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In This Edition

Phil Rockstroh recommends, "Reclaiming The Commons."

Uri Avnery sings a different song with, "A Jewish Soul."

Matt Taibbi with an expose, "J.P. Morgan Chase's Ugly Family Secrets Revealed."

David Sirota sees, "A Welcome Return To Basic Standards Share."

Jim Hightower says, "Bizarrely, Obama Turns On Truthtellers."

Amy Goodman reviews, "Terror, Trauma, And The Endless Afghan War."

James Donahue asks, "Are The Zionists In Control?"

Greg Smith reveals, "Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs."

David Swanson discovers, "Evidence Of War Lies Public Pre-War This Time."

Christopher Cooper returns with a must read, "I Don't Want To See Their Faces; I Don't Want To Hear Them Scream."

Paul Krugman explains, "What Greece Means."

Anthony Gucciardi warns, "Monsanto's Roundup Threatens Stability Of Global Food Supply."

Robert Reich examines, "The Widening Wealth Divide, And Why We Need A Surtax On The Super Wealthy."

Arizona state Representative Debbie Lesko wins the coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

John Nichols reports, "Tens Of Thousands Rally In Wisconsin For Labor Rights And Democracy."

Abby Zimet returns with, "A Mighty Big Coincidence."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion finds, "Voters Slowly Realizing Santorum Believes Every Deranged Word That Comes Out Of His Mouth" but first Uncle Ernie explores, "The Rise And Fall Of Newt Gingrich."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Martin Kozlowski, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Derf City, Propaganda Remix.Com, Democratic Underground.Com, Gary Porter, Victor Kerlow, Spencer Platt, Getty Images, Common Dreams, The Telegraph, The New York Times, You Tube.Com and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

The Quotable Quote...
The Dead Letter Office...
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."

Newt give the corpo-rat salute

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The Rise And Fall Of Newt Gingrich
By Ernest Stewart

"The idea that a congressman would be tainted by accepting money from private industry or private sources is essentially a socialist argument." ~~~ Newt Gingrich

