PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The first step is to learn the facts, and then to get angry and to ask ourselves, as progressives and caring human beings, what we can do about the relentless transfer of wealth to a small group of well-positioned Americans.
1. $2.13 per hour vs. $3,000,000.00 per hour
Each of the Koch brothers saw his investments grow by $6 billion in one year, which is three million dollars per hour based on a 40-hour 'work' week. They used some of the money to try to kill renewable energy standards around the country.
WILL DURST FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Normally you don’t expect to see the words “Republicans” and “introspection” right next to each other. Like supermodel and barbecue. Physicist and polka. Gazelle and ophthalmology. You catch my drift.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Impatient with a virtual US ban on slaughtering horses for meat, a worker for Valley Meat Company in Roswell, New Mexico, shot a horse in the head and posted it on You Tube to express his contempt for animal advocates. In fact, he swore at humane society members as he pulled the trigger the other day.
(If you have the stomach for it, you can watch the unedited video here, but be prepared for barbaric graphic cruelty.)
The stunning act of defiant brutality is the entryway into a far bigger and ominous story about slaughtering horses. According to a local television news station in New Mexico:
In the video, an employee at the Valley Meat Company out of Roswell, NM - which is working with the USDA to get a horse slaughter plant in the area - brings a horse out of its pen, swears at activists and then kills the horse with a single gunshot.
“To all you animal activists, f**k you,” Tim Sappington, a maintenance contractor with Valley Meat Company, said in the video.
He then shoots the horse point blank in the head. The horse falls to the ground and dies.
The owner of Valley Meat Company condones the execution of the horse, but told NBC News, he wouldn't have posted it on the Internet.
"De Los Santos [the owner of Valley Meat Company] said the contract worker, Tim Sappington, shot the video on his own time and at his own home.
"He shot a horse. That's what he eats. It's not against the law to slaughter your own horse," De Los Santos said. "Now, putting it on YouTube, I would not have done that."
And this is where the story breaks wide open. According to a February 28 New York Times article, De Los Santos and his Valley Meat Company have sued the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to open a fully operational horse slaughterhouse in Roswell. If the USDA approves Valley Meat Company's request – which has already invested in equipping the abattoir plant – it would become the first US horse slaughterhouse since 2007:
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Based on the information I’ve garnered over the past week or so, it would not be fair to characterize Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio – now Pope Francis – as having been complicit with the military dictatorship’s imprisonment, torture and murder of more than 30,000 Argentinians during that country’s “Dirty War.” It would be a lot closer to the truth, however, to see him as a man of inaction; one who, for whatever political, religious and/or personal reasons, chose to remain silent.
While it may be understandable that Bergoglio was unwilling to risk his life during the “Dirty War,” which would have been threatened had he vigorously spoken out against the military dictatorship’s human rights abuses, it is far less understandable why, for the longest time, he has remained virtually indifferent to those who suffered at the hands of sexually abusive clergy in Argentina.
The Washington Post’s Nick Miroff recently reported on the case of Father Julio Cesar Grassi, an Argentine priest who, in 2009 was convicted of sexual abuse, and is now free on appeal. According to Miroff, “in the years after Grassi’s conviction, Bergoglio … has declined to meet with the victim of the priest’s crimes or the victims of other predations by clergy under his leadership. He did not offer personal apologies or financial restitution, even in cases in which the crimes were denounced by other members of the church and the offending priests were sent to jail.”
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In an interview by Kathrin Lassila for the Yale Alumni Magazine a short time back, outgoing Yale President Richard Levin sat for a Q and A justifying corporate and pharmaceutical funding of research at the university.
Levin admits that the university is, in essence, engaging in a corporate partnership with one research investor, Gilead Sciences, in which Yale would license back to Gilead any patented findings that would be profitable. The Gilead investment (which is what it is, despite the euphemisms from New Haven) brings the total of corporate research funding to $20 million at Yale, but that appears to be just the beginning of a growing direct relationship between corporations and the prestigious Ivy League institution.
Indeed, the magazine interview is entitled, "Corporate funding for medical science." Granted, the rapidly developing relationships between corporations seeking profitable research outcomes and universities is complex, including how the grants can often piggyback on government funding that is providing, indirectly, subsidies for the private sector backed academic research.
Levin, however, unapologetically endorses such creeping for-profit intrusions into the Ivory Tower. In his interview with Lasilla, who is the editor of the Yale publication for alumni, Levin, a PhD economist, rebuffs a pointed question with some academic administrator jabberwocky:
[Lasilla]: A Yale medical school professor, Cary Gross, has found that drug studies are 3.6 times more likely to be favorable when they’re company funded. Yale, like many universities, does some of these studies.
[Levin]: Yes, but you’re talking now about clinical trials, as opposed to research and discovery partnerships like the Gilead and Pfizer arrangements. Clinical testing of drugs for safety and efficacy is essential, and Yale has processes to ensure that conflicts of interest are eliminated or managed. It’s important for the public interest that we learn which drugs work and which don’t, and which have unacceptably toxic side effects. Besides, these tests can provide useful scientific information that will help scientists advance towards the next set of discoveries. As long as there is appropriate oversight, clinical trials are a good thing.
Going back to research and discovery activities, I don’t see much problem there.
But when asked by Lasilla, "What’s a recent proposal that was turned down?", Levin responds:
Very few get turned down today, because we have well-established ground rules on corporate funding. Nonetheless, we did have a recent case where we turned down corporate support because the faculty investigator proposing to do the work had a substantial consulting contract with the sponsoring company.
