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aaaApotheosisWarKoehler(Photo: Vasily Vereshchagin)"Since the people are sovereign under our Constitution . . ."

Ralph Nader writes in a recent essay that we should demand acknowledgement of this fact from our presidential candidates and ask what they will do to restore this sovereignty to the American people, in their various manifestations as voters, taxpayers, workers and consumers.

"Regardless of their affiliation with either of the two dominant parties," he writes, "politicians are so used to people being spectators rather than participants in the run-up to Election Day that they have not thought much about participatory or initiatory democracy."

"Spectator," "participant" . . . these are trigger words for me. I deeply fear the reckless ascendance of that first word in our cultural and political structures, as world events are increasingly reduced to reality TV mélanges of celebrity and violence. Meanwhile, the second word shrivels. This is America the superpower, its management the province of a shadowy consensus of corporate militarists.

"It's hard to run for President as an opponent of the permanent U.S. security state," writes Jeffrey Sachs. "Being a card-carrying member of the U.S. security establishment is the mainstream media's definition of a 'serious' candidate."

Go Hillary?

2015.30.11 BF Berkowitz(Photo: The All-Nite Images)BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Since the recent massacre in Paris, conservative politicians have been ginning up fear of a terrorist attack in the homeland. They were right. On Friday, November 27, terrorism once again hit the U.S., claiming the lives of one police officer and two civilians, and injuring nine others during an attack at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The gunman, who surrendered to police, has been identified as Robert Lewis Dear Jr., 57, who was born in Charleston, South Carolina, previously lived in North Carolina, and moved into a white trailer “on a “snow-covered patch of land in a hamlet [Hartsel, Colorado] ringed by the Rocky Mountains,” The New York Times reported.

He may have acted alone, and he may have mental health issues, but make no mistake, the gunman who attacked the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs is definitely part of a network; a network that has been responsible for murdering abortion providers and staff members, the bombing of clinics, and the terrorizing of clinic patients.

Although Dear’s motivation is not yet completely clear, here’s what we do know.

2015.30.11 BF Buchheit(Photo: Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig)PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Many wealthy white conservative males believe they deserve their good fortunes, and that the poor are taking handouts. But on average little of the money of the wealthiest Americans is spent on productive job-creating ventures. Potential young entrepreneurs, in contrast, are too often mired in debt and deprived of opportunities to prosper.

Based on the evidence, the very people demeaned by the rich as 'lazy' are generally the hardest workers.

Most Safety Net Recipients Are Working

Almost 63 percent of America's work-eligible poor are working, and 73 percent of public support recipients are members of working families. As noted by Paul Krugman, "only 26 percent of jobless Americans are receiving any kind of unemployment benefit, the lowest level in many decades."

Wednesday, 25 November 2015 10:26

Why We Must Stop Drinking Bottled Water


Plastic is displayed on a beach and the word ‘Trash’ is spelt out from golf balls. The wide variety of items shown in this image highlight the diverse range of sources from which the plastics in our oceans originate. This is part of the Ocean Defenders Campaign in which the Greenpeace ship Esperanza MV sails to the Pacific Ocean, sometimes referred to as the North Pacific garbage patch, to document the threat that plastic poses to the environment and sea life. Photo credit: © Greenpeace / Alex HoffordPlastic is displayed on a beach and the word ‘”TRASH”’ is spelt out from golf balls. The wide variety of items shown in this image highlight the diverse range of sources from which the plastics in our oceans originate. This is part of the Ocean Defenders Campaign in which the Greenpeace ship Esperanza MV sails to the Pacific Ocean, sometimes referred to as the North Pacific garbage patch, to document the threat that plastic poses to the environment and sea life. Photo credit: © Greenpeace / Alex Hofford

Thursday was Use Less Stuff Day. It was created to inspire us to rethink the stuff we use. All our stuff—cell phones, clothes, cars, disposable chopsticks, and on and on—comes from somewhere and has to go somewhere when we throw it out. That takes a big toll on the planet, so thinking about how to use less is an excellent idea.