"It's all about freedom, this bill (HB2625) is necessary because we live in America; we don't live in the Soviet Union."
~~~ Arizona state Representative Debbie Lesko ~~~

"He had a gun, and Trayvon had Skittles." ~~~ Attorney Benjamin Crump

And now my life has changed in oh so many ways,
My independence seems to vanish in the haze.
But every now and then I feel so insecure,
I know that I just need you like, I've never done before.
Help ~~~ The Beatles

Well, that should be all for the Newster. Gingrich let a Damn Yankee from Pennsylvania win both Southern states Alabama, Mississippi and Midwestern state Kansas while Willard won Wyoming and Hawaii. Any chance Newt had was gone after he lost those Deep South states -- where, if anywhere, Newt should have been shining.

What surprises me is that the disgraced former Con-gressman won both South Carolina and Georgia! Well, not so surprising, as after living in South Carolina, where most white folks way down yonder saw him as the only son of the South, and Rick just another damn Yankee Papist and Willard as a liberal looney tune Moron!

I'm guessing Alabama, Mississippi and Kansas overlooked Rick's foibles because they were well aware of who Professor Gingrich really is -- just another political crook; and, of course, Willard with his magic underwear never entered into who they would vote for and Ron who has that somewhat liberal side!

To a sane person, this would spell the end of Newt, even Rick "good hair" Perry with his tiny little brain could see the light; but since this is the Newtster's last hurrah, he'll hang on to the bitter end and split the far right vote with Santorum, giving Willard the win. Perhaps those millions of dollars funneled from Willard's PACs might have something to do with it? Perhaps Newt thinks if he hangs on to the convention in Tampa he can be some sort of power broker when Willard doesn't end up with 1144 delegates he needs to get the endorsement? Which is what Newt sees as his goal -- keeping Willard from getting those 1144 delegates.

So, once again, the Rethuglicans have a choice of either the boy who would be a god, or the boy who would be Pope, which will, no doubt, end up reelecting Barry, which is just as bad for America as Willard or Rick would be! Either way, America, we are soooooooooo screwed!

In Other News

As Meatloaf once sang, "It's always something, there's always something going wrong" and ain't it the truth? When I first started the magazine, I was very meticulous about trying to stay on top of all the crimes that the Crime Family Bush and their minions were up to; but, by December of 2002, I gave up on most details when their various and sundry acts of treason topped 200! There was just too much going down to catch all of it -- at least the first time around, and it helped greatly that most all of the things that used to go on in smoke filled rooms, behind closed doors, in the dead-of-night were now being done out in the open, by the light of day -- and this election season is no different!

For example, the Rethuglican's declared war upon the womb and the people who have one. This very latest comes from the Desert Southwest -- those crazy knuckleheads in the Arizona state government. If you think about all the various acts of mayhem and treason against brown and black-skinned folks and women in general (that have come from under rocks in and around Phoenix as of late), and then multiply that times 50, and then add all the mayhem from foggy bottom, I think you'll see my predicament!

Be that as it may, the latest crime against America comes form the poison pen of Arizona Representative Debbie Lesko and her bill HB2625, which cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee by a six to two vote. Need I mention the six were Rethuglicans and the two were Democrats; I didn't think that I needed to mention that, huh?

This poke at women's vaginas gives employers the power to request that women being prescribed birth control pills provide proof that they're using it for non-sexual reasons. (This from the party that's always for smaller government, for getting the government off our backs, that has suddenly decided that a women's vagina doesn't belong to her, but to them!) And since Arizona's an "at-will" employment state, which means that bosses critical of their female employees' sex lives could fire them as a result. I'll repeat that again for those of you on drugs.

Your boss controls what you can do with your vagina ladies, a la "The Handmaid's Tale!"

Sure, it's not as bad as the Texas state law that says a women must be literally raped by the state to get an abortion; but it is a sign of the times. Oh, and did I mention it was just one of a couple dozen similar laws proposed this week alone! When are you going to put a stop to this, America? I'm sad to say that only you can!

And Finally

Trayvon Martin, was an unarmed African-American teenager, who was shot and killed in a gated community in Sanford, Florida late last month by a white neighborhood "watch captain," i.e., vigilante, George Zimmerman - a 26-year-old college student who has admitted to police that he shot the teenager.

"He had a gun, and Trayvon had Skittles," said Benjamin Crump, a family attorney.

"Martin, 17, a high school junior who lived with his mother in Miami, was visiting his father and stepmother at their home in Sanford, a suburb of Orlando, on the weekend of Feb. 26. During halftime of the NBA All-Star Game, Martin's family said he walked to a nearby convenience store to get some candy for his younger brother." On his way back home, according to reports, he caught the attention of George Zimmerman, a self-appointed captain of "The Retreat at Twin Lakes" neighborhood watch.

Zimmerman, armed with a 9mm handgun, trailed the boy in his car. At some point, Zimmerman called 911, telling the operator there was a "suspicious person in the area," according to a police report. However, the police refuse to release the 911 tapes to the family's attorney.

The police say that George was told not to get out of his car, to observe but do nothing as a police cruiser was on the way. George instead got out of the car and shot Trayvon once in the heart!

Guess what? I wrote police chief Bill Lee the following letter...

Hey Bill,

I was wondering how the murder one case against George Zimmerman is coming? It's been several weeks since George murdered in cold blood an innocent kid, Trayvon Martin, coming back from buying some skittles and ice tea. Since George already confessed to the crime, it's beginning to look like the Old South, where a white man killing a black child for sport is lawful, or did Trayvon commit a crime like, "walking while black?" Or did the vigilante have a license to hunt black children? I'm guessing it must be one of those reasons, or George would be jailed by now. If you would be so kind as to explain to my readership why this murder is allowed to go unpunished, I would appreciate it. Do tell, Bill, why?

Ernest Stewart
Managing editor
Issues & Alibis Magazine

As always if I get a reply from Bill, I'll post it for your perusal! You too might want to ask Bill up. If so, write him at: or call his office at: 407.688.5070 Bill wrote me back, here's his reply...

Mr. Stewart

I appreciate your concern and comments. I also understand how someone would make assumptions and conclusions regarding how this investigation should progress based on the limited information presented in news stories. However, there is much information that at this time is not public record to ensure the integrity of the investigation.

Let me assure you the Sanford Police Department, in consultation with the Office of the State Attorney, is working to complete a thorough and fair investigation as quickly as possible.

Best regards,

Bill R. Lee Jr.
Chief of Police
City of Sanford
Office (407) 688-5075

We will see, what we will see, and I'll let you know that outcome!

Keepin' On

At our current rate of donations we'll be out of business come late June as we'll only have raised about one third of what we'll need to keep publishing. As it stands, we have three major bills to pay that come due in June, July and September, and a couple of minor ones due in April and October. The April bill is almost covered, but the rest aren't.

My personal friends and my book editor would be happy to see this happen as I would be available to them 24/7, instead of a few hours on the weekends, and I might finish a couple of books that my editor would love to get his hands on; and I have to admit would do much to solve my bottom line problems -- not to mention cutting my work schedule in half.

I'm not doing those things, because I also think that what I do for you is much more important in the scheme of things than new Horror and Sci-Fi books. If you, too, feel that Issues & Alibis has merit, and we should continue publishing it, then do send us a little something whenever you can, and we'll keep fighting the 1% to the best of our abilities! Please, a little help, ya'll!


11-29-1939 ~ 03-09-2012
Thanks for everything my friend!

10-17-1946 ~ 03-12-2012
Thanks for the music!


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


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

Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2012 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 11 years managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Face Book. Follow me on Twitter.

Reclaiming The Commons
Taking human lessons in the era of H.R. 347, corporatism and perpetual war
By Phil Rockstroh

With increasing velocity, since the advent of the post-Second World War national security state, then gaining speed with the incessant search and destroy mission waged on the U.S. Constitution known as the War on Drugs, and kicking into a runaway trajectory in the post Sept. 11, 2001 era -- the increase in totalitarian impulses, among both the general population and corporate and governmental elite of the nation, has proceeded at an alarming rate. Yet, baffling as the fact remains to those possessing a modicum of political awareness, large numbers of U.S. citizens persist in believing they dwell in a representative republic, governed by the principles of individual rights and civil liberties.

While Republicans desire to set clocks back to the Bronze Age -- Democrats now run on Republican Standard Time, as collectively, the nation's citizenry continues to roll over and hit the snooze button.

On an individual basis, if a sizable number of the nation's citizenry's concept of freedom of expression translates into little more than the act of casting a vote by iPhone involving a choice between a gaggle of cloying, longing-to-be-commodified crooners on American Idol -- it follows that the egregious assault on civil liberties posed by H.R. 347 (the so-call Anti Occupy Wall Street Bill...that has now made many acts of free speech and freedom of assembly a federal crime) will mean little within such a dim cosmology of diminished perception and even more dismal musical sensibility. Reflecting how dire the assault on civil liberties has become: The aforementioned bill passed The House of Representatives by a 388 to 3 margin (and was signed, shortly thereafter, by President Obama, on Friday March 9, 2012).

Just what portion of the following admonitions contained within The Bill of Rights remains ambiguous to these legislators: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Notice: The opening sentence: "Congress shall make no law..." Notice as well: The right to "peaceably assemble" is guaranteed as prominently as any other right on the list.

The intent of this bill is clear: Despots and their operatives secure and retain power by rendering opposition to their rule unpleasant for dissenters. Systems of reward and punishment are maintained. For example, a right-wing radio demagogue will reap vast fortunes for his service, while truth tellers will be marginalized, or if they start to grow crushed by police state tactics and legislative caprice (e.g., the manner that enforcers of the current order have attempted to systemically repress the Occupy Wall Street Movement).

Make no mistake regarding the times we have been given. This struggle will be long and difficult. Despotic personality types, as a rule, are not struck by life-altering epiphanies regarding the emptiness of a life attendant to autocratically imposing repressive measures upon the powerless to ensure the continuance of their privileged status. Do not expect to hear the lamentation of the greedy as they awaken to how their addiction to wealth has isolated them Midas-style in a mode of mind wherein their souls exist in a state of starvation, because the soul is not nourished by hoarded gold (or funneling formations of electronic pixels representing commodity transactions).

On a personal basis, if you insist on standing opposed to despotism, expect trouble. In that case, one loses all one: The retention of a viable sense of self.

"So little pains do the shallow take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." ~~~ Thucydides, from The History of the Peloponnesian War

When one attempts to stand against surging social and political tides, feelings of powerlessness can flood one with anxiety. Accordingly, a single individual can become inundated with feelings of unease and uncertainty. As a result, the social pressure to drown angst-creating individual doubt within the mindless certainties of a mob can become overwhelming. Often, brick by brick, in an attempt to withstand these powerful inner feelings and outward pressures, we build a structure of false consciousness...that we, often, mistake for our convictions, and tragically mistake this dismal dwelling for the whole of existence.

How then is it possible to withstand feelings of powerlessness?

Put one foot in front of the other. Write one word after the next on your protest sign. Make your life a flaming arrow aimed at the dry and rotted heart of the system or make your own heart a warm hearth of compassion for its victims, as you negotiate its cold realities. 

Thus, hope becomes a process of engagement, not a comforting lie; not the stuff of public relations hustlers and political hacks but a quality of honest conviction and persistent labor; and not a cynical marketing tool.

Relentlessly, from early childhood on, our hopes and longings are subject to commodification by the dream-usurpers of the corporate state. The process of mental colonization by the commercial hologram is as pervasive within us as was the dogmatic influence of The Church within the psyches of Dark Age peasants.

The present order's litany of economic inequity affords few the option of committing the heresy of questioning (or even apprehending) the exploitative and destructive nature of the system. As an example, citizenship as defined by consumerism has created a landscape devoid of public space. (The attempt to redefine what constitutes public space is one of the many threatening aspects of the Occupy Wall Street movement to the current power structure.)

Therefore, the inherent human need for a sense of place and belonging can be easily warped into a belligerent nationalism that deadens the heart as it warps an individual's libidinous drive for communal engagement into displaced rage, conveniently appropriated by political demagogues into a lust for perpetual war.

Under such conditions, one's life is not one's own. A disassociation occurs, an attempt to distance oneself from the demeaning demands of exploitative social arrangements. Under these circumstances, a kind of cultural amnesia can occur. Perhaps, this relates to the U.S. populace's difficulty involving collective memory, expressed in the well-known witticism that U.S. citizens inhabit: "The United States of Amnesia."

When one's authentic identity is not engaged in creating the criteria of one's life, even one's memories seem the dismal, evanescent dream of a stranger; it is difficult to store and recall unfolding events when one is in a trance of false consciousness.

Hence, one must insist upon regaining possession of one's regain memory and engage imagination.

Distinct from self-indulgent navel-gazing, this is a call to action. At this critical point, the situation involves more than a search for meaning and resonance (although those things arrive as byproducts of the effort) -- for we have been presented with a worldwide crisis involving not only the nature of our lives as individuals -- but also a radically worsening crisis involving the health of our environmentally besieged planet.

"Psychological awareness rises from errors, coincidences, indefiniteness, from the chaos deeper than intelligent control." ~~~ James Hillman

Therefore, pardon this writer's brief digression into personal memory.

I buried a turtle in the sky.

While exploring a creek near my home in Georgia, one spring afternoon, when I was ten, I happened upon a group of boys defiling the corpse of a massive--easily five feet in circumference--snapping turtle, by detonating firecrackers, cherry bombs, and M-80s that they had placed in the creature's putrescent flesh.

Overwhelmed with mortification, I turned and staggered from the scene, before the boys, entranced in vicious revelry, noticed my presence. I retreated to the cover of a swath of scrub brush and pine saplings and vomited.

At that time, I lacked the lexicon, both verbal and emotive, to come to grips with what I had witnessed.

Years later, I had this enigmatic dream. I'm ascending in an elevator into a high tower, a modernist structure that serves as "a college dorm room in the sky."

I proceed to the top floor. Upon entering the room, after passing two pretty, brunette, female twins in their mid-twenties, who dismiss me as "a poor prospect in a material regard", I came upon an individual, who, in the waking world, in the years to come, I would mentor and I would come to write the bulk of a spoken word act he still tours with to this day.

Outside the window of this dorm in the sky, earthbound transportation vehicles, such as passenger, freight, and subway trains, made a path through the heavens.

Then, descending from above, with increasing velocity, an object appeared that was on a collision course with our perch. Before we had time to react, it crashed through the ceiling of the room...revealing itself to be the corpse of a massive tortoise, its shell affixed with wings constructed of papier-mache.

Apparently, during childhood, to paraphrase the poet, the world was too much with me. Its casual cruelty and inherent brutality caused me to retreat skyward...I was a poor prospect in the "material" realm, with its attendant rotting flesh and vicious laughter. I chose to ensconce myself in a psychic university above the stupid and find a means to bury the corpse of that poor turtle in heaven.

The temptation is still stay above it all. But, unlike a child, I now have the lexicon to remain on hold my ground when I am mortified and give voice to my sorrows and outrage.

Therefore, to be true to myself, I must give wings to the living and dead. I must address matters that are hard to stomach.

It is a hard slog...I proceed along, at times, at a turtle's pace...but there are moments when a terrapin brings me images from the brackish depths, and, on occasion, I can make mundane thoughts fly.

But this is not only about me. On an environmental level, as a global-wide business model and a personal mode of being in the world, we, in our demented revelry, are treating the earth as if it is a dead thing, a corpse we happened upon, and, like those cruel, ignorant boys of my childhood memory, we are blasting our world to bits (e.g., bombing, mining, fracking, defoliating...and the hideous list goes on and on) without reflection or regret.

Given, the rapidly declining ecological balance of our planet, a balance of diverse, interrelated systems that are essential for the continuance of conditions favorable for our species to thrive, an individual can no longer afford to bury one's outrage in heaven or vault it in the depths of oneself. It is selfish to believe that one's angst and alienation are exclusively one's own.

One of the powerful attractions of the OWS movement has been its emphasis on reclaiming the public commons from the corporate state, and the dire need for cultural communion beyond the commercial sphere. Thus, for an atomized, alienated populace, the movement has provided a refresher course in the act of simply being human, on existing together in communal space.

OWS is not about "winning" political advantage...that approach plays into the fallacy of the winner/loser dichotomy of the capitalist superstate. Conversely, by acting in the world in a manner that is unique to one's character, one awakens memory and reanimates imagination, thereby allowing an individual to occupy his own life and times, and serving to help ameliorate the noxious effects of the internalized false consciousness of corporate state authoritarianism.

Unless we start to see the world and our role in it with new eyes, we will be unable to alter the structure of the present system. Withal, it is imperative to be in full possession of one's humanity when facing the desperate, dehumanizing forces of an order that has grown ever more brutal in direct proportion to its rapidly declining purpose and legitimacy.
(c) 2012 Phil Rockstroh, is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. Visit Phil's website, and at FaceBook.

