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In This Edition


Bill McKibben wonders, "A Future Without Fossil Fuels?"

Norman Solomon returns with a must read, "'Speaking Truth To Power' Is No Substitute For Taking Power."

Glen Ford concludes, "The Imperial Racist Saga Comes Home, Where It Began."

David Swanson explains, "Five Benefits Of Life Without NATO."

William Rivers Pitt says, "Republicans Who Voted Against Trump Are Not 'Heroes.'"

John Nichols wonders, "Why Is It So Hard for Our President To Condemn White Supremacy And Islamophobia?"

James Donahue explores the, "Deadly Greenhouse Gas - SF6."

Ilhan Omar joins us with, "We Must Apply Our Universal Values To All Nations. Only Then Will We Achieve Peace."

Heather Digby Parton says, "This Candidate Has A Message."

David Suzuki finds, "Government Should Heed Unist'ot'en Message."

Charles P. Pierce reports, "Texas Refuses To Use Voting Machines With A Paper Trail."

Ralph Nader writes an, "Open Letter To Boeing."

Jane Stillwater examines, "Wet Supremacists."

Kellyanne Conway wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich sees, "Trump Cornered."

Chris Hedges considers, "Manning And The New Inquisition."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Will Durst finds, "America Stuck On A Roller Coaster Of Spin" but first Uncle Ernie exclaims, "Either Say Goodbye To The Electoral College Or To America!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of John Darko, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Tom Tomorrow, Ruben Bolling, Mr. Fish, Jim Morin, David Horsey, Philip R. Diab, Chip Sumdevilla, Kirsty Wigglesworth, AFP, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments-

The Quotable Quote-
The Vidkun Quisling Award-
The Cartoon Corner-
To End On A Happy Note-
Have You Seen This-
Parting Shots-

Welcome one and all to "Uncle Ernie's Issues & Alibis."













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Either Say Goodbye To The Electoral College Or To America!
By Ernest Stewart

"The Gallup Poll reported in 2001, 'There is little question that the American public would prefer to dismantle the Electoral College system, and go to a direct popular vote for the presidency. In Gallup polls that stretch back more than fifty years, a majority of Americans have continually expressed support for the notion of an official amendment of the U.S. Constitution that would allow for direct election of the president.'"" ~~~ George C. Edwards III

Do you know the swim, you better learn quick Jim!
Those who don't know the swim, better sing the hymn!
Day After Day ~~~ Shango

"In a one-party town -- the Democrats have held El Paso's congressional seat for all but one term since 1902-local Republicans viewed Mr. O'Rourke as one of their own." ~~~ The Wall Street Journal

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being 'round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won't you please, please, help me?
Help ~~~ The Beatles





Everywhere I go, I keep looking for a man dressed in black, smoking a cigarette, and standing next to a signpost. You too? Am I the only one who thinks we're living in The Twilight Zone? Donald tRump has gone way beyond simple Dementia, and Alzheimer's, and into a new zone of insanity! While that's bad enough, he's taken about a quarter of the U.S. population with him.

Donnie still thinks he won the election, won the popular vote when instead he was placed into the office by Alexander Hamilton idea of guaranteeing the rich would win and the people would lose, thanks to his bright idea of the Electoral College! May mighty Zeus bless Aaron Burr who stopped Hamilton from creating any other acts of stupidity and treason! Here's a couple of tweets by tRump on the subject.
And
As tRump says, "I used to like the idea of the Popular Vote, but now realize the Electoral College is far better for the U.S.A." I'm going to repeat that again for those of you on drugs!

Trump used to like the idea of the popular vote until he lost it by 3,000,000 votes to Hilary and was put into office by Hamilton's Electoral College! No sh*t, really?


The Electoral College and tRump have got to go. In all the times the college has been used to replace the popular vote winner, it replaced them with the losing fascist candidate, every time, and tRumps the latest example! It's got to go!

In Other News

Folks out in Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa and Missouri are currently running for higher ground or doing the backstroke, from the deadly and unprecedented flooding that's already saturated large portions of the Midwest, flooding hundreds of homes and raising the Missouri River above record water levels in many areas.

"This area's had flooding before but not of this magnitude," said Greg London of the Sarpy County Sheriff's Office, where 500 homes are estimated to be damaged. "This is unprecedented."

The damage in Sarpy County followed breaches of levees along the Platte River on Thursday and Saturday, and a Missouri River levee break on Thursday. The two rivers converge there.

In Iowa, the Missouri River reached 30.2 feet Sunday in Fremont County in the state's far southwestern corner, two feet above the record set in 2011. Around 250 people in the towns of Bartlett and Thurman were being evacuated as levees were breached and overtopped.

Lucinda Parker of Iowa Homeland Security & Emergency Management told the Associated Press that nearly 2,000 people overall have been evacuated at eight Iowa locations since flooding began late last week.

The floods were prompted by a late-season "bomb cyclone" that brought heavy rains and eventual snowmelt to the Midwest.

We had 5 little tornados in Michigan, along with strong winds, and just a little rain from the "bomb cyclone" not like the 60 or so real tornados they've experienced away down yonder, in the south.

How do you like global warming, so far, America? It's always something new, and ugly, and heading your way!

And Finally

I see where Beto O'Rourke who politically is actually a little to the right of Darth Vader is a Wolf in Sheeps clothing! Beto joined the dark side some 15 years ago when he formed an alliance with powerful Texas Rethuglicans, and then began to do crazy things for his masters. Like he supported raising the minimum age for Social Security in 2012. Or, that, during six years in Congress, right through the end of 2018 he often aligned himself with Republican positions.

As the Wall Street Journal reports, "Before becoming a rising star in the Democratic Party, Beto O'Rourke relied on a core group of business-minded Republicans in his Texas hometown to launch and sustain his political career. To win their backing, Mr. O'Rourke opposed Obamacare, voted against Nancy Pelosi as the House Democratic leader and called for a raise in the Social Security eligibility age."

A Washington Post headlined "Beto O'Rourke's Political Career Drew on Donations From the Pro-Republican Business Establishment. Several of El Paso's richest business moguls donated to and raised money for O'Rourke's city council campaigns, drawn to his support for a plan to redevelop El Paso's poorer neighborhoods. Some later backed a super PAC that would play a key role in helping him defeat an incumbent Democratic congressman. O'Rourke worked on issues that had the potential to make money for some of his benefactors. His support as a council member for the redevelopment plan, which sparked controversy at the time because it involved relocating low-income residents, many of them Hispanic, coincided with property investments by some of his benefactors." Imagine that!

The Post continues, "As a congressman, he supported a $2 billion military funding increase that benefited a company controlled by another major donor. That donor, real estate developer Woody Hunt, was friends with O'Rourke's late father. Hunt also co-founded and funds an El Paso nonprofit organization that has employed O'Rourke's wife since 2016."

Further, in Beto's last year in Congress, when nearly two-thirds of House Democrats opposed the record-breaking 2019 National Defense Authorization Act of $717 billion, Beto voted with tRump. Wolf in Sheeps clothing, or just a rat bastad? I'll leave that up to you to decide, America!

Keepin' On

Nothing's changed folks, the time has come and gone, and so some of our arthors and artists won't be available to us. We turned up $1160 short of paying our bills for this year. That's the first time in the magazines history since our beginning in 2000 that we failed to raise the "rent."

For once I'm at a loss for words, imagine that! That's the trouble with being a sooth sayer. When people ask me what is it that I do, I have been known to say, "I piss people off." You'd be amazed how mad you can make some people by just telling the truth, saying the sooth! The Matrix, I hear, is very warm and comfortable, and over the years while we did unplug this, or that person, we found ourselves, mainly, just preaching to the choir! C'est la guerre!"

We'll keep fighting the good fight until the rest of the money runs out. If you think that what we do is important and would like to see us keep on, keeping on, please send us whatever you can, whenever you can, and we'll keep saying the sooth!

*****


06-01-1925 ~ 03-16-2019
Thanks for the film!



05-04-1937 ~ 03-16-2019
Thanks for the music!



11-26-1939 ~ 03-17-2019
Thanks for the music!




*****

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****** We've Moved The Forum Back *******

For late breaking news and views visit The Forum. Find all the news you'll otherwise miss. We publish three times the amount of material there than what is in the magazine. Look for the latest Activist Alerts. Updated constantly, please feel free to post an article we may have missed.

*****

So how do you like Trump so far?
And more importantly, what are you planning on doing about it?

Until the next time, Peace!

(c) 2019 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.




Change is here. While engineers are doing their part by making renewable energy cheaper, activists are
mounting efforts to weaken [fossil fuel] companies directly, and there are some signs that the pressure is working.



A Future Without Fossil Fuels?
"The bottom line is clear: to the degree that the fossil fuel industry is weakened by some combination of technological change and furious activism, the chances for serious change increase."
By Bill McKibben

"Kingsmill Bond" certainly sounds like a proper name for a City of London financial analyst. He looks the part, too: gray hair expertly trimmed, well-cut suit. He's lived in Moscow and Hong Kong and worked for Deutsche Bank, the Russian financial firm Troika Dialog, and Citibank. He's currently "new energy strategist" for a small British think tank called Carbon Tracker, and last fall he published a short paper called "2020 Vision: Why You Should See the Fossil Fuel Peak Coming." It asks an interesting question: At what point does a new technology cause an existing industry to start losing significant value?

This may turn out to be the most important economic and political question of the first half of this century, and the answer might tell us much about our chances of getting through the climate crisis without completely destroying the planet. Based on earlier technological transitions-horses to cars, sails to steam, land lines to cell phones-it seems possible that the fossil fuel industry may begin to weaken much sooner than you'd think. The British-Venezuelan scholar Carlota Perez has observed that over a period of twenty years, trains made redundant a four-thousand-mile network of canals and dredged rivers across the UK: "The canal builders...fought hard and even finished a couple of major canals in the 1830s, but defeat was inevitable," as it later was for American railroads (and horses) when they were replaced by trucks and cars.

Major technological transitions often take a while. The Czech-Canadian academic Vaclav Smil has pointed out that although James Watt developed the coal-powered steam engine in 1776, coal supplied less than 5 percent of the planet's energy until 1840, and it didn't reach 50 percent until 1900. But the economic effect of those transitions can happen much earlier, Bond writes, as soon as it becomes clear to investors that a new technology is accounting for all the growth in a particular sector.

Over the last decade, there has been a staggering fall in the price of solar and wind power, and of the lithium-ion batteries used to store energy. This has led to rapid expansion of these technologies, even though they are still used much less than fossil fuels: in 2017, for instance, sun and wind produced just 6 percent of the world's electric supply, but they made up 45 percent of the growth in supply, and the cost of sun and wind power continues to fall by about 20 percent with each doubling of capacity. Bond's analysis suggests that in the next few years, they will represent all the growth. We will then reach peak use of fossil fuels, not because we're running out of them but because renewables will have become so cheap that anyone needing a new energy supply will likely turn to solar or wind power.

Bond writes that in the 2020s-probably the early 2020s-the demand for fossil fuels will stop growing. The turning point in such transitions "is typically the moment when the impact is felt in financial markets"-when stock prices tumble and never recover. Who is going to invest in an industry that is clearly destined to shrink? Though we'll still be using lots of oil, its price should fall if it has to compete with the price of sunshine. Hence the huge investments in pipelines and tankers and undersea exploration will be increasingly unrecoverable. Precisely how long it will take is impossible to predict, but the outcome seems clear.

