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In This Edition

Glenn Greenwald reports, "Citing U.S. Prison Conditions, British Appeals Court Refuses To Extradite Accused Hacker Lauri Love To The U.S.."

Uri Avnery exclaims, "Not Enough!"

Glen Ford reports, "NYT Joins Campaign To Purge The Term, 'White Monopoly Capital' In South Africa."

Juan Cole wonders, "Did A Comet Strike Trigger A Recent Ice Age?"

Jim Hightower finds, "Trump Serves The People - Rich Ones, That Is."

John Nichols concludes, "Paul Ryan And Devin Nunes Are Betraying The Constitution In The Service Of Donald Trump."

James Donahue comes to a conclusion, "About That Twenty-Eighth Amendment."

Medea Benjamin says, "As Congress Feeds The Merchants Of Death, The People Must Divest."

Heather Digby Parton asks, "Republicans Are Complaining About Partisan Oppo Now?"

David Swanson explores, "Lies, Damn Lies, And Nuclear Posture Reviews."

Charles P. Pierce looks into, "Trump's Comey Problem."

Norman Solomon is, "Remembering Investigative Journalist Robert Parry."

William Rivers Pitt warns, "They're Talking About 'Winnable' Nuclear War Again."

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-California wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich examines, "Trump's Divide-And-Conquer Strategy."

Chris Hedges considers, "The Bankruptcy Of The American Left."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz reports, "Former Hippies Put In Horrible Position Of Rooting For F.B.I." but first Uncle Ernie exclaims, "Much Ado... About Nothing!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Steve Breen, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Tom Tomorrow, Mr. Fish, Kirsty Wigglesworth, Adam Berry, Michael Ochs, Evan Vucci, NASA, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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

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Much Ado... About Nothing!
By Ernest Stewart

"The Nunes Memo fizzled and failed. The only thing it established is the that Nunes is a nut job, and he has released anew the putrid stench of neo-McCarthyism." ~~~ John Dean

"These predictions show that 1.5 degree Celsius events are now looming over the horizon. The warmest years are likely to coincide with a large El Nino event in the Pacific." ~~~ Adam Scaife ~ head of long-range prediction at the Met Office.

"Group conformity scares the pants off me because it's so often a prelude to cruelty towards anyone who doesn't want to - or can't - join the Big Parade." ~~~ Bette Midler

For united we stand. Divided we fall.
United We Stand ~~~ Brotherhood of Man

Devin Nunes the Con-gressman from California produced a Rethuglican anti-truth in a four page memo that said the FBI, and the FISA court were guilty of investigating Trump and his pal Putin for what amounts to treason. The loose-cannon chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Nunes, as Shakespeare once said, is "Much ado about nothing." Still it did show that the FBI and FISA court followed all the rules and did nothing illegal. Or as as former CIA director John Brennan told Chuck Todd on NBC's Meet the Press, "I never, ever saw the Democrats do something like this that was so partisan, so reckless and really just laid waste to the protocols that governed committees."

The Trump toadies claimed their specious Nunes Memo proved allegations that are not even mentioned in the document. I'm going to repeat that again, for those of you on drugs...

Nunes Memo proved allegations that are not even mentioned in the document.

And they want to use this song and dance to interfere with the Mueller investigation-although the special counsel had nothing to do with the FISA surveillance warrants! Of course, Trump said it proves that he had nothing to do with Russiagate, and therefore, the investigation should be stopped. However, the rest of the world concluded that it is a legitimate line of inquiry and should be followed wherever it goes. And we all know that it goes all the way to the oval office!

Then there was Trump's speech in Ohio the other day where Trump called the Democrats listening to his SOTU speech, unAmerican and traitors, for not applauding his lies and bullshit like his lickspittles Con-gress members do. At this point I wouldn't be surprised to hear a new requirement for members of Con-gress to open and end every conversation and meeting with a hail Trump!

I only guess this, because, as we reported back in 2016 Trump has a book of Hitler's speeches and saying kept close by his bedside and he reads them every night, when he's not sitting on the toilet, tweeting. Your tax dollars at work, America!

In Other News

I see where, according to a new forecast by British scientists, global temperatures could surpass a limit set by the Paris climate agreement within the next five years.

At least one year in the next five could exceed the threshold the deal set of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, above preindustrial levels, according to the forecast from the Met Office, the United Kingdom's national weather service. It's now likely temperatures will exceed 1 degrees Celsius, or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, as soon as 2022. "It is the first time that such high values have been highlighted within these forecasts," the Met Office said in a statement.

The Paris agreement aims to limit warming well below 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit it even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius by gradually reducing emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, which come from the burning of fossil fuels such as oil, coal and natural gas.

"Global average temperatures already have passed the 1 degree Celsius mark over the past three years. That combined with continued warming from greenhouse gases and natural variations in temperatures means it's possible for the world to temporarily exceed the 1.5 degree Celsius mark in the next five years," said Stephen Belcher, chief scientist at the Met Office.

"We are now starting to see a small but real chance of temporarily exceeding the 1.5 degree Celsius level, but we should remember that the Paris agreement is about the global climate reaching this level over a longer-term average, rather than just a temporary excursion," Doug Smith of the Met Office Hadley Centre said.

With 16 of the last 17 years being the hottest years on record I have my doubts that it's going to get cooler anytime soon, morelike the temperatures will keep going up. 25 years ago we weren't supposed to see this rise for another 100 years at least, but with every year the point of no return keeps getting closer and closer until now it's just a few years away. I'm sure our beloved leader will make sure this happens before he gets thrown out of office in the 2020 elections.

And Finally

Apparently Trump loves a parade, why am I not surprised? When he traveled to Paris last July, Trump expressed his admiration for the Bastille Day display. "It was one of the greatest parades I've ever seen. It was two hours on the button, and it was military might, and I think a tremendous thing for France and for the spirit of France."

Trump has ordered Pentagon generals to begin planning a grand parade on the streets of the U.S. capital to showcase American military might. No money for things that we actually need, but what ever it takes for pomp and circumstance! The last time I watched a parade it was for the Apolo 11 astronauts!

At a Jan. 18 meeting attended by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., Trump set into motion his desire for a Bastille Day-inspired military spectacle, Pentagon officials confirmed Tuesday.

"The marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France," a military official told the Washington Post, which added that the parade was being worked on by Pentagon brass.

Among the unresolved questions about the military display are how much it will cost taxpayers, the date the parade would be held, what role Trump himself will play in the festivities, and whether it would be a one time event or something to be done annually.

I'm wondering if Trump is on one of those tirades about Kim Jong-un who it seems loves a parade too. Can you hear it, our parade must be a "much bigger & more powerful one" than his parade. Kim just staged a big parade the day before the Winter Olympics started. You know who else used to love a military parade, besides the Russians? Anwar Sadat, whose last parade occurred on October 6, 1981. Anwar Sadat, the President of Egypt, was assassinated during the annual victory parade along with ten others and wounding dozens more when the passing military turned their guns on their president. You don't think our boys would do the same thing to that draft-dodger Trump, do you? Just a happy thought to leave you with!

Keepin' On

I'm having a deja vu all over again, so until things change I'll just run this...

As far as fundraising goes, this year is turning out to be a disaster! Fundraising in the first quarter has always been slow going at best; but even more so this year. In a "normal" year we would have raised about 17% to 18% of our yearly operating costs, this year, it's barely 1%. Needless to say, if this trend continues we'll be gone come June's first group of bills, not to mention July's group and November's bills.

Thanks to our sponsorships I'll be able to continue by writing weekly essays instead of editorials; but most of the rest of the magazine will be gone; and if my sponsors want more than just me, then I'll be gone too, except in various other magazines scattered through out the blogosphere.

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!


02-03-1943 ~ 02-01-2018
Thanks for the music!

06-20-1940 ~ 02-04-2018
Thanks for the film!

06-10-1941 ~ 02-07-2018
Thanks for the music and film!


We get by with a little help from our friends!
So please help us if you can...?

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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) 2018 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.


Citing U.S. Prison Conditions, British Appeals Court Refuses To Extradite Accused Hacker Lauri Love To The U.S.
By Glenn Greenwald

A BRITISH APPEALS court on Monday rejected demands from the U.S. government for the extradition of an accused British hacker, Lauri Love, citing the inability of U.S. prisons to humanely and adequately treat his medical and mental health ailments. Extradition to the U.S., the court ruled, would be "oppressive by reason of his physical and mental condition."

Rejecting the prosecutor's pleas that "the British courts should trust the United States to provide what it said it would provide" in order to secure Love's health and safety, the court instead invoked extensive medical and psychological testimony that conditions inside American prisons are woefully inadequate to treat Love's ailments. As a result, extradition and incarceration inside the U.S. prison system would exacerbate those health issues and produce a high risk of suicide.

Love, 33, is accused by the U.S. government of participating in the 2012 and 2013 hacking of the computer systems of various U.S. military agencies and private companies. The U.S. Justice Department, citing a confidential FBI source who claimed to have accessed chat rooms in which Love plotted with others on how to use the stolen data, indicted Love in three different states (New Jersey, New York, and Virginia) on felony hacking and theft charges. Love (pictured above after Monday's victory) was arrested in 2013 by British authorities and released on bail. Ever since, the U.S. government has sought his extradition from the U.K. for him to stand trial, and ultimately be imprisoned, in the U.S.

Love strenuously objected to the extradition request, insisting that he could be easily tried in the U.K. His family and physicians detailed the debilitating physical and mental health problems he has - including severe depression, Asperger's syndrome, asthma, and eczema - that has incapacitated him for years, caused him to drop out of various colleges despite a very high intellectual capability, and forced him to live at home with his parents. Love, his parents, and his doctors all emphatically stated that he would likely kill himself if he were extradited to the U.S. - a country he has never visited and where he has no family - for trial and ultimate imprisonment.

In September 2016, a British lower court judge ruled that Love was eligible for extradition, and two months later, British Home Secretary Amber Rudd ignored the pleas of 100 members of Parliament to keep Love in the U.K. and instead ordered him extradited to the U.S. In ruling Love eligible for extradition, the lower court judge rejected claims that extradition would severely worsen Love's physical and mental health problems, accepting promises from U.S. prison officials that they would ensure Love did not kill himself.

Specifically, prison officials told the court that, on the trip to the U.S., Love "would be restrained and escorted by Marshals, who would observe him within close proximity during the flight, having checked him for anything he might be able to use to harm himself," and that once in prison, he would be kept in isolation if suicide appeared to be a serious risk. As a result, the judge found, U.S. authorities could and would adequately safeguard Love's welfare.

