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aaaAR15MassShootings(Photo: TheAlphaWolf)Shortly after the mass murders at Umpqua Community College near Roseburg, Ore., President Obama predictedthe extreme right wing would crank out press releases declaring the nation needs fewer gun control laws and more guns.

The rabid pro-gun lobby didn’t disappoint him.

Shortly after the mass murders in a Charleston, S.C., church in June, NRA board member Charles Cotton, an attorney who fired his first shot when he was four years old, had claimedif the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, a state senator “had voted to allow gun owners to carry their own weapons [into churches], eight of his church members  . . . might be alive.” After the shootings in Oregon, Cotton saidhad the students been carrying guns, there would have been no mass murder. “How carefree do you have to be with all of the mass shootings that are going on throughout America to not have something as simple and convenient as a small knife when you go to class, let alone a gun with which to protect yourself?” Cotton asked.

The Republican presidential herd called for even more guns in a culture that has made Americans inured to violence. Presidential candidate Jeb Bush said, “Stuff happens.”

One absurdity of arming all of America is that there are no requirements that anyone with a gun needs to know how to use that gun. The possibility of any one person with a hand gun being able to react faster than the shooter, be more accurate than the shooter, or not accidentally wounding or killing others is high. Heavily armed police, better trained in weapons than most Americans, did not kill the shooter, who wore body armor; the shooter killed himself.

Thursday, 08 October 2015 09:15

Monsanto vs. Freedom of Information Act

2015.8.10 BF Nader(Photo: Stephen Melkisethian)RALPH NADER OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Next year, the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) will celebrate its 50th anniversary as one of the finest laws our Congress has ever passed. It is a vital investigative tool for exposing government and corporate wrongdoing.

The FOIA was championed by Congressman John E. Moss (D-CA), who strove to "guarantee the right of every citizen to know the facts of his government." Moss, with whom I worked closely as an outside citizen advocate, said that "without the fullest possible access to government information, it is impossible to gain the knowledge necessary to discharge the responsibilities of citizenship."

All fifty states have adopted FOIA statutes.

As the FOIA approaches its 50th year, it faces a disturbing backlash from scientists tied to the agrichemical company Monsanto and its allies. Here are some examples.

On March 9, three former presidents of the American Association for the Advancement of Science—all with ties to Monsanto or the biotech industry—wrote in the pages of the Guardian to criticize the use of the state FOIA laws to investigate taxpayer-funded scientists who vocally defend Monsanto, the agri-chemical industry, their pesticides and genetically engineered food. They called the FOIAs an "organized attack on science."

The super-secretive Monsanto has stated, regarding the FOIAs, that "agenda-driven groups often take individual documents or quotes out of context in an attempt to distort the facts, advance their agenda and stop legitimate research."

Thursday, 08 October 2015 08:17

In the US, Is God a White Racist?



What God would be on the side of racism, violence and white supremacy? (Photo: Stephen Melkisethian)

In a Truthout commentary in January 2013, Thom Hartmann asserted that the Second Amendment was inserted in the US Constitution to preserve slavery. Hartmann provides concrete detail and historical context to bolster his claim. He argues that the Southern slave states were fearful that the Northern states would eventually have enough power to end slavery in the newly formed United States. As a result, they wanted concessions in the Constitution to alleviate their "concerns."

These appeasements included counting human slaves as three-fifths of a person (even though they were obviously not allowed to vote) in order to enlarge Southern congressional districts, and allotting two senators to states regardless of population to give relatively sparsely populated slave states equal representation in the Senate to Northern states that were larger in population. 

Hartmann cogently accounts for how important the Second Amendment was to Slave states, to ensure their legal ability - through militarized police actions and groups - to attempt to prevent slaves from escaping or rebelling. 

2015.8.10 BF koehler(Photo: Debra Sweet)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

"We tried to take a look into one of the burning buildings. I cannot describe what was inside. There are no words for how terrible it was. In the Intensive Care Unit six patients were burning in their beds."

