PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
We've all been affected by the tragedy in Boston. Anytime an innocent person gets killed in an act of terror, we feel some of the pain of the victims' families, and we feel less safe, for our way of life has been threatened.
In another incident, on a warm spring afternoon in Chicago in 2012, 6-year-old Aliyah Shell sat with her mother on the front porch of their Little Village home on the city's southwest side. A pickup truck drove by, shots were fired, and Aliyah lay in the arms of a mother crazed with confusion and grief. The little girl died later that afternoon at the hospital.
In a third incident, in March of 2011, about 40 individuals gathered together at a community center to try to resolve a dispute over a local mine. The group included the most respected senior members of the community. At about 10:45 AM the room was bombed, and most people inside were killed. Their bodies were blown up, torn into unrecognizable pieces. Family members could do nothing. Even collecting the remains for burial was dangerous, for bombings were often followed by attacks targeting the rescuers. This has been the way of life in much of Pakistan.
All these attacks ended human lives and caused unimaginable suffering for the families of the victims. All deserve our attention. We don't need the media to decide for us which is most important, or which impacts us most personally. But news sources have tried to do that with the Boston bombing, to stir the passion of fear in our minds, to bolster the cause of homeland security. The Wall Street Journal proclaimed that the Boston attack is "a reminder of the continuing need for heightened defenses against terror threats."
But what is the nature of "terrorism" in each case?
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Of Thursday's dedication of the George W. Bush presidential library, NPR headlines an article that details how President "Obama's Bush Library Speech Leaves Iraq And More Unspoken."
Most Americans of both parties have, over the years, appeared to have adopted the attitude that the stolen election of 2000 is something the nation has gotten over. But it's hard not to underscore that the George W. Bush presidential library is really a fraud.
After all, Bush was never elected president. On the 10th anniversary of his anointment by the Supreme Court, and particularly by the stay of the Florida state-mandated recount by Antonin Scalia – a long-time buddy of Dick Cheney and rabid right wing partisan. In 2010, Eric Alterman recounted just some of the machinations that led to an election that was stolen even before the votes were cast (which was done with a number of voter suppression strategies, including the purging of tens of thousands of largely minority voters in Florida done by a firm called ChoicePoint) on the tenth anniversary of the legalized putsch.
The coup was openly revealed in Scalia's infamous stay of a state-mandated recount (Bush, by the way, as governor of Texas signed a bill that would have made a recount in Florida automatic if the vote were as close in Texas as it officially was in the Sunshine State) when he stated that a recount "threatens irreperable harm to [Bush] and to the country, by casting a cloud upon what he claims to be the legitimacy of his election." In short, Scalia is saying that if Bush lost after a recount it would hurt his reputation as president since the Supreme Court would install him in the White House no matter what the voters decided in Florida. (Remember that Al Gore won the national popular vote by more than 540,000 votes.)
(Photography: @ LaRsNoW @)
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Still smarting over November's bitter electoral defeats, the Koch Brothers may be on the verge of taking their libertarian/free enterprise/deregulation game plan to another level; the purchase of the Tribune Company, and a string of other daily newspapers.
Such a purchase would immediately give Charles and David Koch, the billionaire industrialists and generous funder of right-wing institutions, causes and candidates, direct media access to the editorial and news pages of The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, The Orlando Sentinel and The Hartford Courant. Hoy, the second-largest Spanish-language daily newspaper in the country, could also be Included in the deal.
According to the New York Times, "The papers, valued at roughly $623 million, would be a financially diminutive deal for Koch Industries, the energy and manufacturing conglomerate based in Wichita, Kan., with annual revenue of about $115 billion."
The New York Times also reported Sunday, that Three years ago the Koch Brothers "held a seminar of like-minded, wealthy political donors at the St. Regis Resort in Aspen, Colo., [where] [t]hey laid out a three-pronged, 10-year strategy to shift the country toward a smaller government with less regulation and taxes." The first two prongs of the strategy consisted of "educating grass-roots activists and influencing politics"; the third prong was media.
JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
At the end of Amy Goodman’s interview with Jeremy Scahill, author of the new book, Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield, and the award-winning documentary film with the same name appearing at theatres this June, Scahill concluded that we cannot avoid asking the question: Are Americans paying a high price for the U.S. government’s violent war polices? The corporate media will not go there when it comes to this question.
I agree with Scahill’s assessment. If these wars continue in our name, it’s highly likely that Americans will be the target of retaliation. America is no longer seen as the Beacon of Light in the world. For the last twelve years, our government is viewed globally as the Bully of Darkness. After the complete annihilation of Iraq, wrongly blamed for 9-11 and wrongly accused of harboring weapons of mass destruction, can you blame world leaders’ for escalating defense programs?
When speaking about war crimes i.e. statements such as “Look what we’re doing to those poor village peasants in Afghanistan and Yemen, killing up to 30 or 40 women and children for one suspect,” the pronoun “we” should be replaced with “President Obama”. Obama won the 2008 election on the campaign promise that that he’d put an end to these unconscionable wars and begin the process of healing and reconciliation. Thus, Americans are not responsible for what this government does. The President vowed to do so and he betrayed us.
STEVEN JONAS MD, MPH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The negative outcomes of the Boston bombings are multiple. First of all, of course, were the three deaths. Second of all were the injuries, ranging from minor to life-changing. (As a 30-year-plus triathlete and a former marathoner [although never Boston - too tough for me!], I identified particularly with the runners who lost one or both legs.) Third, perhaps the most long-lasting in terms of our nation as a whole, is the attack on various aspects of U.S. Constitutional Democracy, reflecting what has been underway since the response to 9/11 which was exploited with such evil intent by the Bush/Cheney regime.
