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In This Edition

Matt Taibbi concludes, "If We Want Kids To Stop Killing, The Adults Have To Stop, Too."

Uri Avnery says, "Pity The Almond Tree."

Glen Ford declares, "The Real Goal Of 'Russiagate' Is To Prepare For Endless Austerity And War."

Greg Palast goes out on a limb, "Florida = Honduras: Inequality Kills."

Jim Hightower is, "Exposing Our 'Populist' President As A Naked Plutocrat."

John Nichols demands that, "Congress Can Act Right Now To Prevent Interference In The 2018 Elections."

James Donahue explores, "The Impact Of Capitalism On The News."

Bernie Sanders considers, "The Great Moral Issue Of Our Time."

Heather Digby Parton finds, "Trump's Week-End Meltdown Created A Big Question He Can't Answer."

David Swanson gives, "A Reply To The Taliban."

Charles P. Pierce knows, "What Changed After The Vegas Shooting? Nothing."

Randall Amster returns with, "Young America."

William Rivers Pitt examines, "Trump's $4.4 Trillion Butcher's Bill."

South Carolina State Senator Thomas Corbin wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich explains, "The Meaning Of America."

Chris Hedges tells, "How We Fight Fascism."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Will Durst exposes, "The Cherry Pickers" but first Uncle Ernie sez, "We Call B.S.."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Ken Catalino, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, Mr. Fish, Jeff Darcy, Robert Crumb, Harrie Van Veen, Chip Somodevilla, Rudi Riet, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

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

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

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We Call B.S.
By Ernest Stewart

"If the President wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy and how it should never have happened and maintain telling us how nothing is going to be done about it, I'm going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association." ~~~ Emma Gonzalez ~ a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

"Despite the devastation caused by severe coral bleaching it is still not possible to accurately assess if corals will survive in the warmer oceans projected for the end of the century as we do not understand their ability to survive bleaching at centennial time scales through acclimatisation and adaptation processes. We lack this knowledge as we do not have historic bleaching records that extend further than a few decades - the temporal longevity of the observational bleaching record. Those records show recent increases in bleaching prevalence trends but are not consistent in the Atlantic and Indo-Pacific." ~~~ Heidi Burdett ~ Heriot-Watt University research fellow

"Senator Risch just said if Trump uses force in N Korea, it will be massive and swift, not a bloody nose. Casualties and destruction of conflict would be "biblical". Trump has means "at his fingertips". With that bombshell dropped, he leaves for the airport & takes no Qs." ~~~ Tom Wright

"The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well." ~~~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Did you see Donald's picture down in Florida the other day at the hospital where he's smirking and giving the thumbs up sign while surrounded by all the horror that the victims and their families were going through, yes I know, WTF?

Since the Valentine's Day masacre Trump hasn't said a word about gun control, well he hadn't when I first wrote this but since then he has said that there should be some law to keep psychos from getting guns, you know like the Obama law that he canceled a year ago. He did say all of our "thoughts and prayers" were going out to the victims and their family's but he, nor any member of Con-gress is going to give back their NRA bribes and outlaw assault-weapons. The AR-15 is the civilian version of Colt's M-16. It, like the AK-47 and dozens of other readily available assault-weapons have only one purpose and that is to murder people. You're not much of a "sportsman" if you need a 30 round banana-clip to drop a deer, or a bunny rabbit, are you?

The kids have had enough of the political bull-shit about how nothing can be done because it's not the gun that kills, it's the person with the gun that kills. For those of you who chant the 2nd Amendment I have a simple solution, if you don't want to change the 2nd amenment then shouldn't you only be allowed to own muskets and singler barrel shot-guns that were the weapons that were about when they wrote the 2nd Amendment? Sure they had over and under pistols in those days but they had an effective range of about 20 feet without a wind blowing. If this was the case all those folks in Las vegas would have gone home, instead of to the morgue!

If you'd like to see and hear Emma's full speech, click here.

As Emma said in closing:
Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa was the sole sponsor on this bill that stops the FBI from performing background checks on people adjudicated to be mentally ill and now he's stating for the record, 'Well, it's a shame the FBI isn't doing background checks on these mentally ill people.' Well, duh. You took that opportunity away last year.

The people in the government who were voted into power are lying to us. And us kids seem to be the only ones who notice and our parents to call B.S.. Companies trying to make caricatures of the teenagers these days, saying that all we are self-involved and trend-obsessed and they hush us into submission when our message doesn't reach the ears of the nation, we are prepared to call B.S.. Politicians who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA telling us nothing could have been done to prevent this, we call B.S.. They say tougher guns laws do not decrease gun violence. We call B.S.. They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun. We call B.S.. They say guns are just tools like knives and are as dangerous as cars. We call B.S.. They say no laws could have prevented the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred. We call B.S.. That us kids don't know what we're talking about, that we're too young to understand how the government works. We call B.S..

If you agree, register to vote. Contact your local congresspeople. Give them a piece of your mind.

(Crowd chants) Throw them out.
Throw them out indeed! In fact after a quick trial throw them into the cages down it Gitmo for the rest of their miserable lives. Let's see if some waterboarding and broom handle therapy applied daily can make them change their tunes? What do you think, America? Isn't it time for a change?

In Other News

I see where sea creatures are literally being eaten away, or "dissolved" by global warming, scientists have discovered.

It's feared that high levels of carbon dioxide in the water could cause irreparable damage to marine ecosystems after tests found acute levels of the gas cause starfish to dissolve.

A team of marine scientists conducted a four-day experiment at Loch Sween on Scotland's west coast to measure the response to short-term carbon dioxide exposure.

Previously, tests had focused on the effect high levels of the gas had on individual plants or animals, leaving a gap in knowledge about how whole marine ecosystems respond to sudden influxes of carbon dioxide.

When high levels of carbon dioxide enters the oceans it causes them to become more acidic due to a process that's been described as "global warming's evil twin."

Researchers from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh and Glasgow University pumped water enriched with carbon dioxide into chambers placed over the coralline algal ecosystem and monitored the community's response before, during and after exposure.

The experiment revealed acute exposure led to net dissolution, meaning calcified organisms such as the coralline algae and starfish were dissolving.

Heidi Burdett, Heriot-Watt University research fellow, said:
"We found that there was a rapid, community-level shift to net dissolution, meaning that within that community, the skeletons of calcifying organisms like starfish and coralline algae were dissolving.

"If you think of pulses of carbon dioxide being carried on the tide to a particular site, it's like a flash flood of carbon dioxide.

"Our continued monitoring of the site directly after the carbon dioxide exposure found recovery was comparably slow, which raises concern about the ability of these systems to 'bounce back' after repeated acute carbon dioxide events."
Every day, it seems, some new nightmare caused by global warming is observed and reported. And like gun control there is nothing to be done about it in the Trump White House as bribes have been paid and we have the best government that money can buy!

And Finally

You've heard what Trump said about McMasters statements at the Munich Security Conference, right?:

I don't know if you're hip to it but Republican Senator Jim Risch made some alarming remarks on Sunday at that same conference. He said that Trump is prepared to start a "very, very brief war with North Korea" that would be "one of the worst catastrophic events in the history of our civilization." Trump would go to these extraordinary lengths, the Idaho Republican said, in order to prevent the government of Kim Jong-un from developing the capacity to deliver a nuclear warhead to the U.S. via an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Risch's claims agree with Trump's own statements, including that North Korea will face "fire and fury like the world has never seen" if it threatens the United States. You may recall Dubya's "Shock and Awe," and didn't that work out just fine? Trump's National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster recently said, "We're not committed to a peaceful [resolution], we're committed to a resolution. ... We have to be prepared if necessary to compel the denuclearization of North Korea without the cooperation of that regime." You may remember that last August, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., spoke of how "there is a military option to destroy North Korea's program and North Korea itself."

The closer Muller gets to Trump the closer there is a possibility of Trump "wagging the dog" with a nuclear strike on North Korea or on Kim Jong-un himself! Some say Kim already has the combination of a nuclear warhead attached to an ICBM. Most others say, not yet, but soon he might. We're good for this week with the Olympics currently in play, but afterwards who knows? When Republicans start telling the truth you know that something dangerous is just over the horizon. If one of our H-Bombs should stray over the Chinese border you know what will hit the fan, right?

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!


06-25-1920 ~ 02-15-2018
Thanks for the film!

11-07-1918 ~ 02-21-2018
Only the good die young!


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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.

Mourners stand during a candlelight vigil for the victims of Marjory Stoneman
Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida on February 15, 2018

If We Want Kids To Stop Killing, The Adults Have To Stop, Too
America's rage-sickness trickles down from the top
By Matt Taibbi

Over two decades ago, I traveled to a city in the Russian provinces called Rostov-On-Don to interview a psychiatrist named Alexander Bukhanovsky.

Bukhanovsky, now deceased, was famous. If you've seen the movie Citizen X, about the capture of serial killer Andrei Chikatilo, Bukhanovsky was the guy played by Max Von Sydow. He was the Soviet Union's first criminal profiler.

One of the first things he said was that both Russia and America produced disproportionate shares of mass killers.

"Giant militarized countries," he said, "breed violent populations."

Bukhanovsky at the time was treating a pre-teen who had begun killing animals. He told me this young boy would almost certainly move on to killing people eventually. He was seeing more and more of these cases, he said.

Nikolas Cruz, the 19 year-old just arrested for shooting and killing 17 people in Parkland, Florida, supposedly bragged about killing animals. He reportedly even posted photos of his work on Instagram.

There will be lots of hand-wringing in the coming days about gun control, and rightfully so - it's probably easier to get a semi-automatic rifle in this country than it is to get some flavors of Pop Tarts - but with each of these shootings, we seem to talk less and less about where the rage-sickness causing these massacres comes from.

On the rare occasions when we do talk about it, the popular explanation now is that guns themselves cause gun violence. As the New York Times put it after the Vegas massacre, "The only variable that can explain the high rate of mass shootings in America is its astronomical number of guns."

This makes sense. It would be interesting to see what would happen if we tried real gun control as a solution (we won't, of course).

But even then, what are we talking about as a root cause of the violence? Commerce? Advertising? We have companies that make a lot of guns, sell a lot of guns, and then - what? Is it just statistics from there?

It's here, when Americans talk about what actually drives people to kill in huge numbers, that we show off our amazing incapacity for introspection.

Deep-seated racism is the most believable of the many motivations Americans typically trot out to explain their gun-violence problem. But from there it just gets dumber and dumber. Everyone from Donald Trump to Ralph Nader has tried blaming violent video games ("Electronic child molesters," Nader called them).

Music lyrics are usually next in line - it was Marilyn Manson's fault after Columbine, but the latest bugbear is gangsta rap (you'll hear this one even in England).

After that, it's movies, where we've been told by academics that the amount of gun violence even in PG-13 movies has doubled since 1985 and started surpassing the levels in R-rated film.

OK, sure. But what about the fact that we're an institutionally violent society whose entire economy has historically been dependent upon the production of weapons?

And how about the fact that we wantonly (and probably illegally) murder civilians in numerous countries as a matter of routine? Could that maybe be more of a problem than 50 Cent's lyrics? No? Really?

Apart from a few scenes in Bowling for Columbine, this is an explanation you won't hear very much. Military spending is the lifeline of virtually every federally-elected politician in the country. You've been to trained seal shows where the animals get a fish every time they perform? The same principle works with members of Congress and defense contracts.

The U.S. is more dependent than ever on a quasi-socialistic system that redistributes tax dollars to defense projects in even fashion across both Republican and Democratic congressional districts. A few times a year, you'll spot a news story about someone in the Pentagon trying to refuse a spending initiative, only to be told to keep building by Congress.

