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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaanologo35More than a decade ago, Naomi Klein documented the global commodification of life by corporate branding. (Photo: ivana)

A July 9 article in The Washington Post details how many of contemporary rock, pop and rap music stars have sold their images and music to corporate branding:

Things you might see this summer: Taylor Swift sipping from a bottle of Diet Coke. Kendrick Lamar slipping into a pair of Reeboks. Some Drake lyrics slapped onto a can of Sprite.... Drake has made it his job to sell more Drake — through rapping, through singing, through Nike, through Sprite.

But just as modern pop stars are expected to serve as captains of the consumable world, listeners need to remain savvy enough to locate music’s humanity in this convoluted entrepreneurial maze. And that becomes trickier as the ethics of selling out grow more complex.

It could be considered romanticizing that rock and roll, as well as popular folk music, represented a non-corporate blending of music and message. However, it should be recalled that rock and roll began as a genre that was in and of itself a threat to the status quo, sometimes in lyrics but also - in its early days - in its challenge to the puritanical mores of the US that marked the '50s.

It's crucial to note that the genre was originally rejected by many in the ruling social order because rock and roll had its roots in Black musical traditions and vocal artists such as Chuck Berry. In short, primarily because of racism, rock and roll was, at first, considered "dangerous."

2015.9.7 BF Pantsios(Photo: Patrick Rasenberg)ANASTASIA PANTSIOS OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Deniers will keep on denying apparently, but the signs of climate change are everywhere. As the planet has warmed up, severe weather events are happening in every corner of the globe, alerting us to the need for strong, immediate action.

1. Many parts of the world are suffering from extended heat waves. We’ve heard a lot about the heat waves blanketing India and Pakistan, which have claimed a high body count. Thousands of people in the region have died as a result. The situation has been exacerbated by the region’s high poverty—most of those dying have been the poor and/or homeless. Temperatures have soared as high as 122 degrees Fahrenheit in New Delhi.

“Let us not fool ourselves that there is no connection between the unusual number of deaths from the ongoing heat wave and the certainty of another failed monsoon,” India’s Earth Sciences Minister Harsh Vardhan told Reuters. “It’s not just an unusually hot summer, it is climate change.”

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaaglasssThe repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act unleashed the big banks to go on a gambling spree. (Photo: theglobalmovement)

The odd couple of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) and Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) have teamed up to reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act, a piece of legislation that would essentially split commercial banks from investment banking institutions. A July 7 article in The Hill provides some background:

Glass-Steagall was first passed in 1933 but repealed during the Clinton administration, leading many progressives to argue that it contributed to the 2008 financial collapse.

Warren and McCain, along with their cosponsors, Sens. Angus King (I-Maine) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), said in a statement that the legislation would make big banks that are "too big to fail" smaller and safer and minimize the likelihood of a government bailout.

The bill, which they first introduced in the last Congress, would separate traditional banking with checking and savings accounts from financial institutions that offer services such as investment banking, which are riskier.

The repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in Bill Clinton's second term has become symbolic of the sharp neoliberal economic turn that made DC Republicans and Democrats fairly indistinguishable on the financial front, with both parties trumpeting laissez faire policies in relation to Wall Street. By the beginning of the new century, both parties supported the practice of unleashing Wall Street to engage in rash risk-taking, with very little accountability.

Thursday, 09 July 2015 06:38

The Collateral Damage of Austerity

2015.9.7 BF Koehler(Photo: Friends of the Earth International)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

“Officials in France and in Brussels said on Monday that they were unhappy and dumbfounded with the no vote, but let it be known that they would hold the door open to the possibility of a compromise between Greece and its creditors.”

Dumbfounded? Why? Because the godlike power of the creditors was insulted?

Mainstream coverage of economic matters — the above quote is from the New York Times— seldom cuts very deep into the world of money, seldom questions who’s in charge, and seldom dares to suggest that an economic system ought to serve humankind rather than vice versa.

The austerity packages Greece has endured as its condition of economic bailout over the past half-decade — dictated by those who wielded financial power and were determined to profit enormously off the suffering of Europe’s economic losers — have not only further gutted the country’s broken economy and prevented any sort of recovery toward self-sufficiency, but have shattered the socioeconomic structure of life for a huge segment of the Greek population. All of which is . . . you know, too damn bad. Money is as money does. The creditors have no choice but to impose severe restrictions on Greek social spending.

COLE MELLINO OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaLacMeg(Photo: Personalmountains)Monday was the second anniversary of the tragic Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, oil train disaster that killed 47 people. Since then, oil trains continue to derail and explode with five already this year. Four of the derailments occurred within just four weeks.

A coalition of environmental and social justice organizations including Sierra Club, GreenpeaceForestEthics, Oil Change International, Center for Biological Diversity, Rainforest Action Network, 350.org, Friends of the Earth, Food and Water Watch and Earthworks, have launched a week of action to call for an end to crude by rail shipments. The coalition has organized more than 80 events across the U.S. and Canada to call for an immediate ban on oil trains.