This transition is already obvious in the coal markets. To understand, for example, why Peabody, the world's largest private-sector coal-mining company, went from being on Fortune's list of most admired companies in 2008 to bankrupt in 2016, consider its difficulties in expanding its market. India, until very recently, was expected to provide much of the growth for coal. As late as 2015, its coal use was expected to triple by 2030; the country was resisting global efforts like the Paris Accords to rein in its carbon emissions. But the price of renewable energy began to fall precipitously, and because India suffered from dire air pollution but has inexhaustible supplies of sunlight, its use of solar power started to increase dramatically.

"In 2017, the price in India of wind and solar power dropped 50 percent to $35-40 a megawatt hour," said Tim Buckley, who analyzes Australasia/South Asia for the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. "Fifty percent in one year. And a zero inflation indexation for the next twenty-five years. Just amazing." This price drop occurred not because India subsidizes renewable energy (it doesn't), but because engineers did such a good job of making solar panels more efficient. The cost of power from a newly built coal plant using Indian coal is, by comparison, about $60 a megawatt hour. If you have to import the coal, the price of power is $70/megawatt hour. And solar's $40/megawatt hour price is guaranteed not to rise over the thirty-year life of the contract the suppliers sign-their bids are based on building and then running a facility for the life of the contract. No wonder that over the first nine months of 2018, India installed forty times more capacity for renewable than for coal-fired power.

Much the same is happening around the world. President Trump has spared no effort to help the coal industry, but more coal-fired power plants shut down during the first two years of his presidency than during President Obama's entire first term. American coal consumption fell 4 percent in 2018. In 2017 Kentucky's coal-mining museum installed solar panels on its roof in order to save $10,000 a year on electric costs.

And it's not just coal that's on the way out. Natural gas was supposed to be the planet's next big fuel source, since it produces less carbon than coal (although its production releases great clouds of methane, another potent greenhouse gas). While fracking has produced high volumes of natural gas-especially in the US, where it was pioneered-wells tend to dry out quickly, and despite enormous investment, the International Energy Agency estimates that between 2010 and 2014 the shale industry operated with negative cash flows of more than $200 billion.

Even "cheap" natural gas is now starting to look expensive compared to the combination of sun, wind, and batteries. In an essay for Vox, the energy reporter David Roberts listed all the natural gas plants-many of them designed to provide quick bursts of "peaking power" on heavy demand days-whose planned construction has been canceled in recent months, as utilities and banks began to figure out that over the projected forty-year life of a new plant, there was a good chance it would become an uncompetitive "stranded asset" producing pointlessly expensive electricity. The chief executive of one US solar company said in January, "I can beat a gas peaker anywhere in the country today with a solar-plus-storage power plant. Who in their right mind today would build a new gas peaker? We are a factor of two cheaper."

You get some sense of the future from the stunning fall of General Electric. "They were the world leader, the thought leader, the finance leader, the IT leader," said Buckley. "And their share price is down 70 percent in the last two and a half years, in a market that's up 50 percent. It's a thermal power-reliant basket case." That's in large measure because manufacturing turbines for coal- and gas-fired power plants was a significant part of the company's business; in 2015, it hugely expanded that capacity by buying its largest European competitor, Alstom. But then the bottom dropped out of the industry as proposed new generating plants couldn't find financing. GE makes wind turbines, too, but that's a lower-margin business with many more competitors. The fall in GE's stock has meant "hundreds of billions of dollars of shareholder value reduction," according to Buckley. Last June, after more than a century, General Electric was dropped from the Dow Industrial Index, replaced by a drugstore chain.

Oil was believed to be better protected than coal and gas from competition because cars have long needed liquid fuel to run. But electric cars are becoming affordable for more and more consumers. In 2017 only three million out of a worldwide total of 800 million cars were electric, but they accounted for 22 percent of the growth in global car sales. The world's leading car companies have become convinced that electric vehicles will account for all the growth in demand by the early 2020s. That's why, by January 2018, they had committed $90 billion to developing electric vehicles-and why, by 2017, Tesla was worth more than GM or Ford. And for every Tesla that rolls off the assembly line, Chinese manufacturers are producing five electric cars. Auto analysts are already warning consumers to think twice before buying a gas-powered car, since its resale value may fall dramatically over just the next three years.

The oil companies tell investors not to worry. In mid-February Exxon announced that it had found huge new deepwater oil deposits off the coast of Guyana, and that overall it planned to pump 25 percent more oil and gas in 2025 than it had in 2017, which, it claimed, would triple its profits. In September, OPEC released a report predicting higher oil demand due to increases in jet travel and the production of plastics, which are made from petrochemicals. Analysts like Bond are skeptical of such claims. Although oil has been the planet's most important industry for over a century, over the last five years it's been the slowest-growing sector of the stock market. Petrochemicals and jet fuel are indeed harder to replace with renewable energy, but they make up a relatively small part of the market for oil-even if demand for them grows, it can't offset the losses in core uses like pumping gas for cars.

The recent history of European utilities may provide a more realistic preview of what will happen in the rest of the world. In the early years of this century the German government increased the pace of decarbonization, subsidizing solar and wind energy. As more and cheaper renewable supplies became available, the existing utilities were slow to react. They had built new gas plants to account for what they assumed would be rising demand, but solar and wind cut into that demand, and the price of electricity began to fall. So far, European utilities have written down about $150 billion in stranded assets: fossil fuel installations that are no longer needed. "In the Netherlands, by the time the last three coal plants were turned on, their owners had already written them down by 70 percent," said Buckley. And they're scheduled to close by 2030.

One obvious question is why the fossil fuel companies don't simply transform themselves into renewable energy companies and use the huge cash flows they still have to gain control of future markets. "They're putting under ten percent of capital expenditures into renewables," says Bond, which translates into about one percent of their balance sheets. As Exxon's CEO recently told The Economist, "we have much higher expectations for the returns on the capital we invest" than sun and wind can provide. From their point of view, there's some money to be made from putting up solar panels, but once they're on the roof the sunshine is free. For corporations that made vast profits by selling their customers fuel every day for a century, that's not an attractive business model.

Another important question is whether this transition will crash the world economy. Investors have money at risk, and not just in fossil fuel shares: a shift of this size will affect car companies, machinery companies, and many others. But as the climate activist and billionaire investor Tom Steyer has pointed out, most technological transitions damage existing industries without wrecking the economy because they create value even as they destroy it. "Look at the communications industry over the last two decades, as the Internet came of age," Steyer said. "Some of the most valuable businesses on the planet that had been around for more than a century got decimated. I mean, Newsweek sold for a dollar. But a lot of new businesses got created that were worth more."

And banks have had at least some warning to prepare for this enormous shift. In 2015 Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, began issuing strident warnings about stranded fossil fuel assets, urging the banks he regulated to begin taking close account of their exposure. He gave a memorable speech on the trading floor of Lloyds of London, pointing out that if countries made serious efforts to meet climate targets, vast amounts of money spent on oil wells, pipelines, coal mines, and tankers would be written off. He had to issue the warnings, he said, because the normal time horizon for financiers was too short. "Once climate change becomes a defining issue for financial stability, it may already be too late," he said, noting that "the exposure of UK investors, including insurance companies, to these shifts is potentially huge." He urged them to start preparing for a lower-carbon world. Companies, he said, should "disclose not only what they are emitting today, but how they plan their transition to the net-zero world of the future."

Carney's warning-which reverberated out from the financial center of London-seems to have spurred a reevaluation of fossil fuel exposure by many big financial institutions. I>"The major banks are now addressing this risk, whereas three years ago they were asleep to it," Buckley said. "Now in Australia all our banks have climate policy, where they didn't three years ago. We didn't even have data." A report in late February from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis showed that since 2013 a hundred major banks had restricted coal lending or gotten out of the business altogether.

A far more important question, of course, is whether the changes now underway will happen fast enough to alter our grim climatic future. Here, the answers are less positive. Scientists, conservative by nature, have routinely underestimated the pace of planetary disruption: the enormous melt now observed at the poles was not supposed to happen until late in the century, for instance, and the galloping pace of ocean acidification wasn't even recognized as a threat two decades ago. That means that we have very little time to act-not enough, certainly, for business cycles to do the job alone. The latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, released last autumn, laid out a strict timeline: we need to effectively halve our use of fossil fuels within a dozen years to prevent the worst damage, which is why activists and politicians have called for dramatic government interventions like the Green New Deal recently proposed by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her Democratic colleagues.

Government action is required because, for one thing, there's vast inertia in the energy system. Plants are built to last decades, and even if plants that use fossil fuels aren't built today, banks will insist that existing ones operate long enough to pay back their investments. And in some parts of the world, fossil fuel expansion continues: China, for instance, is trying to close down its own coal-fired power plants because its cities are choked in smog, but Chinese companies are using their expertise to build coal-powered plants abroad. Buckley noted that the opportunities for bribes on colossal projects mean, among other things, that a number of developing countries may indeed continue down the fossil fuel path.

In countries like the US or Canada, the political power of the fossil fuel industry is still considerable. Barack Obama boasted to a Texas audience last year that during his administration the US had passed Russia and Saudi Arabia as the biggest producer of hydrocarbons; even the progressive Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau recently spent billions in tax dollars to finance a pipeline designed to increase exports from the country's environmentally ruinous tar sands.

That's why the most important aspect of the decline of fossil fuel companies might be a corresponding decline in their political influence. The coal, oil, and gas industries have been the architects of the disinformation campaigns that kept us from responding earlier to scientists' warnings about climate change, and they are using every trick they know to keep us from making a quick transition. History indicates that "the oil majors-and those who invest in them-will...bribe and fund Trump-type candidates and use their money in any other way" to slow down change,"" Carlota Perez said.

But change is here. While engineers are doing their part by making renewable energy cheaper, activists are mounting efforts to weaken the companies directly, and there are some signs that the pressure is working. An effort that I helped launch beginning in 2012 to persuade universities and churches to divest their fossil fuel shares has spread rapidly and become the largest divestment campaign in history. Over the last five years, insurance companies and sovereign wealth funds have joined in, raising the total value of endowments and portfolios involved to over $8 trillion, and prompting Shell to declare the campaign a material risk to its future business. (Early last year, the governments of New York City and London pledged to divest their pension funds, and the entire nation of Ireland joined in midsummer.) Campaigns have also targeted banks like Wells Fargo and JP Morgan Chase to force them to stop supporting particular pipelines.

The bottom line is clear: to the degree that the fossil fuel industry is weakened by some combination of technological change and furious activism, the chances for serious change increase. If energy barons like the Koch Brothers and Exxon remain flush with cash, they can probably delay or undermine initiatives like the Green New Deal. But if their businesses are under strong pressure from a rapidly changing energy economy, polities around the world would be freer to take the steps that scientists insist are necessary with the speed required to prevent global catastrophe. Should these changes happen quickly, they could do more than save us from planetary peril.

"A New World," the January report on the geopolitics of energy transformation from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), is one of the most hopeful documents I've read in a long time: it points out that for the 80 percent of the world's population that lives in countries that are net importers of fossil fuels, the transition to renewable energy means the end of a crushing import burden. "The long-term consequences of a switch to renewables are very positive," said Bond, who helped write the report. "Fossil fuels are produced by a small number of companies and countries and the benefits flow to a small number of people. With solar and wind you get a lot more local jobs, a lot more local investment. You get a whole new geopolitics."

