PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
There are more than five, of course, and voting Democrat may not be much of an improvement, but attaching these adjectives to the comically contemptible GOP seems more than appropriate.
In 2010 Mitch McConnell said: "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president." He didn't mention the economy, or education, or jobs, or the housing market. Instead, the goal is to beat Obama, whatever misery it might cause 200 million Americans.
For the past two years the Republicans have obstructed proposals that would have helped most Americans. They fought the middle-class tax cut because it would only apply to the first quarter-million of income. They killed a jobs bill that was supported by two-thirds of the public. They rejected a bill to disclose information about big campaign donors. They disrupted the routine process of increasing the debt ceiling, thus triggering the first-ever downgrading of the U.S. credit rating. Most recently they've obstructed efforts to provide mortgage debt relief to American homeowners.
WILL DURST FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Mitt Romney has to be more relieved than an Iowa corn farmer in the middle of a thunderstorm to be back on home soil. Arms wide. Head back. Wet face. Smile. Podium steps. National Anthem. The American electorate may harbor an ambivalent attitude towards the former governor of Massachusetts, but the reaction to his European Vacation from folks across the big pond could only be described as decisively derisive. If diplomacy were a hurdling sport, the guy stumbled over the lane chalk. The plan was for the GOP nominee to embark on a low- risk, three- country jaunt to raise his suspect foreign policy bona fides, but the seven- day charm offensive proved to be light on charm and heavy on offense. Good will hunting transformed into ill will gathering.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In a day or two, BuzzFlash Commentary (formerly known as the BuzzFlash blog) will move to the actual Truthout site. It is an exciting step in the continued integration of BuzzFlash into Truthout.
Not only will there be the physical move of the site (and when the move is completed, you will be reading this message on the new design), but it will now allow for photographs, videos, audio and other enhancements to be integrated into BuzzFlash at Truthout commentary.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
We wrecked Iraq, we pulled out, we redeployed in Anaheim.
This ain't working, guys- I mean, firing rubber bullets into anguished crowds, siccing attack dogs on moms and children. I mean, inventing enemies, going to war, unleashing state-of-the-art firepower in all directions and eventually losing, but not before we've inflicted maximum suffering on the innocent and magnified the original problem tenfold.
We lose every war we fight.
Another way to say that is: We exacerbate every problem we militarize. Indeed, militarization is as much a part of the problem - as much a threat to civilization - as, for instance, terrorism or drugs. And the recent, ongoing community uproar in Anaheim, Calif., over two police slayings of Latino males in one weekend - and the subsequent police reaction to that outrage - illustrates the terrifying ineffectiveness of a militarized, "us vs. them" approach to conflict.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Isn't it voter fraud to deny US citizens the right to vote?
That is what the Republican Party is engaged in its campaign to place onerous requirements on the poor, infirm and destitute seniors, the homeless, students and others to vote.
Politico recently ran background summaries on each state that has passed restrictive voter laws in an article entitled "Voter ID laws could swing states": "At least 5 million voters, predominantly young and from minority groups sympathetic to President Barack Obama, could be affected by an unprecedented flurry of new legislation by Republican governors and GOP-led legislatures to change or restrict voting rights by Election Day 2012." Think Progress reports that "As many as 43 percent of voters in the city of Philadelphia may lack valid Pennsylvania Department of Transportation-issued photo identification, the City Paper reports. While several other forms of photo identification - including U.S. passports and many student ID cards - are acceptable proof of identity under the controversial and possibly unconstitutional new law, this statistic suggests these restrictions may provide an even larger obstacle for urban (and racial minority) communities who do not drive."
Why is the disenfranchisement of potentially millions of Americans the perpetration of a fraud? Because it would mean perhaps millions will not be able to vote due to false claims by GOP sponsors of these bills that there are massive cases of illegal voters in the United States.
In a recent Brennan Center for Justice report it is noted that Republican backed obstacles to exercise the right to vote are not limited to government-issue photo ID cards:
"Significantly, these voting law cutbacks extend well beyond the most visible and controversial step to require government-issued photo ID that many citizens don't have," said report co-author Lawrence Norden, deputy director of the Democracy Program and former Chair of the Ohio Secretary of State's bipartisan Election Summit and Conference. "An array of technical moves can add to significant barriers to the ballot. And it comes at a time when experience has taught us there are many ways to improve the voting process and expand access to the franchise while reducing costs."
