STEVEN JONAS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Much has been written about the horror perpetrated on journalists at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, and shoppers at a kosher grocery store in store in Paris on January 7-8, 2015. One question about which not much has been written, about the attacks and their aftermaths, is the old one from the days of Rome: "Cui Bono" (who benefits)? But before we get to that one, let's consider who didn't.
First of all, the two brothers who committed the massacre at Charlie Hebdo, Cherif and Said Kouachi, said that they were doing it avenge the various depictions of the Prophet Mohammed that they found sacrilegious (the latter, of course, like obscenity, all being in the eye of the beholder). Well, A) they are dead and B) their actions will hardly stop others from depicting the Prophet in the terms that Charlie Hebdo did, or worse. (Of course, in their next issue, the Charlie Hebdo survivors came out with a depiction of Mohammed, sympathetically this time, but nevertheless, a prohibited "graven image.")
Then there was Amedy Coulibaly, the killer at the Jewish grocery. He said that he was protesting against the US, French, and other interventions in the Middle East. Well, there are lots of opponents of those actions, both in the Muslim (and especially Arab) and Western worlds (including yours truly and, I might surmise, many of the readers of BuzzFlash). Coulibaly's action is unlikely to win over many, if any, converts to his cause. So neither they (to be sure) nor their causes can said to have benefitted.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
If you made a resolution in 2000 for peace in the new millenium, you were quickly disappointed. Clearly we didn't get an end to violence, wars and murders. World wars of the previous century now have generally morphed into micro-wars over economic hegemony, which create catastrophic loss of life and incite a backlash of more violence.
What were once wars between nation-states have now become largely conflicts between nation-states and non-nation-state adversaries. If you are in an armed struggle with a nation-state, but haven't been recognized by the UN, then your use of weapons is generally called terrorism. That is to say, unless you are battling a regime that is hostile to Western economic interests; in that case, you are a "freedom fighter."
Although the appalling murders that occurred at Charlie Hebdo and the Kosher supermarket in Paris are to be deplored, it has been frequently pointed out that nation-states - in particular the US - have caused the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians (with just one small source of these murders being drones that cause the euphemistic killing of "non-combatants," also known as "collateral damage").
Given this background, Secretary of State John Kerry showed up in Paris on Friday to announce that he was offering a "big hug" of support to the French. As ABC News quoted Kerry, "I really wanted to come here and share a hug with all of Paris and all friends," he announced to a crowd at the Hotel de Ville, the city hall of Paris.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The United States is gradually, but unrelentingly, destroying part of itself. The facts to support this are well-documented, told in many ways from past to present.
The most egregious example of Americide is our country's treatment of African-Americans. Almost everyone agrees about the evils of slavery, once dismissed simply as a Peculiar Institution. But a debate goes on about reparations, with passionate arguments on both sides, ranging from a demand for a Reparations Superfund for jobs and education, to a claim that blacks actually benefited from slavery because of the years of 'reparations' received through poverty programs.
Reparations opponents insist that there is no clear modern connection to the era of slavery. But there is a connection, and it's exhibited in the many profitable corporations -- manufacturers, banks, insurance, railroad -- that had their roots in slavery. Reparations haven't been paid, or, if they have been extended in the form of poverty programs, they haven't worked. Standards of living for blacks have worsened relative to whites in the past half-century. Many of the modern-day practices of our free-market capitalist system are at least partly responsible for this.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
During a recent appearance on the One America News Network’s “The Rick Amato Show,” Bishop Council Nedd II, a longtime member of the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Project 21 black leadership network, said: “If the election of President Obama is somehow some sort of fulfillment of Dr. King’s dream, you know, maybe, at this point, Dr. King’s dream has become a nightmare. A horrible nightmare that’s sort of run amuck.” Nedd added: “There are hurting people in this country right now. There are a lot of people upset. There are a lot of people who are ill at ease for a variety of different reasons which, in my opinion, all fall on President Obama’s lap…”
Black conservatives are consistent guests on the Fox News Channel; when the Religious Right and/or secular right needs to add some color to one of their gatherings, they call a Black conservative to the podium; Black conservatives have aligned with Christian Right organizations, leading the charge against Obamacare and same-sex marriage. When it comes to condemning police misconduct, there’s hardly a word from any of the better known Black conservatives.
In time for the celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday and the national holiday in his name, the Black conservative organization, Project 21, a project of the National Center for Public Policy Research, issued a Press Release titled “Black Conservatives Available to Discuss Importance, Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”
WENONAH HAUTER OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
genetically engineered dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton. This approval follows that of 2,4-D tolerant soybeans and corn, billed as the next generation of herbicide-tolerant crops to tackle glyphosate (Roundup)-resistant weeds.Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved the sale and planting of Monsanto’s
Dicamba-tolerant soy and cotton are simply the latest example of USDA’s allegiance to the biotechnology industry and dependence upon chemical solutions. This continues the disturbing trend of more herbicide-tolerant crop approvals taking place under President Obama’s watch.
Once again, the USDA has neglected to look at the full range of impacts associated with these GMO herbicide-tolerant crops. Instead the agency has opted for a short-term solution to superweeds that have become resistant to herbicides because of previous approvals of GMOs, thereby perpetuating and escalating chemical use.
