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In This Edition

Norman Solomon returns with, "An All-Out War On Democracy Is Now Underway In The US."

Ralph Nader says it's, "Time For AG Garland To Create Corporate Crime Database."

Margaret Kimberley examines, "Nicaragua In The Multipolar World."

Jim Hightower reports, "Jeff Bezos Reveals His Desiccated Soul."

Bernie Sanders returns with, "As We Honor Dr. King, We Must Remember What He Truly Stood For."

John Nichols finds, "Melissa Agard Battles COVID Misinformation In A Wisconsin Legislature That's Full Of It."

James Donahue concludes, "Americas Were Part Of A Global Network Long Before Columbus."

David Swanson says, "Overthrowing Governments Is A Giant Failure."

David Suzuki says, "Rest Is Good, But Resolving Global Crises Means Not Looking Away."

Charles P. Pierce finds, "The Spirit Of The Freezing Truck Driver Case Lives On In Justice Neil Gorsuch."

Juan Cole explains, "Why MLK Would Have Launched Nonviolent Disobedience To Pass The Freedom To Vote Act."

Robert Reich says, "Corporate Sedition Is More Damaging To America Than The Capitol Attack."

Thom Hartmann concludes, "Kyrsten Sinema Doesn't Want Black People To Vote?"

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports,"Biden Vows Not To Forget Lessons Of January 6: 'We Must Hang Mike Pence,'" but first, Uncle Ernie sez, "The Worst Is Yet To Come!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Nate Beeler, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Tom Tomorrow, Brendan Smialowski, Chip Somodevilla, Xinhua, Jeff Kamen, Michael Ochs, Michael Maslan, Melina Mara, Mika Baumeister, Elizabeth Frantz, Ken Cedeno, Jim Hightower, Pexels, AFP, Unsplash, 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 Cartoon Corner -
To End On A Happy Note -
Have You Seen This -
Parting Shots -

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The Worst Is Yet To Come!
Global warming strikes again!
By Ernest Stewart

While the ranking of individual years can be affected by chaotic weather patterns, the long-term trends are attributable to drivers of climate change that right now are dominated by human emissions of greenhouse gases. ~~~ Gavin Schmidt ~ director of GISS

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


I see where the Earth's global average surface temperature in 2021 tied with 2018 as the sixth warmest on record, according to independent analyses done by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Continuing the planet's long-term warming trend, global temperatures in 2021 were 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit (0.85 degrees Celsius) above the average for NASA's baseline period, according to scientists at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York. NASA uses the period from 1951-1980 as a baseline to see how global temperature changes over time.

Collectively, the past eight years are the warmest years since modern recordkeeping began in 1880. This annual temperature data makes up the global temperature record -- which tells scientists the planet is warming.

According to NASA's temperature record, Earth in 2021 was about 1.9 degrees Fahrenheit (or about 1.1 degrees Celsius) warmer than the late 19th century average, the start of the industrial revolution.

"Science leaves no room for doubt: Climate change is the existential threat of our time," said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. "Eight of the top 10 warmest years on our planet occurred in the last decade, an indisputable fact that underscores the need for bold action to safeguard the future of our country -- and all of humanity. NASA's scientific research about how Earth is changing and getting warmer will guide communities throughout the world, helping humanity confront climate and mitigate its devastating effects."

This warming trend around the globe is due to human activities that have increased emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The planet is already seeing the effects of global warming: Arctic sea ice is declining, sea levels are rising, wildfires are becoming more severe and animal migration patterns are shifting. Understanding how the planet is changing -- and how rapidly that change occurs -- is crucial for humanity to prepare for and adapt to a warmer world.

Weather stations, ships, and ocean buoys around the globe record the temperature at Earth's surface throughout the year. These ground-based measurements of surface temperature are validated with satellite data from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) on NASA's Aqua satellite. Scientists analyze these measurements using computer algorithms to deal with uncertainties in the data and quality control to calculate the global average surface temperature difference for every year. NASA compares that global mean temperature to its baseline period of 1951-1980. That baseline includes climate patterns and unusually hot or cold years due to other factors, ensuring that it encompasses natural variations in Earth's temperature.

Many factors affect the average temperature any given year, such as La Nina and El Nino climate patterns in the tropical Pacific. For example, 2021 was a La Nina year and NASA scientists estimate that it may have cooled global temperatures by about 0.06 degrees Fahrenheit (0.03 degrees Celsius) from what the average would have been.

A separate, independent analysis by NOAA also concluded that the global surface temperature for 2021 was the sixth highest since record keeping began in 1880. NOAA scientists use much of the same raw temperature data in their analysis and have a different baseline period (1901-2000) and methodology.

"The complexity of the various analyses doesn't matter because the signals are so strong," said Gavin Schmidt, director of GISS, NASA's leading center for climate modeling and climate change research. "The trends are all the same because the trends are so large."

NASA's full dataset of global surface temperatures for 2021, as well as details of how NASA scientists conducted the analysis, are publicly available from GISS (https://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp).

GISS is a NASA laboratory managed by the Earth Sciences Division of the agency's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The laboratory is affiliated with Columbia University's Earth Institute and School of Engineering and Applied Science in New York.

Since all the Rethuglicans and two rat-wing Demoncrats have decided to do their corpo-rat masters bidding, for 30 pieces of silver, and keep us from doing anything to help the situation from getting worse, we are truly doomed, America!

*****


01-08-1942 ~ 01-17-2022
Thanks for the film!


04-12-1928 ~ 01-19-2022
Thanks for the film!



*****

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Until the next time, Peace!

(c) 2022 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, philosopher, 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.




U.S. President Joe Biden walks through Arlington National Cemetery to honor fallen veterans of the Afghan conflict in Arlington, Virginia on April 14, 2021.



An All-Out War On Democracy Is Now Underway In The US
In this ominous historical moment, clarity about how we got here and where we are now is vital.
By Norman Solomon

The following is adapted from the new edition of Norman Solomon's book "Made Love, Got War," just published as a free e-book. The final big legislative achievement of 2021 was a bill authorizing $768 billion in military spending for the next fiscal year. President Biden signed it two days after the Christmas holiday glorifying the Prince of Peace.

Dollar figures can look abstract on a screen, but they indicate the extent of the mania. Biden had asked for "only" $12 billion more than President Trump's bloated military budget of the previous year-but that wasn't enough for the bipartisan hawkery in the House and Senate, which provided a boost of $37 billion instead.

Overall, military spending accounts for about half of the federal government's total discretionary spending-while programs for helping instead of killing are on short rations at many local, state, and national government agencies. It's a nonstop trend of reinforcing the warfare state in sync with warped neoliberal priorities. While outsized profits keep benefiting the upper class and enriching the already obscenely rich, the cascading effects of extreme income inequality are drowning the hopes of the many.

Corporate power constrains just about everything, whether healthcare or education or housing or jobs or measures for responding to the climate emergency. What prevails is the political structure of the economy.

Class war in the United States has established what amounts to oligarchy. A zero-sum economic system, aka corporate capitalism, is constantly exercising its power to reward and deprive. The dominant forces of class warfare-disproportionately afflicting people of color while also steadily harming many millions of whites-continue to undermine basic human rights including equal justice and economic security. In the real world, financial power is political power. A system that runs on money is adept at running over people without it.

The words "I can't breathe," repeated nearly a dozen times by Eric Garner in a deadly police chokehold, resonated for countless people whose names we'll never know. The intersections of racial injustice and predatory capitalism are especially virulent zones, where many lives gradually or suddenly lose what is essential for life. Discussions of terms like "racism" and "poverty" too easily become facile, abstracted from human consequences, while unknown lives suffocate at the hands of routine injustice, systematic cruelties, the way things predictably are.

