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Microsoft refuses to own up to its tax responsibility, and to its social responsibility.  Microsoft refuses to own up to its tax responsibility, and to its social responsibility. (Photo: Seattle Clouds / Flickr)PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Corporate cheating goes well beyond federal tax reporting, as big companies have used various forms of deception to keep taking from America, especially with a complicit corporate media unwilling to report the facts about their behavior. 

1. Give Us Your Technology, Infrastructure, Security, Patent Law ... but Sorry, Our Profits Were Made in Another Country.

-----Microsoft: "Rediscovering Their Soul" While Skipping Out on Their Taxes

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella writes about the "Quest to Rediscover Microsoft's Soul and Imagine a Better Future for Everyone," and the company's commitment to "humans and the unique quality we call empathy." But the empathy apparently doesn't apply to the Americans who rely on tax dollars to support basic needs. Microsoft made over half its 2017 revenue in the U.S., and it has 57 percent of its long-lived assets in our country. Yet for 2016 it claimed a LOSS IN THE U.S. and a $20 billion profit in other countries. Microsoft goes on to tell its shareholders: "As of June 30, 2017, $127.9 billion was held by our foreign subsidiaries and would be subject to material repatriation tax effects." 

Few other companies have benefited as much as Microsoft from 75 years of technological research and development in the United States. But the company refuses to own up to its tax responsibility, and to its social responsibility. 

Friday, 29 September 2017 06:58

Martin Luther King, Jr. on the Vietnam War


MLK 0929wrp opt(Portrait: Dave McKeague)In preparing for a panel discussion about Martin Luther King, Jr., I re-read the sermon that he delivered at the Riverside Church in New York City. The sermon is titled, "Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam," and it took place on April 4, 1967, one year to the day before King's assassination.

Dr. King was cautioned by many of his advisors not to give that sermon because it was sure to alienate influential supporters of the civil rights movement, including President Lyndon Johnson. Nonetheless, King spoke out.

He gave a powerful and eloquent sermon, one well worth reflecting on, particularly in light of the new Ken Burns and Lynn Novick ten-part documentary on the war in Vietnam. I'll review below some of the lines in King's sermon that jumped out at me

Dr. King said, "I see this war as an unjust, evil and futile war. I preach to you today on the war in Vietnam because my conscience leaves me with no other choice." Dr. King is speaking truth to power in naming the war for what it was -- "unjust, evil and futile." King was a great leader because he led from his conscience and, in doing so, inspired and empowered others to do so.


coloriverpersonWhat about river personhood? (Photo: Cathryn)

If corporations have personhood, based in part on the 2010 Citizens United v. FEC ruling, then why shouldn't rivers and other natural features? That's a question that a recent case filed in Denver asks, according to a September 25 New York Times article. In this case, the contention by the plaintiffs is that the Colorado River should have the rights of an individual to sue various governmental and private entities:

Does a river -- or a plant, or a forest -- have rights?

This is the essential question in what attorneys are calling a first-of-its-kind federal lawsuit, in which a Denver lawyer and a[n] ... environmental group are asking a judge to recognize the Colorado River as a person....

The suit was filed Monday in Federal District Court in Colorado by Jason Flores-Williams, a Denver lawyer. It names the river ecosystem as the plaintiff -- citing no specific physical boundaries -- and seeks to hold the state of Colorado and Gov. John Hickenlooper liable for violating the river's "right to exist, flourish, regenerate, be restored, and naturally evolve."

Because the river cannot appear in court, a group called Deep Green Resistance is filing the suit as an ally, or so-called next friend, of the waterway.

The Times notes that "several environmental law experts said the suit had a slim chance at best." However, just how extreme has the pendulum shifted toward businesses that they are considered to have rights that they share with individual people, but the natural environment upon which we depend and beautifies the earth is considered to have no legal standing? Isn't the Colorado River alive with fish and marine life as it rushes through bends and turns (including the Grand Canyon), traveling 1,450 miles across several states, supplying fresh water to millions of people?