Take India, the poorest large nation on earth. It imports 80 percent of its oil and 40 percent of its gas, along with much of its coal. Currently that costs the country $240 billion a year; if, as its leaders hope, its economy grows 7 percent annually, that figure would double in a decade-which is economically unsustainable. "Renewables also offer developing economies an opportunity to leapfrog, not only fossil fuels, but, to some extent, the need for a centralized electricity grid," the IRENA report concludes.

Countries in Africa and South Asia have a golden opportunity to avoid expensive fixed investments in fossil fuels and centralized grids by adopting mini-grids and decentralized solar and wind energy deployed off-grid-just as they jumped straight to mobile phones and obviated the need to lay expensive copper-wired telephone networks.
The changeover, of course, would be rocky. Beyond the effects on the global economy or on particular companies and their investors, countries like Russia or Saudi Arabia (and increasingly parts of the US) are essentially oil companies themselves. As these petro-states face a fall in the value of their only real asset, there is a risk of destabilization on a vast scale; in fact, it's possible that we're in the early stages of this process, with mischief and cruelty increasingly on display as countries with no other source of economic power struggle to maintain profits while they can. The worst damage will, as usual, be inflicted on the poorest oil producers: Kuwait might be able to manage the transition, but could Angola?

Yet overall the benefits would be immeasurable. Imagine a world in which the tortured politics of the Middle East weren't magnified in importance by the value of the hydrocarbons beneath its sands. And imagine a world in which the greatest driver of climate change-the unrelenting political power of the fossil-fuel industry-had begun to shrink. The question, of course, is whether we can reach that new world in time.

(c) 2019 Bill McKibben is Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College, co-founder of 350.org. His most recent book is Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet.






"Speaking Truth To Power" Is No Substitute For Taking Power
By Norman Solomon

Progressives often applaud the idea of "speaking truth to power." But this concept is hazardous. If taken literally and deployed as a single-minded strategy, it can divert attention from the crucial need to take power away from those who abuse it. Political movements don't get very far if they depend on appealing to the moral scruples of the powerful.

While noting that "power without love is reckless and abusive," Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. pointed out that "love without power is sentimental and anemic." All too often, progressive activists don't realize their own potential power when they rely on ethical arguments to persuade authorities. Appealing to the hearts of people who run a heartless system is rarely effective.

Humane principles are low priorities in the profit-driven scheme of things, as the devastating impacts of economic inequality and militarism attest. By and large, rapacious power already knows what it's doing - from Wall Street and the boardrooms of mega-corporations to the Pentagon and the top echelons of the "national security" state.

Speaking truth to power is fine, but it's far more important - and potentially transformational - to focus on public education efforts, agitation and organizing that speaks truth about power while challenging it. Only by mobilizing to take power can we realistically hope to overcome and dismantle the dominant power structures.

In 1967, when Dr. King was describing "love without power" as "sentimental and anemic," the most meaningful efforts to express love for Vietnamese people involved striving to stop the U.S. government from killing them. Speaking truth to powerful elites could be helpful, but for Americans the moral imperative was to speak truth to each other in a process of trying to end the war.

In 2019, the U.S. war system is bombing many countries while predatory economic policies are ravaging uncounted lives across the United States and much of the globe. Urging humanistic change without developing credible threats to take power is too much like supplication.

Many progressive activists have been recognizing the limits of reliance on lobbying or traditional street protests. Those activities are always necessary, and their importance should not be underestimated. Still, they're insufficient without credible threats of primary challenges to oust elected officials. Enhanced ongoing leverage is one of the many benefits as the left builds electoral muscle.

Inspiring daily leadership is now coming from such new members of Congress as Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley. Even more important is the fact that the activists who got them elected have shown what can be done when movements get serious and methodical about gaining power.

At federal and state levels, where ballots routinely include partisan labels, such victories have occurred within Democratic primaries. Instead of being disempowered by the labels, progressives have been learning how to win elections in spite of corporations' odious sway over the Democratic Party.

The empowered grassroots organizing that made possible the elections of Tlaib, Omar, Ocasio-Cortez and Pressley last year has inspired many thousands of activists fighting for economic justice, human rights and a sustainable planet. Those four women - and other recent progressive arrivals in Congress, such as Pramila Jayapal and Ro Khanna - are forming the nucleus of a House power bloc in synergy with like-minded forces around the country.

Four-term Rep. Mark Pocan, who co-chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus with Jayapal, aptly put it this way: "People in D.C. think we're the center of the universe, but we're not - the people who elect us are the center of the universe. It's when you have that kind of activism in the districts, you're really going to be impactful." The way to maximize impact is to step up progressive capacities across the United States, inside and outside of electoral arenas.

Winning elective power can and must be part of social movements that are engaged in wresting power away from dominant authorities in an array of walks of life - while nurturing alternative institutions. Progressive power of enduring value grows from deep roots in communities, with huge potential to weaken the undemocratic power of the current oligarchy.

It's understandable that many on the left have been uneasy about power and uncomfortable with really trying to gain it. After all, prevalent power is so often oppressive and illegitimate. And efforts to galvanize progressive power have too often devolved into toxic opportunism and co-option. But chronic misuses of power don't negate the practical possibilities of power created in solidarity, with the goal of advancing humane values.

"Power is always dangerous," Edward Abbey asserted. "Power attracts the worst and corrupts the best." Yet democratic consolidations of power offer the opportunity to throw a monkey wrench into self-marginalizing orthodoxies that dismiss all power as inherently pernicious. While harmful power is contemptuous of democracy, legitimate power requires it.

Imperative transformations go way beyond who's in elective office. Routinely, economic power boils down to political power; the structures of corporate domination and undemocratic governance are enmeshed in the same overall system. Out of necessity, a wide range of progressive movements now challenge how institutions are structured to perpetuate elite power and mass disempowerment.

"Power, properly understood, is the ability to achieve purpose," Dr. King wrote. "It is the strength required to bring about social, political or economic changes. In this sense power is not only desirable but necessary in order to implement the demands of love and justice."

Attitudes, assumptions and understanding largely determine the potential for desperately needed changes in governance - from city halls and state legislatures to Congress and the White House. What's at stake is far more than who wins elections; actual democracy requires gaining accountability from the winners when they're in office.

"Speaking truth to power" doesn't do much unless people can consolidate power to serve the interests of the many instead of the privileged few. Exercised from the bottom up, power has the potential to make democracy real.

Right now, ending GOP rule is necessary - and also insufficient. Being "better than Republicans" is a low bar that most Democratic candidates clear with ease. But quests for social justice, human rights, environmental protection, civil liberties and peace will require high standards that only grassroots power can achieve.

(c) 2019 Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death" and "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State."







The Imperial Racist Saga Comes Home, Where It Began
By Glen Ford

What makes US progressives think that the Lords of Capital will be more tolerant of austerity-busting 'socialists' here at home than they are with Venezuela?

The historical U.S. embrace of apartheid Israel is rooted in much more than "the Benjamins" wielded by Zionist lobbies. The two most lawless states on the planet revel in their shared roguishness, bound together by race-based colonial ideologies that sanction and celebrate their crimes against humanity. Were it not for the U.S. superpower, there would be no State of Israel, an outpost of Europe in Arabia that most white Americans perceive as inhabited by kindred souls surrounded by savages, like the settlers of American mythology. It is the United States' "exceptional" duty to arm and protect the "chosen" people of Israel, whose expansionist imperatives are perceived as benign and defensive, mimicking American Manifest Destiny.

White evangelicals -- once and still the greatest source of anti-Semitism in the U.S. - are paradoxically the firmest supporters of Warrior Israel and its Bible-mandated role in ushering in the coming "tribulation" and Christ's defeat of evil. Accordingly, 53 percent of evangelical Christians supported President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, while 63 percent of the general U.S. public opposed the move. Rev. William Alberts, the "Counterpunch Minister," writes that 87 percent of U.S. white evangelicals rallied to George Bush's Iraq war because their spiritual leaders thought the invasion "would create exciting new prospects for proselytizing Muslims." Rev. Albert calls this "Biblically legitimized imperialism," but white Americans don't require divine sanction to find excuses for killing non-whites. It's how the West was won, and how the U.S. became a superpower.

Racialized imperialism is embedded in the white American worldview, including most whites that call themselves "progressives" - which is why so many of them support U.S. "humanitarian" military intervention in places like Libya and Syria, and now Venezuela. Humanitarian interventionists share with George Bush and Donald Trump the belief that the U.S. has the right - no, the responsibility - to use its superpowers to "protect" other peoples from their own governments. No such right exists in international law or the United Nations Charter, but American exceptionalism trumps international law -- in white American imaginations.

Even the congressional "progressives" that co-sponsored Rep. Ro Khanna's bill demanding an end to economic sanctions and military threats against Venezuela feel the necessity to meddle in - and to lie about -- that country's internal affairs. In a letter to Secretary of State Pompeo, Congressman Khanna felt compelled to buttress the U.S. disinformation campaign against Venezuela, even as he urged a halt to Washington's. aggression:

"We strongly condemn the Maduro government's actions, including repression of Venezuelan civil society, failed economic policy, the killing of unarmed protestors, disregard for the rule of law, the holding of unfair elections, and blocking humanitarian aid from entering the country. However, threats of military intervention against a failed autocrat who poses no threat to our national security are simply unacceptable."
With friends like these... But, that's what passes for progressivism in the belly of the empire. Imperialism permeates U.S. culture, infecting most American brands of leftism and even "socialism." Khanna is a lying propaganda-spewer who only seems to be a decent human being when compared to his interlocutor, Mike Pompeo. In a press briefing at the State Department this week, Pompeo accomplished a total inversion of truth.

U.S. cyber warfare is widely seen as behind the power blackout in Venezuela. Pompeo gloated at the paralysis and hardship inflicted on millions. "Over the past few days," he bragged, "Venezuelans have been thrown literally into darkness thanks to a massive electrical blackout. Patients awaiting treatment in hospitals are dying, food is rotting, telecommunication networks are entirely collapsing." Whodonit? Socialism did it.

"Nicolas Maduro promised Venezuelans a better life in a socialist paradise, and he delivered on the socialism part, which has proved time and time again is a recipe for economic ruin," said Pompeo. "The paradise part, not so much. Just consider the facts. The World Bank ranks Venezuela's business environment 188th out of 190 countries. Only Somalia and Eritrea are worse. The United States did not do that."

Yes, it did. The U.S. has waged a generation-long campaign of economic sabotage and political destabilization against Venezuela, culminating in the outright theft of every national asset that Washington and its imperial allies could lay their hands on, supposedly on behalf of their designated Quisling, Juan Guaido. The U.S. has imposed a virtual blockade -- an act of war - designed to cause widespread misery and bloody revolt. More than coveting oil, of which the U.S. has plenty, the aim is to overthrow the government and discredit the very idea of socialism.

"One month of food today for an average Venezuelan costs a family more than 100 times the monthly minimum wage," said the top U.S. diplomat, gleefully. "Nearly 70 percent of Venezuelan hospitals lack basic medicines. More than 90 percent of Venezuelans live below the poverty line. All of this brought to you by the socialism of Maduro."

