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Thursday, 07 July 2016 07:07

The Illusion of Security

image 2016 07 07(Photo: Gerard Van der Leun)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

"Please be gentle."

The story is too easy to believe. At the Memphis airport, a confused, nervous teenager sets off the metal detector -- possibly because she has sequins on her shirt -- and is told she needs to come to a "sterile area." Armed guards show up to escort her. She's terrified.

This happened a year ago. The girl, then 18, is Hannah Cohen. She was flying -- at least that was the idea -- back to Chattanooga with her mother, Shirley Cohen, who had just passed through the checkpoint and was waiting for Hannah when, according to a lawsuit the family recently filed, a TSA horror story began.

Wednesday, 06 July 2016 14:26

Zero-Waste Markets Hit the US

KATIE POHLMAN OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Fillery 0706wrp opt(Photo: EcoWatch)Zero-waste markets are coming to the U.S. While very popular in Europe, this trend in grocery shopping isn’t as well known in North America.

The Fillery, brainchild of Sarah Metz, is “a place where one fills empty containers with goods, such as grains, nuts, seeds, coffee, tea, spices, oils and the like,” according to the shop’s KickStarter page. Customers can bring their own reusable containers to the shop or purchase compostable ones to place their products in.

“We aim to improve the health of our community in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, and the environment by offering alternatives to the plastic entombed, chemical laden options which are ubiquitous in both pantries and landfills worldwide,” reads the KickStarter page.

Metz’s motivation for The Fillery came after a self-realization, she wrote in her KickStarter bio.

After lots of experimenting with recipes from my extensive library of cookbooks (thanks, mom!), I’ve acquired a cabinet full of ingredients that will likely go bad before I finish them. A few days ago, I counted 10 types of flour in my cupboard. I see at least four problems with this: 1. food waste is a huge problem. 2. packaging waste is a huge problem 3. it is expensive, and 4. it takes up too much space in my tiny Brooklyn kitchen. Combine this with my frustration in trying to find conscientiously sourced, responsibly packaged, healthy groceries nearby, and you have my motivation for The Fillery.

BILL QUIGLEY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Prison 0606wrp(Photo: Andreas Bohnenstengel)Voice of the Ex-Offender (VOTE) and 8 individuals filed a class action voting rights challenge for 70,000 people in Louisiana saying they are illegally prohibited from voting. The VOTE suit charges that the Louisiana legislature wrongfully and unconstitutionally passed a law disallowing people convicted of felonies from voting if they are on probation or parole. 

VOTE’s suit points out that the Louisiana Constitution only prohibits people who are “under an order of imprisonment” from voting and that this was intended only to prohibit people actually in prison or escapees from voting. The VOTE suit further notes that the Louisiana state constitutional convention voted down an attempt to restrict voting for people on probation.  

The class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of the 70,000 people in Louisiana who are probation or parole. The US Department of Justice reports over 41,000 people in Louisiana are on probation and over 27,000 are on parole. It was filed in Baton Rouge and names the State of Louisiana, the Governor and the Secretary of State as defendants.

VOTE is an organization that began in 1987 as the Angola Special Civics Project, a group at the Louisiana Penitentiary run by prisoners who had become paralegals. VOTE, now run by Norris Henderson, was officially created in 2003 when it focused on voter registration for pre-trial detainees and people convicted of misdemeanors. Henderson is a nationally recognized expert in human rights for prisoners and ex-offenders.   

VOTE has registered thousands of people to vote. It educates the public about the collateral consequences of convictions that inhibit successful reentry. VOTE has partnered with Tulane Medical School to provide medical care for people leaving prison and has partnered with other organizations to win several recent victories including Ban the Box and a new public housing policy.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

24272362830 425ed068b4 zBillboard of a demagogue "on message." (Photo: Tony Webster)

Mainstream media pundits and Republican Party apparatchiks are expressing the desire for Donald Trump to start sounding "presidential' and to "stay on message." An Associated Press article this weekend stated:

Weary Republicans are looking for assurances that Donald Trump can maintain the discipline needed to stay on message as he prepares for a bruising general election run-up against Hillary Clinton....

As he kicked off his general election campaign Friday, a thorny question has arisen: How does the party keep Trump in check?

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell recently advised Trump on this matter, as reported by Politico:

"In addition to that, it's time to quit attacking various people you competed with or various minority groups in the country and get on message," McConnell told reporters. 

What might be an example of being "on message," to the top GOP dog in the Senate? Why, doing what the Republicans have been doing vociferously and obstructively for nearly eight years: attacking "the implementation of Obamacare."

Obsessively bloviating and babbling about a few Republican mantras would provide the "on message" credentials for Trump to be the CEO of the United States, McConnell is implying.

image 2016 07 05 1(Photo: Roberto Raimondo)PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

The concept of "freedom" is at the very least ambiguous, and, at the most, destructive to those being deceived by false patriotism. The people who benefit from the uncontrolled pursuit of money push the concept of individual freedom on the rest of us, making us feel unpatriotic if we disagree. "Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself," once blathered Milton Friedman, whose economic theories made America the most unequal developed nation. However we interpret the concept, we may not be as "free" as we're led to believe. 

Is Our Nation Really "Free"? 