I’ve written a bunch about the real need to re-think our approach to the holidays and the mad shopping frenzy that comes with them.

When it comes to how we do spend our dollars, the product that jumps immediately to mind as obscenely wasteful, expensive and easily preventable is bottled water.

Let’s dig a bit deeper into this. It’s true that in some parts of the world the water quality is so poor that it’s unsafe for people to drink. There are definitely some places in the U.S. wherefracking or petrochemical plants have ruined the local water supply, but even then there are better solutions than forcing the community to buy bottled water! For the most part, tap water in the U.S. is clean, readily available and thousands of times cheaper than the bottled stuff.

four-year review of the bottled water industry in the U.S. and the safety standards that govern it, including independent testing of over 1,000 bottles of water found that there is no assurance that just because water comes out of a bottle it is any cleaner or safer than water from the tap. In fact tap water is tested more frequently than bottled water.


aaaCruzDuh(Photo: Gage Skidmore)The Associated Press (AP) asked eight climate and biological scientists to grade (on a 0-100 scale) the comments of top presidential candidates for their scientific accuracy. To eliminate bias, the names of the candidates were removed from their comments, so the scientists were scrutinizing them merely on scientific grounds.

The Republicans did not fare as well. Jeb Bush was the only GOP candidate to receive a passing score of 64 percent. In dead last, at a mere 6 percent, was Ted Cruz.

“This individual understands less about science [and climate change] than the average kindergartner,” Penn State University professor Michael Mann wrote after reading Cruz’s statements before the candidates’ identities were revealed. “That sort of ignorance would be dangerous in a doorman, let alone a president.”

The other candidates’ percentages were as follows, according to the AP: Chris Christie, 54; John Kasich, 47; Rand Paul, 38; Carly Fiorina, 28; Marco Rubio, 21; Donald Trump, 15; and Ben Carson, 13.


aaaTrumpCPACaaa(Photo: Gage Skidmore)Glendon Scott Crawford had an idea about how to deal with Muslims in America; build a weapon that would irradiate as many of them as possible. Pamela Geller is a professional anti-Muslim provocateur who in the spring, held a cartoon competition in Garland, Texas, to award the best cartoon mocking the Prophet Muhammad. While most conservatives aren't talking in "final solution" terms, and are not looking to intentionally provoke violence, the mindlessness of the marginalized is seeping into the mainstream. Ideas once thought of as unsuitable for serious discussion, anti-democratic and decidedly un-American are starting to take hold with the Republican Party.

Months ago, Donald Trump kicked off his campaign with slanderous comments about Mexican immigrants. Those comments played well with the base, and they became standard fare at his campaign events. However, since the horrific Paris murders, Trump has seized upon new actionable targets; Muslim Americans and Muslim refugees. Now, Trump is voicing support for shuttering mosques, creating a database for monitoring all Muslims, and re-instituting waterboarding. Ben Carson has declared no Muslim is worthy of being in his cabinet, let alone being elected president. Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush have advocated accepting only Christian refugees from Syria. And, just about every Republican Party presidential candidate, more than 30 governors (the vast majority from the GOP), and key sectors of the religious right are espousing their versions of keep the Syrian refugees out of the United States.

Ideas that were thought of as fringe, anti-American and anti-democratic are leading today's political debate within the Republican Party and, they seem to be gaining traction within the body politic.


aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaakalaThe NRA enables terrorism. It's not even debatable. (Photo: Bartosch Salmanski)

It's been more than a decade since then Attorney General John Ashcroft prohibited the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) from stopping people on the US government terrorist watch list from purchasing guns.

Indeed, since Ashcroft issued the order after 9/11 not to interfere with people suspected of terrorist involvement from buying firearms, BuzzFlash has been calling attention to the contradictions embodied by those in the NRA and Congress who say that we need guns to protect ourselves against terrorists, while also ensuring that people they suspect of being terrorists can purchase guns without hindrance. Regardless of what you think of the existence of the terrorist watch list in the first place, the hypocrisy is striking.