The Cubans, who have endured three generations of blockade by the U.S, are portrayed as the other evil aggressors against the Venezuelan people, having cruelly sent nearly 20,000 doctors to treat millions of patients in the poor corners of the country. Together, according to Pompeo, the Maduro and Cuban governments constitute, "a deeply corrupt ruling class."

Imperialism steals even the language of revolution. It is a system of omni-theft that is trying to snatch away the world's future because it has no future of its own, not even a glimmer of a vision. Nor does U.S. imperialism have a legal leg to stand on, which is why Washington's lawless aggressions are instead backed by "coalitions of the willing" comprised mainly of former colonial powers, the English-speaking white settler states, and various Arab kleptocracies. Three quarters of the world's nations continue to recognize the lawful government in Caracas, while about 50, mostly white-led states side with the superpower. The South American nations that aligned with Washington are led by white elites that oppress their Black, brown and indigenous populations, as was the case in Venezuela before the election of Nicolas Maduro's late predecessor, Hugo Chavez.

"The nations that support Maduro are, by the nature of this illegitimate regime, carrying out the very foreign interventionism of which they accuse others," said Pompeo, aiming his remarks at Russia and China but finally acknowledging that Washington stands accused of multitudinous crimes against humanity and against peace.

The U.S. empire is once again drawing a line around the planet, as George Bush did at the outset of his war against Iraq. "Today," said Pompeo, "the United States is drawing a clear line between those who aid the forces of repression and those who give life to the Venezuelan people's democratic dreams." Or, as Bush put it, "You are with us or against us." The strategy, this time, is to assault the trading rights of all nations that do not participate in the illegal blockade of Venezuela, in an attempt to create a global regime of ILLEGALITY under the dominion of the United States. And, to outlaw socialism within that domain.

U.S. progressives like Rep. Khanna heap lies and scorn on the Venezuelan project while demanding that the U.S. government refrain from illegal economic and military warfare against Caracas. They thus hope to shield themselves from charges of "aiding the forces of repression," as defined by Pompeo and his ilk. What makes them think that the Lords of Capital -- the class that the national security state and the leaders of both corporate parties answer to - will be more tolerant of austerity-busting "socialists" here at home than they are with Venezuela, where the socialist project had, in fact, never gone beyond the most tentative stages before the oil price collapse and U.S. sanctions plunged the economy in crisis? (See "A Venezuelan Union Leader's Analysis of Crisis" in this week's BAR.)

The chickens of ideologically justified U.S. lawlessness abroad are coming home to roost -- maybe as soon as this presidential cycle, which threatens to pit a nominal socialist who is unacceptable to much of the ruling class against an undependable incumbent who has been largely delegitimized by the bulk of the ruling class-allied media. What are the Lords of Capital and their operatives capable of doing to avoid losing direct control of both governing parties in the headquarters state of imperialism?

Maduro knows he has to watch his back. Bernie better learn.

(c) 2019 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com







Five Benefits Of Life Without NATO
By David Swanson

This week, war industry employee Hans Binnendijk claimed in the weapons-advertisement conveyance Defense News that we all get five big benefits from NATO:

1) Russia refrains from seizing Eastern Europe.
2) The United States gets to have bases in Europe from which to attack the Middle East, and gets to trade stuff with Europe.
3) Europe's militaries are united into one big happy military.
4) Asian countries refrain from cooperating with each other.
5) The world is at peace and governed by treaties and agreements.
Of the United Nations' 18 major human rights treaties, the United States is party to 5, fewer than any other nation on earth, except Bhutan (4), and tied with Malaysia, Myanmar, and South Sudan, a country torn by warfare since its creation in 2011. The United States is punishing officials of the International Criminal Court for seeking to uphold the rule of law. The United States has torn up the Iran agreement and the INF treaty and removed itself from the Paris Climate Agreement. The United States has military operations active in 14 countries and has bombed at least 7 countries this year. The world is not at peace, and the rule of law is precisely what the U.S. government does not want.

So much for point #5 above. Understanding the fundamental dishonesty of point #5 ought to help us with the other four.

Russia spends on its military 7 percent of what NATO does, and Trump is pushing hard and mostly successfully for NATO to spend more, and for more nations to join NATO (as long as they aren't Russia). Russia has been reducing its military spending each year. The best way to prevent attacks on countries would be to actually support the rule of law, diplomacy, cooperation, and aid, and to cease engaging in attacks on countries (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, etc.)

While the United States has bases in and trades with dozens of non-NATO countries, the people of the United States and of the world would be better off without those bases and with fairer trade.

While Europe is perfectly capable of uniting its militaries, it and the world would be better off if it got rid of them.

While Asian nations are perfectly capable of starting their own wars, they and the world would be better off with former members of NATO pushing for peace.

Former members? Well, just imagine the benefits of a post-NATO world.

First and foremost, we would have more time to devote in the coming years and decades to drooling over the ever-imminent revelations of the holy Mueller Report.

I'm kidding.

But there would be some significant benefits. Here are five:

1) Fewer wars.
2) A Green New Deal beyond its advocates' wildest imaginings with not a dollar needing to be taxed or created.
3) An end to starvation, the lack of clean water, and various diseases.
4) Global good feelings for the former-NATO members who accomplished #3 for loose pocket change.
5) Schools so well funded and well run that people learn the history of NATO.
(c) 2019 David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.




Sen. Thom Tillis penned an op-ed announcing his intention to vote against Trump's emergency declaration weeks before reversing course and voting Trump's way.




Republicans Who Voted Against Trump Are Not 'Heroes'
By William Rivers Pitt

It has been a bruising run of days for Donald Trump. The trouble began last Thursday with kicks to both kidneys, delivered by a cadre of his Republican Snuggle Bunnies in the House and Senate. The first, from the House, was a rare and resounding show of unity from that chamber when they passed a nonbinding demand that the Mueller report be made public.

The motion was carried by a thumping margin of 420-0, yet still had to gum its food for lack of teeth -but even its purely symbolic nature was still too powerful for Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), who blocked the demand upon its arrival in the Senate. Why? He wants another investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails first, because of course he does.

Later that day, 12 Republican senators broke ranks and voted with every Democrat to nullify Trump's emergency declaration, joining the 13 House Republicans who also voted with the Democrats to nullify it. Trump, in response, threw a tantrum that was incredible even by his lofty standards. In an aftermath interview with Breitbart, he went so far as to threaten the political left with violence from police, soldiers and biker gangs because he didn't get his way.

White supremacist terrorism in New Zealand derailed Trump's rant, affording him the opportunity to offer victims of that attack something he called "warmest sympathy" ("thoughts and prayers" are apparently only available to stateside victims of white supremacist terrorism). The vote, however, stood, and Trump quickly deployed the first veto of his administration. Personally, I hope it tasted like ashes.

(The horrific anti-immigrant attack in New Zealand put the White House in a tight spot: How to explain away the antics of a racist-coddling president? Pro tip: When the top administrator in the executive branch feels compelled to tell Fox News the boss isn't a white supremacist, and underscores that assertion with a complaint about how many times he's had to say the boss isn't a white supremacist, the boss is probably a white supremacist. At this point, the only people who buy what Mick Mulvaney was peddling are the ones who don't know what the words mean. Even white supremacists are like, Dude, enough already, the cat's all the way out of the bag.)

Because these are Republicans we're talking about, there was as usual an abundance of absurdity freighting the Senate vote. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina) in particular covered himself in obsequious shame and eternal ignominy during the process. A few weeks earlier, Tillis had authored an op-ed for The Washington Post announcing his intention to vote against Trump's emergency declaration, stating any support for it had "no intellectual honesty." Flash forward to Thursday, and Tillis -who is facing re-election next year - abruptly reversed himself and voted Trump's way.

The funny part about Tillis's vote is his explanation for why he did it. It appears the senator was "reassured" by "indications" Trump would be willing to tamp down presidential emergency powers via new legislation if his current declaration was allowed to stand. Where Tillis got these indications remains a mystery, because a group of GOP senators offered Trump a compromise to do exactly that just days before, only to have Trump curse at them before throwing them out of the building. My guess? Trump wants those emergency powers fully intact if he loses the 2020 election, but then again, I'm a worrier.

Thom "Against It For It" Tillis is a marvelous avatar for the modern Republican phenomenon. Television pundits were dislocating shoulders trying to pat themselves on the back because the GOP, according to those pundits' oft-offered predictions, was finally coming around. Clearly, they claimed, this is a whole new day. Those 12 brave Republican senators and those 13 brave House members have finally thrown off the yoke of Trump's tyranny and everything will be different now, you'll see.

All-day wrong. The cowardice of Thom Tillis was not the exception, but the rule. Tillis is looking at tight 2020 numbers and is terrified of running for re-election with his name newly inked on Trump's enemies list, so he folded. The senators and House members who voted against Trump were just doing their own electoral math and figured they were safe enough to survive his wrath. One way or another, we'll know two Novembers from now.

In point of fact, this was maybe the easiest vote those 25 Republicans ever cast, because each and every one of them knows they have two sturdy firewalls backing them up. Trump vetoed the nullification of his declaration before the ink was dry, and a two-thirds majority in both chambers is needed to override a veto. Mathematically, that translates into 20 Republican senators voting with every Democrat and Independent to make 67, and 54 Republican House members voting with every Democrat and Independent to make 290, to reach the override threshold.

The possibility of finding those 20 Republican votes to override in the Senate is Oort-cloud remote, but you can still see it with a strong enough telescope. The chances of finding 54 Republican votes in the House, however, are quite simply nil. This is still politics, so circumstances could change in the intervening days, but I wouldn't bet on it with free money.

That "whole new day" isn't coming any time soon. "Haute Doormat" is still the fashion in D.C. Republican circles. There are no heroes in the GOP.

(c) 2019 William Rivers Pitt is a senior editor and lead columnist at Truthout. He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know, The Greatest Sedition Is Silence and House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation. His fourth book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co_written with Dahr Jamail, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in New Hampshire.




A demonstrator hangs banners from multi-faith group Turn to Love during a vigil at New Zealand House in London, Friday, March 15, 2019




Why Is It So Hard for Our President To Condemn White Supremacy And Islamophobia?
The horrific attack on mosques in New Zealand tells us, again, that racist hatred is a global terrorist threat. It must be identified as such, and robustly rejected.
By John Nichols

Donald Trump had a chance to boldly condemn white supremacy and Islamophobia on Friday morning. Instead, after issuing a muffled statement of sympathy for the victims of murderous attacks on mosques in New Zealand, the president of the United States went back to complaining, in great and extended detail, that special counsel Robert Mueller "should never have been appointed and there should be no Mueller Report."

On one of the darkest days in history for Muslims worldwide, the president's initial response to the New Zealand killings failed to mention Muslims, Islam, Islamophobia, white supremacy, racism, bigotry or violent hatred that targets people based on their religion.

Trump will, hopefully, come around to more explicitly and effectively condemning the latest acts of mass violence directed at places of worship by white supremacists. But his every action reminds us that we have a president whose priorities are so warped that he cannot bring himself to lead in the moment when leadership is most needed.

Even the president's supporters, who make excuses for what they tell us are his "lapses," and who so ardently reject any suggestion that he encourages or tolerates bigotry, have to recognize that Trump is failing miserably as a leader. The United States is a powerful, influential country. But the measures of American leadership on the global stage are fluid. They depend on the quality of the individuals who occupy positions of public trust and authority.

