MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The for-profit prison system in the United States is not only a major factor in the emergence of "manufactured crime," it also makes money off of a national war on Latino migrants through the "detention" (in other words, incarceration) of persons - including minors - seeking economic and security refuge in the US.
A ministry located in Georgia - Alterna: Love Crosses Borders (El Amor Cruza Fronteras) - that provides compassionate assistance to migrants from south of the Mexican border monitors the nearby Stewart Detention Center, run for profit by the Corrections Corporations of America (CCA). The facility is the largest incarceration complex specifically for migrants in the US, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
The ACLU has also conducted a study of Stewart and found rampant violations of human rights:
For purposes of this documentation project, the ACLU of Georgia interviewed 68 individuals who were detained at the Georgia immigration detention facilities, as well as detainees' family members and immigration attorneys. We also toured the detention centers and reviewed documents obtained from Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other agencies. The findings in “Prisoners of Profit: Immigrants and Detention in Georgia” raise serious concerns about violations of detainees’ due process rights, inadequate living conditions, inadequate medical and mental health care, and abuse of power by those in charge.
Among the problems we documented: inadequate information about available pro bono legal services, inadequate conditions for attorney visits which raise attorney/client confidentiality issues, and delays in gaining access to the law library. Detainees also face unreasonable delays in receiving medical care and in the case of detainees with mental disabilities, punitive rather than care-oriented treatment. We also documented numerous concerns about cell conditions including temperature extremes and overcrowding; hygiene concerns including instances where facilities ran out of hygiene items and detainees simply had to go without; used underwear provided to detainees at Irwin; food concerns including unusual mealtimes, insufficient quantity, and poor quality; limited recreation; and a work program at two corporate run detention centers where detainees are paid $1.00 to $3.00 per day and sometimes are coerced to work. Other findings point to a failed grievance procedure where detainees who filed grievances did not always receive responses, verbal and physical abuse, and retaliatory behavior from guards including placing detainees in segregation.
The Alterna ministry's findings concur with the ACLU about the abuses that take place in these facilities, run under contract by companies listed on stock exchanges. They may be euphemistically labeled as "detention centers," but if a person is detained against his or her will, we should really just call it jail.
BILL QUIGLEY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Question One: In 1990, twenty percent of all children in the US lived in poverty. What percent of the children in the US live in poverty today?
A: Ten percent
B: Fifteen percent
C: Twenty percent
Question Two: The median wealth of black households in the US is $11,000. What is the median wealth of white households?
Question Three: In 1960 the median earnings of women who work full-time year-round were about 60 percent of men's. In 2010, women's median earnings were about 77 percent of men's. At this rate, in what year will women's median earnings equal men's?
STEFANIE SPEAR OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
We’ve been busy lately providing news on all the great ways Pope Francis is working to create a healthy, sustainable planet. In July 2014, Pope Francis called destruction of nature a modern sin. In November 2014, Pope Francis said “unbridled consumerism” is destroying our planet and we are “stewards, not masters” of the Earth. In December 2014, he said he will increase his call this year to address climate change. And, last week we announced that Pope Francis is opening his Vatican farm to the public.
Now, we learn from Nicolás Fedor Sulcic that Pope Francis is supportive of the anti-fracking movement. Watch this interview by Fernando Solanas where he met with Pope Francis soon after finishing a film about fracking in Argentina.
The movie, La Guerra del Fracking or Fracking Wars, was banned in cinemas by the Argentinian government, so the filmmakers decided to post it on YouTube. We are awaiting translation of the film and then we’ll feature it on EcoWatch.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
As BuzzFlash at Truthout has documented many a time, the US war on immigration from Mexico and Central America is cruel, political, fueled by fear of "the other" and inhumane.
BuzzFlash has also provided evidence of how the drumbeat of xenophobia against immigration by Latin Americans of limited means has resulted in large allocations of tax-payer dollars being shifted to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for "securing the Mexican border." Exactly what the hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars spent annually are "protecting" the US from is not clear, but the allocations continue to accelerate for keeping people - who are trying literally to survive - from entering the nation by crossing the Mexican border.