That was the conclusion emphatically rejected by the British appeals court. The court concluded that suicide prevention programs in U.S. prisons are so crude and harsh that they actually increase the likelihood of a prisoner's suicide. The court placed particular emphasis on the warnings of neuropsychiatry professor Michael Kopelman that the U.S. Bureau of Prisons's "suicide prevention program" - which "involve[s] an inmate on suicide watch being put into a suicide prevention room, wearing a suicide smock, and being monitored for 24 hours a day, without any unapproved personal items" - would likely exacerbate all of the conditions it was ostensibly designed to treat:

The appeals court also relied on the testimony of Simon Baron-Cohen, a Cambridge professor of developmental psychopathology who specializes in autism, who "took issue with the sufficiency of the protocols operated in America, to support prisoners with Asperger Syndrome, depression and at high suicidal risk." In particular, "mentally ill inmates were often put in solitary confinement where they cannot access mental health services, with especially negative consequences for Mr. Love," and "he would not receive treatment for clinical depression until it reached 'crisis/suicidal' level."

Extensively analyzing ample medical testimony along with standard procedures in U.S. prisons for treating inmates with physical and mental illnesses, the British appeals court concluded that U.S. prison "treatment" would not effectively help his illnesses but would do exactly the opposite: They "would be very harmful for his difficult mental conditions, Asperger Syndrome and depression, linked as they are; and for his physical conditions, notable eczema, which would be exacerbated by stress. That in turn would add to his worsening mental condition, which in its turn would worsen his physical conditions."

In sum, concluded the court, the way in which U.S. prisons "treat" inmates with mental illnesses and suicidal impulses - with segregation, isolation, and a lack of ongoing medical and mental health care - almost certainly means that extradition to the U.S. would worsen Love's health and create a very high likelihood of driving him to suicide:

Suicide watch is not a form of treatment; there is no evidence that treatment would or could be made available on suicide watch for the very conditions which suicide watch itself exacerbates. But once removed from suicide watch, the risk of suicide as found by the judge, cannot realistically be prevented, on her findings. ... Mr Love already experiences severe depression at times. It is very difficult to envisage that his mental state after ten years in and out of segregation would not be gravely worsened, should he not commit suicide.
THAT THE U.S. prison system is cruel and abusive when it comes to treating inmates' mental health problems is well-documented. A decade ago, the Department of Justice itself acknowledged that "more than half of all prison and jail inmates had a mental health problem, including 705,600 inmates in State prisons, 78,800 in Federal prisons, and 479,900 in local jails."

As the U.S. prison population has exploded - the U.S. imprisons more of its citizens than any other country, including those (such as China and India) with triple or quadruple the population sizes - the ability of prison officials to treat mental health has worsened. A comprehensive report last June by Maggie Puniewska in Vice documented that "many mentally ill inmates are often abused and denied care, even when it's clear that they are suffering," and "inmates on suicide watch would be left alone for days at a time - ironically, no one was watching them." Worse, "mentally ill inmates can find themselves in solitary confinement, also called segregation, which is more often a placement that can aggravate their condition."

Indeed, the pervasive use of prolonged solitary confinement in U.S prisons - which many medical professionals now regard as a form of torture - often exacerbates the suffering of inmates with mental health problems. A clinical study published in 2013 noted that "in recent years, prison officials have increasingly turned to solitary confinement as a way to manage difficult or dangerous prisoners," and that "many of the prisoners subjected to isolation, which can extend for years, have serious mental illness, and the conditions of solitary confinement can exacerbate their symptoms or provoke recurrence."

In 2009, Human Rights Watch testified before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that "prisons are ill-equipped to respond appropriately to the needs of prisoners with mental illness. Prison mental health services are all too frequently woefully deficient, crippled by understaffing, insufficient facilities, and limited programs. Many seriously ill prisoners receive little or no meaningful treatment." As a result, "mentally ill prisoners suffer painful symptoms and their conditions can deteriorate." The American Civil Liberties Union has repeatedly sued various prison systems for inadequate mental health care on the grounds that it constitutes "cruel and unusual punishment" as barred by the U.S. Constitution.

Monday's ruling by the British court is certain to infuriate the U.S. Department of Justice. In 2012, U.S. law enforcement denounced the decision of then-Home-Secretary Theresa May, now the British prime minister, to refuse the extradition to the U.S. of accused British hacker Gary McKinnon "on human rights grounds because of medical reports warning that McKinnon, 46, who has Asperger's syndrome and suffers from depressive illness, could kill himself if sent to stand trial in the U.S." As the BBC noted at the time, May's decision was "the first time a home secretary had stepped in to block an extradition under the current treaty with the U.S."

That a British high court has now blocked another extradition request by the U.S. for a hacker regarded by American authorities as a serious criminal is certain to heighten tensions further between these two close allies. Even more importantly, this decision - as comprehensive and emphatic as it is - could be critical for shining international light on the oppressive and brutal conditions inside the solitary-confinement-loving American prison system, particularly for people who struggle with ailments of mental health.
(c) 2018 Glenn Greenwald. was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. His most recent book is, With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book "How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy," examines the Bush legacy. He is the recipient of the first annual I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism.

Not Enough!
By Uri Avnery

MANY YEARS ago, right after the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, I was asked to write a book about the events. Rachel took the photos, I wrote the text. The book, which appeared only in Hebrew, was called "Lenin Does Not Live Here Anymore".

When we visited Warsaw, we were astonished by the many places in the city with metal plates announcing "(Name) was executed by the Germans at this spot." Until then we had no idea that the Polish resistance had opposed the Nazis so fiercely.

After coming home, Rachel happened to enter a clothes shop and hear the female owner talking with a customer in Polish. Still full of her discovery, Rachel asked the owner: "Did you know that the Nazis also killed a million and half non-Jewish Poles?"

The woman answered "Not enough!"

Rachel was amazed. So was I.

We knew, of course, that many Polish Jews did not like the Polish people, but we were not aware of the intensity of this hatred.

THIS HATRED reappeared in full force this week.

The Polish parliament decreed that anyone who uses the words "Polish extermination camps" is committing a crime punishable by three years in prison. The right description, according to the Poles, is "Nazi extermination camps in Poland."

The rectification is quite correct. But in Israel, a storm broke out. What?! The Poles deny the Holocaust? Do they deny that many Poles helped the Nazis to catch and kill the Jews?

That is what many Israelis believe. Quite wrongly, of course. Poland never made peace with the Nazis, unlike several other European countries. The Polish government fled to France and then to Britain, from where they directed the Polish resistance. Actually, there were two Polish underground organizations, a national and a communist one. Both fought the Nazis and paid a heavy price.

If I am not mistaken, it was the Polish government in exile which transmitted to the Zionist leadership the first reliable information about the extermination camps.

Were there Polish collaborators with the Nazis? Of course there were, like in every occupied country. Without making any comparison, there are lots and lots of Palestinian collaborators in today's occupied territories.

The main non-German helpers in the extermination camps were Ukrainians, whose hatred for Russia led them to sympathize with the Nazis. That and their own deep-seated anti-Semitism, stemming from the time when the Ukraine belonged to Poland and Jews administered the estates for the Polish owners.

The Nazis did not really make a serious effort to gain Polish or Ukrainian cooperation. Hitler's secret plan was to exterminate or enslave all the Slavs too, right after the Jews, in order to create more Lebensraum for the German nation.

YET IT took less than 10 years from the end of the Holocaust for Israel to sign an agreement with the German state, while the hatred for Poland continues unabated.


Nobody ever asks the most obvious question: how come so many Jews, millions of them, came to live in Poland in the first place?

Centuries ago, when the Jews were driven out of Germany and other North-European countries, where did they go? Which European countries opened their gates for them?

Well, at the time Poland was the most open, even the most tolerant country in Europe. Fleeing Jews were welcomed and found a new home. The king had a Jewish mistress. An entire Jewish town grew up near Krakow, the center of Polish culture.

Honest disclosure: While my father's forefathers had come to Germany from the west, my mother's forebears had come from Krakow. My father, who had enjoyed a classical education, always insisted that our forefathers had come to the Rhineland with Julius Caesar (no evidence available), but my mother had to admit that her grandfather had come from Krakow, which before World War I was a part of Austria.

THAT POLISH-JEWISH Spring passed. What remained was the reality of a huge Jewish minority in Poland.

A minority that is radically different from the majority is always a problem. The Jews were different from the Poles in religion and culture, they spoke a different language (Yiddish). And there were lots and lots of them. Many millions.

So it was almost inevitable that between the two groups there sprang up a mutual distaste, which turned into mutual hatred. There were some pogroms. However, it seems that in modern Poland Jews lived in comparative comfort. They were organized politically and set up coalitions with non-Jewish minorities.

Masses of Polish Jews tried to emigrate to Germany. The German Jews, who despised them, put them on ships and sent them to the United States, where they prospered.

The classic German Jewish poet Heinrich Heine wrote a poem that goes like this (my own unauthorized translation): "Krapulinsky and Washlapsky, / Poles from the Polackei / Fought for freedom / Against Muscovite tyranny. // Fought with valor and with luck / finally managed to escape to Paris / Because to live, like to die, / For the Fatherland is sweet."

And further on, drunk in a Paris bar, one comforts the other: "Not yet is Poland lost, / Our women give birth, / Our virgins do so, too. / They will give us heroes!"

After the advent of Hitler, when German Jews started to arrive in Palestine, they found Polish Jews who had arrived there before, like Dovid Grun (David Ben-Gurion) from Plonsk. The German Jews were received by them with contempt and ridicule.

Polish anti-Semites were seen by the Zionists as natural allies in their effort to push the Jews towards Palestine. One episode, known only to a few: in 1939, a number of leaders of the Irgun underground in Palestine (to which I then belonged) had a brilliant idea: start an armed insurrection against the British rulers and set up the Jewish State.

Looking for assistance, and especially arms, they turned towards the anti-Semitic officers of the Polish army. The Irgun offer was simple: we shall help you to get rid of your Jews. You train them and provide them with arms, we put them on ships to Palestine.

The Polish general staff liked the idea, and training of young Irgun members in Poland actually started. The outbreak of World War II put an end to this adventure.

IT IS this convoluted relationship of many centuries that is now finding its expression in the Polish-Israeli clash of the last few days.

Many Israelis have been taught to believe that the Holocaust was a joint German-Polish enterprise, and that the ovens of Auschwitz were operated by Poles. After all, wasn't Auschwitz in Poland?

Was it an accident that practically all extermination camps were on Polish soil? (Actually it was an ideal location for the Nazis, especially after their invasion of the USSR. The Jews were there.)

I DON'T believe that this exposition of facts will help. The sentiments are too deeply entrenched. But what the hell.
(c) 2018 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

How Donald Trump Rode In On "Dark Money"
By Glen Ford

The New York Times, the world's premier journalistic purveyor of a "fake," imperial, and profoundly white capitalist world view -- masquerading as all the news that's fit to print -- wants us to believe that a now-bankrupt London-based public relations firm is behind South Africa's regime-shaking debate over the rule of "white monopoly capital."