An all-out war on democracy is now underway in the United States. More than ever, the Republican Party is the electoral arm of unabashed white supremacy as well as such toxicities as xenophobia, nativism, anti-gay bigotry, patriarchy, and misogyny. The party's rigid climate denial is nothing short of deranged. Its approach to the Covid pandemic has amounted to an embrace of death in the name of rancid individualism. With its Supreme Court justices in place, the "Grand Old Party" has methodically slashed voting rights and abortion rights. Overall, on domestic matters, the partisan matchup is between neoliberalism and neofascism. While the abhorrent roles of the Democratic leadership are extensive, to put it mildly, the two parties now represent hugely different constituencies and agendas at home. Not so on matters of war and peace.

Both parties continue to champion what Martin Luther King Jr. called "the madness of militarism." When King described the profligate spending for a distant war as "some demonic, destructive suction tube," he was condemning dynamics that endure with a vengeance. Today, the madness and the denial are no less entrenched. A militaristic core serves as a sacred touchstone for faith in America as the world's one and only indispensable nation. Gargantuan Pentagon budgets are taken for granted, as is the assumed prerogative to bomb other countries at will.

Every budget has continued to include massive outlays for nuclear weapons, including gigantic expenditures for so-called "modernization" of the nuclear arsenal. A fact that this book cited when it was first published-that the United States had ten thousand nuclear warheads and Russia had a comparable number-is no longer true; most estimates say those stockpiles are now about half as large. But the current situation is actually much more dangerous. In 2007, the Doomsday Clock maintained by The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists pegged the world's proximity to annihilation at five minutes to apocalyptic Midnight. As 2022 began, the symbolic hands were at one hundred seconds to Midnight. Such is the momentum of the nuclear arms race, fueled by profit-driven military contractors. Lofty rhetoric about seeking peace is never a real brake on the nationalistic thrust of militarism.

With the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, the third decade of this century is shaping up to unfold new wrinkles in American hegemonic conceits. Along the way, Joe Biden has echoed a central precept of doublethink in George Orwell's most famous novel, 1984: "War is Peace." Speaking at the United Nations as the autumn of 2021 began, Biden proclaimed: "I stand here today, for the first time in twenty years, with the United States not at war. We've turned the page." But the turned page was bound into a volume of killing with no foreseeable end. The United States remained at war, bombing in the Middle East and elsewhere, with much information withheld from the public. And increases in U.S. belligerence toward both Russia and China escalated the risks of a military confrontation that could lead to nuclear war.

A rosy view of the USA's future is only possible when ignoring history in real time. After four years of the poisonous Trump presidency, the Biden strain of corporate liberalism offers a mix of antidotes and ongoing toxins. The Republican Party, now neofascist, is in a strong position to gain control of the U.S. government by mid-decade. Preventing such a cataclysm seems beyond the grasp of the same Democratic Party elites that paved the way for Donald Trump to become president in the first place. Realism about the current situation-clarity about how we got here and where we are now-is necessary to mitigate impending disasters and help create a better future. Vital truths must be told. And acted upon.

(c) 2022 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."




Merrick Garland delivers remarks after being nominated to be U.S. attorney general
by President Joe Biden at The Queen theater January 7, 2021 in Wilmington, Delaware.



Time For AG Garland To Create Corporate Crime Database
To properly face the major threats posed by corporate crime, it is important that the Department have more specific and timely ways to measure the incidence and severity of corporate crime.
By Ralph Nader

January 12, 2022

The Honorable Merrick Garland
Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
Robert F. Kennedy Building
950 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530

Re: Corporate Crime Database and Annual Report

Dear Attorney General Garland:

The U.S. Department of Justice has been clear about the dangers posed by corporate crime.

We were encouraged by Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco's speech in October 2021 outlining the Department's plans to "strengthen the way we respond to corporate crime."

To properly face the major threats posed by corporate crime, it is important that the Department have more specific and timely ways to measure the incidence and severity of corporate crime, to determine whether its efforts against them are successful or not, and the many ways they might be improved.

Indeed, the Deputy Attorney General recognized in her October 2021 speech that "data analytics plays a larger and larger role in corporate criminal investigations, whether that be in healthcare fraud or insider trading or market manipulation."

But the Department of Justice still does not compile comprehensive data on corporate crime. This is a notable oversight.

It is as if the Department of Education had no measures for how well our children learn, or if the U.S. Department of Agriculture had no idea of how much wheat or corn our farmers grow.

The failure to measure can lead to sloppy thinking, bad decisions, and entrenched neglect.

We urge the Department of Justice to equip itself with the power afforded by measurement and data analysis. For street crime, the FBI oversees the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, which tracks data from over 18,000 local and state law enforcement agencies.

The Department of Justice should launch a parallel program for corporate crime and law-breaking, including but not limited to antitrust and price-fixing, environmental crimes, financial crimes, overseas bribery, health care fraud, trade violations, labor and employment-related violations (discrimination and occupational injuries and deaths), consumer fraud and damage to consumer health and safety, and corporate tax fraud onshore and offshore.

A pittance invested here will go a long way toward promoting more lawful corporate behavior and the critical public support the Department of Justice needs for adequate enforcement budgets and stronger laws.

The Department should produce and maintain a corporate crime database. This is an elemental form of accountability. Street criminals have rap sheets-corporate law-breakers ought to have them, too. This could help to deter and punish such crime in many ways.

For example, prosecutors, regulators, and judges could use the database to identify recidivist violators and to assess appropriate sanctions. Procurement officials could use a corporate crime database to identify corporations that fail to meet the "responsible contractor" standard in the Federal Acquisition Regulation.

In addition, by making the database available online to the public for free, it would benefit countless journalists, criminologists, and other scholars, investors, and others interested in crime in the suites.

At a minimum, the corporate crime database should:

Be searchable by parent company, major subsidiaries, corporate official name, industry, type of crime, city, state, and date of crime.

Contain individual company data, including the number of civil, administrative, and criminal enforcement actions brought against corporate defendants by government agencies involving a felony charge, misdemeanor, or civil charge where potential fines may be $1,000 or more.

Specify the agency bringing each charge, the charge, the name of the company charged (including the ultimate parent company), and the outcome of the action if any, including plea agreements, consent decrees, findings of innocence, convictions, and fines and other penalties.

The "Corporate Crime Database Act" (H.R. 6545 in 111th Congress, H.R. 323 in 112th Congress) was introduced in 2010 to require the Department to establish and maintain such a database, and to make it available to the public via the Internet.

Such proposals have been made by advocates for many years.

The Department should also issue an annual report on corporate crime.

At a minimum, the report should provide an estimate of the total annual cost of corporate crime in the United States.

It should include not only costs of crimes committed by individuals against businesses and investors (white-collar crime), but also the costs that corporate crime imposes on the rest of society, including the resulting deaths, injuries, and property damage.

In addition, millions of Americans lost their jobs, due to the financial crisis of 2008-9, which was caused by mortgage fraud and reckless speculative Wall Street gambling. Imagine Americans lost trillions of dollars because of financial sector greed and lawlessness.

The report should present an analysis of trends in corporate crime and an explanation of the relative effectiveness of various conventional sanctions, and the potential of new sanctions.

While the UCR Program does measure certain forms of white-collar crime, it is far from a thorough treatment of corporate crime.

The Department's annual corporate crime report should also tally data about prosecutions and compile agency enforcement data, including budgets, descriptions, staff, and status of investigations. The report should also address the issue of unenforced noncompliance.

The report should include the number of cases referred to U.S. attorneys for prosecution each year by the FBI or other federal and state agencies, as well as the status and ultimate disposition (i.e., how many referrals were prosecuted; how many prosecuted were found guilty; how many settled with deferred and non-prosecution agreements; the magnitude and kind of penalties involved; how many cases settled).

It should also compile agency enforcement data, including the number, description, and status of investigations initiated by federal agencies (including the DOJ and Department of Labor as well as the EPA, SEC, IRS, OSHA, CPSC, FDA, FRA, FAA, NHTSA, and FTC).

More than one-third of a century has elapsed since the Department issued a thorough analysis of corporate crime in America ("Illegal Corporate Behavior", October 1979).

