MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Recently, Truthout featured Lani Guinier's book The Tyranny of the Meritocracy, which focuses on the need to change the type of students selected by prestigious universities. She encourages the transformation of institutions such as Ivy League schools from factories for the elite status quo into schools that prepare future generations of engaged citizens who can work collaboratively for the common good.
Guinier focuses on how the most competitive universities largely base their admissions' policies on standardized test scores, competitiveness, individual ambition and, of course, likely candidates to perpetuate the economic and social status quo.
In an excerpt from Guinier's book recently posted on Truthout, she writes:
Merit as defined by test-based admissions has harnessed "schools and universities to the task of sieving people" according to a "narrow band of values." Those values, as it turns out, are the production and reproduction of privilege but without obligation or shame. The rise of the testocratic meritocracy has enabled those already at the top of the heap to continue to preside without a sense of moral or political accountability. The privileged have come to believe that their "advancement comes from their own merits," and thus they are entitled to their power.
Guinier advocates that changes in admissions' policies can alter the impact of institutions in creating a truly robust and socially responsible democracy.
ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUTSTEFANIE SPEAR OF
Keystone XL pipeline and yesterday Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont put his pledge to the test. Sanders introduced an amendment that would officially put Congress on record with their position on climate change. Sanders amendment will be offered to a bill that would force approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell promised to allow an open amendment process for the
Sanders amendment asks:
It is the sense of Congress that Congress is in agreement with the opinion of virtually the entire worldwide scientific community that—
- climate change is real
- climate change is caused by human activities
- climate change has already caused devastating problems in the U.S. and around the world
- a brief window of opportunity exists before the United States and the entire planet suffer irreparable harm; and
- it is imperative that the United States transform its energy system away from fossil fuels and toward energy efficiency and sustainable energy.”
“The American people need to know whether Congress is listening to the overwhelming majority of scientists when it comes to climate change,” Sanders said. “On this issue, the scientists have been virtually unanimous in saying that climate change is real, it is caused by human action, it is already causing devastating problems which will only get worse in the future and that we need to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel. Do members of Congress believe the scientists or not?” he asked.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
A prominent Christian right radio broadcaster recently claimed that the terrorist attacks in Paris was an example of God’s use of “idolators” to punish the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, for mocking Christianity. The perpetrators of the murderous attacks on the magazine, and a Jewish grocery store, stated that they were out to avenge the mocking of Muhammad by Charlie Hebdo. While both were correct in their assessments of the work of the cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo, and while they are not two peas from the same pod, their stated beliefs does make for a strange confluence of religiosity.
According to People for the American Way’s Right Wing Watch, on a recent broadcast the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer claimed that the terrorist murders in Paris were actually God’s way of punishing staff members of Charlie Hebdo for mocking Christianity.
“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain,” Fischer told his listeners. “They [Charlie Hebdo] made a career out of taking the name of God, the God of the Bible, the father of the Lord Jesus,” Fischer added.
RONNIE CUMMINS OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are nothing more than patented Pesticide Delivery Systems (PDS) designed to increase sales of poisonous agrochemicals such as Roundup, glufosinate, Bt, 2,4 D and neonicotinoids. To claim that GMOs are perfectly safe is equivalent to saying that pesticides, herbicides and fungicides—systemically laced at ever-higher levels into GMO-tainted human food and animal feed—are perfectly safe. And to make matters worse, hundreds of millions of pounds of Monsanto’s Roundup, the most widely used herbicide in the world, are now routinely sprayed on 160 different crops, just before harvest, including wheat, potatoes, oats, canola, flax, peas and dried beans. In other words, just about every non-organic item in your supermarket, or every item on your restaurant menu (bread, potatoes, meat, milk) is now tainted with Roundup.It is now blatantly obvious that
The anti-GMO and organic movement has come a long way in the past two decades. But given the dangers posed by GMOs and Roundup, it’s time to move aggressively forward. Here are a dozen crucial steps we need to take in 2015 to drive GMOs and Roundup off the market.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The for-profit prison system in the United States is not only a major factor in the emergence of "manufactured crime," it also makes money off of a national war on Latino migrants through the "detention" (in other words, incarceration) of persons - including minors - seeking economic and security refuge in the US.
A ministry located in Georgia - Alterna: Love Crosses Borders (El Amor Cruza Fronteras) - that provides compassionate assistance to migrants from south of the Mexican border monitors the nearby Stewart Detention Center, run for profit by the Corrections Corporations of America (CCA). The facility is the largest incarceration complex specifically for migrants in the US, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
The ACLU has also conducted a study of Stewart and found rampant violations of human rights:
For purposes of this documentation project, the ACLU of Georgia interviewed 68 individuals who were detained at the Georgia immigration detention facilities, as well as detainees' family members and immigration attorneys. We also toured the detention centers and reviewed documents obtained from Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other agencies. The findings in “Prisoners of Profit: Immigrants and Detention in Georgia” raise serious concerns about violations of detainees’ due process rights, inadequate living conditions, inadequate medical and mental health care, and abuse of power by those in charge.
Among the problems we documented: inadequate information about available pro bono legal services, inadequate conditions for attorney visits which raise attorney/client confidentiality issues, and delays in gaining access to the law library. Detainees also face unreasonable delays in receiving medical care and in the case of detainees with mental disabilities, punitive rather than care-oriented treatment. We also documented numerous concerns about cell conditions including temperature extremes and overcrowding; hygiene concerns including instances where facilities ran out of hygiene items and detainees simply had to go without; used underwear provided to detainees at Irwin; food concerns including unusual mealtimes, insufficient quantity, and poor quality; limited recreation; and a work program at two corporate run detention centers where detainees are paid $1.00 to $3.00 per day and sometimes are coerced to work. Other findings point to a failed grievance procedure where detainees who filed grievances did not always receive responses, verbal and physical abuse, and retaliatory behavior from guards including placing detainees in segregation.
