JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Please watch this video clip that aired on NBC Nightly News about the plans to obliterate 8 million acres of Ecuador’s pristine Rainforest for oil in exchange for the debt Ecuador owes from loans: Tribes in Ecuador will fight Rainforest auction, NBC’s Ann Curry reports.
The Wauroni tribes, who live in the forests of Ecuador, are getting ready to challenge the Ecuadorian government’s plan to sell as much as 8 million acres of Rainforest for oil drilling, saying they are prepared to fight to the death (with pea-shooters) to protect the land.
If I were Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Michael Bloomberg, Warren Buffet, George Soros…, I would implore my wealthy friends to do the most monumental rescue plan of their lifetimes: End this Faustian bargain by paying Ecuador’s debt to China, and whatever else they owe, (estimated $5-7 billion dollars) and save the last pristine Rainforest for the preservation of our existence. They could probably write it off as a charitable contribution.
Naïve? Perhaps, but does anyone else have a better idea? The clock is ticking. It’s a lot of money, granted, but to put this in perspective, the U.S. government spends that much a month on military operations. Money is the answer. And so asking billionaires to ban together to save Ecuador’s Rainforest from oil exploration and pollution is worth a shot. It’s worth contacting the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the George Soros Foundation to protect rare medicinal plants for incurable illnesses unique to Ecuador’s Rainforest, and the Clinton Foundation Climate Change the former President devotes 70 percent of his lecture time on solutions to global warming, Michael Bloomberg has acknowledged toxic water problems from gas drilling (fracking). The Google team has invested heavily in green technologies—the list goes on. There are affluent members of our society that are responsible citizens; believe it or not, those two assertions are not always mutually exclusive—unless you’re talking about insanely greedy thugs such as the Koch brothers.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
When we think of electoral shenanigans, we often think of blatantly rigged elections with uncounted votes and hanging chads, overcrowded and understaffed polling places, blatant voter intimidation, the purging of voter rolls, pushing false information about when and where to vote, and forcing legitimately registered voters, whose names do not appear on voting rolls, to cast provisional ballots.
More recently we have heard a great deal about new legislative efforts in a number of states to suppress the vote, including, making it harder to register, cutting down on the period for early voting, implementing photo ID laws, and ending Election Day simultaneous registration and voting.
However, when we think of voter suppression, we don't often think about felon disenfranchisement.
According to a 2010 report by The Sentencing Project titled Expanding The Vote: State Felony Disenfranchisement Reform 1997-2010, while things have been slowly changing for the better in a number of states, "more than 5 million citizens ... [were] ineligible to vote in the midterm elections in November , including nearly 4 million who reside in the 35 states that still prohibit some combination of persons on probation, parole, and/or people who have completed their sentence from voting."
In addition, "Racial disparities in the criminal justice system also translate into higher rates of disenfranchisement in communities of color, resulting in one of every eight adult black males being ineligible to vote."
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Unregulated capitalism is out of control. Like a cancer, it has become "something evil or malignant that spreads destructively," with tumors growing in several once-healthy parts of the American body.
Attacking the Hungry
The uncontrolled growth of investment wealth is diverting resources away from vital programs, effectively smothering them. The average Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)recipient received about $1,500 for food for the entire year. At least ten Americans each made that much in under ten seconds from their investment gains in 2012, about the time it took each one to fluff his pillow and roll over in bed.
STEVEN JONAS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Born in 1946, I grew up in New York during the era of Baseball in New York. We had three major league teams, the New York Giants, and the Brooklyn Dodgers (both in the National League) and the hated (that is if you rooted for either of the first two) New York Yankees in the American League. I was born in 1936, the same year that the great “DiMag” (Joe DiMaggio) broke in with the Yankees. (I did not know it until many years later, but DiMaggio had to endure many an anti-Italian epithet in his early years.) Although not yet a fan at age 9, in 1946 I was aware of the dash around the bases from first to score on a single by Enos “Country” Slaughter of the St. Louis Cardinals to win the World Series for them over the Boston Red Sox. (Slaughter, a Southern racist, would in 1947 feature in Robinson’s baseball life and the movie.) It was also in that year that I became aware of Jackie Robinson, signed by the Dodgers and assigned to play with their top minor league team, the Montreal Royals. But my knowledge of that fact came from more political than baseball awareness.
