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23 Jan

Truth Out, Dissent and be Informed

 Sunday 23 January 2011Corporate and Congressional Disasters
Robert Weissman, Truthout: “Corporate crime and wrongdoing is an everyday fact of life in the United States and around the world. Still, the last year has been remarkable for a series of high-profile, deadly corporate disasters: the BP Deepwater Horizon catastrophe that killed 11 workers and spewed millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, the deadly explosion at Massey’s Upper Big Branch mine and unintended acceleration of Toyota cars. You might think that these disasters, singly and together, would impel desperately needed legislative reform. You might think that, but if you did, you would be wrong. Despite blanket TV and newspaper coverage of the corporate wrongdoing in each case, despite deep public outrage and fear, despite public clamor for action to prevent the same things from happening, Congress has done – exactly nothing. And the situation is about to get worse.”
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How Congress Helped Thwart Obama’s Plan to Close Guantanamo
Carol Rosenberg, McClatchy Newspapers: “Two years after the newly minted Obama administration moved to undo what had become one of the most controversial legacies of the George W. Bush presidency by ordering the closure of the prison camps at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a trove of State Department documents made public by the website WikiLeaks is providing new information about why that effort failed. Key among the factors, the cables suggest: Congress’ refusal to allow any of the captives to be brought to the United States.”
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“Greatest Nation” Rhetoric Roars Back
Robert Jensen, Truthout: “[The] expression of American exceptionalism is unexceptional in US political history, but it roared back stronger than ever in 2010, especially in the rhetoric of the Tea Party movement. As it becomes harder to ignore the United States’ decline as an economic power – which will limit the capacity for imperial marauding around the world – the inclination of most mainstream politicians to assert our greatness will intensify. Those of us with radical or progressive politics need to challenge these kinds of slogans when we talk with friends, family and co-workers…. It is neither churlish nor malevolent to want to honestly assess the accomplishments and failures of one’s country. Rather, it is the obligation of every citizen.”
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Dispirited Arabs Burning for Change
Cam McGrath, Inter Press Service: “In the past week, nearly two dozen attempted self-immolations have been reported across the Arab world, three of them fatal. The horrifying public suicide attempts echo the iconic act of Mohamed Bouazizi, a 26-year-old Tunisian who set himself on fire in mid-December after police confiscated the produce cart he was using to make a living. Bouazizi died weeks later of his burns, but his desperate act triggered protests that eventually led Tunisian president Zine Al-Abdine Ben Ali to flee the North African country he had ruled with an iron fist for 23 years.”
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If Only Employees Enjoyed the Same Rights as Criminals
Ellen Dannin, Truthout: “Imagine being accused of a crime you did not commit, a crime so serious that the penalty was capital punishment. Naturally, with your life at stake, you would want the best attorney possible, someone who would stand with you and fight for justice. Among other things, your attorney would tell you that our criminal justice system required the prosecutor to prove you had committed the crime. Now, imagine a system where no one had to prove you were guilty and where no proof you could offer could save you. Millions of Americans enter that system just by being an employee. In the United States, employers can legally fire employees without cause, and no amount of evidence can save that employee’s job. This is ’employment at will,’ a system created by judges in the 19th century, a system that lets employees be fired for a good reason, a bad reason or no reason.”
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Europe Begins to Run Short of Water
Pavol Stracansky, Inter Press Service: “Half of the Czech Republic’s population could face water shortages because of climate change, a top climate change expert has warned. The country has become one of the driest in the EU, according to local media, and climatologists say the land, and crucial underground water supplies, are drying up…. Climatologists and meteorologists in central Europe have said that the region is seeing more and more extreme weather including long periods of dry and hot weather in the summer, severe flooding and bitter winter weather.”
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Is America Too Corrupt to Keep Up?
David Sirota, Truthout: “A sovereign nation investing its wealth in its domestic economy seems like a no-brainer, especially during a global recession. But in this crazy age of American politics, even that has become a controversial notion. This is the subtext of a dispute that simmered beneath the pomp and circumstance of this week’s U.S.-China summit…. China’s industrial policy success carries a basic lesson: When a nation couples public spending with incentives that encourage domestic corporate investment, an economy tends to grow its own wealth-building industries. That’s simple enough to understand, right? Evidently, not within our own government.”
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Why a Gruesome Pennsylvania Abortion Clinic Had Not Been Inspected for 17 Years
Marian Wang, ProPublica: “While this week’s indictment involving a grisly abortion mill in Philadelphia has shocked many, the grand jury’s nearly 300-page report also contains a surprising and little-noted revelation: In the mid-1990s, the administration of Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge, a pro-choice Republican, ended regular inspections of abortion clinics – a policy that continued until just last year. According to the grand jury report [PDF] released this week by Philadelphia prosecutors, Pennsylvania health officials deliberately chose not to enforce laws to ensure that abortion clinics provide the same level of care as other medical service providers.”
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California Shows Corporate Subsidies Impoverish Us All
William L. Pelote, Sr., Truthout: “For years now, Californians have been told that we must choose between cutting public services and public service employees, or budget Armageddon. However, this is a false choice that has been driven more by political rhetoric than actual reality…. What we must bear in mind instead is that there is a direct relationship between California’s quality of life and the quality of its public services and the people who provide those services. Economists agree that diminishing public service jobs and benefits will slow California’s economic recovery and increase unemployment. These are unacceptable outcomes. That is why we must find the courage to confront the root cause of our state’s structural budget deficit.”
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TRUTHOUT’S BUZZFLASH DAILY HEADLINES  
 