First, let us consider the use of the term "Miranda Rights" in referring to the initial juridical process applied to the surviving bomber (who has apparently confessed). The way the term is used by most reporters, commentators, and politicians implies that there is some special set of rights that were created at some time in the past to protect persons arrested on criminal charges. The implication always is that there is some special set of privileges granted to certain arrested persons, especially "very bad" ones.
But as it happens there are no "Miranda Rights," no special group of rights plucked out of thin air, or, heaven forfend, invented by some awful (liberal, you know) Supreme Court to protect the otherwise undeserving. The Rights in question are actually Constitutional Rights, ensconced in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution. They guarantee, or are supposed to guarantee, due process of the law (which includes right-to-counsel) and protection against self-incrimination, before questioning by the authorities can begin, to any arrestee.
The term "Miranda" which has been so widely used since the Boston horror, refers to a 1966 Supreme Court decision that simply said that all arrestees have these rights, whether they know that they have them or not. Thus the terms "Miranda warning" and "Mirandizing." Virtually any watcher of any TV crime show is familiar with an arresting officer saying to an arrestee: "You have the right to an attorney. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you." Thus "Miranda" simply refers to a process clearly and unequivocally written into the Constitution, not any special group of rights. All US citizens have these rights, or should have them, under the Constitution. "Mirandizing" is to make sure that any person has them in practice, whether they happen to know that they have them, and can articulate them, or not.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In the new security state, not even garbage will have privacy.
“Terrorism,” the ChicagoSun-Times informed us last week, “has created a new market in Chicago and other big cities for a company that started out making bear resistant garbage containers about 14 years ago.”
Clear plastic trash bins are coming! They cost up to $900 apiece. “Monday’s deadly bombings at the Boston Marathon demonstrate a need for the bins at events like the Bank of America Chicago Marathon,” a company salesman said, and I marveled at the security minutiae that is now called news. We are kept informed of everything except what matters.
Ho hum, we’re in mortal danger every second of the day, terrorists might strike at any moment, but we’ve got surveillance cameras and metal detectors, body scans, the USA Patriot Act and now, see-through trash bins, though maybe we also need see-through backpacks . . .
And I started to think, we’re chasing infinity here. We’re ceding ever more ground to the Watching Authority but aren’t the least bit safer than we were a decade or a half-century ago. Every high-profile act of violence is followed by some new security procedure and market opportunity, which of course embeds the procedure into our way of life and subtly, imperceptibly increases the fear, suspicion and social alienation that characterizes American society, meanwhile leaving the causes of violence — whatever those might be — unaddressed. And the war goes on.
In mainstream media and culture, indeed, there’s no such thing as “causes.” The concept is just too complicated, unless “illegal immigration” is a cause, or “Al Qaeda” is a cause. Or opaque garbage cans are a cause.
TOM BARRY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Report reveals embarrassing DHS ineffectiveness in its drone border surveillance, and details drone mission creep, congressional drone boosterism and alarming lack of oversight, accountability and transparency in unmanned surveillance program.
Immigration reform proponents in Congress advocate pumping billions of dollars of new DHS spending into a border security strategy that is already overly reliant on dysfunctional high-tech surveillance. Drones Over the Homeland (PDF | HTML) raises questions about the wisdom of linking immigration- reform bills to high-tech surveillance programs – as both the White House and Senate have proposed.
ANN DAVIDOW FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Protecting the second amendment at all costs is nothing to make a lawmaker's chest swell with pride. As the president said after the Senate refused to pass an expanded background checks amendment for gun purchasers it was in fact "a pretty shameful day for Washington." Staring vacantly into the eyes of parents who lost a child at Sandy Hook or watching Gabby Giffords struggle to walk and speak is not a victory for freedom-loving patriots, it is a stain on our national character.
People tend to be outraged at what they see as acts of terrorism but withhold judgment when some crazed gunman shoots an abortion provider or states angrily that he's ready to defend his gun rights to his last breath - - or that his gun will have to be plucked from "his cold dead hands." Those who ask for the enactment of sensible gun laws are accused of just not understanding the "gun culture" that exists in parts of the country. But applying the word culture to the word gun is a dysfunction in the making and that's what we've been about in the lexicon of misnomers we have developed.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
But the insightful Juan Cole puts into perspective that most followers of Islam are peaceful people. The Jihadists and their networks compose a small percentage of believers in the Islamic faith.
Perhaps it is a little too early to start comparing the death tolls caused by different religious faiths in the last 100 years, but Cole takes a stab at it -- and this is what he finds. In the 20th Century, of the estimated (and this is hardly a firm figure, understated if anything) 120 million people who were killed in wars and war-like acts (terrorism is war, generally upon civilians, by a non nation-state) only a small fraction of that figure was the result of Muslim killings. Cole offers a chart that visually displays the dramatic lopsided accountability of Christian nations: mostly those located in Europe plus the US and Canada.
Many Americans will react with dismay that Cole is setting the record straight. But it is vital to point out that he condemns terrorism and war for empire of any sort. He is simply pointing out that to think that Christianity and Christian nations are more virtuous and less blood thirsty than followers of Islam is statistically incorrect. As Cole concludes in his commentary on relative blood lust in the name of a divine force or nationhood,
Terrorism is a tactic of extremists within each religion, and within secular religions of Marxism or nationalism. No religion, including Islam, preaches indiscriminate violence against innocents.