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JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaAnger(Photo: Tanya Little)If you had to take America's temperature, predictably it would be raging hot.

Across the courts of America, citizens are being pushed off the cliff by corporate greed. There is practically no legal compensation for victims of pollution produced by oil and coal disasters.

Court rulings, with their lopsided scales heavily favoring the defense of corporate polluters, eliminate any hope for victims, leaving them in the ditch of poisonous toxins, polluted water, and contaminated lands. Once the land and water have been permanently polluted, there is no possible way residents can sell their homes. If homeowners get sick, they're out of luck—thanks to corrupt judges, big polluters don't even have to pay for the victims' medical bills.

When the government sows the seeds of injustice and corporate greed, it puts the country at risk; it's a recipe for upheavals and disaster.

2014.6.18.Hightower.BF (Image: Troy Page / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: ribarnica, bumbs, eightprime, discosour, Truthout)JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Have you noticed "the powers that be" employ an entirely different standard for measuring the health of America's job market than they use for the stock market?

They're currently telling us that, "The job market is improving." What do they mean? Simply that the economy is generating an increase in the number of jobs available for workers. But when they say, "The stock market is improving," they don't mean that the number of stocks available to investors is on the rise. Instead, they're measuring the price, the value of the stocks. And isn't value what really counts in both cases? Quality over quantity.

Employment rose by 217,000 jobs in the month of May, according to the latest jobs report — and that brought us up to 8.7 million. That is how many new jobs the American economy has generated since the "Great Recession" officially ended in 2009 — and it also happens to be the number of jobs that were lost because of that recession. You can break out the champagne, for the American economy is back, baby — all of the lost jobs have been recovered!

2014.6.18.Fracking.BFActivists protest fracking outside Gov. Cuomo's office in New York. (Photo: Adam Welz / CREDO Action)BRANDON BAKER OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

New York’s general assembly passed a moratorium on fracking Monday with a sensible question in mind—why rush?

“We have heard from thousands of residents across the state about many issues associated with hydrofracking, and prudent leadership demands that we take our time to address all these concerns,” said New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. “We do not need to rush into this. The natural gas deposits within the Marcellus Shale are not going to go anywhere.”

The assembly passed a three-year moratorium of oil and natural gas drilling permits by an 89-to-34 count to allow for more time to study the environmental impact of the practice. The state has been under a fracking moratorium since 2008, with the most recent one passing in 2013. It would have expired in May 2015.

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaPrisonCell(Photo: Morty)Last year, I wrote a piece about the rise of Debtors' Prisons in the U.S. The piece focused on how regular people, convicted of relatively minor crimes, were assessed fines by the court that they could not afford to pay, and subsequently were sent off to jail. At this point in this story, I might write something like "meet so and so," one of the many people caught up in the criminal justice system. In this case, however, you will never meet Eileen DiNino.

On June 7, Eileen DiNino, 55, a mother of seven, was found dead in a Berks County, Pennsylvania jail cell.

DiNino's crime? Unemployed, on welfare, and trying to raise seven kids by herself, DiNino was unable to pay several thousand dollars "in fines relating to her children's truancy from schools in the Reading, PA. area," Think Progress' Alan Pyke reported. The fines weren't solely based on her children's truancy. Once individuals get caught in the cycle of fines, it can tend to spin out of control.

According to a World Socialist Web Site report by Samuel Davidson, "An Associated Press examination of Ms. DiNino's fines shows that for one truancy violation $10.00 was added for postage, $60.00 for the county constables and $8.00 for a "computer project."

The 48 hours DiNino was to spend in jail would have supposedly eliminated her debt, Christine DiGangi reported at blog.credit.com.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

anarmyAn Army of occupation, not liberation. (Photo:US Army)

You can start with the profoundly tragic irony that the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld Iraq War of 2003 created a terrorist threat instead of ending one. That point was made yesterday in a BuzzFlash commentary by Steve Jonas, "Real Goal of Iraq War in 2003: Oil and Inciting Terrorism to Create Permanent Conflict."

The devastating implications of how the invasion of Iraq ignited an al Qaeda offshoot uprising are also emphasized by Peter Bergen, CNN's security analyst:

From where did ISIS spring? One of George W. Bush's most toxic legacies is the introduction of al Qaeda into Iraq, which is the ISIS mother ship.