It's an amazing claim, that could only be put forward with a straight face by an institution marinated in centuries of white supremacy, whose operatives can perceive only fellow white hands and minds as makers of history -- or even coiners of useful terms.

In a February 4 business section article titled, "How Bell Pottinger, P.R. Firm for Despots and Rogues, Met Its End in South Africa," the Times fingered the British p.r. outfit as the culprit that popularized the belief that "white monopoly capital" must be overthrown to complete the unfinished South African revolution. Bell Pottinger worked for the Gupta brothers, three businessmen from India that are widely believed to have corruptly "captured" the government of President Jacob Zuma for their own enrichment. The Guptas are reportedly divesting much of their vast South African holdings, and Zuma now clings to state power by his fingernails, having lost control of the ruling African National Congress leadership to the faction led by Cyril Ramaphosa, the labor leader turned wealthy multinational corporate shareholder.

The Times claims the Guptas and their p.r. firm set these events in motion by injecting the concept of "white monopoly capital" into the debate, thus poisoning the political dialogue, in the Times' view. By 2017, Bell Pottinger "stood accused of setting off racial tensions through a furtive campaign built on Twitter bots, hate-filled websites and speeches…pushing a highly toxic narrative, namely that whites in South Africa had seized resources and wealth while they deprived blacks of education and jobs," reporter David Segal wrote. "The message was popularized with an incendiary phrase, 'white monopoly capital.'"

According to the Times, "white monopoly capital," "a phrase that for years had been confined to left-wing academic circles, was suddenly unavoidable."

That's utter nonsense. The term "white monopoly capital," in those precise words or essential meaning, has been central to the South African political conversation since before Nelson Mandela was imprisoned in 1962. The demand for majority control of the nation's land and major industries was articulated in the anti-apartheid movement's seminal political document, the Freedom Charter of 1955:

"The national wealth of our country, the heritage of all South Africans, shall be restored to the people; The mineral wealth beneath the soil, the banks and monopoly industry shall be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole... ."
It is an indisputably socialist document directly addressing the white capitalist monopoly on power. Although the honchos of the ruling party, the ANC, have betrayed its principles, in practice, at every juncture since the fall of apartheid in the early Nineties, the entirety of South African political leadership is still compelled to give lip service to the Charter and its embedded demands. The Brits that ran Bell Pottinger worked for the Gupta brothers, but their political client was President Jacob Zuma, then leader of the ANC, who needs no spin-doctor or "Twitter bots" to articulate his public position on "white monopoly power."

"The minority dominates land. That's why we are saying there is a monopoly. It is not insult," said Zuma, in an interview with South African television, last year. "It is a fact, it's not manufactured. We are telling the truth. We fought, they took everything, political power which we now have. They took economical power and land. Let us take the mines, companies who dominate in mines, few are benefiting. You will find the same companies in charge. That means they are dominating. They are monopolizing, they are not black.

"You have companies that are white, they start from big commodities to the broom, they are monopolies, they should be called by what they practice. There is monopoly capital and in South Africa it is white. Because of our history it does have a color and it is white," Zuma said.

The political crisis in South Africa derives from the failure of Zuma and the leadership of the ANC to actually oust white monopoly capital from the commanding heights of the economy, after nearly a quarter century in nominal power. Instead, they have fatted a new class of Black bourgeoisie, most of them ANC-connected, as junior partners with the white monopolists through the government's Black Economic Empowerment policies. Most notable among these nouveau Black capitalists is Cyril Ramaphosa, now president of the ANC and near certain to succeed Zuma in the next election, if not much sooner.

Ramaphosa was once leader of the mine workers union, but became one of the richest men in South Africa, with assets estimated at $450 million, thanks to his alliance with the multinational corporate mine owners. Ramaphosa is widely believed to have given the green light for police to massacre 34 striking workers at the Marikana mine operated by the Lonmin conglomerate, of which he was a director, in 2012.

Ramaphosa and a majority of the current members of the ANC's executive committee now claim that "white monopoly capital" is "no longer part of the party's lexicon," although the iissue remains hotly contested and factionalized. Ramaphosa was last year reported to have "criticized the use of the phrase 'white monopoly capital' and said it was an invention of a highly paid public relations company to 'protect their clients' accused of state capture." Thus, the New York Times is running the same line as Ramaphosa, the darling of the multinational corporations that were incensed at having to share access to Zuma's presidency with the intrusive (and brown) Gupta brothers. Under Ramaphosa, their absolute monopoly on the state's attentions will no doubt be restored.

Joel Netshitenzhe, a Ramaphosa ally on the ANC national executive committee, said, "the phenomenon of monopoly capital is a global one and manifests itself differently. In that context, it would therefore not be correct to characterize ours simply as white monopoly capital. That relationship would apply whether it's Japanese, Indian, white or whatever category you can think about," he said.

Apparently, the global system created by white monopolists -- and still dominated by them, in South Africa and around the planet -- loses its essential, racialized character when darker capitalists throw some money in game. Supposedly, the same transformation occurs when one mixes in a gaggle of Black Economic Empowerment program beneficiaries. Voila! Racial capitalism eliminated! Even if nothing changes in the lives of the masses of people.

The torrential flows of capital out of South Africa and the rest of the continent are the legacy of centuries of colonial and imperial extraction by a system that invented white supremacy to justify its existence. It still exists -- and its impact on Black people on the ground in South Africa remains profoundly racialized.

Zuma's successors are scrambling to shed their old vocabularies. An exhaustive article by Christopher Malikane, an associate professor of economics, at Wits University, shows that the term "white monopoly capital" was never "confined to left-wing academic circles" in South Africa, but rather was an integral element of political speech among movers and shakers in all three prongs of the Tripartite Alliance that has ruled South Africa since 1994: the ANC, the South African Communist Party, and the labor federation, COSATU. Lowly professors and activists like Malikane were also quite at home with the term, long before the London p.r. firm is said to have "invented" it. Malikane dug up one of his old papers from 2002, and found that it was "replete with the concept 'white monopoly capital.'"

He documents the term's presence in a 2012 joint report of the South African Communist Party and COSATU:

"The two allies resolved to stand shoulder-to-shoulder, together with the ANC, in the struggle to deepen our national democratic revolution, to end the national oppression of the majority, the super-exploitation of workers by white monopoly capitalism and the triple oppression faced by women, in order to create a new non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa," it reads.
Further back in time, Malikane finds the offending term in an address by labor federation chief Blade Nzimande, in 1997:
"The call for only organised workers to make sacrifices, without calling for the same from white monopoly capital, is essentially a reactionary call for the maintenance of the super-exploitation of the black working class."
South African Premier Mbhazima Shilowa, speaking to a Black Economic Empowerment strategy lunch in 2006, said:
"As I have indicated in the past, we need to send a clear message that the time for white monopoly capital to pay lip service to economic transformation and empowerment, especially for women, is past and will not be rewarded in Gauteng"
And former COSATU General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, at a 2005 Special Congress of the South African Communist Party:
"Economic power is still in the hands of white monopoly capital. The aspirant and vocal black bourgeoisie remains numerically small and depends heavily on the state and white business for its survival."
Clearly, "white monopoly capital" did not fall out of use as a staple term of the South African political class. Rather, the term is in the process of being purged at the behest of multinational (dare we say "white"?) capital.

Fortunately, the leadership of the African National Congress can no longer dictate politics in South Africa. The insurgent Economic Freedom Fighters, which has been building an electoral challenge to the ANC from the left since 2013, has no problem with the term "white monopoly capital." Neither does Irvin Jim, head of NUMSA, the nation's largest union. White monopoly capital is real, and reproduces itself:

"The stranglehold of a small number of white monopoly capitalists over the great bulk of our country's wealth and resources is based on colonial dispossession and promotes racial oppression. This concentration of wealth and power perpetuates the super-exploitation of millions of black workers."
Back in 2014, predating Bell Pottinger's contract with President Zuma, Irvin Jim spoke to the historical realities of South Africa:
"Basically you have white monopoly capital, corporate multinationals and the white population who dominate the South African economy. The freedom charter in this case is very clear. It says mineral wealth, the soil, banks and monopoly industries must be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole. That is the cornerstone for non-racialism and non-sexism. To leave the existing economic conditions intact is basically to allow racial supremacy to continue."
Which is the deal that President-to-be Cyril Ramaphosa has reaffirmed with his mentors and patrons among the white monopoly capitalists. Perhaps he will make similar arrangements with Japanese and Indian capitalists, as well, as their numbers increase, but that will not alter the raciaized nature of the system as experienced by the South African people.

South Africa is, perhaps, unique, in that it is a non-liberated country whose broad political discourse is saturated with Marxist language. Even the operatives of the oppressor, like Cyril Ramaphosa, who calls himself a "committed socialist," speak "Marxian." The term "white monopoly capital" speaks to the reality of South African political economy. It will not be erased from that nation's vocabulary by order of the next president, or the New York Times.
(c) 2018 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

The Hale Bopp comet.

Did A Comet Strike Trigger A Recent Ice Age?
By Juan Cole

It has long puzzled scientists that the gradual ending of the last glacial maximum or ice age beginning about 20,000 before present, extending into the 13,000s, was interrupted in the 12,000s by another short period, of 1,200 years, of ice age. When that one receded, the earth became and remained relatively warm, so that there were no ice sheets on e.g. Europe as there were during the glacial maximum (Britain was uninhabited for some 9,000 years, with 3 miles of ice on top of it, as though it were Antarctica.) The warming may have been caused by the release of CO2 from the Southern Ocean.

Scientists are finding increasingly solid evidence for the thesis that about 12,900 Before Present (10,888 BC) a massive 64-mile wide comet slammed into the Upper Midwest of North America and threw the earth into a 1200-year ice age called the Younger Dryas. The hypothesis has been around for a while but has remained controversial. This recent study of sediment around the world gives substantial new support for it.

The comet impact set off continent-wide wild fires that covered North America in soot, and threw so much dirt into the air that the sun shone dimly for centuries. Hurricane force winds swept the earth. Woolly mammoths, saber tooth tigers, giant camels and gargantuan short-faced bears found nothing to eat and died off. The population of indigenous Americans, suddenly without food, was reduced by 70 percent. (On top of everything else, The ozone layer was depleted by the changes initiated by the comet, increasing skin cancer in human beings.)

Ice piled up miles over the land in North America and Europe. When the long-term warming trend resumed, allowing Europe to be repopulated, people from the Middle East gradually moved in, bringing agriculture and Indo-European languages. The old European population that had been killed or chased south by the ice ages seems to have been almost completely replaced by the newcomers coming in as the ice receded, who spoke an ancestor of Latin, Greek and Germanic languages (not to mention Hittite, Persian and Sanskrit).