We are well into the 21st century, and non-governmental unofficial databases on corporate crime have been created to partially fill the void.

The University of Virginia Law School has pulled together its Corporate Prosecution Registry. The Corporate Research Project has its Violation Tracker. But there is still no comprehensive official federal database of corporate crime in America.

Given your recognition of the tremendous costs of corporate crime to Americans, their safety, household wealth, and our economy, the Department must resolutely employ these most elementary tools of analysis and accountability without further delay.

We would like to discuss these matters with you, as well as enforcement budgets and broader consensus subjects relating to corporate crime, fraud, and abuse that annually are costing many human casualties and hundreds of billions of dollars to taxpayers and to private-sector consumers, workers, and small businesses.

Sincerely,

Ralph Nader
Consumer Advocate

Rena Steinzor
Edward M. Robertson Professor of Law
University of Maryland Carey Law School

Robert Weissman
President
Public Citizen

Greg LeRoy
Executive Director
Good Jobs First

Philip Mattera
Director
Corporate Research Project

Robert Fellmeth
Price Professor of Public Interest Law
University of San Diego School of Law

Charlie Cray
Senior Strategist
Greenpeace USA

John Richard
Director
Essential Information

(c) 2022 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).




Nicaraguan and Chinese officials display a joint communiqué to resume diplomatic
ties between the two countries in North China's Tianjin on December 10, 2021




Nicaragua In The Multipolar World
By Margaret Kimberley

The U.S. regime change effort in Nicaragua has failed. The people are determined to assert their rights of self-determination and the U.S. is not the only player on the world stage.

The United States and the European Union announced new sanctions on the day that Daniel Ortega was inaugurated as president of Nicaragua. The move was not surprising, given that the United States congress passed the RENACER Act one week before elections which were held on November 7.

The people of Nicaragua have acted in defiance of the United States ever since the 1979 revolution. First, Ronald Reagan used reactionary forces, the Contras, as proxies in an attempt to destroy the new government. The Reagan administration mined Nicaragua's harbors and fomented a war which cost an estimated 30,000 lives. The United States still owes Nicaragua $17 billion in compensation for the damage it created decades ago.

It is Nicaragua that has acted as a democratic nation, as the Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Nacional (FSLN) gave up power in 1990 after losing an election. They were re-elected in 2007 and three more times, but the desires of the Nicaraguan people are of no importance to the United States. All talk of democracy is a cynical ruse used to secure a neoliberal government which will act as a U.S. vassal state.

The Donald Trump administration picked up where Reagan left off when it instigated a 2018 coup attempt which brought violence and havoc to the country yet again. As in all other foreign policy decisions Joe Biden followed Trump, and called the 2021 election a fraud before it had even taken place. As one of more than 200 election acompañantes, companions, this columnist witnessed a process which was open to all citizens and where opposition candidates freely campaigned.

The bipartisan RENACER Act passed by a huge margin, by voice vote in the Senate and then with 387 in favor and only 35 opposed in the House of Representatives. Biden signed the new law just three days after the election. It is a classic example of hybrid warfare, as it calls for "supporting independent news media and freedom of information in Nicaragua." Such language is a declaration of interference in the rights of a sovereign nation, in short, a blueprint for war propaganda and regime change.

Fortunately for the people of Nicaragua, the United States is not the only player on the world stage. As part of its effort to protect itself from U.S. aggression and align itself with the majority of the world's people, Nicaragua established diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China, making clear that it would not give up its rights easily. China enthusiastically accepted the recognition and immediately began to discuss new partnerships between the two nations. China also donated 1 million doses of its Sinopharm covid vaccine.

The United States surely has power, and can force its puppets at the Organization of American States (OAS) to join in the non recognition of the Nicaraguan election. But the days of the Monroe Doctrine, and claims that the entire hemisphere are "America's backyard" are given no credence anywhere else but in Washington.

Nicaragua's sovereignty is the heart of the matter. It doesn't matter what Joe Biden or members of the Senate and House think about that government. It also doesn't matter what fair weather leftists have to say either. The facts are on the side of the Nicaraguans. There were no presidential candidates jailed before the election. There were golpistas, the coup makers, who defied their government's amnesty and legitimate legislation requiring that they disclose foreign funding.

Be that as it may, anti-imperialists in this country and elsewhere in the world must defend the rights of self-determination for Nicaraguans and all other people. Their choices and their struggles are their own and no one here in the empire has a right to judge what they say are "mistakes." Nicaragua's human rights record is head and shoulders above that of the U.S.

Joe Biden presided over mass incarceration as a senator. He enthusiastically supported wars of aggression against Iraq and Libya. Nicaragua has no reason to explain itself to him or to liberals who happily take on propaganda points and in so doing make common cause with claims of American exceptionalism.

A classic regime change trope is to refer to the targeted country as "isolated ," which means nothing more than being in U.S. cross hairs. As a member of a Black Alliance for Peace delegation in Nicaragua, this columnist saw the presidents of Venezuela and Cuba, and diplomatic representatives from Russia, China, Angola, India, Sudan, Vietnam, Japan, Syria, Libya and Palestine among others, in attendance at the presidential inauguration. Billions of people from every continent were represented there and prove that U.S./NATO/EU opinions carry little weight elsewhere.

Nicaragua does not have to suffer insults at the hands of the Organization of American States (OAS), Washington's creation and vassal. It made the principled decision to leave the OAS and expose the group for the sham that it is. Nicaragua is represented in the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), an independent organization working in consensus on behalf of millions of people.

The United States is still a military and economic power. But that power has its limits, which is why the need to undermine a small Central American country with a population of only 6.5 million people is given such a high priority. Every victory against U.S. authoritarianism is significant. Just consider how much effort is put into marginalizing those countries that do manage to exist outside of U.S. influence. The world is multi-polar and Nicaragua's continuing efforts to shape its own destiny is proof.

(c) 2022 Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e -mail at Margaret.Kimberley@BlackAgendaReport.Com.







Jeff Bezos Reveals His Desiccated Soul

By Jim Hightower

The morning after December's horrific nighttime tornado smashed a huge Amazon warehouse in Illinois, killing six workers, corporate CEO Jeff Bezos issued a personal video message.

Was he distressed and sorrowful? No, Boss Bezos was perversely giddy. That's because the narcissistic gabillionaire had not made the video to mourn the deaths, but instead had chosen this hour of tragedy to gloat to the world that his private space tourism business had just rocketed a small group of extremely rich thrill seekers on a 10-minute joy ride. The "Popular Information" newsletter reports that Bezos, dressed in a pretend astronaut costume, exclaimed that everyone involved was really "happy."

Back on Planet Earth, though, the families and co-workers of the employees crushed when Amazon's cheaply-built structure collapsed on them were not happy with him. It took Bezos some 12 hours after his self-congratulatory media event before he finally issued a perfunctory tweet professing to be "heartbroken over the loss of our teammates."

But they weren't "lost" - they were killed by a deliberate corporate culture that routinely cuts corners on worker safety to put more profit in corporate pockets. First, the building itself was thrown up quickly with cheap preassembled, 40-foot-high concrete walls that collapse inward in a tornado; second, Amazon's employees were expected to stay on the job that night even though there was a high risk of tornados; third, nearly all of the workers were classified as "contractors," letting Amazon dodge liability for on-the-job harm.

This is Jim Hightower saying... Oh, and Jeff might also want to reconsider one more bit of corporate arrogance he revealed in this ugly incident: Those dead workers were not his "teammates," as he so cynically called them - even a high-flying captain doesn't treat teammates as throwaway units, carelessly sacrificing their lives for a few more dollars in corporate profit.

(c) 2022 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates,"is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition. Jim writes The Hightower Lowdown, a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America's ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at HightowerLowdown.org.




American civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 - 1968) addresses a meeting in Chicago, Illinois, May 1966.




