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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.

For a limited time only, any donation you make to Truthout will be doubled thanks by a matching grant offer. Pitch in now to help Truthout and BuzzFlash survive!

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.”


aaaaaaaaaaaaaawtcGeorge W. Bush did nothing, even though warned of imminent attacks, to prevent 9/11. He did not "keep us safe." (Photo: Jason Powell)

No, Jeb, George W. Bush did not try and keep the US "safe" from 9/11 occurring.

Despite Jeb's claims otherwise, Bush was indeed warned of bin Laden planning attacks in the US. These included an alarming memo that he received while on a month-long vacation in Texas, just weeks before 9/11. The memo referred not only to a long history of bin Laden's goal to strike on US soil, it directly mentioned hijackings. 

A September 10, 2012, commentary in The New York Times by Kurt Eichenwald provides the damning context to George W. Bush's negligence in taking any steps to prevent an al-Qaeda operation such as the one that caused such a loss of life on 9/11:

On Aug. 6, 2001, President George W. Bush received a classified review of the threats posed by Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network, Al Qaeda. That morning’s "presidential daily brief" — the top-secret document prepared by America’s intelligence agencies — featured the now-infamous heading: "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." A few weeks later, on 9/11, Al Qaeda accomplished that goal....

[This memo should be] read in conjunction with the daily briefs preceding Aug. 6, the ones the Bush administration would not release. While those documents are still not public, I have read excerpts from many of them, along with other recently declassified records, and come to an inescapable conclusion: the administration’s reaction to what Mr. Bush was told in the weeks before that infamous briefing reflected significantly more negligence than has been disclosed. In other words, the Aug. 6 document, for all of the controversy it provoked, is not nearly as shocking as the briefs that came before it.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015 07:40

Obama Cancels Arctic Drilling Leases


aaaArcticBears(Photo: Chief Yeoman Alphonso Braggs, US-Navy)It just keeps getting better and better for the Arctic. First, Shell Oil pulled the plug on its horrific current drilling effort there two weeks ago.

Now the Obama administration has taken its first concrete steps to reduce future threats. Yesterday, it cancelled new lease sales scheduled for next year and 2017 in our Polar Bear Seas—the Chukchi and Beaufort—off the north Alaskan coast. And just said “No” to extension requests from Shell and others holding existing leases in the region.

This is big. Up to now, the federal government has treated Arctic Ocean drilling as a done deal. As recently as last May, the President tweeted: “we can’t prevent oil exploration completely in region.”

His administration focused on excluding some high value areas and saying drilling would be subject to high standards. It tentatively proposed to allow more leasing in the Arctic Ocean (and the Atlantic) after 2017.

But the tide has changed. Shell made a spectacle of itself, rushing to drill. Mother Nature asserted herself. Human error propagated in the harsh conditions.

Kayaktivists spotlighted Arctic drilling as a climate issue—rightly, because huge new investments in dirty fuels can’t be harmonized with accelerating the shift to a clean energy future.


aaaaaaaaaaaaaaecinjuFour years after the Occupy uprising, economic inequality in the United States continues to soar. (Photo: Coco Curranski)


Bernie Sanders showed his outrage about inequality at the Democratic Debate, and more and more Americans are understanding his message. Indignation is likely to grow with new data from the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook, which reveals the wealthy elite's continuing disdain for the poor, for the middle class, and for people all around the world. 

Some of the most troubling disparities are hidden in the myriad tables of this remarkably comprehensive publication. The purpose here is to translate the numbers into wealth gap realities that victimize the great majority of Americans. Details can be viewed at You Deserve Facts

1. At the Bottom: Of the Half-Billion Poorest Adults in the World, One out of Ten is an American

That seems impossible, with so many extremely poor countries, and it requires a second look at the data, and then a third look. But it's true. In the world's poorest decile (bottom 10%), one out of ten are Americans, many of whom are burdened with so much debt that any remnant of tangible wealth is negated. Other nations have high debt, most notably in Europe, but without an excessive burden on their poorest citizens. 

Incredibly, then, nearly 50 million of America's 243 million adults are part of the world's poorest 10%. In contrast, over 110 million American adults are among the world's richest 10%.  


aaaExxonOilSpill(Photo: Magnus Manske)I’m well aware that with Paris looming it’s time to be hopeful and I’m willing to try. Even amid the record heat and flooding of the present, there are good signs for the future in the rising climate movement and the falling cost of solar.

But before we get to past and present there’s some past to be reckoned with and before we get to hope there’s some deep, blood-red anger.