In an era of incredible division and political polarization, military killing is the most thoroughly bipartisan of all policy initiatives. Drone murders spiked tenfold under Obama, and Trump has supposedly already upped the Obama rate by a factor of eight. The new president apparently killed more civilians in his first seven months in office than Obama did overall, making use of our growing capacity for mechanized murder.

"We are killing these sons of bitches faster than they can grow them now," a CIA official reportedly told a subordinate with glee some years back. Another CIA vet told the Washington Post the agency had become one hell of a killing machine.

Maybe this is just hippie-ish whining about the military, but if we're talking about where the rationalization of violence comes from in our society, Jesus, how can you not look in this direction?

I vividly remember the spectacle of Dennis Kucinich being laughed at by reporters on the campaign trail during his quixotic presidential runs. He got the most abuse whenever he talked about one of his favorite ideas, the establishment of a "Department of Peace."

Kucinich never said we couldn't have a defense department. He just happened to believe we should should make nonviolent conflict resolution an "organizing principle in our society."

He introduced a "Department of Peace" bill in 2001 and it languished in legislative purgatory until his retirement in 2012. The bill called for the establishment of a "Peace Academy," modeled after the military service academies, whose graduates would have to perform five years of public service after graduation.

The corresponding Peace Department's goals were to be aimed at transforming the way we look at the world, and would: "...promote justice and democratic principles to expand human rights; strengthen nonmilitary means of peacemaking; promote the development of human potential; work to create peace, prevent violence, divert from armed conflict and develop new structures in nonviolent dispute resolution..."

This is a completely sane and rational idea. It's even beautiful prose, for a congressional bill. Yet it was continually held up as exhibit one in the case against Kucinich as a crazy person.

When he retired, the Washington Post wrote a patronizing little obit for his peace dream, calling it the "Hope Diamond of liberal ideas: pure, breathtaking, and highly impractical in the real world."

Why is it impractical?

Why are peace and nonviolence impossible to embrace as national values? Why is this the last taboo?

The people who point at pop culture as the reason disturbed kids and lone-wolf madmen go on killing sprees are half right. But images of violence are less the problem than the messages behind them, which are profoundly intertwined with deep-seated cultural ideas about the virtue of military supremacy and the political efficacy of violence.

Hollywood churns out one film after another in which the hero is a reluctant but highly skilled killer, an "unstoppable killing machine" (there's that phrase again) like Wolverine. Reluctantly deadly: This is how we like to see ourselves.

One of the weirdest genres involves the super-powerful Randian wealth creator who as a secret hobby masters hand-to-hand killing techniques, and saves the world by bypassing laws and ass-whipping bad guys using awesome military technology.

Christ, both Iron Man and Batman are literally military contractors during their day jobs. Even journalistic movies like Zero Dark Thirty turn into upper-class parables about how the only way to save American lives is through violence, even torture.

The other incredibly popular genre is the revenge tale, in which the otherwise peaceful family man (who just happens to have also been a government-trained super-killer - beware, "I do this for a living!") is forced to go around the world ripping heads off to save his daughter/son/wife whomever. Hell, even the president turns into an unstoppable ass-kicker from time to time (who can forget Harrison Ford's "Get off my plane!" scene).

These aren't just scenes from bad movies. They're foundational concepts in our society. We're conditioned to disbelieve in the practicality of nonviolence and peace, and to disregard centuries of proof of the ineffectiveness of torture and violence as a means of persuasion. On the other hand, we're trained to accept that early use of violence is frequently heroic and necessary (the endless lionization of Winston Churchill as the West's great realist is an example here) and political courage is generally equated with the willingness to use force. JFK's game of nuclear poker with Nikita Khruschev is another foundational legend, while Khruschev is generally seen as a loser for having backed down.

We just don't believe in peace. We don't believe in nonviolence. The organizing principle we're going with instead involves using technological mastery to achieve order by killing exactly the right people.

This is despite the fact that "precision" killing turns out to be less than precise in reality, whenever anyone bothers to check. And we don't dwell on the misses, like those millions of Indochinese men, women and children we once massacred with bombs and chemicals and evil little pellet-mines. It's always the enemy who doesn't value human life, who thinks "life is not important," as General William Westmoreland - one of the early users of the term "body count" - once said about "the Oriental."

Gun control? I'm all for it. But this madness won't stop until we stop believing that killing makes us strong, or that we can kill without guilt or consequence just by being "precise." What beliefs like that actually make us is insane and damaged, and it's no surprise that our kids, too, are beginning to become collateral damage.
(c) 2018 Matt Taibbi is Rolling Stone's chief political reporter, Matt Taibbi's predecessors include the likes of journalistic giants Hunter S. Thompson and P.J. O'Rourke. Taibbi's 2004 campaign journal Spanking the Donkey cemented his status as an incisive, irreverent, zero-bullshit reporter. His books include Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History, The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion, Smells Like Dead Elephants: Dispatches from a Rotting Empire.

Pity The Almond Tree
By Uri Avnery

PITY THE almond tree, especially when it is in full bloom.

The bloom of the almond is, in German, Mandelblut. That is also the name the Israel's chief legal official, called "the Legal Advisor of the Government".

The Legal Advisor is appointed by the government, but is supposed to be completely independent. He is in practice the Attorney General, the person who has the final say about indicting people, especially the prime minister. That is now his unhappy lot.

Now Mandelblit (as we pronounce his name in Hebrew) is in an impossible position. The prime minister has been officially accused by the police on two counts of bribery. Now Mandelblit must decide whether to put him on trial.

But Binyamin Netanyahu has been his benefactor for a long time, pushing his career to the top. Do you bite the hand that has fed you? Or do you shirk your duty?

An awful choice.

AVICHAI MANDELBLIT was born in Tel Aviv into a right-wing family. His father was a member of the Irgun and a rightist party stalwart. Avichai ("My Father Lives", meaning God) adopted religion at the age of 25 and put a kippah on his head.

After studying law, he served in the army as a military judge in the occupied Gaza Strip and other military jobs, until he became the chief legal officer of the army. From there it was but a short jump to the job of "government secretary", the right-hand man of the Prime Minister, who happened to be Binyamin Netanyahu.

When the office of "Legal Adviser of the Government", an official with immense power, became free, Netanyahu looked around for a candidate. And who did he see? Yea, quite right - the good, loyal Mandelblit.

On the horizon there were looming already all kinds of criminal suspicions. The crucial position of Legal Advisor was becoming very important. So, choosing the religious, right-wing lawyer was a clever move.

How clever? Well, we will soon know.

NETANYAHU HAS not always made the cleverest choices.

Almost at the same time as he chose the Chief Legal Advisor, he also chose a new Chief of Police.

His choice was a total surprise. He did not pick one of the senior policemen, each of whom had years of experience behind him, but a completely anonymous person. And not anonymous by accident: he was the No. 2 of the internal security service (Shin Bet).

Roni Alsheich did not want the job. He wanted to be the chief of the Shin Bet. But Netanyahu almost compelled him. He promised to appoint him Shin Bet chief if he - Netanyahu - were still Prime Minister in four years time. That was a not-so-subtle hint: you help me keep my job, and I give you the job you desire.

The new police chief was an enigma. He is of Yemenite descent, rather unusual for Israel's elite. He does not look like a police officer. A joker once called him "a barrel with a mustache". He does not talk in public - as befits a person who has spent most of his life in the secret service.

With these two loyalists in place, Netanyahu had nothing to fear. A number of criminal suspicions popped up, but nobody believed that anything would come of them. Netanyahu was just too clever.

What were the suspicions about?

1. A billionaire with large business interests in Israel for ten years provided him with Cuban cigars of the most expensive kind, as well as "pink" champagne and some jewelry for the lady, all in all about a quarter of a million dollars. An Australian billionaire chipped in.

2. There was a deal with the boss of the second largest newspaper in Israel to enact a law clipping the circulation of the No. 1, in return for favorable coverage. The adoring coverage of newspaper No. 1 was assured anyhow. It belongs to Sheldon Adelson, an American casino billionaire, and its sole purpose is - quite openly - to glorify Netanyahu.

The third matter concerns suspicions of bribes from a German shipbuilder, which produces submarines for Israel's atomic weapons. It's a multi-billion deal. Suspicions run high but have not yet been aired publicly.

No serious person in Israel expected anything to come of any of these affairs. With the hand-picked chief legal officer and the chief of police safely in place, how could it?

And then, two weeks ago, a bomb exploded. The taciturn policeman suddenly appeared on TV, and hinted that the police were about to publish recommendations to indict Netanyahu for bribery in the first two affairs.

What? The chief of police a man of integrity? What is the world coming to?! This is a moral problem: if Netanyahu appointed him in the belief that he is a man of no conscience, and then it turns out that he is a man of conscience - does this mean that he only pretended to have no integrity, which might be an act of no integrity? Work it out.

Can a similar terrible thing happen now with the Legal Adviser? Can he suddenly turn out to be a man of integrity too? Sooner or later he must decide whether to indict Netanyahu or not.

Poor man.

WHEN THE police chief hinted on TV about the coming police decision to recommend indictment, my first impulse was to rush and clean the air-raid shelter at my home.

When you are Prime Minister and in deep domestic trouble, the first thing you think about is a military crisis. Nothing like a military emergency to divert attention from your misdeeds towards the national interest.

And lo and behold - two days after the TV announcement about the police recommendations, the Iranians were so kind as to provoke a crisis.

An Iranian spy drone entered Israeli airspace from Syria and was promptly shot down. In response, the Israeli Air force sent its planes to bomb Iranian positions in Syria. An Israeli plane was shot down - a very rare occurrence Indeed, and fell near a kibbutz. Both crewmen bailed out and one was severely injured.

The criminal business was swept off the table. Everybody spoke about the coming war. But then Vladimir Putin intervened and put an end to that nonsense.

No war this time. The police published their findings and recommended that Netanyahu be put on trial on two counts of bribery. The entire country was glued to their TV sets. Everything else was forgotten.

Netanyahu did what he does best. He made a live statement on TV. He accused his accusers of all kinds of misconduct. These scoundrels, he more than intimated, were ready to risk the very existence of Israel, just out of spite against him. But not to worry, he has no intention of resigning, even temporarily.

Looking us straight in the eye, shining with honesty, he promised us that he will not forsake us. Since he is the only person on Earth able to ensure our safety, he will remain at his post and protect us, come what may.

This made me very afraid indeed. Far be it from me to insinuate that he might start a war just to divert attention from his indictments. In a war, people get killed. Jewish boys (and girls) of Jewish mothers. Would a patriot like Netanyahu do such a dastardly thing as starting an unnecessary war just to divert attention?

Surely not. But when he has to make a fateful decision in a crisis, between two meetings with his lawyers, will his head be completely clear?

How long can this go on? Experts assess that Mandelblit, in his desperation, can draw his decision out for a year. He must think. Thinking takes time,

THERE WAS this Polishnobleman who called his Jew and told him: "I love my dog dearly. Jews are clever people. You can teach my dog to speak. Do it. Otherwise I shall kill you!

"No problem," the Jew answered. "But teaching a dog to speak is a very difficult task, It takes time. I need two years."

"Good," the nobleman said. "But if you don't do it, I shall kill you!"

When the Jew's wife heard this, she started to wail. "You know you can't teach the dog to speak!" she cried.

