. Red states dictate the direction our country takes like it or not.

But, they fall short in representing anything close to 90% of the population. Add the combined total population of a dozen red states and they barely equal the size of one city in a blue state like California or New York.

Why does this matter? Because each state receives two U.S. Senators you will always see an imbalance in how citizens are represented in our congress. Also, red state voters, even those with low populations, vote in Republican House members almost by default regardless of that politician's qualifications or lack thereof.

Though there are plenty of Republicans in California, for example, the same can't be said of Democrats in the second most populated state, Texas, where there is only a scattering of Democrats plus there is not a single statewide office held by a Democrat.

What has poisoned our democracy is the huge flood of money that the corporate interests pour into our elections. With Citizens United v. FEC and the McCutcheon v. FEC Supreme Court decisions the billions that were spent on this past election paid of huge dividends for Republicans and their money brokers who bankrolled their campaigns.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014 06:35

Swift-Boating Obama: A Conservative Obsession

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaObamaChurch(Photo: Pete Souza)Despite President Barack Obama's weakened political position, as epitomized by the drubbing Democrats took in the mid-term elections, when many of his Democratic Party colleagues avoided him like, well . . . the plague, do not expect conservatives to ease up on the attacks. Swift boating Obama, one of the longest-lasting conservative smear campaigns in history, will continue unabated as Republicans gear up to lead Congress and set the stage for the 2016 presidential election.

Swift Boat Veterans for Truth get, and deserve, a lot of credit for helping sink Senator John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign. Television ads and a bestselling book titled Unfit for Command, "circulated innuendoes, dubious claims and falsehoods about ... Kerry's patriotism and whether he deserved three Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star and a Silver Star for service in the US Navy during the Vietnam War," The Jerusalem post has reported. After the Kerry debacle, swift boating became part of the political vernacular, coming to mean a campaign of dishonest, unfair, and unreasonable attacks on a political candidate.

From the time Barack Obama defeated Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic Party primaries, and began his journey to the White House, an assortment of conservative activists, Christian Right groups, Republican Party regulars, right wing think tanks, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and numerous right wing pundits and radio talk-show hosts, launched what is now one of the longest-running smear campaigns in history; think of it as comparable the Broadway run of Cats.

Monday, 10 November 2014 06:24

Peace as a Human Right

2014.11.10.Peace.BF

ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

“Individuals and peoples have a right to peace.”

In the beginning was the word. OK. This is the beginning, and these are the words, but they haven’t arrived yet — at least not officially, with full force of meaning.

It’s our job, not God’s, to create the new story of who we are, and millions — billions — of people fervently wish we could do so. The problem is that the worst of our nature is better organized than the best of it.

The words constitute Article 1 of the U.N.’s draft declaration on peace. What alerts me that they matter is the fact that they’re controversial, that “there is a lack of consensus” among the member states, according to the president of the Human Rights Council, “about the concept of the right to peace as a right in itself.”

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