REV. STEPHEN H. PHELPS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
I asked a White House correspondent from the Middle East what would happen if during a press conference with the POTUS someone put this question:
Mr. President, given that since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, any non-nuclear nation which we treat as an adversary may be reasonably terrified that the U.S. will invade it too, and perhaps on false pretexts; and given that no nation in possession of a nuclear weapon has ever been attacked by any of its foes; and given that you have declared that Iran must never be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon; what is the U.S. doing to give Iran absolute confidence that neither the U.S. nor any other nation will ever attack it "preemptively," if it agrees to abide without a nuclear defense?
"What would happen?" the correspondent shrugged. "The questioner would never put another question in the White House briefing room. His editor would take him off the desk, maybe fire him. You cannot get an answer to a question like that."
Regardless the accuracy of the correspondent's surmise, it corresponds with a feature of American policy toward other nations: Their pursuit of their self-interest is a priori excluded from the foreign-policy calculus—if they are considered enemies. Like seven-year-olds in a playground fight, our media and masters claim that the motives of foes are malign and ours benign; that they started it, and we only defend ourselves. The fact that Americans believe these constructions has tragic consequences in violence. The fact that leaders who know it is spin spin it anyway can best be explained by the seductions of power that dance in the heads of those who prepare for more war.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison, the Truthout Progressive Pick of the Week.It costs about $88,000 a year to incarcerate a young person in a state facility. Journalist and advocate Nell Bernstein reveals this and other shocking statistics and abuses of juveniles in her new book,
That bill for keeping young people in "detention" is far more than most US workers make in a year. ($51,000 was the median household income in 2013 according to the Census Bureau.)
It is indicative of the racism and classism inherent in the US treatment of juveniles of color and the poor that the tax dollars spent to allegedly punish and "rehabilitate" a young person far exceed the stagnant or falling wages of most US families.
What is all that money used for in a system that is euphemistically called "juvenile detention"? Piper Kerman, author of "Orange Is the New Black", writes: "Burning Down the House by Nell Bernstein reveals a shocking truth: what adults do to children behind the walls of America’s juvenile prisons is criminal." It certainly doesn't resemble anything remotely akin to rehabilitation.
BOB FITRAKIS AND HARVEY WASSERMAN ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Richard Nixon was a traitor.
The new release of extended versions of Nixon's papers now confirms this long-standing belief, usually dismissed as a "conspiracy theory" by Republican conservatives. Now it has been substantiated by none other than right-wing columnist George Will.
Nixon's newly revealed records show for certain that in 1968, as a presidential candidate, he ordered Anna Chennault, his liaison to the South Vietnam government, to persuade them to refuse a cease-fire being brokered by President Lyndon Johnson.
Nixon's interference with these negotiations violated President John Adams's 1797 Logan Act, banning private citizens from intruding into official government negotiations with a foreign nation.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Late last month, Newsweek reported the approval of construction of an apartment building in Manhattan with a separate entrance for renters who pay less than the market price:
New York City has approved a developer’s Dickensian plan to include a “poor door” in a luxury apartment complex in the Upper West Side.
The prospect of a separate entrance for lower-income residents has been circulating for some time, but as the New York Post reported today, plans by company Extell Development to put a separate entrance for affordable housing tenants, who make 60 percent or less of median income, in the 33-story condo have been given the green light. The property will have 219 units, including 55 affordable units overlooking the street. Those renting and buying the apartments at the market-rate will have waterfront views.
The entrance is part of the Inclusionary Housing Program application, under which developers can build larger projects if they also provide low-income housing, either on- or off-site.
In addition, tenants who are paying lower rents mandated by the city will not be able to use building amenities such as the gym and the pool. In short, if you make less than the wealthy tenants, you are banned to a ghetto section of the tony apartment complex.
Newsweek reposted the twitter of Boston Globe writer Amanda Katz, who offered alternative names for the "poor door": "Service entrance. Portal of destitution. The 99% door. Strivers' entry. The debtor gate. The Porte of Serfs."
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Funny, in a sad sort of way.
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) gets respect from the mainstream because it speaks for the money interests. To many of those outside its golden circle, the commentary of its writers is generally suspect, occasionally frightening, and often unintentionally humorous.
Delusion: Middle-class Americans have more buying power than ever before.
WSJ compares the present day to the 1950s, ignoring changes in education costs, health care expenses, debt repayment and financial fees. The Journal built on the delusion by printing the insensitive headline What Recession? and by counseling its readers, Don't be alarmed by high rates of "economic insecurity."
The Journal's "prosperity for all" fantasy includes their assurance that cutbacks in food stamps don't hurt children, even though in real life almost half of food stamp recipients are children.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Despite reassurances from the White House about the economy picking up, a recent survey by the Federal Reserve reveals a far bleaker perception among US wage earners.
According to Reuters, a Federal Reserve study released on August 7 found most of the 99% pessimistic about their personal income status and economic condition:
In its first large-scale study of household finances, the U.S. central bank uncovered lingering effects of the sharpest economic downturn since the Great Depression, with 42 percent of respondents saying they had delayed major purchases and 18 percent saying they put off a major life decision, including buying a home or getting married, due to the crisis.
Thirty-six percent said they now planned to retire later, according to the online survey.
In a finding that could figure into the Fed's monetary policy debate, three-fourths of households said they expected their incomes to be the same or lower over the next year.
