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Secret 0507wrp opt(Photo: Uncle Chicken / Flickr)In 1933, a handful of wealthy Wall Streeters were upset that the newly elected president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, had dared to tax the rich in order to fund programs to lessen the painful poverty people were experiencing due to the Great Depression. They were so upset that they came up with a ridiculous plan to overthrow Roosevelt and install a military government. Due to their own ineptitude and hubris, their plan failed, and important poverty-busting programs of the New Deal like Social Security, the Works Progress Administration and the Tennessee Valley Authority put people to work, pulled them out of desperate poverty and propelled the country into the 20th century.

It's tempting to brush off 1933's bumbling fat cats — we can just picture them cloistered in their posh private club, smoking $100 cigars, grumping about Roosevelt and whispering about hiring a private army to overthrow the whole damn democratic process. However, our nation's common good is constantly under attack from plutocrats, kleptocrats and kakistocrats who want to line their pockets at the expense of workaday Americans.

But while the 1933 plot was hairbrained, their plutocratic intent is no laughing matter. Their presumption of class privilege — the warped idea that their great wealth entitled them to rule over and even impoverish the many — is not unique. The Wall Street Putsch died and was buried in 1934, but it is just one manifestation of a deadly serious social disease that has infected the history of democratic struggles.

Monday, 07 May 2018 06:30

Peace and the Nuclear Paradox


Peace 0507wrp opt(Photo: Patrick Harris / Flickr)Whenever the topic is nuclear weapons, I remain in a state of disbelief that we can talk about them "strategically" -- that language allows us to maintain such a distance from the reality of what they do, we can casually debate their use.

Consider, in the context of the sudden rush of alarming news that Donald Trump may trash the Iran nuclear agreement on May 12, on the false grounds that Iran is in violation of it, this piece of news from several months ago:

The latest Nuclear Posture Review, released in early February, "calls for the development of new, more usable nuclear weapons, and expanding the number of scenarios when the first use of nuclear weapons would be considered, including in response to a non-nuclear attack," according to Global Zero, an international movement to eliminate nuclear weapons.

"The plan renews the calls for massive spending to replace all legs of the nuclear triad, including new strategic bombers, new ballistic missile submarines and new land-based ballistic missile systems. The proposed approach will make America poorer and less secure, and could greatly increase the risk of nuclear war."


Stamp 0504wrp opt(Photo: Karn Bulsuk / Flickr)Before May 9, 2017, I was 15 years old and my family was living in harmony, everything was going well. However, around 8:00 a.m. on May 9, everything changed. I was attending a physical therapy session at Mountain View Hospital in Las Cruces, New Mexico. When my therapy session finished, I received terrible news; both my brother and mother were detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). My life has not been the same since.

When my dad told me about my mom and brother, he was shaking. He was unable to speak properly. He was giving me all his belongings such as credit cards, money, and things he’s had for years, things that were very important to him. As a 15-year-old, my dad giving me all his belongings felt like I was on my own as of that day, and I was scared. As we exited the hospital, two men approached us without uniforms or identification and asked my dad to accompany them. My father refused as he pleaded that I had to be taken to school and someone had to take care of me. He was able to take me to school, but all day my heart was pumping, I was in survival mode not knowing what was going to happen when I got out of school. Fortunately, my dad entered sanctuary and even though I’m an American citizen, I entered it with him.


climateemergencyWhile the world melts. (Photo: Takver)

While the mainstream media is fixated on all things Trump, climate change continues unabated. We are so preoccupied with the here and now that the crossing of environmental thresholds that should set off blaring alarms hardly gets noticed. Caught up in our daily lives, we overlook signs that life itself is at risk for many.

Indeed, the scientific warnings are being sounded with increasing regularity. On May 2, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography reported that the monthly average for April exceeded 410 parts per million for the first time in recorded history:

The average concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was 410.31 parts per million (ppm) for the month of April, according to the Keeling Curve measurement series made at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii....

This also represents a 30-percent increase in carbon dioxide concentration in the global atmosphere since the Keeling Curve began in 1958.

Carbon dioxide is the primary cause of anthropogenic global warming.

APURBA PAUDEL FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT   paudel 5 3 18The Saipu Healthpost taught me two important aspects of earthquake disaster and its consequences to people. (Photo: Apurba Paudel)

On April 25 and May 12, 2015, there were massive earthquakes that struck Nepal, particularly in the mountainous regions. In the aftermath, buildings had been reduced to rubble, people had nowhere to go and communities have been focusing entirely on reconstruction. It was difficult for everyone, but rural communities have been working together to rebuild what they could and trying to make the best of the situation. One place where this happened was a village in the hills of Nepal called Saipu, where I have visited several times after the earthquakes.

Recently, there have been many such disasters. In 2017, there was an unusually large number of hurricanes and floods across the world. Several wildfires swept the West coast of the United States. Almost all of this devastation and the post-disaster consequences are exacerbated by the effects of climate change. As I am just beginning high school and I am in the early stage of experiencing these consequences on this changing Earth, I have become very worried about the growing numbers of disasters and its impacts, especially on poor and marginalized people across the globe. These disasters aren't likely to be stopped in the near future. I feel that to be able to withstand these disasters, we must learn from these communities such as Saipu, Nepal, about how to rebuild communities in the aftermath of disaster and retain hope despite everything being turned to rubble.


wellsfargo555Wells Fargo in the rogue's gallery of banks. (Photo: Mike Mozart)

Founded in 1852, Wells Fargo & Company is the third largest bank in the United States, with locations in 43 states. It is also an exemplar of how banks deemed too big to fail continue to get slaps on the wrist from enforcement agencies while barreling ahead with abusive practices. The illegal banking practices that provoked the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau (CPFB) to slap Wells Fargo with a $1 billion fine in April represented only the latest installment in a long list of abuses by the financial company, which evokes images of the "Wild West" in its logo.