Yet, whenever the moment demands more, Trump offers less. After the killing of at least 49 people in mass shootings at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch, it was immediately clear that this was what New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern identified it as: "a terrorist attack" committed by "people who I would describe as having extremist views that have absolutely no place in New Zealand and in fact have no place in the world."

By Friday morning in the United States, Jonathan Greenblatt of the Anti-Defamation League was telling NPR that the Christchurch attack "clearly was motivated by white supremacy."

"We've got a big problem on our hands and we need to recognize that social media allows white supremacy, much like other forms of hate, to travel across borders, and we've got to recognize it for the global terror threat that it really is," warned Greenblatt, who noted that the killer in Christchurch had referenced white supremacists and white nationalists who had engaged in mass murder in the United States and other countries.

The right response to a big problem is to identify it, and bluntly call it out, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel did when she reacted with grief and horror to the fact that, once again, "citizens who were attacked and murdered out of racist hatred." And as Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan did when he condemned those those who "collectively" and "deliberately" choose to demonize Muslims, and warned that <>"I blame these increasing terror attacks on the current Islamophobia."

There is no point in mincing words about the threat posed by white supremacy and Islamophobia. Indeed, mincing words sends precisely the wrong signal.

Yet President Trump's response on Friday morning, delivered long after details of the killer's white supremacist and Islamophobic sentiments were broadcast around the world, was a muted tweet that read: "My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the Mosques. 49 innocent people have so senselessly died, with so many more seriously injured. The U.S. stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!"

"Warm sympathy" is all fine and good. But, according to news reports, the Australian-born suspect in the mass shooting wrote a 87-page manifesto that described the American president as "a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose." Trump, who invited an international outcry with his suggestion that there were "very fine people" among white supremacists and white nationalists who mounted violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, should have recognized the need to respond in a dramatically better way this time.

This was an opportunity for the president to lead. He refused to take it Friday morning, and he explicitly rejected it Friday afternoon-when asked if he saw white nationalism as a mounting global threat, Trump's reply was dismissive: "I don't really. I think it's a small group of people that have very, very serious problems."

So what did concern Trump on this awful day? Instead of condemning white supremacy, he erupted in an extended Twitter tantrum about the Mueller inquiry, which concluded with an all-caps declaration that "THIS SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN TO A PRESIDENT AGAIN!"

The language of "Never Again!" should have been employed on Friday. But not with regard to a legitimate investigation into political and presidential wrongdoing. It should have been employed to condemn racist hatred and violence that has targeted churches, synagogues, and mosques. But Trump could not get there. Instead, he literally repeating his attacks on the woman who won 2.9 million more votes than he did in the 2016 presidential election. Yes, Trump found time on Friday morning to attack "Crooked Hillary," but no time to attack white supremacy or Islamophobia.

And what was former secretary of state Hillary Clinton saying at roughly the same time?

"My heart breaks for New Zealand & the global Muslim community. We must continue to fight the perpetuation and normalization of Islamophobia and racism in all its forms," wrote Clinton. "White supremacist terrorists must be condemned by leaders everywhere. Their murderous hatred must be stopped."

That is how a president of the United States is supposed to respond in a moment of horror that demands clarity-and leadership.

(c) 2019 John Nichols John Nichols is associate editor of The Capital Times. Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.








Deadly Greenhouse Gas - SF6
By James Donahue

There has been great concern over the greenhouse gasses known to be collecting in the atmosphere and blamed for the dangerous heating of our planet. But there are other greenhouse gasses that include fluoride and yet another little reported gas called SF6 stemming from the industrial use of fluoride that should also be of great concern.

Sulfur hexafluoride is an inorganic, colorless, odorless, non-flammable, and extremely potent greenhouse gas. Its formula contains six parts of fluoride and one part sulfur. This interesting gas is being used to insulate electric transmission lines, make "air cushioned" shoes and compressed canisters used to blow up automobile tires.

The electric companies also are using the stuff to insulate high voltage lines, circuit breakers and other equipment used in electricity transmission. The gas escapes through seals and is released when equipment is damaged. Older circuit breakers are found to leak the gas at a faster rate than new equipment.

SF6 emissions also escape into the atmosphere during the production of magnesium and the casting of magnesium parts, one report noted. The story said producers of magnesium ingots and die-cast magnesium parts, now popular in automobile production, use the gas to prevent rapid oxidation when molten metal comes into direct contact with air.

Some people believe the gas is being used secretly in military equipment. It is on a list of chemicals used in weapons and for military purposes.

So why should this information be of interest to us? It is because SF6 is found to be an extremely stable gas, with a life span of at least 3,000 years, and it traps a fantastic amount of heat. As it escapes into the Earth's atmosphere, it becomes a deadly greenhouse gas that is a major contributor to the overall warming (and destruction) of the planet.

While officials assure us that the amount of emissions of SF6 is relatively low, scientists concerned about greenhouse gasses are beginning to believe there is more of it being released into the atmosphere than originally thought.

The gas has been found in samples taken by instrument-laden balloons 21 miles in the stratosphere, and even in air trapped under layers of Antarctic snow. That is shocking because fluoride did not exist in any quantity before the research started on atomic energy during World War II, and SF6 was not developed until sometime in the 1950s.

An article by Andreas Schuld, head of Parents of Fluoride Poisoned Children, charges that hundreds and thousands of tons of fluorides are being emitted yearly by industry.

"Industrial emissions of fluoride compounds produce elevated concentrations in the atmosphere. Hydrogen fluoride can exist as a particle, dissolving in clouds, fog, rain, dew or snow," Schuld wrote. "In clouds and moist air it will travel along the air currents until it is deposited as wet acid deposition (acid rain, acid fog, etc.) In waterways it readily mixes with water."

Schuld goes on to warn that "Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), emitted by the electric power industry, is now among six greenhouse gases specifically targeted by the international community, through the Kyoto and Paris protocols, for emission reductions to control global warming. . .

"SF6 is about 23,900 times more destructive, pound for pound, than carbon dioxide over the course of 100 years. EPA estimates that some seven-million metric tons of carbon equivalent (MMTCE) escaped from electric power systems in 1996 alone. The concentration of SF6 in the atmosphere has reportedly increased by two orders of magnitude since 1970."

It appears that the human race has been on a death trip ever since American scientists produced the atomic bomb. This weapon and its by-products have been more destructive than anyone ever imagined.

(c) 2019 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles.




Palestinians carry a wounded protester east of Gaza City on 5 October 2018.



We Must Apply Our Universal Values To All Nations. Only Then Will We Achieve Peace
Valuing human rights also means applying the same standards to our friends and our enemies
By Ilhan Omar

Since I began my first term in Congress, I have sought to speak openly and honestly about the scale of the issues our country faces - whether it is ending the crippling burden of student debt, tackling the existential threat of climate change or making sure no one in one of the richest countries in the world dies from lack of health care. As a survivor of war and a refugee, I have also sought to have an honest conversation about U.S. foreign policy, militarism and our role in the world.

This question of how the United States engages in conflict abroad is deeply personal to me. I fled my home country of Somalia when I was 8 years old from a conflict that the United States later engaged in. I spent the next four years in a refugee camp in Kenya, where I experienced and witnessed unspeakable suffering from those who, like me, had lost everything because of war.

I saw firsthand the devastating toll of war. And I dreamed of one day coming to the United States of America - a land that promised peace and opportunity regardless of one's faith or ethnicity. But I also saw how America's image in the world is undermined when we don't live up to those values. And I witnessed how our continuous involvement in foreign conflicts - even those undertaken with the best of intentions - can damage our own reputation abroad.

I believe in an inclusive foreign policy - one that centers on human rights, justice and peace as the pillars of America's engagement in the world, one that brings our troops home and truly makes military action a last resort. This is a vision that centers on the experiences of the people directly affected by conflict, that takes into account the long-term effects of U.S. engagement in war and that is sincere about our values regardless of short-term political convenience.

This means reorienting our foreign affairs to focus on diplomacy and economic and cultural engagement. At a time when we spend more on our military than the next seven countries combined, our global armed presence is often the most immediate contact people in the developing world have with the United States. National security experts across the political spectrum agree that we don't need nearly 800 military bases outside the United States to keep our country safe.

Valuing human rights also means applying the same standards to our friends and our enemies. We do not have the credibility to support those fighting for human rights in Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua if we do not also support those fighting for human rights in Honduras, Guatemala and Brazil. Our criticisms of oppression and regional instability caused by Iran are not legitimate if we do not hold Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to the same standards.

And we cannot continue to turn a blind eye to repression in Saudi Arabia - a country that is consistently ranked among the worst of the worst human rights offenders. Whether it is the murder of dissenters such as Jamal Khashoggi or war crimes against civilian populations in Yemen, we must hold all of our allies to the same international standards as our enemies.

This vision also applies to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. U.S. support for Israel has a long history. The founding of Israel 70 years ago was built on the Jewish people's connection to their historical homeland, as well as the urgency of establishing a nation in the wake of the horror of the Holocaust and the centuries of anti-Semitic oppression leading up to it. Many of the founders of Israel were themselves refugees who survived indescribable horrors.

We must acknowledge that this is also the historical homeland of Palestinians. And without a state, the Palestinian people live in a state of permanent refugeehood and displacement. This, too, is a refugee crisis, and they, too, deserve freedom and dignity.

A balanced, inclusive approach to the conflict recognizes the shared desire for security and freedom of both peoples. I support a two-state solution, with internationally recognized borders, which allows for both Israelis and Palestinians to have their own sanctuaries and self-determination. This has been official bipartisan U.S. policy across two decades and has been supported by each of the most recent Israeli and Palestinian leaders, as well as the consensus of the Israeli security establishment. As Jim Mattis, who later was President Trump's defense secretary, said in 2011, "The current situation between those two peoples is unsustainable."

Working toward peace in the region also means holding everyone involved accountable for actions that undermine the path to peace - because without justice, there can never be a lasting peace. When I criticize certain Israeli government actions in Gaza or settlements in the West Bank, it is because I believe these actions not only threaten the possibility of peace in the region - they also threaten the United States' own national security interests.

My goal in speaking out at all times has been to encourage both sides to move toward a peaceful two-state solution. We need to reinsert this call back into the public debate with urgency. Both parties must come to the table for a final peace deal; violence will not bring us any closer to that day.

Peace and respect for human rights: These are universal values. They are what drove Americans to organize and protest for equal rights and civil rights. They are what motivated nonviolent movements from South Africa to South Asia to the American South. These are the values that propelled me to get involved in public life, and I know they are the values that drove Minnesotans to give a Somali American refugee a chance at representing them in Congress.

Let us apply these universal values to all nations. Only then will our world achieve peace.

(c) 2019 Ilhan Omar, a Democrat, represents Minnesota in the U.S. House of Representatives. Follow her on Twitter: @Ilhan







This Candidate Has A Message
By Heather Digby Parton

I don't know if Democrats are listening, but I hope they are:

Bill Clinton had a consequential presidency when it came to the economy. He brought down the Reagan-era deficits, helping spark the strongest economic boom in decades, and he made the tax code more progressive.

Barack Obama had an even more consequential presidency. He halted the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. He did so in part by signing a stimulus bill full of spending on education, wind energy and other programs with lasting benefits. He also put in place new regulations for Wall Street and extended health insurance to almost 20 million people.

Yet for all that both men accomplished, neither changed the fundamental direction of the American economy.

