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In This Edition


Matt Taibbi waves, "Goodbye, And Good Riddance, To Centrism."

Uri Avnery quotes, "Whoso Confesseth And Forsaketh."

Glen Ford finds, "Dumb Donald Thinks He's Pulled The Plug On ISIS And Al-Qaida (And The CIA?)"

Amy Goodman declares, "White House For Sale: Emoluments, Corruption And Donald Trump."

Jim Hightower introduces, "Dr. Ben Carson's Right-Wing Medicine Show."

William Rivers Pitt is back with, "We Are Not Broke: Trashing The Austerity Lies."

Chris Hedges examines, "The Age Of Anger."

John Nichols concludes, "Congress Has What It Needs To Impeach Trump."

Medea Benjammin returns with, "Head Of National Nurses Encourages Bernie Sanders To Start A People's Party."

David Suzuki says, "Protecting Oceans Is Paying Off."

Frank Scott exclaims, "Islamophobic Neo-Cons, Russophobic Neo-Libs: USA! USA!"

David Swanson lectures, "Dear Young People Who Laugh At Climate Deniers."

Michael Winship reports, "Comey Got In The Face Of Trump's 'Godfather' Fantasy."

Sinator John Cornyn wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich uncovers, "Trump's Infrastructure Scam."

Juan Cole explores, "Why Saudi Extremism Is An Argument For Electric Cars, Wind And Solar Energy."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reveals, "Obama Sends Publisher Collection Of Pages For Presidential Graphic Novel" but first Uncle Ernie sings, "We Heil, Heil, Right In Der Fuehrer's Face."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Joe Heller, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, Mr. Fish, Mike Luckovich, Kevin Galens, Andrew Harnik, Gage Skidmore, Al Drago, Ben Stevens, Marko Djurica, Andrew Burton, Phil Roeder, The New York Times, AP, Flickr, Reuters, 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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We Heil, Heil, Right In Der Fuehrer's Face
By Ernest Stewart

When der fuehrer says we ist ze master race
We heil, heil, right in der fuehrer's face.
Not to love der fuehrer ist a great disgrace
So we heil, heil, right in der fuehrer's face.
Der Fuehrer's Face ~~~ Spike Jones

"I want all those who today embody innovation and excellence in the United States to hear what we say: from now on, from next May, you will have a new homeland - France." ~~~ Emmanuel Macron ~ French President

"If we learned anything from Attorney General Jeff Sessions' testimony this Tuesday, it's that he has a capacity for memory that would render most of us unable to function in daily life. But thanks to Kamala Harris (D-CA), we now know what it looks like when he gets knocked off his goofy poker face. ~~~ Sky Palma

"Success follows those who champion a cause greater than themselves." ~~~ George Alexiou



I'm having a horrible deja vu, all over again, about "Team Sycophants" and der Fuehrer! Trump called his first ever full cabinet meeting and what do you think was discussed? The economy? Russia? The middle east? Medicare, or some other important issue? No, Trump called the meeting so that his cabinet could try to out do the each others by saying what a brilliant leader Trump is, and how unworthy they all are, and what a privilege it is to work for him, I nearly lost my lunch!

Something never seen before in American politics at least not in plain view. Of course, it was par for the course by folks like Caligula, Napoleon, Hitler, Kim Jong-un just to name of few of der Trumpster's forefathers. Egotistical maniac doesn't do justice by half of this boy mans pride. Don't take my word for it, just watch the above video for yourself. Sorry but I'm sure some of that will be burned into your memory till the day that you die. Trouble is, with this maniac in control that maybe a whole lot sooner than you think!

Twitter and the blogspere was burning up with Tweets about this. My favorite reaction was a little skit by Chuck Schumer:



I'm expecting to hear any day now from either Paul Ryan or Mitch McConnell that from that day forward all conversations, letters, emails, and such must begin and end with a Heil Trump! Think about it, with an ego like that, it's just a matter of time, America!

In Other News

I see where France is offering grants for American scientists fighting global warming.

You may, or may not, recall that during his campaign, the newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron had promised he would offer those in the U.S. working to fight climate change "a second homeland" in France. Many had hoped Macron would honor this pledge. Now it appears that Macron is placing science and the environment at the forefront of his new administration, with the new "Make Our Planet Great Again" website, which offers four-year grants for American scientists, educators, students and entrepreneurs working toward solving global warming. Grant, what a dear word, perhaps I'll apply! Can you see the difference between having a caring, intellectual, president, like Macron and what we're saddled with for the next four years? For those who can't, ones trying to kill us for profit, and ones trying to save us, any clearer?

In light of Trump's recent decision to leave the Paris Agreement, this is an especially important and timely commitment. Many researchers have suffered under the Trump administration's regressive stance on climate science, facing budget cuts which have threatened not only their continued work, but our very existence!

We should applaud Macron's decision to support the important work and research of climate scientists and those working on innovative solutions to combat global warming. If the U.S. is not willing to provide the resources needed, it not only admirable, but vital that others step up to offer a platform for continued research. Trump doesn't care, because he'll be dead soon and won't have to face the consequences of his actions.

And Finally

Apparently Attorney General Jeff Sessions has Alzheimer's and can't remember a thing, he made "I don't recall" his mantra at least 26 times before the Senate committee. For example:
Sen. Burr: "You said you don't remember whether the ambassador from Russia was [at the Mayflower Hotel.]"

Sessions: "I did not remember that, but I understand he was there. So I don't doubt that he was. I believe that representations are correct. I recently saw a video of him coming into the room."

5. Sen. Burr: "You never remember having a conversation or meeting with the ambassador?" Sessions: "I do not."

If you had a conversation with Russian Ambassador I'm guessing you would remember it to your dying day and would recall everything that was said! Wouldn't you? Not Jeff!
Sen. Burr: "Have you had any other interactions with government officials over the year in a campaign capacity?"

Sessions: "No, Mr. Chairman. No. I've racked my brain to make sure I could answer those questions correctly and I did not. … When asked about whether I had any meetings with Russians by the reporter in March, we immediately recalled the conversation and the encounter I had at the convention and the meeting in my office and made that public. I never intended not to include that. I would have gladly have reported the meeting and encounter that may have occurred, and some say occurred, in the Mayflower if I had remembered it or if it actually occurred, which I don't remember that it did."

And when he did remember something he wouldn't say.

For example, Sessions refused to discuss any conversations he's had with Trump, based on the legal theory that if he doesn't want to, he doesn't have to. Sessions didn't invoke executive privilege, nor did he, as New Mexico Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich pointed out, claim that the conversations he's had with Trump included classified material, the other thing that might render them off limits. Sessions simply claimed it was against DoJ policy to discuss anything said between an attorney general and the president. Which is, of course, a lie! Oh, and wasn't it fun, when Senator Harris tore Sessions a new one? You go girl!!!

Whether Sessions has Alzheimers or is a bald faced liar, my guess is it's both, but either way he needs to be removed! Session with the rest of the Cabal has got to go and they've got to go now! Either by impeachment, in the voting booth, or perhaps being shot at a baseball game, which, I understand, has become very popular amongst the pissed off masses! Apparently, liberals have guns too! If he survives, let's ask Con-gressman Scalise how he feels about gun control now????

Keepin' On

What a difference a week makes! We'd like to thank Bernice from Michigan, a first timer, for sending in a nice check! Thanks Bernice! And if I'm not mistaken a very nice donation from Dr. Phil or more likely from Mr. Jack, (I get those two confused) both of them are "Usual Suspects!" I'm guessing it was either Dr. Phil or Mr. Jack as it came from a Cassville Ga. zip code and not from their zip code but did come in their handwriting! Either way, these two donations put us well on the way to paying at least one of our remaining bills! So thanks Ya'll for the help!

If I could get the rest of the Usual Suspects to make a similar donation we could pay off all three bills and be set for another year. If you'd like to see us continue the fight against the "dark side" and you're wondering what to do with that fat refund check from Uncle Sam, I have a few thoughts on that subject, that I'd like to share! Can you guess what they are? I knew that you could! You might want to consider keeping us fighting for your rights by sending in a donation via, cash, check or money order!

Ergo, if you enjoy your weekly Issues & Alibis, and would hate to see it disappear as so many other liberal sites have done, then please send us whatever you can, as often as you can; and we'll continue to fight the forces of darkness for you!

*****


09-19-1928 ~ 06-09-2017
Thanks for the film!



04-06-1944 ~ 06-13-2017
Thanks for the film!




*****

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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) 2017 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.




Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn



Goodbye, And Good Riddance, To Centrism
Jeremy Corbyn delivers another blow to the defining political myth of our era
By Matt Taibbi

Last week, after yet another week of anti-establishment upheavals in Europe, former Bush speechwriter and current Atlantic senior editor David Frum tweeted in despair:

"I think we need a word to describe people broadly satisfied with the status quo & skeptical of radical changes based on wild promises."
Frum was responding to a move by Catalonia to seek independence from Spain. But he might as well have been talking about the electoral successes of Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party in Britain, which Frum also denounced last week.

Frum was so distressed by all this rejecting of the status quo going on that he proposed that those "broadly satisfied" folks band together to create a political coalition:

"I mean, there have to be a few of us, right? Maybe we could form a movement of some kind or form a political party with that word in it?"
The responses to Frum on social media were priceless. One tweeter suggested Frum could call his party the "ungressives." Another humorous name proposal: the "Quo-nothings."

Frum's clarion call spoke to the almost total cluelessness of the D.C./punditoid class to which he belongs. (To be clear, though I'm a New Yorker, I also belong to this miserable group.)

Our media priesthood reacted with near-universal horror at the election in Britain. We panned the result in which Labour, led by the despised Corbyn, took 261 seats and won 40 percent of the vote, Labour's largest share since hallowed third-way icon Tony Blair won 40.7 percent in 2001.

Corbyn's strong showing came as a surprise to American readers, who were told repeatedly that Britain's support for the unvarnished lefty would result in historic losses for liberalism.

The status quo line on Corbyn followed a path identical to the propaganda here at home about liberal politics. Whenever Washington pundits in either party talk about the progressive "base," you can count on two themes appearing in the coverage.

One is that "progressive" voters make decisions based upon their hearts and not their heads, with passions rather than intellect. The second is that such voters consistently choose incorrectly when forced to choose between ideals and winning.

The New York Times perfectly summed up this take a few days after the Corbyn result, describing the reaction of the American left: "Democrats in Split-Screen. The Base Wants it All, The Party Wants to Win."

This has long been the establishment line both here and in Britain. In the U.K., the once-revered Blair's support among European progressives tumbled after he supported the Iraq War efforts of Frum's former boss George Bush. Blair years ago warned that Corbyn was leading his party over a cliff toward "total annihilation."


Jeremy Corbyn, leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party,
looks at newspapers in Islington, London, Britain June 10, 2017.

The former PM played a lurid riff on the heart-head propaganda line, telling Britons whose "heart is with Corbyn" to "get a transplant."

In December, Barack Obama said he wasn't worried about the "Corbynization" of American politics because "the Democratic Party has stayed pretty grounded in fact and reality."

The idea that British liberals had failed the "wanting versus winning" test and elected to live in loserific "unreality" has been everywhere in our media for years.

"A cult is destroying a major liberal political party," insisted CNN's Michael Weiss. Eric Boehlert of Media Matters, a quasi-official weathervane of mainstream Democratic Party opinion, declared in January, "Corbyn has been a disaster for Labour."

In April, the Washington Post ran a piece saying that swooningly "rigid" leftists in Britain would pay a high price for supporting a man in "cuckoo world."

The idea that people who want expanded health care, reduced income inequality, fewer wars and more public services are "unrealistic" springs from an old deception in our politics.

For decades pundits and pols have been telling progressive voters they don't have the juice to make real demands, and must make alliances with more "moderate" and presumably more numerous "centrists" in order to avoid becoming the subjects of right-wing monsters like Reagan/Bush/Bush/Trump.

Voters for decades were conned into thinking they were noisome minorities whose best path to influence is to make peace with the mightier "center," which inevitably turns out to support military interventionism, fewer taxes for the rich, corporate deregulation and a ban on unrealistic "giveaway" proposals like free higher education. Those are the realistic, moderate, popular ideas, we're told.