"Don't worry," he told her. "Two years is a long time. In two years the dog will be dead, or the nobleman will be dead, or I shall be dead."
(c) 2018 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

The Real Goal Of 'Russiagate' Is To Prepare For Endless Austerity And War
By Glen Ford

Robert Mueller, the former head of the national political police (FBI), has indicted 13 Russian nationals for the crime of sowing "discord in the U.S. political system," and encouraging "U.S. minority groups not to vote in the 2016 U.S. presidential election or to vote for a third-party U.S. presidential candidate." The defendants' nationality makes their acts of political speech a crime, in Mueller's legal view, but "at least 20 Americans" are embedded in the document as unindicted co-conspirators because they interacted in various ways with the Russian team's activities during the 2016 presidential campaign.

These U.S. citizens "were just engaging in politics," said independent journalist Marcy Wheeler, on Democracy Now! "They were putting together campaign events. They were engaging in online speech. That's like, you know, the most sacred part of being an American citizen. And yet, they were unknowingly interacting with Russians...."

The Russians will never face trial in the U.S., and it is highly unlikely that the unindicted Americans will be criminally charged -- but that is not the purpose of Mueller's indictment. The political crime has been defined, for the broad purpose of repressing dissent in the United States. The witch hunt has found a legalistic vocabulary.

The New York Times' in-house witch-hunting Negro, Charles Blow, has worked his mojo to the bone, fulminating against the dark forces that refused to support Hillary Clinton' return to the White House. Mueller's indictment is the charm Blow has been seeking to remove the hex of resistance to the established duopoly. Blow quotes Mueller's document: "On or about October 16, 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators used the Instagram account 'Woke Blacks' to post the following message: 'Particular hype and hatred for Trump is misleading the people and forcing Blacks to vote Killary. We cannot resort to the lesser of two devils. Then we'd surely be better off without voting AT ALL.'"

These are the Russians' words, but the sentiment is not at all alien to the contemporary and historical Black political conversation. Yet, for Blow, it is heresy and devilment to urge Black people to vote for third parties, or to refrain from voting. There ought'a be a law against it! -- or some string of words that can be made to sound like a law. "What happened in this election wasn't just a political crime, it was specifically a racialized crime, and the black vote was a central target," wrote Blow.

Blacks that refuse to forgive the Clintons for mass incarcerating and dehumanizing our people are guilty of Black voter suppression and deemed dupes of both Trump and the Kremlin. To prove that anti-Clinton Blacks are in league with foreign and domestic devils, Blow quotes a Trump operative who bragged that the Republican campaign reminded Black voters about Hillary Clinton's "suggestion that some African-American males are 'super predators'" in order to discourage them from voting. Mueller's legal framework requires that we forget such trivial history.

Black Bernie Sanders activists are co-conspirators, in Blow's view: "Even after Clinton accepted the Democratic nomination, rapper Killer Mike, a prominent Bernie Sanders supporter and surrogate, was still promoting the position that 'If you're voting for Trump or Hillary Clinton, you're voting for the same thing.'"

Which is true, in that both are corporate capitalist politicians and warmongering racists that don't deserve the vote of any decent person. But, saying so can now be construed as giving "aid and comfort" to a foreign "enemy"- either directly to Putin or to his "surrogate," Trump. It must be a crime, because "the Russians" were indicted for it, right? Mueller's "law" spells it out: " or around the latter half of 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators, through their personas, began to encourage U.S. minority groups not to vote in the 2016 U.S. presidential election or to vote for a third-party U.S. presidential candidate."

Funny thing, though: the Democrats refused to cite the Republicans' systematic, mass suppression of Black voters through the Cross Check scheme which, as Margaret Kimberley points out in this week's Freedom Rider, caused 400,000 heavily Black votes to disappear in Michigan. Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein called for a recount in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, and found that Black voter suppression was a major factor, particularly in Detroit. "We are seeing again this evidence in Michigan that communities of color are systematically disenfranchised through the machinery that constitutes really another form of electoral Jim Crow," Stein told The Guardian. "It's pretty staggering. Eighty-seven optical scanners [in Detroit] broke on election day."

The Democratic Party reluctantly added its name to the recall petition, while at the same time claiming it had seen no "actionable evidence" of grounds for challenging Trump's victory. But that's par for the course. The Democrats have never confronted the GOP's blatant theft of elections through massive suppression of Black votes -- bound, apparently, by a gentleman's agreement among the two parties. John Lewis, the Black congressman from Atlanta who wears his voting rights credentials like a robe of glory, abides by that agreement. The first thing out of Lewis' mouth after Trump was declared the winner, in November, was a denunciation of "the Russians"- not Black voter suppression by Republicans.

Roughly one year later, Jill Stein -- who fought Black voter suppression harder than the Democrats -- was targeted for investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee as a possible collaborator with the Russians.

The suppression of the franchise of their Black base is not considered "treason" or any kind of "high crime" by the Democratic Party, but the siphoning of Black votes away from the corporate duopoly, through voluntary non-voting or support of third parties, is cause to bring out the pitchforks.

Under the Mueller legal formula, there are many more potential co-conspirators. The highest political crimes are "sowing discord" and "spreading distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general" - for which one can theoretically go to prison if you are a foreigner (Russian, not Israeli), or become an unindicted party to the charge, if American.

The Republicans, of course, have been sowing racial discord as a matter of policy ever since they adopted their "Southern Strategy" in 1968, and it's been key to their success ever since. The United States is the nation that invented apartheid, and has served as a model for racists around the world. Racial discord is part of its DNA, and is the principal reason for the historical lack of a social contract and the weakness of the Left in this country. Corporate political hegemony would not exist in the U.S., were it not for the endemic nature of white supremacy in this society. The Russians have nothing to do with it -- especially the Russian amateurs from St. Petersburg.

We are now in the throes of a calculated campaign to sow "discord" and "distrust towards the political system in general,"such as not seen in living memory, mounted by the Democrats and their allies in corporate media and the national security state. The initial goal was to depose or discipline the unpredictable billionaire who in 2016 crushed the establishment leaders of the Republican Party -- potentially destabilizing the duopoly system of corporate governance -- rhetorically rejected the dogma of "free trade," and spoke as if he would not maintain the momentum of his predecessor's global military offensive. With the "intelligence community" on point, the political offensive could not help but take on the characteristics of a profoundly destabilizing regime change and psychological operations campaign.

In other words, the ruling circles of the imperial superpower set out to destabilize and call into disrepute the government of the home country. They have inflicted great trauma and anxiety among the public in the process, but thanks to the corporate media component of the cabal, most of the blame has accrued to the targets of the campaign: Trump, "the Russians" and those defamed as "dupes" and "co-conspirators" with the fictitious Putin-Trump axis.

It is quite evident that this campaign of self-inflicted chaos is a project of the global corporate class, manifesting in remarkably similar fashion, but with local characteristics, elsewhere in the "West." Russia is, thus, charged with attempting to subvert governments around the world through minions like the St. Petersburg outfit. Through their servant in the Democratic Party, the corporate media, and the intelligence agencies, multinational capital has used Trump's election to inflict a kind of shock treatment on their domestic polities - a very dangerous gambit, especially in the United States, with its weak social contract and immense capacity for civil violence.

More dangerous, is the whipping up of war fever based on Russia's non-existent aggressions (Ukraine, Syria) and fabricated ambitions (the demise of the "West").

We can be confident in blaming this politically engineered horror on the dominate elements of the U.S. capitalist ruling class, since they could surely call the project to a halt if it were merely a "rogue" enterprise mounted by a small section of their class-mates. Capital is using Russiagate to inflict extreme shocks to the very political system they claim to be defending. The trauma is necessary, they believe, because capital has nothing to offer to the masses of people, and must therefore dramatically weaken or destroy the political mechanisms through which the people make demands on the rulers. They are preparing the landscape for a regime of permanent austerity and war, and plan to suppress all opposition on the Left. That's why Black Agenda Report and a dozen other Left web sites were named and defamed as Russian fellow travelers and purveyors of "fake news" by the Washington Post, the plaything of the CIA-partnered oligarch, Jeff Bezos.

A lot has happened in the space of a little over a year. Based on Russiagate-era interpretations of "law" and civil propriety, free speech is in the political eye of the corporate owners of media. The shrinking of the digital world that is accessible to the Left is well underway, with no workable alternatives in sight.

The Russiagate express keeps on rolling, despite the fact there is still no evidence for the original contention, that "the Russians" and Vladimir Putin conspired to steal and reveal the emails of the Democratic National Committee, Hillary Clinton and John Podesta. Rod Rosenstein, the Deputy Attorney General, emphasized that there is no evidence that any actual votes were altered or tampered with in the 2016 presidential election. No matter. The Democrats keep imagining other "Pearl Harbors" to go to war over, because their project is to harden the political system for endless war and austerity.
(c) 2018 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

Florida = Honduras: Inequality Kills
Want to end the American shooting epidemic?
By Greg Palast

A crucial factor about the Florida killer: his family had to move out of the school district because they couldn't afford the rent. Resentment yields anger. Not every poor kid becomes a killer - think Bill Clinton - but there will be one. Inequality kills.

A student of statistics - my son - was surprised by his regression analysis of gun ownership per capita in each nation versus homicides.

He wrote, "The result of my scatter plot came as quite the surprise to me: there was just about no correlation between number of guns and number of gun homicides."

In fact, "the correlation coefficient was -0.105871699." That is, by a small amount, more guns meant fewer homicides.

So what DID prove a strong correlation? Homicides versus the "GINI" coefficient. GINI is the measure of income inequality in a nation.

I've just returned from the nation with the widest gun ownership in the world, Switzerland, which has vanishingly few homicides - although almost all men 18-35, due to ancient military tradition, must keep weapons in their home (many fully automatic).

The nation with the same population as Switzerland, Honduras, has the world's highest homicide rate - yet Honduras outlaws personal gun ownership.

David Hemenway, of the Harvard School of Public Health notes, "Switzerland and Honduras are not even close to being the same in many aspects of their society that will influence the levels of violence and homicide."

Exactly. Want to end gun violence? End violent inequality.

Here's the roster of the world's most violent nations measured by non-military homicides:

El Salvador
South Africa

It's also a listing of the world's most economically unequal nations.

After the US, here is the list of highest per capita gun ownership: Switzerland, Finland, Sweden, Norway, France, Germany Austria, Iceland - all nations with tiny small homicide rates - and very low GINI scores. Iceland, where a huge one-third of households have guns, is the most economically equal society on the planet - with a homicide rate of ZERO.

(And before your all scream at me because I'm simply telling you the facts, I will add that these nations with lots of guns and few or zero homicides all maintain strict gun SAFETY rules. In Switzerland, deadly weapons in your home must be safely LOCKED AWAY.)

As a journalist, you will have to take these facts from my cold, dead hand.
(c) 2018 Greg Palast is author of the New York Times bestseller, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Armed Madhouse and the highly acclaimed Vultures' Picnic, named Book of the Year 2012 on BBC Newsnight Review

Exposing Our 'Populist' President As A Naked Plutocrat
By Jim Hightower

Have you noticed that Donald Trump constantly prefaces his outlandish lies with such phrases as: "To be honest with you," "To tell the truth," and "Believe me"?

Why? Because like a snake-oil salesman, he constantly needs to convince himself that he's speaking the truth in order to perform his next lie convincingly. The show must go on... and on. In fact, he already ranks as the lyingest president in US history. And that includes Nixon!

Trump's biggest whopper is that he's an honest-to-God "populist," standing up for America's hard-hit middle class against Wall Street, corporate lobbyists, and moneyed elites. This prevarication has duped many working stiffs into thinking he's their champion. The huckster doubled-down on this lie in his inaugural address last year, pompously declaring, "The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer."

That's why a new, straight-talking pamphlet by the watchdog group, Public Citizen, is so important. It exposes the "people's champion" as a rank fraud who has pushed from day one to further enrich and empower the corporate elites he had denounced as a candidate. Public Citizen's report documents with concise, easy-to-grasp specifics on how Trump-the-faux-populist has systematically sold out the working families whose votes he cynically swiped, handing our government to a kakistocracy of corporate plutocrats.

