MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Let's stop beating around the bush.
The ongoing and daily police sweeps arresting minorities for marijuana use, sales and distribution is institutional racism, pure and simple.
There are no daily suburban police massive arrests of suburban white youth for marijuana violations, are there? BuzzFlash at Truthout hasn't read about or heard of any.
But it's more than that. As BuzzFlash posted a couple weeks back, the ACLU issued a report that found,
Black people are 3.7 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people despite comparable usage rates, according to a report released today by the American Civil Liberties Union. The report also found that marijuana possession arrests now make up nearly half of all drug arrests, with police making over 7 million marijuana possession arrests between 2001 and 2010. "The War on Marijuana in Black and White: Billions of Dollars Wasted on Racially Biased Arrests" is the first-ever report to examine nationwide state and county marijuana arrest data by race.
Of this racist use of drug arrests to incarcerate and subjugate black males in urban areas where there are few jobs beyond drugs – and where drugs are an opiate for lack of job opportunity – the only benefit to society is those who profit from or are employed by the prison-industrial complex.
WILL DURST FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Dear US Citizen:
Please accept our most egregiously sincere apologies for the difficulties and inconveniences the secret monitoring of your phone records and email and GPS units and foreign travel and bank accounts and yes, even your snail mail has evidently caused.
We here at the NSA strive for the perfection of our services, which depend on the chronic obliviousness of you, our valued customers. Unfortunately, due to one disgruntled deadbeat (who escaped to China to avoid government persecution- which is like joining the Army because you're tired of people telling you what to do) you now know of our continuing efforts to keep you safe. That was never our intention.
When you are even tangentially aware of the absurd lengths the National Security Agency will go to keep you and your loved ones out of harm's way, our mission has failed. If you knew half the crap we have to slog through here, your hair would curl, but that's another story altogether.
Yes, we're pretty much keeping tabs on everything everyone says and does, all the time, which we understand upsets a few of you. Folks. Don't worry. Nobody's actually listening to any of this stuff. We're just used to collecting it. If it makes you feel any better, think of this whole enterprise as an exceedingly long, government- subsidized episode of "Hoarders." You can trust us.
DENNIS J. BERNSTEIN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
From day one of his first campaign for President, Barack Obama promised a kinder more humane treatment of undocumented migrant workers and their families. But his administration has been nothing short of brutal when it comes to his policies.
Some of those on the front lines fighting for comprehensive and humane immigration reform have started to refer to Obama as “Deporter in Chief.” Jesus Guzman, an organizer from Northern California is among them.
Guzman is a 23-year-old program manager at the Graton Day Laborer Center and a member of the North Bay Community Organizing Project in Northern California. He was on the podium with Obama last week during a day of activities by Latino youth who were brought to the United States at a young age and have come to be known as the “Dreamers.”
In a radio interview from Washington D.C., Guzman told the Flashpoints show on Pacifica Radio, “it’s very fitting, the name of the Deporter in Chief, because, as we mentioned, Obama is solely responsible for his administration’s record rate of deportations. It’s something George Bush could not accomplish, nor any other president before him.
“And we still have the deportation machinery in place … through Secure Communities, through this collusion between local law enforcement and ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] agents and The Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
And says Guzman, the Obama administration plays fast and loose with the facts. “Seven out of ten folks that are deported through Secure Communities,” said Guzman “have no convictions, or a minor offense. Yet when they [administration officials] talk about the deportation, they continually say that these are criminals, these are felons. The facts don’t reflect that.”
Pablo Alvarado, Director of the National Day Labor Organizing Network or NDLON, spent the last several weeks lobbying in Washington for humane and meaningful immigration reform. NDLON represents migrant workers all over the country. Alvarado agrees with Guzman, and paints a picture of the stark reality of the situation.
BURT HALL FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The right wing of the Republican Party no longer has the leadership or agenda to gain the presidency through a popular vote. Instead, it is relying on ruthless obstruction of the party in power, slowing down economy and voter suppression. The right wing will continue on this path until the American people put a stop to it and remove this cancer from our politics.
After much campaigning and political infighting, we elect a president every four years. These elections provide legitimacy to a new or continued administration. Traditionally, most Americans and their elected representatives in Congress have pulled together and supported a newly elected president, especially in times of crisis. This tradition was broken in a big way during the 1990's.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Nearly lost in the scandal of domestic data mining, spyng and possible phone call monitoring of US citizens revealed by Glenn Greenwald is an article he co-authored on June 7. In the Guardian UK piece, Greenwald and co-author Ewen MacAskill discuss the implications of President Obama authorizing the targeting of nations, organizations, and just about anybody for US government initiated cyber-attacks.
(Here is the full document obtained by Greenwald and the Guardian and sub-titled by the paper, "Eighteen-page presidential memo reveals how Barack Obama has ordered intelligence officials to draw up a list of potential overseas targets for US cyber attacks.")
The directive focuses on overseas targets, which some might think is necessary in an age when digital technology may be as powerful a weapons as bombs and military might in wielding global power. But that raises the concerns that cyber-warfare may lead to military conflict. As the article cautions:
In the presidential directive, the criteria for offensive cyber operations in the directive is not limited to retaliatory action but vaguely framed as advancing "US national objectives around the world". The revelation that the US is preparing a specific target list for offensive cyber-action is likely to reignite previously raised concerns of security researchers and academics, several of whom have warned that large-scale cyber operations could easily escalate into full-scale military conflict.