But it's a Wizard of Oz trick, just like American politics in general. There is no numerically massive center behind the curtain. What there is instead is a tiny island of wealthy donors, surrounded by a protective ring of for-sale major-party politicians (read: employees) whose job it is to castigate too-demanding voters and preach realism.

Those pols do so with the aid of a bund of dependably alarmist sycophants in the commercial media, most of whom, whether they know it or not, technically inhabit the low end of the 1 percent and tend to be amazed that people out there are pissed off about stuff.

In the States, the centrist Oz has maintained its influence in large part thanks to another numerical deception. We've been taught that our political spectrum is an unbroken line moving from right to left, Republican to Democrat, and that the country is split in half between the two groups.

Propaganda about the pitched battle between the two even "sides" has seemingly been reinforced by election results. In 2000, with Bush and Gore, we even had an episode involving a near-perfect statistical tie.

As noted at the time by Noam Chomsky - like Corbyn, much loathed by Quo-Nothing types as a hygiene-averse whiner who poisons young minds with unrealistic ideas - you'd normally expect a vote involving over 100 million people to end in a statistical tie only if they were voting for something meaningless or fictional, like the presidency of Mars.

For Americans to be split right down the middle on an issue of supreme importance, Chomsky observed, something had to be a little bit wrong with the voting model.

And there was. The half-versus-half, left-versus-right spectrum has always been a goofball myth. The true divide in the population has never been between Republicans and Democrats, but between haves and have-nots.

Whatever you might think of the Occupy movement, it succeeded in pulling a lid back on some of these illusions by popularizing terms like "the 1 percent" and "the 99 percent." Occupy described the numerical majority as dupes of a tiny oligarchy, which allowed the disaffected population to choose occasionally between two parties that are funded by the same tiny group of super-wealthy donors.


Occupy protesters

Of course some will vigorously object to any characterization that tries to morally equate Democrats with what is now the Party of Trump (I can already hear the cries of "both-sidesism!"). But Occupy was surely correct in saying the economic picture of America doesn't fit a 50-50 narrative. Their 1/99 picture was a lot closer to reality.

If we're going to be exact about it, in fact, the billionaires who still dominate the political donor class mainly reside in the top tenth of a percent. Even in the most conservative possible interpretation of economic data, a general picture of haves and have-nots in the voting population would still be something like 20/80 (20 percent of Americans own 89 percent of privately held wealth, while the bottom 80 percent owns just 11 percent).

The danger implicit in these numbers to the "broadly satisfied with the status quo" types is obvious. If 80 percent of Americans ever realized their shared economic situation, they could and probably should take over government. Of course, they wouldn't just be taking power for themselves, they'd be taking it from the big-dollar donors who own such a disproportionately huge share of wealth in our society.

Such people of course have many very good reasons to embrace the status quo. The problem is, they're not terribly numerous as a group, which unfortunately for them still matters in a democracy. It's one of the unpleasant paradoxes of exclusive wealth. If you live in a democracy, you're continually forced to manufacture the appearance of broad support for the regressive policies underpinning your awesome lifestyle.

In the 2016 presidential election, voters in both parties were more willing than ever to say they felt alienated from the "center." They were also more likely to view big-city media figures like Frum and myself as agents of a phony system out to sell them a fake version of "reality."

Here and abroad, voters in other words stopped deferring to politicians and media figures and began making their own decisions about what is and is not realistic.

The results have been mixed to say the least. But let's not pretend that the election of Donald Trump is the same as support for Jeremy Corbyn, or that either of these things are the same as a Catalonian separatist movement, or Brexit, or whatever - just because all these developments may be equally horrifying to "those broadly satisfied with the status quo." If those of us in the media spent less time lecturing about the wisdom of the status quo, and more time treating disaffected voters like the overwhelming majority they are, we might at least stop face-planting on our election predictions. We're not the center anymore, and we have to stop acting like we ever were.
(c) 2017 Matt Taibbi is Rolling Stone's chief political reporter, Matt Taibbi's predecessors include the likes of journalistic giants Hunter S. Thompson and P.J. O'Rourke. Taibbi's 2004 campaign journal Spanking the Donkey cemented his status as an incisive, irreverent, zero-bullshit reporter. His books include Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History, The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion, Smells Like Dead Elephants: Dispatches from a Rotting Empire.





Whoso Confesseth And Forsaketh
By Uri Avnery

IN THE tumult of the last few days, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the "unification" of Jerusalem, one of the articles stated that "even peace-activist Uri Avnery" voted in the Knesset for the unification of the city.

That is true. I have tried to set out the circumstances in my autobiography, "Optimistic". But not everyone has read the book and it has so far appeared only in Hebrew.

Therefore I shall try to explain again that curious vote. Explain, not justify.

ON TUESDAY, June 27, 1967, two weeks after the 6-day war, I did not get up. I had the flu, and Rachel, my wife, had given me a lot of medicines. Suddenly they called me from the Knesset and told me that the chamber had just started a debate on the unification of Jerusalem, which had not appeared on the agenda.

I jumped out of bed and drove like hell from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, some 65 kilometers. Upon arriving I was told that the list of speakers had already been closed. But the Speaker, Kadish Luz, famous for his fairness, added me to the list.

I had just a few minutes to think. My parliamentary assistant, Amnon Zichroni, advised me to vote against, or at least to abstain. There was no time to consult with the leading members of my party, "Haolam Hazeh - New Force". I made the decision on the spot, and the decision was to vote in favor.

That was mainly an instinctive reaction. It came from the bottom of my soul. After the amazing triumph, which had came after three weeks of gathering anxiety, the huge victory in just six days looked like a miracle. The Jewish population, in all its parts, was in ecstasy. This mood crossed all dividing lines.

East Jerusalem was the center of the mass ecstasy. It was like a Tsunami. Masses flowed to the Western Wall, which had been unapproachable for 19 years. Both the pious and non-believers were intoxicated.

I felt that a political movement, which intends to win the masses for a new outlook, cannot in such a moment stand outside the people. Faced with such a storm, it cannot stay aloof.

I myself was not unaffected by the emotional storm. I loved Jerusalem. Before the partition of the country during the 1948 war, in which Jerusalem was divided, I had often wandered through the alleys of the Arab parts of the town. After that war, I longed for the Old City in an almost physical way. When the Knesset was in session, I often used to reside in the King David hotel that overlooks the Old City, and I remember many nights when I stood at the open window and listened to far-away dogs breaking the silence beyond the wall - and longing.

But besides the emotion, there was also a logical consideration.

Already in 1949, on the morrow of the war during which Israel was founded, I started to campaign for the "Two State Solution" - the setting up of an independent State of Palestine side by side with the State of Israel, as two equal states in the framework of a federation.

In 1957, after the Sinai War, I published - together with Natan Yellin-Mor, the former leader of the Lehi underground (a.k.a. the Stern Group), the writer Boaz Evron and others - a document called "the Hebrew Manifesto", of which I am proud even today. At the time, East Jerusalem and the West Bank were part of the kingdom of Jordan. Inter alia the document said:

"21. All of Eretz Israel (Palestine) is the homeland of its two nations - the Hebrew one, which has attained its independence in the framework of the State of Israel, and the Arab-Palestinian one, which has not yet achieved independence. The State of Israel will offer political and material assistance to the liberation movement of the Palestinian nation...which strives to establish a free Palestinian state, which will be a partner of the State of Israel...

"22. (There will be set up) a federation of the parts of Eretz-Israel (Palestine), which will safeguard the independence of all the states which are parts of it."

According to this plan, Jerusalem should have become a united city, the capital of Israel, the capital of Palestine and the capital of the federation.

At the time, that looked like a remote vision. But after the 1967 war the vision suddenly became real. The Jordanian regime was vanquished. Nobody seriously believed that the world would allow Israel to keep the territories it had just conquered. It seemed clear that we would be compelled to give them back, as we did after the war before that, the Sinai War of 1956.

I was convinced that this situation would give us the historic opportunity to realize our vision. For that to happen, we had first to prevent the return of the territories to Jordan. The unification of the two parts of Jerusalem looked to me like the logical first step. The more so since in the proposed law, the words "annexation" or "unification" did not appear. It said only that Israeli law would apply there.

All this passed through my mind in the few minutes I had. I approached the rostrum and said: "It is not a secret that I and my colleagues strive for the unification of the country in a federation of the State of Israel and a Palestinian state that will come into being in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, a federation whose capital will be united Jerusalem as a part of the State of Israel."

The last words were, of course, an error. I should have said: "as a part of the State of Israel and the State of Palestine."

THE REASONS for this vote were logical, at least in part, but the entire vote looked to me, in retrospect, like a very serious mistake. After a short time, I apologized for it in public. I have repeated this apology many times.

Within a short time it became quite clear that the State of Israel did not dream of allowing the Palestinians to establish a state of their own, and even less to divide sovereignty over Jerusalem. Today it is clear that from the first day - still under the Labor Party, led by Levy Eshkol - there was the intention of keeping these territories forever, or as long as possible.

11 years earlier, after the Sinai War, David Ben-Gurion had submitted to the parallel ultimatums of Dwight Eisenhower and Nikolai Bulganin, the heads of state of the USA and the Soviet Union. 105 hours after declaring the "Third Israeli Kingdom:", Ben-Gurion announced in a broken voice on the radio that he would give back all the conquered territories.

It was incredible that the weakling Eshkol would succeed where the great Ben-Gurion had failed, and hold on to the conquered territories. But contrary to all expectations, there was no pressure at all to give back anything. The occupation continues to this very day.

Therefore, the question did not even arise: whether to return the territories to the Kingdom of Jordan or turn them into the State of Palestine.

By the way, in those days, when the glory of our generals reached the skies, there were among them some who supported openly or secretly the idea of establishing a Palestinian state side by side with Israel. The most outspoken of these was General Israel Tal, the renowned tank commander. I tried very hard to convince him to assume the leadership of the peace camp, but he preferred to devote his efforts to building the Merkava tank.

Years later I tried to convince General Ezer Weizman, the former Air Force commander and the real victor of the 1967 war. His nationalist convictions changed and approached those of our group. But he preferred to become the President of Israel.

Even Ariel Sharon toyed for some years with these ideas. He preferred a Palestinian state to giving the territories back to Jordan. He told me that in the 50s, when he was still serving in the army, he had proposed to the General Staff to support the Palestinians against the Jordanian regime. He proposed this in secret, while I was demanding it in public.

But all this theorizing could not stand up to the reality: the occupation deepened from day to day. The readiness to give up all the occupied territories, even in ideal circumstances, dwindled more and more.

And on the other side?

I had many conversations with the admired (by me, too) leader of the Arab population in East Jerusalem, Faissal al-Husseini. The idea of a united Jerusalem, capital of two states, attracted him, too. We drew up together an appeal in this spirit. We talked about this, of course, with Yasser Arafat, and he fully agreed - but was not ready to confirm this in public.

TWO WEEKS after the Knesset vote, I published in my weekly magazine, Haolam Hazeh, another plan, under the headline "A basic, fair and practical solution". The first paragraph read: "There will be created a federation of Eretz-Israel (Palestine) which will include the State of Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, the capital of which will be Greater Jerusalem."

This plan was signed by an amazing 64 well-known Israeli personalities, including writer Dan Ben-Amotz, humorist Uri Zohar, peace-pilot Abie Nathan, publisher Amikan Gurevich, sculptor Yigal Tomarkin, painter Dani Karavan, Nathan Yellin-Mor, captain Nimrod Eshel, film-maker Alex Massis, writer Boaz Evron, journalist Heda Boshes, art-custodian Yona Fisher and the famous educator Ernst Simon, the close friend of the already dead Martin Buber.

This document, like all the former plans, included the aim of creating a regional framework, like the European Union which was then in the making.

(By the way, lately a new fashion has been spreading in several circles: a new ideal solution to the conflict: the establishment of an Israeli-Palestinian federation and a "regional solution". I assume that many of the new advocates of this solution were not yet born when these documents were published. If so, I have to disappoint them: all these ideas were voiced already a long time ago. This should not discourage them. May they be blessed.)

IN THE recent publications it was also mentioned that I proposed adopting the song "Jerusalem of Gold" as the national anthem of Israel.

Naomi Shemer wrote this beautiful song for a Jerusalem contest, when nobody yet dreamed about the 1967 Six-day War.