In the last three weeks, two separate teams of journalists—the Pulitzer-prize winning reporters at the website Inside Climate News and another crew composed of Los Angeles Times veterans and up-and-comers at the Columbia Journalism School—have begun publishing the results of a pair of independent investigations into ExxonMobil.

Though they draw on completely different archives, leaked documents and interviews with ex-employees, they reach the same damning conclusion: Exxon knew all that there was to know about climate change decades ago and instead of alerting the rest of us denied the science and obstructed the politics of global warming.


aaaaaaaaaaaaaabillionChina has trumped the US in having the most billionaires. (Photo: Fry_theonly)

At the next Republican presidential debate, are we going to hear a round of lamentations that the US - according to a study of the world's wealthiest individuals conducted by a Chinese financial publication, the Hurun Report - is no longer number one in billionaires?

An October 15 article in The Chicago Sun-Times states it bluntly:

The United States can no longer claim the title of being home to the world’s most billionaires.

....that distinction now belongs to China, where a reported 596 billionaires reside, surpassing the 537 billionaires the Hurun Rich List claims live in the U.S.

To make the top 100, you’d have to be worth at least $3.2 billion

By the list’s calculations, China produced 242 billionaires through the year ending on Aug. 14, which comes out to about five newly minted mega rich per week.

Will Donald Trump bellow that he is helping to hold onto the fabled notion of "the American Dream" by being a billionaire? After all, he has made China a major target of his campaign rhetoric, claiming the US has allegedly been economically superseded by the Communist nation turned aggressive capitalist economy. Is Trump's obsession with China really a battle over which nation will be the world champion in its number of billionaires?

Thursday, 15 October 2015 07:02

Another US Nuke Bites the Dust


Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

The chain reactor operator Entergy has announced it will close the Pilgrim nuke south of Boston. The shut-down will bring U.S. reactor fleet to 98, though numerous other reactors are likely to face abandonment in the coming months.

But Entergy says it may not take Pilgrim down until June 1, 2019—nearly four years away.

Entergy is also poised to shut the FitzPatrick reactor in New York. It promises an announcement by the end of this month.

Entergy also owns Indian Point 2 and Indian Point 3 some 40 miles north of Manhattan. Unit 2’s operating license has long since lapsed. Unit 3’s will expire in December.

Meanwhile California’s two reactors at Diablo Canyon are surrounded with earthquake faults. They are in violation of state and federal water quality laws and are being propped up by a corrupt Public Utilities Commission under fierce grassroots attack. With a huge renewable boom sweeping the state, Diablo’s days are numbered—and hopefully will shut before the next quake shakes them to rubble.


aaaaaaaaaaaaaaasocialsecIn a specious move, the federal government will deny Social Security recipients an adjusted increase in benefits this coming year. (Photo: 401(K) 2012)

According to an October 15 Associated Press article, the federal government has decided not to increase benefits this year for Social Security recipients:

The government says there will be no benefit increase next year for millions of Social Security recipients, disabled veterans and federal retirees.

It’s just the third time in 40 years that benefits will remain flat. All three times have come since 2010....

The announcement will affect benefits for more than 70 million people - that’s more than one-fifth of the nation’s population.

The total includes almost 60 million retirees, disabled workers, spouses and children who get Social Security benefits.

2015.15.10 BF Koehler(Photo: www.ruffrootcreative.com)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

“The Pentagon said on Saturday that it would make ‘condolence payments’ to the survivors of the American airstrike earlier this month on a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders in Kunduz, Afghanistan, as well as to the next of kin of those who died in the attack.”

Such a small piece of news, reported a few days ago by the New York Times. I’m not sure if anything could make me feel more ashamed of being an American.

Turns out the basic payout for a dead civilian in one of our war zones is . . . brace yourself . . . $2,500. That’s the sum we’ve been quietly doling out for quite a few years now. Conscience money. It’s remarkably cheap, considering that the bombs that took them out may have cost, oh, half a million dollars each.

If we valued human life, we would never go to war. Everybody knows this. It’s the biggest open secret out there, buried under endless public relations blather and — since the bombing of the hospital in Kunduz on Oct. 3, and the killing of 22 staff members and patients — a sort of international legalese.

Is it “really” a war crime? Simply asking the question implies that the law has a certain objective reality.

“The mere fact that civilians are killed, that a hospital is damaged, doesn’t automatically mean that there has been a war crime,” according to John Bellinger, a former legal adviser to the State Department, as quoted last week by National Public Radio. “It only becomes a war crime if it is shown that the target was intentionally attacked.”

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