Climate denialists are always droning on about how climate change is a constant and the global heating we have been experiencing in recent decades is nothing intrinsically new. This glib talking point is wrong where the issue is most pressing.

Of course, climate is a dynamic system and has changed in the past as well. But episodes of substantial global heating, where the average temperature increases over time, have in the past taken place over millions of years. Typically global heating is caused by an increase of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, which interfere with the radiation back out into space of the heat the earth receives from the sun. Carbon dioxide and methane are two potent such heat-trapping gases. In past ages, volcanic eruptions were the main source of extra CO2 in the atmosphere, but only steady such eruptions over millions of years would cause the greenhouse effect. Sometimes release of gases from the sea bed could also cause them to build up in the atmosphere- more rapidly than is typically the case with volcanoes. (There has been no significant volcanic activity or sea bed release or sunspots-no natural phenomena that could explain our own past few decades of rapid warming. Human beings are now the cause.)

When you get climate change over millions of years, plants and animals have time to adapt. But rapid climate change is associated with mass extinctions. There were five before today, and we are now living the sixth.

Human beings are putting 41 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year. They are doing this by virtue of driving gasoline automobiles, burning coal and gas to heat homes and run factories and generate electricity. There has been nothing like this enormous and rapid accumulation of heat trapping gases in the atmosphere in the geological record, happening over two centuries.

But if you want to see what rapid climate change looks like, consider the Younger Dryas. The Clover comet abruptly took the earth in the opposite direction, toward cooling. Today's human beings, and above all Big Oil executives like Rex Tillerson and their willing allies like Trump, are the equivalent of the Clover Comet in their impact on the earth.

The difference is that the victims of the Clover comet were helpless. We can forestall the very worst effects of our own climate change disaster, by stopping our farting out of carbon dioxide. Go to solar, wind and hydro.
(c) 2018 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.

Trump Serves The People - Rich Ones, That Is
By Jim Hightower

Donald Trump bragged in 2016 that, "I know words - I have the best words."

Well, occasionally he does use some very fine words that convey great promise, as in this sentence: "I'm going to fight for every person in this country who believes government should serve the people - not the donors and special interests." Similarly, Trump also declared he would "drain the swamp" to rid Washington of those creepy, crawly special-interest lobbyists.

Excellent words! But they only matter if the speaker actually means them, backing their rhetorical promise with action. As we've seen though, far from draining the swamp, Trump converted the White House itself into a fetid cesspool of lobbyists, corporate executives, and banksters.

His transition team was almost exclusively made up of those swamp critters. His glitzy inaugural celebration was bankrolled by Big Oil, Big Coal, Big Pharma, and other Bigs that attached their legislative and regulatory demands to the checks they donated. Most of his top officials came straight out of Wall Street and corporate suites, turning Trump's government into a sump pump that is routinely funneling billions of dollars and special regulatory favors to the moneyed elite.

When asked why he put Wall Street hucksters in charge of economic policy, he offered this scramble of words that inadvertently revealed his true, plutocratic soul: "I love all people, rich or poor. But in these positions, I just don't want a poor person."

This is Jim Hightower saying... Really? Not even one official who understands poverty from first-hand experience and could not only give you advice, but also some understanding? And what about those hard-hit middle-class workers Trump always talks about? Nope, he hasn't appointed a single one to a top policy position. So, forget Trump's words. If the poor and middle class aren't in his government, they're not in his heart either - nor in his policies.
(c) 2018 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition. Jim writes The Hightower Lowdown, a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America's ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at

Donald Trump speaks to Paul Ryan at the White House, May 2017.

Paul Ryan And Devin Nunes Are Betraying The Constitution In The Service Of Donald Trump
The Speaker of the House has abandoned his duty to defend the authority of the House in order to serve as an agent of the president.
By John Nichols

Asked at the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 if the delegates had created a republic or a monarchy, Benjamin Franklin is reported to have replied, "A republic, if you can keep it."

Paul Ryan has abandoned the effort to keep it.

At the heart of the US Constitution is a system of checks and balances that was established primarily to guard against the concentration of power in an executive branch that might tend toward royalism. The founders of the American experiment wanted to prevent a repeat of the monarchical abuses of King George III, against which their constituents had risen in revolution.

"The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, selfappointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny," warned James Madison, the essential author of the Constitution, who explained, "The great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others."

What Madison asserted in the late 1780s remains true to this day: For the system of checks and balances to function, the leaders charged with responsibility for the various branches of government must zealously defend the authority of the branches they lead. They cannot allow one branch to become the extension of another.

This is the basic duty that House Speaker Paul Ryan rejected when he chose to make the legislative chamber subservient to President Trump's lawless executive branch. Ryan's abandonment of the Constitution began long ago. But it culminated with the speaker's decision to support Friday's release of a partisan memo produced by disgraced House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence chair Devin Nunes (R-CA) to discredit law-enforcement agencies that have organized and supported inquiries into Trump-campaign and Trump-administration wrongdoing.

"Discrediting law enforcement is the memo's transparent purpose and why it has been embraced by President Trump," argued a Washington Post editorial that condemned Ryan's choice. "Written mainly by the staff of Devin Nunes (R-CA), the loose-cannon chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the memo reportedly makes the case that the FBI abused spying authorities as it sought permission to surveil a former Trump adviser," noted the Post. "The Justice Department called its potential release, which Mr. Trump reportedly intends to approve, 'extraordinarily reckless.' The FBI released its own startling public statement citing 'grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo's accuracy.' Adam Schiff (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, wrote in a Post op-ed that the Nunes memo 'cherry-picks facts, ignores others and smears the FBI and the Justice Department.'"

The Post's editorial appeared just before the release of the memo. But the concerns it expressed were confirmed by the document, which makes over-the-top and highly speculative allegations about how the inquiry into the Trump team's Russia ties has been conducted, and especially about how FISA warrants were obtained, but fails to present an even minimally credible case that the inquiry is unnecessary or inappropriate.

That memo is so thin in content and character that it adds weight to the argument made by the Post with a headline that read: "Paul Ryan is tarnishing the House."

The speaker's embrace of Nunes and his memo has dishonored the chamber that he, above all others, is duty bound to defend.

But that is the least of the sins against the American experiment committed by Ryan in collaboration with Nunes. Illinois Congressman Mike Quigley, a key Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, aptly describes Ryan and Nunes as "co-conspirators" in doing the bidding of a president who has "freaked out" over special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Nunes is a secondary figure, whom Quigley appropriately dismisses as nothing more than an agent for Trump.

Ryan's dereliction of duty is the more serious matter, as it betrays the most fundamental tenets of the Constitution. When the speaker chose to facilitate this bungling effort by Nunes to smear the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice on Trump's behalf, the Wisconsin Republican signaled a willingness to make the House of Representatives an appendage of the White House.

In so doing, Ryan abandoned the solemn oath he swore "to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic..."

Paul Ryan is not supporting the Constitution. He is shredding it. It is grotesque for the speaker to claim that he is aiding and abetting Nunes because "that brings us accountability, that brings us transparency, that helps us clean up any problem we have with [the Justice Department] and FBI"-as Ryan did Thursday in a crudely defensive and wildly dishonest attempt to deny his true intentions.

Make no mistake: Paul Ryan has zero interest in accountability, transparency, or cleaning up problems with law-enforcement agencies and the investigative process. He has shown no interest in legitimate and necessary oversight of intelligence agencies. He has never been identified with the cause of civil liberties or with the defense of privacy rights.

What Paul Ryan has been identified with is extreme partisanship and with the determination of congressional Republicans to defend Donald Trump-even if that defense comes at the cost of a system of checks and balances that was established 231 years ago to guard against precisely the abuses that are now occurring.
(c) 2018 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.

About That Twenty-Eighth Amendment
By James Donahue

Because of the shenanigans going on again this year in Washington, there has been talk about a proposed Twenty-Eighth Amendment to the Constitution. There presently are 27 ratified Constitutional Amendments in existence. Another five have been proposed, but they have failed to pass the state ratification process established in Article V in the Constitution. It requires approval by three-fourths of the states before they can become Constitutional law.

Here how the predominant twenty-eighth amendment proposal reads:

"Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States."
That amendment, if ever accepted, would tend to equalize the growing pay and benefits gap between elected federal legislators and the general public. It also would equalize all other laws affecting the citizenry, prohibiting voted immunity for elected members of Congress.

Other amendment proposals on the books would seek to reverse the high court's controversial rulings declaring that corporations are "people" and thus legally allowed to be big money backers for congressional candidates; declaring money to be property rather than free speech, and setting term limits for elected and appointed federal positions. Constitutional laws like these have not been popular among legislators. This is because too many have made careers out of their high-paid public service positions. Once in office they tend to work hard at staying there.

The framers of the Constitution originally perceived a government of the people and by the people. They created houses of elected state representatives and senators; all sent to Washington at certain times of each year to actively consider and debate issues behind the operation of our nation. These elected local representatives were supposed to fill temporary public service positions, with Congressional members returning home to their regular jobs and families between sessions at the Capitol.

Members of the Constitutional Congress never dreamed that those public service positions would evolve into the full-time high-paid power positions they have become. The original idea was that each state would retain its own sovereignty, with a weak central government existing to hold everything together as a nation.

In the years following the Revolutionary War it was not long before the colonies were engaged in yet a second conflict with England. It was during the War of 1812 that amendments to the Constitution were adopted thus creating a federal navy, calling up state militia for national defense, establishing the power to tax and eventually dealing with things like freedoms of speech, assembly and religion. As more and more of these amendments went on the books, states began to consider a growing threat to their own sovereignty.

The Ninth and Tenth Amendments, ratified in 1791, were drawn from the Bill of Rights and assure the states of continued autonomy in handling internal affairs. The Ninth Amendment reads:

"The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people;" and the Tenth Amendment says, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
The issue of slavery drew the states into the Civil War. After the Union Army won that bloody war the powers of the central government were established. Thus began the build-up the U.S. military power, our involvement in international affairs, interstate commerce, a national highway and communication system, and involvement in education, health and welfare issues.

As the power of the central government grew, so did the power and wealth of the men that ran it. The salary of elected senators and representatives is currently $174,000 a year. The president pro tempore and party leaders get $193,400. The Speaker of the House gets $223,500. In addition to their salaries, legislators receive retirement and health benefits. They are covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System or Civil Service Retirement System. They also contribute to the Social Security and Medicare tax programs. They receive a rich pension for life upon retirement. In 2006 the average annual pension for retired senators and representatives under CSRS was $60,972. Those that retired under FERS was $35,952.

In addition to the above, these elected representatives get up to 239 days off from their jobs in Washington, which most of them use by returning home and making appearances before their constituents as the fie for re-election. They also receive health care subsidies under the Affordable Care Act and up to one year of salary in death benefits.