So said Lajos Zoltan Jecs, a nurse at the hospital the US bombed in Kunduz, Afghanistan, killing 22 people: doctors, staff, patients (including three children). This image is now spiraling through the Internet and across the global consciousness.

The hospital was not "collateral damage"; it was deliberately targeted, deliberately destroyed, in multiple bombing runs that lasted at least half an hour. Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), which operated the hospital, contacted its sources in the US government immediately, pleading for the attack to stop — to no avail. The bombing continued until the hospital, with more than 180 occupants, was destroyed.

And we're left with the aftermath of a mass murderer spree, except the killer isn't dead or hogtied and shoved into a police wagon. The killer gives a press conference.

Oh same old, same old!


aaaGMopesticides(Photo: EcoWatch)As an Episcopal pastor, Dan Hinkle is a man of peace and faith, but the issue of genetically modified foods (GMOs) makes him angry.

“We don’t know the long-term effects of genetic engineering; this is a questionable process,” said Hinkle, who lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. “We have been force fed something we should not have been. People are being hurt by this technology. If GMOs are so safe and feed the world, why not tell us about it? These issues have gotten me fired up.”

Hinkle’s concern about GMOs led him to become a founding member of GMO Free Lancaster, a non-profit group that is working to ban GMOs and pesticides in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

Zoe Swartz, a mother, started the group after the first March Against Monsanto in May 2013.

“There was no one involved in the march in Lancaster so we started organizing,” she said.

Hinkle calls GMO Free Lancaster a “classic American grassroots organization of concerned citizens.”

Wednesday, 07 October 2015 06:48

Jim Hightower | A Flagrant Liar for President?


aaaCarly(Photo: Gage Skidmore)We've got a new darling in the GOP presidential race: Carly Fiorina!

Being the darling du jour, however, can be dicey — just ask Rick Perry and Scott Walker, two former darlings who are now out of the race, having turned into ugly ducklings by saying stupid things. But Fiorina is smart, sharp-witted, and successful. We know this because she and her PR agents constantly tell us it's so. Be careful about believing anything she says, though, for Darling Fiorina is not only a relentless self-promoter, but also a remorseless liar.

Take her widely hailed performance in the second debate among Republican wannabes, where she touched many viewers with her impassioned and vivid attack on Planned Parenthood. With barely contained outrage, Fiorina described a video that, she said, shows the women's health organization in a depraved act of peddling body parts of an aborted fetus. "Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking," said a stone-faced Fiorina, looking straight into the camera, "while someone says, 'We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.'"

Oh, the horror, the monstrosity of Planned Parenthood! And how moving it was to see and feel the fury of this candidate for president!

Only ... it's not true. Although she dared the audience, President Obama and Hillary Clinton to go watch it, turns out that there is no such video — no fetus with kicking legs and no demonic Planned Parenthood official luridly preparing to harvest a brain.

So did Fiorina make up this big, nasty lie herself, or did her PR team concoct it as a bit of showbiz drama to burnish her right-wing credentials and advance her political ambition? Or maybe she's just spreading a malicious lie she was told by some vicious haters of Planned Parenthood. Either way, there's nothing darling about it, much less presidential.


aaaaaaaaaaaaaapeoplefirstWhen profits come before people, more than half of the population of the United States is living on the margins. (Photo: Don Shall)

A recent study by the for-profit website GOBankingRates.com found that just under 50 percent of Americans have no savings socked away. Worse yet, another 13 percent in the US have savings that total under $1000, and 9 percent have just a "minimum [savings] account" balance requirement. Minimum balance requirements vary, but GOBankingRates cites ranges of $500 - $1500.

If you add these three figures together, a dismaying number of Americans - approximately 70 percent - have either no savings or less than around $1500 set aside. 

Commenting on the survey, blogger Jonathan Turley cuts to the chase:

The economic situation in this country is far worse than most people appreciate. We live in economically stratified areas where there is little interaction between distant economic classes. These reports are a startling wake up call for policy makers. The goal of everyone having a few months of cushion for bad times is clearly not occurring - leaving at least half or more of the population on the razor’s edge of poverty.

