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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

afearphoto(Photo: Loretta Prencipe)

Fear is a primary, primordial emotion.

It can easily be manipulated so that reason and logic are bypassed, as people cower in support of anything that will allegedly save them from what they perceive as a threat to their lives.

Since 9/11, the US government has been masterful at using fear to manipulate voters into supporting large-scale military intervention and intrusive surveillance policies. Fear is the fuel for the expansion of a military-industrial-surveillance state.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) has long used fear as the basis for justifying unrestricted gun availability. However, just scratch the surface of much of the NRA's inflammatory rhetoric and you will find racism. Indeed, the subtext of the NRA's alarmist appeal on behalf of gun ownership primarily appeals to white males. White people need guns, the NRA says with a coded nod and a wink, because "the other" - males of color - are, in this racist sub-narrative, a daily threat to the lives of "law-abiding" white males and their families. You can draw a straight line from the institution of slavery - justified by disputing the humanity of Africans - to the NRA's appeal to white males.

This practice of creating a stereotyped class of people to fear - let us call them "the other" - is as prevalent in US government and corporate media today as it is in the NRA. These days, "the other" label is categorically applied to Muslims. 

2015.2.18.Durst.BFRoy Moore, chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, defends Alabama judges that refuse to issue same-sex marriage licenses and talks about his personal views. (Screen grab via Bloomberg Business / YouTube)WILL DURST FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Kind of sad being forced to watch the death struggle of these modern-day dinosaurs. Responsible parents should keep their kids from peering over the Plexiglas railing into the tar pits below to see the huge lumbering antediluvian beasts frenziedly dig themselves deeper into the sticky morass that is gay marriage. Not a sight for the queasy or squeamish.

For some unfathomable reason, the thought of other people having sex makes certain folks crazier than a three-legged, drunken squirrel on a telephone wire covered in ice. Judge Roy Moore, the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, is one of those; and frankly, his obsession is becoming more than a mite suspicious.

Last week, Moore ordered probate judges in the Yellowhammer State to ignore a federal court order and refuse to issue marriage certificates to gay couples. Like the Civil War, these guys are programmed to never give up. Hey, South! Get over it. Unless you have compromising photos of US Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy with a baby brontosaurus, gay marriage is a done deal. And guess what, you lost. Again. Deal with it.

2015.2.18.Berkowitz.BFA new, mean-spirited attack on the gay community is being launched by the religious right. (Image: Loren Javier / Flickr)BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

A group of conservative Catholics and evangelical Protestants are gearing up for the culture war battle of the century. A new manifesto – to be revealed in the March edition of the conservative publication First Things -- is meant to set the tone for the upcoming decision on same-sex marriage by the U.S. Supreme Court, and perhaps the 2016 presidential election as well.

The document maintains that same-sex marriage is "a graver threat" to the social order than "easy acceptance of divorce" or "widespread cohabitation." "We must say, as clearly as possible, that same-sex unions, even when sanctioned by the state, are not marriages," the document stated. "Christians who wish to remain faithful to the Scriptures and Christian tradition cannot embrace this falsification of reality, irrespective of its status in law."

With temperate rhetoric tossed aside, and a new mean-spirited attack on the gay community being launched, language in the new document makes signees like the Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest Calif., and Robert George, professor at Princeton University and vice-chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedoms, sound like the second coming of the late Rev. Fred Phelps.

HARVEY WASSERMAN OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaDavisBesse(Photo: EcoWatch)As the world’s nuke reactors begin to crumble and fall, the danger of a major disaster is escalating at the decrepit Davis-Besse plant near Toledo, Ohio.

Now the plant’s owners are asking the Ohio Public Utilities Commission to force the public to pay billions of dollars over the next 15 years to subsidize reactor operations.

But Davis-Besse’s astonishing history of near-miss disasters defies belief. Its shoddy construction, continual operator error and relentless owner incompetence would not be believed as fiction, let alone as the stark realities of a large commercial reactor operating in a heavily populated area.

Time and again Davis-Besse has come within a fraction of an inch and an hour of crisis management time. Today its critical shield wall is literally crumbing, with new cracks opening up every time the northern Ohio weather freezes (like this week).

The company’s owners have blacked out the entire Northeast including 50 million customers—the largest such disaster in world history.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

2000deathsTranslation from the French: In 2012, more than 2000 migrants died in the Mediterranean. (Photo: Denis Bocquet)

National borders are often used to keep the "losers" in global capitalism confined to nations that, due to exploitation and neglect, are economic disaster zones for the majority of their citizens. One need look no further than the draconian, militarized wall on the Mexican border, which prevents people from crossing into the US in order to literally survive. In addition, hundreds of thousands of undocumented Mexican and Central Americans are arrested and deported from living within the US each year.

A short time ago, BuzzFlash interviewed Robert Neustadt about how US border policy with Mexico is in part designed to kill desperate migrants by forcing many of them to travel through the deadly gauntlet of the Sonoran desert.

However, a close reading of international news reveals that the deaths of migrants seeking economic survival or fleeing political turmoil is hardly confined to the Mexican border. In fact, the cruel treatment of those who flee poverty and violence is a worldwide reality.

Last week, Reuters posted an article with what would have been a shocking headline were it have been about the loss of life of white people from developed nations, "More than 300 migrants died this week trying to reach Italy: U.N. agency."

PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaBastille(Photo: "The Storming of the Bastille," de Launay)If revolution is to happen, we Americans must be made aware of the destructive failures of the free-market system, and we must be angry enough to act, and, most of all, we must agree on a single demand of the people with money and power who have perversely redistributed our national wealth. First some maddening facts:

1. For Every BILLION DOLLARS of New Stock Market Wealth, Most of Us Averaged ONE DOLLAR in Stock Gains

In the six years since the recession the stock market has risen by $8 trillion, the great majority of it going to the richest 10%. In 2013 alone it rose by $5 trillion. On average, each of us in the bottom 90% earned a dollar every time the market went up another billion. (Details here.)