Lena Moffitt, director of the Sierra Club’s Dirty Fuels campaign made the following statement:

Exploding crude oil trains do not belong on the nation’s rails, and 25 million Americans—most of them people of color—do not deserve to be living in a blast zone. The Department of Transportation needs to take responsibility, and rather than put forward wholly inadequate rules that jeopardize the health and safety of communities along rail lines, the administration should ban bomb trains outright.

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaCrossBurn(Photo: Freiindlich)Where did Earl Holt, president of the Council of Conservative Citizens, get the money to make substantial donations to Republican Party politicos? According to Yahoo Finance, the source of Holt's largesse might be coming from his marriage to Katherine Ann Cook, the widow of Irving Falk, a "successful Jewish businessman."

Prior to Wednesday, June 17, Holt was going about his business in relative anonymity. Except for being on the radar of a few watchdog organizations that monitor, and write about right-wing movements, Holt spewed a fair amount of racist venom on the Internet, but it was clearly outside of the public's eye. Then, along came Dylann Roof's white nationalist-inspired rampage at a Bible study class at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, which resulted in the deaths of nine African Americans. As a result of Roof's action, Earl Holt III suddenly was thrust into the media's spotlight.

In Dylan Roof's manifesto, he specifically cited the website of the St. Louis, Missouri-based Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), which was founded in 1985 by a man named Gordon Lee Baum, as a major source of information and inspiration. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the CCC is the "modern day reincarnation" of White Citizens Councils. It describes the group as "a virulently racist group whose website has referred to blacks as 'a retrograde species of humanity.'"

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaaawallstgreed45Santa Cruz County, California, won't do business with Wall Street banks engaging in illegal practices.

Santa Cruz County, California, recently figured out a way to hold big banks who engage in illegal and destructive behavior accountable: Don't do business with them.

According to AllGov California, the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors,

acting on a request from Supervisor Ryan Coonerty, voted to “not do new business for a period of five years with Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS as specified, and further direct that the County unwind existing relationships with these five banks to the greatest extent feasible.”

That means the county won’t buy the banks’ commercial paper or investment services, and will withdraw whatever funds it can from them.

Coonerty, and others, are not happy with the way big banks savaged the global economy and paid a pittance for their misdeeds.

As BuzzFlash documented yesterday, the Department of Justice under Eric Holder chose to only go through the motions of appearing to punish egregiously errant "banks too big to fail" without legally mandating structural or executive changes.

TIM RADFORD OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaEcoWatchSeafood(Photo: EcoWatch)Pink salmon—the smallest and most abundant of the Pacific salmon species, and a supper table mainstay in many parts of the world—may be swimming towards trouble.

And they are not the only dish likely to disappear from the menu. Mussels, oysters, clam and scallop could all become scarcer and more expensive as the seas become more acid. And as the world’s waters warm, fish will start to migrate away from their normal grounds at an ever-increasing rate.

New research shows that as the world’s waters acidify because of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, the pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) could become smaller and less likely to survive.

Potentially Problematic

Previous studies have repeatedly and consistently explored potentially problematic consequences of change in the pH value of the world’s oceans. The higher the carbon dioxide concentrations in the air as a consequence of the burning of fossil fuels, the greater the change in oceanic acidity levels.

JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaCubaObama(Photo: Raul Castro and President Obama, photo by US Government)I’ll never forget that image of President Ronald Reagan on Wall Street, holding a large pair of scissors over a symbolic pile of papers representing hard-won laws over the last century that restricted corporate monopolies, banks, unfair labor conditions and pollution. We also had important FDA regulations to protect the public from contaminated food and unsafe drugs.

Hundreds of protective laws have been sent to the slaughterhouse, compliments of the U.S. government with congressional assurance that they will never rise up to interfere with profitable industrial gains again.

Looking beyond President Obama’s persuasive speech to “chart a new course in US relations with Cuba that will engage and empower the Cuban people,” what does Obama really have in mind behind closed doors? This is the question.

President Obama is the master of giving impressive speeches, but his executive decisions, that have benefited industrial profits at our expense, speak louder than his words.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

aaaarevolvingdoorThe revolving door: The list of financial giants that Holder's Department of Justice - and his Covington & Burling bench team – have treated with kid gloves is exhausting. (Photo: Nick Amoscato)

Eric Holder just rejoined the gilded DC law firm of Covington & Burling, after a few week's of hiatus between his stint as attorney general and his new job, in which he'll cash in on the status gained through his former position.

Covington & Burling - an elite law office that specializes in white-collar defense of banks and corporations – maintained a chokehold on the Department of Justice during Holder's tenure as attorney general. Indeed, when Holder became attorney general, he appointed Covington & Burling law partners to head both the civil and criminal divisions of the Justice Department. When the head of the criminal division, Lanny Breuer, stepped down and returned in early 2013 to Covington & Burling with a salary exceeding $4 million a year, he was replaced by Mythili Raman. Raman, in turn, stepped down from overseeing the DOJ criminal division in 2014 to become a partner at, yes, Covington & Burling. 

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