Maybe this is a surprise to the Federal Reserve, but BuzzFlash and Truthout have been reporting for years on the decline in wages relative to inflation. This is due to many factors, but much of it began with Reaganomics and the transfer of income and assets from working Americans to the wealthy. This has gone on through various congressionally sanctioned laws - including grossly excessive tax cuts for the rich - that restructured the economic distribution of the nation's income.
RON SCHALOW FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In a February 24, 2014, article, Think Progress said "Bakken shale crude oil is also the most explosive compared to oil from 86 other locations worldwide."
North Dakota leaders need to take immediate responsibility for the Bakken crude oil train explosions, and require producers to remove all explosive natural gas liquids (NGL's) from Bakken crude before shipping.
The Dot-111 tanker car is not suited for hauling watered down skim milk. It should go, but it is not the main reason for the violent and deadly explosions that have occurred over a 10 month period, from July 2013 to April 2014. The newer 1242 model cracked open during the Lynchburg, VA, derailment going 24 mph.
And, there can never be enough inspections and upgrades of the railroad tracks, and oversight of train movements, but we've been trying to keep trains on the tracks in this country for nearly 200 years, and there were still 1,260 derailments in the U.S. in 2013. Everything helps, but trains will continue to derail.
The explosions - the 300 foot fireballs, walls of fire, incinerated buildings, vaporized humans, fouled water, and poisoned soil - are primarily due to one simple fact, and it has to stop.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Before nuclear weapons, after nuclear weapons . . .
"The latter era, of course," writes Noam Chomsky, "opened on August 6, 1945, the first day of the countdown to what may be the inglorious end of this strange species, which attained the intelligence to discover the effective means to destroy itself, but — so the evidence suggests — not the moral and intellectual capacity to control its worst instincts."
We're not even close. Or so it seems on a bad day. "Why are we violent but not illiterate?" asked columnist Colman McCarthy. Well, for one thing, we don't wrap illiteracy in a shroud of glory and call it war or self-defense or national security; nor have we developed a multi-trillion-dollar industry called the Illiteracy Industrial Complex (or maybe we have, and call it television). In any case, the human race has a demonstrated ability to pull itself out of an instinct-driven existence — but now finds itself at a suicidal impasse, unable, or uncertain how, to commit to taking the next step upwards, beyond violent conflict resolution and the mentality of "us vs. them," and into a fuller connection with the universe.
This moment, as we straddle the anniversaries of the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, is a time to reflect on what happens next. Violence — disorganized and, of course, highly organized and extraordinarily sophisticated — remains humanity's obsession, preoccupation and primary distraction. Despite the ability we now possess to destroy ourselves and most life on this planet, we have barely begun to question our reflexive violence. Doing so requires looking courageously inward.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
One person's terrorist is another person's freedom fighter.
One of the best examples of that may be the now-deceased former Prime Minister of Israel, Yitzhak Shamir.
Shamir, who died at age 96 of Alzheimer's disease in 2012, was a member of the now-dominant political party in Israel: the Likud. When Shamir passed away, Netanyahu effusively praised him: "Yitzhak Shamir belonged to the generation of giants who founded the state of Israel and fought for the freedom of the Jewish people. As prime minister, Yitzhak Shamir took action to fortify Israel’s security and ensure its future."
In the days of the British Mandate leading up to the independence of Israel in 1948, there was a primary Jewish paramilitary force, the Hagannah. The Hagannah more or less evolved into the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) after statehood was established, and many of the state's military leaders for years were its veterans.
However, for some Jewish fighters, the Hagannah was too traditional in its military approach, too modeled on the British army … and not willing to engage in the assassinations of British soldiers. The British were seen by many Zionists as pro-Arab. They particularly incensed creators of Israel by aggressively limiting Jewish immigration to Palestine during the years of the Holocaust, and in the post-war years when Jewish refugees were seeking a place to live.
As a result, two Jewish terrorist groups were formed: the Irgun, and then an even more notorious offshoot which was nicknamed the Stern Gang. Shamir was a member of the Stern Gang, while former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin eventually headed the Irgun. Their mission was to drive the British out of Palestine, and also drive as many Palestinians out of what was to become Israel. The Irgun and the Stern Gang employed terrorist tactics, killing British military officials (and even the British minister of state for the Middle East) and massacring Arabs. Their most historically noted terrorist action against the British was the blowing up of much of the King David Hotel in 1946, then the headquarters for Britain overseeing Palestine. Around 100 people were killed, including 15 Jews.
DAVID SUZUKI OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The Heartland Institute’s recent International Climate Change Conference in Las Vegas illustrates climate change deniers’ desperate confusion. As Bloomberg News noted, “Heartland’s strategy seemed to be to throw many theories at the wall and see what stuck.” A who’s who of fossil fuel industry supporters and anti-science shills variously argued that global warming is a myth; that it’s happening but natural—a result of the sun or “Pacific Decadal Oscillation;” that it’s happening but we shouldn’t worry about it; or that global cooling is the real problem.
The only common thread, Bloomberg reported, was the preponderance of attacks on and jokes about Al Gore: “It rarely took more than a minute or two before one punctuated the swirl of opaque and occasionally conflicting scientific theories.”
Personal attacks are common among deniers. Their lies are continually debunked, leaving them with no rational challenge to overwhelming scientific evidence that the world is warming and that humans are largely responsible. Comments under my columns about global warming include endless repetition of falsehoods like “there’s been no warming for 18 years,” “it’s the sun,” and references to “communist misanthropes,” “libtard warmers,” alarmists and worse…