A Jewish Soul
By Uri Avnery

ON THE face of it, it was a trivial incident. In the presence of the entire political and legal establishment, the liberal President of the Supreme Court, Dorit Beinisch, who has reached the age limit of 70, was replaced by the conservative Justice Asher Dan Grunis.

At the end of the ceremony, the national anthem was sung. The camera panned from face to face. For a moment, it framed the face of Justice Salim Jubran. He was standing respectfully, like everybody else, but his lips were not moving.

A country-wide uproar broke out. Justice Jubran is the first Arab citizen ever to serve as a regular judge on the Supreme Court.

The right-wing parties were livid with rage. How dare he! An insult to the symbols of the state! He must be dismissed at once! Better still, deport him to a country whose anthem he would deign to sing!

Others treated the judge with respect. He did not violate his conscience! If he had sung the anthem, it would have been sheer hypocrisy, if not mendacity! So he did the right thing!

THE NAME of the anthem, Hatikvah, means "hope" in Hebrew.

It was written in 1878, almost a decade before the founding of the Zionist movement, by a so-so poet, as the anthem of one of the new Jewish "colonies" in Palestine. It was later adopted as the official anthem of the Zionist movement, then by the new Jewish community in Palestine and finally by the State of Israel. The melody was adapted from a Romanian folk song, which in turn was probably adapted from an older Italian song.

The words reflect the spirit of the time:

As long as in the heart within / A Jewish soul still yearns / And onwards towards the end of the East / An eye still gazes towards Zion.

Our hope is not yet lost / The hope of two thousand years / To be a free people in our land / The land of Zion and Jerusalem.

For a Jewish Israeli, the words are hopelessly outdated. For us, Israel is not in the "East", our hope to be a free people in "our" land has already been fulfilled.

But for an Arab Israeli, these words are an affront. His is not a "Jewish soul", his eyes never gazed towards "the end of the East", his homeland is not "Zion" (a hill in Jerusalem). The only words that could appeal to him are the "hope to be a free people" in his land.

How can an Arab citizen, no matter how loyal he be to the state, sing these words without being ashamed of himself? Justice Jubran may be a perfect human being, but a "Jewish soul" he has not.

FOR ME personally, this incident awakened a very old memory. This caused me to sympathize deeply with the courageous judge.

I was 9 years old when the Nazis came to power in Germany. I was a pupil in the first grade of high school, the only Jew in the entire school. One of the marks of the new regime was the frequency with which national events - such as victories of German arms throughout the centuries - were commemorated by ceremonies in which all the pupils were assembled to listen to patriotic speeches.

At the end of one of these events - I think it was to commemorate the conquest of Belgrade by Prince Eugene in 1717 - the entire student body stood up and began singing the two official anthems, that of Germany and that of the Nazi party. All the pupils raised their right arm in the Nazi salute.

I had to make a decision in a split second. I was probably the smallest boy in the hall, since I had started school a year younger than my classmates. I stood at attention, but did not raise my arm and did not sing the Nazi hymn. I think I was trembling with excitement.

When it was over, some boys threatened that if I did not raise my arm next time, they would break my bones. Fortunately, we left Germany a few days later.

I don't know if the judge was trembling during the singing, but I know exactly how he felt.

MORE THAN a week later, the incident is still making waves in the media, even alongside the endless babbling about the Existential Danger of Iran, because of its profound significance.

If the most senior Arab judge cannot sing the national anthem, what about the attitude of the rest of the 1.5 million Arab citizens of Israel towards the "state symbols", indeed, towards the "Jewish state" itself? Does it mean that they constitute a Trojan horse?

This is an old question, as old as the state itself. The contradiction has been papered over by the official formula of the "Jewish and democratic" state. (Arabs lampoon it as "A democratic state for the Jews and a Jewish state for the Arabs".) The Judge Jubran incident highlights the problem as never before. Here is a loyal citizen, who administers the law at the very highest level, and who cannot sing the national anthem. What to do?

The simplest answer is to change the anthem. For the first time, this is now being openly discussed by some commentators.

Disclosure: I never liked "Hatikvah". The stolen melody is not bad, but it is not suitable for an anthem. An anthem should be uplifting, inspiring, while this one is as sad as Verdi's song of the Hebrew slaves in Nabucco. As for the lyrics, they are, well, totally unfitting.

Many nations have silly anthems. What about the bloody hands of the German monsters in the French anthem? What about the glorious and victorious queen in the British one? (The last recorded glorious victory of Her Majesty was against 15,000 Argentinians in the Falklands.) Or the totally inane Dutch anthem. Not to mention the present German anthem, in which the third verse has officially replaced the banned first one, the one which my schoolmates sang at that ceremony in 1933.

But the fact that "Hatikvah" is somewhat silly was not my main reason for wanting to change it. It's the fact that one-fifth of Israel's citizens, the Arabs, cannot sing it (another tenth or so, the Orthodox Jews, reject it anyway.)

It is a very unhealthy situation for a state when 20% of its citizens loathe its national symbols. For these very same reasons Canada changed its anthem not so long ago, exchanging the British anthem for one that French Canadians can sing with a clear conscience, without denying their own identity. "O Canada" enhances the unity of all citizens.

Changing anthems is not altogether unique. During World War II, when Stalin needed the West, he abruptly discarded the "Internationale" for a new anthem chosen by competition. The words of this anthem (but not the melody) were changed by the Russian Federation when the Soviet Union was dissolved.

So I grabbed the first opportunity to propose a new anthem. It was soon after the 1967 war. Naomi Shemer, a popular songwriter and composer, had written a song just before the war about "Jerusalem of Gold" which became the hymn of the war. I did not like all its lines, but here was a golden opportunity to get rid of Hatikvah. So I submitted a bill to adopt it as the new national anthem.

The Knesset speaker was sympathetic, but told me that he could not accept the bill without the agreement of the author. I arranged to meet Naomi. She was a nice person, though she was a rightist by marriage. (She grew up in a left-wing Kibbutz, but became right-wing when she married.)

To my surprise, her reaction was far from enthusiastic. There was something cagey about it, I thought. But she agreed to allow me to submit the bill, which was duly voted down. At the time, Hatikvah was sacred. (Later I came to understand Naomi's strange attitude at that meeting: shortly before her death, she confessed that the beautiful melody of that song was not hers at all, but really a Basque song. For many years she had been mortally afraid of this disclosure. But since the melody of Hatikvah is also stolen, it wouldn't have made much difference.

Hatikvah can remain as the anthem of the Jewish people everywhere if they so wish. A new song will be the anthem of the State of Israel and all its citizens.

THE REAL story behind the incident is, of course, the unresolved problem of Israel's Arab minority. They are discriminated against in practically all spheres of life, a fact readily admitted by Israeli officials. There are no suggestions for how to remedy it.

The Arabs quite rightly feel rejected and respond with alienation from the state. Their leaders, vying for votes, become more and more extreme, while the Israeli right-wing parties become more and more anti-Arab. In a paradoxical way, Israeli Arabs are becoming more and more Israeli at the same time as they become more and more anti-Israeli.

This is a ticking time bomb, and some day it will explode, unless a real effort is made to allow an honest Arab citizen to feel like a real citizen of the Israeli state, and, yes, to sing a new national anthem.

As long as the Arabs are treated as a Trojan horse, why should they sing? Horses, as far as I know, do not excel in singing.
(c) 2012 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

People exit a Chase branch at the company's Manhattan headquarters.

J.P. Morgan Chase's Ugly Family Secrets Revealed
By Matt Taibbi

In a story that should be getting lots of attention, American Banker has released an excellent and disturbing expose of J.P. Morgan Chase's credit card services division, relying on multiple current and former Chase employees. One of them, Linda Almonte, is a whistleblower whom I've known since last September; I'm working on a recount of her story for my next book.

One of the things we were promised by the lawmakers who passed the Dodd-Frank reform bill a few years back is that this would be a new era for whistleblowers who come forward to tell the world about problems in our financial infrastructure. This story now looms as a test case for that proposition. American Banker reporter Jeff Horwitz did an outstanding job in this story detailing the sweeping irregularities in-house at Chase, but his very thoroughness means the news may have ramifications for Linda, which is why I'm urging people to pay attention to this story in the upcoming weeks.

The Cliff's Notes version of the story goes something like this: Late in 2009, Chase's credit card services division sold a parcel of nearly $200 million worth of credit card judgments to a debt collector at a discount. This common practice in the credit-card industry is a little like a bookie selling the outstanding debts of his delinquent gamblers to a leg-breaker for 25 cents on the dollar. If the leg-breaker gets half the delinquents to pay, the deal works out for both sides -- the bookie gets 25 percent of money he wasn't going to collect, and the leg-breaker makes a 100 percent profit.

In the case of credit cards, of course, you're selling the debts to collection agents, not leg-breakers, but aside from that unpleasantly minor distinction the process is the same. The most valuable kinds of sales in this world are sales of credit card judgments, in other words accounts in which the debtor has already been successfully brought to court. That, ostensibly, is what this bloc of accounts Chase sold in 2009 involved.

Almonte came to Chase in the summer of 2009 as a mid-level executive in the credit card services division's offices in San Antonio, and was quickly put in charge of preparing the documentation for this enormous sale of credit card judgments. When Chase regional offices from places like southern California and Illinois began sending in the papers for these "judgments," Almonte very soon found out that something was seriously wrong. From Horwitz's piece:

Nearly half of the files [Linda's] team sampled were missing proofs of judgment or other essential information, she wrote to colleagues. Even more worrisome, she alleged in her wrongful-termination suit, nearly a quarter of the files misstated how much the borrower owed.

In the "vast majority" of those instances, the actual debt was "lower that what Chase was representing," her suit stated.

Linda subsequently found an enormous range of errors. Some judgments, she told me, were not judgments at all. In some cases, she said, Chase actually owed the customer money.

When she brought these concerns to her superiors, what do you think their response was? They told her and others to shut up and just sell the stuff anyway. Her boss, Jason Lazinbat, allegedly told her "she had better go along with the plan to sell the misrepresented asset."

Think of the consequences of this: because Chase was so anxious to make money off this debt sale, countless credit card borrowers would now have collection agents chasing them for money they did not owe. The debt-buyer, too, was victimized by being sold accounts it could not collect on. It is almost impossible to estimate how many man-hours of pointless court proceedings would be lost because of this decision.

Anyway, when Linda refused to go along with the sale, she was fired. This was in November of 2009. She then went through a post-firing odyssey that is an epic tale in itself: her many attempts to get any of the major bank regulators interested in this case were disturbingly fruitless for a long time (although the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is apparently looking into it now), and she struggled to find work in the industry.

She has been repeatedly harassed and has gone through all sorts of personal hardship as a result of this incident. She filed a whistleblower claim with the SEC as part of the new whistleblower program created by Dodd-Frank, but so far there's been no progress there.

When I met Linda last year, my first reaction to her story was that I was skeptical. The tale she told went far beyond the bank knowingly selling millions of dollars worth of errors into the financial system. She also recounted, firsthand, the bank's elaborate robosigning operation, which Horvitz, talking to other Chase employees, also discussed:<>

"We did not verify a single one" of the affidavits attesting to the amounts Chase was seeking to collect, says Howard Hardin, who oversaw a team handling tens of thousands of Chase debt files in San Antonio. "We were told [by superiors] 'We're in a hurry. Go ahead and sign them.'"

And there were other stories...suffice to say that the picture Linda painted of life inside Chase reminded me a little of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle: they were putting just about everything into those sausages. When I was writing it all up for my book I went through a period where I was waking up nights, seized with the urge to close every credit account I had - her story makes you think that most credit card companies are essentially indistinguishable from giant identity theft operations.

Again, though, when I first heard the story, I was skeptical - until I found other people in the company who verified Almonte's account, all the way down the line. Horvitz, too, found numerous employees in Chase's credit card services division who confirmed the story of the company knowingly selling a mountain of errors into the market, and manufacturing robo-signed documents to the tune of thousands per week.

The financial crash wouldn't have happened if even a slim plurality of financial executives had done what Linda Almonte did, i.e. simply refuse to sign off on a bogus transaction. If companies had merely upheld their own stated policies and stayed within the ballpark of the law, none of these messes could have accumulated: fraudulent mortgages wouldn't have been sold, families wouldn't have been foreclosed upon based on robo-signed documentation, investors wouldn't have been duped into buying huge packets of "misrepresented assets."

But most executives didn't refuse to go along, precisely because powerful companies make it so hard on people who come forward. Almonte, after being fired, entered into a modest settlement with Chase that prohibited her from coming forward publicly. At the time she entered into the settlement she was in an extremely desperate state, and she made a bad decision, taking a very bad deal.

Still, like Jeffery Wygand, the tobacco scientist from the movie The Insider, she was sitting on top of a story that, morally speaking, should not ever be protected by a confidentiality agreement -- and the subsequent lack of regulatory action eventually moved her to speak out to people like Horvitz and me. Of course, now that her story is out there in public, the concern is that the bank will move swiftly to take her to court.

This person does not have any money, so an action by Chase at this point would be purely punitive, to send a message to future whistleblowers. They'll be more likely to do it if they think no one is paying attention. I'll keep you posted on that score.

In the meantime, please check out Horvitz's piece. It should give everyone who has a credit card pause.
(c) 2012 Matt Taibbi

A Welcome Return To Basic Standards Share
By David Sirota

During his long career as the most famous talk radio host in modern history, Rush Limbaugh has only rarely apologized for his rhetoric - so when he does, it's worth pondering the contrition's deeper meaning. Was his apology last week for calling a Georgetown University student a "slut" just a shrewd move to undercut a potential defamation lawsuit? Was it a frightened response to an intensifying backlash from advertisers? Does it prove the power of the liberal political organizations who have an ideological ax to grind against Limbaugh?

The answer to all those queries is yes - but none of those factors is the genuine news of the matter. Instead, what makes Limbaugh's apology so important is its context. Capping off other similar brouhahas from across the mediasphere, Limbaugh's mea culpa - however insincere - is significant because it is proof that America may be both setting some basic standards for political discourse and rejecting the right-wing shrieks about "censorship" and "political correctness."

Consider what preceded Limbaugh's apology. Only a few weeks ago, MSNBC announced it had terminated its relationship with Pat Buchanan, who had become a television mainstay despite the Anti-Defamation League documenting his long record as an "unrepentant bigot." Just prior to that, Los Angeles radio station KFI suspended two hosts for calling Whitney Houston a "crack ho"; CNN suspended commentator Roland Martin for his homophobic Super Bowl tweets; and MSNBC suspended liberal host Ed Schultz for calling a competitor a "right-wing slut." And before that, there was the seminal big-bang moment that kicked off the whole trend: the removal of Glenn Beck from Fox News - a decision that traced its roots to an advertiser boycott after Beck insisted that President Obama has a "deep-seated hatred of white people."

In all of these examples, as with Limbaugh's "slut" comment, the speech in question set off a firestorm not just because it was ideologically extreme, but also because it was indisputably inappropriate.

To paraphrase the jurisprudential terms surrounding pornography, it crossed the line from merely offensive to overtly obscene.

Of course, this kind of slander was tolerated for decades without so much as a peep of objection from the media powers that be. Thanks to that silence, talk radio and cable television came to be wholly defined by such political obscenity - a development that made spectacularly lucrative careers for hate-speech demagogues.

That downward spiral seemed destined to continue because any time there was even a hint of protest, the conservative movement's powerful media intimidation machine trotted out self-righteous rants against "political correctness" and odes to the First Amendment. Looking to manufacture its own insipid version of "political correctness" that crushes dissent, this machine typically portrayed conservatives as victims, marshaling anti-censorship arguments to insinuate that bigotry, anti-Semitism, homophobia and sexism are somehow entitled to a constitutionally protected place in major media outlets.

Not surprisingly, this same argument is now being made by conservatives in defense of their disgraced heroes.

"He has every right to his ideas, as we all have the right to our own," wrote conservative Cal Thomas in an emblematic screed criticizing MSNBC for firing Buchanan. "It's called free speech."

It's certainly true that all Americans have a right to their own ideas and to advocate for those opinions on their own. But having one's ideas broadcast to millions of Americans over the public airwaves by major media corporations is not a right. It's a privilege.

Limbaugh's apology, made under pressure and designed to safeguard his privilege, concedes that indisputable truth. In doing so, the talk-radio icon is implicitly acknowledging a welcome change - one in which media executives, advertisers and the larger American audience are finally declaring that privileges can be withdrawn from those who violate the most basic standards of decorum.
(c) 2012 David Sirota is the author of the best-selling books "Hostile Takeover" and "The Uprising." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at E-mail him at David Sirota is a former spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee.

Bizarrely, Obama Turns On Truthtellers

Some say that Barack Obama never seems to go far enough with his policy proposals, settling instead for half-step reforms. On one important issue, however, the Obamacans have been going way too far.

With an executive excess that would've given pause even to the Bush-Cheney regime, Obama's Justice Department has been trying to silence whistleblowers who dare to expose government wrongdoing to journalists. Every president hates leaks, but this one is hauling public-spirited leakers into federal court, vengefully accusing them of being spies!