Another analysis, conducted by America Saves, is more optimistic, but the America Saves survey is based on the desire to save, not the reality of whether or not an individual has the financial ability to set aside money for the future.


aaaMonsantoWheat(Photo: USDA)EcoWatch can exclusively confirm that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has ended its corporate partnership with Monsanto following the efforts of a group with surprising clout: Mom bloggers.

It appears that the severing between the divisive biotech company and the pediatricians association was spearheaded by Mamavation founder and “food activist” Leah Segedie, who confronted the AAP’s public affairs team after learning about this “unholy alliance,” according to a Mamavation blog post which first announced news of the split.

“I reached out to the AAP behind the scenes to discuss the negative impacts a company like Monsanto could have on their image,” Segedie told EcoWatch via email. “It was a very logical decision for them. I think it may have felt like breaking up with a bad boyfriend that never calls.”

A few months after Segedie first made contact, the AAP’s public affairs team informed her that the organizations had decided to cut ties.

EcoWatch contacted the AAP and confirmed that the academy will not renew its corporate partnership with Monsanto. According to a source at the organization familiar with the decision, the AAP regularly reviews its partnerships to make sure these companies have values that “align with what the Academy believes is in the best interest of children’s health.”


aaaOKC(Photo: Leonard Brakebill)In late-September, Thomas David Deegan, a man described by authorities as an anti-government sovereign citizen, was arrested and accused "of plotting to overthrow the state government in West Virginia, hoping to establish a prototype for extremists to follow in other states," the Southern Poverty Law Center reported. At the same time, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, issued a report "advising contractors, property inspectors, Section 8 housing administrators and Realtors how to recognize antigovernment sovereign citizens occupying vacant properties or using false deeds to support leasing."

In just seven years, the Sovereign Citizen movement, a movement that most Americans know little about, has vaulted to the top of the list of terrorist threats to the homeland according to a survey of law enforcement officials. Sovereign citizens has leaped over such better-known entities as local militias/patriots, environmental extremists, animal rights extremists, racist skinheads, neo-Nazis, and Islamic extremists, to grab the number one spot in a survey conducted by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism.

According to vox.com's Zack Beauchamp, "In a 2014 survey, the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) surveyed hundreds of law enforcement personnel at the state and local level, all of whom had training in intelligence gathering or counterterrorism. They were presented with a list of radical groups and asked to rate, on a scale of 1 to 4, how much they agreed that this group posed a terrorist threat to the US."

Given that the report was done last year before ISIS started grabbing headlines and before several mass shootings by homegrown white males, the list might look different today.


aaaaaaaaaaajebb3Jeb and the Bush clan bear some responsibility when "stuff happens." (Photo: DonkeyHotey)

Last week, Jeb Bush went on record as publicly dismissing the need for reining in the lethal legacy of a fanatical gun culture and rampant gun ownership in the United States. He was speaking in response to the Oregon mass shooting at a community college, in which nine students were executed.

As an article in The Washington Post reported,

"We're in a difficult time in our country and I don't think that more government is necessarily the answer to this," he said. "I think we need to reconnect ourselves with everybody else. It's just, it's very sad to see. But I resist the notion -- and I did, I had this, this challenge as governor, because we have, look, stuff happens, there's always a crisis and the impulse is always to do something and it's not necessarily the right thing to do."

Bush was speaking at a forum hosted by The Conservative Leadership Project, a group with ties to South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, who moderated the event. His comments came the day after a shooter at an Oregon community college killed nine before being killed by police. Several others are recovering from injuries.

When a reporter asked Bush whether the remark was a mistake, he replied: "No, it wasn’t a mistake, I said exactly what I said, explain to me what I said wrong."

It would be easy to dismiss Jeb's callous belittling of a mass shooting as a reassurance to the NRA, which is a key financial and voting-block supporter of presidential candidates. After all, when Jeb was governor of Florida, he gave the NRA pretty much whatever it asked for in terms of signing pro-gun legislation.

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