MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In a June 12 Guardian column entitled, "Pentagon preparing for mass civil breakdown: Social science is being militarised to develop 'operational tools' to target peaceful activists and protest movements," Nafeez Ahmed writes of a painfully ominous Pentagon research initiative:
A US Department of Defense (DoD) research program is funding universities to model the dynamics, risks and tipping points for large-scale civil unrest across the world, under the supervision of various US military agencies. The multi-million dollar program is designed to develop immediate and long-term "warfighter-relevant insights" for senior officials and decision makers in "the defense policy community," and to inform policy implemented by "combatant commands."
Launched in 2008 – the year of the global banking crisis – the DoD 'Minerva Research Initiative' partners with universities "to improve DoD's basic understanding of the social, cultural, behavioral, and political forces that shape regions of the world of strategic importance to the US."
Among the projects awarded for the period 2014-2017 is a Cornell University-led study managed by the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research which aims to develop an empirical model "of the dynamics of social movement mobilization and contagions." The project will determine "the critical mass (tipping point)" of social contagions by studying their "digital traces" in the cases of "the 2011 Egyptian revolution, the 2011 Russian Duma elections, the 2012 Nigerian fuel subsidy crisis and the 2013 Gazi park protests in Turkey."
Notice that the word "contagion" is used in association with democratic movements overseas. The Department of Defense (DOD) is concerned, it appears, that democracy might go viral and contaminate governments in a way that will force military intervention in order to preserve empire.
STEVEN JONAS MD, MPH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Were wars since Vietnam won or lost by the US? The answer to those questions may not appear to be the obvious ones. If the unspoken government objectives of the various wars are taken into account, indeed they aren't. Let us start with Vietnam.
The standard interpretation of the US War on Vietnam is that the US lost it. The classic picture is of that last helicopter taking off from the roof of the soon-to-be former US Embassy in Saigon. But if one considers the original US objectives of the intervention-to-become-war in Southeast Asia, it was actually a win.
The French-Vietnamese War ended in 1954. The Geneva Conference of that year produced a treaty signed by the French and the Vietnamese and guaranteed by Great Britain and the Soviet Union. It brought hostilities to an end, temporarily divided the country in two, and provided for national elections to be held in 1956 -- elections that everyone knew would be won by Ho Chi Minh and his people. Pointedly, the US refused to sign or recognize the treaty.
They knew that if the plan in it were allowed to proceed, the chances were very good that Vietnam would peacefully progress to socialism and could be an economic success. If that happened, the same thing might well peacefully occur in other Southeast Asian countries, were democracy to be given a chance. Even as certain US analysts attempt in hindsight to disavow it, the "domino theory" about the spread of "socialism with a national face," distinguished from and not necessarily allied with the Soviet Union, and certainly not with the traditional enemy, China, communist or not, was quite correct.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
revolution. If a revolution is to take place, Americans - especially young Americans - need to know the facts, and they need to know how they're getting cheated, and they need to get angry. The following should help.
1. $1,000,000,000,000,000 in Sales. Not One Cent for Sales Tax
The trading volume on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) reached an incomprehensible $1 quadrillion in notional value in 2012. That's a thousand trillion dollars. In comparison, the entire U.S. GDP is $17 trillion.
On that quadrillion dollars of sales CME imposes transfer fees, contract fees, brokerage fees, Globex fees, clearing fees, and contract surcharges, many of them on both the buyer's and seller's side. As a result, the company had a profit margin higher than any of the top 100 companies in the nation from 2008 to 2010, and it's gotten even higher since then.
But not a penny in sales tax for the taxpayers who provide publicly-funded infrastructure, technology, systems of law, and security to help them process billions of financial transactions.
Instead -- incredibly -- CME complained that its taxes were too high, and they demanded and received an $85 million tax break from the State of Illinois.
