PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Many wealthy Americans complain about the amount of government subsidies going to the poor. Their complaints demonstrate ignorance, or greed, or a total lack of fair-mindedness, or a combination of all those symptoms of entitlement at the top.
The Rich Get as Much of the Safety Net as the Poor
Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, and Gabriel Zucman have calculated that, on average in 2014, the middle class received more of the safety net than the lower class. Specifically, the 40% of American adults with incomes just below the top 10% received more in safety net government transfers (Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps/SNAP, Veterans’ benefits, etc., but excluding Social Security) than the bottom 50% of Americans (Figure 11).
Even MORE STUNNINGLY, according to the same authors, when Medicare and Social Security are both included the richest 10% on average received approximately as much in government transfers as the poorest 50% (Figure S.13).
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Meet Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pennsylvania, a member of President Trump’s transition team, and a longtime loyal combatant in the nation’s drug wars.As a prosecutor in Pennsylvania, he steadfastly went after drug offenders, and, if as expected – and as CBS News has reported – Marino is appointed Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy” (ONDCP), it appears we’re headed for more ill-conceived and misguided drug policy initiatives, more wasted money, and greater imprisonment for minor drug offenders.
As a Congressman, according to the Portland Mercury’s Vince Sliwoski, Marino, who represents Pennsylvania’s rural 10th Congressional District, “voted against the Rohrabacher-Farr amendments, which prohibit the Department of Justice from using federal funds to prosecute state-compliant medical marijuana actors.”
He also “voted against allowing Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend medical cannabis to patients….[a]nd he opposed measures to ease federal restrictions on hemp and cannabidiol (CBD).”
The Seattle Weekly’s Meagan Angus recently reported that Marino “supports forced inpatient hospitalization for any non-dealer, nonviolent person who pleads guilty to possession to receive constant ‘treatment’ until a doctor thinks they are fit to re-enter society.”
MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
William Berkowitz rightly commented in April on the corporate media's cheerleading of war in his In These Times commentary, "Why the Corporate Media Loves a Bombing":
“The missiles flew, the explosives exploded, the nation was again at the cusp of war and the media were again at peace.” That's how media critic Bob Garfield led off a special edition of NPR's On the Media titled “How the Press Gets Seduced By War,” after President Trump ordered the dumping of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles on a Syrian airbase [recently]....
The problem with the media becoming unabashed cheerleaders for this, or any other military action, is that serious questions about the consequences of such actions don’t get asked. They get swept away in the fog of self-righteous blather and misguided patriotic fervor.
The corporate media becomes witting or unwitting enablers, in it for the phosphorescence, for the punch to the gut, for promoting the government’s narrative of “We’re all in this together and we’re doing something against evil.”
In many ways, the corporate media is still into "shock and awe" mode. There is nothing like submarine-launched missiles hurtling into the darkness of the night to make "good television." That means a larger viewership and higher ad revenue.
JIM HIGHTOWER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Journalism, which is supposed to help make sense of our turbulent world, can't seem to make sense of itself.
In addition to "news" (which involves reporting on stuff that's real) we're now getting "fake news" (stuff that's completely made up). But wait -- the barons of corporate news are adding to today's tumultuous state of journalism by putting out feeds of "BS news" (stuff they know is untrue but reported as fact, because it advances their political agenda).
For example, the mighty Washington Post keeps publishing a load of BS to denigrate our US Post Office. The paper's latest pot shot was in an alarmist editorial declaring, "The US Postal Service continues to hemorrhage red ink." Embracing their owner's anti-government ideology, the editors grumped that postal unions have made our mail service outmoded and insolvent, running up "a net loss of $5.6 billion last year."
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The American will to wage war -- endless war, pointless war, total war -- is, I fear, impervious to public opinion and even political action. It remains alive deep in the underground bunker of American militarism, protected from sanity.
This goes beyond the staying power of our loser generals, who have ever freer rein in the Trump administration to expand the war games of the 21st century. There is a quiet determination among those who serve the god of war -- or so it seems -- to engage in, and presumably win, a nuclear war.
This, at any rate, is the conclusion one could draw from an essay that ran last month in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, by Hans M. Kristensen, Matthew McKinzie and Theodore A. Postol, who point out how the US military has circumvented the global nuclear disarmament movement by increasing the accuracy -- and thus the "kill power" -- of the missiles it still holds onto, in the process intensifying the threat the United States poses to Russia (as the beloved Cold War returns) and minimizing the security of, oh Lord, mutually assured destruction.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
A group of physicians and business leaders has written a letter to Donald Trump requesting that he consider a single-payer health care system, which the letter calls "Medicare for all." They argue:
The reality is the United States is already paying enough to provide excellent health coverage to every person in the United States from birth to death if we did not waste hundreds of billions of dollars on the insurance industry and the bureaucracy it creates for businesses, health providers, the government and patients.