I intensely dislike the present national anthem, "Hatikvah" ("the Hope"). The text is about the life of the Jews in the Diaspora and the melody seems to be taken from a Romanian folk-song. Not to mention the fact that more than 20% of Israeli citizens are Arabs. (Perhaps we should learn from Canada, which long ago changed its British anthem and flag out of respect for its 20% French-speaking citizens.)

I decided to propose Shemer's song to the Knesset as the national anthem. After the 1967 war it had already become the rage of the masses. I submitted a bill accordingly.

That was, of course, a dubious proposal. Shemer did not mention in her song that there were Arabs in Jerusalem. The words have a strong nationalist flavor. But I thought that after the idea of a new anthem was accepted, we could rectify the text.

The Knesset Speaker, Luz, was ready to accept the bill and put it on the agenda only if Naomi Shemer agreed. I made an appointment with her and we had a pleasant talk in a cafe. She did not agree outright, but allowed me to state that she did not object.

Throughout the conversation I had the feeling that there was an unexplained reluctance on her side. I remembered this years later, when it was disclosed that the rousing melody was not really composed by her, but was a Basque folk song. I felt rather sorry for her.

TO SUM up: the vote of the "peace activist Uri Avnery" for the "unification" of Jerusalem was a huge mistake. I am taking this opportunity to apologize for it again.

I request for the application of the Biblical verse (Proverbs 28.13): "But whoso confesseth and forsaketh shall have mercy".
(c) 2017 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom







Dumb Donald Thinks He's Pulled The Plug On ISIS And Al-Qaida (And The CIA?)
By Glen Ford

The international Islamic jihadist network, created nearly four decades ago in Afghanistan by the United States, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, is unraveling in full view of a planetary audience. Donald Trump thinks it's all his doing -- but he's wrong, of course.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has rallied most of the Gulf Cooperative Council to isolate -- and possibly overthrow -- the emir of neighboring Qatar, the world's third largest natural gas producer. The dispute between Qatar and the House of Saud -- the two main funders of al Qaida and its spawn, the Islamic State -- is rooted in rivalries beyond the mental grasp of the idiot in the White House, but Trump nevertheless takes full credit. "During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology," Trump tweeted. "Leaders pointed to Qatar - look!"

Trump appears to actually believe that the Saudis -- the godfathers, along with U.S., of international jihadism -- have renounced their bankrolling of Islamist holy wars.

"So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off," tweeted Trump. "They said they would take a hard line on funding. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!"

The Saudis are blaming their fellow Wahhabist, the Emir of Qatar, for "adopting various terrorist and sectarian groups aimed at destabilizing the region including the Muslim Brotherhood Group, Daesh (ISIS) and Al-Qaeda, promoting the ethics and plans of these groups through its media...supporting the activities of Iranian-backed terrorist groups in the governorate of Qatif of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Kingdom of Bahrain, financing, adopting and sheltering extremists who seek to undermine the stability and unity of the homeland at home and abroad, and using the media that seek to fuel the strife internally...."

In addition to shutting off trade, travel and diplomatic relations with Qatar, a tiny peninsula jutting out from the Persian Gulf side of Saudi Arabia, the House of Saud has excommunicated Qatar's emir from the Wahhabist fold -- a heavy sanction among hereditary rulers whose legitimacy is bound up in their relationship to The Faith. However, the key point of the Saudi indictment involves Qatar's support for the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Saudi royal family opposes all forms of political Islam as a threat to its own legitimacy as Protector of the Two Holy Cities, Mecca and Medina. Since its final conquest of most of the Arabian peninsula in the early 20th century, and in subsequent alliance with British imperialism, the House of Saud has ruled with the assent of the Wahhabi clerical class. It is a delicate arrangement, in which the hereditary royals are allowed control of the state and national resources in return for the Saudi state's support of the clerics' ultra-fundamentalist Wahhabi ideology, which sanctions the killing of Muslims deemed heretics and "idolators," mainly Shia. The House of Saud views the Muslim Brotherhood, the godfather of modern political Islam, as a challenge to the legitimacy absolute royal rule. The Brotherhood has influenced the widest range of Islamist political tendencies, from bourgeois electoral party politics to advocacy of a unified, Muslim-wide caliphate. But Saudi Arabia does not tolerate political pluralism, and royal rule is ultimately antithetical to a caliphate. And therein lies the political-theological contradiction.

The House of Saud has trod a perilous path to maintain its family's monopoly on the riches beneath its soil. (Actually, most of the oil lies in land populated by the Kingdom's Shia minority.) The deal requires the Saudi state to provide massive support for the export of the clerical class's Wahhabist ideology to the far reaches of the Muslim world, yet it holds temporal power firmly in the hands of the princes, not the clerics.

The other pillar of royal rule is western imperialism. The Brits, and then the Americans, partnered with the House of Saud as a bulwark against secular nationalism in the Arab and Muslim world. It was only logical that the Saudis would ally with the American CIA to create the world's first international jihadist network to overthrow a secular leftist government in Afghanistan in the late 1970s, thus bringing forth al Qaida and its many offspring.

The royal family of Qatar, with a citizen population of only 200,000 (the rest of the 2 million inhabitants are non-citizens, mostly low-wage workers, a plurality from India), is also nominally Wahhabist. But they chose a different path to political legitimacy -- while also becoming exporters of jihadist terror. The tiny state's emirs tried to establish a pan-Arab and pan-Muslim political presence commensurate with their wealth -- the highest per capita in the world -- through an aggressive strategy including generous support for the Muslim Brotherhood. Qatar gave billions to the short-lived government of Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, before he was overthrown by the military in 2013. (The Saudis then funneled billions to his jailer, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi who, predictably, has joined in the isolation of Qatar.)

The emirs garnered considerable global prestige through their news and analysis outlet, but Al-Jazeera was often a source of irritation to the Saudi, Kuwaiti and Emirati royals, as well as western imperialists. Al-Jazeera was accused of blatantly favoring the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt, and kicked out of the country. The next year, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states severed relations with Qatar for eight months, as punishment.

Despite their differences, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are all partners with the U.S. in the proxy, terror war against Syria. It's a matter of self-preservation. As hereditary regimes, they reject democracy of any flavor. As clients of western imperialism, they oppose Arab nationalism and are ultimately subservient to Washington. They are allied with the most reactionary elements of the clergy, who demand support for Islamist war. And, they wishfully believe that by exporting terror, they insulate themselves from jihadist wrath. But, the weight of contradictions spell doom for all of these autocrats -- and looming defeat for the United States.

Donald Trump seems honestly giddy, apparently believing he has forced the Saudis to reject jihadist terror and to punish Qatar for its support of ISIS and al-Qaida. Perhaps he truly does not know that the main actor in the proxy war is not Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Kuwait, or Qatar -- it is the CIA, the other, and most important, godfather of Islamist jihad. (The CIA is not a friend of Trump, so maybe they are not talking to each other.) The United States has become dependent on al-Qaida and its cousins as foot soldiers of imperialism in southwest Asia. If the fighters are decommissioned, through the denial of arms, money and protection, then the war against Syria is lost, and the U.S. military offensive begun by President Obama in 2011, with the unprovoked attack on Libya, will have ended in defeat. Without the jihadists, the U.S. would have to resort to massive deployment of its own troops to the region -- a mission that the American people will not accept.

The Saudi regime, in particular, may not survive an end to the Syria war. During the course of the conflict, the Islamic State faction of al-Qaida crossed a political Rubicon, declaring war on Saudi Arabia in 2014 and proclaiming itself a caliphate. The only ideological difference between the Islamic State and al-Qaida in Syria is that al-Qaida is willing to postpone the establishment of a caliphate, while ISIS is not. Otherwise, the two factions are identical in their political theology. If the jihadists are defeated in Syria -- and, especially, if they feel they have been betrayed -- they will vent their most intense fury on their co-religionists and former sugar daddies in the Gulf. Al-Qaida will become an ISIS, with no mercy on its former patrons.

So, don't believe for a second that the Saudis are abandoning ISIS and al-Qaida, or are attempting to force Qatar to do the same. Neither is the CIA, which simply rebrands its jihadists when their names become too notorious.

Does Donald Trump know that the Saudis are blowing smoke in his face? Does he realize that his own CIA and military have no intention of giving up their jihadists, whom they cannot do without? Who knows? Does it really matter? The criminal U.S. war against Syria will unravel from the weight of its own contradictions. In the end, Washington's Gulf "partners" necks will be on the chopping block.
(c) 2017 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.







White House For Sale: Emoluments, Corruption And Donald Trump
By Amy Goodman

"Emolument" is a word few people used, or even knew, until Donald Trump assumed the presidency. Now, it's being bandied about the Beltway on a daily basis, and is at the heart of several lawsuits accusing President Trump of corruption. At issue is a rarely referenced item in the U.S. Constitution, the foreign emoluments clause. There is a parallel domestic emoluments clause as well, which plaintiffs say Trump also is violating. Trump told The New York Times last November, after winning the Electoral College but losing the popular vote, "The law's totally on my side, meaning, the president can't have a conflict of interest." This slew of lawsuits is taking aim at his claim, as evidence mounts of his personal enrichment off the presidency.

The eighth clause in Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution states: "No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State." No one is accusing Trump of taking a title of nobility, although who would be surprised if he did accept one? But emoluments aplenty seem to be coming Trump's way since he took office, some from foreign governments with important business with the United States. Three prominent lawsuits to date seek to remedy this. One was filed days after Trump took office by the nonprofit watchdog group CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington). Another was filed Monday by the Washington, D.C., and Maryland attorneys general. And despite the tumult in Washington caused by the terrible shooting at a Republican congressional baseball practice where five were injured, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, a third lawsuit was filed Wednesday by close to 200 Democratic members of Congress.

Never in U.S. history has the prospect of a president's real and potential business dealings created such a marked array of conflicts. Donald Trump has real estate and other businesses around the globe. The Atlantic has been compiling a rolling "crib sheet" of his potential conflicts, listing no less than 44 separate, serious items in which his personal profit could hinge on U.S. government actions or policies over which he presides.

The CREW lawsuit addresses a direct conduit of foreign-government money to the Trump family via the new Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, just blocks from the White House. CREW's complaint alleges that "since the November 8, 2016 election, foreign diplomats have been flocking to Defendant's D.C. hotel, eager to curry favor with Defendant and afraid of what Defendant may think or do if they send their business elsewhere in Washington. ... The hotel also hired a 'director of diplomatic sales' to facilitate business with foreign states and their diplomats and agents." The lawsuit continues, "One "Middle Eastern diplomat' told The Washington Post about the hotel: 'Believe me, all the delegations will go there.'"

The D.C./Maryland lawsuit explains: "Following the defendant's inauguration, he continues to own and control hundreds of businesses throughout the world, including hotels and other properties. His business empire comprises a multitude of different corporations, limited-liability companies, limited partnerships, and other entities that he owns or controls-in whole or in part-operating in the United States and at least 20 foreign countries." They are suing, they write, so that, among other issues, "Americans do not have to guess whether a President who orders their sons and daughters to die in foreign lands acts out of concern for his private business interests."

The congressional lawsuit, led by Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Detroit Congressman John Conyers, reiterates many of Trump's alleged constitutional violations of the emoluments clause, but focuses on a key phrase: "without the Consent of the Congress." They want the courts to force Trump to seek congressional approval before he receives any profits, or "emoluments," from business dealings with foreign states. A key condition congressional Democrats would demand: release of Trump's tax returns.

"We have seen over and over again that this president believes he is above the law in so many ways," Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, said on the "Democracy Now!" news hour. "In a democracy, no one is above the law, not the president or anyone else."

As the members of Congress filed their lawsuit, The Washington Post broke the news that special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice related to his firing of FBI Director James Comey-all this on Donald Trump's 71st birthday.
(c) 2017 Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now,!" a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 750 stations in North America. She is the co"author of "Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times," recently released in paperback and "Breaking The Sound Barrier."







Dr. Ben Carson's Right-Wing Medicine Show
By Jim Hightower

The Trumpeters are fully embracing the right-wing's imperious disdain for poor people, blaming them for creating their own economic distress - a convenient ideological fabrication for a government intent on destroying our nation's social safety net.