Imposed for illegal practices in the bank's auto loan division, the penalty may seem massive. However, Public Citizen, a DC-based progressive advocacy organization -- noted in a news release that the fine is not going to cause a dent in Wells Fargo's earnings:

Shareholders, who will be footing the bill for this fine, did not conceive, oversee and conceal this massive fraud. Wells Fargo executives did. When Washington prosecutes them, Wells Fargo and other bankers will understand what justice should mean.

Meanwhile, the Republican corporate tax cut more than offsets this penalty [of $1 billion]. The firm reportedly posted a $3.35 billion benefit from the new law. Wells Fargo is spending some of this benefit on share buybacks, which boost the price and senior management compensation. On balance, these are good times for Wells Fargo executives.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) offered an idea of how impervious banks such as Wells Fargo are to sound banking practices. They are so massively profitable, they can easily weather government enforcement.

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT    berkowitz 5 3 18The Christian Right is using the language of religious freedom to attack LGBTQ communities. (Photo: American Life League)

Project Blitz has nothing to do with attacking the quarterback, or a sudden and sustained military attack. It does, however, have everything to do with a concerted effort by the Christian Right to bombard state legislatures across the country with model legislation related to, among other things, attacking the LGBTQ community and codifying its stilted version of religious freedom. 

"In God We Trust," should be on display in public buildings and on license plates; "the role of religion in the constitutional history of the United States" should "be publicly displayed in court houses and other state and local buildings throughout" the states; The Bible should be taught "as an elective course in public schools; "proclamations" recognizing Religious Freedom Day, Christian Heritage Month, Year of The Bible, and Christmas Day, should be issued, are some of the model bills created by a Religious Right project called "Project Blitz."  


Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

6792706114 7b6c16dff3 zThe Supreme Court held that a New York state natural gas pipeline had to meet clean water standards. (Photo: jasonwoodhead23)

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected a petition filed by Constitution Pipeline to challenge New York state's denial of a water quality certification for the natural gas project.

Natural Gas Intelligence reported: "The petition was distributed for conference, or discussion, on Friday, but the justices simply denied it."

The ruling leaves in place the August 2017 judgment of the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which sided with the state. This is a big win for the attorney general's office and the state's authority to protect its waters and natural resources.

"Great news for New Yorkers today as SCOTUS declines to hear challenges to New York's denial of a key certification for the Constitution Pipeline," Attorney General Eric Schneiderman tweeted Monday. "Clean water is a basic right. We won't allow a pipeline to put that at risk."

The proposed project—which environmentalists have dubbed "the Keystone of natural gas"—is an interstate pipeline running from Pennsylvania (ground zero for fracking in the Northeast) to New York that would transport 0.65 billion cubic feet per day of shale gas.

Schneiderman warned that the project would include construction of 100 miles of new natural gas pipeline across undeveloped lands in central New York, impacting and crossing more than 250 streams and more than 80 acres of wetlands.


Nuke 0430wrp opt(Photo: rob zand / Flickr)Through the humanitarian consequences process, a number of young diplomats learned about, and with the Ban Treaty, began to address the urgent dangers posed by nuclear weapons. South Korean President Moon's brilliant diplomacy has walked us back from the brink of cataclysmic war and for a time has tied the hands of Trump and his war cabinet.

There is still life in the United States. Popular pressure led more than 80 members of Congress to co-sponsor legislation to remove the president's ability to launch nuclear weapons on his sole authority amidst a tantrum. Members of Congress have also co-sponsored legislation to prevent an unconstitutional war against North Korea. And the legal noose around Trump and his corrupt coterie is tightening.

However, we still face challenges.

Our international disarmament movement isn't concentrating enough on the urgent necessity of preventing nuclear war or immobilizing the structures of power that drive their nuclear preparations. Add to this the disturbing parallels between current global dynamics and those preceding World War I. As was the case just over a century ago, this is an era of rising and declining powers -- the Thucydides Trap of arms races with new technologies, of resurgent nationalism, territorial disputes, resource competition, complex alliance arrangements, economic integration and intense economic competition, and wild card actors from Trump and Bolton to Al-Qaeda and Netanyahu.


Pharma 0430wrp opt(Photo: GalacticWanderlust / Flickr)Various definitions of terrorism have been proposed in recent years, by organizations such as the FBI, the State DepartmentHomeland Security, and the ACLU. Some common threads persist throughout the definitions: violence, injury or death, intimidation, intentionality, multiple targets, political motivation. All the criteria are met by pharmaceutical and oil and financial companies. They have all injured and intimidated the American public, and caused people to die, with intentionality shown by their refusal to acknowledge evidence of their misdeeds, and political motives clear in their lobbying efforts, where among all U.S. industries Big Pharma is #1, Big Oil is #5, and Securities/Investment #8. 

The terror inflicted on Americans is real, and is documented by the facts to follow.

In a Time Magazine article a young man named Chad Colwell says "I got prescribed painkillers, Percocet and Oxycontin, and then it just kind of took off from there." Time adds: "Prescriptions gave way to cheaper, stronger alternatives. Why scrounge for a $50 pill of Percocet when a tab of heroin can be had for $5?" About 75% of heroin addicts used prescription opioids before turning to heroin.

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