Many of the retired legislators are millionaires.

The last constitutional amendment to be ratified was the Twenty-Seventh Amendment, which delays changes in the congressional salary until the following election cycle. This thus prevents legislators from voting themselves pay raises during their elected term in office. This amendment was ratified in 1992, over 202 years after it was submitted in 1789.

It is a logical conclusion that the proposed Twenty-Eighth Amendment will never see the light of day.
(c) 2018 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles.

In a 2015 speech to the U.S. Congress, the very Congress that is so beholden to the war machine, Pope Francis asked why deadly weapons were being
sold to those who inflict untold suffering on society. The answer, he said, was money, "money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood."

As Congress Feeds The Merchants Of Death, The People Must Divest
If neither major political party will stand up to this status quo, what can be done?
By Medea Benjamin

In recent budget negotiations, Senate Democrats agreed to a boost in military spending that exceeded the cap for fiscal 2018 by $70 billion, bringing the total request to an enormous $716 billion. Inevitably, this means more Pentagon contracts will be awarded to private corporations that use endless war to line their pockets. Democrats capitulated to this massive increase without so much as a scuffle. But the move hardly comes as a surprise, given how much money flows from weapons makers to the coffers of congressional campaigns for both parties.

While the majority of the weapons money goes to Republicans, Democratic Senators Tim Kaine and Bill Nelson appear in the top ten recipients of campaign contributions--in both chambers and parties--from military contractors in 2017 and 2018. Northrop Grumman gave $785,000 to Democratic candidates since 2017. Hillary Clinton took over $1 million from the industry in 2016. Even progressive darlings like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders take money from weapons manufacturers, and Sanders supported Boeing's disastrous F-35 because his home state had a financial stake in the program.

If neither major political party will stand up to this status quo, what can be done?

One answer might be found in the recent push to divest from fossil fuel companies undertaken by, among others, Norway and New York City. By December of 2016, 688 institutions, representing over $5 trillion in assets, had divested from fossil fuels. In an interview with The Guardian, author Naomi Klein described the fossil fuel divestment effort as "a process of delegitimizing" the sector and of affirming that it yields "odious profits."

An analogous campaign to delegitimize beneficiaries of war is long overdue. In addition to pressuring our members of Congress to refuse campaign donations from weapons manufacturers and war profiteers, we must mount a divestment effort at the institutional and municipal level. Investment in war must come at the cost of public disgrace.

University students can request holdings information from their schools. Often, investments in military corporations are bundled into more complex financial instruments whose investments are not publicly disclosed. The content of these instruments can be determined by contacting a university board of trustees or endowment manager. Then a divestment campaign can be launched, building campus coalitions, creating petitions, organizing direct actions and passing resolutions through student government bodies. A helpful guide for student activists can be found here.

Activists can launch municipal divestment efforts by determining the holdings of city pension, utility, or insurance funds. In 2017 the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the national association of cities with populations over 30,000, adopted a resolution acknowledging the need to transform funding priorities away from war-making and into local communities. Divestment campaigns can leverage this resolution in order to hold city leaders to their word. More information for activists at the city level is available here.

Divestment offers an alternate means of addressing the blight of war profiteering in an era in which traditional political routes have been closed by our craven representatives. It also brings the message into smaller communities--communities that crumble while defense contractors live in luxury.

A new coalition of about 70 groups across the country has formed to launch a Divest From the War Machine campaign. The coalition is inviting all those who are disgusted by the war profiteers to help galvanize university, city, pension and faith institutions to divest from war.. Learn more at:

In a 2015 speech to the U.S. Congress, the very Congress that is so beholden to the war machine, Pope Francis asked why deadly weapons were being sold to those who inflict untold suffering on society. The answer, he said, was money, "money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood." Looking at a room full of congresspeople who benefit from what he called "merchants of death," the Pope called for the elimination of the arms trade. One way to heed the Pope's call is to eat away at the profits of those who make a killing on killing.
(c) 2018 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

Republicans Are Complaining About Partisan Oppo Now?
By Heather Digby Parton

It's been 72 hours or so since the Devin Nunes Memo was released, and it's clear that despite wall-to-wall coverage, the entire spectacle changed nothing. For Fox News pundits and their associates in the GOP, it proves there was a conspiracy among FBI and Department of Justice leadership to destroy Donald Trump. For everyone else, it shows that the rationale for the Russia investigation was a legitimate line of inquiry.

Sean Hannity said that this memo makes clear that charges must be dropped against Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn -- for some reason, even though the latter has already pleaded guilty to a crime. Donald Trump Jr. ranted inanely that Democrats were both McCarthyites and "commies," which is a neat trick. He also said something truly reckless:

There is a little bit of sweet revenge in it for me and certainly probably the family in a sense that if they wouldn't have done this, this stuff would be going on. This would be going on at the highest levels of government. They'd be continuing doing it to my father, trying to undermine his actions.
And here we all thought the president's decision to declassify the memo was all in the interest of transparency and national security.

On the other side of that argument is everyone else, even including some heavy-hitting Republicans like the scourge of Benghazi, Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., who went to great lengths to explain that the memo had nothing whatsoever to do with special counsel Robert Mueller and the Russia investigation. This obviously came as news to the president, who tweeted this:

Gowdy's deviation from the Trumpian line on this, echoing Paul Ryan's from last week, is a perfect case of trying to have it both ways. Ryan was the ultimate enabler of this farce, signing off on the Nunes crusade, and Gowdy is the guy who read the underlying FISA warrant application documents on which the memo was based. So nobody should get too excited about their supposed "independence" on this. They were primary facilitators.

It's true that a few others have joined that chorus, signaling that at least a handful of Republicans don't want to be associated with the notion that this memo "vindicates" the president. (Notably, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was not among them.)

Chairman Nunes is undeterred. Axios reported on Sunday:

The House Intelligence chair and his team have told members and associates they've found other examples of politically motivated "wrongdoing" across various agencies, including the FBI, the broader Justice Department, and the State Department . . . Republicans close to Nunes say there could be as many as five additional memos or reports of "wrongdoing." One wonders if Nunes has any knowledge of that time in 1950 when a senator named Joseph McCarthy pulled out a "list" he claimed had the names of 200 people in the State Department whom he accused of politically motivated wrongdoing. It didn't end well.
Apparently, the Nunes team think they have more "evidence" of political interference having something to do with longtime Clinton associate and right-wing punching bag Sidney Blumenthal, as well as a man named Cody Shearer, who traveled in Clinton circles 20 years ago.

I have no idea what Blumenthal (who was once the Washington editor of Salon) is accused of doing this time. The Guardian recently reported that Shearer, a former journalist, had evidence pertaining to the Russia investigation which the FBI had been looking at since October 2016. Shearer's "dossier" was turned over to the FBI by the former MI6 agent Christopher Steele, who didn't vouch for his information but noted that it dovetailed with what some of his own sources had told him. Whether the FBI has verified any of Shearer's information remains unknown.

It's easy at this point to imagine the high-pitched howls of outrage spilling forth from the mouth of Sean Hannity over this news. The case right-wingers seem to be building here is that the FBI and the Department of Justice (and apparently other departments as well) are thoroughly corrupted by associations with Democrats and must be purged of the taint. Indeed, the central thrust of the Nunes Memo is that the FBI used information from a source (i.e., Steele) who had been paid by Democrats, which renders the information useless.

Over the course of the last few days, legal experts patiently explained that the motivation of informants and sources is not relevant to the question of whether the information they provide is true. Cases are made every single day on the basis of testimony and evidence provided by people whose motives are anything but pure: gangsters, jailhouse snitches, angry spouses, whatever. It's not as if the authorities just take their word for it. Information has to be corroborated, and apparently the FISA warrant application process is particularly demanding in that regard.

Nonetheless, Trump and his loyalists are arguing that any Democratic member of the government bureaucracy is automatically suspect, and any information that comes from a Democratic partisan must be immediately discounted as unreliable. This is very interesting, considering Republicans' partisan history of feeding information to law enforcement and special counsels.

Most recently, we had the FBI open a case to investigate the Clinton Foundation partially on the basis of charges in the book "Clinton Cash," a partisan hit job by right-wing journalist Peter Schweizer, who is co-founder and president of Steve Bannon's Government Accountability Institute, a conservative nonprofit funded by right-wing mega-donors Robert and Rebekah Mercer. After President Trump repeatedly expressed his anger and frustration that the FBI was not "going after Hillary Clinton," it was announced just this month that the Little Rock office has re-opened the case. The recently exhumed Uranium One "scandal" sprang from the same partisan poison pen.

This Republican practice goes way back. The Whitewater scandal was a product of a coordinated partisan campaign called "the Arkansas Project," financed by a right-wing millionaire named Richard Scaife. The Department of Justice, the FBI and the independent prosecutors of that era chased their tails for years running down all the "tips" they got from anti-Clinton sources, from the so-called "elves" who set up the Paula Jones case to the malevolent Lucianne Goldberg, who encouraged Linda Tripp to trap Monica Lewinsky into talking about her affair with Bill Clinton on tape.

The idea that right-wingers are "projecting" their own disorders onto others is probably overdone, but in this case it holds up. Republicans who claim that because the Steele dossier was (partially) paid for by Democrats it is therefore a completely unreliable partisan attack against the president are simply reflecting their own patterns and practices -- which continue as we speak. It's absurd for anyone to take their criticisms seriously. Unfortunately, that doesn't appear to be a deterrence to Devin Nunes and his lieutenants. They've got memos lined up from here to Election Day. Their boss will be so pleased.
(c) 2018 Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

Lies, Damn Lies, And Nuclear Posture Reviews
By David Swanson

Did you hear the one about the "safe, secure, and effective nuclear deterrent?" There is, of course, nothing safe or secure about producing, maintaining, or threatening to use nuclear weapons. Nor is there evidence that they have ever deterred anything that the United States wanted deterred.

Trump's State of the Union gave this justification for building more weapons:

"Around the world, we face rogue regimes, terrorist groups and rivals like China and Russia that challenge our interests, our economy, and our values. In confronting these horrible dangers, we know that weakness is the surest path to conflict and unmatched power is the surest means of our true and great defense. . . . [W]e must modernize and rebuild our nuclear arsenal, hopefully never having to use it, but making it so strong and so powerful that it will deter any acts of aggression by any other nation or anyone else. Perhaps someday in the future, there will be a magical moment when the countries of the world will get together to eliminate their nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, we are not there yet, sadly."
Now, a rival is just something that you call a rival, and I suppose it can challenge your "values" merely by not sharing them. Perhaps it can challenge your "interests" and "economy" through trade agreements. But those are not acts of war. They don't require nuclear weapons unless you intend to get better trade agreements by threatening genocide. Moreover, there's nothing magical about the moment when the Nonproliferation treaty that the U.S. violates was created, nor about the current moment when the majority of nations are in fact working on a new treaty to ban the possession of nuclear weapons.