By the end of Obama's eight years, G.D.P. growth was still disappointing. Middle-class and poor families were still receiving less than their fair share of that growth. Median household wealth was lower than it had been two decades earlier. In the most shocking sign of struggle, average life expectancy has declined in recent years. Rich Americans, on the other hand, continue to thrive, amassing Gilded Age-level concentrations of wealth. The resulting frustration helped make possible the rise of Donald Trump.

This history suggests that the Democratic Party's economic agenda needs to become more ambitious. Modest changes in the top marginal tax rate or in middle-class tax credits aren't enough. The country needs an economic policy that measures up to the scale of our challenges.

So far, only one candidate among the 2020 contenders has an agenda with this level of ambition: Elizabeth Warren.

Her platform aims to reform American capitalism so that it once again works well for most American families. The recent tradition in Democratic politics has been different. It has been largely to accept that big companies are going to get bigger and do everything they can to hold down workers' pay. The government will then try to improve things through income taxes and benefit programs.

Warren is trying to treat not just the symptoms but the underlying disease. She has proposed a universal child-care and pre-K program that echoes the universal high school movement of the early 20th century. She favors not only a tougher approach to future mergers, as many Democrats do, but also a breakup of Facebook and other tech companies that have come to resemble monopolies. She wants to require corporations to include worker representatives on their boards - to end the era of "shareholder-value maximization," in which companies care almost exclusively about the interests of their shareholders, often at the expense of their workers, their communities and their country.

Warren was also the first high-profile politician to call for an annual wealth tax, on fortunes greater than $50 million. This tax is the logical extension of research by the economist Thomas Piketty and others, which has shown how extreme wealth perpetuates itself. Historically, such concentration has often led to the decline of powerful societies. Warren, unlike some Democrats, comfortably explains that she is not socialist. She is a capitalist and, like Franklin D. Roosevelt, is trying to save American capitalism from its own excesses.

"Sometimes, bigger ideas are more possible to accomplish," Warren told me during a recent conversation about the economy at her Washington apartment. "Because you can inspire people."

Before I go further, I want to offer two caveats. One, Warren's grasp of the country's problems does not necessarily mean that she should be the Democratic nominee for president. Politics is not an expertise competition. The nominee should be, and most likely will be, the candidate who best inspires voters. Maybe that will be Warren, or maybe it will be someone else.

Two, I don't agree with all of Warren's proposals. Her plan to break up the big technology companies seems too uniform, for example. Her plan to put workers on corporate boards may not be as practical as, say, a big federal push to increase workers' bargaining power.

But whatever my - or your - specific objections, Warren is identifying the right problems and offering a coherent vision for a post-Obama Democratic agenda. "Clinton and Obama focused on boosting growth and redistribution," Gabriel Zucman, a University of California, Berkeley, economist who has advised Warren, says. "Warren is focusing on how pretax income can be made more equal."

She isn't simply proposing larger versions of Obama's (worthy) tax cut for middle-class and poor families, as several 2020 candidates have. Her plans are also much more detailed than those of Bernie Sanders (who, to his credit, pushed the party to become bolder). And she has avoided getting trapped in the health insurance wonkery that too often dominates progressive policy debates. The future of the republic does not actually depend on the relative sizes of Medicare, Medicaid and the private market.

It may, however, depend on whether Americans' incomes and living standards are consistently rising.

In the months to come, I hope that every other 2020 candidate offers answers to the questions that Warren has taken on: How can corporate America again help create a prosperous, growing middle class, as it did from the 1940s through the 1970s? How can the power of giant corporations - over consumers, workers and smaller businesses - be constrained? How can the radical levels of wealth inequality be reversed? How can the yawning opportunity gaps for children of different backgrounds be reduced? How can the next president make changes that will endure, rather than be undone by a future president, as both Obama's and Clinton's top-end tax increases were?

[...]

"A lot of people don't believe you can actually make any change on economics," Warren says. I would add another, even larger, example to the pattern: Obamacare. Trump has undone many of Obama's more modest changes, on taxes, climate and other areas. But Obama's grandest accomplishment endures. For all its flaws, it proved too popular to kill.

Warren's agenda is a series of such bold ideas. She isn't pushing for a byzantine system of tax credits for child care. She wants a universal program of pre-K and child care, administered locally, with higher pay for teachers and affordable tuition for families.

And to anyone who asks, "But how will you pay for that?" Warren has an answer. Her wealth tax would raise more than $250 billion a year, about four times the estimated cost of universal child care. She is, in her populist way, the fiscal conservative in the campaign.

The wealth-tax proposal has shifted the national debate more than any other 2020 proposal so far. It has made people realize the most middle-class families pay an annual tax on their largest asset - called the property tax. But the wealthy do not, because financial holdings aren't taxed the way real estate is. Some center-left economists have criticized a wealth tax as too disruptive, potentially threatening some family-owned businesses, but many others have praised it. "This type of wealth tax," Gene Sperling, the former top economic adviser to Obama and both Clintons, has said, "is essential."

Perhaps the biggest reason to be hopeful about Warren's larger agenda - separate from her fate as a candidate - is that it's popular. Americans are deeply divided on social issues like abortion, religion and, to some extent, immigration and guns. But a clear majority favors a wealth tax. A clear majority favors universal child care. A clear majority favors aggressive government action to check corporate power and create decent-paying jobs. On economic issues, as Warren says, "The progressive agenda is America's agenda."

To other 2020 candidates, I'd say: Be ambitious. Tell the country how you would end the new Gilded Age and improve people's lives. Presidential campaigns are the time for big ideas.

Wall Street hates her with a burning passion, perhaps even more than they hate Sanders, because of her highly detailed, targeted tax proposal on the very wealthy. She has all the right enemies.

So far, she doesn't seem to be exciting progressives very much but hopefully they will take her agenda seriously.

(c) 2019 Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.




Freda HusonChief Freda Huson, who leads the people at the Unist'ot'en camp near Kitimat, B.C., shares
their message of fighting to protect the land and water and to exert traditional values and priorities.




Government Should Heed Unist'ot'en Message
By David Suzuki

I visited the Unist'ot'en camp near Kitimat, B.C., a year ago. The people, led by Chief Freda Huson, are trying to re-establish a sustainable relationship with territory that has enabled them to flourish for millennia. Ever since colonization and settlement, much of that traditional way of life has been lost or seriously constrained. These are modern people with all the accoutrements of the globalized economy.

As is obvious from news photos of the RCMP intrusion, winter at Unist'ot'en camp is cold, which makes it all the more remarkable. It did not spring up in protest against a pipeline; it began in 2010, in a search for a way to return to living on the land year-round.

Canada's government has accepted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and committed to implementing the recommendations of our Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Indigenous rights, legitimacy of Indian Act-imposed band councils, sovereignty over land and other issues will reverberate through the country for years.

In fighting to protect the land and water and exert traditional values and priorities, the Unist'ot'en pipeline opposition is at the forefront of a fight for all people in Canada. In November 2018, an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change special report warned that global average temperature has risen by 1 C since the Industrial Revolution. If it increases above another half degree, we'll experience climate chaos.

The scale of humanity's fossil fuel use, especially by industrialized nations, created this crisis. The IPCC urged emissions reductions of 45 per cent by 2030 and 100 per cent by 2050 to keep within a 1.5 C rise. Failure to achieve these targets will have unpredictable consequences as the ecological, social and economic repercussions of our current trajectory threaten the foundations of human civilization. That dramatic scenario comes from a virtually unanimous conclusion of the scientific community.

After almost a decade with a government that did all it could to ignore climate change, Canada elected a new one in 2015. On the global stage at UN climate talks in Paris, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada was "back." He not only committed us to the Paris target of keeping temperature rise between 1.5 and 2 C but announced a preference for the lower target. It was a welcome relief to have a government that based its position on science, not ideology or economics.

Despite that promise, Canada has taken little action to achieve the goal, even with the obvious "low-hanging fruit" that could immediately be implemented: cease subsidies to the fossil fuel industry; put money saved into rapid renewable energy expansion, public transit and electrification of all sectors; halt approval of new exploration or drilling; help workers with skills in the fossil fuel sector transition to renewables; phase out extreme energy sources, including oilsands, deep-sea drilling and fracking; and begin a massive program of public education to reduce energy use and convert to sustainable energy sources.

Trudeau once remarked, "No country would find 173 billion barrels of oil in the ground and leave them there." It was shocking to hear this justification for expanding oilsands production. He proudly announced approval of a $40-billion facility to liquefy fracked gas, calling it a transition fuel to help China reduce coal dependence, even though fracked gas has a carbon footprint at least as bad as coal (because of fugitive methane release), requires vast amounts of water and induces earthquakes. The government approved building a megadam at Site C on the Peace River, even though that land could be the breadbasket for the North. And when Kinder Morgan rejected financing of a multibillion-dollar pipeline to increase the volume of bitumen transported from the oilsands to the Port of Vancouver, the government bought the project on behalf of all Canadians!

When we elevate the economy above the atmosphere on our list of priorities, we raise a human construct over the air we breathe - air that brings us climate, weather and seasons. The people at Unist'ot'en camp show us a perspective and value system based on our immersion in and dependence on the biosphere for our health, well-being and survival. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude for leading the struggle for us all and those yet to be born.

(c) 2019 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co_founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.








Texas Refuses To Use Voting Machines With A Paper Trail
It is unreal that this is even up for discussion after 2016.
By Charles P. Pierce

The good folks at The Brennan Center For Justice have sent up yet another red flag concerning the fundamental integrity of the way we elect people to public office. This is not the first one of these they've hoisted. In fact, they've flown enough red flags on this issue that their headquarters must look like Red Square on May Day. Here, they're warning us that our voting machines are still one baby step above Pong. Too many of our localities are relying on machines well past warranty. (Officials in 31 states told the researchers that they have to replace their machines before the 2020 election. I won't be standing on one leg waiting for that.) Some of the machines are so old that there are no spare parts for them any more.

But the real glitch in the system is its continued and inexplicable ambivalence regarding a paper trail. There are a lot of states that have committed to adding a paper backup to their current systems, but a number of them haven't done it yet, for reasons ranging from economic considerations to the process getting gummed up in recalcitrant state legislatures. And then, there's Texas.

While only one local election official (from Texas) responded that he hoped to replace his current paperless system with another paperless system, it is clear he is not entirely alone. Despite the recent attention to election security, and repeated warnings by security experts that voting machines should have a voter-verified paper backup, several counties in Texas have purchased machines without a paper trail since 2016.

A voter uses an electronic voting machine.
[Rokey] Suleman [an election official in South Carolina] expressed dismay at the idea of continuing to purchase paperless equipment. "Why? Why? Especially with heightened sense of paranoia about outside influence into our election systems. We need to have a way to independently validate voters' intent away from tabulation equipment. I don't understand how any election official could really consider a totally paperless system in this day and age." Shantiel Soeder, election and compliance administrator at Ohio's Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, shared Suleman's sentiment. "At the end of the day, we have that ballot that we can always go back to. We still find it important to print out receipts for other transactions in our lives. To have absolutely no paper, it's almost irresponsible. These are people's votes!"

Six of the 12 states (Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, New Jersey, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania) that still use paperless electronic machines as the primary polling place equipment in at least some jurisdictions have either passed laws or taken other actions to replace those systems with machines that produce a paper backup. Of those, Delaware appears to have secured enough funds to replace its systems this year. New Jersey and Pennsylvania have yet to secure sufficient funding for such purchases. In Georgia and South Carolina, state election officials have requested funds to do so, and those requests are currently being considered by the state legislatures. Louisiana appears to have secured sufficient funds to replace equipment, but its purchase of new machines is stalled due to a controversy over how the state conducted its bidding process.