It's not merely that he's an irredeemable liar, but that Trump himself is a lie. The Public Citizen expose is titled "Forgetting the Forgotten: 101 Ways Donald Trump Has Betrayed the Middle Class" and it drives the stake of truth through the heart of his populist pretensions. Don't just read it - use it like a Thomas Paine pamphlet to spread the truth. To download a free copy, go to
(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

Voters cast their ballots in Illinois.

Congress Can Act Right Now To Prevent Interference In The 2018 Elections
Better voting machines and more secure systems are possible.
By John Nichols

Special counsel Robert Mueller's indictments last week of 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities for meddling in the 2016 US election campaign is big news. But it is even bigger news that Dan Coats, the Trump administration's director of national intelligence, says, "There should be no doubt that Russia perceives that its past efforts have been successful and views the 2018 midterm US elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations."

"Frankly," Coats told the Senate Intelligence Committee several days before Mueller's indictments were announced, "the United States is under attack."

No one knows how far those efforts will go-whether they will continue to target voters via social media or whether meddling might focus on the actual machinery of elections. But, according to a highly classified intelligence report obtained last year by The Intercept, "Russian military intelligence executed a cyberattack on at least one US voting software supplier and sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials just days before [the 2016 presidential election]."

It's not just the Russians. Concerns about the vulnerability of US voting systems to hacking have been reported for years, and now the Los Angeles Times observes that, "As hackers abroad plot increasingly brazen and sophisticated assaults, the United States' creaky polling stations and outdated voter registration technology are not up to the task of fighting them off, according to elections officials and independent experts."

With a mix of urgency about the threats and skepticism about whether Washington or officials in the states are prepared to respond, David Salvo, a resident fellow at the Alliance for Securing Democracy, asks: "Are we going to be prepared to prevent something more egregious from happening?"

Congressman Mark Pocan, the Wisconsin Democrat who co-chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus, has an appropriate answer. "It is abundantly clear that we need to get ahead of anyone wanting to interfere with our elections," Pocan explained in an interview following last week's indictments and warnings. "We need better protections for our elections, including paper ballots for our voting machines."

Pocan and several of his colleagues are doing more than just talking about what "needs" to be done. They have prepared a legislative response that would work-if congressional leaders would allow it to be debated and enacted.

While federal officials who should be all over the issue struggle to even begin the right conversations about election-integrity issues, Pocan and Congressmen Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Hank Johnson (D-GA) have been working for the better part of a year to generate support for groundbreaking legislation that gets to the heart of the matter. Their Securing America's Future Elections (SAFE) Act would safeguard US elections from cyber threats and interference by permanently classifying the integrity and security of elections as a component of the country's critical infrastructure.

Arguing that the United States needs "a comprehensive approach to secure our election process from start to finish," Pocan said when the SAFE Act was introduced last year that: "By making our elections a top national security priority, we can ensure cybersecurity standards for voting systems are upgraded and require paper ballots with all electronic voting machines. One thing Democrats and Republicans should agree on is that we should be doing everything in our power to guarantee the sovereignty of our county and the integrity of our elections. This bill will do just that."

The changes that Pocan and his colleagues propose would place elections systems in the same category as other critical infrastructure such as the power grid, the banking system, and essential utilities. At the same time, the SAFE Act protects against cyber threats by requiring the use of better voting machines that provide paper ballots. And it requires random audits of ballots to thwart wrongdoing and to assure against malfunctions.

This is not the final answer to concerns about election integrity and the many challenges facing American democracy. However, it is a practical point of beginning-as tech-savvy cosponsors such as Ro Khanna of California and Jamie Raskin of Maryland have recognized.

With the Mueller indictments and the testimony from Coats, it is time for House Democrat leaders and responsible Republicans to take a more serious look at the SAFE Act.

This legislation is about more than Russian intrigues. It is, as well, a response to a wrongheaded attempt last year by House Republicans Committee to shut down the Election Assistance Committee (EAC), the federal agency created to help states update election systems and security. The SAFE Act reauthorizes the EAC for a period of 10 years and requires a random audit of precincts/wards in each state to ensure there are no discrepancies between paper ballots and electronic ballots.

"Few things are as critical as the integrity of our elections, which is why we must protect one of our most sacred institutions from foreign powers and domestic hackers who seek to undermine and influence our democratic process," says Ellison. "The SAFE Act makes our elections a top national security priority, creates cybersecurity standards to protect our voting systems, and ensures accountability to voters. The American people must have full confidence that their votes are protected and counted."

To create that confidence the SAFE Act would:

1. Permanently classify the security and integrity of our elections as essential to the United States's national security interests and allow the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to designate election infrastructure as critical infrastructure. This includes storage facilities, polling places, vote tabulation locations, voter databases, voting machines, and other systems that manage the election process. This important classification would place elections systems in the same category as other critical infrastructure including the power grid, the banking system, and other utilities.

2. Authorize the necessary funding for upgrading cybersecurity standards of voting systems, including the software used to operate such systems, and to ensure the security of the manufacturing processes for such components through collaboration with the National Institute for Standards in Technology (NIST) and the Department of Homeland Security. The bill will also ensure cybersecurity for all voter registration databases.

3. Require NIST and DHS to create basic cyber-security standards for private companies contracted to work on elections systems in the United States.

4. Require all electronic voting machines to have a corresponding paper ballot. The EAC would be required to randomly audit 5 percent of wards/precincts in each state to ensure that there are no discrepancies between paper ballots and electronic ballots.

5. Reauthorize the EAC (Election Assistance Commission) for a period of 10 years. The EAC is the agency best equipped to deal with election-technology issues, such as software patches, for voting machines from private vendors. Eliminating this crucial agency would create an easily exploitable opportunity to hackers.

6. Require the DHS to conduct a review of elections systems yearly, beginning in 2018.

It's 2018. It's time to act because, as Pocan says, "Not acting now will only lead to repeated interference."
(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.

The Impact Of Capitalism On The News
By James Donahue

Now that the printed news has fallen into disrepute and people now depend on the Internet and televised broadcasting to get reports about day's events, the horrors of intense advertising is slamming us between the eyes.

We can't watch the nightly news now without wading through back-to-back commercials where smiling men and women try to sell us a line of products we don't need or want.

We can't read an Internet story without having the promotion for some product and even the sponsoring publication forcing us to first read or at least look at a bright flashing promotion on the screen. Often the story you wish to read is blocked and delayed because of the time it takes for that complex advertisement, complete with video and sound, loads. Even though there is always an "x" somewhere in the ad that is designed to eliminate the nuisance, sometimes it is obscured. Even if we find and hit the X with our curser, it sometimes allows the ad video to play out before removing it from the screen. By then interest in the story is often lost.

I am often so angered by this invasion of my computer screen that I take time to remember this particular product and personally vow to never purchase it. (Secretly, however, I usually know I would never want to own it anyway.)

In my years working as a journalist for newspapers in the United States I was always been keenly aware of the way big business impacted the news we wrote. My first job on a small Michigan daily involved being a jack-of-all-trades. I made police rounds in the morning, covered general news, spent my afternoons attempting to sell ads and even filling in for evening paper delivery services. The part I disliked was being an ad salesman. I am a poor liar and discovered that I was never able to sell something that I didn't personally believe in.

I always noticed the impact major businesses and advertisers had on the news content of the papers I wrote for. There were certain things we avoided writing about or at least handled with kid gloves when we couldn't avoid it. We always knew that the health of our newspaper depended on the advertising revenue that paid our salaries.

My college journalism classes included special training in this area. I remember having to read Vance Packard's book, "The Hidden Persuaders," which, even in the 1950's gave us insight in the way the promoters of products used trickery to make people desire products. Hidden sexual images on packages and published advertisements were popular then and they still are. The very way products are displayed in stores has become an art form. The music, the art displays and general placing of the products at eye level is found to stimulate impulse buying; thus the price of the shopping spree in a store is intensified.

One incident that occurred during the years I worked on a news bureau along the Western Michigan coast may help explain the very power that the guy with the money has over the media. For years I was a welcome guest at a popular resort where important political and business meetings were held. High level state and federal political figures spoke there and the AFL/CIO held annual conclaves at this resort complex. As long as I included the name of the resort in my stories I was always among the special guests. When banquets were held I was given a free seat at the table. Then one day the son of the owner was arrested by the State Police on a drug charge and I was caught in a dilemma. The owner asked that I kill this particular story. The editor and I stuck to our guns and published the story anyway. We felt it was impossible for us not to. After this the door to that resort was closed to our newspaper and the stories I needed to write were lost to our readers.

Only this month Unilever, among the world's largest advertisers, threatened to cut back on its advertising in social Internet services like Facebook, Google and YouTube unless these platforms put controls on some of the "hateful views" that create division, promote fake news and fail to protect children. The threat was delivered by company marketing officer Keith Weed during an Interactive Advertising Bureau conference. While we might agree with Unilever's veiled threat in general, the statement clearly defines the muscle that big corporations have over written and spoken commentary that floods the Internet. The same control obviously exists for other media outlets in this capitalistic society.

Over the years I have mingled with media people from all over the nation, including members of the famed Washington Press Corps. And I have always felt the reigns of control that corporate money has held over the press. It has never been as bad as it has become since Donald Trump and his gang moved into Washington. Mr. Trump was quick to attack the media, invent the concept of "fake news," and imply that every negative story written about him fit in that latter category. After just one year in office Trump is on his second assigned news director. She is an obvious shill being paid well to spew out whatever the president wants her to tell the press; but not necessarily the truth. She had good media credentials when she landed that job, but you can see the pain of what she is doing now written all over her face. She doesn't like to lie to the public any more than I did.

Probably because of the Trump phenomenon, and the way that he was elected under shadowy conditions, there has been a movement toward a new form of government not only in the United States but all over the world. The new ideas include a democratic socialistic concept that allows but puts a control on capitalism. The thought is that humans must begin to adapt to a rapidly changing world where robotic machines take over our jobs as the world population increase is putting more and more demand on the remaining world resources. The thought supports one central government where everyone is treated equally. In such a world everyone has a job but it is for only a few hours weekly. Everybody receives equal payment which is enough to live comfortably. And everybody is provided good housing, medical services and public transportation. People thus are given a sense of self-worth and given time to pursue creative ideas of their own, many of which could be of great benefit to society as a whole.

Imagine how free the news cycle might be in a society like that? In the other extreme, under the control of a corrupt central government, the news might still remain extremely controlled. If done well, however, the general public might never know the difference.
(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.

We got 80 percent of the American people who are saying, do not turn your backs
on these young people who have lived in this country for virtually their entire lives.

The Great Moral Issue Of Our Time
Remarks delivered on the Senate floor Feb. 14, 2018.
By Bernie Sanders

Let me begin by congratulating Chloe Kim, a first-generation American, who won a gold medal for the United States in the women's halfpipe snowboarding event this week.

Her father, Jong Jin Kim, emigrated from South Korea to the United States in 1982, became a dishwasher at a fast food restaurant. He studied engineering at El Camino College after working at low-skill jobs and then became an engineer. He left his engineering job to support his daughter's snowboarding ambitions, so that he could drive her 5 and a half hours to the mountain for training.

Congratulations to Chloe and her entire family. You make the United States proud.

The whole debate that we are now undertaking over immigration and the Dreamers has become somewhat personal for me, because it has reminded me in a very strong way that I and my brother are first-generation Americans. We are the sons of an immigrant who came to this country at the age of 17 without a nickel in his pocket, young man who was a high school dropout who did not know one word English and had no particular trade.

