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2015.26.10 BF Buchheit(Photo: Tax Credits)PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Rating capitalist despicability is a daunting task with Big Pharma and High Finance in the running, but Higher Ed's betrayal of a century-old trust with young Americans vaults it toward the top of the list.

Since 1862 public colleges had been expected to serve primarily as a means for the American people to achieve an inexpensive college education, and to benefit from academic research. The 1980 Bayh-Dole Act changed it all. It freed public universities from releasing new research discoveries to the public, allowing them instead to patent the results and make licensing deals with private companies. The University of California, anticipating big agri-business subsidies, took full advantage in 2013, siding with Monsanto in a lawsuit against a farmer who was accused of stealing the company's seed. The farmer lost. And universities became more deeply entrenched in the capitalist world.


aaaPoletoparis2(Photo: EcoWatch)You might have heard of Yeb Sano, the former climate change negotiator who became a climate activist after he got fed up with the slow progress of the UN climate conferences. His latest action involves walking from Rome to Paris ahead of the UN talks in Paris, COP21, to draw attention for the need to act on climate change.

Now, another group of people are kicking it up a notch and have decided to run and bike from the North and South Poles to Paris.

The group writes on its blog:

The 12,000 km [about 7,500 miles] long Southern Cycle follows Dr. Daniel Price, specialist in Antarctic climate, on his way from New Zealand to Paris. From the North, Dr. Erlend Moster Knudsen, specialist in Arctic climate, takes on the lead of the 3,000 km [1,800 miles] long Northern Run. Their team members Beth Ward and Oria Jamar de Bolsée join in the run throughout the UK, Belgium and France. They bring with them flags from the two Polar Regions—the regions where the fastest signs of climate change are now observed.

The team from the North started running from the tip of Norway a few weeks ago and crossed the Scottish border yesterday.


aaaaaaaaaaaaabeng666The House of Representatives GOP promotes one of the endless Benghazi Committee "hearings." (Photo: House GOP)

One need not support Hillary Clinton's hawkish foreign policy (including her lamentable advocacy of the Libyan invasion in the first place - which most Congressional Republicans vigorously supported), her candidacy, or even her veracity to challenge the use of Congress by Republicans to hijack the legislative process and turn it into a junkyard dog. 

Yahoo Finance reported about Thursday's marathon Benghazi hearing:

After questioning Hillary Clinton for 11 hours in Congress, the head of the House Select Committee investigating the terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya didn't have a concrete answer about whether he'd learned anything new. 

Even the corporate mainstream media, which usually loves to report on the sparks that fly from the manufactured spectacle of such "hearings," is beginning to take note of the real motive of the Benghazi Committee. An October 22 USA Today editorial offered this opinion:

The situation raises any number of questions about the wisdom of U.S. involvement in Gadhafi's removal, the lack of follow-through and the right strategy to fight the spread of ISIL in the region. 

But, as former secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s marathon appearance Thursday before the Select Committee on Benghazi made clear, these questions are not being asked. Instead, an insular and hyperpartisan Washington is focused on just one aspect of the Libyan drama: Clinton’s actions around the time of a 2012 raid on a diplomatic compound that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

Thursday’s hearing was hardly a sober and thorough effort to find fact. That work has already been done in seven prior inquiries by Congress and one by a State Department review panel (which found that department personnel made misjudgments in a confusing situation). 

Thursday, 22 October 2015 09:02

Reasons Killer Whales Should Not Be Captive


Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

A disturbing new video of a SeaWorld San Diego orca too “depressed” to nurse her calf is going viral, and has once again shined a spotlight on the controversial practice of keeping killer whales in captivity.

The footage shows Orca Research Trust founder and marine biologist Ingrid Visser and former SeaWorld trainer John Hargrove observing a mother orca named Kasatka and her 2-year-old calf Makani at the ocean park’s orca facility, the Huffington Post reports.

The two observe signs of “stereotypic behavior,” such as the mother orca staring at the bottom of a concrete wall and ignoring her baby’s repeated head-bumps to get fed. They add that Makani’s constant nudging for food has left a bruise on the mother’s stomach.

“That head-bump is a precursor to nursing,” Hargrove says in the video.

