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2014.12.3.Hightower.BFMultibillion-dollar armament giants have long profited from the constant wars and repressive tactics of police states around the globe, but they've now discovered a hot new growth market here at home: The militarization of our local and state police agencies. (Photo: Glenn Halog / Flickr)

JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

It can be tough policing the mean streets in these days of desperation, when drug cartels and other hardened criminals are out there ... somewhere ... you really can't know where, until they strike, and another civilian is marked with a V - for Victim.

But the good people of Orange County, Florida, are lucky, because they've got the astonishing team of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and the Orange County Sheriffs Office keeping watch, ready and able to preempt any criminal gang before it can strike locals with the dreaded V. In fact, a recent ruling by a U.S. Court of Appeals documents the truly incredible vigilance of this dynamic policing duo.

The DBPR/OCSO target in this case was a suspicious enterprise calling itself Strictly Skillz, and the agents spent a month carefully planning a joint sweep operation including a fully armed SWAT team in full battle dress. On the day of the raid, the team first sealed off the parking lot; next, two plainclothes cops entered to size up the danger; and then - BAM! - the SWAT team hit the unsuspecting subjects. Wearing riot gear and brandishing their guns, the team seized half a dozen of the enterprise's kingpins, cuffed them, and then laid them out on the floor, while officers searched the premises for more than an hour. Alas, nothing criminal was found.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

abillythanksRev. Bill Talen leads a protest at Monsanto world headquarters on Thanksgiving (Photo:Erik McGregor)

Led by the indefatigable minister of anti-consumerism Billy Talen, protesters assembled at the Monsanto world headquarters in St. Louis on Thanksgiving. 

Talen pointed out that Monsanto represents ruinous global domination of agricultural toxic chemicals and products that contribute to global warming. It is a company that symbolizes what people in the US and around the world should not be thankful for, according to a news release by Talen and his Stop Shopping Choir:

Known by millions as the most environmentally destructive corporation on the planet, Monsanto, for nearly two decades, has been controlling political campaigns and affecting the regulatory process of agricultural systems all over the world. In the U.S. alone, more than 90 percent of soybeans and 80 percent of corn are grown with seeds containing Monsanto-patented genetics.

"Monsanto must be stopped," said Reverend Billy, who has been jailed more than 50 times protesting social and environmental injustices. "Monsanto is the devil and what better day than Thanksgiving to remind the world that eating local, organic food is one way to stop this profit-mongering, biodiversity-destroying monopoly."

Industrial agriculture and the entire globalized food system, which is becoming more large-scale and centralized every day, destroys biodiversity, soils and local food systems, and is responsible for accelerating climate change by contributing more than 40 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

The protesters, many dressed as Pilgrims, partook of an organic meal near the Monsanto complex. 

STEVE JONAS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aendwhitesup(Photo: shoehorn99)

The doctrine of white supremacy was used in 17th century North America to justify the use and practice of slavery in the British colonies. Just before the Civil War, the odious doctrine was summarized by Alexander Stephens, who later became Vice-President of the Confederate States of America serving under Jefferson Davis: 

Many governments have been founded upon the principle of the subordination and serfdom of certain classes of the same race. Such were, and are in violation of the laws of nature. Our system commits no such violation of nature's law. With us, all of the white race, however high or low, rich or poor, are equal in the eye of the law. Not so with the Negro. Subordination is his place. He, by nature, or by the curse against Cain, is fitted for that condition which he occupies in our system. Our new government is founded on the opposite idea of the equality of the races. Its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests upon the great truth, that the Negro is not equal to the White man; that slavery --- subordination to the superior race --- is his natural condition.

As I wrote in a previous column on BuzzFlash at Truthout, the South had six principal war aimsas it started the Civil War in support of secession:

1. The preservation of the institution of African and African-American (the latter the courtesy of the slave owners and slave masters) slavery and its uninhibited expansion into the territories of the Great Plains, the Rocky Mountain region, and the Southwest.

2. The acceptance by the whole United States of the doctrine of white supremacy on which the institution of slavery was established.

3. The establishment and subsequent strong prosecution of US imperialism outside of North America (a position much more strongly held in the South than in the North)....