His bludgeon is the 1917 Espionage Act, intended to apply to people who give aid to our enemies. In its nearly 100-year existence, the Act has been used just three times to prosecute people who revealed national security secrets - but Obama has now brought out this sledgehammer six times in only three years to prosecute simple whistleblowers.

Thomas Drake was one of them. His "crime" was telling a Baltimore Sun reporter that the agency he worked for was paying hundreds of millions of dollars to a corporate contractor for a software program, rather than installing a much cheaper, more effective, and less problematic program developed by the agency itself. Even though his claim was true, Drake was prosecuted under the Espionage Act, charged with 10 felonies carrying punishments of up to 35 years in prison. What he had revealed was not a matter of national security, but merely a political embarrassment to the administration. It was such overkill that the case collapsed from its own absurdity, but not before putting Drake through a wringer and sending a chill through other potential whistleblowers.

To learn more about Obama's bizarre, heavy-handed attacks on truth-tellers, contact the Government Accountability Project:
(c) 2012 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.

Terror, Trauma, And The Endless Afghan War
By Amy Goodman

We may never know what drove a U.S. Army staff sergeant to head out into the Afghan night and allegedly murder at least 16 civilians in their homes, among them nine children and three women. The massacre near Belambai, in Kandahar, Afghanistan, has shocked the world and intensified the calls for an end to the longest war in U.S. history. The attack has been called tragic, which it surely is. But when Afghans attack U.S. forces, they are called "terrorists." That is, perhaps, the inconsistency at the core of U.S. policy, that democracy can be delivered through the barrel of a gun, that terrorism can be fought by terrorizing a nation.

"I did it," the alleged mass murderer said as he returned to the forward operating base outside Kandahar, that southern city called the "heartland of the Taliban." He is said to have left the base at 3 a.m. and walked to three nearby homes, methodically killing those inside. One farmer, Abdul Samad, was away at the time. His wife, four sons, and four daughters were killed. Some of the victims had been stabbed, some set on fire. Samad told The New York Times, "Our government told us to come back to the village, and then they let the Americans kill us."

The massacre follows massive protests against the U.S. military's burning of copies of the Quran, which followed the video showing U.S. Marines urinating on the corpses of Afghans. Two years earlier, the notorious "kill team" of U.S. soldiers that murdered Afghan civilians for sport, posing for gruesome photos with the corpses and cutting off fingers and other body parts as trophies, also was based near Kandahar.

In response, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta rolled out a string of cliches, reminding us that "war is hell." Panetta visited Camp Leatherneck in Helmand province, near Kandahar, this week on a previously scheduled trip that coincidentally fell days after the massacre. The 200 Marines invited to hear him speak were forced to leave their weapons outside the tent. NBC News reported that such instructions were "highly unusual," as Marines are said to always have weapons on hand in a war zone. Earlier, upon his arrival, a stolen truck raced across the landing strip toward his plane, and the driver leapt out of the cab, on fire, in an apparent attack.P<> The violence doesn't just happen in the war zone. Back in the U.S., the wounds of war are manifesting in increasingly cruel ways.

The 38-year-old staff sergeant who allegedly committed the massacre was from Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), a sprawling military facility near Tacoma, Wash., that has been described by Stars and Stripes newspaper as "the most troubled base in the military" and, more recently, as "on the brink."2011 marked a record for soldier suicides there. The base also was the home for the "kill team."

The Seattle Times reported earlier this month that 285 patients at JBLM's Madigan Army Medical Center had their post-traumatic stress disorder diagnoses inexplicably reversed by a forensic psychiatric screening team. The reversals are now under investigation due to concerns they were partly motivated by a desire to avoid paying those who qualify for medical benefits.

Kevin Baker was also a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army, stationed at Fort Lewis. After two deployments to Iraq, he refused a third after being denied a PTSD diagnosis. He began organizing to bring the troops home. He told me: "If a soldier is wounded on a battlefield in combat, and they're bleeding to death, and an officer orders that person to not receive medical attention, costing that servicemember their life, that officer would be found guilty of dereliction of duty and possibly murder. But when that happens in the U.S., when that happens for soldiers that are going to seek help, and officers are ordering not a clear diagnosis for PTSD and essentially denying them that metaphoric tourniquet, real psychological help, and the soldier ends up suffering internally to the point of taking their own life or somebody else's life, then these officers and this military and the Pentagon has to be held responsible for these atrocities."

While too late to save Abdul Samad's family, Baker's group, March Forward!-along with Iraq Veterans Against the War's "Operation Recovery," which seeks to ban the deployment of troops already suffering from PTSD-may well help end the disastrous, terrorizing occupation of Afghanistan.
(c) 2012 Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 750 stations in North America. She is the co-author of "Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times," recently released in paperback.

Are The Zionists In Control?
By James Donahue

Veteran journalist Helen Thomas was recently interviewed by Playboy Magazine for an article slated to appear in the April, 2012 edition. In the interview she said she believes the Jews have total control over the White House, the U. S. Congress and the banking system.

A story that appeared in the Jerusalem Post, said that when Thomas was asked if she believed there was a secret Jewish conspiracy, she answered: "Not a secret. It's very open. Everybody is in the pocket of the Israeli Lobbies, which are funded by wealthy supporters, including those from Hollywood. Same thing with the financial markets. There's total control."

Thomas, who is of Lebanese heritage, was forced to give up her post as a Washington Press Corps reporter after a remarkable 60-year career, because she said in an interview she thought the Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine." When asked by Playboy if she was anti-Semitic, she denied it. She said there is a clear distinction between the Jewish people and the Zionists. "I'm anti-Zionist," she said.

Zionism is defined as a Jewish movement working to promote the Jewish people as a sovereign state. But many perceive the Zionists as an organization of Jewish leaders that go out of their way to not only protect this Jewish state, but gain control of major political and financial power.

They might perceive the Zionists almost as an organized crime syndicate, working collectively to take over the United States and perhaps much of the world.

When we look at the number of Jews that hold positions of power over Wall Street and Congress, it is easy to see what Thomas is talking about. These are but a few of the names of Jews in control of the nation's money:

--Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, was appointed to fill the long-held term of Alan Greenspan.

--Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs Bank of New York. This bank is among the owners of the Federal Reserve Bank consortium.

--Robert B. Zoellick, President of the World Bank.

--Dominique Strauss-Kahn, former managing director, International Monetary Fund.

While Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is not Jewish, his wife, Carole Sonnerfeld, and most of the people serving directly under him are. They include Deputy Secretary Neal Wolin, Treasurer Rosa G. Rios, Treasury Chief of Staff Mark Patterson, Deputy Assistant Secretary Matthew Kabaker, Counselors to the Secretary Lewis Sachs, Gene Sperling and Richard Siewert Jr.

Other powerful Jews with their hands on the financial affairs of the nation include: Jeffrey Goldstein, Under Secretary for Domestic Finance; Michael Barr, Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions; Mary Miller, Assistant Secretary for Financial Markets; Timothy Massad, Acting Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability; Richard Ashkenazi, Fiscal Assistant Secretary; Lael Brainard, Under Secretary for International Affairs; the list goes on and on.

That is just in the Department of Treasury. Other well-known Jewish power figures you see in the news regularly include:

--Michael Chertoff, Secretary of Homeland Security.

--Hilda Salis, Secretary Department of Labor.

--Daniel Poneman, Deputy Secretary of Energy.

--Gene Sperling, Director of the National Economic Council.

--Alan Krueger, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors.

--Jacob Lew, Director Office of Management and Budget.

--Paul Volcker, Chairman Economic Recovery Advisory Board.

--Ron Bloom, Senior Counselor for Manufacturing Policy to the President.

--Steven Rattner, Director Presidential Task Force on the Automotive Industry.

--Jon Leibowitz, Chairman Federal Trade Commission.

--Mary Schapiro, Chairman Securities and Exchange Commission.

--Douglas W. Elmendorf, Director Congressional Budget Office.

--Henry Waxman, ranking member U. S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

--Barney Frank, ranking member US House Committee on Financial Services.

--Sander Levin, ranking member, US House Committee on Ways and Means.

--Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairman of the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

--Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee.

--Senator Barbara Boxer, chairman of Environment and Public Works Committee.

--Senator John Kerry, chairman of Foreign Relations.

--Senator Joseph Lieberman, chairman of Homeland Security and Government Affairs.

--Senator Charles Schumer, chairman on Rules and Administration.

--Senator Dianne Feinstein, chairman of Select Committee on Intelligence.

--Senator Herbert Kohl, chairman of Committee on Aging.

These are just the names of many of the people who pull the purse and political strings in Washington and on Wall Street. Do you want to know the Jews controlling the major American media outlets? They are:

--Sumner Redstone, executive chairman of CBS and head of Viacom.

--Brian Roberts, chairman of NBC

--Robert A. Iger, president and chief executive officer of Walt Disney.

Should Americans be concerned? With all of the turmoil going in the Middle East, and with Israel in the thick of it, we can be sure that the decisions being made in Washington by the Zionist Jews and the Christian Right-Wing bible thumpers that believe the Jews are a chosen people, will always be in support of Israel.

Will this mean we go to war with Iran? It might if the Israeli Zionist leadership demands it.

If Israeli leaders decide to bomb Iran to stop nuclear research, the United States will probably stand behind such a decision. And this will be very dangerous for the entire world.
(c) 2012 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. He currently produces daily articles for this web site

Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs
By Greg Smith

TODAY is my last day at Goldman Sachs. After almost 12 years at the firm - first as a summer intern while at Stanford, then in New York for 10 years, and now in London - I believe I have worked here long enough to understand the trajectory of its culture, its people and its identity. And I can honestly say that the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it.

To put the problem in the simplest terms, the interests of the client continue to be sidelined in the way the firm operates and thinks about making money. Goldman Sachs is one of the world's largest and most important investment banks and it is too integral to global finance to continue to act this way. The firm has veered so far from the place I joined right out of college that I can no longer in good conscience say that I identify with what it stands for.

It might sound surprising to a skeptical public, but culture was always a vital part of Goldman Sachs's success. It revolved around teamwork, integrity, a spirit of humility, and always doing right by our clients. The culture was the secret sauce that made this place great and allowed us to earn our clients' trust for 143 years. It wasn't just about making money; this alone will not sustain a firm for so long. It had something to do with pride and belief in the organization. I am sad to say that I look around today and see virtually no trace of the culture that made me love working for this firm for many years. I no longer have the pride, or the belief.

But this was not always the case. For more than a decade I recruited and mentored candidates through our grueling interview process. I was selected as one of 10 people (out of a firm of more than 30,000) to appear on our recruiting video, which is played on every college campus we visit around the world. In 2006 I managed the summer intern program in sales and trading in New York for the 80 college students who made the cut, out of the thousands who applied.

I knew it was time to leave when I realized I could no longer look students in the eye and tell them what a great place this was to work.

When the history books are written about Goldman Sachs, they may reflect that the current chief executive officer, Lloyd C. Blankfein, and the president, Gary D. Cohn, lost hold of the firm's culture on their watch. I truly believe that this decline in the firm's moral fiber represents the single most serious threat to its long-run survival.

Over the course of my career I have had the privilege of advising two of the largest hedge funds on the planet, five of the largest asset managers in the United States, and three of the most prominent sovereign wealth funds in the Middle East and Asia. My clients have a total asset base of more than a trillion dollars. I have always taken a lot of pride in advising my clients to do what I believe is right for them, even if it means less money for the firm. This view is becoming increasingly unpopular at Goldman Sachs. Another sign that it was time to leave.

How did we get here? The firm changed the way it thought about leadership. Leadership used to be about ideas, setting an example and doing the right thing. Today, if you make enough money for the firm (and are not currently an ax murderer) you will be promoted into a position of influence.

What are three quick ways to become a leader? a) Execute on the firm's "axes," which is Goldman-speak for persuading your clients to invest in the stocks or other products that we are trying to get rid of because they are not seen as having a lot of potential profit. b) "Hunt Elephants." In English: get your clients - some of whom are sophisticated, and some of whom aren't - to trade whatever will bring the biggest profit to Goldman. Call me old-fashioned, but I don't like selling my clients a product that is wrong for them. c) Find yourself sitting in a seat where your job is to trade any illiquid, opaque product with a three-letter acronym.

Today, many of these leaders display a Goldman Sachs culture quotient of exactly zero percent. I attend derivatives sales meetings where not one single minute is spent asking questions about how we can help clients. It's purely about how we can make the most possible money off of them. If you were an alien from Mars and sat in on one of these meetings, you would believe that a client's success or progress was not part of the thought process at all.

It makes me ill how callously people talk about ripping their clients off. Over the last 12 months I have seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as "muppets," sometimes over internal e-mail. Even after the S.E.C., Fabulous Fab, Abacus, God's work, Carl Levin, Vampire Squids? No humility? I mean, come on. Integrity? It is eroding. I don't know of any illegal behavior, but will people push the envelope and pitch lucrative and complicated products to clients even if they are not the simplest investments or the ones most directly aligned with the client's goals? Absolutely. Every day, in fact.

It astounds me how little senior management gets a basic truth: If clients don't trust you they will eventually stop doing business with you. It doesn't matter how smart you are.

These days, the most common question I get from junior analysts about derivatives is, "How much money did we make off the client?" It bothers me every time I hear it, because it is a clear reflection of what they are observing from their leaders about the way they should behave. Now project 10 years into the future: You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that the junior analyst sitting quietly in the corner of the room hearing about "muppets," "ripping eyeballs out" and "getting paid" doesn't exactly turn into a model citizen.

When I was a first-year analyst I didn't know where the bathroom was, or how to tie my shoelaces. I was taught to be concerned with learning the ropes, finding out what a derivative was, understanding finance, getting to know our clients and what motivated them, learning how they defined success and what we could do to help them get there.

My proudest moments in life - getting a full scholarship to go from South Africa to Stanford University, being selected as a Rhodes Scholar national finalist, winning a bronze medal for table tennis at the Maccabiah Games in Israel, known as the Jewish Olympics - have all come through hard work, with no shortcuts. Goldman Sachs today has become too much about shortcuts and not enough about achievement. It just doesn't feel right to me anymore.

I hope this can be a wake-up call to the board of directors. Make the client the focal point of your business again. Without clients you will not make money. In fact, you will not exist. Weed out the morally bankrupt people, no matter how much money they make for the firm. And get the culture right again, so people want to work here for the right reasons. People who care only about making money will not sustain this firm - or the trust of its clients - for very much longer.
(c) 2012 Greg Smith

Evidence Of War Lies Public Pre-War This Time
By David Swanson

When President George W. Bush was pretending to want to avoid a war on Iraq while constantly pushing laughably bad propaganda to get that war going, we had a feeling he was lying. After all, he was a Republican. But it was after the war was raging away that we came upon things like the Downing Street Minutes and the White House Memo.

Now President Barack Obama is pretending to want to avoid a war on Iran and to want Israel not to start one, while constantly pushing laughably bad propaganda to get that war going. We might suspect a lack of sincerity, given the insistence that Iran put an end to a program that the U.S. government simultaneously says there is no evidence exists, given the increase in free weapons for Israel to $3.1 billion next year, given the ongoing protection of Israel at the U.N. from any accountability for crimes, given the embrace of sanctions highly unlikely to lead to anything other than greater prospects of war, and given Obama's refusal to take openly illegal war "off the table." We might suspect that peace was not the ultimate goal, except of course that Obama is a Democrat.

However, we now have Wikileaks cables and comments from anonymous officials that served as the basis for a report from the Israeli newspaper Haaretz:

"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu requested the United States approve the sale of advanced refueling aircraft as well as GBU-28 bunker-piercing bombs to Israel during a recent meeting with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, a top U.S. official said on Tuesday. The American official said that U.S. President Barack Obama instructed Panetta to work directly with Defense Minister Ehud Barak on the matter, indicating that the U.S. administration was inclined to look favorably upon the request as soon as possible. During the administration of former U.S. President George Bush, the U.S. refused to sell bunker-penetrating bombs and refueling aircrafts to Israel, as a result of American estimates that Israel would then use them to strike Iran's nuclear facilities. Following Obama's entrance into the White House, however, the United States approves a string of Israeli requests to purchase advance armament. Diplomatic cables exposed by the WikiLeaks website exposed discussion concerning advanced weapons shipments. In one cable which surveyed defense discussions between Israel and the United states that took place on November 2009 it was written that 'both sides then discussed the upcoming delivery of GBU-28 bunker busting bombs to Israel, noting that the transfer should be handled quietly to avoid any allegations that the USG is helping Israel prepare for a strike against Iran.'"