Heavens to Betsy! At least the line is drawn somewhere!
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
We’ve lost a war without being able to surrender — and thus divest ourselves of the consciousness that got us into it. We are unable to look honestly at what we did and why, and determine not to do it again.
My friend Catherine Menninger sent me a note the other day that began: “The days are long past when the poison of DU (depleted uranium) was our shared preoccupation. Now an even deeper poison, a soul poison, is seeping into the body politic and beyond. It is touching us all.”
Ten years later, an enormous question looms: How do we get the poison out of our system? I think that’s what atonement means.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Thom Hartmann points the finger squarely at the infamous ALEC for new laws being proposed – and some already enacted – that would make it a criminal act to document animals cruelly treated and slaughtered by the meat and poultry processing industries.
As Hartmann wrote on Truthout the other day,
ALEC is now parading around bills in six states that would make it a crime to film animal abuse at factory farms, or lie on job applications in order to get a job in a factory farm with the goal of taking pictures. All of this is to stop animal rights activists who infiltrate slaughterhouses to expose their deplorable conditions.
The bill proposals pushed by ALEC require all evidence of animal abuse at factory farms be turned over to law enforcement authorities within 48 hours, or those who took the pictures face a financial penalty.
The proposals also make it a crime to lie on slaughterhouse job applications, which activists commonly do in order to get documentation of animal abuse.
Right now, according to the Associated Press, the bills to block animal rights activists are under consideration in California, Nebraska, Tennessee, Indiana, Arkansas and Pennsylvania.
Three other states – New Mexico, Wyoming and New Hampshire – have already rejected similar bills this year.
And several states already have laws similar to what ALEC is currently pushing. Utah has a law that bans unauthorized photography in farms, and Iowa has a law that makes it a crime to lie to gain access to a farm's staff.
ABC News gets down to the grisly details of what goes down at some factory animal farms,
An undercover video that showed California cows struggling to stand as they were prodded to slaughter by forklifts led to the largest meat recall in U.S. history. In Vermont, a video of veal calves skinned alive and tossed like sacks of potatoes ended with the plant's closure and criminal convictions.
Now in a pushback led by the meat and poultry industries, state legislators across the country are introducing laws making it harder for animal welfare advocates to investigate cruelty and food safety cases….
ALEC has labeled those who interfere with animal operations "terrorists," though a spokesman said he wishes now that the organization had called its legislation the "Freedom to Farm Act" rather than the "Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act."
"At the end of the day it's about personal property rights or the individual right to privacy," said [ALEC] spokesman Bill Meierling. "You wouldn't want me coming into your home with a hidden camera."
But Meierling is using a logical fallacy here that is breathtaking in its deceit.
WALTER BRASCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In 2011, before he was the Republican nominee for vice-president, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) proposed a federal budget. He called it, "The Path to Prosperity: Restoring America's Promise."
Two years later, now in his second year as chair of the House budget committee, he dusted off and polished his old proposal. He calls this one: "The Path to Prosperity: A Responsible Balanced Budget." His plan is to cut the federal deficit by $4.6 trillion in four years, reducing the deficit to about $12.1 trillion.
While the Republicans blame President Obama and the Democrats for wild tax-and-spend policies that led to the huge deficit, they conveniently overlook the reality that Bill Clinton left George W. Bush a budget surplus of about $230 billion. By the time President Bush completed his eight years, there was no longer a balanced budget, and the deficit soared another $5 trillion.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The Drug Policy Alliance just released a study that provides further evidence that big city police resources are being used on victimless marijuana crime arrests, when that time could be allocated to violent offenses. In its press release, the Drug Policy Alliance reveals:
A new report released today documents the astonishing number of hours the New York Police Department has spent arresting and processing hundreds of thousands of people for low-level misdemeanor marijuana possession arrests during Mayor Bloomberg’s tenure. The report finds that NYPD used approximately 1,000,000 hours of police officer time to make 440,000 marijuana possession arrests over 11 years….
The report was prepared by Dr. Harry Levine, Professor of Sociology at Queens College and recognized expert on marijuana possession arrests, at the request of members of the New York City Council and the New York State Legislature.
Additionally, the report estimates that the people arrested by NYPD for marijuana possession have spent 5,000,000 hours in police custody over the last decade.
The full report indicates both a public safety misallocation of resources and racial bias:
- New York City has made more marijuana possession arrests under Mayor Michael Bloomberg than under mayors Koch, Dinkins and Giuliani combined.
ANN DAVIDOW FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Words are important, not just in the obvious, superficial sense but because of the ideas that inspire them and the speakers who articulate them. They can, however, be dangerous vehicles for individuals who confuse listeners with overblown images and phony premises. Freedom and liberty are used as if they were the property of people with an agenda that says they are the true Americans - - those freedom-loving folks who think they should be the movers and shakers of our political lives.
At the Conservative conference this past weekend speakers were hard pressed to find significant failings in the Republican brand. Perhaps they just needed to deliver the party’s message more clearly. As Marco Rubio and Mitt Romney declared, they haven’t lost the country they love. Apparently they’re just on a kind of hiatus, but freedom and liberty will soon be restored if they keep up the good fight. And throughout the laborious speech-infested affair, speaker after speaker spent their time taking potshots at the president - - no new ideas or innovative policies from these hardliners, just the same old crowd-pleasing jokes that seem to find a home at CPAC.