WILL DURST FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Despite opposition from traditional Catholics, France legalized gay marriage in May. On May 29th, the first French gay marriage took place. But as BuzzFlash at Truthout contributing satirist Will Durst observes, even in France gay marriage ignited vociferous detractors.
"France! Getting all uppity on us. The country you normally associate with the moral rectitude of a cat in heat on Mexican spring break during the Ecstasy harvest. Next they’ll start blaming us for all the butter and cream in their diet. Hey garcon, du jour might be a good time to switch to margarine, skim milk and maybe a modicum of noblesse oblige, n’est ce pas?"
Awfully odd to see the French getting their panties in a big bad bundle over gay marriage. Like watching a river otter work a crossword puzzle. In ink. Recently the entire country went completely bonkers with thousands taking to the streets to express concern over the level of free will leaking out of the same-sex end of their famously perforated hose of liberte, egalite and fraternite.
It's so counter-intuitive. We’re talking about France here. Uptight is not normally their métier, milieu, mise-en-scene or oeuvre. Maybe it’s the marriage part that’s giving them major pause. Could be they’re just that much more comfortable winging it laissez-faire style. Behind closed doors-one thing. Right there out in the open with everyone watching-quelle horreur!
HARVEY WASSERMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
ANN DAVIDOW FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Doesn't anyone else wonder what elected members of Congress are supposed to be doing with their time in Washington? Apparently proposing and passing legislation isn't on their list of musts, while thwarting the administration and promoting a conservative agenda fills them with the pride of accomplishment usually reserved for tackling weightier matters.
It is more than discouraging that 'we the people' have so little control over how our government functions and are consigned to the housekeeping task of sweeping up the mess left by previous administrations. And it doesn't seem to matter that those of us with brooms and dust pans are willing to pitch in and undertake the menial tasks that have become our lot in the aftermath of partisan and profligate debacles. It seems the electorate doesn't care all that much about the fevered dialogue the right has cooked up, having long since decided not to spend its days on the minutia of partisan politics, even when things come to a boil and epithets fly.
Calling Attorney General Holder a paid liar and numerous other members of the administration liars as well is a sign of how little Darrel Issa and his team have to offer. Name-calling has its limitations, after all, and is a low-class exercise at best. Issa may think his tactics are a winning gambit but they are in fact a weak-minded attempt to bully opponents when rational arguments fail. Why is it considered acceptable for members of Congress to indulge in low-life behavior in the name of pursuing lapses of judgment on the part of fellow legislators? And how long can investigations be allowed to meander on while the work of the Senate and House languishes on the sidelines? There must be a better use of political time than what is currently on display in Congress, except of course when gotcha politics is the motivating force behind congressional action. Does it make sense that six separate investigations regarding the IRS are undertaken simultaneously as other crucial issues in Congress grind to a halt?
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
June 6 editorial entitled "President Obama’s Dragnet," the New York Times editorial board lacerated the White House for its intrusive surveillance state tactics:In a withering
The administration has now lost all credibility on this issue. Mr. Obama is proving the truism that the executive branch will use any power it is given and very likely abuse it. That is one reason we have long argued that the Patriot Act, enacted in the heat of fear after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by members of Congress who mostly had not even read it, was reckless in its assignment of unnecessary and overbroad surveillance powers.
Based on an article in The Guardian published Wednesday night, we now know that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency used the Patriot Act to obtain a secret warrant to compel Verizon’s business services division to turn over data on every single call that went through its system. We know that this particular order was a routine extension of surveillance that has been going on for years, and it seems very likely that it extends beyond Verizon’s business division. There is every reason to believe the federal government has been collecting every bit of information about every American’s phone calls except the words actually exchanged in those calls.
Articles in The Washington Post and The Guardian described a process by which the N.S.A. is also able to capture Internet communications directly from the servers of nine leading American companies. The articles raised questions about whether the N.S.A. separated foreign communications from domestic ones.
Despite insulting platitudes (as the NYT calls them) from the Obama administration defending the massive invasion of privacy ("Intelligence Chief Says Massive Data Collection Is No Big Deal, But Reporting It Is" -- Forbes), the NYT's fierce condemnation of, in essence, sweeping data collection may finally wake some elites in the US up to the dangers of the enabling -- euphemistically named -- "Patriot Act."
JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Imagine a patient suffering from a "curable" cholesterol problem related to blocked arteries. A few doctors decide that it's more profitable to inject the patient with lard instead of doing a by-pass surgery. Now of course no doctor would perform heart surgery with cholesterol fat, the very thing that has rendered the patient ill.
And yet that crazy scenario demonstrates the insane situation that we're facing regarding the oil industry's monetary dominance over world governments. A small group of oligarchs have determined that destroying the earth is profitable for their immediate gain. The government gives the green light to the oil industry to fill our arteries with lard. Oil spills are turning our communities, water, forests and lands into uninhabitable dead zones, global warming disasters are escalating to biblical proportions—but no tornado is big enough, no hurricane is threatening enough, no drought is deadly enough to deter business as usual for those profiting from pollution.