Why supply Israel with the weapons to attack Iran more forcefully if you don't want Israel to attack Iran? The Israeli newspaper Maariv claims to have the answer. Apparently people in the know are spilling the beans earlier this war cycle:

"The United States offered Israel advanced weaponry in return for it committing not to attack Iran's nuclear facilities this year, Israeli daily Maariv reported on Thursday. Citing unnamed Western diplomats and intelligence sources, the report said that during Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Washington this week, the US administration offered to supply Israel with advanced bunker-busting bombs and long-range refuelling planes. In return, Israel would agree to put off a possible attack on Iran till 2013, after the US elections in November."

One point can be little doubted here, namely that this would be the biggest damn story in U.S. "progressive" circles if Obama were a Republican. But even though he isn't, there could conceivably be SOME interest in the fact that a serious news outlet is reporting that Obama has taken steps to facilitate an attack on Iran and to delay it until after his own hoped-for reelection.

Even Reuters has noted this development:

"A front-page article in the Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv on Thursday said Obama had told Netanyahu that Washington would supply Israel with upgraded military equipment in return for assurances that there would be no attack on Iran in 2012."

Now, the usual handful of progressive Congress members has just introduced a bill that would compel the U.S. government to talk to the government of Iran. Seems sensible enough (even if it frames it as an effort to prevent Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon) . We do ask that much of our children when they become involved in disagreements.

But Congressman John Conyers, one of the cosponsors of that bill, had another trick up his sleeve when Bush was in the White House. Nobody believed him, of course, but for what it was worth, after refusing to impeach Bush for countless offenses, Conyers swore that if Bush attacked Iran, then he Conyers would launch impeachment proceedings. Now, Conyers is back in the minority party in the House, but even minority members can raise the threat of impeachment efforts. And at the moment they could join a member of the majority in doing so. That's because Congressman Walter Jones has introduced H. Con Res 107, which reads:

"Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That it is the sense of Congress that, except in response to an actual or imminent attack against the territory of the United States, the use of offensive military force by a President without prior and clear authorization of an Act of Congress violates Congress's exclusive power to declare war under article I, section 8, clause 11 of the Constitution and therefore constitutes an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor under article II, section 4 of the Constitution."

Now, this does not clearly cover an attack with U.S. weapons and advice carried out by another nation, but it does cover the question of U.S. entry into a war started by Israel, even if U.S. troops and bases abroad have been attacked in retaliation. And it covers possible U.S. war making in Syria. And it covers over 100 nations where U.S. Special Forces are now operating. And it covers our current and prospective drone attacks in various parts of the world.

Of course, such an impeachment effort is also treasonous, given Obama's membership in the Democratic Party -- unlike the completely non-treasonous acts of openly "legalizing murder," or lying to the nation about efforts to avoid a war.
(c) 2012 David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie."

I Don't Want To See Their Faces; I Don't Want To Hear Them Scream
By Christopher Cooper

The whole thing is regrettable, really. Shocking, truth to tell. And so sad, I'm sure, for those people, those blanket-wearing, beard-growing, false-god-worshiping, probably-related-to-terrorists, citizens of Afghanistan whose wives and children and babies were gunned down in their beds, shot, murdered, slaughtered, and then burned by one of America's finest Sunday morning. But hey, what are ya gonna do? These things happen.

It seems the soldier in question was not, in fact, representative of our brave fighting men and women. He was just another in the continuing series of lone gunmen who have been shooting up the world here and overseas for as long as any of us have been reading the newspapers. David Cortright, the director of policy studies at Notre Dame's Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, tells us "This may have been the act of a lone, deranged soldier." I saw a headline that said he was a rogue. OK; rogues do as often as not, "go rogue" as no less an authority than Sarah Palin would have us know. So given time to reflect a bit, I guess I'm sorry I impugned our noble troops.

President Barack Obama summed it up as succinctly and as eloquently as only a man of his unflappably cool reserve could, I suppose: "This incident is tragic and shocking, and does not represent the exceptional character of our military and the respect that the United States has for the people of Afghanistan." Well there. And yer goddamn right, Mr. President. Our boys kick butt! We take it to 'em! We light up the friggin sky! They don't mess with the U.S.A. and get away with it. You don't kill three thousand brave American heroes on September the eleventh, ten years ago, and expect your four year old girl to sleep in her own bed unmolested. Unkilled. Unburned. We do what needs to be done to keep America free, and sometimes along the way an enlisted man goes a little nuts. Just one. Just every little once in a while.

Mr. Obama got right on the telephone and called up our "partner" in this whole great reworking of Afghanistan, Mr. Hamid Karzai, and told him we were sorry. Or something like that. He expressed condolences. So did Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. I'm sure those were awkward conversations, but you know, the buck does stop there, and that's why we pay those boys the long dollar. Speaking of which, compensation will be paid. You betcha. We have a formula. I don't know, fifteen hunnerd bucks or so. Each.

And we're even-handed and generous in spraying our condolences and compensations. When we kill civilians as a part of our regularly scheduled, officially sanctioned, presidentially authorized drone strikes, it makes Mr. Obama sad, too. It is regrettable, of course, that so many children will insist on living in the same hovels as the alleged terrorists we need to kill, or with somebody who kind of looks like one of them or who might once have been associated with them in some way. We were attacked, you know, and candidate Obama said his predecessor wasn't prosecuting the Afghanistan adventure vigorously enough, but he would, and he for sure, by God has, hasn't he?

Does it feel different to be dead by drone than dead by M-1? Does Obama have nightmares? Did Bush? Do they wash their hands, trying to scrub off the blood? We do not doubt this particular atrocity was perpetrated by a young man gone leave of his senses, but we are not encouraged that he will be tried in a military court, found crazy, demoted, dismissed, given cursory mental health treatment and some time in an institution. We wonder if our Congress and our President should be pronounced crazy, too. Or maybe just criminal. And what about us, neighbor, in our complicity? We who elected them and will re-elect them or others just as cold and cruel and as able to calculate that the life of an Afghan child is not worth much compared to our unending and unyielding compulsion to exercise extreme power in pursuit of God only knows what.

Has anybody thought to ask Barbara Bush about this situation? You'll remember she said the victims of Hurricane Katrina the New Orleans cops herded into the Superdome (those they didn't shoot) so they could sweat and starve and suffer among piles of shit and debris for several days, had a pretty good deal: "And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this-this [chuckle] is working very well for them."

OK! You're way ahead of me here, aren't ya buddy? Take Mr. Samad Khan, a farmer who lost all 11 members of his family: wife, kids, maybe an old mom or a crippled dad, for all I know. Eleven times even a thousand dollars each will net him eleven grand. And I'll bet Afghanistan doesn't even tax dead baby compensation income. Do we pro-rate babies and old people?

Hell, old Mrs. Bush wouldn't really have any problem with the midnight murder run itself (yeah, I know, it was three a.m., but I can't pass a chance at a cheap alliteration without hooking it any more than Lieutenant Calley could leave a peasant hut un-incinerated). Sure, she was talking about her boy's Iraq adventure, but the emotion is surely transferable: "Why should we hear about body bags and deaths? Oh, I mean, it's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?" A precious thing for sure, you bloated old bag; don't waste it. Aw, Jesus! That wasn't nice. I'm sorry, Mrs. Bush. My deepest condolences over the condition of your mind. Fuck, I'm sorry about your whole stupid family.

But I'm not here to "look backward." President Obama told us years ago there'd be none of that. And I'm not going to beat up Republicans. Why no less a liberal figure than Bill Clinton's Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, said that, while it did seem a hard choice to make, she believed the deaths of half a million children in Iraq was a worthwhile price to pay to get old Saddam. So five hundred thousand, compared to a dozen or so....

And it's Monday, anyhow, and back to work, you know, and the weather looks good and the economy is incrementally better (experts say) and the job creators are working darned hard to create jobs for bums like you and me; gas isn't as expensive as it might be, all things considered, and President Obama will probably get those lunatic Israelis to hold off bombing Iran until after he's re-elected (they can kill all the Palestinians they like, of course, because they're just, well, Palestinians for Christ's sake.) So this will fade away about as fast as that Koran burning did, don't you think?

But before we move on, why don't you do what I did this evening? Google around the WWW and stir up some photographs. Do it on your desktop if you still own one-the portables, the notebooks, the smart phones the cool kids all flash just don't give you the big picture. You might find the AP photo captioned "Anar Gul points to the body of her grandchild." You could see eight pictures the New York Times has assembled into a little slideshow.

Let Google Images round up whatever it can find (36,100,000 results in .19 seconds) under the search terms Afghanistan shootings. You'll see the bodies. The babies. And the faces of their families. We caption them, "the bereaved." These images should haunt you. Someday somebody related to some of these sufferers, these victims, these collaterally damaged souls, may try to kill you. And I have to tell you, I think you'll have it coming.

Suppose a foreign army had been rummaging around the United States for a decade. They'd have built us some concrete-block elementary schools of course and drilled a few water wells. And their president or premier or prime minister would have secretly flown in under elaborate and expensive secrecy and security to shake hands with the soldiers and tell them what a good job they were doing bringing peace and stabilization to our misguided land, and who among us would not be grateful for that?

But then suppose, just occasionally, at intervals, one or several of those soldiers or pilots or special forces teams or secret espionage units burned a bunch of civilians for no good reason any of us could see? Mowed 'em down. Ran 'em over with a tank. Busted in the door in the nighttime and gutshot somebody's old grandfather. Would that begin to take the glow off our gratitude?

OK, let's be specific. Forget the afore-mentioned Samad Khan and the grieving Anar Gul. Don't trouble yourself about the names of their children. (Do they even name their children like we do, these Muslims?) Pick any names that come to mind-good, honest, American names. Say Sam Knox is missing his wife and kids and Anne Greene sits there numb and devastated as she looks at the blanket her child is wrapped in. Does that feel any different? How much compensation would it take to make them get over it?

Come on, you cowardly bastard-look at those pictures! I know we don't read so much these days, but you might have run across the term empathy during some mandatory literature course back in high school or college. So. How does it feel?

My kid has annoyed me a time or two today. Loud, wild, antagonistic here and there. (He's seven.) I told him to stay off the rotten ice on the pond inlet stream while I was cutting bushes, but there he was, "I'm cold!", up to his knees in slush and muck and icewater, and we quit early and repaired to the woodstove to dry him out. (He did agree he ought have listened to my wise counsel.) Then again, he told me a dozen times he loved me. And when he just couldn't possibly get to sleep on his own, he had not the slightest trouble when I let him lie on the couch in my office as I wrote my little letter to you all out there.

And there he sleeps. And you could bomb my house and blow up my car and take away a leg and an arm and I might take your compensation check and relocate and regroup and nurse my grievances in the barroom. But if you or you or you or anybody came in here and killed him, I don't care if you're Christian or Jew or Mohammedan or a pagan suckled in some creed outworn, if you hurt him accidentally or on purpose, under orders or because you snapped under the pressure of your third deployment. I'd just want to kill you. And I don't doubt I might kill you slowly and abuse your damned corpse in some ugly way. You and the guy behind you and the army that comes after that. I'd open you up and I'd nail you to the porch floor.

Oh, I'd be a bad person for doing so. Why, you might even say I'd become a terrorist, I suppose. And killing you wouldn't bring back my wonderful boy, because whatever God you might pray to or believe in only ever made one of him, and you killed him, and there could be no joy, no purpose, no happiness in my life after that other than getting to you and grinding you up and making you pay. You'd compensate me with your flesh for forty-two pounds and forty-four inches of boy. And if I went crazy enough (and I might, and anybody might), I might need to kill a whole lot more who seemed to me to be pretty much like you. And there we would be.

I'm done. The snow is almost gone, and the pond will open up next week and the turtles come out of the mud, and Karter and I may just hatch some frog eggs in a tank in our kitchen. Because he won't be a pile of bones and guts soaking into a blanket in the back of a truck, you see. I'll gather him up now and dump him where I want him to sleep, and he'll wake in the morning to defy me and argue with me and disobey my firm instructions to do this or that, and to love me as I'll love him because that is how we evolved, and we do what we must do. As it is in Afghanistan and all over this world the United States of America thinks it owns.

Beware the rogue soldier, the corrupt government and the corporate press and the easy justification.

Come on. Just one more time. Look at their faces!
(c) 2012 Christopher Cooper lives in Alna, Maine. He writes seldom, these days, because, really, what good does it do? He expects never again to vote for a Democrat or a Republican. He thinks everything will get much worse. Still, there's that boy, and if only for his sake he does sometimes, late at night, alone, erupt again in one of these little essays. Write him if you must at

What Greece Means
By Paul Krugman

So Greece has officially defaulted on its debt to private lenders. It was an "orderly" default, negotiated rather than simply announced, which I guess is a good thing. Still, the story is far from over. Even with this debt relief, Greece - like other European nations forced to impose austerity in a depressed economy - seems doomed to many more years of suffering.

And that's a tale that needs telling. For the past two years, the Greek story has, as one recent paper on economic policy put it, been "interpreted as a parable of the risks of fiscal profligacy." Not a day goes by without some politician or pundit intoning, with the air of a man conveying great wisdom, that we must slash government spending right away or find ourselves turning into Greece, Greece I tell you.

Just to take one recent example, when Mitch Daniels, the governor of Indiana, delivered the Republican reply to the State of the Union address, he insisted that "we're only a short distance behind Greece, Spain and other European countries now facing economic catastrophe." By the way, apparently nobody told him that Spain had low government debt and a budget surplus on the eve of the crisis; it's in trouble thanks to private-sector, not public-sector, excess.

But what Greek experience actually shows is that while running deficits in good times can get you in trouble - which is indeed the story for Greece, although not for Spain - trying to eliminate deficits once you're already in trouble is a recipe for depression.

These days, austerity-induced depressions are visible all around Europe's periphery. Greece is the worst case, with unemployment soaring to 20 percent even as public services, including health care, collapse. But Ireland, which has done everything the austerity crowd wanted, is in terrible shape too, with unemployment near 15 percent and real G.D.P. down by double digits. Portugal and Spain are in similarly dire straits.

And austerity in a slump doesn't just inflict vast suffering. There is growing evidence that it is self-defeating even in purely fiscal terms, as the combination of falling revenues due to a depressed economy and worsened long-term prospects actually reduces market confidence and makes the future debt burden harder to handle. You have to wonder how countries that are systematically denying a future to their young people - youth unemployment in Ireland, which used to be lower than in the United States, is now almost 30 percent, while it's near 50 percent in Greece - are supposed to achieve enough growth to service their debt.

This was not what was supposed to happen. Two years ago, as many policy makers and pundits began calling for a pivot from stimulus to austerity, they promised big gains in return for the pain. "The idea that austerity measures could trigger stagnation is incorrect," Jean-Claude Trichet, then the president of the European Central Bank, declared in June 2010. Instead, he insisted, fiscal discipline would inspire confidence, and this would lead to economic growth.

And every slight uptick in an austerity economy has been hailed as proof that the policy works. Irish austerity has been proclaimed a success story not once but twice, first in the summer of 2010, then again last fall; each time the supposed good news quickly evaporated.

You may ask what alternative countries like Greece and Ireland had, and the answer is that they had and have no good alternatives short of leaving the euro, an extreme step that, realistically, their leaders cannot take until all other options have failed - a state of affairs that, if you ask me, Greece is rapidly approaching.

Germany and the European Central Bank could take action to make that extreme step less necessary, both by demanding less austerity and doing more to boost the European economy as a whole. But the main point is that America does have an alternative: we have our own currency, and we can borrow long-term at historically low interest rates, so we don't need to enter a downward spiral of austerity and economic contraction.

So it is time to stop invoking Greece as a cautionary tale about the dangers of deficits; from an American point of view, Greece should instead be seen as a cautionary tale about the dangers of trying to reduce deficits too quickly, while the economy is still deeply depressed. (And yes, despite some better news lately, our economy is still deeply depressed.)

The truth is that if you want to know who is really trying to turn America into Greece, it's not those urging more stimulus for our still-depressed economy; it's the people demanding that we emulate Greek-style austerity even though we don't face Greek-style borrowing constraints, and thereby plunge ourselves into a Greek-style depression.
(c) 2012 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"The major western democracies are moving towards corporatism. Democracy has become a business plan, with a bottom line for every human activity, every dream, every decency, every hope. The main parliamentary parties are now devoted to the same economic policies - socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor - and the same foreign policy of servility to endless war. This is not democracy. It is to politics what McDonalds is to food."
~~~ John Pilger