I often think that, had the Supreme Court not blown up the constitutional process of deciding presidential elections in 2000, the exercise of having a constitutional crisis decided by the Constitution would have maintained a general consensus that we're all in this together, at least for the purposes of elections. I was younger then.

(c) 2019 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.







The Quotable Quote-



"Politeness and civility are the best capital ever invested in business. Large stores, gilt signs, flaming advertisements, will all prove unavailing if you or your employees treat your patrons abruptly. The truth is, the more kind and liberal a man is, the more generous will be the patronage bestowed upon him."
~~~ P. T. Barnum









Open Letter To Boeing
Passengers First, Ground the 737 MAX 8 Now!
Ralph Nader

I called Boeing's office in Washington, D.C. about the new Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia, with over 300 fatalities, to give them some advice. They were too busy to call back, so I'm conveying some measures they should take fast in this open letter.

Dear Boeing Executives:

You don't seem to see the writing on the Wall. Your Boeing 737 MAX 8 is being grounded by more and more countries and foreign airlines. Airline passengers in the U.S. are switching away their reservations on this plane and there are signs of an organized boycott of this aircraft which is used by the major U.S. airlines.

It is only a matter of time before the bereaved families organize, before members of Congress start forcefully speaking out, as Senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal just did. Both Senators are on the Senate's Aviation Subcommittee.

Soon the technical dissenters in the reported "heated discussions" with FAA, the airline industry, the pilot unions and your company will see some internal e-mails, memos, and whistleblowers go public. Technical dissent cannot be repressed indefinitely.

Your own lawyers should be counselling you that Boeing is on public notice and that, heaven forbid, a Boeing 737 MAX 8 crash in this country, the arrogance of your algorithms overpowering the pilots, can move law enforcement to investigate potential personal criminal negligence.

Clearly, you run a company used to having its way. Used to having a patsy FAA, with its "tombstone mentality," used to delaying airworthiness directives that should be put out immediately, and not diluted and delayed, used to getting free government R&D and used to avoiding state and federal taxes.

Stop digging in your heels. Tell the airlines to stop digging in their heels. Public trust in your Boeing 737 MAX 8 is eroding fast. Get ahead of the curve that is surely heading your way.

You see the Boeing 737 MAX 8 as being a large part of your passenger aircraft business. You've delivered over 300 planes and reportedly have over 3000 orders. Over the years, your engineers have solved many technical problems brilliantly. The domestic safety record of the major airlines, using your equipment, has been very commendable for more than a decade. A lot of the credit goes to Boeing as well as to the airline pilots, flight attendants, traffic controllers, and mechanics.

But there is always a time when commercial dictates and a rush to get ahead of Airbus result in too many corners being cut. There is always a time when the proverbial rubber band, being stretched suddenly snaps. This aircraft is not an old DC-9 being phased out. The stakes involved in your erring on the side of safety and letting your engineers exercise their "options for revision," affect the future of a good part of Boeing.

Tell the U.S. airlines and other recalcitrant airlines overseas to ground their 737 MAX 8 planes and then you do what is necessary to restore the engineering integrity of your company. You did this before with the Boeing 787 in 2013.

Once an aircraft starts to carry a stigma in the minds of passengers, time is of the essence. You know all about branding's pluses and minuses. It is better to act now before being forced to act, whether by Congress, the FAA, a prosecution or another aircraft disaster that could have been avoided.

For safety,
Ralph Nader
Co-author of Collision Course:
The Truth About Airline Safety

(c) 2019 Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His latest book is The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for Our American Future. Other recent books include, The Seventeen Traditions: Lessons from an American Childhood, Getting Steamed to Overcome Corporatism: Build It Together to Win, and "Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us" (a novel).








Wet Supremacists
Why moving the US embassy to Jerusalem is a good ideat
By Jane Stillwater

Don't get me wrong. I really do believe that Americans need to finally stop kowtowing to Zionist corruption and influence-peddling and, yes, I still continue to think that Zionists are war-mongering White supremacists who are doing Judaism all sorts of harm. And for this reason, I totally object to moving our U.S. embassy away from Tel Aviv. But there is an even bigger issue to consider here -- that it's never a good idea to waste American taxpayers' money on still maintaining an embassy in Tel Aviv, a city that is pretty much doomed.

"But why is that?" you might ask. "Seems counter-intuitive. Isn't half the world already pissed off that Trump, the Zionists and AIPAC are trying to politicize three of the world's greatest religions by moving the Zionists' capital to Jerusalem?"

Sure, there is that. But new data has also come to light. I'm currently reading Dahr Jamail's scary new book, The End of Ice, and he says that the last time our planet had such a high rate of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere as it now does, sea levels all over the world rose 130 feet. However, with methane gas being steadily released in the Arctic, the sea levels will rise even higher. And if there is a sudden large methane-release event, which is entirely possible, only one in seven human beings will be left after that. If we're lucky.

But assuming that sea-levels will only rise 130 feet in the not-too-far-distant future, it will still be "Bye-bye Tel Aviv." Tel Aviv is only 16.4 feet above sea level. American diplomats would have a far better chance of not having to swim for their lives if they were in Jerusalem (2,474 feet). Makes sense to me.

Unless the Mediterranean Sea is going to get blocked off at Gibraltar in the near future, Tel Aviv is gonna be the new Atlantis -- right up there with the Vatican (63 feet). And even Mecca (909 feet) could still be up for grabs by the Red Sea. Only the Buddhists in Tibet (11,995 feet) will be absolutely safe! Perhaps Israelis and Saudis should spend more time worrying about how to keep their countries from drowning and less time worrying about how to keep murdering babies in Yemen and Gaza.

The moral of this story? That we all need to wake up to the fact that America's real enemies aren't Syria, Venezuela, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya or even Native American water protectors, heartland anti-frackers or Alaskan ecologists. America's real enemy is the fossil fuel industry. And hopefully it's not too late to do something about that. PS: Let's not forget that Washington DC (zero feet) will also be underwater soon too. But then isn't the District of Columbia a Swamp already?

PPS: I'll be in Washington to protest at the AIPAC convention next week. Wish me luck. Perhaps Ilhan Omar will be on the picket line too! Or even A.O.C. But I'll definitely not run into Kushner or Trump on the picket line however. Bet ya anything they're be inside the AIPAC conference itself, selling America out.

(c) 2019 Jane Stillwater. Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world. And while you're at it, please buy my books!





The Dead Letter Office-





Kellyanne gives the corporate salute!

Heil Trump,

Dear Berater Conway,

Congratulations, you have just been awarded the "Vidkun Quisling Award!" Your name will now live throughout history with such past award winners as Marcus Junius Brutus, Judas Iscariot, Benedict Arnold, George Stephanopoulos, Donald J. Trump, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Prescott Bush, Sam Bush, Fredo Bush, Kate Bush, Kyle Busch, Anheuser Busch, Vidkun Quisling, and last year's winner Volksjudge John (the enforcer) Roberts.

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your attempts to sir up the rabbel by having them read the entire 74-page manifesto of Anders Breivik, Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Demoncratic Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Trump at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 04-01-2019. We salute you frau Conway, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump






Trump Cornered
By Robert Reich

What does a megalomaniacal president of the United States do when he's cornered? We'll soon find out.

House Democrats are beginning a series of investigations and hearings into Donald Trump.

Senate Republicans have begun to desert him: Twelve defected on the wall; seven refused to back Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen. Almost all have gone on record that they want Robert Mueller's report made public.

That report, not incidentally, appears imminent.

Trump cannot abide losing. His ego can't contain humiliation. He is incapable of shame.

So what does a cornered Trump do? For starters, he raises the specter of violence against his political opponents.

In an interview with Breitbart News published on Wednesday, Trump noted: "I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump - I have the tough people, but they don't play it tough - until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad."

In case you missed it, "they" are Trump's political opponents, including House Democrats and the mainstream media. And the "certain point" could be impeachment but is more likely to be reached if the House investigations reveal crimes Trump committed both before and after he became president.

"I actually think that the people on the right are tougher," Trump warned in the same interview. "But the left plays it cuter and tougher. Like with all the nonsense that they do in Congress ... with all this invest[igations] - that's all they want to do is - you know, they do things that are nasty."

Here we have it, in a nutshell. In Trump's mind, congressional investigations that could cause him shame and humiliation, and quite possibly result in a prison sentence, will be countered by forces loyal to him: the police, the military, and vigilante groups like Bikers for Trump.

To put it another way, the work of a democratically elected Congress will be met by Trump loyalists who, he asserts, are "tougher" because they have brute force on their side.

It is impossible to know what bizarre scenario is playing out in Trump's head. But another hint came on Friday, when, in the wake of the horrific shootings at two mosques in New Zealand, Trump told reporters he didn't believe white nationalism is on the rise.

"I don't really," he said. "I think it's a small group of people."

As usual, the facts are otherwise. The number of hate groups in the US increased 7% last year, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Hate crime reports increased 17%, according to the FBI.

Recall that 11 people were murdered at Pittsburgh's Tree of Life synagogue on 27 October, at the hands of a white supremacist. A few days earlier, a white supremacist murdered two black people at a grocery store in Jeffersontown, Kentucky.

It is hardly the first time Trump has played down white nationalism, or signaled his support for those who might use violence on his behalf.

At a Las Vegas rally during the 2016 campaign he said he'd like to punch a protester in the face; at another event encouraged his supporters to "knock the crap" out of any protester making trouble.

"I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees," he said.

But as Trump becomes ever more entrapped in the web of his own misdeeds, his threats are becoming more ominous.

At a rally for Missouri Senate candidate Josh Hawley in September, Trump said his opponents "were lucky that we're peaceful." He continued: "Law enforcement, military, construction workers, Bikers for Trump They travel all over the country ... They've been great." But, he warned, "these are tough people ... they're peaceful people, and antifa and all, they'd better hope they stay that way."

In February, the White House Correspondents' Association called on Trump to make it "absolutely clear to his supporters that violence against reporters is unacceptable.". To date, he has not.

Meanwhile, Steve Bannon, another of Trump's bottom feeders, predicted that "2019 is going to be the most vitriolic year in American politics since the civil war."

Throughout his campaign and presidency, Trump has given cover to some of the most vile bigots in America. As he grows more desperate, he is giving them encouragement.

It is our job - and the job of all senators and representatives in Congress, regardless of party, and of military leaders - to condemn hatred and violence in all its forms, even when the president of the United States makes excuses for it.

And it is up to all of us to reaffirm our commitment to democracy, even when the president of the United States threatens to unleash the military and vigilantes against it.

(c) 2019 Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His web site is www.robertreich.org.









Manning And The New Inquisition
By Chris Hedges

The U.S. government, determined to extradite and try Julian Assange for espionage, must find a way to separate what Assange and WikiLeaks did in publishing classified material leaked to them by Chelsea Manning from what The New York Times and The Washington Post did in publishing the same material. There is no federal law that prohibits the press from publishing government secrets. It is a crime, however, to steal them. The long persecution of Manning, who on March 8 was sent back to jail for refusing to testify before a grand jury, is about this issue.

