Buzzflash at Truthout

What Have We Got Here? Looks Like Some U.S. Libertarians Are Supporting Overthrow in Venezuela

If you've never heard of the Atlas Network, the Intercept's recent story, "Sphere of Influence: How American Libertarians are Remaking Latin American Politics," will certainly be an eye opener. The Atlas Network aims to rid Latin America of leftist-led governments, limit the organizing wherewithal of unions, and liberal and progressive movements, and reshape Latin America in ways the Koch brothers, and like-minded U.S.-based right-wing billionaires support.

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Craig Hodges: Fighting Against Racism as an NBA Player

To go, or not to go? That could be the question the NBA champion Golden State Warriors will have to grapple with if they are invited to Donald Trump's White House. More than two decades ago, Craig Hodges, a member of the NBA champion Chicago Bulls, delivered a letter protesting the mistreatment of poor people and people of color to President George H.W. Bush during the team's 1991 visit to the White House. Vilified for being so bold, Hodges was recently asked by Dave Zirin, on his Edge of Sports podcast, for his thoughts on a possible visit by the Warriors. Hodges suggested that the Warriors should consider going, and take the opportunity to deliver a message about inequality and social justice. If they don't go, Hodges said, they should be clear about why they decided not to go.

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How the Christian Right Is Using Junk Science to Attack Transgender Rights

While North Carolina’s anti-LGBTQ HB2 law – its so-called bathroom bill -- Target stores’ policy of allowing transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity, and public schools across the nation are working to accommodate transgender children, the religious right has placed transgender rights in its crosshairs. Dr. Paul McHugh, a former director of Johns Hopkins University’s Department of Psychiatry and University Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, has over the years become the go-to guy for the Religious Right’s anti-trans attacks.

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Trump's Single Biggest Donor, Robert Mercer, Has a Merciless Political Agenda

"The Mercers laid the groundwork for the Trump revolution. Irrefutably, when you look at donors during the past four years, they have had the single biggest impact of anybody, including the Kochs." —Steve Bannon, Trump's chief strategist

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Will Silicon Valley Assist in Developing Trump's Deplorable Muslim Registry?

During the Republican Party's primary campaign, Donald Trump proposed the creation of a national registry for America's 3.3 million Muslims. His proposal created quite a stir. Trump supporters were enthusiastic; opponents were horrified. Moral, legal, and ethical questions were raised. Questions were also raised about how such a registry might be built, and who would do the work?

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How Republicans Intend to Kill Obamacare

There are standard dictionary definitions of the word reconciliation – “the restoration of friendly relations” and “the action of making one view or belief compatible with another” among them – and then there is the Congressional process called Reconciliation. The former suggest comity, the latter is the process by which debate is closed down and a budget bill can be passed through the Senate. With Republicans holding a 52 to 48 advantage over Democrats (including two Independents), Reconciliation is how Republicans intend to overturn the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.

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Family Research Council's Starkly Anti-Gay Ken Blackwell Leading Trump's Domestic Transition Team

Hillary Clinton may have made a huge rhetorical gaffe when during the campaign she labeled more than half of Donald Trump's supporters as occupying a "basket of deplorables." That term, however, may be much more applicable to some of the people heading up Trump's transition team. As proof that Trump intends to consummate his affair with conservative Christian evangelicals, he has named Kenneth Blackwell, the senior fellow for Human Rights and Constitutional Governance at the Family Research Council -- an organization named as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center – to head his domestic transition team.

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When the Election Is Over, It Will Not Be Done

They're stoked by bitterness, anger, and the unbearable color of others, and they're buying into Donald Trump's trope that the election, indeed society, is rigged against them. At his rallies, they love to wear obscene-laced t-shirts, and when Hillary Clinton's name is mentioned, they come alive with chants of "Lock her up." They revile fact checking and are disgusted, not by Trump's predatory behavior and despicable comments about women, but by the way the media has reported it. And, when the election is over, and Trump has moved on to attempting to build a multi-media empire, or perhaps to an all-expenses-paid Dacha in the Russian countryside, his supporters will be holding a bag of steaming anger.

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Will Closeted Trump Voters Pull a Bradley Effect?

Just before Election Day in November 1982, according to most polls, Tom Bradley, the first African American mayor of Los Angeles, appeared poised to become governor of California. Despite leading in the polls, Bradley lost the election to Republican George Deukmejian. Instead of becoming the first African American governor of California, Bradley became the namesake of something called The Bradley Effect.

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Will Kaepernick's Protest Against Racism Spread to Baseball?

One of the unforeseen results of San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick taking a stand against racism and police brutality, by at first sitting, and later taking a knee, during the playing of the national anthem before NFL games, is that other athletes in other sports are being asked to comment.