Monsanto's Roundup Threatens Stability Of Global Food Supply
By Anthony Gucciardi

Monsanto's reckless disregard for public health and the agricultural stability of the planet may be even more significant than previously thought. A shocking new report reveals how Monsanto's Roundup is actually threatening the crop-yielding potential of the entire biosphere. The report reveals that glyphosate, which was developed by Monsanto in the early 1970s and is the active ingredient in its patented herbicide Roundup, may be irreversibly devastating the microbiodiversity of the soil - compromising the health of the entire planet, as a result.

New research published in the journal Current Microbiology highlights the extent to which glyphosate is altering, and in some cases destroying, the very microorganisms upon which the health of the soil, and - amazingly - the benefits of raw and fermented foods as a whole, depend. Concerningly, certain beneficial strains of bacteria used as food-starters in cultures for raw yogurt, such as Lactobacillus cremoris, have entirely disappeared from certain geographic regions where traditionally they were found in plenty. The study reports that the death and growth inhibition of selected food microorganisms was observed in concentrations of Roundup that are lower than are recommended in agricultural practice.

This means that farmers who are increasingly using larger and larger concentrations of Roundup and similar glyphosate-based herbicide formulations to countermand the increasingly resistant super weeds GM agriculture has spawned, are not only damaging the immediate health of the soil, but subsequent yields of indispensable food-starter microorganisms, as well as the microbes that ensure the overall fertility of the soil for producing crops well into the future.