A few years ago my brother and I and our family went to the small town that he came from and it just stunned me the kind of courage that he showed and millions of other people showed leaving their homeland to come to a very different world - without money, in many cases, without knowledge of the language.

My father immigrated to this country because the town he lived in in Poland was incredibly poor, there was no economic opportunity for him, people there struggled to put food on the table for their families. Hunger was a real issue in that area. My father came to this country to avoid the violence and bloodshed of World War I which had come close to his part of the world in a ferocious manner. He came to this country to escape the religious bigotry that existed then because he was Jewish.

My father lived in this country until his death in 1962. He never made a lot of money. He was a paint salesman.

My father was not a political person but it turned out that, without talking much about it, he was the proudest American that you ever saw. And he was so proud of this country because he was deeply grateful that the United States had welcomed him in and allowed him opportunities that would have been absolutely unthinkable from where he came.

But the truth is that immigration is not just my story. It's not just the story of one young man coming from Poland who managed to see two of his kids go to college and one of his sons becoming a United States Senator. It's just my family's story. It is the story of my wife's family who came from Ireland. And it is the story of tens of millions of American families who came from every single part of this world.

In September of 2017, President Trump precipitated the current crisis we are dealing with by revoking President Obama's DACA executive order. If President Trump believed that that executive order was unconstitutional and needed legislation, he could have come to Congress for a legislative solution without holding 800,000 young people hostage by revoking their DACA status. But President Trump chose not to do that. He chose to provoke the crisis that we are experiencing today. And that is a crisis we have to deal with, and here in the Senate we have to deal with it now.

And let us be very clear about the nature of this crisis. Some people say, "Well, it's really not imminent, it's not something we have to worry about now." Those people are wrong. As a result of Trump's decision, 122 people every day are now losing their legal status, and within a couple of years hundreds of thousands of these young people will have lost their legal protection and be subject to deportation.

The situation we are in right now as a result of Trump's action means that if we do not immediately protect the legal status of some 800,000 Dreamers - young people brought into this country at the age of 1, or 3, or 6, young people who have known no home other than the United States - let us be clear that if we do not act and act soon these hundreds of thousands of young people could be subject to deportation.

And that means they could be arrested outside of the home where they have lived for virtually their entire life and suddenly be placed in a jail.

They could be pulled out of a classroom where they are teaching, and there are some 20,000 DACA recipients who are now teaching in schools all over this country. And if we do not act and act now, there could be agents going into those schools and pulling those teachers right out and arresting them and subjecting them to deportation.

Insane as it may sound, I suppose that the 900 DACA recipients who now serve in the United States military today could find themselves in the position of being arrested and deported from the country that they are putting their lives on the line to defend. And some people say, "Well, that's farfetched." Well, I'm not so sure. It could happen. How insane is that? But that's where we are today and that's what could happen if we do not do the right thing and this week pass legislation here in the Senate to protect the Dreamers.

We have a moral responsibility to stand up for the Dreamers and their families, and to prevent what will be an indelible moral stain on our country if we fail to act. I do not want to see what the history books will be saying about this Congress if we allow 800,000 young people to be subjected to deportation, to live in incredible fear and anxiety.

But here is the very, very good news regarding the Dreamers. And it's actually news that I, a couple of years ago, would not have believed to be possible. And that is that the overwhelming majority of the American people - Democrats, Republicans, Independents - absolutely agree that we must provide legal protection for the Dreamers, and that we should provide them with a path towards citizenship. That is not Bernie Sanders talking. That is what the American people are saying in poll after poll after poll.

Just recently, a Jan. 20 CBS News poll found that nearly 9 in 10 Americans, 87 percent, favor allowing young immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally as children to remain in the United States. Eighty-seven percent. In Iowa, in Vermont, and in every state in this country, strong support for legal status for the Dreamers and a path toward citizenship.

On Jan. 11 a Quinnipiac poll found that 86 percent of American voters, including 76 percent of Republicans, say they want Dreamers to remain in the country.

On Feb. 5, in a Monmouth poll, when asked about Dreamers' status, nearly 3 out of 4 Americans support allowing these young people to automatically become U.S. citizens as long as they don't have a criminal record.

In other words the votes that are going to be cast hopefully be cast today, maybe tomorrow, are not profiles in courage! They are not members of the Senate coming up and saying, "Against all of the odds, I believe that I'm going to vote for what is right!" This is what the overwhelming majority of the American people want. And maybe, just maybe, it might be appropriate to do what the American people want, rather than what a handful of xenophobic extremists want. Maybe we should listen to the American people. Democrats, Republicans and Independents who understand that it would be a morally atrocious thing to allow these young people to be deported.

I think from a political perspective, about 80, 85, 90 percent of the American people support anything in a nation which is as divided as we are today - you can't get 80 percent of the American people to agree on what their favorite ice cream is but we got 80 percent of the American people who are saying, do not turn your backs on these young people who have lived in this country for virtually their entire lives.

We have got to act and act soon here in the Senate and there is good legislation that would allow us to do that. And in the House the good news is that there is bipartisan sponsored by Congressman Hurd and Congressman Aguilar, which will provide protection for Dreamers and a path toward citizenship.

My understanding that that bipartisan legislation now has majority support, and I urge in the strongest terms possible, that Speaker Ryan to allow democracy to prevail in the House. Allow the vote to take place if you have a majority of members in the House in a bipartisan way who support legislation, allow that legislation come to the floor. Let the members vote their will and if that occurs I think the Dreamers legislation will prevail.

We all understand that there is a need for serious debate and legislation regarding comprehensive immigration reform. This is a difficult issue. An issue where there are differences of opinion, a whole lot of aspects to it. How do we provide a path toward citizenship for the 11 million people in this country who are currently undocumented but who are working hard, or raising their kids, who are obeying the law.

What should the overall immigration policy of our country be - how many people should be allowed into this country every year, where they come from - all of this is very, very important, and needs to be seriously debated. But that debate and that legislation is not going to be taking place in a two-day period. It's going to need some serious time, some hearings, some committee work, before the Congress is prepared to vote on comprehensive immigration reform. It will not and cannot happen today or tomorrow or this week.

Our focus now as a result of Trump's decision in September must be on protecting the Dreamers and their families, and on the issue of border security.

There will be important legislation coming to the floor of the Senate today or maybe tomorrow. And I would hope that we could do the right thing, do the moral thing and do something that history will look back on as very positive legislation. Let us go forward. Let us pass the Dreamers bill. Let us deal with border security. And then in the near future let us deal with comprehensive immigration reform.
(c) 2018 Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006 after serving 16 years in the House of Representatives. He is the longest serving independent member of Congress in American history. Elected Mayor of Burlington, Vt., by 10 votes in 1981, he served four terms. Before his 1990 election as Vermont's at-large member in Congress, Sanders lectured at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and at Hamilton College in upstate New York. Read more at his web site. Follow him on Twitter: @SenSanders or @BernieSanders

Trump's Week-End Meltdown Created A Big Question He Can't Answer
By Heather Digby Parton

Last Friday, Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller handed down grand jury indictments of 13 Russian nationals for interference in the 2016 presidential election. It detailed a campaign to use American social media to disparage Hillary Clinton and Republican candidates while boosting Donald Trump. These indictments will probably never result in a trial, since it is not likely the Russian government will feel moved to extradite these people to face the music for their alleged crimes. After all, on the night Trump won the election, senior Russian government officials were reportedly celebrating wildly.

Legal analysts have been poring over the indictment and have as many theories as there are Russian bots about what it says about the overall investigation. There is something for everyone in it, from the diehard Hillary fans who still feel raw over the Democratic primaries to the never-Trumpers on the right who know their instincts were correct. The evidence shows that a Russian troll farm used social media to spread propaganda and organize events, spending millions on the program and reaching millions of American voters.

The indictments were announced by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, which was seen as a sign by many commentators that he wanted to take ownership of the case and ensure it was taken seriously. Rosenstein's message was clear: Here is proof that Russians interfered in in the 2016 election, and did it to help Donald Trump win.

There can be no more debate about whether it happened. The only question now is what effect it had on the exceedingly close outcome. That's a debate that will never be truly resolved, although there are experts who make a pretty convincing case that the effect of Russian meddling was substantial.

Rosenstein also went out of his way to state that these indictments do not assert that there was any collusion with the Trump campaign, which was immediately seen as vindication by his supporters. That's premature, to say the least: The hacking of Democratic Party and Clinton campaign emails, and the curious timing of their release -- as well as all those meetings with Russians -- were not addressed. Nonetheless, the entire Trump machine immediately went into high gear, saying "I told you so" and declaring that the president and his campaign were off the hook.

Fox News ran the story as a Trump victory on a loop, and the president tweeted:

(Actually, Trump was known to be anticipating a run for president in 2014. It was even assumed to be a done deal by certain Russians he'd worked with on the 2013 Miss Universe pageant.)

Unfortunately, Trump's celebration was dampened by the necessity of visiting victims of our latest bloody school slaughter, which meant that he couldn't spend his holiday weekend on the golf course as he'd planned. So he stayed inside and watched TV with his sons Eric and Donald Jr. instead, and they got "riled up" by the media coverage, precipitating one of the most unhinged tweetstorms we've seen from the president yet.

Trump blamed the Democrats for gun violence because they hadn't been able to pass gun safety legislation when they had a majority. (Mitch McConnell led the filibuster against the bipartisan bill after Newtown.) He claimed that the investigationswere playing into the hands of the Russians. He chastised Gen. H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser, for saying it was "incontrovertible" that the Russian government had interfered in the election without adding that there was no collusion with the Trump campaign. He capped this all off by saying that "the only Collusion was between Russia and Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems. Remember the Dirty Dossier, Uranium, Speeches, Emails and the Podesta Company!"

Trump called Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., of the House Intelligence Committee a "monster." He attacked Oprah Winfrey. In the low point of a truly alarming public tantrum, the president blamed the FBI and the Mueller investigation for the Parkland shooting:

But amid all the raving and the ranting, there was a significant shift in Trump's previous position. Now that there is real evidence of a Russian attempt to interfere in the 2016 election, he is claiming that he never called it a hoax in the first place:

There are, of course, dozens of examples of Trump insisting that the entire scandal was made up by Democrats as an excuse for their defeat. Here's one from a Time magazine interview:

I don't believe they interfered. That became a laughing point, not a talking point, a laughing point. Any time I do something, they say "oh, Russia interfered."
More recently, after Trump met with Vladimir Putin he said afterwards that Putin told him he didn't interfere in the election, and that Trump took him at his word.

Now Trump has been forced to admit that this happened and that the Russian government was apparently behind it. Whether he realizes it or not, this presents a whole new set of problems for him.

Obviously, Trump has known about this since long before the election, when he started getting security briefings. He has been president for more than a year and he has done nothing about this. He has not held one Cabinet-level meeting about this issue, and according to the directors of his intelligence agencies has not told them to ensure it never happens again. In fact, Trump has not only obstructed the investigation into what happened, he has tried to stop congressional committees from doing anything to prevent future attacks. And then there are his repeated attempts to lift the sanctions imposed by the Obama administration, and his refusal to implement the ones mandated by Congress as punishment for the interference.

None of that has anything to do with allegations of "collusion." If he didn't think the Russia interference itself was a hoax, then what is his excuse for inaction? Even if you want to grant him the widely-held assumption that he is just a pathological narcissist obsessed about the legitimacy of his victory, this is a dereliction of duty and he's accidentally admitted to it.

But Trump being Trump, he's found a way to pass the buck. You could almost see the light bulb going off in his head when he tweeted on President's Day, "Obama was President up to, and beyond, the 2016 Election. So why didn't he do something about Russian meddling?"