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Compassion-Challenged Christian Right’s Reaction to Orlando Murders

In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the late Rev. Jerry Falwell took to Pat Robertson’s airwaves and blamed gays, pro-choice activists, and liberals in general, for the terrorist attacks. Over the years, Christian right leaders have blamed gays and lesbians for not only destroying the traditional family, but for hurricanes, tornadoes, fires and pestilence. Now, in the days following the early Sunday morning terrorist attack on the Orlando gay nightclub, there hasn’t been that kind of knee-jerk bombast from major Christian Right organizations or leaders. Instead, benign neglect seems to be their settled-on modus operandi; express condolences and move on as quickly as possible. Despite this approach, some fringe Christian anti-gay pastors haven’t gotten the memo, as they continue to spew incredibly hateful comments. 

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Why Are Evangelicals Fighting Over Ted Cruz's Religious Beliefs?

The long and winding road to the Republican Party's presidential nomination is getting rockier for conservative Christian evangelical leaders as they continue to reckon with some major-league divisive issues. When Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University, endorsed Donald Trump, evangelical leaders Russell Moore, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and Max Lucado, often described as "America's pastor," began speaking out against Trump. The editorial board at The Christian Post, so unnerved by the possibility of Trump heading the GOP's ticket, launched a major anti-Trump broadside.

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Many of Jeb Bush's Foreign Policy Advisors Should Be Brought Before the International Criminal Court

It is still extremely early in 2016 presidential politics, but, with the race for the Republican Party nomination under way, we may be getting a not-so-sneaky preview of how former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush intends to navigate his way around the minefield of foreign policy decision-making by his father, President George H.W. Bush, and brother, President George W. Bush. While he still has to sit around the Thanksgiving table with his family, Jeb understands that it is of utmost importance that he offers his own foreign policy vision. Stay tuned for what appears to be the mother of all-political flip-flopping, back flipping, and political U-turns; moonwalking that would make the late Michael Jackson stand up and smile.

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Billy Graham's Son Is One of America's Most Dangerous Islamophobes

Why should you be interested in the ongoing prattling of the Rev. Franklin Graham? Let me count the ways: 1) He’s the son of Billy Graham, the world-renowned evangelist, and that gives him access to a multitude of media platforms; 2) He desperately wants to inherit his father’s unofficial title of “America’s Pastor”; and, 3) He is considered a highly respected player in the world of conservative Christian evangelicalism.

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"A Resource of Hope": Powerful "Voices" Anthology Turns 10

Since Zinn's death in 2010, Arnove - an author and editor - has helped keep Voices of a People's History alive through readings, and now, in an expanded edition with timely additional content.

Truthout recently discussed the book, which serves as a vital, energetic and inspiring companion to Zinn's breakthrough book, A People's History of the United States, with Arnove.

Mark Karlin: Voices of a People's History is so expansive and revelatory, it is only appropriate to begin by discussing a normally undisclosed aspect of the colonial revolt against Britain. The book has a section devoted to documenting the economic and social inequality that existed among the colonial settlers and the revolutionary army. That, I am sure, comes as quite a surprise to many schooled on the myth of a nation founded as egalitarian, don't you think?

Anthony Arnove: Howard was attentive to many aspects of US history that tend to be ignored or deliberately downplayed. But he was especially attuned to class conflict. The common metaphor of the United States as a family conceals sharp divisions that have always existed. And, as you point out, it wasn't just that those conflicts existed between the colonial settlers and the indigenous population, whom they systematically dispossessed and slaughtered, or between the colonial population and the millions of slaves they forcibly brought here to work and die under the most brutal conditions.

There were also different class interests among the colonialists, among those who fought in the revolutionary army. And the founders were acutely aware of the dangers posed by the different interests of the landless majority if they organized. They had to find ways to ensure that those with property and wealth dominated the new nation they were forging.

That's why, in "Voices," we include some of the voices such as Plough Jogger, who took part in Shay's Rebellion, and Joseph Plumb Martin, a soldier who enlisted in the Continental Army in 1776 and served in New York and Connecticut during the American Revolution, who express their frustrations at their ill treatment and the desire for a different social order.

Backing up in history, BuzzFlash recently posted a video of Viggo Mortensen reading a letter detailing the brutality that the Conquistadors visited upon Native Americans. Did anything come of Bartolomé de Las Casas's appeals to the Spanish royalty?

That's such a powerful reading. The great filmmaker John Sayles actually helped us craft the version we use in live performances. He read in a very early performance in New York and helped us edit the selection that is in the book, taken from his remarkable book A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies, into something that works so beautifully on stage. Given the scale of destruction wrought by the conquest of the Americas, the sale of reforms Las Casas was able to urge pale in comparison. And we also should remember that, at one point, he urged using African slave labor rather than enslaving the native peoples of the West Indies, a position he later regretted.