Monsanto's Roundup assaults the planetary biosphere

Microorganisms are responsible for much more than just the health content of raw and fermented foods. The most numerous inhabitants in the web of life, microorganisms participate quite literally "at the root" of the nitrogen, phosphate, oxygen and carbon cycles, and are therefore indispensable for the health of the entire biosphere. Astoundingly, there are an estimated 6,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (6 x 10 to the 30th power) bacterial cells on the planet, and these soil microrganisms represent about 50 percent of the the total biodiversity in terms of numbers of species.

As Roundup usage threatens these soil microrganisms, including fungi and the mycellium (technically the largest organism in the world), it could lead to devastating implications. Compromising the health of the mycellium, in particular, may cause serious harm to the planet. According to prominent mycologist Paul Stamets, mycellium may actually act as a 'network' within the biosphere, acting as the Earth's 'natural internet' in which virtually all organisms may rely upon. It has been recognized throughout the ages that all life depends on the soil. Without healthy soil, the health of the entire planet is at risk.

Charles E. Kelogg was one individual who stated such in the USDA yearbook back in 1939. Kelogg said:

"Essentially, all life depends upon the soil ... There can be no life without soil and no soil without life; they have evolved together."

Franklin Delano Roosevelt also voiced similar concerns, warning:

"The nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself."

Based on an ever-increasing body of scientific evidence showing glyphosate biodegrades slowly, sinks down through the topsoil where it accumulates in the groundwater (source for natural drinking water, e.g. aquifers, springs), and is found in nearly all air and rain samples tested in the US, it is safe to say that Monsanto's best-selling Roundup is one of the greatest threats to human and environmental health ever created.

As the USDA continues to sit back and allow Monsanto to threaten the environmental stability of the planet, it becomes more apparent that the USDA and Monsanto are gladly willing to exchange the future of the planet and its inhabitants for short term gain. In fact, the USDA has even given Monsanto's latest GMO crops speedier approval in order to secure the company's profits, ignoring the numerous known harmful effects of Monsanto's past creations, e.g. Agent Orange, Aspartame, DDT.

The known effects of Roundup

The negative effects of Monsanto's Roundup on human health and the environment have been firmly established by numerous scientific studies and large-scale investigations, with scientists even linking the best-selling herbicide to conditions like infertility and cancer due to its genotoxic (DNA damaging) nature. Amazingly, even when diluted by 99.8 percent (450-fold lower dilutions than used in agricultural applications), Roundup still exhibits serious genotoxic characteristics and is harmful to the integrity of human DNA. Meanwhile, this carcinogenic herbicide product is used nationwide by unsuspecting homeowners and agricultural workers. According to the United States Geological Survey, 176 million lbs of glyphosate were used in the U.S. in 2007.

Outside of the public health realm, Roundup's startling environmental havoc is perhaps an even greater cause for concern. Despite being created to fend off weeds, Roundup is actually spawning resistant superweeds across millions of hectares (one hectare is 10,000 square metres), bankrupting farmers and destroying crop land. These resistant weeds currently cover over 4.5 million hectares in the United States alone, though experts estimate the world-wide land coverage to have reached at least 120 million hectares by 2010. The onset of superweeds is being increasingly documented in Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Europe and South Africa.