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

asunshinestFlorida government says no to stimulating solar energy (Photo: DonkeyHotey)

Florida's state slogan - emblazoned on its license plates and welcome signs - may be "The Sunshine State," but the fossil fuel industry just got the state Public Service Commission to eliminate a household solar energy rebate program to stimulate use of the free and abundant energy source.

The sun may be a source of prodigious clean and free power, but even in a state where the sun is often hot enough to cook an egg on the hood of a car, the dinosaur polluting power companies have gotten their way. At stake were rebates to households to install rooftop solar units which would generate free - once constructed - energy that would be sold back to a for-profit utility grid. The fossil fuel giants - in this case including Duke Energy Florida, Tampa Electric, and Florida Power & Light, according to Clean Technica - lobbied the energy oversight agency in Florida and won a vote on November 25. The Tampa Bay Times writes of the triumph of greed and environmental degradation,

State regulators on Tuesday approved proposals to gut Florida's energy-efficiency goals by more than 90 percent and to terminate solar rebate programs by the end of 2015, giving the investor-owned utilities virtually everything they wanted....

Tuesday, 02 December 2014 07:20

Fracking Frenzy Threatens Developing Nations

ANASTASIA PANTSIOS OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaFrackingFrenzy1(Photo: EcoWatch)Fracking is both a temptation and a curse for developing nations, says a new report released today by Friends of the Earth Europe as governments meet in Lima to make meaningful commitments to speed up the transition away from dirty energy sources. Fracking Frenzy: How is the fracking industry threatening the planet? details the impacts of developing shale reserves in new regions of the world unprotected by political power to ward off bad policies that favor fossil fuel extraction companies over communities.

The report looks at a selection of countries identified in the U.S. Energy Information Administration's 2013 World Shale Gas and Shale Oil Resource Assessment that analyzed potential shale resources in 42 countries and 95 shale basins around the world. It identifies 11 countries it says are prime targets for the fracking industry to focus on in depth: Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, South Africa, China, India, Indonesia and Russia. It analyzes the potential gas and oil reserves (often over-estimated), available water resources, area's geology, country's policies on drilling, local opposition to fracking and environmental, ecological and social impact of fracking in each.

"While much has been written about fracking in North America and in the EU, this report provides a global overview of shale gas development in the rest of the world," the report says. "These countries include seven of the EIA's top ten countries for technically recoverable shale gas resources and are among the leaders in shale development on their respective continents. These countries also reveal the variety and specificity of the dangers associated with the expansion of the fracking industry, including environmental, social and health consequences which extend beyond the borders of individual countries."

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaKKK2(Photo: American Memory Collection)Surely you remember the five-step color-coded terrorism alert system – ranging from green (go shopping to defeat terrorism) to red (stay at home and defeat terrorism by shopping online) -- devised by the Bush Administration to keep Americans on its collective toes.

If this system hadn't been phased out by President Barack Obama's then-Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, it would probably be flashing red. Not because of actions by homegrown self-described patriots who threaten to shoot children crossing the country's southern border, or anti-abortion fanatics who maintain they're doing god's work by killing doctors who perform abortions and bombing abortion clinics, or because of the shoot-em-up actions of disgruntled domestic white anti-government xenophobes, but rather because these days, it's all about the threat to the homeland posed by ISIS and other jihadist groups.

Last week, in about ten minutes time, Larry Steve McQuilliams, 49, of Austin, Texas, shot off an estimated 100 rounds of ammunition throughout Austin's downtown area; firing at the federal courthouse and the Mexican consulate. No one was killed or wounded other than McQuilliams, who was shot and killed by a police officer.

Early media accounts reported that McQuilliams may have had "anti-government" and "anti-immigration motives."

You think?

Monday, 01 December 2014 10:15

Slap-in-the-Face Wealth Gap Images

PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaBenjaminJust 70 individuals now own as much wealth as half the world. In the U.S., the richest 40 individuals own as much as half the country, and the 16,000 American households in the top .01% have accumulated an average net worth of over a third of a billion dollars. As extreme wealth continues to grow out of control, inequality worsens for the rest of us, plaguing our country and our world, spreading like a terminal form of cancer. It should be a major news item in the mainstream media. But the well-positioned few are either oblivious to or uncaring about its effect on less fortunate people.