The Brennan Center report also warns that "The states that have already cut back on voting rights will provide 171 electoral votes in 2012-63 percent of the 270 needed to win the presidency."
Debunking the myth of voter fraud, the Brennan Center produced a study that showed in a state such as Wisconsin, where Scott Walker led the charge against "alleged" voter fraud, there were only minute voting errors in the 2004 election (.00006% of ineligible voters casting ballots in the state that year) - and that "none of these problems could have been resolved by requiring by requiring photo ID at the polls."
Writing in the Michigan Law Review in 2007, Spencer Overton bluntly lays out the facts:
The Carter-Baker Commission's Report noted that since October 2002, federal officials had charged eighty-nine individuals with casting multiple votes, providing false information about their felon status, buying votes, submitting false voter registration information, or voting improperly as a noncitizen. Examined in the context of the 196,139,871 ballots cast between October 2002 and August 2005, this represents a fraud rate of 0.000045% (and note also that not all of the activities charged would have been prevented by a photo- identification requirement)
When you balance taking away the Constitutional right to vote of millions of Americans on the basis of 89 people being charged nationally with illegal voting over a three year period, those who seek to restrict access to the ballot box are engaged in a fraudulent scheme to impact elections through the denial of the most basic right of citizenship.
STEVEN JONAS, MD, MPH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
On July 30, 2012, former Vice-President Dick Cheney described President Obama as one of the "weakest" Presidents, ranking even (sic) Jimmy Carter above him (1). That statement makes one wonder: what is Cheney's definition of the opposite of weakness? That is "strength." Well, let's take a look at some of Cheney's personal and political history to try to determine the answer to that question.
Last month, the renegade Democrats who've conspired to hand control of New York's state Senate to the GOP announced with great fanfare that they'd reached a "deal" to rejoin their mainstream colleagues and return to the fold. Most of the media, a lot of labor unions, and even supposed progressive exponents like New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio bought into the hype, but there were plenty of reasons from the get-go to mistrust the Independent Democratic Conference, and now we have full proof of their bad faith.
On Tuesday, IDC member David Valesky complained bitterly about the fact that two Democratic senators, Gustavo Rivera and Liz Krueger, were still supporting Oliver Koppell, who is challenging IDC chief Jeff Klein in September's Democratic primary. But that's not all. Valesky also made up a whole bunch of bullshit about what exactly the IDC's non-deal entailed:"It's hard to comprehend why there's been a blatant violation" by members of the regular Democratic Conference when their leadership pledged that no one would support Koppell, Valesky said. Oh yes? When exactly did mainstream Democrats promise that no members would support Koppell? One of the IDC's biggest complaints is that, allegedly, Senate Democrats are dysfunctional, so is Valesky seriously expecting lockstep martial adherence to this purported pledge? Even Darth Vader couldn't successfully perform a Jedi mind trick on Ruben Diaz, Sr. (though he might want to Force-choke him).
But like Vader, Valesky is trying to alter the deal. This "deal," though, was exactly one sentence long:"Therefore all IDC members are united and agree to work together to form a new majority coalition between the Independent Democratic Conference and the Senate Democratic Conference after the November elections in order to deliver the results that working families across this state still need and deserve." And as we noted at a time?and this is why I keep putting the word "deal" in scare quotes?this "deal" only involves the members of the IDC agreeing to work amongst themselves to reunite with the mainstream Democrats. It does not involve an actual agreement between the IDC and the Democrats. So not only is Valesky adding ridiculous, impossible, and unenforceable terms to the deal, there was no real deal in the first place!
That makes it pretty easy for the IDC to walk away from this fake deal, and Valesky's already laying the groundwork to do so. Why is he doing so? Any answers would only be speculative. But we do know that Jeff Klein is an utter snake, and Valesky just one segment of his long tail. If the IDC winds up not rejoining the Democrats next year, no one will have any reason to be surprised.
So Karl Rove and John Boehner can try all they want to deny Republicans want to impeach Obama and to blame President Obama for the impeachment talk, but that doesn't make them right. In fact, in certain Republican circles, I'll bet that makes them RINOs.
Medicare's hospital insurance program is gigantic; it spends more money in a given year than the entire state of Wisconsin. In that context, $600 million is not much more than a rounding error. And some senior administration officials I spoke with cautioned against reading too much into these particular figures; receipts for services rendered in 2013, for example, might trickle after the year has ended.