The Alterna ministry's findings concur with the ACLU about the abuses that take place in these facilities, run under contract by companies listed on stock exchanges. They may be euphemistically labeled as "detention centers," but if a person is detained against his or her will, we should really just call it jail.
BILL QUIGLEY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Question One: In 1990, twenty percent of all children in the US lived in poverty. What percent of the children in the US live in poverty today?
A: Ten percent
B: Fifteen percent
C: Twenty percent
Question Two: The median wealth of black households in the US is $11,000. What is the median wealth of white households?
Question Three: In 1960 the median earnings of women who work full-time year-round were about 60 percent of men's. In 2010, women's median earnings were about 77 percent of men's. At this rate, in what year will women's median earnings equal men's?
STEFANIE SPEAR OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
We’ve been busy lately providing news on all the great ways Pope Francis is working to create a healthy, sustainable planet. In July 2014, Pope Francis called destruction of nature a modern sin. In November 2014, Pope Francis said “unbridled consumerism” is destroying our planet and we are “stewards, not masters” of the Earth. In December 2014, he said he will increase his call this year to address climate change. And, last week we announced that Pope Francis is opening his Vatican farm to the public.
Now, we learn from Nicolás Fedor Sulcic that Pope Francis is supportive of the anti-fracking movement. Watch this interview by Fernando Solanas where he met with Pope Francis soon after finishing a film about fracking in Argentina.
The movie, La Guerra del Fracking or Fracking Wars, was banned in cinemas by the Argentinian government, so the filmmakers decided to post it on YouTube. We are awaiting translation of the film and then we’ll feature it on EcoWatch.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
As BuzzFlash at Truthout has documented many a time, the US war on immigration from Mexico and Central America is cruel, political, fueled by fear of "the other" and inhumane.
BuzzFlash has also provided evidence of how the drumbeat of xenophobia against immigration by Latin Americans of limited means has resulted in large allocations of tax-payer dollars being shifted to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for "securing the Mexican border." Exactly what the hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars spent annually are "protecting" the US from is not clear, but the allocations continue to accelerate for keeping people - who are trying literally to survive - from entering the nation by crossing the Mexican border.
With all the corporate and Wall Street strident denunciation of big government, there is nothing that they love more than billions and billions of dollars in federal defense and "homeland security" spending. The military-industrial-surveillance complex excels at finding a funding spigot and turning it into a torrent.
Incendiary language designed to create apprehension and panic further constructs the context for increased spending on the military and - in this case – halting the migration of non-whites in need. The gusher of money that results from such pandering is not often effectively spent. Even if the goals are reprehensible, the flood of money often doesn't achieve those unworthy objectives. In short, the policies - in this case denying compassionate shelter to refugees from a situation that the US has largely helped to create south of the Mexican border - are not only bad; vast amounts of taxpayer dollars are spent on enriching corporations and contractors for equipment and strategies that don't even achieve their blameworthy intended purposes.
Such is the case with US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) drones - as revealed in a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) analysis.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In fact, except for the debilitating effects of poverty, our public school system may be the best in the world.
The most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reveal that the U.S. ranked high, relative to other OECD countries, in reading, math, and science (especially in reading, and in all areas better in 4th grade than in 8th grade). Some U.S. private schools were included, but a separate evaluation was done for Florida, in public schools only, and their results were higher than the U.S. average.
Perhaps most significant in the NCES reading results is that schools with less than 25% free-lunch eligibility scored higher than the average in ALL OTHER COUNTRIES.
The Obvious: Reduce Poverty and Improve Education.
What should be obvious to our legislators is apparently not. K-12 funding declined in 2011 for the first time since the Census Bureau began keeping records. A 2014 study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that "States' new budgets are providing less per-pupil funding for kindergarten through 12th grade than they did six years ago — often far less."
STEVEN JONAS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
"Suicide" means, literally, killing oneself. Most often, suicide is voluntary. However, by definition, it can be involuntary as well, as in accidentally killing oneself while cleaning a loaded handgun (which apparently people do from time-to-time). Capitalism, the world's dominant socio-economic system, is in the process of killing itself. Like the cleaner of a loaded hand-gun, capitalism thinks that there is absolutely nothing to worry about, that whatever its doing will result in no harmful outcomes, and that anyone who tells it not to do such a thing is a hoaxer of the worst order. Inadvertently killing oneself with a loaded handgun is bad enough. What capitalism is doing of course is far worse. Not only will it kill itself as a system, but it will likely take our species along with many others right along with it.
Most readers of these pages are familiar with the mountain of data dealing with global warming/climate change and its increasingly negative projected outcomes. As the cited article by Justin Gillis says: "Failure to reduce emissions, the group of scientists and other experts found, could threaten society with food shortages, refugee crises, the flooding of major cities and entire island nations, mass extinction of plants and animals, and a climate so drastically altered it might become dangerous for people to work or play outside during the hottest times of the year."
Currently, 2100 has been cited as the "tipping point" year, if no major policy changes in terms of carbon (to say nothing of methane) emissions are undertaken. However, a recent projection by the organization Green Physicists moves the "tipping point" year up to 2050. By then they estimate that: atmospheric carbon dioxide levels will have risen to twice the pre-industrial level; the global average surface temperature of our planet will have increased 2.5 degrees Centigrade [the current projected "tipping point" for irreversible catastrophe is 2.6 Deg. C.]; the temperature rise in the Arctic has been about twice that of the global mean, so that the permafrost has been melting rapidly, with the release of enormous quantities of methane (which adds to the global warming effect of CO2); the Greenland ice sheet will be virtually gone, with a likely resulting sea level rise of more (39"); and so on and so forth.