As We Honor Dr. King, We Must Remember What He Truly Stood For
It would be easy for us to assume that he was universally admired and respected by the Establishment during his lifetime. Nothing could be further from the truth.
By Bernie Sanders

The following is excerpted from an email Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) sent to supporters on Martin Luther King Day, January 17, 2022.

Today, all across this country, we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, one of the great leaders in American history.

We celebrate the work of a man who was a political revolutionary; a man who helped lead the struggle to end segregation and racism; a man who stood with workers and the poor against powerful economic interests; a man who fought for peace and human brotherhood against the forces of war and militarism. He was a man who, throughout his too-short life, maintained a transformative vision for what our country and the world can become.

But, today, as the nation honors Dr. King's legacy, it would be easy for us to assume that he was universally admired and respected by the Establishment during his lifetime.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

In 1964, Dr. King was the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, one of the most prestigious awards on earth. He was famous all over the world and highly praised for his extraordinary work on civil rights. Many leaders, at that point in their lives, would have relished the praise and rested on their laurels. But that's not what Dr. King did.

In 1967, he took on President Lyndon Johnson and the entire political establishment with vigorous opposition to the war in Vietnam. He gave a brilliant anti-war speech at the Riverside Church in New York and helped lead marches and demonstrations against the war. The politicians, big money interests, and editorial writers were not happy. He was no longer their hero.

During that period Dr. King did what almost no other political leader of his time was doing. He went deep into American society and, with extraordinary courage, exposed what he called the "giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism."

He said that he could not be true to himself and his values if he remained silent while seeing poor people getting napalmed in Vietnam.

He said he could not be true to himself if he was telling young African-Americans to be non-violent in the struggle for civil rights, while at the same time the United States was the major purveyor of violence in the entire world.

That was courage.

And let us also not forget where Dr. King was when he was assassinated. He was marching with exploited sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee who were underpaid and working under terrible conditions.

And what was the major project Dr. King was working on during the last months of his life? A poor people's march. He was attempting, in the richest country on earth, to bring low-income Americans-Black, White, Latino, Native American, Asian American-to the nation's capital in order to change national priorities. He was asking why, in a country with such incredible wealth, did we have so many people living in poverty? He questioned why we were spending so much on the military, when so many people lacked the basic necessities they needed to live a full and healthy life?

That was then.

And here we are now.

2022.

While there is no question that we have made some real progress on a number of the injustices that Dr. King struggled against, there is an enormous amount of work that remains to be done.

Today, you will no doubt see politicians and pundits on television and social media talking about what a great man Dr. King was.

But while they do, many of them are working overtime to suppress the vote and undermine American democracy.

They are voting for huge increases in military spending while hundreds of thousands of Americans are homeless.

They are voting against providing low-income workers with a living wage while the richest people become phenomenally richer.

They are refusing to pass legislation which guarantees health care for all while some 60,000 people a year die because they lack the medical care they need.

Today, as we honor Dr. King, my hope is that we will truly remember what he stood for.

Let us stop the voter suppression and allow people to fully participate in our democracy.

Let us invest in jobs and education, not jails and incarceration.

Let us realize that a great nation is judged not by the size of its military budget, but how it treats its weakest and most vulnerable citizens.

Let us guarantee health care as a right for every man, woman, and child in this country.

Let us have, as Dr. King stated, a "better distribution of wealth within this country for all of God's children."

So today, as we celebrate the extraordinary life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., let us not just celebrate the man, but remember the values and vision that motivated him.

The struggle continues.

(c) 2022 Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006 after serving 16 years in the House of Representatives. Sanders ran to become the Democratic Party presidential nominee in both 2016 and 2020 and remains the longest-serving independent member of Congress in American history. Elected Mayor of Burlington, Vermont in 1981, he served four terms. Before his 1990 election as Vermont's at-large member in Congress, Sanders lectured at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and at Hamilton College in upstate New York. Read more at his website. Follow him on Twitter: @SenSanders and @BernieSanders







Melissa Agard Battles COVID Misinformation In A Wisconsin Legislature That's Full Of It
By John Nichols

Last week, during a public hearing on legislation that would prohibit Wisconsin business owners from seeking proof of vaccination before allowing people who are potentially infected with COVID from entering their stores or restaurants, Republican legislators spread the virus of misinformation.

Joining a national push to block vaccine mandates that are intended to protect the health and safety of business owners, their workers and customers, Republican members of the Wisconsin Assembly and Senate have been promoting a package of bills that seek to take away the right of business owners to operate responsibly in the midst of a surging pandemic.

The bills are wrongheaded on their face.

But the arguments that Republican legislators made for them took last Wednesday's session of the Senate Committee on Health to the intersection where ignorance and misinformation meet.

The Jan. 12 hearing by the Senate Committee on Health included at least four different Republican-sponsored bills disallowing business vaccine mandates. The Wisconsin bills are part of a nationwide trend of state bills that would nullify vaccine mandates.

State Sen. Mary Felzkowski, R-Irma, used the term "experimental drug" to describe various vaccines that have been widely researched, widely tested and widely distributed. As Wisconsin Public Radio reminded listeners after recounting Felzkowski's rant, "Reuters, in a fact check last year, found that claims about the vaccines being experimental were not true. All COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the United States have also been approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration."

Felzkowski's false premises were dangerous, as they encourage skepticism about vaccines at a time when the omicron variant is sweeping across Wisconsin and unvaccinated people are contributing to a crisis that threatens to overwhelm many of the state's hospitals.

Despite Felzkowski's best efforts, however, the insurance agent from Irma didn't utter the most absurd statement from a Republican legislator.

That dishonor went to Wisconsin state Rep. Treig Pronschinske, who during the Jan. 12 public hearing delivered a statement that jettisoned any regard for science.

The western Wisconsin Republican claimed that the virus can't be stopped because it can't be seen.

"If you can't see the virus, if you can't see anything, how are you going to do it? How can you stop it? How?" Pronschinske ranted. "You physically cannot see the virus, you don't know if it is in this room or if it's outside. Or if it even exists right now in here. You have no clue. How are you going to stop that?"

It is true, as USA Today pointed out in a recent fact-check column, "Viruses cannot be seen with optical magnifying microscopes, which go up to 1,000 times magnification, and can be imaged only by electron microscopes. At 25 times magnification, one wouldn't be able to see cells, which are considerably bigger than viruses."

But that doesn't mean you cannot do anything about viruses. Throughout history, scientists and doctors have successfully battled viruses and infections that cannot be seen. To suggest, as Pronschinske does, that it is hard to combat a virus that we cannot see is not just absurd, it is damaging to the struggle to get ahead of the pandemic.

False premises, lies, misinformation and deliberate appeals to ignorance need to be called out.

State Sen. Melissa Agard recognizes that. The Madison Democrat pushed back against the absurdity of statements made in last week's health committee hearing.

"The testimony being heard today in the Senate Committee on Health is dangerous and continues to perpetuate false narratives about COVID," she said on Jan. 12. "Our neighbors and loved ones are dying. We need to put the falsehoods to bed and listen to our medical experts to best protect ourselves, our neighbors, and our medical professionals."

In a Republican-controlled Legislature that so frequently goes off the rails - especially on issues of public health and safety - it is easy to become frustrated. But Agard refuses to give up on the fight for science, common sense and the truth.

"As we near the two year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic and cases are skyrocketing, Republicans are still promoting and peddling misinformation that contradicts scientists and medical professionals. We, as a state, have to do better in order to best protect ourselves and those who are most vulnerable in our communities," said Agard, who argued that, "What we should be doing is providing our communities and healthcare professionals the necessary tools to stop this surge of COVID cases. We should be respecting Wisconsin businesses who are trying to keep their employees and communities safe."

(c) 2022 John Nichols writes about politics for The Capitol Times. His book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.