The answer to the healthcare crisis is obvious and simple: expand and improve Medicare for every person in the United States. Medicare has provided the funding for the health needs of the elderly and chronically ill since 1965. It is a proven, made-in-America, system that other countries have chosen as the basis of their universal health systems. We can do the same and create the greatest healthcare system in the world.
Although beseeching Trump to support a single-payer health care system may sound like an exercise in futility, a February 27 article in Truthout argues that the policy void created by the political conflict over the Affordable Care Act offers an opportunity.
ANDREW LICHTERMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
a test launch of an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on April 26.The U.S. Air Force has announced
Although such tests are conducted routinely, the timing of this one may not coincidental; the U.S. military sees nuclear delivery system tests as "distinct messaging opportunities". U.S. Air Force, Doctrine Annex 3-72, Nuclear Operations, May 2015. Regardless of the timing, it is clear that the message intended for North Korea (and the rest of the world) is that the United States has nuclear weapons, and is prepared to use them. In the past, U.S. officials have said so outright. Prior to a similar test in early 2016, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work told reporters "That's exactly why we do this... We and the Russians and the Chinese routinely do test shots to prove that the operational missiles that we have are reliable. And that is a signal ... that we are prepared to use nuclear weapons in defense of our country if necessary." David Alexander, "U.S. test-fires ICBM amid tensions with Russia, North Korea," Reuters, Feb 26, 2016.
It also is hard to see the difference between the intentions behind North Korea's displays of its nuclear and missile capabilities and those of the United States—aside from the fact North Korea has far more to fear, given that the United States has military and nuclear forces that far exceed those of North Korea, and that are exercised frequently close to North Korea's shores. Each of the 400 Minuteman III missiles currently in service carries a nuclear warhead 20 or more times as powerful as the atomic bomb dropped by the United States on Hiroshima in 1945. The U.S. also deployed nuclear-capable B-2 and B-52 bombers on several occasions following North Korean nuclear or missile tests, even conducting flyovers in South Korea. see Tara Copp, "US sends 3 nuclear stealth bombers to Pacific," Stars and Stripes, March 9, 2016; Choe Sang-Hunjan. "In Show of Alliance, American Forces Fly B-52 Bomber Over South Korea," The New York Times, January 10, 2016.
BILL QUIGLEY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Hurricane Katrina, the State of Louisiana took control of public schools in New Orleans and launched a nearly complete transformation of a public school system into a system of charter schools. Though there are spots of improvement in the New Orleans charter system, major problems remain.New Orleans is the nation's largest and most complete experiment in charter schools. After
Many of these problems were on display in New Orleans when the NAACP, which last year called for a moratorium on charter schools until issues of accountability and transparency were addressed, held a community forum in New Orleans on charters. The New Orleans hearing, which can be viewed here, featured outraged students, outraged parents, and dismayed community members reciting a litany of the problems created by the massive change to a charter school system. The single most powerful moment came when a group of students from Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools took the podium and detailed the many ways the system has failed and excluded them from participating in its transformation.
"We really wanted to share what happens in our schools" writes 18 year old Big Sister Love Rush in an article on the challenges the students face. "How the few permanent teachers we have work so hard for us, how so many classes are ran by short term substitutes, how food runs out at meal times, and how we worry if our school's reputation is good enough to support us in getting into the college or careers we want. We shared how we face two hour commutes to and from school, are forced to experiment with digital learning with systems like Odyssey, are punished for having the wrong color sweater, or how we worry about being able to attend a school that will give us the education we need."
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH
Chemical attacks, such as the one that occurred this month in Syria are grotesque and horrifying. According to the Guardian, President Trump was deeply upset by the killing of children:
"I will tell you that attack on children yesterday had a big impact on me – big impact," Trump said in the White House Rose Garden. "My attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much … You're now talking about a whole different level...."
"It crossed a lot of lines for me. When you kill innocent children, innocent babies, babies, little babies, with a chemical gas that is so lethal – people were shocked to hear what gas it was. That crosses many, many lines, beyond a red line, many, many lines."
The Economist describes the attack:
On April 4th a chemical attack struck the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib, a province in northern Syria controlled by an alliance of rebel groups, including a powerful faction linked to al-Qaeda. At least 85 people, including 20 children, died, according to doctors and a Syrian monitoring group. The World Health Organization said victims appeared to display symptoms that tally with the use of a deadly nerve agent such as sarin (as opposed to, say, a less powerful one such as chlorine).
ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUTLORRAINE CHOW OF
Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch
Opendata.epa.gov -- the US government's largest civilian-linked data service, storing crucial information on climate change, life cycle assessment, health impact analysis and environmental justice -- could face shut-down this Friday, according to people familiar with the plan.
"Last week, after numerous conversations with the US Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Environmental Information (OEI), and various technical contractors who support them, we were notified that funding is not available to continue operation US EPA's flagship Open Data Web service," wrote open data scientist Bernadette Hyland -- the CEO and co-founder of 3 Round Stones, a platform for publishing data on the web -- in a Medium post on Sunday.