The USDA’s Environmental Impact Statement predicted that dicamba use will increase 88-fold and 14-fold for soybeans and cotton, respectively, compared to current levels. Dicamba-tolerant crops will allow for wider windows of spraying throughout the season at unprecedented levels. Now that dicamba will be used in larger quantities, Monsanto has petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to increase the tolerance level of dicamba on cottonseed 150-fold. Higher levels of dicamba in the environment and our food pose unacceptable risks to human health and a wide variety of flora and fauna.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
I can't be absolutely certain, but I'm pretty sure that Pope Francis is not walking around with Mao's Red Book stuffed into an inside pocket of his papal robes, or that he's starting a study group for Das Capital. Nevertheless, with the release of a new book titled "Pope Francis: This Economy Kills," the Pope's critics are sure to ratchet up their labeling of him with the "C" word (Communist), and the "M" word (Marxist). The Christian Post headlined its recent story about the new report: "Communist or Christian? Pope Francis Defends Vatican Report Titled 'This Economy Kills' in Criticism of Global Financial System."
Stoyan Zaimov's story in the CP (oops, there we go again), uh ... Christian Post, starts by pointing out that Pope Francis maintains he's not a communist, but he says that he will continue to criticize the global economic system because of "Jesus' call for Christians to serve the poor."
"Jesus affirms that you cannot serve two masters, God and wealth," Francis said in an interview with the Italian newspaper La Stampa. "Is it pauperism? No, it is the Gospel."
Pope Francis said that "Markets and financial speculation cannot enjoy absolute autonomy. We cannot wait any longer to resolve the structural causes of poverty in order to cure our society of an illness that can only lead to new crises."
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Among the first specific steps toward implementing the normalization of relations with Cuba, the Obama administration announced on January 15 that it will allow commercial airlines to fly scheduled flights to the island. Currently, only charter flights to Cuba arranged by State Department-approved travel agencies are allowed. Individual waivers to travel to Cuba from the US will no longer be required from the Treasury Department.
According to The Washington Post,
Freed from cumbersome requirements to obtain a Treasury Department license, individual Americans will be able to travel to Cuba provided they say the trip is intended to serve religious, educational or other approved purposes under the still-standing U.S. embargo. When they return, they can bring up to $400 in Cuban goods, including $100 worth of alcohol and tobacco.
U.S. airlines will be allowed to fly scheduled routes to Cuba for the first time in decades.
Currently, US citizens who want to travel to Cuba without meeting the bureaucratic requirements - and additional expense of going through a US-sanctioned travel agency and paying high charter fares - illegally fly from third-party nations, such as Mexico and Canada, to Havana. Cuban immigration complies with requests not to stamp the passports of such travelers, who fly back to the third-party nation and then buy a return ticket to the US.
ROBERT REDFORD OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
There are plenty of reasons to block these bills and this pipeline.
Keystone XL would carry the dirtiest oil on the planet from Canada through the American heartland. The vast majority of it would be shipped overseas, while people here at home cope with the threat of contaminated water and difficult-to-clean-up oil spills.
Polluters are fighting hard to get Keystone approved. The oil and gas industry pumped $53.1 million into last year’s congressional campaigns—87 percent of which went to Republican candidates. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell raked in $608,000 from the industry for his 2014 campaign, and now he is putting Keystone XL at the heart of his big polluter agenda.
But this isn’t just a battle over industry influence. This is a choice about the kind of nation we want to live in.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
BuzzFlash has noted many a time that the Creation Museum in Kentucky has featured dinosaurs with saddles. Holding that evolution is a misguided theory, the creationists behind the museum exhibit attempt to show - by placing the saddles on dinosaurs - that people lived contemporaneously with dinosaurs. This, supposedly, proves that everything on earth was created simultaneously in a divine burst of benevolence.
Charles Pierce took note of this bizarre representation of something akin to a gigantic terrestrial reptile just waiting to be mounted by a cowboy. He told Truthout that it inspired his best-selling book, Idiot America. Indeed, the exhibition would have been a magical presidential visit photo op for Ronald Reagan's iconic image if the museum had been around for his years in office. Skeptics would have called it a dinosaur sitting atop a dinosaur.
However, that hypothetical Reagan-bashing image may now be replaced by another, less easy-to-depict reality: Perhaps, today, it is the two-party system in the United States that is riding the United States back into a social and economic Mesozoic Era. Even if one successfully argues that there are significant, though marginal, differences between Democratic and Republican politicians on social issues and perhaps on the environment, it is difficult to see major distinctions between the two parties on economic and foreign policy issues. (Both fall solidly in the neoliberal camp.)
Granted, the Republicans may often sound more strident and unhinged, but in the end, there is basically a consensus - as far as voting in Congress - on trumped up wars abroad and particularly on neoliberal global free trade and financial policies.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
“Je suis Charlie. Tout est pardonné.”
Muhammad in tears adorns the new cover of Charlie Hebdo: “I am Charlie. All is forgiven.” This is bigger than satire.
I take a deep breath, uncertain how to write about last week’s insane shooting spree in Paris. My daughter and her husband live there. “Things are normal,” she told me a few days afterward, “but there’s a presence — this thing that has happened. It’s in the air.”
A few days later I came upon this headline at the McClatchy Washington bureau website: “U.S. airstrike in Syria may have killed 50 civilians.”
The story reports: “The civilians were being held in a makeshift jail in the town of Al Bab, close to the Turkish border, when the aircraft struck on the evening of Dec. 28, the witnesses said. The building, called the Al Saraya, a government center, was leveled in the airstrike. It was days before civil defense workers could dig out the victims’ bodies.”
The building, in fact, had been turned into a jail by Islamic State police. It contained guards and between 35 and more than 50 prisoners, according to different witnesses’ accounts. The prisoners “had been jailed shortly before the airstrike for minor infractions of the Islamic State’s harsh interpretation of Islamic law, such as smoking, wearing jeans or appearing too late for the afternoon prayer.”
IS arrested them. We killed them. Partners in terror.