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2016.24.3 BF wasserman(Photo: IIP Photo Archive)HARVEY WASSERMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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Our American president’s long-overdue visit to Cuba has been a great thing for many reasons.

But maybe our elected officials should cease their hypocritical yapping about the human rights situation in Cuba until they come clean about what’s happening here in the United States.

To be sure, there is much to say about how this authoritarian regime has handled dissent. The details abound in the corporate media.

But the idea of the United States lecturing Cuba or any other country on this planet about human rights comes down somewhere between embarrassing and nauseating.

Thursday, 24 March 2016 06:34

Recovering From Militarism

2016.24.3 bf koehler(Photo: Steve Stearns)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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The pols cry glory and revenge. They cry security. They cry greatness.

Then they stick in the needle, or the missile or the rifle shell, or the nuclear bomb. Or at least they imagine doing so. This will fix the world. And they approve more funding for war.

U.S. militarism, and the funding -- and the fearmongering -- that sustain it are out of control . . . in the same way, perhaps, that stage 4 cancer is out of control.

We talk about "the Pentagon" as though it were a rational entity, hierarchically in control of what it does, dispensable as needed to trouble spots around the world: a tool of America’s commander in chief and, therefore, of the American people. The reality, undiscussed on the evening news or the presidential debates, is something a little different. The American military is an unceasing hemorrhage of cash and aggression, committed -- perhaps only at the unconscious level -- to nothing more than its own perpetuation, which is to say, endless war.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

BuzzFlash and Truthout aren't funded by corporate advertising, but by readers like you. Can you help sustain this critically important work with a tax-deductible donation?

2026 March24drugwarsThe "War on Drugs" is a war on people of color, as a lost quotation from Nixon adviser John Ehrlichman now reveals.  (Photo: Neon Tommy)

Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman, in a 2015 commentary in Free Press, rightfully charged that the ruinous "war on drugs" had its origins in a nefarious motive that had little to do with concern about harmful drug use:

The Drug War was officially born June 17, 1971, when Richard Nixon pronounced drugs to be “public enemy number one.” In a nation wracked by poverty, racial tension, injustice, civil strife, ecological disaster, corporate domination, a hated Vietnam War and much more, drugs seemed an odd choice.

In fact, the Drug War’s primary target[s were] Black[s] and young voters.

As the Vietnam War ended -- and massive youth political protest subsided -- the war on drugs rapidly took a two-tier track: incarceration for even the most minor drug "offenses" for people of color, while whites of means were generally treated leniently by the legal system for drug use. The war on drugs became embedded in the post-Civil Rights era society as a gruesome and destructive re-emergence of Jim Crow policy. It was supported in full force by the national, state, county and city police and court systems, as a means of suppressing and punishing Blacks for having survived slavery -- and a means of continuing to systematically exploit them, long after official slavery had been outlawed.  

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

LeoMeat 0323wrp opt(Photo: EcoWatch)Oscar-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio has advocated for a number of worthy causes, from fighting climate change to the importance of conservation. Now, with a single tweet, the planetary steward shines a light on the colossal environmental impact of animal agriculture.

In his tweet, DiCaprio included a link to a stunning video from Mercy For Animals, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing cruelty to farmed animals, and promoting compassionate food choices and policies.

The 4-minute clip, with the tag-line “This is the video future generations will be wishing everyone watched today,” starts by showing the awe-inspiring, grandeur of our living, breathing planet Earth as well as its incredibly vast biodiversity. It then turns dark as footage rolls of crumbling glaciers and disappearing coastlines, and links these global catastrophes to mankind’s insatiable appetite for meat.

The video points out that animal agriculture and meat consumption is the number one cause of environmental destruction, species extinction and ocean “dead zones.” The agricultural industry has consumed one-third of all fresh water and has destroyed 91 percent of the Amazon.

WILLIAM RIVERS PITT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

TrumpMouth 0323wrp opt(Photo: Philip Cohen)Most people in the US get their Trump in small slices, in dribs and drabs, in snippets doled out by the TV networks. One sentence a day. That kind of parsimonious coverage does not do justice to the grim astonishment that is Trump on the campaign stump. Therefore, I bit the bullet and strung his comments together. Do yourself a favor and read this out loud, so you can get a taste of the words in your mouth. You’ll spit.

The following is what I would have to describe as stream-of-consciousness Trump, culled directly and verbatim from a variety of rallies and media appearances that can be sourced here and here. No words have been replaced or changed. This is the raw of it, to the bone. Deep thanks to KnowPolitical and CBS News for doing the legwork.

They laughed at Mussolini, too, until he took office. Then they stopped laughing.

I give you Donald Trump ...

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

march23 empirestrikesbackFor the US, the 2016 election symbolizes the sins of empire striking back. (Photo: Nick Normal)

Behind the vulgar, violent, racist, nationalist bombast of Donald Trump lies a profound and unsettling reality: This is what an empire looks like in the 21st century when it is imploding.  