I grew up in a left-wing household on the Upper West Side of Manhattan (New York City). I was what was known as “Red Diaper Baby.” (I still have a few friends who shared that moniker. Unlike too many of our compatriots who chose the easy road to the Right in US politics [and for some, a quite lucrative road it became one might add], some of us did stay true to our birthright, and we, I must say, are proud of it.) At any rate, in those days, during and just after World War II, the newspaper of the Communist Party USA, The Daily Worker, was in my home every day.
Now, as a kid, I can make no claim to have read the sometimes complex, and sometimes very rapidly shifting news perspectives and political analyses. But like many a kid, I did read the sports pages. And so, I read two great sports columnists named Bill Mardo and Lester Rodney. (I was privileged to meet them many years later at a magnificent three-day sports history symposium to honor the 50th anniversary of the arrival of Jackie Robinson in the Big Leagues put on by my good friend and Columbia College classmate, and great U.S. social historian, Prof. Joseph Dorinson of the History Department at Long Island University in Brooklyn, NY. And thanks, Joe, for providing me with some of the material for this column.) It was through Messrs. Mardo and Rodney that I learned of the campaign for the integration of major league baseball that beginning in the 1930s had been mounted by the Communist Party of the United States, in cooperation with such leading civil rights organizations of the day as the NAACP and A. Philip Randolph’s Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.
(Photo: Baseball Collection)
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Crack Coke: The Real Thing
The Koch brothers, according to a right wing publication report on a recent conclave held by the toxic billionaire siblings, will be back trying to buy the election in 2014.
According to The New American Magazine (which has the John Birch Society as the first on its list of "affiliates and friends"), the Koch Brothers recently revealed at their spring meeting of plutocrats (held in Palm Springs) that they are retooling their strategy for heavily investing in buying up the government:
One major change has already taken place at the Koch Brothers' key project, Americans for Prosperity (AFP). Founded in 2004 to educate and motivate concerned citizens about economic policy and political action for lower taxes and less government, in 2012 AFP invested more than $140 million in political ads and door-to-door canvassing efforts with disappointing results. The group’s chief operating officer was terminated along with most of its staff and several fundraisers, but two key Koch employees were placed on its board.
It’s likely that support for the 60 Plus Association will be reduced while funding for Generation Opportunity, geared more to younger voters, and The Libre Initiative, which focuses on Hispanics and Latinos, will be increased in time for the 2014 elections.
The big news, however, is the creation of a new tax-exempt group, the Association for American Innovation, which will be run by a former AFP strategist and will coordinate state efforts to reduce taxes and limit government spending.
In addition, heavy investment will be made in a voter-mining and management software program called Themis in an attempt to catch up with the Democrats’ successful data management strategy that gave them a significant strategic advantage in that party’s messaging during last year’s election campaign. It will likely be managed by a key Koch employee, Kevin Gentry, who will use it to target advertising buys on cable as well as focus on registering new voters and staying in touch with them on an ongoing basis.
The Koch brothers running a new tax-exempt group with another Frank Luntz style misleading name ("Association for American Innovation") that aims to allow multi-billionaires to seize even more of the nation's assets for personal wealth? This isn't innovation; it's just tax-exempt mugging by another name.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Farleigh Dickinson University conducted a poll released on May 1 that implies that much of the pro-gun sentiment has nothing to do with self-defense, but rather with anti-federal government rage:
Overall, the poll finds that 29 percent of Americans think that an armed revolution in order to protect liberties might be necessary in the next few years, with another five percent unsure. However, these beliefs are conditional on party. Just 18 percent of Democrats think an armed revolution may be necessary, as opposed to 44 percent of Republicans and 27 percent of independents….
“The differences in views of gun legislation are really a function of differences in what people believe guns are for,” said [Dan] Cassino, [a professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson.] “If you truly believe an armed revolution is possible in the near future, you need weapons and you’re going to be wary about government efforts to take them away."
This indication of a rather foreboding simmering of a revolt against the US government was brought to light in a May 1 article by David Sirota on Salon.