If this wasn't so tragic it would be supremely ironic, because before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, top Bush officials were insisting that there was an al Qaeda-Iraq axis of evil. Their claims that Saddam Hussein's men were training members of al Qaeda how to make weapons of mass destruction seemed to be one of the most compelling rationales for the impending war. After the fall of Hussein's regime, no documents were unearthed in Iraq proving the Hussein-al Qaeda axis despite the fact that, like other totalitarian regimes, Hussein's government kept massive and meticulous records

The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency had by 2006 translated 34 million pages of documents from Hussein's Iraq and found there was nothing to substantiate a "partnership" between Hussein and al Qaeda.

Two years later the Pentagon's own internal think tank, the Institute for Defense Analyses, concluded after examining 600,000 Hussein-era documents and several thousand hours of his regime's audio- and videotapes that there was no "smoking gun (i.e. direct connection between Hussein's Iraq and al Qaeda.)"

When Sen. Lindsey Graham (R - SC) argues that the US needs to recommence warfare in Iraq because another 9/11 might occur, he is one of the senators who bears the responsibility for this hypothetical occurrence, given that he was a captain of the cheerleading squad for the Iraq War when it was launched on the basis of lies.

In a revealing 2007 Atlantic interview with former Secretary of State Colin Powell (he of the infamous mendacious UN speech warning of the horrors of Saddam Hussein's virtually nonexistent chemical warfare capabilities), David Samuels asked:

You were famously quoted as saying “if you break it, you own it” about the consequences of an American invasion of Iraq. So do we own it? And, as a practical matter, is it possible for the United States to declare at this late date that we don’t take part in other people’s Civil Wars, and to withdraw our troops?

To which Powell replied, tacitly admitting that the cynical narrative of bringing democracy to Iraq was a cover story:

The famous expression, if you break it you own it—which is not a Pottery Barn expression, by the way—was a simple statement of the fact that when you take out a regime and you bring down a government, you become the government. 

In what fashion other than ownership of the nation can the invasion be considered a success, as Steve Jonas argues, when the launching of the war against Iraq produced the very threats that it was supposed to eliminate - threats that did not exist at the time in 2003? 

BRANDON BAKER OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaEcoWatchOilRig(Photo: Wikipedia Commons via EcoWatch)If President Barack Obama's historic carbon emissions rules made you forget about his "all of the above" energy policy, well, it shouldn't have.

While the president recognized that coal-fired power plants are responsible for about 40 percent of the country's emissions, he didn't denounce oil and gas. His federal Interior Department on Friday gave us all a reminder of that when it announced its first step in selling offshore oil and gas leases that would allow companies to explore the nation's waters for energy sources.

Perhaps anticipating pushback, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Acting Director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Walter Cruickshank stated early that Friday's announcement was only the first step toward a lease auction. It was simply a "Request for Information and Comments on the Preparation of the 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program."

Still, the thought of offshore drilling upset many environmental groups.

"Our beaches and coastal wildlife, like seabirds, dolphins and turtles are too precious to be threatened by oil spills," said Anna Aurilio, director of the Washington D.C. office of Environment America. "President Obama should not open new areas to drilling. Instead, he should be protecting all our coasts from the kinds of environmental and economic devastation the 2010 BP oil spill brought to the Gulf of Mexico."

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aawallstTo the Pentagon, non-violent protesters against the ruling elite are potential terrorists. (Photo: Nataraj Metz)

In a June 12 Guardian column entitled, "Pentagon preparing for mass civil breakdown: Social science is being militarised to develop 'operational tools' to target peaceful activists and protest movements," Nafeez Ahmed writes of a painfully ominous Pentagon research initiative:

A US Department of Defense (DoD) research program is funding universities to model the dynamics, risks and tipping points for large-scale civil unrest across the world, under the supervision of various US military agencies. The multi-million dollar program is designed to develop immediate and long-term "warfighter-relevant insights" for senior officials and decision makers in "the defense policy community," and to inform policy implemented by "combatant commands."

Launched in 2008 – the year of the global banking crisis – the DoD 'Minerva Research Initiative' partners with universities "to improve DoD's basic understanding of the social, cultural, behavioral, and political forces that shape regions of the world of strategic importance to the US."