BRANDON BAKER OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
climate denying machine, it turns out, is the lawsuit.The newest innovation of the
Despite the fact that President Barack Obama's emissions rule remains a proposal for at least a year, the mere idea of a limit on carbon has incensed an Ohio coal executive to the point of threatened litigation. Robert E. Murray, founder of Murray Energy Corp., said he would sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for spreading what he believes to be misinformation and attempting to enforce legislation based on it—violations of the federal Data Quality Act in Murray's view.
"Under the act, they are obligated to tell the truth, and they are not telling the truth about global warming," Murray said of the EPA in an interview with West Virginia Executive. "They are not telling hardly any truth about the science.
"The earth has actually cooled over the last 17 years, so under the Data Quality Act, they've actually been lying about so-called global warming," he continued. "This lawsuit will force them to not just take data from the environmentalists and publish it, as they have been doing, but to review that data and make sure it's accurate."
Clearly, the EPA doesn't "just take" data from environmentalists. If that were the case, a project like Keystone XL would have been nixed a while ago. Instead, the agency considers information like the study of nearly 12,000 abstracts concluding with 97 percent of scientists agreeing that climate change is manmade.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
If you are a US family who lost a son or daughter, brother or sister, niece or nephew in the Iraq War, the searing pain of loss can only be compounded by the current implosion of the nation into a failed state of factional warring chaos.
If you are an Iraqi who lost a son or daughter, brother or sister, niece or nephew in the Iraq War, the devastating grief is now compounded by the realization that the loss was not only due to the vain and imperious assertion of empire, but the abominable slaughter of a civil war is returning to Iraq at this very moment.
Mission accomplished, George W. Bush swaggeringly declared on the stage set of an aircraft carrier those many years ago. It was supposed to be the shining moment of neocon triumph, the ultimate assertion of United States hegemony and military power as an empire.
Instead, it was the beginning of a bloody and unnecessary conflict that resulted in more than 100,000 Iraqis killed (and that is probably a conservative estimate), more than 5000 US service men and women killed (and countless wounded or returned to the states with PTSD. Although the waste of money pales in comparison to the loss of human life, hundreds of billions of tax dollars were spent on destroying the homes and businesses of Iraqis and the infrastructure of a nation.
EUGENE ROBINSON ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The Republican Party's reliance on tea party support is like an addict's dependence on a dangerous drug: It may feel good at first, but eventually it eats you alive.
No House majority leader had ever been ousted in a primary before Eric Cantor's shocking defeat on Tuesday. Republicans who tell themselves it was Cantor's own fault -- he lost touch with his Virginia district, he tried to have it both ways on immigration, he came to be seen as part of the Washington establishment -- are whistling past the graveyard.
Cantor didn't just lose, he got clobbered. His opponent, college professor Dave Brat, spent just $200,000 on the race -- not much more than Cantor's $5 million campaign spent on meals at steakhouses. Yet a powerful incumbent, running in a district whose boundaries were custom-designed for his benefit, lost by an incredible 11 percentage points.
There can be no doubt that the tail is now wagging the dog. The tea party should no longer be thought of as just a faction of the GOP. It's calling the shots.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
It's the third rail of US politics: Never vote against an NRA bill unless you are in a safe urban Democratic district where people prefer paninis to semi-automatics.
Of course, gun makers, gun sellers, gun show vendors, NRA execs and lobbyists - and so many more - make a fortune off the gun male entitlement fetishism in the US. Meanwhile, as the shooting of women by misogynist men, and the shooting of children in schools, and even the shooting of police officers having lunch, is doing far more to destroy the United States than a terrorist group ever could.
Heck, the gun nuts are terrorizing citizens. How do you think a kid feels when a bunch of guys with AK-47s slung over their shoulders are thumping grapefruit at their favorite store because of its name: Target? Those children are - one can presume - emotionally terrorized by the sight of guys walking around with heavy duty guns. How do their parents explain this to the youngsters: "You see, there are good guys with semi-automatic machine guns in Target and bad guys." "How do you tell them apart," the child might ask. "I can't," the parent helplessly answers.