And who better to mouth this moral rationalization of a patently immoral policy than Trump's Housing Secretary, Dr. Ben Carson? Raised in poverty, he became a renowned and very wealthy surgeon, so other impoverished Americans should do likewise. Carson recently spoke to this, explaining that poverty is just "a state of mind." See, it's simple - simplistically-speaking. Of course, poverty is actually a state of money (ie, the lack thereof). It's also a state of joblessness... of miserly minimum wages... of being disabled... of limited education... of a prison record... and of many other hard-knock realities. Carson offers bootstrap babble about poor people having "the wrong mindset," adding that America's safety net has made poverty too "cozy" for the poor - all of which is a plutocratic fantasy to make Trump & Company feel righteous about trying to cut off the helping hand.

One cut whacks $6 billion out of Carson's own agency, including a vital program helping five million very-low-income Americans rent apartments. Nine-out-of-ten of them are either elderly, people with disabilities, veterans, or working poor people with children. Slamming the door in their faces condemns most of them to living on the streets. How does that "Make America Great?"

It's time to say the obvious: The likes of Trump and Carson are incompetent ideologues, operating as if gutting government programs will magically make our country's complex problems go "away." They simply don't know what they're doing, don't know how to govern a great democracy, and they're making a great mess.
(c) 2017
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.




President Donald Trump holds a joint news conference with President Klaus Iohannis
of Romania, in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, DC, June 9, 2017.




William Rivers Pitt | We Are Not Broke: Trashing The Austerity Lies
By William Rivers Pitt

"To be very rich is to have the luxury of constructing a plausible theory of morality that allows you to hold on to everything you have. It is to believe that you can sit in the shoeshine booth and drive a $300,000 McLaren and raise money for Donald Trump and lobby for a zillion-dollar tax cut paid for on the backs of the poor and still be a good American. And to never have to think twice about it." ~~~ Hamilton Nolan

Raise your hand if you remember the "Panama Papers" scandal. Don't feel bad if the details don't immediately leap to mind; this particular story, after it broke, was buried at record speed with no headstone to mark the grave. The reasons for that become manifestly clear pretty quickly. I first wrote about it more than a year ago:

It was recently revealed by way of a massive document leak that the wealthiest of the global wealthy have taken trillions of dollars and, through the services of a secretive Panamanian law firm, squirrelled that money away inside virtual coffee cans in tax havens all over the world. The "Panama Papers" scandal, as it has come to be called, has ensnared a large number of world leaders, and cost Iceland's prime minister his job. Those 11 million pages contain the names of hundreds of Americans who also used the services of that Panamanian firm to hide their money.
The grim fact of the matter is that this nation's billionaires -- a few of whom own pretty much the entirety of the corporate "news" media -- have absolutely no interest whatsoever having their dirty financial laundry aired. By the time the names of some Americans listed in the Panama Papers were released, the report had been put on Ignore by virtually every major news outlet in the country. Thus, not with a bang but a whimper, one of the most important stories of the era was quietly stuffed under the couch cushions with the potato chip crumbs and the lost dimes.

Well, the story is back, and as it turns out, it is bigger than anyone imagined a year ago. Researchers have combined what they know about the Panama Papers with what was discovered in 2007 after the release of what became known as the "Swiss Papers" -- a document leak that described the hidden wealth of some 30,000 clients of HSBC Private Bank, a Swiss subsidiary of the British banking titan. The results, to date, are nothing short of astonishing and infuriating.

From a recent Washington Post report:

Researchers in Scandinavia and the United States use the Swiss and Panamanian leaks to show that global tax evasion is likely much more prevalent than previously thought. Their estimates indicate that the top 0.01 percent of the wealth distribution own about half of all offshore assets and may be hiding roughly a quarter of their wealth offshore. Their estimates show that the wealthiest people are getting away with paying far less than their fair share. If the top 0.01 percent have 30 percent more wealth than their tax returns indicate, that puts far more distance in the yawning wealth gap between the haves and have-nots. The findings imply that governments are missing out on a lot of revenue that is being hidden by the super wealthy.
Let that sink in nice and deep. The wealthiest of the wealthy using tax dodges and offshore safehouses to hide their money from the tax man is an international phenomenon, to be sure, but the issue takes on a decidedly unique slant here in the United States. It was confirmed in the original reporting on the Panama Papers last year that hundreds of the wealthiest US citizens enjoy the privileges of offshore cash havens, even as the new government in Washington pleads abject poverty while seeking to bleed the poorest among us for the benefit of the richest.

Look no further than President Trump's own budget proposal, a truly monstrous document that would, among other things, strip $800 billion (that's "billion" with a "b") from Medicaid, and obliterate educational services, job training programs and nutritional assistance programs like school lunches for children and "Meals on Wheels." The foolish border wall gets a couple billion dollars in this budget, and the Pentagon gets a 10 percent bump in its revenue. Natch.

Trump and congressional Republicans put their heads together a little while back and concocted what are essentially matching tax plans. These plans, if reconciled and passed, would represent a massive transfer of wealth to the richest people in the country, again. Remember the George W. Bush tax cuts of fifteen years ago? Like that, but strapped to a rocket pack and launched into space. And then there is the American Health Care Act, the witless GOP answer to Obama's Affordable Care Act. Beyond stripping more than 20 million Americans of their access to health insurance, the AHCA is also a stealth tax cut for the rich. The ACA is supported by various taxes, mostly on wealthier Americans who can presumably afford it. The AHCA would cut those taxes by around $765 billion, and a vast majority of that money would go to the top of the financial heap, again. "According to the Tax Policy Center," reports NPR, "the top 20 percent of earners would receive 64 percent of the savings and the top 1 percent of earners (those making more than $772,000 in 2022) would receive 40 percent of the savings."

An ancillary benefit to the GOP in all this is the fact that another victim of the AHCA would be, again, Medicaid. Through their plan, funding for Medicaid would be diminished significantly and control of the program itself would be taken out of federal hands and put under the purview of the states. In this, they get two entitlement birds with one stone: The end of the Affordable Care Act, and the end of Medicaid as we have known it.

Why in the name of all that is holy and good would any reasonable person wish to inflict such pain on ordinary, innocent people? Put the question to a conservative advocate of these ideas, and they'll tell you lickety-split that it's the responsible thing to do. We're broke, see? Big debt, big deficit, we're all out of cash, so we have to make some painful choices to right the ship.

Lies.

These people are doing this because, for whatever reasons, they are driven by one sole purpose: fathomless greed. They are going for the loot, period. Whatever they have, they want more, and they don't want to share even a little bit they wouldn't notice was gone, so they hide it away in bank vaults spread across a global network of financial spider holes to avoid paying taxes, peeling off a few bills now and again to pay a politician to go on television and talk most earnestly about how broke we are.

Between the lost revenue to be found by taxing all that hidden money and one big audit of the Pentagon and the "defense" budget, we would have more than enough revenue on hand to solve problems we didn't even know we had. Education reform, infrastructure repair, actual health care reform … the money for it is all there, stuffed inside bank vaults on islands you've never heard of. The next time you see one of these animated mouthpieces talking about the necessity of austerity on your television, know to the very well of your soul that you are looking at a liar, a peddler of poison, a wrecker and a thief-in-waiting.

We are not broke. Our national priorities are merely broken. If any of the plans outlined by Trump and the congressional Republicans are allowed to see the light of legal day, two things will happen at speed: 1) This country will descend into a bleakness that will make our current estate seem like The Good Old Days by comparison; and, 2) The money they steal -- yes, steal -- by way of any or all of these bills will also disappear overseas, never to be seen again. They are going for the loot. They always have, and they always will.
(c) 2017 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.








The Age Of Anger
By Chris Hedges

The nihilism and rage sweeping across the globe are not generated by warped ideologies or medieval religious beliefs. These destructive forces have their roots in the obliterating of social, cultural and religious traditions by modernization and the consumer society, the disastrous attempts by the United States to carry out regime change, often through coups and wars, and the utopian neoliberal ideology that has concentrated wealth in the hands of a tiny cabal of corrupt global oligarchs.

This vast, global project of social engineering during the last century persuaded hundreds of millions of people, as Pankaj Mishra writes in "The Age of Anger: A History of the Present," "to renounce-and often scorn-a world of the past that had endured for thousands of years, and to undertake a gamble of creating modern citizens who would be secular, enlightened, cultured and heroic." The project has been a spectacular failure.

"To destroy a people," Alexander Solzhenitsyn noted acidly, "you must sever their roots." The wretched of the earth, as Frantz Fanon called them, have been shorn of any ideological or cultural cohesion. They are cut off from their past. They live in crushing poverty, numbing alienation, hopelessness and often terror. Mass culture feeds them the tawdry, the violent, the salacious and the ridiculous. They are rising up against these forces of modernization, driven by an atavistic fury to destroy the technocratic world that condemns them. This rage is expressed in many forms-Hindu nationalism, protofascism, jihadism, the Christian right, anarchic violence and others. But the various forms of ressentiment spring from the same deep wells of global despair. This ressentiment "poisons civil society and undermines political liberty," Mishra writes, and it is fueling "a global turn to authoritarianism and toxic forms of chauvinism."

Western elites, rather than accept their responsibility for the global anarchy, self-servingly define the clash as one between the values of the enlightened West and medieval barbarians. They see in the extreme nationalists, religious fundamentalists and jihadists an inchoate and inexplicable irrationality that can be quelled only with force. They have yet to grasp that the disenfranchised do not hate us for our values; they hate us because of our duplicity, use of indiscriminate industrial violence on their nations and communities and our hypocrisy. The dispossessed grasp the true message of the West to the rest of the planet: We have everything, and if you try to take it away from us we will kill you.

The more that Western elites are attacked, the more they too retreat into a mythological past, self-glorification and willful ignorance. Mishra writes:

Thus, in the very places [in the West] where secular modernity arose, with ideas that were then universally established-individualism (against the significance of social relations), the cult of efficiency and utility (against the ethic of honour), and the normalization of self-interest-the mythic Volk has reappeared as a spur to solidarity and action against real and imagined enemies.

But nationalism is, more than ever before, a mystification, if not a dangerous fraud with its promise of making a country 'great again' and its demonization of the 'other'; it conceals the real conditions of existence, and the true origins of suffering, even as it seeks to replicate the comforting balm of transcendental ideals within a bleak earthly horizon. Its political resurgence shows that ressentiment-in this case, of people who feel left behind by the globalized economy or contemptuously ignored by its slick overlords and cheerleaders in politics, business and the media-remains the default metaphysics of the modern world since [Jean-Jacques] Rousseau first defined it. And its most menacing expression in the age of individualism may well be the violent anarchism of the disinherited and the superfluous.

The proponents of globalization promised to lift workers across the planet into the middle class and instill democratic values and scientific rationalism. Religious and ethnic tensions would be alleviated or eradicated. This global marketplace would create a peaceful, prosperous community of nations. All we had to do was get government out of the way and kneel before market demands, held up as the ultimate form of progress and rationality.

Neoliberalism, in the name of this absurd utopia, stripped away government regulations and laws that once protected the citizen from the worst excesses of predatory capitalism. It created free trade agreements that allowed trillions of corporate dollars to be transferred to offshore accounts to avoid taxation and jobs to flee to sweatshops in China and the global south where workers live in conditions that replicate slavery. Social service programs and public services were slashed or privatized. Mass culture, including schools and the press, indoctrinated an increasingly desperate population to take part in the global reality show of capitalism, a "war of all against all."

What we were never told was that the game was fixed. We were always condemned to lose. Our cities were deindustrialized and fell into decay. Wages declined. Our working class became impoverished. Endless war became, cynically, a lucrative business. And the world's wealth was seized by a tiny group of global oligarchs. Kleptocracies, such as the one now installed in Washington, brazenly stole from the people. Democratic idealism became a joke. We are now knit together, as Mishra writes, only "by commerce and technology," forces that Hannah Arendt called "negative solidarity." The backlash, Mishra writes, resembles the anarchist, fascist and communist violence and terrorism that took place at the end of the 19th century and in the early 20th century. In one of the most important parts of his brilliant and multi-layered analysis of the world around us, Mishra explains how Western ideas were adopted and mutated by ideologues in the global south, ideas that would become as destructive as the imposition of free market capitalism itself.