There are no wake-up calls in the United States Government of Petroleum to slow the drilling down, to replace polluted sources of energy with clean energy, to mandate a global phasing out of gas and petroleum products by 2023 before the planet rapidly burns out of control from trapped carbon emissions, man-made pollution. On the contrary, and this is the insane part: drilling is escalating full speed ahead at a manic rate—more dangerous deepwater drilling has commenced since BP's catastrophic explosion than ever before. Against all logic, the deadly BP spill ignited a government approved escalation of risky deepwater drilling. Not only were no lessons learned, the government and oil industry ripped those lessons to shreds.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Maine has one of the most advanced renewable electricity laws in the nation. Even if one can argue it doesn't go far enough, it's a 15-year-old example of a first-step earth-friendly electricity initiative that works.
According to Democrat Phil Bartlett, former Maine Senate majority leader writing in the Bangor Daily News,
[Since its inception 15 years ago] Maine’s Renewable Portfolio Standard has created thousands of jobs, cut down on harmful pollution and helped to keep more of Mainers’ energy dollars in the state. Requiring 30 percent of the state’s energy providers’ electricity sales to come from renewables such as wind, solar, biomass, geothermal and hydroelectric power, it has also led to tremendous investment by renewable energy companies that are paying more than $17 million annually in property taxes and employing more than 2,500 Mainers.
Simply put, the Renewable Portfolio Standard is working — for everyday Mainers and businesses alike. In light of our struggling economy, programs such as the RPS should be celebrated and protected.
But Maine's Tea Party governor, Paul LePage, and some Maine legislators are trying to weaken the renewable energy mandate in order to allow the fossil fuel profiteers a bigger jolt of electricity generated dollars.
(Photo: Madison Guy)
NATHANIEL BATCHELDER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Nancy Zorn and Stefan Warner are two Oklahoma City activists with the Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance, arrested for nonviolently protesting construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Opposition to the pipeline and development of the Canadian tar sands is based on a long-range view of tar sands development and its threat to sustainability on earth.
A major concern is the huge contribution tar sands oil is projected to make to global warming and climate change. Ninety seven percent of climate scientists agree that the primary cause of global warming is the rising atmospheric concentration of CO2 and methane resulting from human activities.
NASA's leading climate scientist Dr. James Hansen has called the Keystone XL pipeline "a fuse to the largest carbon bomb on the planet."
Climate scientists tell us humanity must reduce the level of CO2 in the atmosphere from its current level over 400 parts per million to below 350 ppm. Every species, every habitat, all of earth's life systems are threatened by global warming and climate change.
Australia's Great Barrier coral reefs show signs of dying. Polar ice caps and mountain glaciers around the world are melting. Extreme weather is reported regularly. Storms and rising seas flood coastlines where billions live.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Yeah, it's called mass incarceration. Our jails are filled with black and brown men and women. The number of inmates, primarily people of color, has soared sevenfold in the last three decades, according to Alexander, from 300,000 to more than 2 million, the largest number, by far, in the developed world. Many millions more are on probation or parole. And no matter what their crime, the inmates never get their citizenship back. The stigma of being an ex-felon brands someone for life as a second-class human being.
But even before the ex-felon label is attached, certain people — young men of color, in particular — are targeted as society's losers by the police, judicial bureaucracy and prison system. They face the possibility of police harassment, invasion of privacy and arrest, often on the smallest pretext possible, pretty much any time they step outside.
I live in a vital, racially and ethnically diverse Chicago neighborhood and I watch it happen — racial profiling, the stop-and-frisk game. This is not making my neighborhood safer. It's wrecking lives at enormous public expense and, of course, like the insane war on terror, creating enemies. We don't need a justice system based on stereotypes and armed bullying.
STEVEN JONAS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
President Barack Obama's recent speech on ending, or winding down, or cutting back on, or doing something to/with the "War on Terror" that the U.S. has supposedly been engaged in since the events of 9/11 has received a great deal of attention. Indeed the United States has been engaged in what can be described as "Permanent War" since the Bush/Cheney invasion of Afghanistan and the subsequent invasion of Iraq. To begin to answer the above question one can begin with an analysis of Iraq in particular.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
It is not hyperbolic to state that the prison system in the U.S. is one unholy dysfunctional mess. Over the past few months I've written about overcrowded and crumbling prisons, the revival of debtors prisons in a number of states across the country, the disenfranchisement of former felons, and the problems of false confessions and the wrongfully convicted. In years past I've written about the rising rates of sexual assault against incarcerated women and men, and how people with mental illness are disproportionately represented in America's correctional institutions.