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Tuesday, 25 February 2014 06:45

The Importance of "The Monuments Men"

STEVEN JONAS MD, MPH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

MonumentsMen(Photo: Columbia Pictures)Many readers of this column will know of the movie "The Monuments Men." It received a huge build-up through previews and advertising, and also through personal appearances. (I saw John Goodman do an interview for "Morning Joe.") It is about a group of fine art and architectural experts who are assigned to closely follow allied forces through France and Northern Europe as they slowly push the Nazi Army back to Germany and then closing in with the Red Army coming from the East, force the German unconditional surrender on May 7, 1945.

Their assignment (and there was no "Mr. Phelps" to accept or reject it) was multifold: to try to prevent where possible damage to priceless and irreplaceable art and architecture by allied forces, prevent the theft of fine art by the Nazis and in the case of art already stolen, recover it.

As Manohla Dargis points out in her review in The New York Times, "The story's real life heroes were a group of curators, restorers, archivists and the like who served in the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives Section, an Allied effort to protect Europe's cultural heritage."

The exploits (and there were many) of the real Monuments Men (and women) are recounted in several books, among them one by Robert Edsel with Bret Witter entitled "The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History." The actual number of monuments men and women was 345. For the purposes of his movie George Clooney whittled the number down to six.


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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT 

In response to reader input, Truthout has enhanced its BuzzFlash sites.  The new and updated options offer a more diverse and interactive experience combined with a streamlined contemporary look. 

In case you have been wondering about some of the features now available to you, here is a partial list of what you can expect on a daily basis:

(Upper Right: The Original BuzzFlash, Founded 2000 -- Photo: liberal1012)

Monday, 24 February 2014 06:34

Eugene Robinson | I'm Black, Don't Shoot Me

Trayvon Martin Rally, New York City, July 20, 2013. (Photo: <a href=" http://www.flickr.com/photos/46700054@N06/9329673259/in/photolist-fdr1Pv-fdFk6S-fdr2Zt-fgdSZK-fge4aK-fgdU3H-fgdNoR-fgtaQJ-fgtnRJ-fgt4v5-fgt1H7-fgt7S3-fgt5zJ-fgtefG-fgdPnH-fgtbDY-fge4zP-fgdYvB-fgtmaq-fge1hD-fgdXJM-fgdY6c-fgtoBb-fgtkt7-fge5U4-fgt6Qw-fgdWKz-fgt6sb-fgtgyu-fge3k6-fgdUxn-fgtdDf-fge3P6-fgdV7g-fge8AB-fge4Pg-fgdLvP-fgdMJ6-fgtfE5-fgdRvP-fgt55A-fgtmRh-dakpXa-ffuDWq-ffuE4h-fffpsr-ffuEbW-bMaZ5g-bMaYbr-bygfwf-bMaZfv"target="_blank"> Angela Meadows / Flickr</a>)Trayvon Martin Rally, New York City, July 20, 2013. (Photo: Angela Meadows / Flickr)EUGENE ROBINSON ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Washington - Sometimes, when I'm in my car, I crank up the music pretty loud. All you Michael Dunns out there, please don't shoot me.

Please don't shoot my sons, either, or my brothers-in-law, nephews, nephews-in-law or other male relatives. I have quite a few friends and acquaintances who also happen to be black men, and I'd appreciate your not shooting them as well, even if the value you place on their lives is approximately zero.

I know I shouldn't have to ask, but nothing else has worked. The criminal justice system has a mixed record -- Dunn was at least partly held accountable for the burst of mayhem in which he fatally shot Jordan Davis, while George Zimmerman got off scot-free for killing Trayvon Martin. But whatever the final outcome, prosecutors and juries never get involved until after the fact. When mothers have already cried over the caskets of their dead sons. When it's too late.

Davis' killing, if you haven't been following the case, was just as senseless as Martin's. On Nov. 23, 2012, Dunn and his fiancee stopped at a gas station in Jacksonville, Fla., and parked next to a red Dodge Durango with four African-American teenagers inside. The young men made the mistake -- ultimately fatal to Davis -- of having the Durango's music system turned up too loud.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

abant(Photo: billb1961)Among the many hypocritical examples of the Not in My Backyard (NIMBY) syndrome, place the legal opposition of ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson to the construction of a new water tower near his suburban Denton, Texas, estate at the top of the pyramid.

The story broke on February 20 in the Wall Street Journal in an article entitled: "Exxon CEO Joins Suit Citing Fracking Concerns: Residents of Dallas Suburb Fight Construction of Tower That Would Provide Water for Drilling." As noted in a piece posted on Truthout in December of 2013, Denton is a hotbed of fracking activity.  This has resulted in a citizen revolt against all the threats that fracking poses: toxic chemical use, acceleration of global warming, air pollution, water pollution, earth tremor risks, noise, airborne debris, bright night lights and more -- much more.

One of the fracking perils is the excessive use of water that is required to produce fossil fuel out of the process. The large amount of water needed not only depletes supplies of already limited fresh water in many locations, it returns the water in polluted form.   

Monday, 24 February 2014 06:07

Hypocrisies of the Super-Rich

Exxon CEO Rex W. Tillerson with gas pump.(Image: <a href="http://www.insidermonkey.com/"target="_blank">Insider Monkey</a>)Exxon CEO Rex W. Tillerson with gas pump. (Image: Insider Monkey)PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

The hypocrisy is spread evenly among corporations, Congress, and free-market apologists, all of whom insult and imperil average Americans with their double standards. Here are some of the worst:

1. Poor People Just Need to Get a Job. But there are No Jobs.

This may be the greatest hypocrisy of them all, because it directly impacts so many Americans. When anti-food-stamp Congressman Stephen Fincher (R-TN) said, "The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat," John Boehner had the answer: "Our job here is not to divide the American people...It’s to help every American have a fair shot at the American dream."