With all the corporate and Wall Street strident denunciation of big government, there is nothing that they love more than billions and billions of dollars in federal defense and "homeland security" spending. The military-industrial-surveillance complex excels at finding a funding spigot and turning it into a torrent.
Incendiary language designed to create apprehension and panic further constructs the context for increased spending on the military and - in this case – halting the migration of non-whites in need. The gusher of money that results from such pandering is not often effectively spent. Even if the goals are reprehensible, the flood of money often doesn't achieve those unworthy objectives. In short, the policies - in this case denying compassionate shelter to refugees from a situation that the US has largely helped to create south of the Mexican border - are not only bad; vast amounts of taxpayer dollars are spent on enriching corporations and contractors for equipment and strategies that don't even achieve their blameworthy intended purposes.
Such is the case with US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) drones - as revealed in a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) analysis.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In fact, except for the debilitating effects of poverty, our public school system may be the best in the world.
The most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reveal that the U.S. ranked high, relative to other OECD countries, in reading, math, and science (especially in reading, and in all areas better in 4th grade than in 8th grade). Some U.S. private schools were included, but a separate evaluation was done for Florida, in public schools only, and their results were higher than the U.S. average.
Perhaps most significant in the NCES reading results is that schools with less than 25% free-lunch eligibility scored higher than the average in ALL OTHER COUNTRIES.
The Obvious: Reduce Poverty and Improve Education.
What should be obvious to our legislators is apparently not. K-12 funding declined in 2011 for the first time since the Census Bureau began keeping records. A 2014 study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that "States' new budgets are providing less per-pupil funding for kindergarten through 12th grade than they did six years ago — often far less."
STEVEN JONAS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
"Suicide" means, literally, killing oneself. Most often, suicide is voluntary. However, by definition, it can be involuntary as well, as in accidentally killing oneself while cleaning a loaded handgun (which apparently people do from time-to-time). Capitalism, the world's dominant socio-economic system, is in the process of killing itself. Like the cleaner of a loaded hand-gun, capitalism thinks that there is absolutely nothing to worry about, that whatever its doing will result in no harmful outcomes, and that anyone who tells it not to do such a thing is a hoaxer of the worst order. Inadvertently killing oneself with a loaded handgun is bad enough. What capitalism is doing of course is far worse. Not only will it kill itself as a system, but it will likely take our species along with many others right along with it.
Most readers of these pages are familiar with the mountain of data dealing with global warming/climate change and its increasingly negative projected outcomes. As the cited article by Justin Gillis says: "Failure to reduce emissions, the group of scientists and other experts found, could threaten society with food shortages, refugee crises, the flooding of major cities and entire island nations, mass extinction of plants and animals, and a climate so drastically altered it might become dangerous for people to work or play outside during the hottest times of the year."
Currently, 2100 has been cited as the "tipping point" year, if no major policy changes in terms of carbon (to say nothing of methane) emissions are undertaken. However, a recent projection by the organization Green Physicists moves the "tipping point" year up to 2050. By then they estimate that: atmospheric carbon dioxide levels will have risen to twice the pre-industrial level; the global average surface temperature of our planet will have increased 2.5 degrees Centigrade [the current projected "tipping point" for irreversible catastrophe is 2.6 Deg. C.]; the temperature rise in the Arctic has been about twice that of the global mean, so that the permafrost has been melting rapidly, with the release of enormous quantities of methane (which adds to the global warming effect of CO2); the Greenland ice sheet will be virtually gone, with a likely resulting sea level rise of more (39"); and so on and so forth.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
If there has been one constant over the coup d'état of the economy by the top 1%, it's been the lowering or stagnation of wages (adjusted for inflation) for most workers in the United States. One doesn't even have to footnote this trend because it is a fact, not even disputed by the cheerleaders for the Milton Friedman school of economics.
This has resulted in - again, a statistical fact - the largest income and asset gap in US history. Indeed, U.S. News and World Report posted a commentary in 2013 that declared in its headline, "Suffering Under the Weight of Inequality: Research shows that income inequality in the U.S. has hit a record high and will stifle economic growth." Written by David Bowden, cofounder of the American Sustainable Business Council, it concludes:
Inequality in the U.S. shows no sign of abating, even as the economy recovers. The decline of unions, the pace of globalization, the abundance of workers in many industries and changes in health care and taxes have combined to staunch the earning power of working Americans, even as the economy grows and productivity increases. There are few options, and none that are consistent with the political climate of the time. But the trend is reaching the point that endangers growth itself, and that should concern everyone, regardless of the size of your paycheck.