In Beirut, tens of people gathered in front of the Saudi Embassy in solidarity with them for their fight for their basic human right to move freely.People gather in front of the Saudi Embassy in Beirut on June 18, 2011, in solidarity with Saudi women and their fight for the basic human right to move freely. (Photo: Joelle Jatem / Flickr)MEDEA BENJAMIN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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It looks like 27 years of protesting, along with international pressure and government recognition that it needs more Saudi women in the workforce, has finally paid off.

In a royal decree, Saudi King Salman announced on September 26 that Saudi women, who have been the only women in the world banned from driving, will have that right as of June 2018. The move brings the Saudi Arabia a step closer to joining the 21st century, but Saudi women remain shackled by extreme gender segregation and a guardianship system that is a form of gender apartheid.

For decades Saudi women have been fighting to lift the driving ban. In 1990, a protest was organized by Aisha Almana, a Saudi woman who had studied -- and driven -- in the United States. Almana and forty-six other women piled into cars and drove around the capital. They were arrested and thrown in jail. Their passports were confiscated, those with government jobs were fired, and they were denounced in mosques across the country.The ban on driving, along with the general lack of reliable and safe public transportation, has had a terrible impact on middle class and poor Saudi women who cannot afford their own personal drivers. It has been a major factor keeping women at less than 20 percent of the labor force. The recent introduction of ride-sharing apps like Uber and Careem have helped, but are still too expensive for many women as a daily form of transportation.

Thursday, 28 September 2017 06:44

The Courage to Kneel

Trump, you might say, is the logical consequence of a passive, spectator citizenry: a "leader" who tweets the unconscious impulses -- the fears and hatreds -- of his supporters and delivers one comforting scapegoat after another for the public to revile.Trump, you might say, is the logical consequence of a passive, spectator citizenry: a "leader" who tweets the unconscious impulses -- the fears and hatreds -- of his supporters and delivers one comforting scapegoat after another for the public to revile. (Photo: Gage Skidmore / Flickr)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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Kneel, touch the earth.

"Oh say can you see . . . "

The anthem starts. I can feel the courage . . . of Colin Kaepernick, the (then) San Francisco 49ers quarterback who refused to stand for the national war hymn, not when one of the wars was directed at Americans of color. Occupying the public spotlight that he did, Kaepernick risked -- and received -- widespread condemnation. Rabid fans burned replicas of his jersey. I’m sure as he knelt that first time, as his knee touched the earth, he had a sense of what he was setting off.

This is patriotism.

A year later, his action still resonates. The president got involved (of course), ranting and tweeting that kneeling NFL players should be fired, thus, as Adam Erickson points out, joining his list of scapegoats:

"Donald Trump," he writes at the Raven Foundation website, "attempts to push this mythical narrative on almost every minority: Muslims, Mexicans, African Americans, journalists, immigrants, the transgender community, and now we can include professional athletes in the long list of Trump’s scapegoats. The mythical narrative (i.e., the lie) he espouses is that these minorities pose a significant threat to American values."


voting2445Voter suppression is the real fraud. (Photo: justgrimes)


A new study showing the impact of voter suppression in Wisconsin, which Donald Trump won by 22,748 votes, possibly played a role in the Badger State's electoral outcome. The report was analyzed by journalist Ari Berman in a September 25 Mother Jones article:

A comprehensive study released today suggests how many missing votes can be attributed to the new law. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison surveyed registered voters who didn't cast a 2016 ballot in the state's two biggest counties -- Milwaukee and Dane, which is home to Madison. More than 1 out of 10 nonvoters (11.2 percent) said they lacked acceptable voter ID and cited the law as a reason why they didn't vote; 6.4 percent of respondents said the voter ID law was the "main reason" they didn't vote.

The study's lead author, University of Wisconsin political scientist Kenneth Mayer, says between roughly 9,000 and 23,000 registered voters in the reliably Democratic counties were deterred from voting by the ID law. Extrapolating statewide, he says the data suggests as many as 45,000 voters sat out the election, though he cautioned that it was difficult to produce an estimate from just two counties.

Berman knows this topic because he has written on it numerous times before and has also authored a book, Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America. Of course, Berman spends a good deal of time discussing the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in the book. Unfortunately, the law was weakened by the Supreme Court in 2013.

