ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Another crazed, furious loner shocks the world. This time I'm a little too close to the edge of the chaos.
I gape at the TV in disbelief: I'm supposed to fly out of Los Angeles Airport — Terminal 3, no less — that afternoon, but all I see is footage of scrambling police and snarled traffic. If I'd booked an earlier flight, I could have been sitting there when the 23-year-old gunman shot the TSA agent at the foot of the escalator, then wandered through the gate area with his rifle and his grievances.
There are worse things in life than having to reschedule a flight. I postponed my return to Chicago for two days. Now that I'm back, I'm still thinking about last week's killer-rampage spectacle, which culminated in the wounding and arrest of the suspect, Paul Ciancia. Afterward came the media's smattering of sound-bite psychology.
"There were few people that kept to themselves, and he was definitely one of them," a high school classmate told ABC News.
Good enough. As the headline of the story proclaimed: He was a loner. This is the extent of our official understanding. Loner is the new race card, you could almost say — the catch-all bin that separates bad-guys-with-high-powered-rifles from the rest of us. The important thing is their differentness. Even though mass murder has been on a wild upswing since the 1960s, having increased, by some estimates, as much as fourteenfold since then (well exceeding the rise in population), the people who do these things are different from us. They're loners. That's what matters, according to the superficial media.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
BuzzFlash has known David Cay Johnston for many years. He is a Pulitzer Prize winning financial journalist and author-- with a specialty in tax policy analysis -- formerly on the staff of the New York Times among other publications.
Johnston is unusual for someone who used to be published by the "paper of record": he analyzes financial data and lets the numbers lead him to the logical mathematical conclusions. That means he doesn't start from a preconceived perspective about how to measure the economy; for instance, that the official government unemployment rate is the basic criteria to determine if we are becoming more prosperous as a nation.
Instead, Johnston drills down into arcane reports and figures, such as what trends in Social Security payroll taxes reveal. The other day, he wrote an article, "Median wage falls to lowest level since 1998," on Al Jazeera America using just such numbers to reconfirm that the working person is getting the short end of the financial stick:
Last year the median wage hit its lowest level since 1998, revealing that at least half of American workers are being left behind as the economy slowly recovers from the Great Recession.
But at the top, wages soared — the latest indication in a long-running trend of increasing inequality, with income gains going to top earners while the majority of workers see stagnant or falling wages.
JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Goldman Sachs churns out enormous profits from its high-rolling, casino investment schemes, while also churning out fat paychecks for its top executives. They literally sack up the gold, even as their speculative gambles have wreaked havoc on our real economy.
But, finally recognizing that their public approval rating has sunk lower than mad-cow disease, Goldman's banking barons now want you to know that they feel your pain and are eager to "give back" to the people. So — ta-da! — they've transformed themselves into philanthropists, having goosed up the bank's foundation in order to flash their "charitable side." Goldman's chief of staff noted that "people said we weren't doing enough" to address the gross inequities created by Wall Streeters, so they've turned their foundation into the fourth largest corporate charity in America. In an orchestrated show that the New York Times dubbed "reputation redemption," the bank's charitable arm doled out $241 million last year, including grants to women in developing nations and small business projects here in the U.S.
JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Last Sunday, on NBC's Meet the Press, David Alexrod and Bob Woodward were invited to the "roundtable" to discuss Obama's low approval ratings. Alexrod replied:
Well, you know, I'm having flashbacks when I hear that number, David, because I remember when I was in the White House in the spring of 2010, and we had the oil leak in the Gulf, and Washington was in a twitter about that. And our numbers were damaged by that. And it was, you know, "Why can't they get it done? Why didn't he know what was going on in the mineral and mine service? This is Obama's Katrina."
And then we plugged the leak, got reparations for the people in the Gulf, helped repair the Gulf. And, you know, it wasn't mentioned in the 2012 campaign. So I think it's very hard to make judgments in the midst.
Bob Wooward responded to Axelrod:
It's a good framing of the question. Obviously we don't know. And you're right, health care is not the BP oil spill, it's something that's going to go on for years and decades.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
As our numerous commentaries on Fukushima and its perilous implications to life on planet earth have indicated, the nuclear industry is high-risk. Anti-nuclear advocate Harvey Wasserman warned again of the nuclear power threat in a BuzzFlash at Truthout commentary posted today, "Pro-Nuke Scientists Should Go to Fukushima."
Now The Independent UK reports that an island of trash, some of it presumed toxic from the Fukushima radiation leaks, is floating across the Pacific, headed toward North America:
An enormous floating island of debris from Japan’s 2011 tsunami is drifting towards the coast of America, bringing with it over one million tons of junk that would cover an area the size of Texas.
