They Brand Cattle, Don’t They?

  by Walter Brasch   “Branding! We have to make you a brand!” “I’m not cattle,” I told my sometimes faux foil assistant Marshbaum, who had just burst into my office. “And if you think I’m getting a tattoo,” I replied, “my body isn’t a canvas.” “It’s sure wide enough,” Marshbaum flippantly replied. Before I could throw sheets of wadded up paper at him, he explained what he meant. “It’s not a fire-iron brand,” he explained. “It’s strategic marketing.” “I’m a journalist,” I reminded Marshbaum, “I don’t do that kind of thing.” “You will if you want to stay in business.” “I’ve been in this business four decades, and I’ve never been branded.” “That’s why we need you to do … Continue reading

Divesting America of Ozone-Destroying Energy Sources

  by Walter Brasch   Long before the price of gas and oil began to plummet, socially conscious churches, universities, non-profit organizations, and local governments began to divest themselves of fossil fuel stock and shock the fossil fuel industry to understand the environmental and public health concerns. The World Council of Churches, which represents about 590 million Christians in 520,000 congregations, decided in July that to continue to hold fossil fuel stock would compromise its ethics, and recommended that the 349 member denominations consider divesting oil and gas stock. Six of the eight Anglican dioceses of New Zealand and Polynesia, and four dioceses in Australia divested their portfolios of fossil fuel stock. In the United States, the United Church of … Continue reading

Miami Police 3 Times More Likely to Kill Than New York City Police

Police Siren 2

An extensive analysis of police homicides found wide discrepancies in the rate of police killings among major metropolitan police departments, when measured against population figures. Contrary to popular belief, New York City—-with a police homicide rate of 1 in 123,529 citizens—-ranks near the top (best, least people killed) of large cities in the U.S. The NYPD killed 68 people from 2007 – 2012 out of a population of 8.4 million. In Miami-Dade County, in a population of 2.5 million, (less than a third of the people living in NYC) police killed 68 citizens during that same five-year period. This means that citizens of Miami are 3.5 times more likely to killed by their local policeman than their counterparts in New … Continue reading

A Textbook Case of Willful Distortion

    by Walter Brasch  HarperCollins says it’s sorry. It says it regrets not including Israel on a map of the Middle East in an atlas it published and distributed in the Middle East. It says all remaining copies of the atlas will be pulped. The Collins Primary Geography Atlas for the Middle East with a map that omitted Israel was described by the publisher in sales information as “an ideal school atlas for primary school geographers.” A fact checker, says a security officer for HarperCollins—the company refused to allow anyone from its Editorial, Marketing, or Media Relations offices talk to reporters—was “disciplined.” But, this was not a case of a bumbling fact checker who didn’t check the facts. This … Continue reading

The Fracking Boom is a Fracking Bubble

  by Walter Brasch   Gas prices have plunged to the low $2 range—except in Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania, the prices at the pump are in the mid-$2 range. That’s because Gov. Tom Corbett and the legislature imposed a 28-cent per gallon surcharge tax. Until 2019, Pennsylvanians will be paying an additional $2.3 billion a year in taxes and fees—$11.5 billion total—to improve the state’s infrastructure. In addition to the increased tax on gas at the pumps, Pennsylvania motorists will also be spending more for license registrations, renewals, and title certificates. For far too many years, the state’s politicians of both major parties, preaching fiscal austerity—and hoping to be re-elected by taxpayers upset with government spending—neglected the roads, bridges, and other … Continue reading

Losing the White Democratic in the Deep South

    Democrat Mary Landrieu lost her Senate seat to Republican Bill Cassidy in a runoff election in Louisiana. As of 2015 there will be no white Democratic elected officials in the Deep South at the federal or state level. I lived and worked in Alabama for six years of my life. I’ve also traveled several times to Georgia and Mississippi. Honestly, I love the Deep South. The people are some of the most welcoming, thoughtful people in the world. I interned for the Alabama Democratic Party. I traveled across the state and met some of the most dedicated Democrats, both black and white. In 2008 Barack Obama became this country’s first black President. In my last two years in … Continue reading

See Through Black Eyes

by Leonce Gaiter We know that when Darren Wilson and many of his defenders see a black man, they see someone who “looks like a demon,” and someone who has the extra/sub-human ability to “bulk up to run through” bullets. We know this image of black men from an entire history of racist stereotypes. The image that Darren Wilson successfully invoked before the Missouri grand jury was the same image of monstrous black bucks lusting for white blood that propelled D.W. Griffith’s 1915 racist masterwork, “Birth of a Nation.” Throughout American history, most images of blacks have been created and presented by whites—and throughout the overwhelming majority of this nation’s history, the nation and its people have been institutionally racist. … Continue reading