The birth of the United States became known historically as a "revolution" because it created a government that was not monarchal. (Of course, non-monarchal governments had already been common throughout history, but in the narrow context of 18th century Western society, this development was framed as "new.") However, that "revolutionary" government did not break with the concept of empire, even though it overthrew one. In fact, as the British empire diminished, the US empire expanded into a global presence, positioning itself to achieve dominance (with only the Soviet Union as its competitor until the 1990s) after World War II.

The US may have overthrown rule by bloodline descent, but it fully adopted the tools of empire expansion, most notably through its two original sins: the massacre and displacement of the Indigenous population and the incorporation of slavery into the expanding nation as a legally condoned fuel for the growth of empire.

As we recently noted, the Civil War for this nation's soul will not end with this election. The grotesque ire that is born of white privilege -- descended from the Eurocentric origins of the United States -- have emerged in coded words and thinly veiled racist attacks, such as "Birtherism." 

2016.22.3 BF Ecowatch(Photo: David Rencher)JANET MACGILLIVRAY AND LEE ZIESCHE OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

In Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ masterpiece 100 Years of Solitude, the story of generations doomed to repeat history, the town of Macondo never learns from the past and is eventually wiped off the map. In a chilling and unconsciously ironic foretelling, BP nicknamed the ill fated oil field where the Deepwater Horizon oil exploded “Macondo.”

Now, the Obama administration’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has become the agency that never learns and may doom Louisiana to be wiped off the map.

The state was hit last week by another storm that dumped two feet of rain, causing widespread flooding in neighborhoods that can’t seem to get ahead of climate change induced weather events. Portions of 1-10 were so flooded they had to close down and the state is reporting more than 6,000 buildings and homes were damaged by floodwaters.

2016.22.3 BF biggers(Photo: lutmans)JEFF BIGGERS OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

As Peabody Energy teeters on the brink of bankruptcy, edging toward a Chapter II reorganization that will most likely allow it to walk away from massive reclamation and mine worker commitments, a flurry of poetic musings and giddy celebrations over of the death of Big Coal has begun to flow.

Spare me your coal requiems.

We’re long overdue for a reckoning in so-called coal country.

JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Billboard 0321wrp opt(Photo: Djsasso)OK, people, we need to discuss billboards. Yes, we really must.

Billboards must be living creatures, for they appear to propagate, spreading everywhere, growing to enormous size, shouting corporate messages at us — and even watching and tracking us with their digital eyes.

Now, though, rather than billboards becoming human, we humans are becoming billboards. Literally. For the love of money, the National Basketball Association is transforming its chief human assets — i.e., basketball players — into advertising placards that run, dribble, leap, twist and dunk.

While individual golfers and racecar drivers have long splattered themselves with their sponsors' logos, NBA teams are now planning to become the first major U.S. sports teams to sell ad space on their players' game-day jerseys. Chintzy? Well, yes — but not cheap. Team owners expect brand-name corporations to pay at least $100 million to have their logos plastered on the chests of basketball stars.

Calling this a "stylistic move," the mammon-worshipping owners say the ads will be modest — each just a two-and-a-half inch patch displaying the corporate brand of, say, Budweiser, Bank of America, Hooters or Viagra. The ad size seems small, but ESPN's high-definition TV cameras will focus on them and show them to viewers hundreds of times in every game. And, of course, to squeeze ever-more cash out of each human billboard, both the owners and advertisers will steadily expand the commercial space to cover the entire uniform.

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

AIPACtrump 0321wrp opt(Photo: Gage Skidmore)When Donald J. Trump takes the stage at the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference, he’ll have lots of ‘splaining to do. In addition to support Trump is receiving from the likes of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and an assortment of white nationalists, Mediaite’s Josh Feldman recently reported on numerous anti-Semitic incidents at Trump campaign rallies including someone making a Nazi salute, a man who shouted at someone to “go to fucking Auschwitz,” and “the pastor at a Trump event who said that Bernie Sanders needs a come-to-Jesus moment.”

If protests erupt when he speaks will he start shouting “Get them out of here, get them out,” or “Go home to your mommy?” Will he urge audience members to “Take them outta here on a stretcher?” Will he tell the crowd he’ll pay their legal fees if anyone clocks a protester?

There’s a good chance a number of rabbis and Jewish organizations will stage some kind of protest – either inside or outside of the event -- and there is equally a good chance that Trump will not only profess his great love for Israel, and maybe even say something like “I love Israel and I will help make U.S.-Israeli relations great again,” and “I guarantee it will be the best relations ever.”

Theirs is also a good chance that Trump will attempt to detoxify himself and walk back remarks he’s made about being neutral on the issue of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

The Union of Reform Judaism recently issued a statement maintaining that Trump’s views are the antithesis of Jewish values, as he has "chosen to take the low road, sowing seeds of hatred and division in our body politic."

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