But what's definitely clear?and what's driving this trend?is that Medicare is spending significantly less per person than they did two years ago. And this report expects that trend to continue for another two years going forward.If the trend is sustained, the report projects, by 2015 the program will spend less per person on hospital care than it did in 2008. The country hasn't gone backward in healthcare spending in decades, if ever.This part of the Medicare program?hospital coverage?contributed to the fact that per-person Medicare spending in the entire program did not change from 2012-2013, "a growth rate of 0 percent," as Health and Human Services Secretary Syliva Mathews Burwell pointed out.
The Obamacare reforms?like penalizing preventable readmissions of patients?are certainly part of the picture here, as are technology developments in health care that make various treatments less invasive and less costly. This shows that health care doesn't have to be the thing that could bankrupt the nation in the coming decades. But that's if we undertake more extensive reform in the entire system. Because Medicare is a government program, the law could effect the kinds of reforms that work. This demonstrates better than anything the need for the government to take a stronger hand in regulating the healthcare industry as a whole, even to the extent of expanding Medicare to cover more of the population.
These are among the many serious costs and consequences the NSA and those who sanctioned its activities?including the White House, the Justice Department and lawmakers like Sen. Dianne Feinstein?apparently have not considered, or acknowledged, according to a report by the New America Foundation?s Open Technology Institute.Turns out that El Niño won't save Californians from drought this year Republican joy over 2014 predictions disguises problem: There?s a downside to GOP optimism about 2014, however: it seems to be eroding healthy fears about the party?s long-term standing, beginning with the 2016 presidential election.
As recently as last year?s famous Republican National Committee Growth and Opportunity Project report (better known as the ?2012 Postmortem? report), there was a palpable sense that the GOP needed to significantly change its message and image in order to avoid another presidential defeat, and worse yet, a significant generational misalignment with young and minority voters.FBI forensics testimony a very big mess: Nearly every criminal case reviewed by the FBI and the Justice Department as part of a massive investigation started in 2012 of problems at the FBI lab has included flawed forensic testimony from the agency, government officials said. [...]
The inquiry includes 2,600 convictions and 45 death-row cases from the 1980s and 1990s in which the FBI?s hair and fiber unit reported a match to a crime-scene sample before DNA testing of hair became common. The FBI had reviewed about 160 cases before it stopped, officials said. [...]
The investigation resumed after the Justice Department?s inspector general excoriated the department and the FBI for unacceptable delays and inadequate investigation in a separate inquiry from the mid-1990s. The inspector general found in that probe that three defendants were executed and a fourth died on death row in the five years it took officials to reexamine 60 death-row convictions that were potentially tainted by agent misconduct, mostly involving the same FBI hair and fiber analysis unit now under scrutinyEthnic plastic surgery on the upswing: The issues at stake are loaded: ethnic identity, standards of beauty, the politics of diversity, what constitutes race, and whether exercises of vanity can reshape it. Dean Baker: Median wealth falls one-fifth in 30 years: A NYT article reported on a study from Russell Sage reporting that median household wealth was 36 percent lower in 2013 than 2003. While this is disturbing, an even more striking finding from the study is that median wealth is down by around 20 percent from 1984.
This is noteworthy because this cannot be explained as largely the result of the collapse of house prices that triggered the Great Recession.There's no question about it: people are judged on the way they speak. Not surprisingly, African Americans are often the ones impacted, especially when it comes to education. "One African-American high school student we spoke to said he hated how often teachers corrected him when he spoke. 'Every time you try to say something they gotta correct every line you say. It?s like ? I don?t want to talk to you now.'? And that's how you get kids to stop contributing during class. Don't think there's a stigma? How about Rachel Jeantel, witness and friend of Trayvon Martin, who according to one juror, wasn't thought of as a credible witness because of how she spoke. Subscribe on iTunes | Subscribe On Stitcher | Direct Download | RSS
This is completely nuts. The policy to which King referred applies only to children who arrived in the U.S. before mid-2007, when George W. Bush was still president. The reason refugee children are fleeing to the U.S. is to escape brutal violence in their home countries.
So not only didn't Obama cause this, the families of these children aren't sending their daughters to be raped?in fact, they're trying to save their daughters from being raped. And as for why in the world King thought it made any sense at all to insert birth control pills into this discussion?well that's a cantaloupe-sized question that only he can answer.