Mortensen's reading, which was shown on "Democracy Now," was extremely powerful. What effect do you think the live presentations of the speeches and essays has on audiences?

I am extremely moved myself when taking part in live performances of Voices and struck at how enthusiastically and emotionally people respond. On paper, honestly, it seems rather boring: people watching a group of actors and musicians reading or singing "on book" (with a script in hand), without any costumes or staging or any of the other apparatus of the theater. When we organized our first reading in 2003, we half expected it would be a bust or maybe just a one-time event. But it was electric and galvanizing for people to come together and experience these voices speaking from the past so powerfully to our situation today.

The book has 25 chapters, and their titles and content offer an alternative vision of a nation that was founded upon equality for white male property owners and pretty much inequality for everybody else: people of color, women, the poor, non-heterosexuals. Is it fair to say Voices of a People's History speaks for the majority who were not beneficiaries of US independence?

A "history for the rest of us" is not a bad way of describing it. But it's more than just whose voices are included in Voices; it's how that history is told. One of the major faults of Great White Men history (or, if you are a bit more sensitive, Great White Men and a Few Great Others, Since We Are So Great and Inclusive, Whatever "Mistakes" We Made a Long Time Ago and Let's Move On . . . history) is that it leaves most students and readers utterly alienated from the process. Howard's emphasis on people's history, a bottom-up view of how change happens, was that unknown people, groups of people and not just individuals, oppressed people, dispossessed and abused people, make history. And that is a dangerous idea to those in power.

From how frequently the topic is interspersed in the book, the US certainly appears to be a nation that can't turn down a war. How is this related to the growth of the United States empire?

One of the themes of Voices is that the US empire has a very long history. It doesn't begin with 1898 and the conquest of the Philippines, Guam, Hawaii and beyond. You have to talk about the invasion and occupation of Mexico in the 1840s (something that is important to remember as we consider the war on Mexican immigrants and the militarization of the border today). You have to look at the westward expansion of the colonies and settler-colonialism and the exercise of "Manifest Destiny."

But what's truly striking when you look at this history is the consistency of the rhetoric of benevolence, selflessness, "spreading democracy," opposing tyranny, defending human rights. One of Howard's main aspirations as a historian was to teach people about the lies used in past wars so they would be far less likely to believe politicians and military officials when they announce yet again our need to send people to kill and be killed in the name of "democracy."

Needless to say, the struggle for women to reach full equality with men continues today. Voices includes a feisty, wry recollection of a speech that Sojourner Truth gave around 1850 advocating women's rights. A spirited performance of the remarks can be found on You Tube, read by Kerry Washington. Would you comment on the spot-on wit when she orated:

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5 Reasons America Should Be Ashamed of Itself

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses...I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" These words, from poet Emma Lazarus, were inscribed on the Statue of Liberty over 100 years ago. Today the golden door has a lock on it, paid for with record profits from the health care, education and financial industries.

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New Reality Show "Preachers of LA" Has Evangelical Christian Leaders Grinding Their Teeth

Coming soon from Oxygen, the network that brings you "Bad Girls Club," "My Shopping Addiction," "Jersey Couture," and "Dance Your A** Off," is "Preachers of L.A.," and it might be the hottest new reality show to air this fall. Judging from the trailer, the show could just as well have been called "Preachers Driving Big Cars & Living in Big Houses," or "Pimped-out Preachers of La La Land."

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Thom Hartmann: The Memo That Started a Corporate Heist of Our Government

Narrated by Thom Hartmann, and produced and directed by Donald Goldmacher and Frances Causey, Heist: Who Stole the American Dream in Broad Daylight? is a comprehensive dissection of the evolution of corporate control over the federal government. Stephen Holden of the New York Times wrote that Heist "has the virtue of taking the long view of a crisis that recent films like Inside Job and Too Big to Fail have only sketchily explored. It makes a strong case that government regulation of business is essential for democracy to flourish."

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Evidence Emerges That GOP Leader Tried to Use Petraeus Affair to Hurt Obama Before Election