The Pentagon's new "nuclear posture review" gives a little bit different justification for building more nukes. It claims that the U.S. has led the way in disarmament, with Russia and China refusing to follow along. It claims Russia "seized" Crimea (why wasn't that "deterred"?). It claims Russia has been making nuclear threats against U.S. allies. It claims China is building nuclear weapons, thereby "challenging traditional U.S. military superiority in the Western Pacific." Also: North Korea's nuclear provocations threaten regional and global peace, despite universal condemnation in the United Nations. Iran's nuclear ambitions remain an unresolved concern. Globally, nuclear terrorism remains a real danger.

This is remarkably dishonest. The Pentagon, unlike the President, is at least pointing to things related to war and peace. But that's about all that can be said for its claims. The Soviets wanted to disarm, when Ronald Reagan insisted on his "Star Wars." It was Bush Junior who abandoned the ABM Treaty to put missiles in Europe. Russia ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, while the U.S. has not ratified or complied with it. Russia and China have proposed to ban weapons from outerspace and the U.S. has refused. Russia has proposed to ban cyber war, and the U.S. has refused. The U.S. and NATO have expanded their military presence to Russia's borders. The U.S. spends ten times what Russia spends on war preparations.

None of this let's Russia off the hook for its weapons production and dealing, and its war-making. But the picture of the United States as the innocent pursuer of disarmament is disgustingly false. The evil "seizure" of Crimea had as many fewer casualties than the U.S. seizure of Iraq as the total number of casualties in Iraq. It killed nobody and involved no seizing. The United States is far and away the world's leading threatener of nuclear war. U.S. presidents who have made specific public or secret nuclear threats to other nations, that we know of, have included Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Donald Trump, while others, including Barack Obama, have frequently said things like "All options are on the table" in relation to Iran or another country.

Why should a nation that isn't in the Western Pacific dominate it? Why can't Lockheed Martin stand accused of challenging China's dominance of the Chesapeake Bay? North Korea wants to survive. It is far more credibly actually pursuing nukes as deterrence. There is no guarantee they will deter. Iran has never had a nuclear weapons program. And the best way to increase the risk of non-state nuclear use is to build more nukes, threaten their use, defy the rule of law, and proliferate the technology - exactly what the United States is doing.

It's hard, in fact, to find an honest line in the Nuclear Posture Review.

"Our commitment to the goals of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) remains strong."

No it does not. It remains completely lawless defiance of the requirement to pursue disarmament.

"U.S. nuclear weapons not only defend our allies against conventional and nuclear threats, they also help them avoid the need to develop their own nuclear arsenals. This, in turn, furthers global security."

So, why are Saudi Arabia and the other U.S.-allied Gulf dictatorships working on nuclear energy?

"[Nukes] contribute to the:

Deterrence of nuclear and non-nuclear attack;
Assurance of allies and partners;
Achievement of U.S. objectives if deterrence fails; and
Capacity to hedge against an uncertain future."

Really? What makes the future less certain than building nuclear weapons

Perhaps we should all contemplate for a moment what the U.S. objectives are that can be achieved by nuclear weapons "if deterrence fails."
(c) 2018 David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

Trump's Comey Problem
The president*'s decision to fire the FBI director may be his worst decision to date.
By Charles P. Pierce

Over at Lawfareblog, they've gotten a hold of a cache of e-mails from inside the FBI from the immediate aftermath of the president*'s firing of director James Comey. These are significant in a couple of ways: first, the release of these e-mails can fairly be seen as a counterstroke against the president* and his congressional dogsled team, and second, they give a pretty good look at the kind of chaos that Comey's firing occasioned in the Bureau's rank and file.

When President Trump fired James Comey as FBI director last May, the special agent in charge of the Detroit field office, David Gelios, wrote an email to his staff: "I just saw CNN reporting that Director Comey has been fired by President Trump. I have no notification from HQ of any such thing. If I receive any information from HQ, I will advise. I'd ask all to stand by for clarification of this reporting. I am only sending this because I want everyone to know I have received no HQ confirmation of the reporting. I hope this is an instance of fake news."
Oh, and the e-mails also provide further evidence that Sarah Huckabee Sanders is an utterly truthless drone whose daily briefings are unworthy of serious attention. At the time Comey was fired, the White House line, peddled by SarahHuck and by the vulgar talking yam for whom she works, was that agents in the Bureau had "lost confidence" in Comey's leadership. (At the time, the president*, of course, would undercut his own outrageous lie by telling Lester Holt that he canned Comey over the Russia thing.) These e-mails show a sense of outrage among the grunts in the field offices on whose behalf Sanders and Trump presumed to speak.
Before detailing the story these documents tell, let's pause a moment over the story they do not tell. They contain not a word that supports the notion that the FBI was in turmoil. They contain not a word that reflects gratitude to the president for removing a nut job. There is literally not a single sentence in any of these communications that reflects criticism of Comey's leadership of the FBI. Not one special agent in charge describes Comey's removal as some kind of opportunity for new leadership. And if any FBI official really got on the phone with Sanders to express gratitude or thanks "for the president's decision," nobody reported that to his or her staff.

They also reveal the confusion within the Bureau as they tried to get Comey, who was on the west coast at the time, back to Washington. This occasioned a fit from the president*, whom everybody sensibly ignored.

After the president fired Comey there was some uncertainty about whether Comey, as a former FBI employee, would have to pay his way home from LAX or would be able to use the director's plane. NBC recently reported that an irate Trump called McCabe a day after the firing asking why Comey had been permitted to return to Washington on an FBI plane. McCabe indicated that he hadn't been consulted about the use of the plane but, had anyone asked, he would have approved the request. Thanks to one of these emails, we now have a small window into what went on at the FBI at the time. On May 11, Gregory Cox, assistant director of the Critical Incident Response Group, emailed all of the Critical Incident Response Group thanking "all who were involved in efforts to bring home former Director Comey from Los Angeles on Tuesday evening." The apparent defiance may be subtle, but it is unmistakable. Cox may not have known that his email dealt with a point the president had personally raised with the acting director, but he thanked his people for doing the right thing by Comey irrespective of politics he was surely aware of in a generic sense.
I don't minimize how thoroughly Comey bungled at the end of the 2016 presidential campaign. If what he's doing now is atonement, that's only right. He has a lot for which he should atone. But the sense of dislocation in these e-mails shows where the current propaganda war against the FBI first took root. It's where the water first went muddy.

It is the most elemental form of the ongoing damage that is no worse than even money to keep us from ever knowing everything about the Russian ratfcking of the 2016 presidential election, and to prevent us from taking the steps we need to prevent the same thing happening in 2018 and 2020. This, of course, may be the whole point.
(c) 2018 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.

The Quotable Quote...