Of course, as bad as what King said was, his interviewer, CNN's Chris Cuomo, wasn't any better. Because after King dropped his "knowledge," Cuomo said:It's horrible. You've identified the problem, so fix it. No, Chris. Steve King did not just identify the problem. He spewed a bunch of nonsensical crap, and you didn't challenge him on it.
The ADP report is rarely a close mesh with the Bureau of Labor Statistics' calculation of new jobs. The BLS reports job creation in both the private and public sector for each month. In June, it reported 262,000 new private-sector jobs and 26,000 public-sector jobs. Its next report will be announced Friday. If the consensus of analysts is correct, it will be the sixth consecutive month the BLS has reported creation of more than 200,000 new jobs. The average for the past five months is 248,000.
Specifically, in July, ADP reported these jobs:
Goods-producing?16,000 (down from 43,000 in June) Service-providing?202,000 (down from 238,000 in June)
Construction?12,000 (down from 36,000 in June) Manufacturing?3,000 (down from 12,000 in June) Trade/transportation/utilities?52,000 (down from 56,000 in June) Financial activities?9,000 (down from 12,000 in June) Professional/business services?61,000 (down from 79,000 in June)"Although down from June, the July jobs number marks the fourth straight month of employment gains above 200,000,? said Carlos Rodriguez, president and chief executive officer of ADP.
Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody?s Analytics, said, "The July employment gain was softer than June, but remains consistent with a steadily improving job market. At the current pace of job growth unemployment will quickly decline. Layoffs are still receding and hiring and job openings are picking up. If current trends continue, the economy will return to full employment by late 2016.?The Hamilton Project, however, projects that on the basis of ADP's figures for the past six months, it will take until June of 2018 to return to what economists consider full employment.
Indonesian police have opened fire on peaceful protesters in Jayapura, with at least four gunshot wounds and one death. West Papuan activists and families have been forced to flee to the jungle for safety. Indonesian security forces are conducting scores of raids, sweeps and offensives against West Papuan civilians. The attacks are happening during the visit of National Police Chief General Sutarman with over 200 people arrested across West Papua. Journalists have also been attacked by Indonesian police according to Amnesty International...Read more at San Fransisco Bay Area Indymedia. The Indonesian Police chief says any plans to free Papua from Indonesia won't be tolerated, including Flag raising ceremonies on the West Papuan national Day, December 1st.
Calls for Independence by West Papuans have been made since the sham "Act of Free Choice in 1969". They have suffered a neglected genocide at the hands of the Indonesian military (2004) with continued Repression (2007). Thousands of Papuans took to the streets in 2010 and in 2011 rejecting special autonomy, demanding a referendum on independence. Indonesia plans to build 1,500 km of new roads in the next two years to accelerate ?development', increase military presence, and open up more illegal logging. Three Papuans highlighted the human rights abuses at the APEC meeting in Bali this year by scaling the Australian Consulate?s fence in the dead of night and hand-delivering a personal plea to open the Indonesian province to world scrutiny.
A new academic law and human rights report A slow-motion genocide: Indonesian rule in West Papua (PDF), details the extent of the genocide and abuse of human rights. (Review by Greenleft) Activists have called for Australia to End pragmatic complicity in West Papua in response to comments by new conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Imprisoned Papuan leader Selpius Bobii also responded saying, "We Live In Terror, Mr Abbott".
Related: Waging Nonviolence: Flotilla unsettles Indonesia?s occupation of West Papua | West Papuan National Day Goes Global | West Papuans to join commemoration of Eureka Rebellion in Ballarat More Information: West Papua media Alerts | Freedom Flotilla
Civil society organisations abandoned the COP19 climate change negotiations in Warsaw on mass. Members from Greenpeace, Oxfam, WWF, Actionaid, Friends of the Earth, the International Trade Union Confederation (statement) and 350.org all started leaving the conference at 2pm. This is an unprecedented action, the first time several major civil society groups have staged a mass walkout.