Obama to Press Centrist Agenda in His Address
Read the Article at The New York Times

WikiLeaks: Only 1 Percent of Diplomatic Cables Published
Read the Article at AP

Israeli Panel: Deadly Flotilla Raid Legal
Read the Article at The LA Times

Megastorm Expected in California
Read the Article at The LA Times

Shadow Government: Ex-Spy With Agenda Operates Private CIA
Read the Article at The New York Times

Domestic Use of Aerial Drones by Law Enforcement Likely to Prompt Privacy Debate
Read the Article at The Washington Post

The Thorny Path to a National Black Museum
Read the Article at The New York Times

Click here for more BuzzFlash headlines

Are Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas the Bonnie and Clyde of judicial ethics?

There isn’t a law that prohibits Supreme Court justices from speaking on controversial issues, but there has been a code of conduct that generally minimizes public appearances that include pronouncements on issues that might appear before the highest judicial body of the land.

Well, Antonin Scalia took that book of ethics and fairness and threw it out the window. BuzzFlash has been running a Scalia watch for over a decade now, and the man never ceases to amaze us in his brazen right-wing pronouncements while “on the road” and on the Court.

In recent months, he has declared in speeches that there is nothing in the Constitution that guarantees rights for women, that the 17th Amendment allowing for the popular election of senators was a mistake, that legislative intent should not be considered in a SCOTUS ruling, and far too many more “Scaliaisms” to recount in a short column. Some of them are just plain stupid – and deadly.

Take Scalia’s dissenting court opinion in 2009 that nothing in the Constitution prevents an innocent man from being put to death: “This Court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is ‘actually’ innocent.”

It’s hard to top that one.

Needless to say, Scalia is a favorite of the fringe right wing, and will actually be speaking to the Congressional Tea Party caucus on November 24, at the invitation of Rep. Michele Bachmann. And that is entirely consistent with a charge by Common Cause that Scalia and Clarence Thomas attended Koch Brothers-sponsored political planning sessions before the Citizens United Ruling (just over a year ago) that advanced the interests of the oligarchy present at the confabs.

And speaking of Thomas, The Los Angeles Times reported this week that he failed to report his wife’s income on his financial disclosure report – for five years. It added up to $680,000 from the Heritage Foundation that was paid to Virginia Thomas that her husband just “forgotten” about.

Not to mention that Ginny Thomas founded a right-wing organization, Liberty Central, that benefited directly from the Citizens United decision.

What a tangled web of ethical conflicts the Bonnie and Clyde of the Supreme Court weave, while the scales of justice hunker down hard on the right.

Mark Karlin
Editor, BuzzFlash at Truthout

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