Of course, the ostentatious open carrying of guns in Texas into just about anywhere is the expected outcome of a climate in which politicians cower in fear that they might be picked off in a primary by the NRA. As a result, they give the gun lobby everything it wants; it's the political version of paying protection money. After all, carrying military-style weapons into Target - or other stores - is akin to saying: "Hey, look at me, I'm a real man and I have a right to scare you half to death because you don't know if I'm a good guy or bad guy, right? So suck on it!" Let's face it; that's the reality of what is going on.
And it is also going on elsewhere, including Arizona, where the gun guys are defiantly buying their lattes open-holstered at Starbucks outlets there.
JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
At last, our political leaders in Washington are taking action for low-wage workers and the middle class, striking a bold blow for America's historic values of economic fairness and common good.
Gosh, I hope you don't think I meant Washington, D.C.! No, no — the same old corporate mentality of stiffing workers and stripping any semblance of ethics from the work ethic still rules in that plutocratic roost. Rather than Washington, D.C., it's Washington state I'm talking about, specifically the progressive forces of Seattle who've just produced a landmark $15-an-hour minimum wage. Instead of just talking about the widening gap of inequality and wishing our do-nothing Congress might give a damn about the millions of hard-working Americans being knocked down, the good people of Seattle are providing some much-needed national leadership.
"We did it — workers did this," said Kshama Sawant. She has been a leader of Occupy Seattle, and then became the tenacious, articulate leader of a large grassroots coalition of low-wage workers called "15 Now." Last year, Sawant was elected to the City Council by putting the case for the $15 wage floor directly to the voters.
In addition, Mayor Ed Murray campaigned last year for raising the minimum to $15 — indexed to inflation. Having won, he pulled together a 24-member working group of both labor and business interests this year, and they spent the last four months working together to hammer out details of the local ordinance. On June 2, all nine city council members voted unanimously to adopt it.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Earlier this month, The Daily Mirror's Alex Wellman reported that "Members of the Loyal White Knights (LWK) faction of the [Ku Klux Klan] claim an influx of military troops returning to the US from overseas will train recruits in armed combat." Wellman pointed out that "The group, which is thought to be active in at least three states, said it was taking the move to prepare for a race war they claim is coming – along with the collapse of modern society."
While most people recognize that the LWK isn't capable of mounting anything near what they're dreaming about, nevertheless, one's head would have to be deeply buried in the sand not to recognize that there has been a precipitous rise in anti-government rhetoric and acts of domestic terrorism in recent months – as witnessed by the recent anti-government gatherings at the Cliven Bundy ranch in Nevada, the anti-Semitic-motivated shootings in Overland Park, Kansas, an attempted attack on a Forsyth County Georgia courthouse by a man with ties to the Sovereign Citizen movement, and Jerad and Amanda Miller's recent Las Vegas rampage which resulted in the deaths of three people, including two police officers.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Wall Street gets away with illegal acts and regulatory violations by paying fines that are merely a cost of doing business. The same people continue running the financial giants and doing what they have been doing for years: pushing throughthe edge of the envelope to make gluttonous amounts of money. They are secure in knowing that neither the Securities and Exchange Commission or the Department of Justice will hold executives accountable.
Such is also the case with the fossil fuel industry. When has an oil, fracking or natural gas company honcho been held accountable for massive spills, injuries, illnesses or deaths due to toxic waste?
The Obama administration actions of actually protecting British Petroleum (BP) after the 2010 Gulf oil spill is a case in point. From the moment that the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and a massive oil leak began, it appeared that the US government was more concerned about insulating BP from accountability and transparency than providing the US public with accurate information and corrective action.
For those who need a reminder, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History describes the disaster that ensued in the Gulf of Mexico as "the largest accidental oil spill in history." An April 8, 2014, a National Geographic article captures the longevity of the disaster with a headline, "Gulf Oil Spill 'Not Over': Dolphins, Turtles Dying in Record Numbers." The Deepwater Horizon devastation was only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the BP's notorious safety and environmental record.