"When even one American-who has done nothing wrong-is forced by fear to shut his mind and close his mouth-then all Americans are in peril."
~~~ Harry S. Truman

Investigative journalist Robert Parry is pictured in Washington, DC, in February 1987.

Remembering Investigative Journalist Robert Parry
By Norman Solomon

After Robert Parry died on January 27, I asked another great investigative journalist, Seymour Hersh, for some words. "I ran into Bob more than three decades ago when he was the first to warn of the Iran/Contra affair, to little avail," Hersh replied. "He was widely seen over the next years as a critic of the mainstream media in America. That was not so. He was a critic of lousy reporting, be it in Pravda or The New York Times. He wanted every journalist, everywhere, to do the research and the interviewing that it takes to get beyond the accepted headline."

What made Bob Parry a trailblazer for independent journalism also made him a bridge burner with the media establishment. He refused to take on faith the official story, whether from governments or news outlets. After winning acclaim, including a Polk Award, as an Associated Press reporter who broke many big stories on deadly US policies in Central America, he spent three years at Newsweek- where he saw top editors collaborating with officials of the George H.W. Bush administration on what should be shared or withheld from the public. Bob left the magazine in 1990, and soon his relations with mainstream media had a whistleblower quality. His 1992 book Fooling America: How Washington Insiders Twist the Truth and Manufacture the Conventional Wisdom named names and pulled no punches.

Midway through the decade, Bob did a stint as director of the Nation Institute's investigative unit. His writing for The Nation during 1996 included pieces about the CIA and drug trafficking by the Nicaraguan contras, the bankrolled power of right-wing foundations, and a seven-page expose that is chilling to read more than 30 years later-an investigative report on the Koch brothers.

In 1995, Parry launched a unique journalistic space,, where he worked intensely as publisher, editor, and writer. For the next 22 years, Parry oversaw the website's scrutiny of elite wisdom. His work, which included authoring six books, won the I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence from Harvard's Nieman Foundation in 2015 and, last year, the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism.

I got to see Bob at work up close, in 1996, when we co-wrote a series on a media darling: "Behind Colin Powell's Legend." During interviews, Bob was politely unrelenting. He had a methodical zest for plowing through documents, determined to "master the material." And he was professionally generous; I wrote just a small proportion of the articles, but he insisted that I share the byline on every one.

Bob was notably non-ideological. What propelled him was a moral core and determination to follow the facts. That devotion led him to expose the lethal deceptions and machinations of Reagan-era figures like Oliver North, Elliott Abrams, and Caspar Weinberger. Three decades later, the same resolve to separate fact from spun fiction put him on a collision course with the conventional wisdom of "Russiagate."

No one knew better than Bob Parry how intelligence agencies and major media outlets can create a cascading frenzy. Beginning in late 2016, Bob was prolific as he debunked the torrent of hyperbolic claims about Russia that became an ever-present flood across the US media landscape. Some progressive sites went from often posting his articles in 2016 to rarely or never posting them in 2017.

"For years, the mainstream, establishment media have, by their malpractices in covering US-Russian relations from Ukraine to 'Russiagate,' been deeply complicit in the unfolding of this new Cold War and its unprecedented dangers," said Russia scholar Stephen F. Cohen, a contributing editor at The Nation. "Bob Parry, very often alone, exposed those malpractices, especially those committed by the powerful New York Times and Washington Post, misreported story by misreported story, sometimes daily. For this, he was ostracized, slurred, certainly ignored by mainstream media."

At the end of December, a week after his first stroke left him with badly blurred eyesight, Bob somehow was able to write what turned out to be his final article, brilliant and transcendent, a kind of cri de coeur that is a stunning last testament to "the journalistic principles of skepticism and evenhandedness." Western journalists, he wrote, "now apparently see it as their patriotic duty to hide key facts that otherwise would undermine the demonizing of Putin and Russia. Ironically, many 'liberals' who cut their teeth on skepticism about the Cold War and the bogus justifications for the Vietnam War now insist that we must all accept whatever the US intelligence community feeds us, even if we're told to accept the assertions on faith."

At the close of a lengthy tribute that appeared the day after his father's death, Nat Parry wrote that, "ultimately, Bob was motivated by a concern over the future of life on Earth. As someone who grew up at the height of the Cold War, he understood the dangers of allowing tensions and hysteria to spiral out of control, especially in a world such as ours with enough nuclear weapons to wipe out all life on the planet many times over." Robert Parry carried the lantern high. Now others will need to carry it on.
(c) 2018 Norman Solomon is co-founder of and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death" and "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State."

An activist with a mask of Kim Jong-un, and another with a mask of President Donald Trump, march with a
model of a nuclear rocket during a demonstration against nuclear weapons on November 18, 2017 in Berlin, Germany.

They're Talking About 'Winnable' Nuclear War Again
By William Rivers Pitt

The night before my 18th birthday, I sternly reminded myself to get down to the post office in the morning and sign up for the Selective Service. I wasn't in a hurry to get drafted or anything like that; it was a chore and I wanted it off my desk ... and yes, there was an element of ritual to it, a martial rite of passage into manhood that was mandated by law. Volunteering to be involuntarily dragooned into fighting a war far away is what American men do on their 18th birthday, and I was a man. It said so right there on my driver's license.

I woke up the next day with Alice Cooper ringing in my head, cracked open the newspaper, and realized I was suddenly on a different planet: The Berlin Wall had fallen. People were dancing on the rubble and sledgehammering the rest. Checkpoint Charlie was a disco. It was the party of the century. My very first birthday present that day was history, living history -- brilliant, jubilant, rowdy, oh-shit-what-now history.

Filling out the Selective Service card later that morning, I found myself grinning like a fool. Yeah, sure, fellas, here's my name and vitals, but the Cold War just ended right there on the TV, so I don't think you'll have much use for these. I walked out of that building sure and certain in mind and heart that now, finally, there would be less war, less fear, less everything bad.

Before you go calling me starry-eyed, you had to be there to understand -- not in Berlin so much as anyplace with a television -- and if you were there, you remember. That mood, that feeling of lightness, was infectious even thousands of miles away. For more than 50 years, we had all been waking and working and sleeping and waking again under a nuclear sword of Damocles, a fear that was pervasive and permanent. It didn't disappear on my birthday, but damn if it didn't feel just a little bit better, and a little bit of that goes an awful long way.

I was a fool that day, of course. We got two years of politicians talking about the "peace dividend" and the end of history after that, and then we kicked off a war in Iraq that hasn't ended some 27 years later. The Cold War turned out to be a nifty little dry run for the "war on terror," except this time the weapons weren't ballistic and coming over the pole.

They were airplanes out of a clear blue sky, shoes, any car at any moment anywhere, so we got the mail with our oven mitts on and were told to watch what we say by the president's top spokesman. The threat was different, but the affliction of permanent fear was exactly the same. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

The missiles are still there, though. Thousands and thousands of them, marking time in their holes like funnel-web spiders. The astonishingly toxic byproduct left by their creation is still there, entombed in places like Yucca Mountain, and will be there for thousands of years unless it leaks or is stolen. The ability of a sitting president to use them is still there.

Some 25 years ago, we mostly broke the habit of building and testing more of these engines of annihilation, an absolute good in every sense. Not entirely, to be sure: The nuclear weapons program had its own gravity long before Trump came along, and it was President Obama who first put the trillion dollar weapons modernization program on the table. Still, it feels as if we've forgotten the things still exist and are existentially lethal.

We talked about Donald Trump's lack of fitness to have control of such weapons during the 2016 campaign, but it was almost an abstraction. Regardless, the man won the election, which means a great many people didn't much care that he could conceivably blow the mantle off the planet with a single conversation if he gets a bad bit of burger at bedtime.

Not even Trump's ongoing middle school shoving match with North Korea's Kim Jong-un and his growing nuclear toybox appears to have ruffled a great many feathers around here. Perhaps it's the surreal nature of this president and his administration that explains our national shrug at this incredibly dangerous, feckless faceoff. It's a strange plot twist in a weird animation starring two cartoon characters ordering bombs from the Acme catalog. Who could take these guys seriously?

Enter Robert R. Monroe, Vice Admiral, US Navy (Ret.) and his recent article in The Hill titled, "Only Trump Can Restore America's Ability to Win a Nuclear War." Vice Admiral Monroe, former director of the Defense Nuclear Agency, is the kind of man Curtis LeMay would have recognized as a brother on sight. "When the Cold War ended in 1991," laments Monroe in his opening line, "America made an unwise decision."

It goes downhill from there. "Ongoing nuclear programs were stopped," seethes Monroe. "Budgets were cut. New nuclear capabilities were prohibited by law. A presidential moratorium denied underground nuclear testing. No research into advanced nuclear technology was allowed. Essentially, America went into an unannounced a nuclear freeze, and we have progressively increased its restrictions and denials for a quarter-century."

These are all good things, unless you are one of those interesting individuals who still believe a nuclear war can be won. "Putin has threatened military action in many areas of Europe," warns Monroe, "to recover the former Soviet empire. If armed conflict broke out tomorrow, the advancing Russian armor, mobilized troops, artillery, and tactical aircraft would be preceded by dozens of low-yield nuclear detonations, killing everything but leaving roads and bridges intact. The war would be over in days -- or hours. How would we react?"

Well, when you put it that way, Admiral, obviously we would knuckle up and win that nuclear war just like The Plan says, and then learn to breathe plutonium dust as we build impenetrable geodesic domes to fend off attacks from the swarms of giant mutant butterfly sharks created by the fallout. It's all so simple, really. Only a coward could see it otherwise.

Some of those old bombs might still have the fingerprints of a friend of mine on them. He was a sergeant and crew chief in the Air Force during the Nixon administration, stationed at an air base in Thailand. In October of 1973, the Yom Kippur War broke out. The US was arming Israel while the Soviet Union armed Egypt and Syria, and all of a sudden, a highly volatile Cold War proxy fight was underway on the Sinai Peninsula. My friend and his crew were ordered to Guam by way of a KC-135, where they spent the next several days arming B-52D bombers for nuclear war.

"Our military had been elevated to DEFCON 3 alert level," my friend (who requested his name not be used) explains, "just one level below imminent nuclear war. It was the highest alert status since the Cuban Missile Crisis. Our mission was to convert the B-52Ds from conventional weapons to nuclear weapons capabilities. Not long after we arrived, my crew commenced to converting and testing the weapons system on one plane after another."

"The hypervigilance and fear were overwhelming at the time," he recalls. "That mission and all the emotions that went with it are something never to be forgotten. The real danger associated with what I was doing didn't sink in until years later. It's still hard for me to comprehend that I was actually participating in preparing for nuclear war. It was not a drill. It was happening in real time. I still have flashbacks of being in a B-52 cockpit, running tests, watching nuclear weapons being loaded and preparing for the worst."

"The worst" was very real. Israel was threatening to deploy nuclear-armed fighters, and US intelligence had reason to believe a Soviet ship carrying nuclear weapons was on its way to Egypt. It was at this point that Nixon lifted the US military's alert status to DEFCON 3, and the two superpowers found themselves sliding into a precarious nuclear standoff. That matters reached such a dangerous pitch is not widely known these days -- it isn't part of the common Cold War lore like Cuba is -- but it happened all the same.

My friend endured this for a series of 20-hour days, all the while loading bombs, and every member of that crew knew what he knew: In the event of war, any Soviet nuclear target package would include Guam, because that's where the bombers were. A peace accord was struck on October 26, and he returned to Thailand with his crew. "Over the years," he says, "this event manifested itself into my psyche and I had no idea how to handle it. I was 21 at the time, not knowing if I'd live to age 22. I still see a VA psychiatrist every month for PTSD."

My friend, as you can imagine, doesn't truck much with the opinions of Vice Admiral Robert R. Monroe, US Navy (Ret.), nor do I or most anyone else. I still remember the fear during those years. My friend closes his eyes sometimes and sees the bombs to this day. Our experiences are not comparable, except in that we both survived an era of peril that must never, ever be allowed to return.

Donald Trump has already announced his desire to increase the massive US nuclear arsenal tenfold. The draft of his soon-to-be-released Nuclear Posture Review seeks significant production of so-called "low-yield" nuclear weapons, because our current weapons are theoretically too big to use with any degree of tactical success. It should be noted that, according to modern metrics, the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were also "low-yield." An arsenal of smaller bombs is key to Admiral Monroe's fever dream of a winnable nuclear war. It is a dream Trump appears to share.

The world is dangerous enough as it is, one would think. It is so dangerous, in fact, that a great many people are frozen to near-immobility by it, by the sheer immensity of the perils we face. Where to even begin?

If you seek a place to lay your chisel, I have two words: "No Nukes."

Should you choose this path, your first task is to remind everyone that the threat not only still exists, but is growing again. White House officials were concerned about Richard Nixon's mindset during the 1973 crisis, mired as he was in the Watergate scandal. Donald Trump makes Richard Nixon look like Marcus Aurelius. We are all in a great deal of trouble, and no one seems to care.

Make them care, please and thank you. Let's go find that peace dividend they were talking about on my birthday. I think we've earned it.
(c) 2018 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 Dead Letter Office...

