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2015.1.28.Marcus.BFA breached oil pipeline in Montana has spilled as many as 50,000 gallons of crude oil in and around the Yellowstone River. (Screen grab via DAHBOO77 / YouTube)JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Members of both Houses that are owned by the Koch brothers should be forced to clean up Bridger Pipeline’s devastating oil disaster.  An estimated 50,000 gallons of crude oil spilled into the frozen Yellowstone River, one of America’s great wildlife treasures, for a second time.  It’s too painful for words to describe. As reported in Al Jazeera:

When an oil pipeline burst in July 2011 and poured 63,000 gallons of crude into the Yellowstone River 200 miles upstream from Dena Hoff’s farm of wheat, beans and corn on the Great Plains in Glendive, she felt disgusted. When it happened again Saturday, she felt terror. This pipeline breach was underneath the Yellowstone River, just a few feet from her sheep pasture. The new spill poured out some 50,000 gallons of crude oil. And that’s on top of the 63,000 gallons of oil that spilled in the same area in 2011. Leaders of this small riverside farming and ranching community in northeastern Montana warned residents not to drink their tap water, because benzene, a carcinogen, was found in the municipal water system. Oil slicked the river for dozens of miles, almost to the border with North Dakota. Hoff’s property smelled sickeningly like diesel.

In addition to poisoning the drinking water and vital farmland, one can only imagine how many precious endangered species, birds and animals, will die from this devastating spill.

STEVEN JONAS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaSelma(Photo: Peter Pettus)Weren't the valiant, courageous actions of civil rights advocates a triumph for social justice? Did it not lead to further advances in that struggle? And if you are referring to the movie, is it not a triumph as well, getting a film that portrays one of the signal struggles of the Movement during the 60s with such searing honesty, no holds barred in dealing with the "Which side are you on?" question, applied to this event? Well, yes, the Selma March was a triumph for the civil rights movement. It played a very important role in getting Lyndon Johnson to support what became the Voting Rights Act. It did lead to further advances in that struggle. The movie is a triumph as well, a brilliantly staged and acted docudrama which, among other things, uses the real Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, as the setting for the real march that took place across it in 1865.

Ironically enough, the bridge is named for a Confederate Brigadier General, who later, operating out of his law office, became the leader of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan in Selma and went on to become a U.S. Senator from Alabama. This is particularly ironic in the context of the Voting Rights Act and the struggle to enact it. The Ku Klux Klan was founded very shortly after the end of the civil war by an association of ex-Confederate generals, planters, certain Democratic politicians, and other white leadership who wanted to return the civil society in the South as much as possible to what it had been before the Civil War, with the exception of not having the institution of chattel slavery in place.

One of the principal objectives of the Klan, from the earliest days of its founding, was to prevent the newly freed slaves from the exercising the right to vote that had been granted to them by the 14th (1868) and 15th (1870) Amendments to the Constitution. The language of the latter is particularly instructive: "1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation." But with the power first of the Klan, with the ever-spreading denial of the vote to African-Americans, and then with the institution over a period of some years of what was called the "Jim Crow" laws by the Democratic Party in the South, African-Americans were indeed systematically denied the right that had being guaranteed to them by the 15th amendment.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

anypd(Photo: longislandwins)

In a revealing informal survey conducted in late 2014, Reuters found that, among a random sampling of Black New York Police Department (NYPD) officers, almost all had experienced racial profiling by other police when off duty.

According to Reuters:

From the dingy donut shops of Manhattan to the cloistered police watering holes in Brooklyn, a number of black NYPD officers say they have experienced the same racial profiling that cost Eric Garner his life….

Reuters interviewed 25 African American male officers on the NYPD, 15 of whom are retired and 10 of whom are still serving. All but one said that, when off duty and out of uniform, they had been victims of racial profiling, which refers to using race or ethnicity as grounds for suspecting someone of having committed a crime.

Some of these incidents involved harrowing physical threats. 