Among the projects awarded for the period 2014-2017 is a Cornell University-led study managed by the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research which aims to develop an empirical model "of the dynamics of social movement mobilization and contagions." The project will determine "the critical mass (tipping point)" of social contagions by studying their "digital traces" in the cases of "the 2011 Egyptian revolution, the 2011 Russian Duma elections, the 2012 Nigerian fuel subsidy crisis and the 2013 Gazi park protests in Turkey."

Notice that the word "contagion" is used in association with democratic movements overseas. The Department of Defense (DOD) is concerned, it appears, that democracy might go viral and contaminate governments in a way that will force military intervention in order to preserve empire.

STEVEN JONAS MD, MPH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaIraqTank(Photo: Sgt. Paul L. Anstine III)  

Were wars since Vietnam won or lost by the US? The answer to those questions may not appear to be the obvious ones. If the unspoken government objectives of the various wars are taken into account, indeed they aren't. Let us start with Vietnam.

The standard interpretation of the US War on Vietnam is that the US lost it. The classic picture is of that last helicopter taking off from the roof of the soon-to-be former US Embassy in Saigon. But if one considers the original US objectives of the intervention-to-become-war in Southeast Asia, it was actually a win.

The French-Vietnamese War ended in 1954. The Geneva Conference of that year produced a treaty signed by the French and the Vietnamese and guaranteed by Great Britain and the Soviet Union. It brought hostilities to an end, temporarily divided the country in two, and provided for national elections to be held in 1956 -- elections that everyone knew would be won by Ho Chi Minh and his people. Pointedly, the US refused to sign or recognize the treaty.

They knew that if the plan in it were allowed to proceed, the chances were very good that Vietnam would peacefully progress to socialism and could be an economic success. If that happened, the same thing might well peacefully occur in other Southeast Asian countries, were democracy to be given a chance. Even as certain US analysts attempt in hindsight to disavow it, the "domino theory" about the spread of "socialism with a national face," distinguished from and not necessarily allied with the Soviet Union, and certainly not with the traditional enemy, China, communist or not, was quite correct.

PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaAvarice(Photo: Jesus Solana)Examples of extreme inequality are becoming easier to find. Progressive leaders have us thinking about revolution. If a revolution is to take place, Americans - especially young Americans - need to know the facts, and they need to know how they're getting cheated, and they need to get angry. The following should help.

1. $1,000,000,000,000,000 in Sales. Not One Cent for Sales Tax

The trading volume on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) reached an incomprehensible $1 quadrillion in notional value in 2012. That's a thousand trillion dollars. In comparison, the entire U.S. GDP is $17 trillion.

On that quadrillion dollars of sales CME imposes transfer fees, contract fees, brokerage fees, Globex fees, clearing fees, and contract surcharges, many of them on both the buyer's and seller's side. As a result, the company had a profit margin higher than any of the top 100 companies in the nation from 2008 to 2010, and it's gotten even higher since then.

But not a penny in sales tax for the taxpayers who provide publicly-funded infrastructure, technology, systems of law, and security to help them process billions of financial transactions.

Instead -- incredibly -- CME complained that its taxes were too high, and they demanded and received an $85 million tax break from the State of Illinois.

BRANDON BAKER OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaCoalHole(Photo: Kjetil Ree)The newest innovation of the climate denying machine, it turns out, is the lawsuit.

Despite the fact that President Barack Obama's emissions rule remains a proposal for at least a year, the mere idea of a limit on carbon has incensed an Ohio coal executive to the point of threatened litigation. Robert E. Murray, founder of Murray Energy Corp., said he would sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for spreading what he believes to be misinformation and attempting to enforce legislation based on it—violations of the federal Data Quality Act in Murray's view.

"Under the act, they are obligated to tell the truth, and they are not telling the truth about global warming," Murray said of the EPA in an interview with West Virginia Executive. "They are not telling hardly any truth about the science.

"The earth has actually cooled over the last 17 years, so under the Data Quality Act, they've actually been lying about so-called global warming," he continued. "This lawsuit will force them to not just take data from the environmentalists and publish it, as they have been doing, but to review that data and make sure it's accurate."

Clearly, the EPA doesn't "just take" data from environmentalists. If that were the case, a project like Keystone XL would have been nixed a while ago. Instead, the agency considers information like the study of nearly 12,000 abstracts concluding with 97 percent of scientists agreeing that climate change is manmade.

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