Our intelligence agencies all say this will happen again in 2018. Who will Trump blame then?
(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.

A Reply To The Taliban
By David Swanson

Dear Taliban,

Thank you for your letter to the American people.

As one person in the United States I cannot offer you a representative reply on behalf of all of us. Nor can I use polls to tell you what my fellow Americans think, because, as far as I know, polling companies haven't asked the U.S. public about the war on your country in years. Possible explanations for this include:

We have several other wars going on, and the blowback includes a lot of self-inflicted mass-shootings.

Too many wars at a time doesn't make the most desired packaging for advertisements.

Our previous president announced that your war was over.

Many here actually think it is over, which makes them useless for polling on the topic of ending it.

I do want to let you know that some of us saw your letter, that some news outlets reported on it, that people have asked me about it.

While I cannot speak for everyone here, I at the very least have not been paid to speak only for the weapons dealers or any other small group. And I can make some claim to speak for the thousands of people who have signed this petition asking President Trump to end U.S. participation in the war.

According to recent news reports, Trump actually considered doing that. It's even possible that he had ending one of his many wars in mind when he came up with the idea for a big parade of weaponry - something that more typically accompanies the ending of a war than merely the celebration of a narcissist. Yet, we're told that Trump's Secretary of so-called Defense warned him that unless more troops were sent to Afghanistan, someone might blow up a bomb in Time's Square in New York. You may know that someone tried to do that eight years ago, for the purpose of persuading U.S. troops to leave Afghanistan and other countries. It did not have the desired result. If someone ever engages in a similar terrorist act, Trump would rather be responsible for having escalated militarism that could have contributed to the crime than for having de-escalated and made it less likely. This is because of how information is communicated, and what our culture views as manly and honorable.

Your letter contains a lot of important information. You are of course correct on the illegality of the U.S. invasion. And the reasons you recount having heard the U.S. provide were both false and irrelevant to the question of legality. The same could be said of the reasons I remember hearing the U.S. give, but they were not the same as the ones you heard. You heard this:

"Establishing security by eliminating the so called terrorists inside Afghanistan.

"Restoring law and order by establishing a legal government.

"Eradicating narcotics."

There's a tale that when astronauts were training in the U.S. desert for the trip to the Moon, a Native American found out what they were doing and asked them to memorize an important message in his own language to tell to the spirits in the Moon; but he wouldn't tell the astronauts what it meant. So the astronauts found someone to translate it for them, and it meant this: "Do not believe one word these people tell you. They are here to steal your land."

Luckily no one was there on the Moon to need the warning, so I offer it to you. Back over here, we were told and have been told for many years now that the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan was for the purpose of punishing those responsible for, or responsible for assisting those responsible for, the crimes of September 11, 2001. I understand that you were open to turning Osama Bin Laden over to a third country for trial. But, just as most Afghans have never heard of 9/11, most Americans have never heard of that offer. We live on different planets with different sets of known facts. We can, however, agree with your conclusion:

"No matter what title or justification is presented by your undiscerning authorities for the war in Afghanistan, the reality is that tens of thousands of helpless Afghans including women and children were martyred by your forces, hundreds of thousands were injured and thousands more were incarcerated in Guantanamo, Bagram and various other secret jails and treated in such a humiliating way that has not only brought shame upon humanity but is also a violation of all claims of American culture and civilization."
As I cannot speak for everyone, I cannot apologize for everyone. And I tried to prevent the war before it started. And I've tried to end it ever since. But I am sorry.

Now, I also must, respectfully, point out a few things missing from your letter. When I visited Kabul some years ago with a group of U.S. peace activists meeting Afghan peace activists and numerous other Afghans from around your country, I spoke with quite a number of people who wanted two things:

1) No NATO occupation

2) No Taliban

They viewed you with such horror that some of them were almost of two-minds about the NATO occupation. It is safe to say, I think, that you do not speak for all of the people of Afghanistan. An agreement between you and the United States would be an agreement made without everyone in Afghanistan represented at the table. That being said, it is clear that it would be better for Afghanistan, the world, and the United States for the U.S.-led occupation to end immediately.

But please allow me to offer some unsolicited advice on both how to make that happen and how to proceed after it happens.

First, keep writing letters. They will be heard.

Second, consider looking at the research done by Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan showing that principally nonviolent movements are over twice as likely to succeed. Not only that, but those successes are far longer lasting. This is because nonviolent movements succeed by bringing in many more people. Doing that is also helpful for what comes after the occupation.

I'm well aware that I live in a country whose government attacked your country, and so I would generally be considered as lacking the privilege to tell you what to do. But I'm not telling you what to do. I'm telling you what works. You can do with it what you choose. But as long as you allow yourselves to be depicted as viciously violent, you will be a highly profitable advertisement for U.S. weapons makers and U.S. politicians. If you build a nonviolent movement that demonstrates peacefully and multi-ethnically for U.S. withdrawal, and if you make sure we see videos of that, you will be of absolutely no value to Lockheed Martin.

I really do understand how disgusting it is for someone from a country bombing you in the name of democracy to suggest that you try democracy. For what it's worth, I also suggest that the United States try democracy. I recommend nonviolence and democracy to everyone everywhere. I do not try to impose it on anyone.

I hope to hear back from you.


David Swanson
(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.

What Changed After The Vegas Shooting? Nothing.
Walking the Strip, same as it ever was.
By Charles P. Pierce

LAS VEGAS-In the shaded drive in front of the Mandalay Bay resort at the far southern end of the Strip, the bellman said he couldn't talk. "I'm sorry, sir," he said. "We've been specifically told not to discuss that. Policy." His voice dropped a bit. "But, you see that Sphinx over there?" he continued, pointing north along the Strip toward the faux-Egyptian grounds of the Luxor resort. He's looking right at it. "The stage even is still up there."

The very real killing ground is across Las Vegas Boulevard from an imitation Sphinx and an imitation obelisk bearing imitation hieroglyphics. It is a wide expanse of asphalt with a stage at one end and a row of empty ticket booths at the other. It is surrounded by a chain-link fence hung with dark canvas. The canvas is mottled with small holes where the curious have torn parts of it away to look upon an historical attraction unplanned by the people who design imitation history and the face of an artificial Sphinx.

On the evening of October 1, 2017, a misfit and gambler named Stephen Paddock walked to the window of room 32135 on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay. Across the Strip, hundreds of people had gathered on the asphalt plaza, and in the bleachers that surrounded it, to enjoy an outdoor concert of country music. In his room, Paddock had assembled 24 firearms, all of them purchased legally in four different states. These including 14 AR-15 rifles, all of which were fitted with so-called "bump stocks," which enable the user to fire 90 rounds in 10 seconds. At approximately 10:05, just as Jason Aldean was taking the stage, Paddock smashed the windows of his suite with a hammer and he opened fire on the crowd gathered for the concert. He killed 58 people, and wounded 422 others, in the next 10 minutes. Then, with police closing in on Room 32135, Stephen Paddock shot himself to death.

People walk by the killing ground without giving it a second look, and that's the strangest thing on a bright Sunday morning. Somebody tore those little holes in the canvas, just big enough to shoot pictures through with their IPhones. On a low brick wall near the main gate, there is a bouquet of flowers, wilted in the sun, and a glass with a small bit of whiskey still in the bottom, a little bit of some night's fun.

The very first killing ground I ever walked was a small field edged with thick woods in Jonesboro, a small place in Craighead County, deep in the rice country of Arkansas. The field is directly across the street from the Westside Middle School. On March 24, 1998, two local boys, Mitchell Johnson and Andrew Golden, brought nine firearms into the woods edging the field. Golden pulled the fire alarm and then ran back to the woods. As the students filed out, Golden and Johnson let loose, killing four students and a teacher. While he was incarcerated pending trial, Johnson wrote a letter in which he said his "thoughts and prayers" were with the families of his victims. Two years after his release, Johnson was arrested and convicted. On gun charges. Both of them are free now. They are the only school shooters in America of whom that can be said. Most of the others killed themselves.

When I talked to some of the families in Jonesboro, about a year after the event, they were still stunned at the enormity of what had happened to them, and to everyone else in Jonesboro. It couldn't happen there, they told me. At the time, it was the second deadliest school shooting in the country's history. It horrified people around the country. People around the country got over it.

Over the weekend, as I walked around the perimeter of the killing ground in Las Vegas, I remembered the looks of disbelief I saw on the faces of the people in Jonesboro, twenty years ago, when what had happened at Westside Middle School seemed like the very outer limits of inexplicable tragedy. Surely, they told me, things would change. They were certain that good-hearted people in this very good-hearted country would respond to the slaughter of schoolchildren with some serious policy chops. In retrospect, their certainty about how the country would address the issues raised by what had happened in Jonesboro seems like the most poignant memory of all.

It certainly seemed that way as I peered through the holes torn in the canvas along the chain-link fence that surrounds the deadliest of these killing grounds that we have strung through American history now like beads on a bloody rosary. The people in Jonesboro thought four kids and a teacher were enough. The people in Jonesboro were wrong. Look north on the Strip. There's an imitation Sphinx, an imitation Statue of Liberty, and an imitation Eiffel Tower. There's a manmade volcano with regularly scheduled eruptions. This is America. It is an article of our faith that things can always be made bigger.
(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...