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's Islamic revolution in Iran, for example, borrowed liberally from Western ideas, including representation through elections, egalitarianism and Vladimir Lenin's revolutionary vanguard, which was adapted for a Muslim world. Nishida Kitaro and Watsuji Tetsuro of Japan's Kyoto School, steeped in the romantic nationalism of German philosophers such as Johann Gottlieb Fichte, transformed the glorification of the German nation into a glorification of imperial Japan. They "provided the intellectual justification for Japan's brutal assault on China in the 1930s, and then the sudden attack on its biggest trading partner in December 1941-at Pearl Harbor." South Asia's most important writer and scholar, Muhammad Iqbal, provided a "Nietzschean vision of Islam revivified by strong self-creating Muslims." And the Chinese scholar Lu Xun called for Chinese to exhibit the "indomitable will exemplified by Zarathustra." These bastard ideologies cloaked themselves in the veneer of indigenous religious traditions and beliefs. But they were new creations, born out of the schopferische Zerstorung, or the "gale of creative destruction," of global capitalism.

Nowhere is this more true than with the modern calls for jihad by self-styled Islamic radicals, most of whom have no religious training and who often come out of the secularized criminal underworld. The jihadist leader Abu Musab Zarqawi, nicknamed "the sheikh of slaughterers" in Iraq, had, as Mishra writes, "a long past of pimping, drug-dealing and heavy drinking." The Afghan-American Omar Mateen reportedly was a frequenter of the nightclub in Orlando, Fla., where he massacred 49 people and had been seen there drunk. Anwar al-Awlaki, who preached jihad and was eventually assassinated by the United States, had a penchant for prostitutes. Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, a senior leader of Islamic State before he was killed, called on Muslims in the West to kill any non-Muslim they encountered. "Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car, or throw him down from a high place, or choke him, or poison," al-Adnani told followers.

The idea of Mikhail Bakunin's "propaganda by deed" is, Mishra writes, "now manifest universally in video-taped, live-streamed and Facebooked massacres." It grew, he writes, "naturally from the suspicion that only acts of extreme violence could reveal to the world a desperate social situation and the moral integrity of those determined to challenge it." These imported ideas filled the void left by the destruction of indigenous beliefs, traditions and rituals. As Mishra says, these jihadists "represent the death of traditional Islam rather than its resurrection."

"As it turned out," he writes, "the autocratic modernizers failed to usher a majority of their wards into the modern world, and their abortive revolutions from above paved the way for more radical ones from below, followed, as we have seen in recent years, by anarchy."

The terrorist attacks in Paris or London were driven by the same ressentiment, Mishra points out, as that which led Timothy McVey to bomb the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995, killing 168, including 19 children, and injuring 684. And when the American was imprisoned in Florence, Colo., the prisoner in the adjacent cell was Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, the mastermind of the first attack on the World Trade Center, in 1993. After McVey was executed, Yousef commented, "I never have [known] anyone in my life who has so similar a personality to my own as his."

Mishra writes, "Malignant zealots have emerged in the very heart of the democratic West after a decade of political and economic tumult; the simple explanatory paradigm set in stone soon after the attacks of 9/11-Islam-inspired terrorism versus modernity-lies in ruins." The United States, aside from suffering periodic mass killings in schools, malls and movie theaters, has seen homegrown terrorists strike the Boston Marathon, a South Carolina church, Tennessee military facilities, a Texas Army base and elsewhere.

"The modern West can no longer be distinguished from its apparent enemies," Mishra notes. The hagiography of the U.S. Navy sniper Chris Kyle-who had a tattoo of a red Crusader cross and called the Iraq War a battle against "savage, desperate evil"-in Clint Eastwood's movie "American Sniper" celebrates the binary worldview adopted by jihadists who deify their suicide bombers.

"The xenophobic frenzy unleashed by Clint Eastwood's film of Kyle's book suggested the most vehement partisans of holy war flourish not only in the ravaged landscape of South and West Asia," Mishra writes. "Such fanatics, who can be atheists as well as crusaders and jihadists, also lurk among America's best and brightest, emboldened by an endless support of money, arms, and even 'ideas' supplied by terrorism experts and clash-of-civilization theorists."

Donald Trump, given the political, economic and cultural destruction carried out by neoliberalism, is not an aberration. He is the result of a market society and capitalist democracy that has ceased to function. An angry and alienated underclass, now making up as much as half the population of the United States, is entranced by electronic hallucinations that take the place of literacy. These Americans take a perverse and almost diabolical delight in demagogues such as Trump that express contempt for and openly flout the traditional rules and rituals of a power structure that preys upon them.

Mishra finds a similar situation in his own country, India. "In their indifference to the common good, single-minded pursuit of private happiness, and narcissistic identification with an apparently ruthless strongman and uninhibited loudmouth, [Indian Prime Minister Narendra] Modi's angry voters mirror many electorates around the world-people gratified rather than appalled by trash-talk and the slaughter of old conventions," he writes. "The new horizons of individual desire and fear opened up by the neoliberal world economy do not favour democracy or human rights."

Mishra excoriates the West's idealized and sanitized version of history, "the simple-minded and dangerously misleading ideas and assumptions, drawn from a triumphant history of Anglo-American achievements that has long shaped the speeches of statesmen, think-tank reports, technocratic surveys, newspaper editorials, while supplying fuel to countless columnists, TV pundits and so-called terrorism experts." The mandarins who spew this self-serving narrative are, as American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr called them and their ilk, the "bland fanatics of Western civilization" "who regard the highly contingent achievements of our culture as the final form and norm of human existence."

The roots of modernization and colonization are, as Mishra writes, ones of "carnage and bedlam." The rapacious appetite of capitalists and imperialists never considered "such constraining factors as finite geographical space, degradable natural resources and fragile ecosystems." In carrying out this project of global expansion, no form of coercion or violence was off-limits. Those who opposed us simply learned to speak our language.

"The intellectual pedigree of today's nasty atrocities is not to be found in religious scriptures," Mishra writes. "French colonialists in Algeria had used torture techniques originally deployed by the Nazis during the occupation of France (and also were some of the first hijackers of a civilian aeroplane). Americans in the global war on terror resorted to cruel interrogation methods that the Soviet Union had patented during the Cold War. In the latest stage of this gruesome reciprocity, the heirs of Zarqawi in ISIS dress their Western hostages in Guantanamo's orange suits, and turn on their smartphone cameras, before beheading their victims." The West's dangerous faith in the inevitability of human progress is chronicled by Mishra through the dueling French intellectuals Rousseau and Voltaire, as well as Bakunin, Alexander Herzen, Karl Marx, Fichte, Giuseppe Mazzini and Michel Foucault. This intellectually nuanced and philosophically rich book shows that ideas matter.

"The Hindu, Jewish, Chinese and Islamic modernists who helped establish major nation-building ideologies were in tune with the main trends of the European fin-de-siecle, which redefined freedom beyond bourgeois self-seeking to a will to forge dynamic new societies and reshape history," Mishra writes. "It is impossible to understand them, and the eventual product of their efforts (Islamism, Hindu nationalism, Zionism, Chinese nationalism), without grasping their European intellectual background of cultural decay and pessimism: the anxiety in the unconscious that Freud was hardly alone in sensing, or the idea of a glorious rebirth after decline and decadence, borrowed from the Christian idea of resurrection, that Mazzini had done so much to introduce into the political sphere." Mishra goes on:

ISIS, born during the implosion of Iraq, owes its existence more to Operation Infinite Justice and Enduring Freedom than to any Islamic theology. It is the quintessential product of a radical process of globalization in which governments, unable to protect their citizens from foreign invaders, brutal police, or economic turbulence, lose their moral and ideological legitimacy, creating a space for such non-state actors as armed gangs, mafia, vigilante groups, warlords and private revenge-seekers.

ISIS aims to create a Caliphate, but, like American regime-changers, it cannot organize a political space, as distinct from privatizing violence. Motivated by a selfie individualism, the adepts of ISIS are better at destroying Valhalla than building it. Ultimately, a passion for grand politics, manifest in ISIS's Wagnerian-style annihilation, is what drives the Caliphate, as much as it did [Gabriele] D'Annunzio's utopia. The will to power and craving for violence as existential experience reconciles, as [philosopher and social theorist Georges] Sorel prophesized, the varying religious and ideological commitments of its adherents. The attempts to place them in a long Islamic tradition miss how much these militants, feverishly stylizing their murders and rapes on Instagram, reflect an ultimate stage in the radicalization of the modern principle of individual autonomy and equality: a form of strenuous self-assertion that acknowledges no limits, and requires descent into a moral abyss.

Philosopher George Santayana foresaw that America's obsessive individualistic culture of competition and mimicry would eventually incite "a lava-wave of primitive blindness and violence." The inability to be self-critical and self-aware, coupled with the cult of the self, would lead to a collective suicide. Cultural historian Carl Schorske in "Fin-de-Siecle Vienna: Politics and Culture" wrote that Europe's descent into fascism was inevitable once it cut the "cord of consciousness." And, with the rise of Trump, it is clear the "cord of consciousness" has also been severed in the twilight days of the American empire. Once we no longer acknowledge or understand our own capacity for evil, once we no longer know ourselves, we become monsters who devour others and finally devour ourselves.

"Totalitarianism with its tens of millions of victims was identified as a malevolent reaction to the benevolent Enlightenment tradition of rationalism, humanism, universalism and liberal democracy-a tradition seen as an unproblematic norm," Mishra writes. "It was clearly too disconcerting to acknowledge that totalitarian politics crystallized the ideological currents (scientific racism, jingoistic nationalism, imperialism, technicism, aestheticized politics, utopianism, social engineering and the violent struggle for existence) flowing through all of Europe in the late nineteenth century."

Mishra knows what happens when people are discarded onto the dung heap of history. He knows what endless wars, waged in the name of democracy and Western civilization, engender among their victims. He knows what drives people, whether they are at a Trump rally or a radical mosque in Pakistan, to lust after violence. History informs the present. We are afflicted by what writer Albert Camus called "autointoxication, the malignant secretion of one's preconceived impotence inside the enclosure of the self." And until this "autointoxication" is addressed, the rage and violence, at home and abroad, will expand as we stumble toward a global apocalypse. The self-alienation of humankind, Walter Benjamin warned, "has reached such a degree that it can experience its own destruction as an aesthetic pleasure of the first order." The conflicts in Egypt, Libya, Mali, Syria and many other places, Mishra notes, are fueled by "extreme weather events, the emptying of rivers and seas of their fish stocks, or the desertification of entire regions on the planet." The refugees being driven by their homelands' chaos into Europe are creating political instability there. And as we sleepwalk into the future, the steady deterioration of the ecosystem will ultimately lead to total systems collapse. Mishra warns that "the two ways in which humankind can self-destruct-civil war on a global scale, or destruction of the natural environment-are rapidly converging." Our elites, oblivious to the dangers ahead, blinded by their own hubris and greed, are ferrying us, like Charon, to the land of the dead.
(c) 2017 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.




Former FBI director James Comey speaks at the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on June 8, 2017.



Congress Has What It Needs To Impeach Trump
The evidence of Trump's obstruction of justice invites comparison with Watergate-era articles of impeachment-and demands action.
By John Nichols

The first article of impeachment against Richard Nixon detailed presidential wrongdoing that was "in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has prevented, obstructed, and impeded the administration of justice."

That wrongdoing included "interfering or endeavoring to interfere with the conduct of investigations by the Department of Justice of the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the office of Watergate Special Prosecution Force, and Congressional Committees."

It is well established-among both Republicans and Democrats-that "interfering or endeavoring to interfere with" an FBI investigation constitutes an impeachable offense.

That's what makes Thursday's Senate Intelligence Committee testimony by James Comey so consequential. The former FBI director, who was removed from his post last month by President Trump, said, "I was fired in some way to change the way the Russia investigation was being conducted. That is a big deal."

It's an even bigger deal because of how he responded when California Senator Dianne Feinstein asked why he was fired.

Referencing Trump's own statements, in an interview with NBC's Lester Holt and in accounts of his May meeting with Russian diplomats, Comey replied: "I take the president at his word that I was fired because of the Russian investigation-something about the way I was conducting it, the president felt, created pressure on him that he wanted relieved."