The important fact to remember, as BuzzFlash at Truthout has pointed out many a time, is that voter fraud at the polls is infinitesimal nationally. Lorraine C. Minnite, author of The Myth of Voter Fraud, provides examples that disprove the Republican allegations of voter fraud in an article featured in the Scholars Strategy Network.


Coffee 0927wrp optCoffee beans. (Photo: United Nations)Human civilization utterly depends on our precious food supplies, but the planet's sixth mass extinction of plants and animals currently underway is also threatening the world's food crops, according to a new report from Bioversity International.

"Huge proportions of the plant and animal species that form the foundation of our food supply are just as endangered [as wildlife] and are getting almost no attention," Ann Tutwiler, director general of Bioversity International, wrote in an article for the Guardian.

"If there is one thing we cannot allow to become extinct, it is the species that provide the food that sustains each and every one of the seven billion people on our planet," she said.

According to the report, 940 cultivated species are already threatened. Tutwiler emphasized the impact on popular foods and commodities:

Wednesday, 27 September 2017 07:08

Take a Knee for Freedom of Religion


Flags 0927wrp opt(Photo: Glenn Harper)What is freedom of religion? It is not actually or directly freedom to think or not think religious stuff, not to the extent that one can, or chooses to, keep one's thoughts secret. Rather, it is the right to display or to refuse to display religiosity.

If you have freedom of religion, as I think everyone should, and if we all have the right to our own lives and well-being, as I think we should, then as long as you're not hurting anyone else, you have the right to hold various things sacred: books, statues, symbols, buildings, trees, whatever. And everyone else has the right not to hold those things sacred.

In Saudi Arabia, if you do not act as if you hold certain objects and words and behaviors sacred, your life is in jeopardy.

In the United States, what puts you at the greatest risk of unpleasant repercussions is not the practicing of any particular religion, with the possible exception of Islam or anything that people might mistake for Islam. What the most factors conspire to compel you to in the United States is this: flag worship.


prison.jpgsep2017Why are arrests for possession of drugs rising? (Photo: Dave Nakayama)

A news release from the Drug Policy Alliance, a research and advocacy organization focusing on the failure of the war on drugs, notes that arrests for drug possession have been increasing recently:

According to the FBI's latest Uniform Crime Report released today, law enforcement agencies in the US made more than 1.57 million arrests for drug law violations in 2016, a 5.63% increase over the previous year. That's one drug arrest every 20 seconds -- and over three times more arrests than for all violent crimes combined....

As detailed in a July Drug Policy Alliance report, there's an emerging public, political, and scientific consensus that otherwise-law-abiding people should not be arrested, let alone locked away behind bars, simply for using or possessing a drug. On any given night, there are roughly 130,000 people behind bars in U.S. prisons and jails for drug possession – and almost half of these people are held pre-trial, which may mean they're locked up simply because they're too poor to post bail.

Discriminatory enforcement of drug possession laws has produced profound racial and ethnic disparities at all levels of the criminal justice system. Black people comprise just 13% of the U.S. population and use drugs at similar rates as other groups -- but they comprise 29% of those arrested for drug law violations and 35% of those incarcerated in state prison for drug possession.

Drug criminalization also fuels mass detentions and deportations.... From 2007 to 2012, 266,000 people were deported for drug law violations, of whom 38 percent -- more than 100,000 people -- were deported simply for drug possession.

A July report by the Drug Policy Alliance makes clear that the arrest and incarceration of people for the possession of drugs causes serious harm, is a waste of societal resources, and benefits no person or entity except the prison-industrial complex.

 Two years ago, the country banned the sale of Roundup from garden centers over fears that the chemical could cause cancer. Two years ago, France banned the sale of Roundup from garden centers over fears that the chemical could cause cancer. (Photo: Mike Mozart / Flickr)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

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The French government intends to vote against and block the European Commission's proposal to reauthorize use of the controversial chemical in the European Union.

"The European Commission has proposed renewing its approval for glyphosate for another 10 years. This is far too long, given the concerns that remain over this product, and France will vote against the proposal, as clearly laid out previously in July," Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced Monday.

According to Reuters, failure to renew the license by the end of the year would initiate an automatic ban starting Jan. 1, 2018.

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