Americas Were Part Of A Global Network Long Before Columbus
By James Donahue

It has been well established that Columbus was not the first European to set foot on North America. Evidence in the rocks have made it clear that Leif Ericsson and his crew of Vikings sailed to Newfoundland and perhaps portions of New England an estimated 500 years earlier.

We have written about other markings in the rocks in Michigan, rocks with perfectly cut holes like the kind used as anchors by Mongolian and Chinese sailors for thousands of years found off the coast of California, and a strange similarity of customs and language of both Native American tribes and Mongolian people. All of this strongly suggests that the Mongols, perhaps under the reign of Genghis Khan or his grandson, Kublai Khan, also were among the early settlers in North America.

In Michigan's Upper Peninsula, near the site of the Keweenaw copper deposits, have been found rock formations with carved markings identified as Oghamic. People who study ancient text believe they were made by Celtic travelers from Europe who perhaps came to bring copper back to Europe as early as five to eight centuries B.C.E. English explorers that arrived in the area in the Fifteenth Century reportedly came upon a tribe of blond-haired, blue-eyed Mandan Indians that spoke a form of ancient Gaelic. Yet another stone with Celtic markings turned up in Colorado in 1980.

Of course both the North and South American continents were already inhabited when Columbus arrived. The people were not all tribes of half-naked "Indians" who lived in crude dwellings in the forests. Large cities filled with well-developed cultures existed, or their ruins were found throughout much of Latin and South America, and one large city known as Cahokia existed along the Mississippi River near the place where St. Louis, Missouri now stands. It was once a thriving city of about 30,000 people.

Amateur archaeologists began excavating ancient fire pits in Ohio that author William Connor believes are the remains of prehistoric iron furnaces dating back 2,000 years. His book argues that whoever lived in central North America at about the time of Christ knew and understood the technology of smelting iron to make steel.

That massive stone pyramids were constructed at some ancient time in South America, Egypt, the Middle East, India and China strongly suggests that people who lived in that ancient of times not only knew each other, but shared in a common wisdom and desire to erect such monuments. Structures that appear to be the remains of similar pyramids have been found in Florida and deep in the oceans of the world, which may date the construction of these megaliths to a very ancient time, before the seas covered some of them.

Evidence of ancient global commerce has been found all over the world. Copper jewelry and other items, made from copper mined in Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula, have turned in archaeological digs in Europe and South America.

Roman and Sicilian coins have been found in Venezuela, Maine, Texas, Alabama, Oklahoma, and Illinois, some of them dating to at least 100 years B.C.E. Roman pottery was unearthed in Mexico that was dated to about the second century C.E. A carved head was discovered by an archaeologist at Calixtlahuaca, Mexico in 1933 that has been identified as originating from the Hellenistic-Roman school of art and dated about 200 C.E. Also in 1886, the remains of a Roman styled shipwreck was found in Galveston Bay, Texas. Then there has been the strange Egyptian connection. Two statuettes, a male and female, both distinctly ancient Egyptian in dress and cartouches and believed to depict Osiris and Isis, were uncovered in ancient Mayan ruins at Acajutia, Mexico, in 1914. Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs were found on a rock cliff north of Sydney, Australia. The carvings tell a story of explorers who were shipwrecked in a strange land and the death of their leader. Scholars have dated the event somewhere between 1779 and 2748 B.C.E. In 1982 archaeologists found the fossilized remains of kangaroos and other animals native to Australia at Fayum in Egypt. Thus there is evidence that ships not only sailed from Egypt to Australia, but returned again.

There also have been found strange inscriptions, carved in rocks, in various places in the Americas that strongly support the theory that many visitors from Europe came here, and the people living here may have gone there.

For example, a botanist noticed and identified plants in a fresco painting uncovered in the ruins of Pompeii, Italy, that included a pineapple and a species of squash that were both native to the Americas.

A carved inscription on a vertical wall of rock, 3,000 feet up, near Rio de Janerio, reads: "Tyre, Phoenicia, Badezir, Firstborn of Jethbaal . . . " It is dated in the Ninth Century B.C.E.

A carved story in Phoenician text, found near Parahyba, Brazil, has been translated to read: "We are sons of Canaan, from Sidon, the city of the king. Commerce has cast us on this distant shore, a land of mountains. We set a youth for the exalted gods and goddesses in the nineteenth year of Hiram, our mighty king. We embarked from Ezion-Geber, into the Red Sea and voyaged with ten ships. We were at sea together for two years around the land belonging to Ham but were separated by a storm, and we were no longer with our companions. So we have come here, twelve men and three women, on a . . . shore which I, the Admiral, control. But auspiciously may the gods and goddesses favor us."

A stone found at Kensington, Minnesota in 1898, contains an inscription describing an expedition by Norsemen into North America in the 1300's.

Even the Japanese appear to have been building ships and exploring the world. It is said that steel blades believed made in Japan have been found in Alaska and distinctive pottery from Japan has turned up in Ecuador.

Then there is the famous Piri Reis world map, said to have been created by Sixteenth Century Ottoman Turkish Admiral Piri Reis. It shows an amazingly accurate description of not only Europe and North Africa, but the coasts of North and South America, various Atlantic islands and strangely, the coast of Antarctica as it really looks under the ice.

Such detail has only recently been discovered with the help of modern technology that allows NASA to peer through the ice and get accurate images of the Earth from space. Some say Piri Reis copied this map from very ancient maps that existed in his day.

(c) 2022 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.










Overthrowing Governments Is A Giant Failure
By David Swanson

In a new, very U.S., very academic book by Alexander Downes called Catastrophic Success: Why Foreign Imposed Regime Change Goes Wrong, the immorality of overthrowing other people's governments cannot be found. The illegality of it seemingly does not exist. The fact that attempted overthrows often fail, and that those failures can have catastrophic results, doesn't enter into it. But successful government overthrows - the focus of the book - turn out to usually be giant stinking disasters on their own terms, leading to civil wars, leading to further wars with the overthrower, leading to governments that do not do what the overthrower wanted, and certainly - and rather predictably - not leading to even what passes for "democracy" in Western culture.

The evidence is pretty overwhelming that a takeover or a "regime change" of Ukraine by either the U.S. or Russia would be very likely be a disaster for Ukraine and for the U.S. or Russia (oh, and also all life on Earth if the nukes get used) - and that the actual U.S.-backed coup of 2014 has been a catastrophe on the model of those in (though it is not itself in) Downes' book.

: Downes uses a super-selective list of overthrows, while more comprehensive ones exist. He looks at 120 cases of successful "regime changes" by 153 "interveners" between 1816 and 2008. On this list, the top foreign pirates overthrowing governments are the United States with 33, Britain with 16, USSR 16, Prussia / Germany 14, France 11, Guatemala 8, Austria 7, El Salvador 5, Italy 5.,P> "We're Number One! We're Number One!"

The most common victims of foreign overthrows are Honduras 8 times, Afghanistan 6, Nicaragua 5, Dominican Republic 5, Belgium 4, Hungary 4, Guatemala 4, and El Salvador 3. In fairness, Honduras was dressed provocatively and really asking for it.

Downes examines these lawless government overthrows and concludes that they do not reliably produce governments that behave as desired, do not usually "improve relations between interveners and targets" - meaning that more war is likely between the two countries, and that installed leaders are at high risk of losing power violently, while regime-changed nations have a high risk of civil strife.

You wouldn't think this required any explanation, but Downes provides one: "My theory explains these violent outcomes through two mechanisms. The first, which I label military disintegration, elaborates how regime change can produce immediate insurgency and civil war by fragmenting and dispersing the target's military forces. The second, the problem of competing principals, details how the mismatched preferences of imposed leaders' two masters-the intervening state and a leader's domestic audience-place leaders in a dilemma in which responding to the interests of one exacerbates the risk of conflict with the other, thereby increasing the likelihood of both patron-protege conflict and internal conflict in the target." So, now all we need is governments that behave like rational actors in academic models. Then we can feed them this data on how the crime of overthrowing governments (and incidentally slaughtering huge number of people in many cases) tends to fail on its own terms, and we'll be all set.