As a November 20 Associated Press (AP) article noted,

People on the U.S. government's terrorist watch list often can't board commercial airliners, but they can walk into a gun store and legally buy pistols and powerful, military-style assault rifles....

According to a March analysis by the Government Accountability Office, people on the FBI's consolidated Terrorist Watchlist successfully passed the background check required to purchase firearms more than 90 percent of the time, with more than 2,043 approvals between 2004 and 2014. The office is an investigative branch of Congress....

Under current federal law, however, association with a terrorist organization doesn't prohibit a person from possessing firearms or explosives.

If someone is denied a gun purchase from a retail firearms store, it is only because they don't qualify for other reasons.


Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Combat the epidemic of misinformation that plagues the corporate media! Make a tax-deductible donation to Truthout and BuzzFlash today.

England’s Prince Charles told Sky News in an exclusive interview that climate change was a root cause of the civil war in Syria, terrorism and the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe. Prince Charles, who has been outspoken on the issue of climate change and sustainability for the last four decades, will deliver a keynote address at the COP21 Paris climate talks next week.

“We’re seeing a classic case of not dealing with the problem, because, I mean, it sounds awful to say, but some of us were saying 20 years ago that if we didn’t tackle these issues, you would see ever greater conflict over scarce resources and ever greater difficulties over drought, and the accumulating effect of climate change, which means that people have to move,” he said in the interview, which will air tonight and was filmed three weeks ago, before the Paris attacks. “And, in fact, there’s very good evidence indeed that one of the major reasons for this horror in Syria, funnily enough, was a drought that lasted for about five or six years, which meant that huge numbers of people in the end had to leave the land.”

Monday, 23 November 2015 06:38

Signs of a Dying Society

2015.23.11 Buchheit(Photo: outtacontext)PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

BuzzFlash isn’t funded by corporate advertising, but by readers like you. Can you help sustain our work with a tax-deductible donation?

While Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning and John Kiriakou are vilified for revealing vital information about spying and bombing and torture, a man who conspired with Goldman Sachs to make billions of dollars on the planned failure of subprime mortgages was honored by New York University for his "Outstanding Contributions to Society."

This is one example of the distorted thinking leading to the demise of a once-vibrant American society. There are other signs of decay:

1. A House Bill Would View Corporate Crimes as 'Honest Mistakes'

Wealthy conservatives are pushing a bill that would excuse corporate leaders from financial fraud, environmental pollution, and other crimes that America's greatest criminals deem simply reckless or negligent. The Heritage Foundation attempts to rationalize, saying "someone who simply has an accident by being slightly careless can hardly be said to have acted with a 'guilty mind.'"


aaaSyrianKids(Photo: Trocaire)Fear, laced with paranoia, is driving the American response against allowing Syrian refugees into the United States.

President Obama has said he would accept 10,000 refugees, all of them subjected to intense scrutiny before being admitted to the country. France, with a population about one-fifth that of the United States, despite the worst attack on its soil since World War II, will accept 30,000 refugees.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) told the Senate, "We are not a nation that delivers children back into the hands of ISIS because some politician doesn't like their religion." Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), a Jew, said the nation should "not allow ourselves to be divided and succumb to Islamophobia," and that when "thousands of people have lost everything—have nothing left but the shirts on their backs - we will not turn our backs on the refugees."

They are among a minority. Only 28 percent of Americans believe the nation should allow Syrian refugees into the United States, according to an independent Bloomberg poll. Fifty-three percent say absolutely deny any Syrian refugee, and apparently anyone who is a Muslim, a place in the United States; 11 percent say admit only Christians; 8 percent aren't sure.

The governors of 30 states, mostly in the South and Midwest, have also said they don't want Syrian refugees in their states. Gov. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) has even ordered his state agencies to deny residence to two Syrian families who had undergone extensive background checks by the FBI and other agencies and were scheduled to be relocated in Indianapolis. The governors' opinion, fueled by politics not compassion, really doesn't matter; the acceptance and relocation of refugees fleeing oppression is a federal, not a state issue.

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