But they don't provide that fair shot. In October, 2011 Senate Republicans killed a proposed $447 billion jobs bill that would have added about two million jobs to the economy. Members of Congress filibustered Nancy Pelosi's "Prevention of Outsourcing Act," even as two million jobs were being outsourced, and they temporarily blocked the "Small Business Jobs Act." In April, 2013 only one member of Congress bothered to show up for a hearing on unemployment.

Congress is not the only hypocrite here. In a recent poll that asked if "the government in Washington should see to it that everyone who wants to work can find a job," 68% of the general public agreed, while only 19% of the wealthy were in agreement.

Friday, 21 February 2014 07:45

"Son of God" Coming to a Theater Near You

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

CrucifixionBerkowitz(Photo: Sailko)It may not garner the massive box office receipts that Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ did ten years ago (more than $600 million worldwide), but several high profile pastors are doing their darnedest to see that Son of God becomes the next super-successful Christian flick.

A major part of the box-office-seeking strategy, according to Charisma News, is to have well-known pastors, including megachurch pastor, Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., "rent every screen in numerous multiplex theaters across 10 cities for the premiere of Son of God."

Charisma News reported that "Cinemark Theaters is scheduling a few large-scale buyouts on Feb. 27, said James Meredith, head of marketing and communications. 'The interest level for meetings, events, screenings and buyouts seems to be on par with that of major blockbuster, tentpole or franchise movies,' said Meredith."

Friday, 21 February 2014 06:53

Obama’s Nuke-Powered Drone Strike

HARVEY WASSERMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

NukePlantWasserman(Photo: Dr. Janos Korom)So the "all the above" energy strategy now deems we dump another $6.5 billion in bogus loan guarantees down the atomic drain. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has announced finalization of hotly contested taxpayer handouts for the two Vogtle reactors being built in Georgia. Another $1.8 billion waits to be pulled out of your pocket and poured down the radioactive sink hole.

A nuke-powered drone strike on fiscal sanity.

While Fukushima burns and solar soars, our taxpayer money is being pitched at a failed 20th century technology currently distinguished by its non-stop outflow of lethal radiation into the Pacific Ocean.

The money is to pump up a pair of radioactive white elephants that Wall Street won't touch. Georgia state "regulators" are strong-arming ratepayers into the footing the bill before the reactors ever move a single electron—which they likely never will.

Sibling reactors being built in Finland and France are already billions over budget and years behind schedule. New ones proposed in Great Britain flirt with price guarantees far above currently available renewables.

The Vogtle project makes no fiscal sense ... except for the scam artists that will feed off them for years to come.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

arickRick Santorum, Soda Jerk for restoring the Middle Ages (Photo: DonkeyHotey)He's back. Little Ricky "Man-on-Dog" Santorum is seriously assembling a run for president in 2016 according to the National Journal. 

Going back to May of 2000 when BuzzFlash first began posting on the Internet, we've covered a lot of right wing outsized characters.  In fact, there were so many that we began a separate site (since ceased publishing): BuzzFlash GOP Hypocrite of the Week.

Santorum falls more into the "deranged zealot who looks like a big box office supply store manager" type, but he still fits into that broad category of religious zealots who get themselves confused with their stated belief that Jesus is the Son of God while their actual belief is that they are the Son(s) of God. 

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

 

aspeciesIs the human species next on the list? (Photo: tbone_samdwich)

There was a popular bumper sticker you'd see on luxury cars awhile back, "The person who dies with the most toys wins."

Sometimes, when I saw an automobile with such a message, my first thought was how tacky to put such a cheap plastic boast of wealth on a vehicle that cost tens of thousands of dollars. But then I realized that, to paraphrase Marshall McCluhan, "the medium is the message."  This is what this person is all about; "my greed makes me who I am, and I'm better and more valuable than you are in your cheap Ford."

This destructive confusion of one's worth as a human being with one's financial worth arose in my mind again yesterday when writing a commentary, "Five Reasons the 1% Do Not Want Unemployment to Decrease."

BRIAN J. TRAUTMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

SocialJusticeDay(Photo: David Shankbone)In one of his most famous writings, "Letter from Birmingham Jail," Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said of injustice, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly." In other words, the very existence of injustice has implications for us all. Thus, we each have a responsibility to actively challenge unjust power structures wherever they should surface. According to the United Nations, "the immortal words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. have never been more relevant than they are today."

Structural injustices are pervasive in the United States, perhaps more than in any other Western industrialized nation. They include record levels of economic inequality and mass incarceration and attempts to slash entitlement programs, restrict women's reproductive rights, and erode voting rights. Globally, injustice exists more frequently in other forms, such as poverty, hunger, worker exploitation, sex trafficking, resource privatization, and severe restrictions on women's and gay rights. In every corner of the world people's rights and dignity are under constant assault by different forces.

Numerous definitions of social justice can be found in the literature. Some are more comprehensive than others. An inclusive definition may draw from several perspectives. This piece integrates a few such perspectives – an approach which will inform the later discussion on the importance and significance of social justice. Hopefully this examination will grow our understanding of why we must strengthen progressive campaigns that are confronting various ongoing efforts to deny or strip fundamental rights. Such an understanding may help us build a stronger and more ubiquitous nonviolent social change movement.

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