Or we need the academic models to include the driving interests of weapons sales, sadism, petty grievances, machismo, and powerlust, and recalculate the outcomes. That might also work.

A third possibility would be obeying laws, but that's stuff for insignificant little people.

(c) 2022 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.




It's hard to take on systems, but until we do, they'll continue to grind up nature and spit out profit where rivers, forests and meadows once stood.




Rest Is Good, But Resolving Global Crises Means Not Looking Away
By David Suzuki

When people do things they shouldn't, they often try to distract attention from their actions. Guardian writer George Monbiot notes that many corporations fuelling the planet's destruction spend significant resources to shift attention away from themselves and onto us.

"The deliberate effort to stop us seeing the bigger picture began in 1953 with a campaign called Keep America Beautiful. It was founded by packaging manufacturers, motivated by the profits they could make by replacing reusable containers with disposable plastic," he writes. "In 2004, the advertising company Ogilvy & Mather, working for the oil giant BP, took this blame-shifting a step further by inventing the personal carbon footprint. It was a useful innovation, but it also had the effect of diverting political pressure from the producers of fossil fuels to consumers."

"Greenwashing" is another way corporations divert attention from their true ecological impacts. As British psychology professor Steven Reicher points out, "One recent McDonald's spot boasts of the way the company is recycling cooking oil into truck fuel, coffee cups into greetings cards, and plastic toys into children's playgrounds. The problem is that it makes no mention of the fact that McDonald's beef footprint alone constitutes 22m metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions a year."

Facing the real issues often leaves us feeling anger, anxiety and despair. While these are reasonable responses to the environmental crises engulfing us, the multi-billion-dollar self-help industry has profited enormously by convincing us that fixing ourselves is the priority.

How do we balance the need for personal change with systemic change, when both are necessary?

Personal actions can create consumer demand for sustainably made products, model greener behaviours and foster empowerment. But focusing on the personal runs the risk of eclipsing our responsibility to also marshal systemic change.

As Reichler notes, "McDonald's advertising approach is emblematic of the way in which companies seek to continue with business as usual, by distracting us from where the real problems lie. Its adverts represent just one of many strategies by which this is accomplished. One of the most common methods is to turn the climate crisis from a systemic into an individual issue."

It's hard to take on systems, but until we do, they'll continue to grind up nature and spit out profit where rivers, forests and meadows once stood.

Systemic and environmental racism underpin these systems.

Systemic racism provides advantages (and inheritances), privileging white people in employment, education, justice and social standing. It enabled the mandate under which colonizers have invaded lands, occupied Indigenous territories and exploited nature for financial gain.

As a result of environmental racism, Indigenous and racialized communities have been placed at greater risk of living adjacent to land degradation and pollution from industrial activities and waste disposal.

Our economic system has strong hands upon the bellows. It promotes growth with no limits, which leads to such degradation of nature that around a million species are at risk of extinction - more than ever in human history.

This economic system also results in gross inequities. It's possible for one person to make $36 billion in a day - more than the yearly gross domestic product of some countries. As Monbiot writes, "The richest 1% of the world's people (those earning more than $172,000 a year) produce 15% of the world's carbon emissions: twice the combined impact of the poorest 50%." He proposes "a new system, in which there is 'private sufficiency and public luxury.'"

In his words, "While there is not enough ecological or even physical space on Earth for everyone to enjoy private luxury, there is enough to provide everyone with public luxury: magnificent parks, hospitals, swimming pools, art galleries, tennis courts and transport systems, playgrounds and community centres."

It's a lot to take on, and it's good to check out at times - to find respite in binge-watching, books, self-care routines or nature - as long as we check back in. Change won't happen until we demand it, and unless we face the flames (metaphorically and, increasingly, literally), there is little chance we'll be sufficiently motivated to put them out.

It's not all work. Joy can be found in dreaming up creative responses (think of the many clever protest signs!) and joining in community. To paraphrase Joan Baez, activism is the best antidote to despair.

(c) 2021 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.









The Spirit Of The Freezing Truck Driver Case Lives On In Justice Neil Gorsuch
Jesus, what a schmuck.
By Charles P. Pierce

Famously, during his contentious confirmation hearings, then-Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch was dogged by then-Senator Al Franken about an opinion that Gorsuch had handed down against a truck driver who had been fired after abandoning his busted truck on a frigid night so he wouldn't freeze to death. The court had decided in favor of the trucker. Gorsuch had dissented. From CNN:

"I don't think you'd want to be on the road with him, would you judge?" Franken asked.

"Senator, um," Gorsuch stammered.

"You would or not? It's a really easy: 'Yes' or 'no?'" he pressed.

Gorsuch dissented in the decision: "It might be fair to ask whether TransAm's decision was a wise or kind one," he wrote. "But it's not our job to answer questions like that. Our only task is to decide whether the decision was an illegal one."

Franken called Gorsuch's logic "absurd."

"It is absurd to say this company is in its rights to fire him because he made the choice of possibly dying from freezing to death or causing other people to die possibly by driving an unsafe vehicle," said the former "Saturday Night Live" star. "Now, I had a career in identifying absurdity, and I know it when I see it and it makes me question your judgment. I would've done exactly what he did, and I think everybody here would've done exactly what he did," Franken said.

Points of law aside, it was impossible to come to any conclusion other than, "Jesus, what a schmuck."

The spirit of the truck-driver case has swirled around the chamber recently. Chief Justice John Roberts has sought to enact COVID protocols, including mask-wearing. There are a number of good and obvious reasons for this, but in particular, it was a concession to Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who is diabetic and therefore particularly vulnerable to COVID. All the justices have complied. Except one. Let NPR's Nina Totenberg tell you which one.

It was pretty jarring earlier this month when the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court took the bench for the first time since the omicron surge over the holidays. All were now wearing masks. All, that is, except Justice Neil Gorsuch. What's more, Justice Sonia Sotomayor was not there at all, choosing instead to participate through a microphone setup in her chambers...

...Now, though, the situation had changed with the omicron surge, and according to court sources, Sotomayor did not feel safe in close proximity to people who were unmasked. Chief Justice John Roberts, understanding that, in some form asked the other justices to mask up. They all did. Except Gorsuch, who, as it happens, sits next to Sotomayor on the bench. His continued refusal since then has also meant that Sotomayor has not attended the justices' weekly conference in person, joining instead by telephone.

I'm sure there are some arcane restrictions on the Chief Justice's power to demand compliance from the other justices, probably dating back to the day when Roger Taney showed up in a ball gown or something. But there's something to be said for simplicity, too. I mean, Jesus, what a schmuck.