Trump's allies will keep spinning "alternative facts" to try to defend their president. But there's no debating the core message of the FBI director's testimony. "Comey's statement establishes obstruction of justice by Trump. Period," said CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin. California Congressman Adam Schiff, the former federal prosecutor who serves as the ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence said: "I think it's hard to reach any other conclusion but that this is evidence of interference and obstruction."

Another veteran prosecutor, Congressman Ted Lieu, tweeted: "On @ComeyDay, he laid out the facts for Obstruction & Abuse of Power. Fun fact: Those were the first two Articles of Impeachment for Nixon."

Activists recognized these facts and issued a call to action.

"Jim Comey left no doubt in his sworn testimony that Donald Trump abused the power of his office in demanding the FBI Director's loyalty and asking him to end the criminal investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Comey's testimony details smoking gun evidence of a President attempting to obstruct justice and cover-up the truth," said Charles Chamberlain, the executive director of the group Democracy for America, who argued that "Congress has a moral duty to show that no American President is above the law, and must immediately begin impeachment proceedings to investigate and remove Trump from office."

Of course, Trump's chief defender in Congress, House Speaker Paul Ryan, will keep erecting barriers to accountability-with the support of Trumpkin Republicans and top Democrats who remain reluctant about embracing constitutional remedies.

But Ryan's only actual defense for the president was a claim that Trump is "new to government."

That's no excuse. As Congressman Leiu noted, "Being unfamiliar with protocol and new does not allow a person to violate the Obstruction of Justice law."

Paul Ryan's rigid partisanship may protect this embattled president for a time-just as it protected Trump during the 2016 campaign, when Ryan constantly made excuses for the billionaire pretender.

But his willingness to suspend the system of checks and balances in order to serve his political master cannot change the truth that is self-evident: Donald Trump engaged in a pattern of conduct that invites comparison with the conduct that led the House Judiciary Committee to approve articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon.

The people recognize this. Polls show there is now significantly higher approval for impeachment than there is for Trump's presidency. More than 1.1 million Americans have signed the national "Impeach Trump Now" petition, local city councils are passing resolutions urging Congress to act, and Democracy for America is declaring: "Congress Has What it Needs to Impeach Trump."

"The American people have made it clear that they believe Trump and his administration have crossed the line, and they are demanding accountability. That will only happen when Congress exercises its constitutional power to uncover and bring to account the abuses of Donald Trump and his administration," explains Charles Chamberlain. "It has never been more important for Members of Congress to put aside political considerations and do what is best for our country."
(c) 2017 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. 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.




U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)




Head Of National Nurses Encourages Bernie Sanders To Start A People's Party
By Medea Benjamin

Even if you attended the 4,000-strong Peoples Summit in Chicago on June 9-11 organized by folks from the Bernie Sanders campaign and National Nurses United (NNU), you might have missed the most significant moment of the gathering. It was a seemingly offhand comment made by NNU Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro during the Saturday evening session when Bernie Sanders spoke to an adoring crowd, but a comment that adds kindling to a potential 2020 fire.

The audience in the packed Chicago theater included volunteers for a new effort called Draft Bernie for a People's Party. They waved Draft Bernie signs and throughout Sanders' speech, urged him to launch a new party.

The group is made up mainly of young staff and volunteers who worked on the Sanders campaign but were so disillusioned by the Democratic Party that they are determined to start a new one. They are sympathetic to and want to collaborate with the Green Party and other existing third parties, but they want a new, fresh progressive party like the European ones that captured the public imagination and made sweeping gains. While their focus right now is getting Sanders on board, they say they'll build a People's Party even if he refuses to join.

At the end of Sanders' rousing address at the Summit, he was joined on stage by his wife, Jane Sanders, whose Sanders Institute was launched this weekend, and by NNU's RoseAnn DeMoro. DeMoro looked directly at the Draft Bernie people in the audience and grinned. "We're going to take a few questions but I want to thank all the Draft Bernie people here," she said. Then came the zinger. "I'm with you," she added, as she turned around to look at Bernie and his wife. Then she pivoted back to the audience, "Nurses, are we with them?" As they roared their approval, DeMoro turned to Sanders again. "I always say: 'heroes aren't made, they're cornered."

"It was amazing," said Nick Brana, Draft Bernie founder, who was former national political outreach coordinator for Bernie 2016 and former electoral manager for Our Revolution. "We knew that RoseAnn was supportive but had no idea that she would announce that support publicly, on stage, with Bernie Sanders standing next to her and in front of thousands of cheering fans."

I don't think most people in the audience realized the potential significance of the DeMoro's endorsement. Her union has about 150,000 members and spent about $1 million on the Sanders campaign. It's one of only six national unions that backed Bernie Sanders for president. Under DeMoro's leadership, the nurses have become heavyweights in the progressive world, championing everything from universal single payer healthcare to a Wall Street tax to pay for free college education. Just imagine if DeMoro could get her whole union to back a new party, and leverage that to get other unions and progressive institutions on board.

Throughout the summit, speaker after speaker railed against the Democratic Party. TV personality Van Jones trashed Hillary Clinton's campaign for failing to connect to working-class and minority voters. "Let's be honest," Jones shouted. "They took a billion dollars, a billion dollars, a billion dollars, set it on fire, and called it a campaign!" Author Thomas Frank said Democrats signed off on Wall Street bailouts, mass incarceration, and the Iraq War, giving up everything the party supposedly stood for. Former State Senator Nina Turner, who had the crowd on their feet during her entire speech, said the Democrats would have to follow the people to the left, or they'd be left behind.

But criticizing the Democrats and ditching them are two entirely different things. There are certainly sincere leaders still determined to change the party from within. The Summit heard from Congressman Mark Pocan, a progressive champion who was recently elected co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. And most of the Summit was focused on getting more leftist Democrats elected, from former NAACP head Ben Jealous running for Maryland governor to the dozens of attendees running for city councils and state houses.

Getting Bernie Sanders to break with the Democrats is a long, long, long shot. And even if he agreed, creating an effective third party in the US "winner-take-all" electoral system is a treacherous path littered with dead bodies, from Ross Perot's Americans Elect to the Tony Mazzochi's US Labor Party.

But for those who see the Democratic Party as unfixable and the existing third parties as ineffective, what have they got to lose?
(c) 2017 Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace, is the author of the new book, Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi Connection. Her previous books include: Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control; Don't Be Afraid Gringo: A Honduran Woman Speaks from the Heart, and (with Jodie Evans) Stop the Next War Now (Inner Ocean Action Guide). Follow her on Twitter: @medeabenjamin









Protecting Oceans Is Paying Off
By David Suzuki

Do you remember Harry Potter's invisibility cloak? It turns out wizards aren't the only ones who can vanish from sight with a special coat. Marine researchers have discovered shrimp-like crustaceans called hyperiids that can hide in the open using internal nanotechnology to cloak themselves in invisibility. That's just one among many fascinating discoveries to celebrate on World Oceans Day.

Last summer, scientists confirmed the elusive Greenland shark can live up to 400 years, beating out ancient bowhead whales and rougheye rockfish for the longest documented lifespan of any vertebrate. Researchers are just starting to learn about the two-metre, scale-free ragfish with cartilage skeleton and flabby flesh found in Alaskan waters, and the faceless fish found in Australian waters, whose eyes, gills and mouth are hidden.

That we're still discovering new wonders in the oceans is even more reason to protect them. We have a long way to go, though. In early 2016, about three per cent of oceans had formal protection from industrial activities, up from one per cent five years ago. Twenty countries, including Chile, Palau, the U.S. and the U.K., have committed to increasing marine protection.

Last summer's expansion of Hawaii's PapahAnaumokuAkea Marine National Monument created the world's largest marine protected area. In October, the Ross Sea - home to some of the most productive waters in the Antarctic - was finally declared a marine reserve after a decades-long push. When a coalition of 24 countries agreed to provide international protection for 1,548,812 square kilometres of the Southern Ocean, the Ross Sea surpassed PapahAnaumokuAkea as the largest marine reserve. Most impressively, Palau, part of Micronesia in the western Pacific, turned 80 per cent of its waters - an area the size of California - into a marine reserve. Britain established the Pitcairn Islands reserve in the South Pacific, a contiguous underwater park nearly the size of Pakistan.

In 2016, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and then U.S. president Barack Obama issued a joint statement to "substantially surpass" international commitments to reach 10 per cent marine protection, even though Canada has protected less than one per cent so far. Our government is getting started, though. It announced strong protection for globally significant glass sponge reefs near B.C.'s Haida Gwaii earlier this year, ending years of inaction.

Along with increased ocean protection, new technologies are opening up ocean exploration. Researchers are adapting drones to track coastal erosion, map coral reefs, survey penguin populations, assess whale health and even learn about mysterious sea turtle behaviour. Thanks to a microscope that works underwater, scientists are learning how coral polyps interact and about patterns algae use to take over coral ecosystems.

Some jurisdictions are also getting serious about plastics that are choking seabirds, fish and marine mammals. California and Hawaii banned plastic grocery bags and some countries discourage use through taxation. In the U.S., Congress passed the Microbead-Free Waters Act to phase out tiny plastic microbeads in soaps, facial scrubs, toothpaste and other products by 2018. The United Nations Environment Programme is calling for a worldwide ban on products containing microplastics.

Protection efforts appear to be paying off. This year, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada down-listed shortfin mako sharks from "threatened" to "special concern". Around the world, anti-finning campaigns have helped decrease shark fin consumption. Endangered manatees made a comeback in the U.S., with Florida seeing a 500 per cent increase in the population, prompting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to propose reclassifying them from "endangered" to "threatened".

Many whale populations are also rebounding after decades of commercial exploitation. Hunted to near extinction in the early 20th century, North Pacific humpback whales were recently reclassified from "endangered" to "special concern." Biologists estimate their population at 18,000.

Likewise, blue whales in the eastern North Pacific off California are showing signs of recovery, currently numbering about 2,000. Nearly exterminated by commercial whaling fleets before receiving worldwide protection in 1967, blue whales remain one of the rarest marine mammals, numbering between 10,000 and 25,000 worldwide.

Earth's oceans still face many overwhelming challenges and political obstacles, yet the resilience of nature and ecosystems is powerful. If we can rally around actions that protect rich ocean biodiversity, they can continue to provide an endless bounty of wonder and treasure.
(c) 2017 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.








Islamophobic Neo-Cons, Russophobic Neo-Libs: USA! USA!
By Frank Scott

All of us are potentially endangered by those driven to violent acts called hate crimes when committed by individuals, but social acts of hatred and depravity are much greater threats and exclude none, no matter where we live or what moral, spiritual or market values we entertain.

Still reeling from recent bloody terrorist attacks in societies in which most people were previously shielded from retaliation for the horrendous violence they performed on foreigners, the world faces an even greater threat from an empire falling from global domination while its minority controllers manipulate their people into accepting behaviors which would call for clinical isolation or solitary prison confinement if practiced by an individual. The continued forcing of more citizens into an alleged asylum of near dementia endangers far more than what some of us call "our" democracy.

This manic state in which a minority believe themselves controllers of their nation's material life has existed since America's electoral origins, but we have always been under the domination of the wealthiest minority in the country and the national democracy thought to be "ours" by so many has never included a majority of our people. Even the most rudimentary understanding of arithmetic - let alone history - reveals this fact without necessity for a degree in mathematics. In fact, any schmuck with a calculator can do the math.

There has never been a presidential election in the history of the USA in which a majority of the electorate chose the winning representative of minority capital. And most recently, while millions held their noses to cover the stench of voting for the despicable or the deplorable lesser evil offerings, far more voted for neither. 231 million Americans are deemed part of the electorate, which means being 18 and older and with enough mental capacity to select burgers, pizza, guns, tacos, pet food or political candidates at the market. If we can afford them. Of that number, more than 165 million chose neither the republicrat nor the demublican. That's far more than double those exercising the alleged power of the majority and voting, as usual, in the minority.

Our alleged political democracy is even less so than our economy, which is really a dictatorship of a tiny minority. In fact, it's even worse since all of us are forced into the economy and cannot choose to opt out, like voters, while its control falls to an even smaller cabal than the one running the political system. They are part of the same anti-democratic minority that dominates politics, but there is a bit more room for small entrepreneurs to get a foot in the door of economics than is possible in politics. There are very few gourmet-taco-street vendor political parties and those radical minorities choosing to contest for the presidency and national offices are given as much chance by the system as a mom and pop store has going up against Amazon or Wal-Mart.