"Our modern society is engaged in polishing and decorating the cage in which man is kept imprisoned."
~~~ Swami Nirmalananda

Why are peace and nonviolence impossible to embrace as national values?

Young America
Perhaps we will someday look back on this time in a manner similar to how Gandhi saw India a century ago, on the cusp of a mass mobilization aimed at rebuilding a nation.
By Randall Amster

Nearly a century ago, Mohandas Gandhi started a new publication to share his vision of nonviolent organizing, filling it with inspiring quotations and political insights. He titled the journal Young India, to indicate that its teachings were intended to help the people plan for eventual independence, fusing the methods of building a movement with those required to begin (re)building a nation. Gandhi saw the means and ends as interconnected, and reflected this in his personal practices and societal aspirations.

Of particular interest is the March 23, 1922, issue of the journal, which recounted proceedings from "The Great Trial" in which Gandhi was charged with attempting to promote "disaffection" toward the British colonial government. The exhibits against him were three articles he posted in Young India, including one titled "Tampering with Loyalty." Gandhi pleaded guilty to the charges (three counts in all, one for each article) and was sentenced to a total of six years in prison; during sentencing, he accepted this punishment graciously, while still affirming the right of dissent: "Affection cannot be manufactured or regulated by law. If one has no affection for a person or system one should be free to give the fullest expression to his disaffection, so long as he does not contemplate, promote or incite to violence."

I was struck by this narrative while doing some reading for an upcoming series of college classes where we'll be looking at the history, theory, and practice of nonviolence. As part of the class process, current events play a role in shaping the discussions, including last week's tragic school shooting in Parkland, FL. Reading the story of Gandhi's trial reminded me how often one hears it said that young people are "disaffected" in terms of their political engagement. Being fortunate to have the opportunity to work with college students for two decades now, this caricature of youth has never resonated for me at all.

It's probably the case that every generation is branded at some point as being apathetic or detached. But this may have more to do with the entrenched powers in place at any given moment, and the ways in which older generations seem to forget their own trajectory from being politically marginalized to taking the reins of government. Once there, it becomes convenient to cast young people as being either disaffected or, if they show signs of mobilizing, as ungrateful or immature. In the 1960s, for example, Ronald Reagan essentially launched his political career by openly scorning student activists at Berkeley.

But that was then, and this is now. Today, following the Parkland shooting, young people are meeting the elected elite on an equal footing in the realms of new media. The President himself set a precedent for expanding policymaking and governance directly into the Twittersphere, and many of the survivors from Parkland have been eloquently taking the conversation right to the halls of power via that space. Their words are pointed and poignant, filled with outrage over adult inaction while conveying a sense of hope for the future by their very presence. Find them online and engage with their voices directly-they don't need anyone speaking for them, and frankly, in a contest between this generation and the one mostly holding high office right now, I have no doubt which side will show its aptitude with social media.

Beyond this, we're seeing the emergence of a force turning media opinions into movement organizing. Some of the Parkland students have put out a call for a March for Our Lives (on March 24th), rapidly mobilizing through their dissatisfaction with current policies and leadership: "Change is coming. And it starts now, inspired by and led by the kids who are our hope for the future. Their young voices will be heard." Reflecting on what makes this episode different, one of the planners told ABC News, "This is it."

Perhaps we will someday look back on this time in a manner similar to how Gandhi saw India a century ago, on the cusp of a mass mobilization aimed at rebuilding a nation. Movement activities around the world and across the US in recent years have indicated an emerging pattern of youth activism online, in the streets, and in the councils of governance. As Gandhi said, people "should be free to give the fullest expression" to their disaffection-and likewise to their hopes and aspirations for making a better world.

Writing on our ostensible culture of violence in the aftermath of Parkland, Matt Taibbi asks: "Why are peace and nonviolence impossible to embrace as national values?" Martin Luther King Jr. famously cast his vision in terms of a dream, and spent the balance of his years trying to turn it into reality. In an open letter to African-American youth in September of 1966, King validated their frustrations while offering gentle guidance and thoughtful encouragement to struggle for "the kind of America that is really free":

"I do not ask you to 'cool it'[;] on the contrary I urge you to become active in the freedom movement and to make it an irresistible power. I urge you to be prepared to use your great energy in nonviolent mass action protests in your community. You can march in the streets and make this nation aware of your just grievances.... Finally, let me congratulate you for your sense of discipline and responsibility in the face of grave frustration and often brutal provocation. Here again I understand."
Both King and Gandhi, of course, were killed by gun violence. But their words and visions live on, remaining more powerful than the weapons used to take their lives. The path to a more just and peaceful world is a circuitous one, asking us to synthesize motivation from disaffection and to draw purpose out of senselessness. As Wired editor Nicholas Thompson tweeted: "America: Where the high-schoolers act like leaders, and the leaders act like they're in high school." The seniors have had their time-let's give Young America a chance.
(c) 2018 Randall Amster J.D., Ph.D., is Director of the Program on Justice and Peace at Georgetown University. Among his most recent books are Anarchism Today (Praeger, 2012) and the co-edited volume "Building Cultures of Peace: Transdisciplinary Voices of Hope and Action" (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009) and the co-edited volume Exploring the Power of Nonviolence: Peace, Politics, and Practice (Syracuse University Press, 2013

Trump's budget proposal would be paid for on the backs of children, poor people,
the elderly and the disabled, with a couple hundred billion left over for the Pentagon.

Trump's $4.4 Trillion Butcher's Bill
By Wiliam Rivers Pitt

"The test of a first-rate intelligence," said F. Scott Fitzgerald, "is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function." I like to think I'm a decently smart guy, but I may just be fooling myself if ol' Fitz has it right, because I am absolutely up against the ragged edge of that premise.

I believe, in the main, that people are inherently good and will do the right thing when called upon, and I have ample examples to buttress that belief. I also believe this country is a thresher of souls, an abattoir of feral greed where no low is too low if cash or status is on the line, and I have ample examples of this, as well. Both ideas are true, and are true at the same time, clanging together in my head like kitchen pots in an earthquake. Reconciling them -- hell, even coexisting with them -- has begun to hedge the impossible.

We live in an age of elaborate cruelty. It is a new experience for some and a terrible old story for others: Fate has teeth these days. You don't just get sick; your tap water gives you cancer from the coal slurry in the river and then the utility company jacks up your rates. You don't just get screwed; you wither like a drought vine because the insurance company won't cover the treatment you need to survive. You don't just die; you get shot in your own algebra class, and before the echo fades, the president of the United States scolds the country about how it all could have been avoided without ever once mentioning guns.

Why? Money. Filthy lucre. The loot.

The tap water made you sick because the local chemical companies that won't let you unionize poisoned the river to maximize profits, because their well-funded friends in Washington obliterated environmental protections to help them wring a few more coppers out of the tired, stinking ground.

The insurance company screwed you because health care in the US is a multibillion-dollar for-profit industry, and healing you dings its bottom line a microfraction of a percent. Some insurance companies don't even bother to look at your medical records before showing you the door.

You got shot in school -- the 29th mass shooting in 45 days of 2018 and the 239th school shooting since the massacre at Sandy Hook -- because the National Rifle Association has its financial fangs buried deep in the necks of virtually every Republican and far too many Democrats in Congress. When Donald Trump failed to mention guns after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, this week, it wasn't an oversight. He was following orders.


The grinding cruelty that is our daily meat and mead was crystallized in a document put forth on Monday by the White House. Trump and his people called it a budget plan, but in reality, it was a $4.4 trillion butcher's bill, a wish list of all the malice and greed at the necrotic heart of the modern Republican experience.

Under normal circumstances, no one takes these documents seriously in any real legislative sense; like the presidential platform, they are declarations of intent filled mostly with DOA intentions. However, these are not normal circumstances, and Trump's budget proposal is a fearsome glimpse into the minds of some genuinely dangerous people. It is a call for acts of brutality against fellow citizens that are breathtaking. A few of them, if inflicted upon a foreign country, might be considered war crimes.

Here, it's just business.

If Trump and his friends ever got their way and this nightmare document became law, Social Security Block Grants would be eliminated. More than $300 billion would be cut from Medicaid. A combined $423 billion would be cut from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Disability programs would be cut by $72 billion. In total, the document details $1.7 trillion in cuts to social services and the safety net.

Funny, that. The gigantic tax cut they just passed cost $1.5 trillion, with most of it going to rich people and massive corporations. Trump's FY2019 budget pays for that in total on the backs of children, poor people, the elderly and the disabled, with a couple hundred billion left over for the Pentagon, which didn't ask for it and doesn't need it.

More than 40 million people depend on SNAP benefits, most of them children. More than 4 million more depend on TANF, most of them children. Trump's solution? A Blue Apron-style "American Harvest Box" containing little to no nutritional value and no choice involved. You don't get to pick what you eat, they tell you what you're eating. According to CNN:

To start, nothing in the box is actually recently harvested -- the proposal includes zero fresh fruits and vegetables and no fresh meat, fish, or poultry. Instead, the "homegrown" food the poor would get in their box would include processed cereals and canned sodium-saturated goods.

And unlike Blue Apron, where consumers get to choose their meals, the Trump plan would simply send poor people a sad box of bland, repetitive basics. Currently, SNAP benefits are loaded onto a card, and recipients can decide for themselves what to purchase. Now, the government would do much of the deciding.

Let's recall here that Michelle Obama couldn't even promote healthier school lunches without right-wing outcry about the nanny state; when Trump literally wants the government to select, box up and deliver food of questionable nutrition for the poor, we hear agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue praising the plan as "a bold, innovative approach."

Elaborate, truly theatrical cruelty: Something this vicious should come with its own string section. Except it's not real, right? They can't possibly pass something like this, can they? Maybe not, but they are sure as hell going to try for some of it at least. They run the entire federal government, and they're beginning to figure that out ... and in the end, it's all about the loot.

People are good, and all this is happening. Two opposing thoughts in all our heads at the same time.

We seem to have lost our ability to function amid all this winning. Thoughts and prayers don't appear to be getting the job done. How bad does it have to get? I don't see the bottom yet, but I see an awful lot of bodies piled up along the way down.
(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...

Heil Trump,

Dear Zustand Uber Gruppenfuhrer Corbin,

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 calling women a lesser cut of meat, 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 Corbin, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

The Meaning Of America
By Robert Reich

When Trump and his followers refer to "America," what do they mean?

Some see a country of white English-speaking Christians.

Others want a land inhabited by self-seeking individuals free to accumulate as much money and power as possible, who pay taxes only to protect their assets from criminals and foreign aggressors.

Others think mainly about flags, national anthems, pledges of allegiance, military parades, and secure borders.

Trump encourages a combination of all three - tribalism, libertarianism, and loyalty.

But the core of our national identity has not been any of this. It has been found in the ideals we share - political equality, equal opportunity, freedom of speech and of the press, a dedication to open inquiry and truth, and to democracy and the rule of law.

We are not a race. We are not a creed. We are a conviction - that all people are created equal, that people should be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin, and that government should be of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Political scientist Carl Friedrich, comparing Americans to Gallic people, noted that "to be an American is an ideal, while to be a Frenchman is a fact."

That idealism led Lincoln to proclaim that America might yet be the "last best hope" for humankind. It prompted Emma Lazarus, some two decades later, to welcome to American the world's "tired, your poor/ Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free."

It inspired the poems of Walt Whitman and Langston Hughes, and the songs of Woody Guthrie. All turned their love for America into demands that we live up to our ideals. "This land is your land, this land is my land," sang Guthrie. "Let America be America again," pleaded Hughes: "The land that never has been yet - /And yet must be - the land where every man is free. / The land that's mind - the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME -."

That idealism sought to preserve and protect our democracy - not inundate it with big money, or allow one party or candidate to suppress votes from rivals, or permit a foreign power to intrude on our elections.

It spawned a patriotism that once required all of us take on a fair share of the burdens of keeping America going - paying taxes in full rather than seeking loopholes or squirreling money away in foreign tax shelters, serving in the armed forces or volunteering in our communities rather than relying on others to do the work.

These ideals compelled us to join together for the common good - not pander to bigotry or divisiveness, or fuel racist or religious or ethnic divisions.

The idea of a common good was once widely understood and accepted in America. After all, the U.S. Constitution was designed for "We the people" seeking to "promote the general welfare" - not for "me the narcissist seeking as much wealth and power as possible."

Yet the common good seems to have disappeared. The phrase is rarely uttered today, not even by commencement speakers and politicians.

There's growing evidence of its loss - in CEOs who gouge their customers and loot their corporations; Wall Street bankers who defraud their investors; athletes involved in doping scandals; doctors who do unnecessary procedures to collect fatter fees; and film producers and publicists who choose not to see that a powerful movie mogul they depend on is sexually harassing and abusing women.

We see its loss in politicians who take donations from wealthy donors and corporations and then enact laws their patrons want, or shutter the government when they don't get the partisan results they seek.

And in a president of the United States who has repeatedly lied about important issues, refuses to put his financial holdings into a blind trust and personally profits from his office, and foments racial and ethnic conflict.

This unbridled selfishness, this contempt for the public, this win-at-any-cost mentality, is eroding America.

Without binding notions about right and wrong, only the most unscrupulous get ahead. When it's all about winning, only the most unprincipled succeed. This is not a society. It's not even a civilization, because there's no civility at its core.

If we're losing our national identity it's not because we now come in more colors, practice more religions, and speak more languages than we once did.

It is because we are forgetting the real meaning of America - the ideals on which our nation was built. We are losing our sense of the common good.
(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 web site is

Political theorist and activist Clara Zetkin (1857-1933).

How We Fight Fascism
By Chris Hedges

In 1923 the radical socialist and feminist Clara Zetkin gave a report at the Communist International about the emergence of a political movement called fascism. Fascism, then in its infancy, was written off by many liberals, socialists and communists as little more than mob rule, terror and street violence. But Zetkin, a German revolutionary, understood its virulence, its seduction and its danger. She warned that the longer the stagnation and rot of a dysfunctional democracy went unaddressed, the more attractive fascism would become. And as 21st-century America's own capitalist democracy disintegrates, replaced by a naked kleptocracy that disdains the rule of law, the struggle of past anti-fascists mirrors our own. History has amply illustrated where political paralysis, economic decline, hypermilitarism and widespread corruption lead.

Zetkin's analysis, eerily prophetic and reprinted in the book "Fighting Fascism: How to Struggle and How to Win," edited by John Riddell and Mike Taber, highlights the principal features of emerging fascist movements. Fascism, Zetkin warned, arises when capitalism enters a period of crisis and breakdown of the democratic institutions that once offered the possibility of reform and protection from an uninhibited assault by the capitalist class. The unchecked capitalist assault pushes the middle class, the bulwark of a capitalist democracy, into the working class and often poverty. It strips workers of all protection and depresses wages. The longer the economic and social stagnation persists, the more attractive fascism becomes. Zetkin would have warned us that Donald Trump is not the danger; the danger is the growing social and economic inequality that concentrates wealth in the hands of an oligarchic elite and degrades the lives of citizens.

The collapse of a capitalist democracy, she wrote, leaves those in the working class disempowered. Their pleas go unheard. Reforms to address their suffering are cosmetic and useless. Their anger is written off as irrational or racist. A bankrupt liberal class, which formerly made incremental and piecemeal reform possible, ameliorating the worst excesses of capitalism, mouths empty slogans about social justice and the rights of workers while selling them out to capitalist elites. The hypocrisy of the liberal class evokes not only a disdain for it but a hatred for the liberal, democratic values it supposedly espouses. The "virtues" of democracy become distasteful. The crude taunts, threats and insults hurled by fascists at the liberal establishment express a legitimate anger among a betrayed working class. Trump's coarseness, for this reason, resonates with many pushed to the margins of society. Demoralized workers, who also find no defense of their interests by establishment intellectuals, the press and academics, lose faith in the political process. Realizing the liberal elites have lied to them, they are open to bizarre and fantastic conspiracy theories. Fascists direct this rage and yearning for revenge against an array of phantom enemies, most of them scapegoated minorities.

"What weighs on them above all is the lack of security for their basic existence," Zetkin wrote of the dispossessed working class.

"Masses in their thousands streamed to fascism," she went on. "It became an asylum for all the politically homeless, the socially uprooted, the destitute and disillusioned. ... The petty-bourgeois and intermediate social forces at first vacillate indecisively between the powerful historical camps of the proletariat and bourgeoisie. They are induced to sympathize with the proletariat by their life's suffering and, in part, by their soul's noble longings and high ideals, so long as it is revolutionary in its conduct and seems to have prospects for victory. Under the pressure of the masses and their needs, and influenced by this situation, even the fascist leaders are forced to at least flirt with the revolutionary proletariat, even though they may not have any sympathy with it."

The discredited ideals of democracy are replaced by a hypernationalism that divides the population not by class but between the patriotic and the unpatriotic. National and religious symbols such as the Christian cross and the American flag are fused under fascism. Fascism offers the dispossessed a tangible enemy and a right to physically strike back. Those demonized for a nation's decline-Jews and communists in Nazi Germany, the kulaks in the Soviet Union and the undocumented, African-Americans and Muslims in the United States-become social pariahs. The stigmatized, along with intellectuals, liberals, gays, feminists and dissidents, are attacked as the embodiment of the disease that has destroyed the nation and will be exorcised by the fascists. This fascist rhetoric is always couched in the language of renewal and moral purity.

"[W]hat [the masses] no longer hoped for from the revolutionary proletarian class and from socialism, they now hoped would be achieved by the most able, strong, determined, and bold elements of every social class," Zetkin, a close friend of the murdered revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg, wrote. "All these forces must come together in a community. And this community, for the fascists, is the nation. ... The instrument to achieve fascist ideals is, for them, the state. A strong and authoritarian state that will be their very own creation and their obedient tool. This state will tower high above all differences of party and class."

Zetkin, a cofounder of the radical Spartacus League, cautioned against demonizing the rank and file of fascist movements. She reminded us that only when the real and profound grievances of those attracted to fascism are addressed can they be pried from its grip.

"The best of them are seeking an escape from deep anguish of the soul," she wrote of those who joined fascist organizations. "They are longing for new and unshakable ideals and a world outlook that enables them to understand nature, society, and their own life; a world outlook that is not a sterile formula but operates creatively and constructively. Let us not forget that violent fascist gangs are not composed entirely of ruffians of war, mercenaries by choice, and venal lumpens who take pleasure in acts of terror. We also find among them the most energetic forces of these social layers, those most capable of development. We must go to them with conviction and understanding for their condition and their fiery longing, work among them, and show them a solution that does not lead backward but rather forward to communism."

The highest aesthetic of fascism is war. Its veneration of militarized force and violence, its inability to deal in the world of ideas, nuance and complexity, and its emotional numbness leave it unable to communicate in any language other than threats and coercion. Institutions that pay deference to complexity, that seek to cross cultural barriers to communicate and understand others, are belittled and destroyed by fascists. Diplomacy, scholarship, culture and journalism are an anathema. One obeys, both internally and beyond the nation's borders, or is crushed. This moral and intellectual vacuum leads fascists to overreach, especially through military adventurism and imperial expansion. They begin long and futile wars that drain the depleted resources of the nation while eradicating civil liberties at home. And in the end, they practice a brutality inside and outside the nation that is genocidal.

Fascism, Zetkin wrote, pits one segment of the working class against another. Last year at the Charlottesville, Va., demonstration that turned deadly, the "antifa" activists and neo-Nazis who clashed came largely from the same dispossessed economic stratum. The divisions created within the working class by fascism, coupled with fascism's attack on unions, intellectuals, dissidents and the press, foster an uneasy alliance with the capitalist elites, who often view the fascists as imbeciles and buffoons. In essence, much as Trump has done, the capitalists are bought off by fascists with tax cuts, deregulation, the breaking of unions and the dismantling of institutions that carry out oversight and the protection of workers. The expansion of the military, which provides capitalists with increased profit, coupled with the expanded powers of the organs of internal security, binds the capitalist elites to the fascists. Their marriage is one of mutual convenience. This is why the capitalist elites tolerate Trump and endure the international embarrassment he has become.

"There is a blatant contradiction between what fascism promised and what it delivered to the masses," Zetkin wrote. "All the talk about how the fascist state will place the interests of the nation above everything, once exposed to the wind of reality, burst like a soap bubble. The 'nation' revealed itself to be the bourgeoisie; the ideal fascist state revealed itself to be the vulgar, unscrupulous bourgeois class state. ... Class contradictions are mightier than all the ideologies that deny their existence."

"The bourgeoisie needs to use aggressive force to defend itself against the working class," she wrote. "The old and seemingly 'apolitical' repressive apparatus of the bourgeois state no longer provides it with sufficient security. The bourgeoisie moves to create special bands of class struggle against the proletariat. Fascism provides such troops. Although fascism includes revolutionary currents related to its origin and the forces supporting it-currents that could turn against capitalism and its state-it nonetheless develops into a dangerous force for counterrevolution."

"Fascism clearly will display different features in each country, owing from the given historical circumstances," she wrote. "But it consists everywhere of an amalgam of brutal, terrorist violence together with deceptive revolutionary phraseology, linking up demagogically with the needs and moods of broad masses of producers."

In 1932 Zetkin, at 74 the oldest elected member of the Nazi-controlled Reichstag, was by tradition supposed to open the first session of the legislature. She was an object of vitriol in the Nazi press, which attacked her as a "Communist Jew," a "traitor" and, as Joseph Goebbels called her, a "slut." The Nazis threatened her with assault if she appeared in the chamber, threats that led her to quip she would be there "dead or alive." In poor health, she arrived at the Reichstag on a stretcher but at the podium recovered her familiar fire. Her 40-minute speech was one of the last public denunciations of fascism in Nazi Germany. Within a year, the Nazis banned the Communist Party and Zetkin had died in exile in the Soviet Union.

She told the Reichstag:

Our most urgent task today is to form a united front of all working people in order to turn back fascism. All the differences that divide and shackle us-whether founded on political, trade-union, religious, or ideological outlooks-must give way before this imperious historical necessity.

All those who are menaced, all those who suffer, all those who desire freedom must join the united front against fascism and its representatives in government. Working people must assert themselves against fascism. That is the urgent and indispensable precondition for a united front against economic crisis, imperialist war and its causes, and the capitalist mode of production.

The revolt of millions of laboring men and women in Germany against hunger, deprivation, fascist murder, and imperialist war expresses the imperishable destiny of producers the world over. This destiny, shared among us around the world, must find expression through forging an iron-like community of struggle of all working people in every sphere ruled by capitalism.

(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
~~~ Ken Catalino ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