(c) 2022 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 -



"Finally, let us understand that when we stand together, we will always win. When men and women stand together for justice, we win. When black, white and Hispanic people stand together for justice, we win."
~~~ Bernie Sanders








Why MLK Would Have Launched Nonviolent Disobedience To Pass The Freedom To Vote Act
By Juan Cole

Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) - Everything that the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., struggled for is at risk in today's America, where one of the two major parties has succumbed to the deadly disease of Trumpism, which is built on white grievance.

As the Republican Party has become more and more inflected by white nationalism, its officials have begun attempting to undo the gains of the Civil Rights Movement led by the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., which ended the Deep South's practices of segregation and denying the vote to African-Americans. The Republican-captured Supreme Court, now also an instrument of white nationalism and corporate supremacy, struck down in the 2013 ruling Shelby County v. Holder the oversight provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

The Southern states initiated a gold rush to restrict the right to vote with new tactics, rather than the old literacy tests, using voter ID requirements and reducing the number of polling stations in heavily minority counties.

The Brennan Center for Justice writes of 2021,

"Between January 1 and December 7, at least 19 states passed 34 restrictive laws. The restrictive laws make it more difficult for voters to cast mail ballots that count, make in-person voting more difficult by reducing polling place hours and locations, increase voter purges or the risk of faulty voter purges, and criminalize the ordinary, lawful behavior of election officials and other individuals involved in elections."
There are two bills in Congress that would roll back the sinister and reactionary laws passed by Republican statehouses. The John Lewis Voting Rights Act would restore Department of Justice preclearance oversight of election laws in states with a tradition of suppressing the Black vote. The Freedom to Vote Act requires early voting days, no-excuse mail voting, and other provisions that protect this essential right from the provincial blowhards now tinkering with it.

Because all fifty Republican senators oppose both of these bills, they can't get past the Senate's 60-vote threshold to close off filibustering and allow a floor vote. Because two Democrats, Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) oppose a carve-out of the filibuster for voting rights, the President cannot get the legislation he backs passed.

CNN explains that in the late 1700s, the Senate could vote to end debate on a bill and bring it to a floor vote by a simple majority. Even in the twentieth century, a filibuster to prevent a vote required the senator to stay on the floor speaking with no food or bathroom breaks. The current 60-vote rule for cloture or ending debate only dates from 1975, and from that time it was permitted to filibuster by simply registering an objection to cloture, rather than physically speaking at the podium.

One possible way forward for the Democrats is to go back to requiring senators to filibuster in person.

As we honor Dr. King today, it is worth remembering what he said about the filibuster:

"I think the tragedy is that we have a Congress with a Senate that has a minority of misguided senators who will use the filibuster to keep the majority of people from even voting. They won't let the majority senators vote. And certainly they wouldn't want the majority of people to vote, because they know they do not represent the majority of the American people. In fact, they represent, in their own states, a very small minority."
As for voting rights, they were at the heart of King's campaigns of civil disobedience. He said in Montgomery, Alabama in 1956,
"We must continue to gain the ballot. This is one of the basic keys to the solution of our problem. Until we gain political power through possession of the ballot we will be convenient tools of unscrupulous politicians. We must face the appalling fact that we have been betrayed by both the Democratic and Republican parties . . . Until we gain the ballot and place proper public officials in office this condition will continue to exist. In communities where we confront difficulties in gaining the ballot, we must use all legal and moral means to remove these difficulties. We must continue to struggle through legalism and legislation. There are those who contend that integration can come only through education, for no other reason than that morals cannot be legislated. I choose, however, to be dialectical at this point. It isn't either education or legislation; it is both legislation and education."

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change: "MLK: Give Us the Ballot" If voting rights keep being endangered, nonviolent noncooperation on a mass scale may well reemerge.

King said of the boycotts, marches and other campaigns of the Indian freedom struggle in British colonial India,

"I had heard of Gandhi, but I had never studied him seriously. As I read I became deeply fascinated by his campaigns of nonviolent resistance. I was particularly moved by the Salt March to the Sea and his numerous fasts. The whole concept of "Satyagraha" (Satya is truth which equals love, and agraha is force: "Satyagraha," therefore, means truth-force or love force) was profoundly significant to me. As I delved deeper into the philosophy of Gandhi my skepticism concerning the power of love gradually diminished, and I came to see for the first time its potency in the area of social reform."
The ballot and education are necessary for achieving social and racial justice. But where these are blocked, the truthforce may be brought into play. And in this moment, all of us are in danger of being robbed of the franchise, of the validity of our votes, by corrupt and tyrannical Trumpists. It isn't just the African-Americans who face a new Jim Crow.

(c) 2022 Juan R.I. Cole is the founder and chief editor of Informed Comment. He is the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. He has written extensively on modern Islamic movements in Egypt, the Persian Gulf and South Asia and has given numerous media interviews on the war on terrorism and the Iraq War. He lived in various parts of the Muslim world for nearly 10 years and continues to travel widely there. He speaks Arabic, Farsi and Urdu.






Senator Kyrsten Sinema boards an elevator at the US Capitol.


Corporate Sedition Is More Damaging To America Than The Capitol Attack
Kyrsten Sinema receives millions from business and opposes progressive priorities.
By Robert Reich

Capitalism and democracy are compatible only if democracy is in the driver's seat. That's why I took some comfort just after the attack on the Capitol when many big corporations solemnly pledged they'd no longer finance the campaigns of the 147 lawmakers who voted to overturn election results.

Well, those days are over. Turns out they were over the moment the public stopped paying attention.

A report published last week by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington shows that over the past year, 717 companies and industry groups have donated more than $18m to 143 of those seditious lawmakers. Businesses that pledged to stop or pause their donations have given nearly $2.4m directly to their campaigns or political action committees (Pacs).

But there's a deeper issue here. The whole question of whether corporations do or don't bankroll the seditionist caucus is a distraction from a much larger problem.

The tsunami of money now flowing from corporations into the swamp of American politics is larger than ever. And this money - bankrolling almost all politicians and financing attacks on their opponents - is undermining American democracy as much as did the 147 seditionist members of Congress. Maybe more.

The Democratic senator Kyrsten Sinema - whose vocal opposition to any change in the filibuster is on the verge of dooming voting rights - received almost $2m in campaign donations in 2021 even though she is not up for re-election until 2024. Most of it came from corporate donors outside Arizona, some of which have a history of donating largely to Republicans.

Has the money influenced Sinema? You decide. Besides sandbagging voting rights, she voted down the $15 minimum wage increase, opposed tax increases on corporations and the wealthy and stalled on drug price reform - policies supported by a majority of Democratic senators as well as a majority of Arizonans.

Over the last four decades, corporate Pac spending on congressional elections has more than quadrupled, even adjusting for inflation.

Labor unions no longer provide a counterweight. Forty years ago, union Pacs contributed about as much as corporate Pacs. Now, corporations are outspending labor by more than three to one.

According to a landmark study published in 2014 by the Princeton professor Martin Gilens and Northwestern professor Benjamin Page, the preferences of the typical American have no influence at all on legislation emerging from Congress.

Gilens and Page analyzed 1,799 policy issues in detail, determining the relative influence of economic elites, business groups, mass-based interest groups and average citizens. Their conclusion: "The preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy." Lawmakers mainly listen to the policy demands of big business and wealthy individuals - those with the most lobbying prowess and deepest pockets to bankroll campaigns and promote their views.

It's probably far worse now. Gilens and Page's data came from the period 1981 to 2002: before the supreme court opened the floodgates to big money in the Citizens United case, before Super Pacs, before "dark money" and before the Wall Street bailout.

The corporate return on this mountain of money has been significant. Over the last 40 years, corporate tax rates have plunged. Regulatory protections for consumers, workers and the environment have been defanged. Antitrust has become so ineffectual that many big corporations face little or no competition.

Corporations have fought off safety nets and public investments that are common in other advanced nations (most recently, Build Back Better). They've attacked labor laws, reducing the portion of private-sector workers belonging to a union from a third 40 years ago to just over 6% now.

They've collected hundreds of billions in federal subsidies, bailouts, loan guarantees and sole-source contracts. Corporate welfare for big pharma, big oil, big tech, big ag, the largest military contractors and biggest banks now dwarfs the amount of welfare for people.

The profits of big corporations just reached a 70-year high, even during a pandemic. The ratio of CEO pay in large companies to average workers has ballooned from 20-to-1 in the 1960s, to 320-to-1 now.