The breakdown of the political economic system has been in process for hundreds of years, decades, or the past few months, depending on the consciousness and vocabulary of the critic, and has become so much more serious that minority ownership, and thus a major part of the manipulated-by-media public, is reduced to wondering which boogie man - Putin? Trump? Napoleon? - is to be blamed for the state of collapse. Thus the frenzy to impeach the rich, arrogant clod who got to the white house despite established power's desire not to have him there. They first got rid of the potentially democratic menace of Bernie Sanders but were not equal to the task of dumping an even greater threat from one of their own whose arrogant and ignorant honesty strips the cosmetic facade from the ugliness of so much reality. The social disease revealed is too much for those who must label him a pathological liar because they cannot, refuse to, or are incapable of facing reality. This egotistical fool may well be the most honest resident we've ever had at the public housing we call the white house and that honesty is partly why established power views him as danger because he neither minces capital's words nor even tries to cover up its horror with the usual political double talk that calls bloody murder peace and blatant dishonesty the truth.

Trump's victory is making a mockery of the fiction of American leadership in morality, which serves as euphemistic foundation for the empire's bloody horrors of mass murder and national destruction performed while calling itself global director of ethical culture and insisting the rest of the world follow its immoral lead. And getting even the previously thoughtful among its home population buying into the most inane explanations for why their world - the one called "our" democracy - is in a state of near collapse. It supposedly has everything to do with foreign intervention in "our" multi billion-dollar democratic process. You know, the one that reduces half a million citizens to living in the street while we moan about Trump's sexism, or reduces 20% of our children to lives of poverty while we visit therapists to discuss our depression over Trump's xenophobia, or stresses out a population that can afford to go into debt for luxury goods while most americans are in debt in order to survive. You know, that massive dysfunctional family that worships weapons, cosmetics and pets while nearly half its population is low income or poor? The one that's saving refugees escaping wars we organize, finance, start, and perpetuate? It's as though the people on the Titanic were at each other's throats to get a new captain for the sinking ship. Maybe an African American transsexual Jew could keep it afloat? If a savior captain isn't available, maybe some toilets shared by the crew and the paying guests will do the trick? One thing's for sure: once we get rid of the Russians, the Koreans, the Iranians, the Palestinians, the Chinese, and much of South America and especially this captain, the boat will rise to the heavens and everything will be just fine.

America has become an even dumber reality show than the one that helped put this president in charge of the circus. Further comic relief from TV and cartoonist clowns won't help. We need a transformation of our political economy that starts from the roots of the problem. They have to do with our origins, our history and our behavior, not those of particular CEOs of capital's national corporation, and very little if anything to do with any foreign nation. If we're even mildly serious about a threat being marketed as Climate Change, we'd better stop listening to the people responsible for it who offer toothless reforms like the Paris Accords, and work for the radical and revolutionary political and economic change we need to solve not only that long range problem, but far more short term ones that threaten us right now.
(c) 2017 Frank Scott writes political commentary and satire which appears online at the blog Legalienate.









The Quotable Quote...