“The calf is constantly trying to get food, so desperately hungry, so bored,” Visser says. “It’s a stereotypic behavior.”

Thursday, 22 October 2015 06:50

Bernie Sanders and the "Washington Consensus"


Political wisdom always has a sharp, cynical edge. You can’t utter it without feeling the throb of ancient wounds.

For instance: “If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.”

Emma Goldman’s observation nestled into my subconscious decades ago, and each presidential go-around aggravates it with new intensity. The Washington consensus never changes. The mainstream media shills never cease their efforts to bully all seriousness — all reality — out of the process. And money and militarism silently, invisibly rule, no matter who wins.

The alleged result of this is an entrenched public complacency, as Americans settle for techno-consumerism as a substitute for participation in real, political life and a voice in who we are as a nation. Beyond our shores . . . whatever. Empires will be empires. What can you do?


aaaaaaaaaaaagreed324It is greed that is shameful, not poverty. (Photo: See-ming Lee

Robert E. McDonald, the mayor of Lewiston, Maine, recently wrote a commentary in his local paper in which he advocates for shaming public aid recipients by listing their names and addresses on a website. Consistent with this proposal, he also suggests that harsh restrictions should be applied to those in poverty who receive financial aid from the government:

We will be submitting a bill to the next legislative session asking that a website be created containing the names, addresses, length of time on assistance and the benefits being collected by every individual on the dole. After all, the public has a right to know how its money is being spent.

Along with this bill, we will be resubmitting HR 368, which will bring local General Assistance into compliance with federal laws that limit General Assistance to a 60-month total lifetime benefit. 

Additionally, we will be submitting a bill similar to one in Massachusetts, prohibiting the state from paying benefits for any additional child born after the recipient has been accepted into General Assistance.

McDonald doesn't call his idea for publicly listing government financial recipients an act of "shaming," but that surely is his intention. It also may be a perverse strategy to deter families in need from seeking financial assistance in the first place, out of fear that they may be harassed. 


aaaDalaiLama(Photo: Rédacteur Tibet)The Dalai Lama urged strong climate action today “to limit global warming and to protect fragile environments, including the Himalayan glaciers and Tibetan plateau,” reports the AP. As world leaders prepare to meet in Paris for the COP21 UN Climate Change Summit, the Dalai Lama created a video message for the world.

“This is not a question of one nation or two nations. This is a question of humanity. Our world is our home,” the Dalai Lama told AP. “There’s no other planet where we may move or shift.”

“Temperatures for Tibet’s high-altitude plateau—referred to as the Roof of the World—are rising about three times faster than the global average, and are 1.3 degrees Celsius higher than they were 50 years ago,” reports AP. The Tibetan plateau is also referred to as the Third Pole because it has the largest store of ice outside of the North and South poles, according to Reuters.

The importance of the Tibetan plateau cannot be understated, “with some 40 percent of the world’s freshwater locked into the frozen Himalayan glaciers and feeding seven major rivers that run through China, Nepal, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh,” says AP. The Dalai Lama told Reuters that “two-thirds of the glaciers in their mountain homeland may disappear by 2050.”


aaaaaaaaaaaaaajebmissionJeb Bush is an accomplice in the ruinous neocon policies that led to the Iraq War. (Photo: DonkeyHotey)

In response to our detailed accounting yesterday of how George W. Bush ignored repeated warnings prior to 9/11 of a catastrophic al-Qaeda attack on US soil, a reader wrote in the comments section:

Roll the whole [pre-9/11 warnings to President Bush] scene again, same exact script, but [now] put President Obama in place of GW Bush. Would Jeb Bush...say that "Obama kept us safe"? Would any Republican say this?

In fact, Jeb Bush has blamed another president for 9/11 in an attempt to excuse his brother's failure to respond to the urgent concerns of the intelligence community about a likely al-Qaeda attack. On October 20, according to a Washington Post article, 

Jeb Bush, under fire from Republican rival Donald Trump over his brother's anti-terror policies, launched an attack on the same subject against Bill Clinton Monday night, charging that the 42nd president's administration did not pursue Osama bin Laden aggressively enough.... 

