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…
STEVEN JONAS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
There is a lot of talk these days about "presidential legacies." Obama is supposedly trying to burnish his. George W. Bush has spent the last six years trying to run away from his: from his failure to prevent 9/11, to his invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, to his failed attempt to destroy Social Security. And then there's the very real legacy of Bill Clinton, which doesn't seem to garner much attention. However, on the domestic side it has been, over the long-term, just as damaging to the nation as has been George W. Bush's on the foreign side. But as Hillary apparently prepares to run for the presidency, Bill will certainly be part of the equation, whether she likes it or not. And she will not be able to try to ignore him and his record, as Al Gore did in the 2000 campaign, for better or worse.
So it might be a good idea at this time to take a look at that picture, even though it is hardly a pretty one. I am presenting the elements of it that I find to be most important, but not necessarily in order of importance, for some would think that some are more important than others. However, I think that most persons viewing this particular list would agree that they are all negative to a greater or lesser extent. Or at least they would agree that I just happen to have picked out a bunch of negative ones (but I did have a hard time remembering any positive ones). And so, in no particular order, here's my list.
Bill Clinton introduced us to Big Pharma advertising for prescription drugs on television. The main purpose of these ads, at least as they are now constructed, would seem to be to attempt to protect the firms from charges of non-full disclosure when various pharmaceuticals come to suit. But at the same time, with the visuals all the way through and the often dream-like text about what the pills can do for you at the beginning and the end, the ads: a) reinforce the US drug culture: "take this pill; it will solve your problem"; b) add to the pressure that physicians feel all the time anyway about prescribing; and c) attempt to make patients into self-prescribers.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Ominous portents abound that water - necessary for the survival of all life on earth - is under dire threat. In a commentary pondering the notion that we may have passed the threshold of peak potable water, Lucinda Marshall cites some troubling signs:
To make matters worse, the Colorado River is drying up at an alarming rate.
And of course it isn’t just the American West that is in trouble. Nadia Prupis reports that, unless water use is drastically minimized…widespread drought will affect between 30 and 40 percent of the planet by 2020, and another two decades after that will see a severe water shortage that would affect the entire planet.”
War can severely impact access to safe water as the Iraqis know all too well and as we are seeing now in the Ukraine and in Gaza.
As can corporate greed, as we are learning in Detroit.
Throughout the U.S. water service is frequently disrupted by pipe breaks in our aging infrastructure.
And now we are seeing how allowing the over-fertilization of lawns can contribute to poisoning water supplies such as Lake Erie, recently leaving the entire city of Toledo, OH without potable water.
We have littered the oceans with literally islands of trash.
And of course the ongoing disaster that is Fukushima.
As Marshall observes, "That, unfortunately is only the prelude of what is to come."
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
You may have read that due to pressure from gun control groups, some national chains such as Starbucks, Target and Chipotle now discourage gun zealots from openly carrying firearms into their facilities.
According to an April 3 Christian Science Monitor article, however, "Smaller Restaurants Welcome Gun Owners: While Some Large Chains Discourage Guns, More Independent Restaurateurs Are Giving the Green Light." Not only are guns welcome at these diners, but you can even get a discount for carrying a gun at some, the Monitor reports:
"Most that come in are responsible and have their guns holstered," said Jay Laze, owner of All Around Pizza and Deli. Last year, Mr. Laze began giving 15% discounts to diners who either were carrying openly or had concealed-carry permits. "It was good for business, and I've hopefully educated some folks on the Second Amendment and the right to carry."
Bryan Crosswhite, owner of The Cajun Experience, which gives 10% discounts on Wednesdays to those with guns, said he, too, had experienced no serious problems with his program, adding that he won't serve alcohol to patrons openly carrying.
Give Bryan Crosswhite some credit. At least he doesn't give a 20 percent discount if you drink and carry a firearm into his eating establishment. (Although some states, it should be noted, allow for carrying guns into bars and restaurants that serve liquor.)
AKIRA WATTS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
With all the awesome things that have happened in the past week, a small bit of positivity may be found in the news that the Senate will finally be releasing its report on CIA torture. It's been a long strange trip to get us to this point, complete with a Diane Feinstein freakout that the CIA had dared to shift its surveillance focus from ordinary folk to Real Important People. But now it's on its way, and President Obama had a few thoughts on the upcoming report.
"We tortured some folks."
Full stop, as head explodes from cognitive dissonance.
Let's break this sentence down, shall we?
"We." No problems there. The usage of first person plural is a good move. It acknowledges a sort of collective responsibility. We're all guilty. Actually, I don't feel all that guilty, since I've managed to go 38 years without ever torturing anyone, but moving right along.
"Tortured." Also good. No Newspeak terms like enhanced interrogation techniques. Just tortured. Blunt and to the point. The past tense is slightly troubling. Some of the activities currently going on in Guantanamo are, at best, questionable. But that's outside the scope of this report.
So far, so good...
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
poor people have it easy.
The degree of ignorance about poverty is stunning, even for people far removed from the realities of an average American lifestyle. Both oilman Charles Koch and Nicole Miller CEO Bud Konheim have suggested that we should compare ourselves to poor people in China and India, and then just shut up and be happy. The Cato Institute informs Americans that "The current welfare system provides such a high level of benefits that it acts as a disincentive for work." And entrepreneur Marc Andreessen explains, rather incomprehensibly, that "Technology innovation disproportionately helps the poor more than it helps the rich, as the poor spend more of their income on products."
1. We Spend Relatively Little on Poverty Programs
The Economic Policy Institute stated, "The United States stands out as the country with the highest poverty rate and one of the lowest levels of social expenditure." It's a national disgrace that we allow just a few people to take more of the country's wealth than the millions of productive people who can't find living-wage jobs.
Just two men made more investment income in 2013 than the entire year's welfare budget (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), commonly referred to as 'welfare').
Just 400 individuals made more investment income in 2013 than the entire safety net (SNAP, WIC (Women, Infants, Children), Child Nutrition, Earned Income Tax Credit, Supplemental Security Income, TANF, and Housing).
And the richest 1% made more from their investments in 2013 than the total cost of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the entire safety net.