Friends of the Earth International highlighted that the Warsaw Climate Change negotiations were failing, with Tension high in Warsaw talks as G77+China walk out. The role of Australia and reduced ambition of Japan have been widely mentioned. Australia and Canada are seen as the major wreckers, but there has been substantial intransigence from much of the developed world to progressing the negotiations forward on finance, ambition, and a loss and damage mechanism. Poland's Coal Summit has shown the fossil fuel corporatism entwined in this COP with widespread dismay at the coal powered negotiations of COP19 and at UNFCCC official Christiania Figueres who gave the keynote speech at the coal summit
Related: Democracy Now: "Nature Does Not Negotiate": Environmentalists Walk Out of U.N. Climate Summit in Warsaw | "Polluters Talk, We Walk": Civil Society Groups Abandon Warsaw Talks over Inaction on Global Warming | "We Have to Consume Less": Scientists Call For Radical Economic Overhaul to Avert Climate CrisisAnalysis: The Warsaw walkout and the Climate Movement
The weekend of 16th and 17th November saw tens of thousands of people in Canada and Australia out in the streets in over 260 protests against the climate policies of these countries. Australia and Canada are seen as the major wreckers in Warsaw at COP19.
The Saturday protests in Canada occurred from coast to coast to Repulse Bay, Nunavut on the Arctic circle, more than 10,000 people gathered in over 180 events co-ordinated by Defend our Climate. Many protests focussed on stopping further expansion of the Alberta tar sands and pipelines to move the bitumenous oil south to Texas, east through Ontario and Quebec, and west through British Columbia. On Sunday, more than 60,000 people attended climate protests across Australia, protesting the attempt to repeal carbon pricing and clean energy programs by the conservative Government lead by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, elected on 7 September this year, who denied any link between climate change and bushfires as unusually early and intense bushfires raged around Sydney.
Civil Society NGO and local Polish activists also staged a Climate Justice march in Warsaw in association with the COP19 climate change negotiations taking place. Super Typhoon Haiyan set the initial mood at the negotiations with Philippines negotiator Naderev Saño (Yeb Saño) saying "time to take action. We need an emergency climate pathway". There is widespread dismay at the coal powered negotiations in Warsaw with Japan and Australia being particularly singled out.
Related: Australia Indymedia - Tens of Thousands rally for Climate Action across Australia
Authorities of Tacloban City with a population of 220,000 and capital of Leyte province, gave an early estimate that perhaps 10,000 people died from this one city. Many people were surprised by the huge storm surge tidal waves that inundated much of the city. Many smaller coastal villages were also devastated with most buildings destroyed or suffering severe damage. According to the UN Reliefweb report on 14 November the number of affected people has increased to 11.8 million. The official death count from Typhoon Haiyan is currently 4,460 but with numbers still increasing. There were 921,200 people displaced and 243,600 houses destroyed. A total of 2.5 million people are in need of food assistance.
Related: Climate IMC: Typhoon Haiyan: This is a climate crime | Time for turning tears into anger says Walden Bello | Philippine groups demand action on climate finance, loss and damage in Warsaw climate talks | Ejected from COP19 for expressing solidarity to the Philippines | Youth observers expelled from UN climate change talks for Philippines Solidarity | Indybay: Super typhoon Haiyan is climate wake-up call | They destroy We suffer Statement on Yolanda?s AftermathNon-corporate Typhoon Haiyan Relief Efforts: Waves for Water | Haiyan NYC Relief Project | Doctors without Borders | Oxfam International
Climate Negotiations are over for another year with little progress in Doha by any one's measure as the scientific statements on climate change and the impacts we are already feeling as evidenced in record Arctic melting, and extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy and Typhoon Bopha in the Philippines, and Cyclone Evan in the South Pacific are growing much stronger.
Some of the latest scientific research shows:Sea Level rising 60% faster than IPCC projectionsMethane and CO2 in thawing Arctic permafrost a climate tipping pointCollapse of Siberia's Coastline is Releasing Huge Amounts of CO2Greenland Ice sheet suffers unprecedented surface meltIndian Monsoon more likely to fail as global warming acceleratesSouthern Ocean warming impact on Antarctic Ice Sheet Stability and sea level rise
Photos: Photos by World Resources Institute | Photos by Oxfam | The Verb: Climate March in Doha | The Verb: COP18 Actions Related: Deep emissions cuts urged at climate summit | Towards a Grand Compromise in the Climate Negotiations | COP18, another 'Conference of Polluters' | An open letter to governments and their negotiators | Climate compensation row at Doha | Forest Groups Protest False Solutions | IPCC's Planned Obsolescence: Fifth Assessment Report Will Ignore Crucial Permafrost Carbon Feedback! | Methane and CO2 in thawing Arctic permafrost a climate tipping point