Amidst the sordid details of the high-ranking CIA sex scandal (that has now spread to an investigation of Jill Kelley, the woman who complained of being harassed by Gen. David Petraeus's mistress (Paula Broadwell), being involved involuminous and questionable e-mail exchanges with the current commander of forces in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen), one important political factor has emerged in the last day: Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor appears to have tried to put pressure on the FBI to advance the investigation, with the likely goal of an October surprise scandal that would have potentially harmed Obama's chance of re-election.
The Wall Street Journal  and The New York Times provided insight into the Cantor involvement, with the Journal noting in the beginning of a November 12 article:
A federal agent who launched the investigation that ultimately led to the resignation of Central Intelligence Agency chief David Petraeus was barred from taking part in the case over the summer due to superiors' concerns that he was personally involved in the case, according to officials familiar with the probe.
After being blocked from the case, the agent continued to press the matter, relaying his concerns to a member of Congress, the officials said.
New details about how the Federal Bureau of Investigation handled the case suggest that even as the bureau delved into Mr. Petraeus's personal life, the agency had to address conduct by its own agent—who allegedly sent shirtless photos of himself to a woman involved in the case prior to the investigation.
The Journal went on to reveal that the "The [shirtless photograph] agent is now under investigation by the Office of Professional Responsibility, the internal-affairs arm of the FBI, according to two officials familiar with the matter."
A quick recap is called for here.  Some time earlier this year, the unidentified FBI agent filed an agency request to investigate alleged threatening e-mails from the mistress of Petraeus (then C.I.A. director) to one Tampa Bay resident Jill Kelley, a married socialite who is a "volunteer liaison" (whatever that means) with one of the most top secret military units (based in the Tampa area).
The agent who sent shirtless photos of himself to Kelley, via a mobile phone one presumes, was obviously a close friend of hers.
Jane Mayer of the New Yorker takes the political dimensions of the story from there: 
The [New York] Times uses the word “murky” to describe what happened next, and there are many puzzling aspects. But according to the Times, at the end of October, a week or so after the F.B.I. investigators confronted Petraeus, an unidentified F.B.I. employee took the matter into his own hands. Evidently without authorization, he went to the Republicans in Congress. First he informed a Republican congressman, Dave Reichert of Washington State. According to the Times, Reichert advised this F.B.I. employee to go to the Republican leadership in the House. The F.B.I. employee then told what he knew about the investigation to Eric Cantor, the House Majority Leader. Cantor released a statement to the Times confirming that he had spoken to the F.B.I. informant, whom his staff described as a “whistleblower.” Cantor said, “I was contacted by an F.B.I. employee who was concerned that sensitive, classified information might have been compromised.” But what, exactly, was this F.B.I. employee trying to expose? Was he blowing the whistle on his bosses? If so, why? Was he dissatisfied with their apparent exoneration of Petraeus? Given that this drama was playing out in the final days of a very heated Presidential campaign, and he was taking a potentially scandalous story to the Republican leadership in Congress, was there a political motive?
According to the Times, Cantor said he took the information, and “made certain that director Mueller”—that is Robert Mueller III, the director of the F.B.I.—“was aware of these serious allegations, and the potential risk to our national security.” This is a strange way to explain his contact with the F.B.I. on this matter, because it is almost inconceivable that director Mueller was not already aware that the bureau he runs had examined the e-mail account of the director of the C.I.A., and, further, confronted him in person. Such a meeting between the bureau and head of the C.I.A. would have been extraordinary, and it is fairly unthinkable that Mueller wouldn’t have been consulted. So what information was Cantor conveying when he got in touch with Mueller?
The New York Times reports of an interesting wrinkle in the political implications of the conduct of the "shirtless" agent who seemed to be pursuing Mrs. Kelley and "advocating" on her behalf with keen interest: "Later, the agent became convinced — incorrectly, the official said — that the case had stalled. Because of his 'worldview,' as the [F.B.I.] official put it, he [the "shirtless" agent] suspected a politically motivated cover-up to protect President Obama."
Normally, it should be noted, the FBI does not become involved in investigating adulterous affairs of government officials unless there is proof that national security has been compromised.
The unidentified "shirtless" F.B.I. agent now under investigation -- and his end run around the bureau through Eric Cantor during the days leading up to Election Day -- raise more serious issues than adulterous sex in terms of what appears to be a last ditch effort to influence a national election.
Fortunately, Cantor didn't bully F.B.I. Director Mueller into an October Surprise revelation of Petraeus having had an adulterous affair.  More may come out, given that Broadwell may have a penchant for wanting people to know that she has inside information (including her questionable public claim that the C.I.A. was holding prisoners in Benghazi) -- and that there are questions of whether any classified information was revealed or rendered vulnerable.
But it would take a leap of unjustified faith to believe that Eric Cantor's telephone call to the head of the F.B.I. on Halloween was not an attempt to force the salacious scandal of lust (as it stands at this moment) to the front pages before the election.
Fortunately, global warming's October surprise -- Hurricane Sandy -- trumped Cantor's inappropriate meddling into an FBI investigation for opportunistic political purposes likely aimed at influencing an election.

5 Things That Put America to Shame

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses...I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" These words, from poet Emma Lazarus, were inscribed on the Statue of Liberty over 100 years ago. Today the golden door has a lock on it, paid for with record profits from the health care, education and financial industries.

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