Meanwhile, most Americans are going nowhere. The typical worker's wage is only a bit higher today than it was 40 years ago, when adjusted for inflation.

But the biggest casualty is public trust in democracy.

In 1964, just 29% of voters believed government was "run by a few big interests looking out for themselves." By 2013, 79% of Americans believed it.

Corporate donations to seditious lawmakers are nothing compared with this 40-year record of corporate sedition.


Campaigners target senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, near the US Capitol.

A large portion of the American public has become so frustrated and cynical about democracy they are willing to believe blatant lies of a self-described strongman, and willing to support a political party that no longer believes in democracy.

As I said at the outset, capitalism is compatible with democracy only if democracy is in the driver's seat. But the absence of democracy doesn't strengthen capitalism. It fuels despotism.

Despotism is bad for capitalism. Despots don't respect property rights. They don't honor the rule of law. They are arbitrary and unpredictable. All of this harms the owners of capital. Despotism also invites civil strife and conflict, which destabilize a society and an economy.

My message to every CEO in America: you need democracy, but you're actively undermining it.

It's time for you to join the pro-democracy movement. Get solidly behind voting rights. Actively lobby for the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

Use your lopsidedly large power in American democracy to protect American democracy - and do it soon. Otherwise, we may lose what's left of it.

(c) 2022 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.





Kyrsten Sinema Doesn't Want Black People To Vote?
Are Manchin and Sinema white supremacists? Or doing the work of white supremacists who finance them? Or just cynically using white supremacy to advance their political goals?
By Thom Hartmann

I guess the real question is, "Why?"

Are she and Senator Joe Manchin white supremacists? Or in league with them/working for them? Or two steps removed, working for people willing to cynically exploit white supremacy for their own continued wealth and power?

Is it possible that Amy Siskind is right and Sinema is just so delusional that she plans to use this as the basis of a run for president? Does she really think destroying voting rights will establish her as the new John McCain-style "lovable rogue" candidate?

It's definitely not about the "sanctity" or "tradition" of the filibuster. Both Sinema and Manchin have voted multiple times to blow that up or get around it when it was convenient for things they cared about, as has pretty much every Republican member of the Senate.

America has, since our founding, always had a strong white supremacist political faction. Usually it's concentrated in a single political party, but there are often a few white supremacist members who've embedded themselves in parties that more generally have embraced pluralism and democracy.

Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin are those outliers doing the work of white supremacists or using the political strategy of promoting white supremacy in today's Democratic Party.

And, like the white supremacists of my youth in the 1950s and 60s, they hide their dirty work with high-sounding phrases like "bipartisanship" and "states' rights." Like those white supremacist senators of earlier times - the Strom Thurmonds of the Senate - the weapon they rely on is the filibuster.

But today's political battle is not about the filibuster; it's about voting rights. And we have the receipts.

Just one month ago this week, both Sinema and Manchin voted to set aside the filibuster temporarily to raise the debt ceiling so the defense contractors who suck up about half of our annual Pentagon budget could get paid.

Going around the filibuster to help morbidly rich CEOs and wealthy shareholders of companies that make bombs and airplanes is good, they're telling us; going around the filibuster to help college students and minorities vote, however, is a bridge too far.

As Representative Pramilla Jayapal said yesterday about this voting rights legislation, "Our democracy doesn't survive without this."

This stain on our nation, this disgrace of white supremacy and Black voter suppression - and the failure to win the battle to overcome both - have gone on altogether too long. There has literally not been a year, since 1789, without them.

At the founding of our republic, free Black men voted in several northern states; like today, their ability to vote caused an early split in American politics.

For example, free Black men could vote in New York state until the Democratic-Republicans there began to worry out loud that they could lose control of the State Assembly to the Federalists, who were generally the party for which Black men voted.

Their main claim for a need for voter suppression laws was that some of the Black men weren't "really eligible to vote" but were instead "illegals" - escaped slaves from the South - showing up just to illegally vote for anti-slavery Federalists.

To increase the general hysteria about "voter fraud" and simultaneously tamp down the Black vote, the Democratic-Republicans proposed legislation to throw up even more barriers to voting.

As Leslie M. Harris notes in her brilliant history of that time, The Shadow Of Slavery: African Americans In New York City, 1626-1863:

"Because of the role of the Federalist Party in securing emancipation for New York's slaves and the Democratic-Republican Party's ties to the slave south, New York's blacks largely supported the Federalists. The Democratic-Republican Party in New York City exacerbated this antagonism by focusing on blacks as a key voting bloc that could prevent a Democratic-Republican ascendancy in local and state politics."

In similar fashion, Republicans in multiple states have been actively working to block the Black vote ever since the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965, as I document in detail in The Hidden History of the War on Voting.

For example, in future Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rhenquist's 1960s Operation Eagle Eye, he and other Republicans prowled outside polling places in Arizona to threaten and intimidate Black, Hispanic and Native American voters, loudly challenging their right to vote.

More recently, over a dozen Republican-controlled states just expanded this "right to harass" to include allowing armed militia members to "observe" people casting their votes within polling places during the 2022 and 2024 elections.

As Harris notes, this is nothing new:

"Democratic-Republican inspectors at polling booths attempted to dissuade blacks from voting by harassing them for proof of their freedom. In 1811, the Democratic-Republican-dominated New York State legislature made such harassment legal by passing '[a]n Act to prevent frauds at election and slaves from voting.'"

One of America's first anti-Black voter suppression laws - posted at the New York Historical Society by Ted O'Reilly, Curator of Manuscripts

It was one of the first voting laws that specifically targeted otherwise voting-eligible African Americans. Under the "Act To Prevent Frauds":
"Blacks who wished to vote first had to obtain proof of their freedom from a 'supreme court justice, mayor, recorder, or judge of any court of common pleas' in the state; pay that person to draw up the necessary certificate; and then bring this proof of their freedom to the polls."
It didn't work to keep the New York Assembly in Democratic-Republican hands, however, as Harris notes:
"When a close Assembly election in 1813, in the midst of war, was declared in favor of the Federalists, Democratic-Republicans blamed the victory on the three hundred black New York City voters."
From decades before that moment in 1813 to today, the struggle to establish voting rights for all American citizens has been characterized by acts of great bravery and courage (see: "John Lewis") as well as great cowardice and moral failure.

Abolitionist Alexander Hamilton openly hoped that members of Congress and future presidents would rise to the solemn work of governing our nation instead of having to "depend on any preexisting bodies of men, who might be tampered with beforehand to prostitute their votes."

Indeed, Hamilton argued, the spotlight of federal service should weed out the political prostitutes and publicity-hungry political hustlers in favor of a higher quality of person.

"Talents for low intrigue," he wrote, "and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union..."

Sadly, Hamilton's idealism isn't shared today by these two Democratic senators.

That said, it's critical to remember that their morally corrupt support for voter suppression is shared, so far, by all 50 members of the Republican caucus in the Senate.

And more Republicans than Democrats in that body are up for reelection this November.

Our work to hold the House and expand the Senate's Democratic majority enough to render these two quislings irrelevant just became a lot more urgent.


One of America's first anti-Black voter suppression laws - New York Historical Society posted by Edward O'Reilly, Curator of Manuscripts

(c) 2022 Thom Hartmann is a talk-show host and the author of "The Hidden History of Monopolies: How Big Business Destroyed the American Dream" (2020); "The Hidden History of the Supreme Court and the Betrayal of America" (2019); and more than 25 other books in print.

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To End On A Happy Note -





Have You Seen This -






Parting Shots -







Biden Vows Not To Forget Lessons Of January 6: 'We Must Hang Mike Pence'
By Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON-In a stirring speech at the U.S. Capitol Thursday morning, President Joe Biden vowed not to forget the lessons of the Jan. 6 riot, urging Americans to hang former Vice President Mike Pence.

"We stand here today to declare that we will not back down in the face of tyranny, and we will gut the traitor Pence limb from limb for the way he turned on President Trump," said Biden, who spent nearly 10 minutes of his prepared remarks encouraging the crowd to chant "Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!" along with him.

"What can we learn from the events of Jan. 6? The enduring lesson here is that we must drag Mike Pence from his home and string him up from the rafters for all to see. Where was he when his president needed him most? Where was he when the true patriots needed his help to stop the steal? The only way to heal this divided nation is to unite around the shared cause of killing Mike Pence for his many failures as vice president. God bless this country, and God bless you all."

Biden was then seen departing the Capitol with a pistol, vowing to take revenge on Mike Pence himself.

(c) 2022 The Onion






Email:uncle -ernie@journalist.com
























Issues & Alibis Vol 22 # 02 (c) 01/21/2022


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