2. Each Year Since the Recession, the "Upper Class" (Richest 10%) Has Accumulated Enough New Wealth to Pay the Total Cost of Social Security Four Times Over

The upper class is defined here as the top 10%, families with minimum wealth of $660,000 and minimum income somewhere between $114,000 and $140,000.

Social Security too expensive? Not in comparison to the flow of wealth to the upper class, many of whom, at the lower end of the 10%, may not consider themselves rich, but have still benefited. In the six years since the recession these 16 million families have increased their wealth by $4 trillion per year, which is more than four times the cost of Social Security.

JOHN HORNING OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaCoalEcoWatch(Photo: EcoWatch)On Friday across our nation and the world conscientious members of churches, motivated students at universities and schools and civic-minded employees of many U.S. cities will join together in calling on the institutions that they love to take an act of fiscal prudence and global conscience to ensure that we have a future worth fighting for.

As a part of Global Divestment Day, they will be asking the leaders of their churches, schools and cities to divest from companies that extract and burn fossil fuels.

So far, the rapidly growing fossil fuel divestment movement has focused on investment assets of academic, religious and municipal institutions. While that’s a smart starting point, it misses a huge opportunity and challenge: expanding targeted assets to include those owned by all Americans. I’m referring to the coal, oil and gas that underlie our public lands and waters, the carbon that belongs to all of us.

Last year, a full quarter of all fossil fuels produced in the U.S. came from our public lands, our nation’s single biggest source which created a whopping $110 billion in royalty, rents and bonus payments to the U.S. treasury. Divestment won’t reach its full moral promise until we divest from burning the fossil fuels we all own.

Luckily, ending the sale of public carbon is very simple. Selling off future reserves is entirely up to the President. Without having to wait for a do-nothing Congress, President Obama can stop new sales from proceeding with the stroke of a pen. That federal divestment would be a real climate legacy.

Thursday, 12 February 2015 09:32

The Bush Family: Where Style Trumps Substance

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaBushArgh(Photo: Happyme22)At the 1988 Republican Party convention the party’s nominee, George H.W. Bush, seemed to openly break with the cold-hearted, mean-spirited Reagan years, and declared in his acceptance speech that he sought a “kinder, gentler” nation. Twelve years later, during the presidential campaign of 2000, George W. Bush tried to separate himself from others in the GOP by basing his campaign around “compassionate conservatism.” Now, with Jeb Bush gallivanting around the country to line up big-pocket donors, and “exploring” the possibility of running for the presidency, it’s his turn to come up with a catch phrase that will separate him from the other potential candidates.

To add to an old saying, “Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me. Fool me a third time: Hello President Jeb Bush.”

As longtime conservative columnist Byron York pointed out recently in a column for the Washington Examiner, “When Bushes run for president, they portray themselves as more caring, more gentle and more compassionate than their sometimes heartless and harshly ideological fellow Republicans. It worked for George H.W. Bush in 1988, it worked for George W. Bush in 2000, and now Jeb Bush is preparing to give it another go in 2016.”

ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaChalk(Photo: Tuválkin)Experts have put urban violence under the microscope. You might call it the sociology of dead kids.

There’s a lot less here than meets the eye, or so it seemed when I read about a new study by researchers at Yale called “Tragic, but not random: The social contagion of nonfatal gunshot injuries.” It’s an attempt to create categories of likely future shooting victims in Chicago and, thus, determine who among us is most in danger. Well, sure, why not? But in the process, the study, at least as it was reported a few days ago in the Chicago Sun-Times, utterly depersonalized the potential victims, along with the communities in which they lived, reducing them to components in a mathematical formula.

The researchers “sought to go beyond a racial explanation for nonfatal shootings,” according to the Sun-Times. “They were trying to explain why a specific young African-American male in a high-crime neighborhood becomes a shooting victim, while another young black man in the same neighborhood doesn’t, the study said.”

It was all so cold and “scientific,” so grandly removed from the hoo-hah of growing up in the big city — of life, death, guns, gangs, poverty and the criminal justice system. As we go about the business of trying to create meaningful lives, it turns out that disinterested mega-forces, as impersonal as gravity, are colluding to determine our fate. Don’t worry. Scientists are studying these forces. They’ll get them figured out. Meanwhile, go shopping. Or whatever.

2015.2.11.EcoWatch.BF"The only way forward is choosing energy efficiency and renewables," writes Naidoo. (Photo: zpeckler / Flickr)KUMI NAIDOO OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

On Saturday I joined a panel at the Munich Security Conference in Germany and talked about global security and energy security. You might be surprised to see Greenpeace at a security conference. The room was full of members of the “strategic community,” people who are not the crowd we normally engage with; they are the crowd we have historically challenged with our peace campaigns. However, I appreciated having the opportunity to be a dissenting voice and to talk about what I consider is the path towards true energy security.

What often dominates discussions about peace and security are questions about solutions—around how conflicts are to be addressed and solved, economic sanctions, peace missions, diplomatic negotiations—these are all the mechanisms we have become accustomed to which dominate the discourse.

I urge you however to think about this from a different perspective—prevention. How could conflicts have been prevented and even more importantly—how can the next conflicts be prevented, or at least how do we mitigate the risks.

When I look back at 2014 and consider the many conflicts that have plagued our planet, there is one fact that I cannot ignore and that is—our addiction to fossil fuels is taking us on the road to nowhere.

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