Facebook Slider
Optional Member Code
Get News Alerts!
Thursday, 09 July 2015 06:38

The Collateral Damage of Austerity

2015.9.7 BF Koehler(Photo: Friends of the Earth International)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

“Officials in France and in Brussels said on Monday that they were unhappy and dumbfounded with the no vote, but let it be known that they would hold the door open to the possibility of a compromise between Greece and its creditors.”

Dumbfounded? Why? Because the godlike power of the creditors was insulted?

Mainstream coverage of economic matters — the above quote is from the New York Times— seldom cuts very deep into the world of money, seldom questions who’s in charge, and seldom dares to suggest that an economic system ought to serve humankind rather than vice versa.

The austerity packages Greece has endured as its condition of economic bailout over the past half-decade — dictated by those who wielded financial power and were determined to profit enormously off the suffering of Europe’s economic losers — have not only further gutted the country’s broken economy and prevented any sort of recovery toward self-sufficiency, but have shattered the socioeconomic structure of life for a huge segment of the Greek population. All of which is . . . you know, too damn bad. Money is as money does. The creditors have no choice but to impose severe restrictions on Greek social spending.

COLE MELLINO OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaLacMeg(Photo: Personalmountains)Monday was the second anniversary of the tragic Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, oil train disaster that killed 47 people. Since then, oil trains continue to derail and explode with five already this year. Four of the derailments occurred within just four weeks.

A coalition of environmental and social justice organizations including Sierra Club, GreenpeaceForestEthics, Oil Change International, Center for Biological Diversity, Rainforest Action Network, 350.org, Friends of the Earth, Food and Water Watch and Earthworks, have launched a week of action to call for an end to crude by rail shipments. The coalition has organized more than 80 events across the U.S. and Canada to call for an immediate ban on oil trains.

Lena Moffitt, director of the Sierra Club’s Dirty Fuels campaign made the following statement:

Exploding crude oil trains do not belong on the nation’s rails, and 25 million Americans—most of them people of color—do not deserve to be living in a blast zone. The Department of Transportation needs to take responsibility, and rather than put forward wholly inadequate rules that jeopardize the health and safety of communities along rail lines, the administration should ban bomb trains outright.

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaCrossBurn(Photo: Freiindlich)Where did Earl Holt, president of the Council of Conservative Citizens, get the money to make substantial donations to Republican Party politicos? According to Yahoo Finance, the source of Holt's largesse might be coming from his marriage to Katherine Ann Cook, the widow of Irving Falk, a "successful Jewish businessman."

Prior to Wednesday, June 17, Holt was going about his business in relative anonymity. Except for being on the radar of a few watchdog organizations that monitor, and write about right-wing movements, Holt spewed a fair amount of racist venom on the Internet, but it was clearly outside of the public's eye. Then, along came Dylann Roof's white nationalist-inspired rampage at a Bible study class at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, which resulted in the deaths of nine African Americans. As a result of Roof's action, Earl Holt III suddenly was thrust into the media's spotlight.

In Dylan Roof's manifesto, he specifically cited the website of the St. Louis, Missouri-based Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), which was founded in 1985 by a man named Gordon Lee Baum, as a major source of information and inspiration. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the CCC is the "modern day reincarnation" of White Citizens Councils. It describes the group as "a virulently racist group whose website has referred to blacks as 'a retrograde species of humanity.'"

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaawallstgreed45Santa Cruz County, California, won't do business with Wall Street banks engaging in illegal practices.

Santa Cruz County, California, recently figured out a way to hold big banks who engage in illegal and destructive behavior accountable: Don't do business with them.

According to AllGov California, the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors,

acting on a request from Supervisor Ryan Coonerty, voted to “not do new business for a period of five years with Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS as specified, and further direct that the County unwind existing relationships with these five banks to the greatest extent feasible.”

That means the county won’t buy the banks’ commercial paper or investment services, and will withdraw whatever funds it can from them.

Coonerty, and others, are not happy with the way big banks savaged the global economy and paid a pittance for their misdeeds.

As BuzzFlash documented yesterday, the Department of Justice under Eric Holder chose to only go through the motions of appearing to punish egregiously errant "banks too big to fail" without legally mandating structural or executive changes.

TIM RADFORD OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaEcoWatchSeafood(Photo: EcoWatch)Pink salmon—the smallest and most abundant of the Pacific salmon species, and a supper table mainstay in many parts of the world—may be swimming towards trouble.

And they are not the only dish likely to disappear from the menu. Mussels, oysters, clam and scallop could all become scarcer and more expensive as the seas become more acid. And as the world’s waters warm, fish will start to migrate away from their normal grounds at an ever-increasing rate.

New research shows that as the world’s waters acidify because of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, the pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) could become smaller and less likely to survive.

Potentially Problematic

Previous studies have repeatedly and consistently explored potentially problematic consequences of change in the pH value of the world’s oceans. The higher the carbon dioxide concentrations in the air as a consequence of the burning of fossil fuels, the greater the change in oceanic acidity levels.

JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaCubaObama(Photo: Raul Castro and President Obama, photo by US Government)I’ll never forget that image of President Ronald Reagan on Wall Street, holding a large pair of scissors over a symbolic pile of papers representing hard-won laws over the last century that restricted corporate monopolies, banks, unfair labor conditions and pollution. We also had important FDA regulations to protect the public from contaminated food and unsafe drugs.

Hundreds of protective laws have been sent to the slaughterhouse, compliments of the U.S. government with congressional assurance that they will never rise up to interfere with profitable industrial gains again.

Looking beyond President Obama’s persuasive speech to “chart a new course in US relations with Cuba that will engage and empower the Cuban people,” what does Obama really have in mind behind closed doors? This is the question.

President Obama is the master of giving impressive speeches, but his executive decisions, that have benefited industrial profits at our expense, speak louder than his words.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaarevolvingdoorThe revolving door: The list of financial giants that Holder's Department of Justice - and his Covington & Burling bench team – have treated with kid gloves is exhausting. (Photo: Nick Amoscato)

Eric Holder just rejoined the gilded DC law firm of Covington & Burling, after a few week's of hiatus between his stint as attorney general and his new job, in which he'll cash in on the status gained through his former position.

Covington & Burling - an elite law office that specializes in white-collar defense of banks and corporations – maintained a chokehold on the Department of Justice during Holder's tenure as attorney general. Indeed, when Holder became attorney general, he appointed Covington & Burling law partners to head both the civil and criminal divisions of the Justice Department. When the head of the criminal division, Lanny Breuer, stepped down and returned in early 2013 to Covington & Burling with a salary exceeding $4 million a year, he was replaced by Mythili Raman. Raman, in turn, stepped down from overseeing the DOJ criminal division in 2014 to become a partner at, yes, Covington & Burling. 

2015.6.7 BF MEllino(Photo: Richard Ling)COLE MELLINO OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

What’s up with all the shark attacks recently? According to the International Shark Attack File at the University of Florida, the Carolinas have had at least 10 shark attacks so far this year—seven in North Carolina and three in South Carolina. This is already more than last year, in which North Carolina saw only four attacks total for the year, according to National Geographic. “In the previous decade, there were only 25 shark attacks in North Carolina. And there have been just 55 documented shark attacks in the state between 1905 and 2014,” saysNational Geographic. Clearly, shark attacks are on the rise in the state. So what gives?

“Across the United States overall, shark attacks are on pace with an average year, and the chance of getting bit is still very low—an estimated one in 11.5 million for an ocean bather,” George H. Burgess, the director of the International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History, tells National Geographic. But, he adds, “Clearly, something is going on in North Carolina right now.” 

2015.6.7 BF Buchheit(Photo: Richard Lee)PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

In early 2015 Stanford University's updated CREDO Report concluded that "urban charter schools in the aggregate provide significantly higher levels of annual growth in both math and reading compared to their TPS peers."

This single claim of success has a lot of people believing that charter schools really work. But there are good reasons to be skeptical. First of all, CREDO is funded and managed by reform advocates. It's part of the Hoover Institution, a conservative and pro-business think tank funded in part by the Walton Foundation, and in partnership with Pearson, a leading developer of standardized testing materials. CREDO director Margaret Raymond is pro-charter and a free-market advocate.

The 2015 CREDO study received much of its input, according to a Louisiana source, from the New Orleans Recovery School District and charter promoter New Schools for New Orleans, who together had "embarked on a bold, five-year journey to standardize, validate and export the New Orleans charter restart model...addressing the problem of failing schools by restarting them with schools operated by charter operators."

Regarding national findings, a review of the CREDO study by the National Education Policy Center questioned CREDO's statistical methods: for example, the study excluded public schools that do NOT send students to charters, thus "introducing a bias against the best urban public schools."

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaabnewsomeconfBree Newsome boldly seized the Confederate flag, taking direct action for freedom. (Image: Reposted with permission of the artist, Rebecca Cohen)

Subsequent to Newsome's arrest when she reached the bottom of the Confederate soldier memorial flagpole on South Carolina capitol state grounds, she released a statement to Blue Nation Review. In part, she wrote:

I realized that now is the time for true courage the morning after the Charleston Massacre shook me to the core of my being. I couldn’t sleep. I sat awake in the dead of night. All the ghosts of the past seemed to be rising....

This was real.

This was—this is—still happening....

It is important to remember that our struggle doesn’t end when the flag comes down. The Confederacy is a southern thing, but white supremacy is not. Our generation has taken up the banner to fight battles many thought were won long ago. We must fight with all vigor now so that our grandchildren aren’t still fighting these battles in another 50 years. Black Lives Matter. This is non-negotiable.

It is understandable why the July 4th ritual of filling the dark skies with glittering light, exploding sounds and whistles is so exciting to so many. However, watching fireworks is not enough to advance freedom in a nation that is madly in love with so many myths about liberty, instead of actively advancing it.

Thank you, Bree Newsome, for reminding us of that.

Page 5 of 1369