The most concentrated stretch – dubbed the “toxic monster” ... - is currently around 1,700 miles off the coast, sitting between Hawaii and California, but several million tons of additional debris remains scattered across the Pacific.
HARVEY WASSERMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Four climate scientists have made a public statement claiming nuclear power is an answer to global warming.
Before they proceed, they should visit Fukushima, where the Tokyo Electric Power Company has moved definitively toward bringing down the some 1300 hot fuel rods from a pool at Unit Four.
Which makes this a time of global terror.
In response more than 150,000 petition signatures from www.nukefree.org and others will be delivered at the United Nations this Thursday, November 7, asking for a global response to this disaster.
Since March 11, 2011, fuel assemblies weighing some 400 tons, containing more than 1500 extremely radioactive fuel rods, have been suspended 100 feet in the air above Fukushima Daiichi's Unit Four. "If you calculate the amount of cesium 137 in the pool, the amount is equivalent to 14,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs," says Hiroaki Koide, assistant professor at Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute. Former US Department of Energy official Robert Alvarez, an expert on fuel pool fires, calculates potential fallout from Unit Four at ten times greater than what came from Chernobyl.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
They're not Birthers, wackos, Christian nationalists, or particularly consumed by whether President Barack Obama is a Marxist or a socialist. Nevertheless they are steadfast conservatives hell bent on turning back the clock on the rights of workers; destroying what's left of organized labor, undermining struggles by non-union workers, and eliminating many of the achievements workers have fought for over the past seventy-five years.
Couched as a response to difficult fiscal conditions, Republican governors and Republican-led state legislatures – many of them in battleground states -- have been working hard at eviscerating the rights of public employees. Public workers, however, aren't the only target of wealthy right-wing funders, major corporate lobbies, and corporate-funded lobbying organizations; non-union and private sector workers are also seen as fair game.
And, despite the bad publicity it received over its involvement with Stand Your Ground legislation in a number of states -- information that was revealed in the wake of the murder of Trayvon Martin -- the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is playing a prominent role in an anti-labor coalition whose agenda is moving along at breakneck speed.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The Guardian UK headline on November 4 reconfirms the outlaw depravity of the US after 9/11 in terms of torture, "CIA made doctors torture suspected terrorists after 9/11, taskforce finds: Doctors were asked to torture detainees for intelligence gathering, and unethical practices continue, review concludes."
One of things that the "Change" slogan of the 2008 Obama campaign meant to many ethical people who uphold standards of international law and decency is that those responsible for torture under the Bush administration would be held accountable. No such efforts were made under a president who boasts of his assassination list.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
As they accumulate more and more wealth, the very rich have less need for society. At the same time, they've convinced themselves that they made it on their own, and that contributing to societal needs is unfair to them. There is ample evidence that this small group of takers is giving up on the country that made it possible for them to build huge fortunes.
1. They've Taken $25 Trillion of New Wealth While Paying Less Taxes
The 2013 Global Wealth Databook shows that U.S. wealth has increased from $47 trillion in 2008 to $72 trillion in mid-2013. But according to U.S. Government Revenue figures, federal income taxes have gone DOWN from 2008 to 2012. Even worse, corporations cut their tax rate in half.
American society has gained nothing from its massive wealth expansion. There's no wealth tax, no financial transaction tax, no way to ensure that infrastructure and public education are supported.
Just how much have the super-rich taken over the past five years? Each of the elite 5% -- the richest 12 million Americans -- gained, on average, nearly a million dollars in financial wealth between 2008 and 2013.
2. For the First Time in History, They Believe They Don't Need the Rest of Us
The rich have always needed the middle class to work in their factories and buy their products. With globalization this is no longer true. Their factories can be in China, producing goods for people in India or Europe or anywhere else in the world.
MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
It's not official, and it may never come to pass.
But various press sources are reporting about a growing movement to have NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden testify in Germany.
According to the newspaper that broke the Snowden NSA revelations, The Guardian UK:
Some German politicians and newspaper columnists have backed calls for Snowden to be invited as a witness. The justice minister, Sabine Leuheusser-Schnarrenberger, told the Passauer Neue Presse newspaper: "If the allegations build up and lead to an investigation, one could think about calling in Snowden as a witness."
Thomas Oppermann, of the Social Democrats, said: "Snowden's claims appear to be credible, while the US government has blatantly lied to us on this matter. That's why Snowden could be an important witness, also in clearing up the surveillance of the chancellor's mobile."