The Cherry Pickers
By Will Durst

The Republicans are not the only cherry pickers that can re-arrange a narrative! We all know what "cherry pickers" do. They sift through available evidence to pluck out the bits and pieces that support one particular narrative, while ignoring everything that reinforces the contrary. Also known as selective amnesia. Or advertising.

It is used in movie reviews all the time. "An execrable breakthrough in atrocious direction and a new cinematic low in non-achievement," becomes "A Breakthrough Cinematic Achievement!"

It happens in real life as well. Like when dad keeps talking about how he was first to change the baby's diapers. Even though mom was hospitalized at the time and he didn't touch another in the 2 years since. The letter, but not the spirit.

You can claim pretty much anything, because chances are, nobody's going to look up the original and that holds especially true when the original is classified. "Look what I got right here. No, you can't see it. But trust me, it's as awful as skunk-flavored popsicles."

And that is exactly what the White House has done by releasing the controversial Republican Intelligence Committee Nunes Memo, but withholding the Democratic response, which fills in some of the controversial gaps. This sneaky behavior has become so prevalent amongst our major political parties that it's acquired a special name: practitioners call it...politics. To prove that two can play that game, let's counter with some opposition cherry-picking. Here's what happens when the words from Donald Trump's highly regarded State of the Union Address are isolated and rearranged:

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, the First Lady of the United States, my fellow North Koreans, criminals and terrorists and pregnant homeless women: Less than one year has passed since I first stood at this podium, in this evil chamber of pain and sorrow, and since then our nation has been witness to the most dangerous menace that threatens our world: my administration.

I will be asking Congress to assist American car companies to continue building and expanding plants in Cuba and Venezuela and also to increase the height of my package. Only in times of tragedy will this nation turn to rogue regimes like the United States Senate. I will not repeat the mistakes of past administrations that got us into this dangerous position. I will make other shameful and depraved mistakes.

No regime has oppressed its own citizens more totally or brutally than the cruel dictatorship that is Texas. One of my greatest priorities is to ensure floods and fires and storms, devastating hurricanes and a hail of gunfire. And wage stagnation until they experience the pains and scourge of hardship.

So tonight I extend an open hand to work with members of especially cruel gangs of illegal immigrants so that America's forgotten middle class can be eliminated through opioid and drug addiction.

The final pillar is that our wonderful families will be sentenced to years of hard labor by the savage gangs of our Afghan partners along with China, Mexico and New Mexico. I have foolishly caused the loss of many innocent lives, am a reckless disgrace and must get treatment. Complacency is the surest path to evil. Thank you, and God bless Russia.

Hey, those are his words. Sure, some stuff got left out and the order was changed around a bit. Just like the Republican memo.
(c) 2018 Will Durst is an award-winning, nationally acclaimed columnist, comedian and former Pizza Hut assistant manager. For a calendar of personal appearances, including his new one-man show, "Durst Case Scenario," please visit:

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