According to the watchdog organization Freedom House, in terms of political and civil liberties the U.S. is tied for 44th freest country, after UK, Chile, Japan, Portugal, and most of the Scandinavian nations. The organization's 2016 synopsis states: "The United States received a downward trend arrow because of the cumulative impact of flaws in the electoral system, a disturbing increase in the role of private money in election campaigns and the legislative process, legislative gridlock, the failure of the Obama administration to fulfill promises of enhanced government openness, and fresh evidence of racial discrimination and other dysfunctions in the criminal justice system."

image 2016 07 05(Photo: Gage Skidmore)ELLIOT D. COHEN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

On Saturday, Donald Trump tweeted an image of a red Star of David next to a picture of Hillary Clinton with hundred dollar bills in the background, with the caption "Most Corrupt Candidate Ever" superimposed on the Star of David. A few hours later, amid strong condemnation from social media respondents, Trump deleted the image and reposted the same image except with a circle replacing the original Star of David. Unequivocally, the message is that Clinton is in the pocket of rich Jews, a stereotypical image that was harnessed by Hitler himself to build a "justification" for sending millions of Jews to their slaughter. So where was the media in covering the story? Unfortunately, the great corporate watchdog has sanitized the story, having failed to learn from history.

During the ascent of Adolf Hitler to power, the U.S. media helped to paint a positive image of this demagogue. Not unlike corporate media’s soft pedaling of Trump, coverage of Hitler's campaign played up the support he had from the German people, based on the numbers attending his campaign speeches, while playing down his hateful demagoguery. Shortly after Hitler became Chancellor in 1933, an article appeared in the New York Times stating, "There is at least one official voice in Europe that expresses understanding of the methods and motives of President Roosevelt -- the voice of Germany, as represented by Chancellor Adolf Hitler." The Christian Monitor even touted the virtues of Nazism, proclaiming that it had a "capacity for organization unequaled in our times by any except the Bolshevik leaders."

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

2016July1 monsantoroundupIs Monsanto's roundup causing cancer in humans? (Photo: SAIF*ANU)

Monsanto has been staring down an increasing number of cancer lawsuits ever since the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) infamously classified Roundup’s main ingredient glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans” in March 2015.

One such plaintiff, Yolanda Mendoza, is now speaking out about her personal injury and product liability lawsuit against the chemical titan.

Three years ago, Mendoza was diagnosed with stage four non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma when she was only in her mid-thirties. When asked how she felt about the worrisome diagnosis, she recalled to CBS News, “[I felt] that I ­­was going to die. I had only like a few days.”

The mother of three explained to CBS that she would walk around her one-acre property with a backpack sprayer containing the controversial weedkiller and believes the product led to her illness.

After a five-month battle with the disease and intense chemotherapy, Mendoza’s cancer is in remission. But she now finds herself facing another giant: Monsanto.

Thursday, 30 June 2016 07:56

The Right to Bear Courage

Stop gun violence signage(Photo: Tony Webster)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Behind the "right to bear arms" lies concealed the right to make money. You know, a lot of it.

The right to . . .

I pause here, torn apart by the political sacredness of these words. We have the right to speak freely and worship the God or our choosing or none at all, the right to reasonable privacy, the right to choose our leaders, the right to fair and equal treatment under the law. These rights are inscribed in the national bedrock: the Constitution. They activate our humanity; without them, we're so much less than our fullest selves. Without them we're perpetual victims, forced to live in fear and secrecy.

This bizarrely worded right is also etched in the Constitution: "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2016June30 trumpforeignTrump doesn't just think that he is above the law, he thinks that he is the law. (Photo: IoSonoUnaFotoCamera)

With Donald Trump as the presumptive Republican nominee for president, it's sometimes hard to pick which outrageous action or statement to focus on. It's a bit like trying to decide which door to open in a Halloween haunted house. The difference is that at the haunted house, you may scream, but you know that whatever is frightening you isn't real. With Trump, however, you fear that the daily scares may be monstrously real threats.

Yesterday, June 29, offers a fine example of the Trump fright fest, with several possible options for dismay. First, The Washington Times, a right-wing newspaper itself, prominently posted an article that repeated a charge that the "Trump campaign [is] illegally soliciting donations from foreign nationals":

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is illegally soliciting campaign donations from foreign nationals, according to a complaint being filed Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission.

Mr. Trump’s campaign has emailed solicitations to foreign nationals in Iceland, Scotland, Britain, and Australia requesting that they make contributions to his presidential campaign, according to a copy of the complaint being filed by the Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21, two campaign finance watchdog groups.

“Donald Trump should have known better,” said Paul S. Ryan, deputy executive director of the Campaign Legal Center.

“It is a no-brainer that it violates the law to send fundraising emails to members of a foreign government on their official foreign government email accounts, and yet, that’s exactly what Trump has done repeatedly,” Mr. Ryan said.

According to the Federal Election Commission website, "Foreign nationals are prohibited from making any contributions or expenditures in connection with any election in the U.S."

Thursday, 30 June 2016 06:37

Watch Out for an Anti-Choice Backlash

Anti-Choice protestors(Photo: @mjb)BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

What if anti-abortion activists really cared about the health care needs of women? What if they believed that health and safety standards at health care clinics where women go for abortions and other health care services really could be improved? What if they really think that clinic doctors having admitting privileges at local hospitals would provide an important safety net? What would they do?

Would they raise money to help bring those clinics up to the higher standards they claim to desire? Would they petition local hospitals -- the very same hospitals they've threatened to boycott -- to allow admitting privileges for clinic doctors? Or, would it continue to support onerous laws like Texas' HB2, designed essentially to shut down any abortion-providing health care clinics, making it nearly impossible for thousands of women to have access to basic health care services? Unfortunately, the former is a pipedream; the latter the reality!

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