But let's be clear that the willingness to take up firearms allegedly "to protect liberties" is occurring after a long right wing-fomented Tea Party siege against a black president. Furthermore, it is – as BuzzFlash at Truthout has often noted – a rebellion of whites who can't separate the image of America as a Caucasian-ruled nation from the legal basis of a democracy as enshrined in the US Constitution. Theirs is a racist fantasy that a democracy should look like the skin color of the "founding fathers," not about the legal framework of the nation that they created.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Republican Party political consultant, strategist and pollster Frank Luntz is whining. Being Frank Luntz, you can be sure that it's calculated whining, but it's whining nevertheless.
The man who has devoted the better part of his professional life to turning words into weapons of mass misdirection in support of his clients -- often resulting in their becoming weapons of mass indigestion for his clients' opponents -- is claiming that his privacy rights have been violated by a University of Pennsylvania student who secretly taped "off-the-record" comments made by Luntz about how certain well-known figures within the conservative movement are hurting the movement.
There are two storylines in play here: 1) The Original -- What Luntz actually said about divisive conservatives hurting the Republican Party; and, 2) The Conjured-- Luntz the aggrieved.
Clearly, Luntz's whining is aimed at changing the narrative from storyline one to storyline two.
Over the years, I've devoted more than enough ink to Frank Luntz:
In 2010, in a story headlined "If one man can single-handedly poison the debate over significant issues in America that man is Frank Luntz," I wrote: "Frank Luntz is above all else a practical man. Everything he does has been carefully calculated, weighed, and measured, be it his focus groups, his questionable 'fair and balanced' polling, or his Instant Response dial sessions.
"And there are words. Words that influence political campaigns; words that sway public opinion; words that confuse; words that deceive. Most of all, words that win. If you're looking for poetry do not come knocking of Luntz's door. If you're looking for color, you'll not discover a Luntzian rainbow. What you will find these days, however, is his Mighty Wurlitzer of words cranked up to full blast."
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
“Everywhere near the building, the stench of death was overpowering. Men in surgical masks sprayed disinfectant in the air.”
We move from tragedy to tragedy with hellish regularity.
“The scope of injuries,” Jim Yardley writes in the New York Times, “was horrifying: fractured skulls, crushed rib cages, severed livers, ruptured spleens. One survivor lost both legs. . . . A teenage girl named Sania lost her right leg. Another teenager, Anna, lost her right hand.”
This wasn’t from a bomb in Boston. It was from a collapsed building outside Dhaka, Bangladesh — another shocking sweatshop disaster, this one claiming the lives, according to the most recent count, of 385 people, with many more missing and at least 1,000 injured. Eight people, including the owner of the building, which housed five separate garment operations employing more than 3,000 people, were arrested. Workers, the Times reported, saw cracks in the walls of the building the day before it collapsed. They were told to go to work anyway.
Last November, when a fire swept through another Bangladesh garment factory, killing 112, I wrote: “It is a ruthless profit squeeze that has created workers’ hell in Bangladesh and elsewhere, and that guarantees more fires and grotesque death tolls in coming months and years.”
It is terrifyingly easy to be prescient about such matters, just as it’s easy to predict more mass shootings in the United States. The system is broken. It’s eating us alive. We do not value human life — or, for that matter, life itself — at the core of our social structure. But even the immensely powerful among us affect to value it after the fact, as rescuers pull bodies from the rubble and the survivors wail.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Twelve states are officially backing a constitutional amendment to eliminate corporate personhood, and Maine just became the thirteenth.
According to the Bangor Daily News:
Sen. Richard Woodbury, I-Yarmouth, plans to introduce a resolution Tuesday in the Maine Senate that directs the state’s congressional delegation to support a constitutional amendment that would overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 “Citizens United” opinion equating campaign spending with free speech....
In March, independent U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Democratic U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch of Florida introduced a constitutional amendment to overturn “Citizens United.” The proposed amendment would “expressly exclude for-profit corporations from the rights given to natural persons by the Constitution of the United States, prohibit corporate spending in all elections, and affirm the authority of Congress and the states to regulate corporations and to regulate and set limits on all election contributions and expenditures.”
Despite having a Tea Party governor, Maine is one of the leaders in transparent elections and reducing the impact of big money on the political process. However, in 2011, the US Supreme Court gutted a key element of the Maine Clean Election Act.