JONATHAN FRANKLIN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
RIO: For anyone fortunate to be in Brazil last night, the raucous and peaceful outpouring of an estimated 250,000 street protestors was indeed historic. What began as disgust with shoddy public transportation exploded to include issues ranging from government corruption to flamboyant and seemingly unlimited state spending on next year's World Cup. "Japan take our football, we want your education" was one popular sign at last night's protests.
I watched in awe as street after street in Rio de Janeiro filled with the young, the restless and the until-now passive Brazilian citizenry. Not anymore. In dozens of cities in Brazil and around the world, Brazilians flocked together to shine a light on their discontent. "It's not just about 20 cents" was a common sign, referring to the hike in bus tickets that set off the first round of protests. Protestors in Turkey waved signs "Brazil You Are Not Alone."
The massive street protests in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and cities across Brazil stunned the Brazilian body politic. For nearly a generation the Brazilian populace kept quiet despite rising signs of corruption, inefficiency and overall financial mismanagement. But the international hype about Brazil – which is always off the charts – went haywire with the awarding of both the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics. (Though both competitions are notoriously corrupt and shady, somehow the winning of both rounds was supposedly a sign that Brazil had graduated to the big leagues.) Few analysts took the time to contemplate really what it would take to negotiate the smoky back rooms of the IOC and FIFA and come out winners in both rounds. Bribery allegations aside, Brazil was an emerging power, a BRIC with samba hips.
The first cracks began showing earlier in the year. Stadium projects were far off schedule. Construction projects tens of millions of dollars over budget. The Brazilian economy slowed, the stock market tanked. Foreigners began ripping billions out of Brazil. FIFA began to feel the panic.
EUGENE ROBINSON FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In Syria, the Obama administration seems to be stumbling back to the future: An old-fashioned proxy war, complete with the usual shadowy CIA arms-running operation, the traditional plan to prop up ostensible "moderates" whose prospects are doubtful and, of course, the customary shaky grasp of what the fighting is really about.
This will not end well.
It is tragic that more than 90,000 people have been killed in the bloody Syrian conflict, with more than 1.5 million displaced. But I have heard no claim that President Obama's decision to arm the rebels will halt or even slow the carnage. To the contrary, sending more weapons into the fray will likely result in greater death and destruction, at least in the short term.
WILLIAM RIVERS PITT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
He went to China. He seems too coached in his remarks. His girlfriend was a pole-dancer. He was a bad neighbor. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Edward Snowden is experiencing one of the more broad-spectrum efforts at character assassination in recent memory after his deliberate exposure of the far-reaching nature of NSA domestic surveillance. It's an old trick. Crap on a critic from great height, crap on a critic with great volume, in the hope that the critic becomes entombed in crap and loses their viability as a critic.
Disclaimer: I don't give much of a damn about Edward Snowden. I give a very large series of damns about the information he revealed, as should any thinking American in my personal opinion. Attacking his character, his girlfriend, his travel plans etc. is a shortcut to thinking, a way to tamp down revelations that this administration, like the previous administration, has been peeking through a lot of windows in ways the American people need to be aware of. Snowden attacks equal Obama defense, in my humble o, and it's a pretty gruesome display from a lot of people who spent a lot of time attacking Bush on similar grounds not so long ago. But IOKIYBO ("It's OK If You're Barack Obama") appears to be the rule of the day.
In the summer of 2002, eight months before the invasion and occupation of Iraq, I co-authored a book titled "War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know" with former weapons inspector Scott Ritter. The book we created, to this day, was dead-bang right not only about Iraq's lack of WMD, about Iraq's lack of al Qaeda/September 11 connections, but very accurately predicted the bloodbath disaster that would take place if the invasion and occupation were to take place. Eleven years later, that book stands up to any test you want to give it, and it was Scott Ritter who provided the facts that make the book absolutely unimpeachable.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
How often do you come across an article or a television news story that presents a poor person in a positive light? Or for that matter when do you read about or see a story on an unemployed individual or the challenges of a working class American whose salary is receding as the stock market soars?
Oh, yes every once in awhile there will be a hard luck formula piece of reporting about the plight of the economically left behind – but it's comparatively rare and is often presented in a pitying, patronizing tone.
In short, if you are not a member of the economically made, political or corporate elite, you generally don't appear in the news. You are voiceless, faceless. The reality is that you are not news; your existence is hardly worthy of note, with the obligatory exception of an occasional "gee it's tough to live like this" profile of a "welfare mom" or person unemployed and looking for work for three or four years.
Otherwise, in urban areas, the only regular stories you see about the poor is the knife and gun coverage of violence, particularly on weekends, particularly on local television news. These video accounts of weeping relatives, blood-stained crime scenes, and eyewitnesses only serve to reinforce stereotypes of the urban poor, particularly minorities. It's voyeuristic catnip for suburbanites and the well-to-do who gain comfort in their racial views being reinforced by tawdry and sensationalistic "news delivery systems."
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
We hear a lot about corporationsavoiding federal taxes. Less well known is their non-payment of state taxes, which along with local taxes make up 90% of U.S. education funding.
Pay Up Now just completed a review of 2011-12 tax data from the SEC filings of 155 of the largest U.S. corporations. The results show that the total cost of K-12 educational cutbacks in recent years is approximately equal to the amount of state taxes left unpaid by these companies.