2015.1.27.BF.COMMFaced with the facts presented by "Le Petit Journal," Fox not only apologized, but did it three times: for the mischaracterizing of embracing Paris communities; its use of a faulty poll; and its baseless claim of government-recognized "no-go zones" for non-Muslims. (Photo: Le Petit Journal via Facebook)

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

"Le Petit Journal," A French comedy show akin to "The Daily Show," used facts and satire to force Fox News to apologize for three "errors" the Murdoch network disseminated in its effort to whip up anti-Islamic hysteria through its "reporting."

Specifically, Fox had claimed that there were neighborhoods in Paris that were dangerous to non-Muslims; that there was a poll taken that showed a significant number of French young people supported ISIS; and that there were official "no-go zones" for persons who are not of the Islamic faith (this included baseless accusations that such "no-go zones" also existed in England, an assertion echoed by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal in a Fox interview).

You can watch the host of "Le Petit Journal," Yann Barthès, bask in satisfaction at the Fox admission of "errors" as he munches on popcorn and sips from a drink, here. The segment doesn't have subtitles, but you will understand most of it even if you don't speak French; the clips of Fox anchors admitting their Islamophobic claims about Paris (and England) were false are, of course, in English. It will also help to know three French expressions: La Carte (the map); Les Sondages (opinion polls); and Les No-Go Zones (the no-go zones).

2015.1.26.Brasch.BFCollege students, staff and faculty have been active in pushing their institutions to eliminate fossil fuel stocks from their portfolios. (Photo: Light Brigading / Flickr)

WALTER BRASCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Long before the price of gas and oil began to plummet, socially conscious churches, universities, nonprofit organizations, and local governments began to divest themselves of fossil fuel stock and shock the fossil fuel industry to understand the environmental and public health concerns.

The World Council of Churches, which represents about 590 million Christians in 520,000 congregations, decided in July that to continue to hold fossil fuel stock would compromise its ethics, and recommended that the 349 member denominations consider divesting oil and gas stock.

Six of the eight Anglican dioceses of New Zealand and Polynesia, and four dioceses in Australia divested their portfolios of fossil fuel stock.

2015.1.26.Buchheit.BF"Making money is all a game to the super-rich - redistribution toward the top, trickle-down delusions, tax avoidance, and even, for some of them, dabbling in criminal activities," writes Buchheit. (Image: Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t)PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Just 10 percent of Americans own 91 percent of the nation's stocks and mutual funds, according to economist Edward Wolff (Table 7). Most of the remainder is held by a "middle class" that is steadily losing ground. The bottom 60 percent is almost entirely shut out (Table 2).

Stock owners, some of whom made billions of dollars last year, can defer their income taxes indefinitely, pay a reduced capital gains tax when they decide to cash in, or pass on the capital gains tax-free to their heirs.

Making money is all a game to the super-rich - redistribution toward the top, trickle-down delusions, tax avoidance, and even, for some of them, dabbling in criminal activities. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) once said, "It's really American to avoid paying taxes, legally...It's a game we play...I see nothing wrong with playing the game because we set it up to be a game." Here's part of their game plan:


Blitz

$2 of every $5 owned today was created in the last five years, most of it from the financial markets, and almost all of it going to the richest 10 percent.

GARY WOCKNER OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

ecoquake(Image: EcoWatch)

This falls in the “You Can’t Make This Shit Up” category in Colorado.

Yesterday it was reported that a fracking waste company—NGL Water Solutions DJ LLC—that was linked to causing earthquakes is allowed by Gov. John Hickenlooper’s appointed oil and gas commission to increase their fracking waste injection operations, and it was determined that the company did not violate any law or rule when they likely caused the earthquakes.

Further, not only are the fracking waste injections increasing, but the earthquakes are continuing, the biggest of which, in May 2014, was a 3.4 on the richter scale that shook homes and rattled nerves across the region. And, the director of the Governor’s oil and gas commission stated, “We have actively managed this particular circumstance in a way that we feel comfortable with.” 

You can read the latest on this Colorado earthquake morass in the BizWest newspaper.

JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

 ahydra(Photo: Andrew Jian)

For those of you who can’t recall your Greek mythological beasts, the hydra is mentioned in the tale of the twelve labors of Hercules. It is a dragon-like monster that has many heads. There is no point in slaying the dragon because the heads grow back if they’re cut off.  If one head is eliminated, two heads grow back in its place. It can’t be killed because, as legend has it, the middle head is immortal and that’s the one that’s most dangerous when it breathes its poisonous venom at its victims.  The monstrous serpent would often rise from the murky waters and terrorize the people.