Of course, BuzzFlash would contend that there are several options for change, including a restructuring of the economic system to spread out the wealth of the nation more equitably, thus ending the economic caste of exorbitant privilege.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Before I heard about the horrific terrorist attack on the offices of the Paris-based humor magazine, Charlie Hebdo, which resulted in the deaths of at least twelve people and the wounding of many more, I was reading a report in the Washington Examiner about a poll taken by McLaughlin & Associates that found "74.2 percent of likely voters said they fear terrorists affiliated with the Islamic State will strike U.S. targets if they aren't stopped." Now that cable television's news networks are covering the Paris events twenty-four/seven, it is likely that a similar poll taken today might reveal even higher numbers.
Joel C. Rosenberg, in an apparently self-serving move aimed at promoting his new book titled "The Third Target," commissioned the McLaughlin & Associates poll and has been touting the results at his blog. "The Third Target," according to Rosenberg is about "ISIS broadening its attacks outside of Syria and Iraq." Rosenberg, who years ago worked for current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and who currently runs a charity called The Joshua Fund, is the author of a series of best-selling novels dealing with the Middle East.
While Rosenberg's novels consistently deal with terrorist plots in the Middle East, radical Islamists, and his own apocalyptic visions, he steers clear of writing about white, homegrown, Christian-based anti-government radicals in the United States.
In actuality, there are more than enough domestic terrorist incidents to write about.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Oh, the moral force of a snub.
Several hundred cops turn their backs on New York's mayor as he eulogizes one of their own, killed in the line of duty, and the media have another us-vs.-them story to report. Bill de Blasio's in trouble, accused of playing politics with the lives of heroes. And, of course, the story goes no deeper than the dramatic accusation.
As the sign of a lone protester at the officer's funeral proclaimed: "God bless the NYPD: Dump de Blasio."
There's nothing like a good, righteous condemnation to stop a national discussion. Criticizing police tactics means contributing to an anti-police atmosphere. End of debate.
Personally, I view the snub, by some New York police, as de Blasio's red badge of courage more than his moral condemnation. He stood for something outside the zone of official righteousness. He met with protesters. He ended stop-and-frisk, the tactic of warrantless street searches that primarily targeted blacks and Hispanics. He told his biracial son to "take special care in any encounter he has with police officers," in other words, refused to sugarcoat a pragmatic truth.
And he has eulogized about attaining peace other than through brute force: "As we start a new year, a year we're entering with hearts that are doubly heavy, let us rededicate ourselves to those great New York traditions of mutual understanding and living in harmony. Let us move forward by strengthening the bonds that unite us, and let us work together to attain peace."
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
On Wednesday, January 7, The Guardian reported on a just-released analysis that warns (as stated in the article's headline), "Leave fossil fuels buried to prevent climate change: New research is first to identify which reserves must not be burned to keep global temperature rise under 2C, including over 90% of US and Australian coal and almost all Canadian tar sands."
In a stunning series of reports on Truthout, Dahr Jamail has regularly reported on the imminence of catastrophic climate failure if no dramatic steps are taken to prevent it. Other Truthout journalists have also focused on the portentous threat.
Vast amounts of oil in the Middle East, coal in the US, Australia and China and many other fossil fuel reserves will have to be left in the ground to prevent dangerous climate change, according to the first analysis to identify which existing reserves cannot be burned.
The new work reveals the profound geopolitical and economic implications of tackling global warming for both countries and major companies that are reliant on fossil fuel wealth. It shows trillions of dollars of known and extractable coal, oil and gas, including most Canadian tar sands, all Arctic oil and gas and much potential shale gas, cannot be exploited if the global temperature rise is to be kept under the 2C safety limit agreed by the world's nations. Currently, the world is heading for a catastrophic 5C of warming and the deadline to seal a global climate deal comes in December at a crunch UN summit in Paris.
One can only imagine the public relations consultants for the fossil fuel industry in full crisis management mode, preparing propaganda to debunk a credible study.