The data and charts (citations here) come from Forbes, Credit Suisse, and a recent study by Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman.

1. Just 70 Individuals Own As Much Wealth As Half the World

SaezZucman2014 1

 

Less than a year ago, Oxfam reported that the richest 85 individuals owned as much wealth as half the world. But recently updated calculations reveal that the richest 70 individuals now own $1.842 trillion, more than the poorest half of the world.

We're drawing nearer to the fulfillment of Charles Koch's dream: "I want my fair share and that's all of it."

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aburnabyprotestRally against Kinder Morgan oil pipeline on Burnaby Mountain, British Columbia (Photo: Mark Klotz)

As reported on November 19 (via EcoWatch), Native-Americans led the way in bearing witness and protesting a US Senate vote on the Keystone XL pipeline (which fortunately did not pass). However, some of the protesters were arrested for standing up in the Senate visitors' gallery and chanting a native hymn. According to EcoWatch:

One of the protesters was Greg Grey Cloud of the Rosebud Sioux tribe."Grey Cloud, who wore a headdress, continued singing as he was knocked to the floor and pulled to the wall of the hallway," said Red Power Media. "Protesters were handcuffed with plastic zip-ties while standing shoulder to shoulder, facing the wall. They were then paraded down a corridor and one of the protesters began singing again. The group was arrested for 'disrupting Congress.'"

BuzzFlash at Truthout has reported in the past on the courageous and often unheralded and unreported non-violent resistance of Native Americans (in the US and Canada) to the transportation of tar sands oil over their lands and also to pollution of their ancestral territory in general.

Another victory has been won by First Nations' resistance - along with supportive environmental groups and local residents - in Canada. The Council of Canadians/Le Conseil des Canadiens - whose slogan is "Acting for Social Justice/Agir Pour la Justice Sociale" - announced on December 1 that a large protest in British Columbia has temporarily halted a tar sands pipeline that is planned to run from Alberta through British Columbia to Pacific Ports.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014 11:32

Racism: It's the Law

2014.11.26.Ferguson.BFFerguson solidarity protest in Washington DC. (Photo: Neil Cooler / Flickr)

ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Smoke and fire, sirens blaring, horns honking, a sudden hail of bullets. This is what passes for the American dialogue on race and justice.

It’s hidden until it explodes.

“By 10 p.m.,” the Wall Street Journal informed us, “a St. Louis County Police squad car burned just down the street from the Ferguson Police Department, with spare ammunition ‘cooking off’ or exploding in the car.”

Those who want to shake their heads in disgust can do so. American institutional racism conceals itself so neatly from those who prefer not to see it and, of course, aren’t victimized by it. And then every so often something sets off the public trigger — an 18-year-old young man is shot and killed by a police officer, for instance — and the reality TV that is our mainstream news brings us the angry, “violent” response, live. And it’s always one side against another; us vs. them. It’s always war.

2014.11.26.Berkowitz.BFIn mid-November, the American Family Association (AFA) announced that PetSmart would be a target of a one-month AFA boycott for keeping the "Christ" out of "Christmas." (Screen grab via the American Family Association's website)BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

The "War on Christmas" is becoming as American as police shootings of unarmed Black men, drones striking weddings in Afghanistan and the revolving door at the Defense Department. While Fox News' Bill O'Reilly and the American Family Association may be some of the 21st century's chief promulgators of the "War on Christmas," interestingly enough, it was the far-right John Birch Society that followed in the footsteps of Henry Ford, who, Daniel Denvir wrote in Politico last year, "was an avid proponent of the idea that someone - or more precisely, some group - was waging a war on Christmas."

According to Wikipedia:

"In 1959, they released a pamphlet called 'There Goes Christmas,' in which they claimed that there was a new communist plot to 'take the Christ out of Christmas' by replacing Christmas decorations with United Nations iconography. The Society claimed this was part of a larger push to stamp out religion altogether and cede US sovereignty to the UN. They urged their members to boycott any stores with 'inappropriate decorations.'"

While the good folks at Fox News have led "War on Christmas" hectoring over the past ten years or so, it is the American Family Association, with its annual "Naughty and Nice" list, that is doing some of the heaviest lifting and mobilizing its troops for the battlefield.

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