The research is clear: Roundup is not only harming human health and damaging farmland, it is threatening the very biosphere itself by destroying microbial biodiversity, with the future agricultural stability of the planet, i.e. the ability to produce food through monoculturing, at serious risk of collapsing.
(c) 2012 Anthony Gucciardi is an accomplished investigative journalist whose articles have appeared on top news sites and have been read by millions worldwide. A health activist and researcher, Anthony's goal is centered around informing the public as to how they can use natural methods to revolutionize their health, as well as exploring the behind the scenes activity of the pharmaceutical industry and the FDA.

The Widening Wealth Divide, And Why We Need A Surtax On The Super Wealthy
By Robert Reich

Let Santorum and Romney duke it out for who will cut taxes on the wealthy the most and shred the public services everyone else depends on.

The rest of us ought to be having a serious discussion about a wealth tax. Because if you really want to know what's happening to the American economy you need to look at household wealth - not just incomes.

The Fed just reported that household wealth increased from October through December. That's the first gain in three quarters.

Good news? Take closer look. The entire gain came from increases in stock prices. Those increases in stock values more than made up for continued losses in home values.

But the vast majority of Americans don't have their wealth in the stock market. Over 90 percent of the nation's financial assets - including stocks and pension-fund holdings - are owned by the richest 10 percent of Americans. The top 1 percent owns 38 percent.

Most Americans have their wealth in their homes - whose prices continue to drop. Housing prices are down by a third from their 2006 peak.

So as the value of financial assets held by American households increased by $1.46 trillion in the fourth quarter, the wealthiest 10 percent of Americans became $1.3 trillion richer, and the wealthiest 1 percent became $554.8 billion richer.

But at the same time, as the value of household real estate fell by $367.4 billion in the fourth quarter, homeowners - mostly middle class - lost over $141 billion (owners' equity is 38.4 percent of total household real estate).

Presto. America's wealth gap - already wider than the nation's income gap - has become even wider. The 400 richest Americans have more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans put together.

Given this unprecedented concentration of wealth - and considering what the nation needs to do to rebuild our schools and infrastructure while at the same time saving Medicare and reducing the long-term budget deficit - shouldn't we be aiming higher than a “Buffet tax” on the incomes of millionaires?

There should also be a surtax on the super rich.

Yale Professor Bruce Ackerman and Anne Alstott have proposed a 2 percent surtax on the wealth of the richest one-half of 1 percent of Americans owning more than $7.2 million of assets. They figure it would generate $70 billion a year, or $750 billion over the decade. That's half the savings Congress's now defunct Supercommittee was aiming for.

Instead of standing empty-handed while Santorum and Romney dominate the airwaves with their regressive Social Darwinism, Democrats need to be reminding Americans of what's happening in the real economy - and what needs to happen.

The wealth gap is widening into a chasm. A surtax on the super rich is fair - and it's necessary.
(c) 2012 Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written twelve books, including The Work of Nations, Locked in the Cabinet, and his most recent book, Supercapitalism. His "Marketplace" commentaries can be found on and iTunes.

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Obama,

Dear Arizona Unterfuhrer Lesko,

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 Elena (Butch) Kagan.

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your giving contro; of womens reproductive rights to their employers, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya 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 Iron Cross 1st class, presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 03-17-2012. We salute you Frau Lesko, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

Thousands gathered in Madison Saturday for a "Reclaim Wisconsin March" and rally.

Tens Of Thousands Rally In Wisconsin For Labor Rights And Democracy
By John Nichols

A year ago, when Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed into law his plan to undermine collective bargaining rights for state, county and municipal employees and public school teachers, the prediction from the governor and his allies was that the mass movement to oppose Walker's anti-labor agenda would fade.

The governor and his allies were wrong.

As the state prepares for a recall election that could remove Walker from the governorship-along with his lieutenant governor and four Republican state senators-tens of thousands of union activists and their supporters rallied once more Saturday at the state Capitol in Madison.

It was an epic turnout, estimated by Governor Walker's Department of Administration at 35,000 and by organizers at closer to 60,000.

Whatever the actual number, there was no question that the crowd filling the great square around the Capiol was the largest to gather since the mass mobilizations of February and March, 2011. The protests of last year drew the attention of the nation-and the world-and helped to encourage pushbacks against anti-labor legislation in Ohio, Michigan, Florida, Arizona and other states. They featured an ongoing peaceful occupation of the state Capitol that served as one of many inspirations for the Occupy Wall Street movement.

The resilience of the Wisconsin movement has few precedents in recent American labor history. "They didn't think we could sustain it," said Wisconsin AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt. "Not only have we sustained it. We've gotten stronger."

Neuenfeldt was referring to the movement that submitted more than one million signatures to recall Governor Walker (46 percent of the electorate in the last gubernatorial election), 840,000 signatures to recall Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and another 100,000 signatures to recall key Republican senators.

"Look at what a difference a year makes," declared Mary Kay Henry, the president of the Service Employees International Union, who marveled at the size of Saturday's crowd of union members, farmers, small business owners, students and retirees that surrounded the Capitol. "Governor Walker and the Koch Brothers started something last year, but they're not going to like how it ends. When it ends there is going to be a pro-middle class governor and lieutenant governor-and a pro-worker majority in the Senate."

What Walker started was an assault on more than fifty years of commitment by Wisconsin leaders, Democrats and Republicans, to protect the rights of workers and their unions.

On Saturday, as tens of thousands of Wisconsinites marched in remembrance of the uprising against Walker's agenda, there was much talk about the upcoming recall election - and that was important.

But it was equally important that the issue focus remained on renewing the state's collective bargaining law. There was a recognition that the Wisconsin fight has never been, and can never be, about partisan politics alone. Not when basic rights are at stake.

Collective bargaining is a part of Wisconsin history, an example of this state's "forward" progressive values.

"I was around in 1959 when Wisconsin became the first state in the United States, the first state in the Union, to adopt a law to permit public employees to collectively bargain," explains the senior member of the state Legislature, Senator Fred Risser, D-Madison. "Back then, Wisconsin was known as a progressive, innovative state."

Risser's serious about renewing Wisconsin's reputation as a progressive, innovative state, And he has joined with a much younger legislator, state Representative Mark Pocan, D-Madison, to propose legislation that would fully restore collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin.

Pocan says this is a first-order-of-business necessity.

"For half a century, we have had good working conditions with our employees because of the collective bargaining law," explains Pocan.

Governor Walker's attacks on collective bargaining rights have created chaos, dissension and a sense of crisis that has stalled innovation and economic growth in Wisconsin.

Saturday's rally served as a reminder that there is broad recognition among Wisconsinites that restoring collective bargaining rights is the place to begin renewing a tradition of cooperation, efficiency and good government to a state that has long recognized that labor rights are human rights.
(c) 2012 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His new book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, has just been publshed by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

A Mighty Big Coincidence
SCOTUS' Frankenstein
By Abby Zimet

Stunning numbers and visuals from the Center for Responsive Politics on the impact of Citizens United, essentially ruling that corporations are people and thus can spend as much as they like on elections. For starters: outside spending in this election cycle of almost $90 million is 234% percent of 2008's numbers, and 628% of 2004's - and that's before the Super PACs start raising money for the general election. More: Seventeen of the top 20 donors were conservative; from 2006 to 2010 the percentage of spending from groups that did not disclose their donors rose from 1% to 47%; in 2010, 72% of political advertising by outside groups came from sources prohibited from spending money in 2006 - ie: corporations.

(c) 2012 Abby Zimet

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Martin Kozlowski ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Voters Slowly Realizing Santorum Believes Every Deranged Word That Comes Out Of His Mouth

WASHINGTON-As Rick Santorum has emerged to become Mitt Romney's leading opponent for the Republican presidential nomination, the American electorate said Monday it had slowly begun to realize that the former Pennsylvania senator sincerely believes every deranged word that exits his mouth.

Uneasy voters told reporters it was becoming more and more evident that comments from Santorum defending sodomy laws as acceptable restrictions on "wants and passions" and characterizing pregnancy occurring through rape as a "gift" from God were not politically calculated but were, in fact, spoken out of sincere, startling conviction.

"I honestly thought he was just playing up to the far-right voters, because that's what Republicans are supposed to do in the primaries," said Grand Rapids, MI resident Dan Banks, who explained he had dismissed as manipulative campaign rhetoric Santorum's assertion that President Obama would send Christians to the guillotine.

"But now it's dawning on me that this guy means it, all of it. Every single thing he says is an accurate depiction of how he sees the world."

"So, when he said that Satan was currently attacking the United States, he meant exactly that," added Banks. "Satan, the devil himself, is attacking the United States. Rick Santorum believes this is a real thing that is actually happening. Just wow."

Gallup polls taken during the campaign show an evolving awareness among voters that Santorum is not lying about any of the horrifying things he says. For example, in August of last year, 96 percent of voters said they thought Santorum could not possibly be serious when he said gay marriage was "an issue just like 9/11," compared with only 9 percent today. And in that same time span, the number of voters who believe Santorum was not at all kidding when he said the president had a "deep-seated antipathy toward American values and traditions" has increased more than tenfold.

While few voters said they had been following Santorum long enough to have read the 2002 Catholic Online article in which he attributed sexual abuse in Boston-area Catholic churches to the "academic, political, and cultural liberalism" of the region, all agreed his performance in the current campaign was more than adequate to drive home the difference between the candidate's authentic lunacy and the obvious pandering of his primary opponents.

"I get that Romney's just mouthing words he doesn't mean and Gingrich is a really astounding hypocrite," said Seattle voter Kara Gallardo, a lifelong Republican who nevertheless admitted she felt a creeping sense of dread as she began to grasp that the words uttered by Santorum could not be more heartfelt. "But when Santorum says that contraception is dangerous because sex is supposed to be procreative, he is not messing around. If he becomes president, you know he sincerely plans to do something about it."

"I mean, with the other guys, you can dig into their past and find at least some shred of rational thinking, even if they're cynically downplaying it now," Gallardo continued. "But I get the sense Santorum is speaking nothing but his completely unfiltered thoughts. I know it's weird to say this about a politician, but I sort of wish he were lying to my face at least a little."

While most voters said they grew progressively more troubled as they fully registered the fact that Santorum was being entirely earnest when he said Social Security was underfunded because abortions had critically reduced the number of potential taxpayers, some were more conflicted.

"It's nice to hear a candidate espouse his opinions without your BS detector going off even once," Margate, FL voter Lisa Bearden said. "He's kind of the real deal. Say what you will, but there's no denying he's got genuine integrity."

"Yep, terrifyingly genuine integrity," Bearden added.
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Issues & Alibis Vol 12 # 11 (c) 03/16/2012

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