"...most men and women will grow up to love their servitude and will never dream of revolution."
~~~ Aldous Huxley ~ Brave New World









Dear Young People Who Laugh At Climate Deniers
By David Swanson

Laughter is a wonderful thing. It's hard to get too much of it. But there may be something even more valuable - something that you may be better able to grasp than some of your elders.

When you're able to see a failure in others, it can be an opportunity to spot other similar failures - even those that you may be, in some measure, sharing in.

Why do climate deniers deny? No two are identical, but a major factor for many of them seems to be, not an analysis of evidence but loyalty to a worldview. In this worldview it simply cannot be the case that people are destroying the earth. That's not in the sacred texts. There's no place for it in many careers or lifestyles designed around extraction, consumption, destruction, and "development" of the world. Accepting the obvious would be harder than denying it. So it is denied, or - by far preferable - simply ignored and avoided.

But there are two ways in which the world may be destroyed for human (and much other) life, and millions of people who care about ending the destruction of the climate are steadfastly ignoring and avoiding the other problem. Those best informed on climate change have the darkest views on it. They say it's progressing far more quickly than most have been willing to recognize. Those best informed on the other danger we face say the risk of it is at its highest point and increasing.

The other danger is that of nuclear holocaust. The number of bombs needed to end all life on earth through the destruction of the atmosphere and mass starvation continues to shrink in the expert analyses. The number of nuclear weapons ready to fire at a moment's notice in the U.S. and Russia remains sufficient to destroy a large number of planets. The U.S. says it is developing newer, higher-tech, and "more usable" nukes. Other nations say they are following suit. The number of nations with nuclear weapons, and that of nations with nuclear power continue to grow. A major push is on in U.S. politics by some of the same people most concerned about climate change to create ever greater hostility toward Russia. And the proliferation of wars and weapons, with the potential of generating nuclear war, has reached new extremes.

But avoiding recognition of one of the twin dangers we face severely handicaps even one's efforts on the one that is recognized. Militarism is the single greatest contributor to climate and other environmental destruction, yet militarism proceeds utterly unopposed by major environmental advocacy organizations. Advocating for the obvious would be more inconvenient than denying it. So it is avoided.

Does this state of affairs make good liberal environmentalists who support the troops, salute the flag, falsely believe that military spending is economically beneficial, and have no doubt that terrorism can be ended by bombing it, somehow laughable? I don't think so. I think it makes them tragic. And I think we should see climate deniers the same way.
(c) 2017 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.




Donald Trump is a Michael Corleone wannabe




Comey Got In The Face Of Trump's 'Godfather' Fantasy
The testimony of the fired FBI director revealed a president who sees himself more crime boss than chief executive.
By Michael Winship

If for some reason it wasn't before, it's become clear in the weeks since FBI director James Comey's firing by the president and Comey's testimony on Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee that Donald Trump doesn't seem to fancy himself the next George Washington, Abe Lincoln or even James Buchanan. No, Trump looks in the mirror in the morning and mistakenly sees Michael Corleone. You know, the version of Michael played by Al Pacino in The Godfather: Part II-suave, smart and ruthless Mafia don.

In truth, only in his wildest narcissistic dreams could Don Donald approach Michael Corleone's people skills. Unlike The Godfather, Trump fails to keep his promises. He blabs-just can't keep a secret-gets little done, has few friends and takes things "very, very personal," as Michael's late brother Sonny would say.

A Corleone would never tweet, "Frankie Pentangeli is an overrated gangster and a stoolie. SAD." Trump would, which is why White House staff tried to fill his hours during the day of Comey's questioning with a speech and other fun activities to keep those twitchy little thumbs away from his iPhone.

In the opening statement that Comey released the day before his Senate testimony, his memory of Trump's words during their various meetings and phone calls was all too reminiscent of B-movie gangster talk. "I need loyalty, I expect loyalty," he told Comey at that odd, two-man dinner in the Green Room. A real mob boss-or chief executive-wouldn't have to ask.

That was on Jan. 27. On Feb. 14, the day after national security adviser Mike Flynn was forced to resign after lying to Vice President Pence about Flynn's conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, Trump asked Attorney General Sessions and Son-in-Law-Also-Rises Jared Kushner to leave the Oval Office while he and Comey had a private chat alone.

"I want to talk about Mike Flynn," Trump said, according to Comey. "... He is a good guy and has been through a lot. I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go." As in, "I hope you can see your way clear to giving me complete control of your olive oil business, if you get my drift."

Comey's final contact with Trump was an April 11 phone call in which he said the president continued complaining about "the cloud" of investigation that was getting in the way of what Comey described as Trump's "ability to do his job." He told the FBI chief that he would do as Comey suggested and have his people ask the acting deputy attorney general whether they should announce that he was not personally under investigation.

Then Trump added, "Because I have been very loyal to you, very loyal; we had that thing you know." As in, hey Jimmy, you remember that thing about the thing I asked you to do? Aficionados of organized crime also will recall that in English, Cosa Nostra, once a familiar synonym for the Sicilian Mafia, translates as "Our Thing."

So okay, Trump does share some attributes with Michael Corleone. He keeps at least some of his family close, although to a far creepier degree, and he does seem to surround himself with a motley assortment of white-collar racketeers and ideological knuckle-draggers. But the crowd he often appears most enamored of is not his own band of miscreants but the gang of crime bosses and kleptocrats who surround Russian President Vladimir Putin, himself the capo di tutti capi, Kremlin-style.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), vice chairman of the intelligence committee, described it at Thursday's hearing as Trump's "odd and unexplained affection for the Russian dictator." Comey later agreed with Sen. Angus King that Putin is an "opportunist" and opened up with both barrels when he said-with none of Trump's tepid equivocation about Russia-that their hacking was very real:

"There should be no fuzz on this whatsoever. The Russians interfered in our election during the 2016 cycle. They did with purpose. They did it with sophistication. They did it with overwhelming technical efforts. It was an active-measures campaign driven from the top of that government... It is a high-confidence judgment of the entire intelligence community and the members of this committee have seen the intelligence. It's not a close call. That happened. That's about as unfake as you can possibly get."
While there was much Comey said he could not discuss in an open session, it was his certainty and candor-or at least an excellent imitation of forthrightness-that came through loud and clear at Thursday's hearing, especially in contrast to the petulant dissembling we've come to expect from Trump's pallid imitation of leadership. Comey made it no secret that even if Trump was not actively a subject of the investigation of his campaign's possible collusion with Russia, the former FBI director believed Trump to be a liar, especially when it came to defaming him and the agency he led.
"Russia is the story that won't go away, at least anytime soon, despite a continuing round of denials and cries to move it along, nothing to see here, from both the White House and Republicans on Capitol Hill."
Comey admitted to leaking one of his memos to the New York Times via a friend, in the hope, he said, of triggering the appointment of a special counsel to dig deeper for the truth of the Russia scandal. And while he may have stumbled every which way when it came to handling the Hillary Clinton personal email server investigation, on Thursday he claimed that it had caused him "a whole lot of personal pain," expressed reservations about then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch and at least fessed up to some of his own failings. He's the un-Trump.

"I know this is a subject of passionate disagreement but I knew there was no case there," he said, adding that in the Clinton case calling for the appointment of a special counsel to probe further would have been "brutally unfair." This, of course, made no difference to several Republican members of the committee, including a seemingly befuddled John McCain, who continued to try to distract us from Trump's alleged misdeeds by seeming to insist that Hillary Clinton's bad email habits remain a scandal equal to or even greater than his. For McCain, this appeared to involve a convoluted thought process jumbling the Clinton investigation with the ongoing investigation of the Trump campaign and Russia.

Nor did Donald Trump himself believe that Comey's words had landed with any clout. In his Orwellian doublethink world, where ignorance is strength and lies are truth, when finally freed to indulge his Twitter compulsion Friday morning, he declared, "total and complete vindication."

But face it: Russia is the story that won't go away, at least anytime soon, despite a continuing round of denials and cries to move it along, nothing to see here, from both the White House and Republicans on Capitol Hill. And if Trump wants to keep living his Godfather fantasy, newly minted special counsel Robert Mueller may be planning a future for him less like the movies and more like the sad fate of many, real-life crime bosses.

On Tuesday, Darren Samuelsohn at Politico reported that Mueller

"is assembling a prosecution team with decades of experience going after everything from Watergate to the Mafia to Enron... a potent team whose members have backgrounds handling cases involving politicians, mobsters and others-and who know how to work potential witnesses if it helps them land bigger fish."
As Mueller's sleuths dig, chances are their work will lead them in unexpected directions. In Comey's own words on Thursday, "In any complex investigation, when you start turning over rocks, sometimes you find things that are unrelated to the primary investigation that are criminal in nature."

Watch this space.
(c) 2017 Michael Winship is senior writing fellow at Demos, president of the Writers Guild of America, East, and was senior writer for Moyers & Company and Bill Moyers' Journal and is senior writer of BillMoyers.com.





The Dead Letter Office...





John gives the corporate salute

Heil Trump,

Dear Uber Fuehrer Cornyn,

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, 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 asking softball questions to Deputy Fuehrer Sessions, Pakistan, 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 "Republican 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 06-24-2017. We salute you Herr Cornyn, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump






Trump's Infrastructure Scam
By Robert Reich

At a roundtable discussion with state transportation officials on Friday, Donald Trump said America's aging roads, bridges, railways, and water systems were being "scoffed at and laughed at." He pledged that they "will once again be the envy of the world."

This seems to be a core theme for Trump: America's greatness depends on others envying us rather than scoffing and laughing at us.

He said much the same thing last week when he announced his decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. "At what point does America get demeaned? At what point do they start laughing at us, as a country? We don't want other leaders and other countries laughing at us anymore. And they won't be. They won't be."

To be sure, America is in dire need of massive investments in infrastructure. The nation suffers from overflowing sewage drains, crumbling bridges, rusting railroad tracks, outworn roads, and public transportation systems rivaling those of third-world nations.

The American Society of Civil Engineers, giving America's over-all infrastructure a grade of D-plus, says we would need to spend $3.6 trillion by 2020 to bring it up to par.

The problem isn't that we're being laughed at. It's that we're spending hours in traffic jams, disrupted flights, and slow-moving trains. And we're sacrificing billions in lost productivity, avoidable public health problems, and increased carbon emissions.

But what Donald Trump is proposing won't help. It's nothing but a huge and unnecessary tax giveaway to the rich.

His "$1 trillion infrastructure plan," unveiled last week, doesn't amount to $1 trillion of new federal investment in infrastructure. It would commit $200 billion of federal dollars over ten years, combined with about $800 billion of assorted tax breaks to get developers to build things instead of the federal government doing it.

And it's hardly a plan. It's not much more than a page of talking points.

Worse, its underlying principle is deeply flawed. It boils down to a giant public subsidy to developers and investors, who would receive tax generous tax credits in return for taking on the job.

Which means the rest of us would have to pay higher taxes or get fewer services in order to make up for the taxes the developers and investors would no longer pay.

For example (in one version of the plan I've come across), for every dollar developers put into a project, they'd actually pay only 18 cents - after tax credits - and taxpayers would contribute the other 82 cents through their tax dollars.

No one should be surprised at this scheme. It's what Trump knows best. After all, he was a developer who made billions, often off sweeteners like generous tax credits and other subsidies.

The public would also pay a second time. The developers would own the roads and bridges and other pieces of infrastructure they finance. They'd then charge members of the public tolls and fees to use them.

In place of public roads and bridges, we'd have private roads and bridges. Think of America turning into giant, horizontal-like Trump Tower wherever you looked.

These tolls and fees won't come cheap. They'd have to be set high in order to satisfy the profit margins demanded by the developers and the investors who back them.

Worst of all, we'd get the wrong kind of infrastructure. Projects that will be most attractive to developers and investors are those whose tolls and fees bring in the biggest bucks - giant mega-projects like major new throughways and new bridges.

Developers and investors won't be interested in the thousands of smaller bridges, airports, pipes, and water treatment facilities across the country that are most in need of repair.

They're not likely to respond to the needs of rural communities and smaller cities and towns that are too small to generate the tolls and other user fees equity developers and investors seek.

They won't be attracted to the most important first priority for our nation's infrastructure: Better maintenance of what we already have. With improved maintenance, it wouldn't be necessary to completely rebuild.

But investors and developers want to build anew. They can't reap big rewards from maintenance.

Nor will they want to put their efforts and money into projects that don't yet have proven financial track records, like many clean energy innovations - which, not incidentally, might have enabled us to meet our targets under the Paris climate accords, were we still part of the Paris accords.

We shouldn't have to pay twice over for the wrong infrastructure.

To really make America great again we need the correct infrastructure in the right places - infrastructure that's for the public, not for big developers and investors.

Sorry, Donald. The only way we get this is if big corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes to support it.
(c) 2017 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 website is www.robertreich.org.









Why Saudi Extremism Is An Argument For Electric Cars, Wind And Solar Energy
By Juan Cole

Saudi Arabia has gotten too big for its britches, and the oil-producing Middle East is turning even more unstable. Not to mention that global warming is getting worse and worse because of burning fossil fuels like petroleum.

And it is your fault. If you are an American, your country imports 1.1 million barrels of petroleum every day from Saudi Arabia. Every time you fill up at the pump, you are enriching the Saudi elite and making the world more unstable.

In the European Union, Statoil and Saudi Arabia account for 20% of imports of petroleum.

The obvious solution to this problem, of instability, extremism and climate change emanating from Riyadh, is electric vehicles, wind turbines and solar panels. They should be adopted as quickly as humanly possible.

Cambridge Econometrics concluded that Europe could make its energy supplies secure by "decarbonization," that is, getting off gasoline/ petrol, coal and natural gas. Transport & Environment, reporting on the study, added, "A shift to electric vehicles would lead to a 1% increase in EU GDP, create up to 2 million new jobs and reduce emissions from cars and vans 83% by 2050, according to the study."

This plan is no pie in the sky. It is already happening. Solar and wind are already producing more electricity in the UK than dirty coal. All we have to do is finish of coal and natural gas with renewables, and then plug electric vehicles into the green grid.

Saudi Arabia is denying that it has blockaded Qatar, since it says it is allowing goods and people in and out. How kind. 90 percent of Qatar's food came overland through Saudi Arabia, so cutting off that lifeline is certainly a blockade. Qatar can fly in or ship in food, but at a premium, and many guest workers may not be able to afford it at those prices. The Saudis are trying to cripple the Qatari civilian economy, which is a war crime.

Now it and its allies are pressuring the United States to close down al-Udeid air base, from which most sorties against ISIL and the Taliban are flown. This is rich, since back in the 1990s when the US leased a Saudi air base to fly sorties over Iraq, radical Saudis like Usama Bin Laden claimed that this lease was a form of American military occupation of the Muslim holy land. Bin Laden gave this US presence as one of the reasons for his strike at New York and Washington on September 11, 2001. So are the Saudis roping us back into this situation? Note that Saudi Arabia has flown almost no sorties against ISIL, and defeating the latter doesn't seem to have been high on Riyadh's to-do list. Qatar has been far more helpful in the anti-terror fight than has Saudi Arabia.

In addition, Saudi Arabia has since spring of 2015 conducted a campaign of indiscriminate bombing against Yemen civilians and key civilian infrastructure in Yemen, leaving millions hungry, hundreds of thousands displaced, thousands dead, and tens of thousands sick with cholera. The war is ostensibly against the Houthi militia, but it is in fact being waged against Yemenis, especially the northwestern Zaydi population, in hopes that a war of attrition can bring the whole country to its knees. (This is a war crime; but then the Saudis bought their way onto the UN human rights committee, so as to deflect international condemnation). The Saudi war on little Yemen will add to the refugee crisis, promote instability, and result in more terrorism. All this is not to mention the sinister role that Saudi Arabia has played in spreading around its militantly fundamentalist version of Wahhabism, which delights in vigilante morals police and discourages friendly relations between Muslims and others. (Qatar is also a Wahhabi society but mostly has relatively liberal emphases). Tolerant, Sufi strains of Islam (which are appreciated by many in Qatar) are hated in the Saudi Wahhabi heartland of Najd. Riyadh has virtually waged war on Sufism in Pakistan and Indonesia, both of which had been much more open and tolerant before they started coming under Saudi influence.

Putting solar panels on our homes, where we own them and can afford to do so, and then running an electric car like a Chevy Bolt or other similar off of these panels, is the single most important thing most of us can do to combat not only catastrophic climate change but also the menace of Saudi bullying and extremism-promotion. Around the world, about 15 percent of the toxic carbon dioxide that causes global warming comes from burning petroleum in cars, trucks and other vehicles. If we solve this one, we only have 85% of the problem to go. (And a lot of the rest comes from burning coal and natural gas, which we should replace with wind and solar so as to run our electric cars and buses cleanly). But, defunding the Saudi hard line version of Wahhabism would make it all worthwhile, just by itself.
(c) 2017 Juan R.I. Cole 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.




The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Joe Heller ~~~










To End On A Happy Note...





Have You Seen This...






Parting Shots...



According to former President Barack Obama, only the graphic novel format
had the expressive palette capable of truly capturing his eight years in office.


Obama Sends Publisher Collection Of Pages For Presidential Graphic Novel
By The Onion

WASHINGTON-Saying the finished work would become the "definitive take" on his time in the White House, Barack Obama reportedly submitted a collection of pages from his presidential graphic novel, Barack Obama: Renegade, to publisher Image Comics on Thursday.

The 16-page packet of artwork and sample issues, which Obama confirmed he has also mailed to Fantagraphics Books, Dark Horse Comics, and DC's Vertigo imprint, is said to serve as a proof of concept for what he envisions as a sprawling eight-volume memoir of his presidency. According to Obama, creating an authentic representation of his two terms in office has required him to use every tool of the comics medium, from dramatic splash pages in which he appears silhouetted behind the Resolute desk, to an extended dream sequence set on the eve of his 2012 reelection, which he said takes "definite cues" from the casual surrealism of graphic novelist Chris Ware in order to fully realize the emotional truth of the moment.

"I've poured everything into Renegade's panels, and when it's complete, it will depict these eight years of my life precisely as I experienced them," said the 44th president of the United States, who told reporters that he planned to pencil, ink, and hand-letter each page of the series himself. "Readers will get a true sense of my time as president right from the opening of Volume #1: Preambles & Promises, where I cut between full-color panels of my first inaugural address and stark black-and-white illustrations of ordinary Americans disillusioned by the Great Recession, two protracted wars overseas, and a lack of access to healthcare."

Added Obama, "By the time the editors over at Vertigo read the sequence where I'm climbing the steps of the North Portico, and we suddenly flash back to a parallel scene of my origin story in Honolulu, climbing up a volcanic rock in the exact same pose, I'm pretty sure they'll be hooked." The idea for Renegade, which is expected to span more than 1,200 pages when completed, reportedly emerged in the aftermath of the disastrous 2010 midterm elections, when a brooding Obama would stay up late in the darkened Oval Office, drafting hundreds of variations on his concept art to "nail the look" of minor details such as the sunlit sheen on an MQ-1 Predator drone or the exact shade of primary antagonist John Boehner's blue eyes.

Discussing his efforts to capture events on the page just as they happened in real life, the former commander in chief admitted he owed much to Y: The Last Man co-creator Brian K. Vaughan, whose "masterful blend" of rapid-fire action and political intrigue influenced his own approach to the bin Laden raid, which will appear in Volume #4: Infiltration & Exfiltration. Obama said he created a kinetic sense of motion by extending SEAL Team Six's HK416 assault rifles into the page's bleed and lettering the onomatopoeic "chh-chh-chh" of the helicopters in such a way that the words wrap around their whirring blades.

"Back in 2013, when I was really torn about how to respond to Bashar al-Assad's use of chemical weapons, I started imagining myself as two different presidents simultaneously enacting two different policies-and suddenly I knew that was exactly how I had to illustrate this moment of my presidency," said Obama, whose graphic novel also features dual versions of himself that voice opposing sides of tense debates that play out within his mind. "I started sketching right then and there: one set of panels in which I launch military strikes, and one in which I don't. Both end in disaster, showing that, in the end, no good choices were available."

"I bet Batman: Year One illustrator [David] Mazzucchelli would be perfect for capturing the mood of a war-weary nation in those scenes," Obama continued, saying he would be open to collaboration with outside colorists. "God, that would look so freaking cool."

Despite Renegade's dense political narrative, the former president was quick to note it would also include moments of humor and even tenderness, such as episodes imagined from the perspective of first dogs Bo and Sunny Obama, and recurring romantic vignettes about first lady Michelle Obama, which will be painted in watercolors to provide a stark break from the more rigid inking used to portray his actions as the nation's chief executive.

Obama stressed that, overall, his series would be "gritty, heady stuff," and more akin to a novel than traditional superhero fare.

"Generations from now, I want Americans to be able to read these pages and be confident they're getting an unalloyed picture of my presidency," he said. "Renegade will cover mature, difficult subjects, and some of it may require multiple readings to understand, but this graphic novel is the only way to accurately convey my experiences. I realize, of course, it may be a bit too much for more sensitive readers to handle."

"Especially once you get into Volume #8," Obama added. "Right at the beginning, Justice Scalia is killed off, and after that things start to turn dark pretty fast."
(c) 2017 The Onion




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Issues & Alibis Vol 17 # 22 (c) 06/16/2017


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