If Manning, a former Army private, admits she was instructed by WikiLeaks and Assange in how to obtain and pass on the leaked material, which exposed U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq, the publisher could be tried for the theft of classified documents. The prosecution of government whistleblowers was accelerated during the Obama administration, which under the Espionage Act charged eight people with leaking to the media-Thomas Drake, Shamai Leibowitz, Stephen Kim, Manning, Donald Sachtleben, Jeffrey Sterling, John Kiriakou and Edward Snowden. By the time Donald Trump took office, the vital connection between investigative reporters and sources inside the government had been severed.

Manning, who worked as an Army intelligence analyst in Iraq in 2009, provided WikiLeaks with over 500,000 documents copied from military and government archives, including the "Collateral Murder" video footage of an Army helicopter gunning down a group of unarmed civilians that included two Reuters journalists. She was arrested in 2010 and found guilty in 2013.

The campaign to criminalize whistleblowing has, by default, left the exposure of government lies, fraud and crimes to those who have the skills or access, as Manning and Edward Snowden did, needed to hack into or otherwise obtain government electronic documents. This is why hackers, and those who publish their material such as Assange and WikiLeaks, are being relentlessly persecuted. The goal of the corporate state is to shroud in total secrecy the inner workings of power, especially those activities that violate the law. Movement toward this goal is very far advanced. The failure of news organizations such as The New York Times and The Washington Post to vigorously defend Manning and Assange will soon come back to haunt them. The corporate state hardly intends to stop with Manning and Assange. The target is the press itself.

"If we actually had a functioning judicial system and an independent press, Manning would have been a witness for the prosecution against the war criminals he helped expose," I wrote after I and Cornel West attended Manning's sentencing in 2013 at Fort Meade, Md. "He would not have been headed, bound and shackled, to the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. His testimony would have ensured that those who waged illegal war, tortured, lied to the public, monitored our electronic communications and ordered the gunning down of unarmed civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen were sent to Fort Leavenworth's cells. If we had a functioning judiciary the hundreds of rapes and murders Manning made public would be investigated. The officials and generals who lied to us when they said they did not keep a record of civilian dead would be held to account for the 109,032 'violent deaths' in Iraq, including those of 66,081 civilians. The pilots in the 'Collateral Murder' video, which showed the helicopter attack on unarmed civilians in Baghdad that left nine dead, including two Reuters journalists, would be court-martialed."

Manning has always insisted her leak of the classified documents and videos was prompted solely by her own conscience. She has refused to implicate Assange and WikiLeaks. Earlier this month, although President Barack Obama in 2010 commuted her 35-year sentence after she served seven years, she was jailed again for refusing to answer questions before a secret grand jury investigating Assange and WikiLeaks. While incarcerated previously, Manning endured long periods in solitary confinement and torture. She twice attempted to commit suicide in prison. She knows from painful experience the myriad ways the system can break you psychologically and physically. And yet she has steadfastly refused to give false testimony in court on behalf of the government. Her moral probity and courage are perhaps the last thin line of defense for WikiLeaks and its publisher, whose health is deteriorating in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has been holed up since 2012.

Manning-who was known as Bradley Manning in the Army-has undergone gender reassignment surgery and needs frequent medical monitoring. Judge Claude M. Hilton, however, dismissed a request by her lawyers for house arrest. Manning was granted immunity by prosecutors of the Eastern District of Virginia, and because she had immunity she was unable to invoke the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination or to have her attorney present. The judge found her in contempt of court and sent her to a federal facility in Alexandria, Va. Hilton, who has long been a handmaiden of the military and intelligence organs, has vowed to hold her there until she agrees to testify or until the grand jury is disbanded, which could mean 18 months or longer behind bars. Manning said any questioning of her by the grand jury is a violation of First, Fourth and Sixth Amendment rights. She said she will not cooperate with the grand jury.> "All of the substantive questions pertained to my disclosures of information to the public in 2010-answers I provided in extensive testimony, during my court-martial in 2013," she said on March 7, the day before she was jailed.

"I will not comply with this, or any other grand jury," she said later in a statement issued from jail. "Imprisoning me for my refusal to answer questions only subjects me to additional punishment for my repeatedly-stated ethical objections to the grand jury system."

"The grand jury's questions pertained to disclosures from nine years ago and took place six years after an in-depth computer forensics case, in which I testified for almost a full day about these events," she went on. "I stand by my previous public testimony."

Manning reiterated that she "will not participate in a secret process that I morally object to, particularly one that has been historically used to entrap and persecute activists for protected political speech."

The New York Times, Britain's The Guardian, Spain's El PaIs, France's Le Monde and Germany's Der Spiegel all published the WikiLeaks files provided by Manning. How could they not? WikiLeaks had shamed them into doing their jobs. But once they took the incendiary material from Manning and Assange, these organizations callously abandoned them. No doubt they assume that by joining the lynch mob organized against the two they will be spared. They must not read history. What is taking place is a series of incremental steps designed to strangle the press and cement into place an American version of China's totalitarian capitalism. President Trump has often proclaimed his deep animus for news outlets such as The New York Times and The Washington Post, referring to them as the "enemy of the people." Any legal tools given to the administration to shut down these news outlets, or at least hollow them of content, will be used eagerly by the president.

The prosecutions of government whistleblowers under the Espionage Act, warrantless wiretapping, monitoring of the communications of Americans and the persecution of Manning and Assange are parts of an interconnected process of preventing any of us from peering at the machinery of state. The resulting secrecy is vital for totalitarian systems. The global elites, their ruling ideology of neoliberalism exposed as a con, have had enough of us examining and questioning their abuses, pillage and crimes.

"The national security state can try to reduce our activity," Assange told me during one of our meetings at the embassy in London. "It can close the neck a little tighter. But there are three forces working against it. The first is the massive surveillance required to protect its communication, including the nature of its cryptology. In the military everyone now has an ID card with a little chip on it, so you know who is logged into what. A system this vast is prone to deterioration and breakdown. Secondly, there is widespread knowledge not only of how to leak, but how to leak and not be caught, how to even avoid suspicion that you are leaking. The military and intelligence systems collect a vast amount of information and move it around quickly. This means you can also get it out quickly. There will always be people within the system that have an agenda to defy authority. Yes, there are general deterrents, such as when the DOJ [Department of Justice] prosecutes and indicts someone. They can discourage people from engaging in this behavior. But the opposite is also true. When that behavior is successful it is an example. It encourages others. This is why they want to eliminate all who provide this encouragement."

"The medium-term perspective is very good," he said. "The education of young people takes place on the internet. You cannot hire anyone who is skilled in any field without them having been educated on the internet. The military, the CIA, the FBI, all have no choice but to hire from a pool of people that have been educated on the internet. This means they are hiring our moles in vast numbers. And this means that these organizations will see their capacity to control information diminish as more and more people with our values are hired."

The long term is not so sanguine. Assange, along with three co-authors-Jacob Appelbaum, Andy Muller-Maguhn and Jeremie Zimmermann-wrote a book titled "Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet." It warns that we are "galloping into a new transnational dystopia." The internet has become not only a tool to educate, they write, but the mechanism to create a "Postmodern Surveillance Dystopia" that is supranational and dominated by global corporate power. This new system of global control will "merge global humanity into one giant grid of mass surveillance and mass control."

"All communications will be surveilled, permanently recorded, permanently tracked, each individual in all their interactions permanently identified as that individual to this new Establishment, from birth to death," Assange says in the book. "I think that can only produce a very controlling atmosphere."

"How can a normal person be free within that system?" he asks. "[He or she] simply cannot, it's impossible."

It is only through encryption that we can protect ourselves, the authors argue, and only by breaking through the digital walls of secrecy erected by the power elite can we expose the abuses of power. But ultimately, they say, as the tools of the state become more sophisticated, even these mechanisms of opposition will be difficult and perhaps impossible to use.

"The internet, our greatest tool of emancipation," Assange writes, "has been transformed into the most dangerous facilitator of totalitarianism we have ever seen."

That is where we are headed. A few resist. Assange and Manning are two. Those who stand by passively as they are persecuted will be next.

(c) 2019 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. Keep up with Chris Hedges' latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at www.truthdig.com/chris_hedges.




The Cartoon Corner-

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ John Darko ~~~








To End On A Happy Note-





Have You Seen This-






Parting Shots-





America Stuck On A Roller Coaster Of Spin
By Will Durst

The problem is more obvious than half a leech on the sneeze guard of a salad bar: we're paying much too much attention. Our national obsession with new news concerning the man blundering about the Oval Office has obscured any overview at all. He has the unique ability to blot out the big picture. Especially when standing sideways.

Every time we think we've hit rock bottom, another subbasement gets dug, hidden in a cloud of smoke and mirrors. Donald Trump hasn't just lowered the bar-he's buried it so deep you couldn't come close with a hydraulic excavator equipped with space-age sonar.

We still pour over his tweets like anthropologists dusting the bones of a calcified civilization, but the outrage is wearing off. After decades of press pimping and 17 months of campaigning and two years into his reign of error, the world is becoming numb to the president's dumpy trumpy trampy shenanigans.

It becomes routine. Every day, the White House is discovered to be involved in some dastardly situation. Either there's proof they did something they swore up and down they didn't do, or they get caught in an astonishing lie. Or somebody says something out loud that would have sunk a previous Administration so deep in a swamp of disgust they'd be found floating upside down like tropical fish after a week of not being fed.

It's a dance, and all the players know their part. The Smoky Hokey Pokey. We got ourselves a bad case of the deja voodoos.

First comes the shocking revelation. The hasty denials soon follow.

The New York Times trots out evidence that not only did this happen, but even more egregious stuff went down as well.

The official White House response-courtesy of Sarah Huckabee Sanders-is that it never happened, and even if it did, Barack Obama did way worse.

Democrats argue amongst themselves over whether the latest disclosure is an impeachable offense- coming to no conclusion.

Mitch McConnell makes turtle noises.

Donald Trump says he doesn't know the guy, can't remember what happened, everyone besides him is lying and that the revelation bolsters his claim there was "no collusion."

Some Republicans are outraged, then they aren't, then support the president.

The Washington Post needs three pages to print a graph that documents this sort of thing happened 18 gazillion times before.

Fox News hosts call for more hearings on Benghazi.

Some pundit on MSNBC becomes so overwrought a blood vessel in his head bursts on air.

Donald Trump's base laughs and laughs.

Rudy Giuliani says he doesn't believe it happened, and if it did, Hillary Clinton would have done way worse. And she's a woman.

Bernie Sanders supporters say this is further proof that Bernie would have won.

The National Enquirer prints a cover photo with Michelle Obama holding a bloody knife in front of what looks to be a pizza parlor.

Mike Pence says he doesn't know anything.

Snow falls. Or it doesn't.

And then, the very next day, it starts up all over again. This nation is stuck on a rollercoaster of spin with a minimum of two years before we can get off.

Strap on your seat belts extra tight, everybody. It's going to be a bumpy rest of a first term. Pass the Dramamine please.

(c) 2019 Will Durst is an award-winning, nationally acclaimed comedian, columnist, and former sod farmer in New Berlin, Wisconsin. For past columns, commentaries and a calendar of personal appearances, including the Big Fat Year End Kiss Off Comedy Show XXVI, Dec 26- Jan 6, please please visit: willdurst.com




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Issues & Alibis Vol 19 # 11 (c) 03/22/2019


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