John Boehner & Devin Nunes give the corporate salute!

Heil Trump,

Dear Unterfuhrer Nunes,

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 making public tidbits of classified information fed to you by der Fuhrer, 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 "Rethuglican 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 03-17-2018. We salute you Herr Nunes, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

Trump's Divide-And-Conquer Strategy
By Robert Reich

If Robert Mueller finds that Trump colluded with Russia to fix the 2016 election, or even if Trump fires Mueller before he makes such a finding, Trump's supporters will protect Trump from any political fallout.

Trump's base will stand by him not because they believe Trump is on their side, but because they define themselves as being on his side.

Trump has intentionally cleaved America into two warring camps: pro-Trump and anti-Trump. And he has convinced the pro-Trumps that his enemy is their enemy.

Most Americans are not passionate conservatives or liberals, Republicans or Democrats. But they have become impassioned Trump supporters or Trump haters.

Polls say 37 percent of Americans approve of him, and most disapprove. These numbers are the tips of two vast icebergs of intensity.

Trump has forced all of us to take sides, and to despise those on the other. There's no middle ground.

The Republican Party used to stand for fiscal responsibility, state's rights, free trade, and a hard line against Russian aggression. Now it just stands for Trump.

Pro-Trump Republicans remain the majority in the GOP. As long as Trump can keep them riled up, and as long as Republicans remain in control of at least one chamber of Congress, he's safe.

"Try to impeach him, just try it," Roger Stone, Trump's former campaign adviser, warned last summer. "You will have a spasm of violence in this country, an insurrection like you've never seen." That's probably an exaggeration, but Trump (with the assistance of his enablers in Congress) has convinced his followers that the Russian investigation is part of a giant conspiracy to unseat him, and that his enemies want to replace him with someone who will allow dangerous forces to overrun America.

Sure, this paranoia is based on the same racism and xenophobia that has smoldered in America since its inception. Trump's strategy is to stoke it daily.

Sure, American politics had polarized before Trump. Trump's strategy is to exploit and enlarge these divisions.

A few months ago I traveled to Kentucky and talked with a number of Trump supporters.

They looked and sounded nothing like traditional conservative Republicans. Most were working class. Several were members of labor unions. All were passionate about Trump.

Why do you support him? I asked. "He's shaking Washington up," was the typical response.

I mentioned his lies. "He's telling it like it is," several told me. "He speaks his mind." I talked about his attacks on democracy. I>"Every other politician is on the take," they said. "He isn't. He doesn't need their money."

I asked about his campaign's possible collusion with Russia. They told me they didn't believe a word of it. "It's a plot to get rid of him."

By making himself the center of an intensifying conflict, Trump grabs all the attention and fuels even greater passions on both sides.

It's what he did in the 2016 election, but on a far larger scale. Then, he sucked all the oxygen out of the race by making himself its biggest story. Now, he's sucking all the oxygen out of America by making himself our national obsession.

Trump received more coverage in the 2016 election than any presidential candidate in American history. Hillary Clinton got far less, and what she got was almost all about her emails.

Schooled in reality television and New York tabloids, Trump knows how to keep both sides stirred up: Vilify, disparage, denounce, defame, and accuse the other side of conspiring against America. Do it continuously. Dominate every news cycle.

Fox News is his propaganda arm, magnifying his tweets, rallies, and lies. The rest of the media also plays into Trump's strategy by making him the defining controversy of America. Every particular dispute -DACA, the "wall," North Korea, Mueller's investigation, and so on -becomes another aspect of the larger national war over Trump.

It's the divide-and-conquer strategy of a tyrant.

Democracies require sufficient social trust that citizens regard the views of those they disagree with as worthy of equal consideration to their own. That way, they'll accept political outcomes they dislike.

Trump's divide-and-conquer strategy is to destroy that trust.

So if Mueller finds Trump colluded with Russia, or Trump fires Mueller before Mueller makes such a finding, the pro-Trumps will block any consequential challenge to his authority.

Nothing could be more dangerous to our democracy and society.
(c) 2018 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

The Bankruptcy Of The American Left
By Chris Hedges

There will be no economic or political justice for the poor, people of color, women or workers within the framework of global, corporate capitalism. Corporate capitalism, which uses identity politics, multiculturalism and racial justice to masquerade as politics, will never halt the rising social inequality, unchecked militarism, evisceration of civil liberties and omnipotence of the organs of security and surveillance. Corporate capitalism cannot be reformed, despite its continually rebranding itself. The longer the self-identified left and liberal class seek to work within a system that the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin calls "inverted totalitarianism," the more the noose will be tightened around our necks. If we do not rise up to bring government and financial systems under public control-which includes nationalizing banks, the fossil fuel industry and the arms industry-we will continue to be victims.

Corporate capitalism is supranational. It owes no loyalty to any nation-state. It uses the projection of military power by the United States to protect and advance its economic interests but at the same time cannibalizes the U.S., dismantling its democratic institutions, allowing its infrastructure to decay and deindustrializing its factory centers to ship manufacturing abroad to regions where workers are treated as serfs.

Resistance to this global cabal of corporate oligarchs must also be supranational. It must build alliances with workers around the globe. It must defy the liberal institutions, including the Democratic Party, which betray workers. It is this betrayal that has given rise to fascist and protofascist movements in Europe and other countries. Donald Trump would never have been elected but for this betrayal. We will build a global movement powerful enough to bring down corporate capitalism or witness the rise of a new, supranational totalitarianism.

The left, seduced by the culture wars and identity politics, largely ignores the primacy of capitalism and the class struggle. As long as unregulated capitalism reigns supreme, all social, economic, cultural and political change will be cosmetic. Capitalism, at its core, is about the commodification of human beings and the natural world for exploitation and profit. To increase profit, it constantly seeks to reduce the cost of labor and demolish the regulations and laws that protect the common good. But as capitalism ravages the social fabric, it damages, like any parasite, the host that allows it to exist. It unleashes dark, uncontrollable yearnings among an enraged population that threaten capitalism itself.

"This is a crisis of global dimensions," David North, the national chairman of the Socialist Equality Party in the United States, told me when we spoke in New York. "It is a crisis that dominates every element of American politics. The response that we're seeing, the astonishing changes in the state of the government, in the decay of political life, the astonishingly low level of political and intellectual discourse, is in a certain sense an expression of the bewilderment of the ruling elite to what it's going through."

"We can expect a monumental explosion of class struggle in the United States," he said. "I think this country is a social powder keg. There is an anger that exists over working conditions and social inequality. However [much] they may be confused on many questions, workers in this country have a deep belief in democratic rights. We totally reject the narrative that the working class is racist. I think this has been the narrative pushed by the pseudo-left, middle-class groups who are drunk on identity politics, which have a vested interest in constantly distracting people from the essential class differences that exist in the society. Dividing everyone up on the basis of race, gender, sexual preference fails to address the major problem."

North argues, correctly, that capitalism by its nature lurches from crisis to crisis. This makes our current predicament similar to past crises.

"All the unanswered questions of the 20th century-the basic problem of the nation-state system, the reactionary character of private ownership with the means of production, corporate power, all of these issues which led to the first and Second world wars-are with us again, and add to that fascism," he said.

"We live in a global economy, highly interconnected," North went on. "A globalized process of production, financial system. The ruling class has an international policy. They organize themselves on an international scale. The labor movement has remained organized on a national basis. It has been completely incapable of answering this [ruling-class policy]. Therefore, it falls behind various national protectionist programs. The trade unions support Trump."

The sociologist Charles Derber, whom I also spoke with in New York, agrees.

"We don't really have a left because we don't have conversations about capitalism," Derber said. "How many times can you turn on a mainstream news like CNN and expect to hear the word 'capitalism' discussed? Bernie [Sanders] did one thing. He called himself a democratic socialist, which was a bit transformational simply in terms of rhetoric. He's saying there's something other than capitalism that we ought to be talking about."

"As the [capitalist] system universalizes and becomes more and more intersectional, we need intersectional resistance," Derber said. "At the end of the 1960s, when I was getting my own political education, the universalizing dimensions of the left, which was growing in the '60s, fell apart. The women began to feel their issues were not being addressed. They were treated badly by white males, student leaders. Blacks, Panthers, began to feel the whites could not speak for race issues. They developed separate organizations. The upshot was the left lost its universalizing character. It no longer dealt with the intersection of all these issues within the context of a militarized, capitalist, hegemonic American empire. It treated politics as siloed group identity problems. Women had glass ceilings. Same with blacks. Same with gays."

The loss of this intersectionality was deadly. Instead of focusing on the plight of all of the oppressed, oppressed groups began to seek representation for their own members within capitalist structures.

"Let's take a modern version of this," Derber said. "Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, she did a third-wave feminism thing. She said 'lean in.' It captures this identity politics that has become toxic on the left. What does 'lean in' mean? It means women should lean in and go as far as they can in the corporation. They should become, as she has, a major, wealthy executive of a leading corporation. When feminism was turned into that kind of leaning in, it created an identity politics that legitimizes the very system that needs to be critiqued. The early feminists were overtly socialists. As was [Martin Luther] King. But all that got erased."

"The left became a kind of grab bag of discrete, siloed identity movements," Derber said. "This is very connected to moral purity. You're concerned about your advancement within the existing system. You're competing against others within the existing system. Everyone else has privilege. You're just concerned about getting your fair share."

"People in movements are products of the system they're fighting," he continued. "We're all raised in a capitalistic, individualistic, egoistic culture, so it's not surprising. And it has to be consciously recognized and struggled against. Everybody in movements has been brought up in systems they're repulsed by. This has created a structural transformation of the left. The left offers no broad critique of the political economy of capitalism. It's largely an identity-politics party. It focuses on reforms for blacks and women and so forth. But it doesn't offer a contextual analysis within capitalism."

Derber, like North, argues that the left's myopic, siloed politics paved the way for right-wing, nativist, protofascist movements around the globe as well as the ascendancy of Trump.

"When you bring politics down to simply about helping your group get a piece of the pie, you lose that systemic analysis," he said. "You're fragmented. You don't have natural connections or solidarity with other groups. You don't see the larger systemic context. By saying I want, as a gay person, to fight in the military, in a funny way you're legitimating the American empire. If you were living in Nazi Germany, would you say I want the right of a gay person to fight in combat with the Nazi soldiers?"

"I don't want to say we should eliminate all identity politics," he said. "But any identity politics has to be done within the framework of understanding the larger political economy. That's been stripped away and erased. Even on the left, you cannot find a deep conversation about capitalism and militarized capitalism. It's just been erased. That's why Trump came in. He unified a kind of very powerful right-wing identity politics built around nationalism, militarism and the exceptionalism of the American empire."

"Identity politics is to a large degree a right-wing discourse," Derber said. "It focuses on tribalism tied in modern times to nationalism, which is always militaristic. When you break the left into these siloed identity politics, which are not contextualized, you easily get into this dogmatic fundamentalism. The identity politics of the left reproduces the worse sociopathic features of the system as a whole. It's scary."

"How much of the left," he asked, "is reproducing what we are seeing in the society that we're fighting?"
(c) 2018 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

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Steve Breen ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Former Hippies Put In Horrible Position Of Rooting For F.B.I.
By Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)-Former hippies across the United States have been put in the unbearable position of rooting for the F.B.I., hippies have confirmed.

From Vermont to California, erstwhile hippies bemoaned a nightmare scenario that has forced them to side with a law-enforcement agency they have despised since the Summer of Love.

"I always dreamed I'd spend my retirement surrounded by my grandchildren, telling them that the F.B.I. were fascist pigs," Carol Foyler, a former hippie who lives in Santa Cruz, said. "That dream has been shot to hell."

Her husband, Mick, nodded his head in sad agreement. "We were so happy when pot was legalized in California," he said. "But the fact that we're now on the same side as the F.B.I. has ruined even that."

Now in their seventies, the Foylers are spending their days doing things they never dreamed possible when they traipsed through the mud at Woodstock: going door to door in Santa Cruz, asking other former freaks to sign a pro-F.B.I. petition.

"Donald Trump has wrecked America's standing around the world, spread misogyny and bigotry, ravaged the environment, and endorsed a child molester," Carol said. "But making people like us support the F.B.I. is the most unforgivable thing he's done."
(c) 2018 Andy Borowitz

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Issues & Alibis Vol 18 # 06 (c) 02/09/2018

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