In the report, which details a Jeb Bush interview with Fox right-wing shill Sean Hannity, Bush also blames Obama for pursuing a policy of "policing" against "Islamic terrorists." Jeb charges that neither Clinton nor Obama understand that what is at stake "is a war against Western civilization."

There is more at work in Jeb's efforts to defend his brother against the Trump charge that 9/11 "happened on his watch." Another goal that Jeb may be trying to accomplish: diverting attention from his own role in urging a catastrophically disastrous war with Iraq.  


aaaBrain(Photo: A pyramidal neuron in the brain)OK, listen ... and please bear with me because I am quite literally writing this with two fingers because my hands hurt. No worries. I'm drunk on cool water and old memories. I'm too old for any of that other nonsense.

I am here to make a simple point. You - yes, you, even the teenagers I know are reading this because I am blessed with a broad spectrum of readers, which is the whole point of the enterprise - will reach a day, who knows when, but it it's out there lurking like a leopard, you will reach a day - and mark my words, this is gospel truth - when you know, not suspect, not fear, not wonder about, not imagine in the dark of your own personal night, I mean know - KNOW, in the horror of flat no-BS truth that there are more years behind you than ahead of you, and lost time is a roar in your ears, and you wince within the fiber of your being again, because you are a jerk, because you didn't appreciate all that this life gave you to the hilt, to the sinew and bone.

To the bone, friends.

I have the gift of photographic memory. My first and oldest friend can attest to this. I have said that one of the prizes you win as an only child is that you get to choose your brothers and sisters. He was my first brother, his family raised me as if I was one of their own, and I remember everything.

On the sadly rare occasions we meet up again, I unspool detailed stories about dark nights in very strange places. He always says the same thing - "How the (expletive) do you remember all that (expletive)?" - whenever I uncork a memory from the maintenance shed where his family rode out their winters, or the night I comforted him when I found him just before dawn weeping silently in the bathroom because he was the youngest of six, and was worried his aging parents were going to die. I held him that night, my dear brother, sitting on the toilet seat in a building that ceased to exist 30 years ago, and we went to his parents' funerals together in the fullness of time, but not before I stood Best Man at his wedding.

... and when he or any of the others I have chosen to call my brothers and sisters ask how I remember all this mundane, lost, minuscule stuff, I always give the same reply: They matter. They are what makes the DNA of a life. They're weird. Best of all, they're absolutely true ... and I remember everything. It is my blessing. It is my curse. It Is.


aaaAssisi(Photo: St. Francis of Assisi renounces his worldly goods in a painting attributed to Giotto di Bondone)In 1964, President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the landmark Civil Rights Act into law, and launched the War on Poverty. A year later, the predominantly African American Watts neighborhood in Los Angeles erupted in violence not seen in decades; thirty-four lives were lost and more than a thousand people were injured. In some urban centers, uprisings were becoming more frequent. With the expansion of the Vietnam War causing Johnson’s War on Poverty to be largely tossed by the wayside, a report titled “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action,” written by Daniel Patrick Moynihan -- then a high ranking official in the Department of Labor – was leaked to the press.

The Moynihan Report, as it commonly came to be known, was an attempt to examine the cycle of poverty. It declared that “the fundamental problem … is that of family structure,” concluding that “the Negro family in the urban ghetto is crumbling.” The report was greeted by a firestorm of criticism, with some critics suggesting that the report’s language was overly alarming, its data misinterpreted, and its conclusions oversimplified.

It wasn’t until the mid-1980s that the Report gained a greater measure of acceptance when such esteemed sociologists as William Julius Wilson, controversial writers like Charles Murray, and others began to embrace it. Since that time – especially in light of the Report’s fiftieth anniversary -- more often than not, many on both sides of the political spectrum have venerated Moynihan’s work.

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Susan Greenbaum, professor emerita of anthropology at the University of South Florida, and a longtime community activist in Tampa, Florida, has a markedly different take on the Moynihan Report. The Report, Greebaum writes in her new book titled “Blaming The Poor: The Long Shadow of the Moynihan Report on Cruel Images About Poverty” (Rutgers University Press, 2015), “reflected the liberal end of a growing backlash against increasingly belligerent protest and unease with a revolution against traditional thinking about racial differences and the alleged deficiencies of poor people.”

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