In a recent New York Times article, The Bushes, as Distinct and Alike as Brothers Can Be, the author attempted to draw a distinction between W. and Jeb Bush.  Jeb Bush, who is gearing up for a possible campaign for the presidency, would like Americans to know that he is not one of the Bush heads linked to his brother, George. In other words, he really hates to carry the bad luggage left behind from W.

But as we all know, a hydra is a hydra, and a Bush is a Bush, no matter how many times you cut the head off, the same Bush serpent will grow back again, the same Bush policies of profiting from oil and wars will emerge again and again.

No matter what Jeb says on the campaign trail, he will be burdened with the family’s hydra-albatross around his neck, especially W.’s albatross that carries enormous “torturous” weight, beginning with the mass destruction of Iraq that left hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and thousands of our own soldiers, either dead, homeless, maimed or poisoned from depleted uranium, a country, incidentally, that had nothing to do with the 9-11 attacks, followed by the shocking CIA Torture Report, under the Bush-Cheney administration’s orders, barbaric torture practices were used on detainees at the US illegal prison,Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  As explained in a NY Times editorial, former military officers described this evil facility as a “betrayal of American values.”

ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aviolenceprob(Photo: Robert F.W. Whitlock)

Yes, by all means, the VA is failing American veterans terribly, with wholesale claim denials and scandalous waiting times and a general, contemptuous dismissal of the psychological and physical wounds American vets are coming home with — that is, a rich man’s investment in the waging of war, to the tune of many trillions of dollars, but a pauper’s investment in its aftermath. Something else is going on here as well, however, that’s deeper and darker and not limited to the failure of government programs.

In a column I wrote almost a decade ago, I reflected: “Bush’s war to promote terror — the perfect self-sustaining fear machine — isn’t just generating an endless supply of hardened enemies beyond our borders. It is also creating the conditions of social breakdown and psychological blowback within our borders. Guess what? Under Plan Bush, we’ll never be safe.”

This seems to be coming to pass. If a word like “disgruntled” — which describes, at worst, an everyday sense of being mistreated or snubbed — can flow seamlessly into “mass killing,” then America is at a serious precipice. We’re becoming a heavily armed, mentally ill society. And our primary institutions are either contributing directly to the situation or, at best, failing to notice it.

The obvious mega-contributor to our social breakdown is the unending War on Terror, of course. It’s a war cynically waged in two directions: at the enemies beyond our borders that we’ve manufactured and the collateral-damage-in-waiting who live with them; and at the lower and middle classes (the 99 percent) here at home, who have the nerve to expect a reasonable share of the empire’s wealth.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015 08:47

Why I Didn't Watch the State of the Union

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

acapitolusUS Capitol (Photo: Tom Harris)

As the years progressed, BuzzFlash was a forerunner when it came to lacerating, scathing attacks on Republican hypocrisy, and even generated a spinoff (no longer on the web): GOPHypocrites.com. 

BuzzFlash took on the Bush administration's war policies following 9/11, particularly focusing on the administration's lies about the lead-up to the tragedy. We entered the lion's den of neoconservative gladiators and shredded their jingoistic, bellicose justifications of wars to advance hegemony.

Frankly, exposing the deceit of the Bush administration and ridiculing it was like picking low-lying fruit.  The DC press corps is so beholden to being part of the ongoing ruling social and financial hierarchy that all one had to do was read secondary sources from outside the country to be able to post scoops. 

Then came what appeared to be a dramatic rescue. The Obama campaign in 2008 was brilliantly scripted, featured a charismatic candidate and created the energizing, hopeful characteristics of a movement.

Obama, of course, won against grumpy John McCain, but more than six years later, those iconic Shepard Fairey posters of "hope" have long since peeled away. When Obama moved into the White House, he jettisoned movement politics and adopted the so-called "pragmatic politics" of DC. This was a conversion of "hope" into more of the same.

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