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In This Edition

Chris Hedges returns with, "Putin Has Given The Masters Of War Exactly What They Wanted."

Ralph Nader is, "Going For Tax Reform Big Time."

Margaret Kimberley goes, "In Praise Of 'Whataboutism.'"

Jim Hightower explores, "A Rube Goldberg Inflationary Spiral."

William Rivers Pitt says, "Let's Aim For A Day When Gas Costs Nothing - Because Climate Action Has Made It Worthless."

John Nichols reports, "Nothing Scares Putin More Than Informed Russians."

James Donahue considers, "The Abnormal Concept Of Ownership."

David Swanson finds, "OMG, War Is Kind Of Horrible."

David Suzuki examines, "Fuelling A Climate Of Uncertainty In A Time Of War."

Charles P. Pierce says, "Now Trump Wants To Ruin The Legacy Of 'The Dude.'"

Juan Cole examines, "Comrades In Crazy: Top 4 Putin Trolls In The Republican Party, Starting With Tucker Carlson."

Robert Reich concludes, "Putin And Trump Have Convinced Me I Was Wrong About The 21st Century."

Thom Hartmann warns, "Wannabee Strongman DeSantis Deploys Election Police."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz reports, "Putin Upset To Find Ukrainians Less Obedient Than Trump," but first, Uncle Ernie sez, "Global Warming Is Taking A Big Bite Out Of Our Food Supply."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of John Darkow, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Wolfgang Schwan, Redfish, Motley Fool, David Crane, Sergey Mihailicenko, Kay Nietfeld, Anadolu Agency, Sean Rayford, MediaNews Group, Los Angeles Daily News, Gerd Altmann, Jim Hightower, Pixabay, Pexels, AFP, Unsplash, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments -

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Global Warming Is Taking A Big Bite Out Of Our Food Supply
Global warming strikes again!
By Ernest Stewart

"Our report demonstrates that climate change - including increases in climate hazards such as flooding, drought or cyclones - is already affecting food systems, and particularly food security in vulnerable regions. The world can prevent severe impacts on people and on nature, but there is a brief and rapidly closing window to act." ~~~ Bezner Kerr, professor at Cornell University in the Department of Global Development, part of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

With its attack on neighboring Ukraine, Russia has embroiled two of the world's five leading wheat exporters in a chaotic war, representing about a quarter of the global trade in staple grain. Not surprisingly, global wheat prices surged during the first few days of the invasion. They've come down a bit since, but they remain at their highest level since the early 2010s. That's not a comforting milestone. Back then, extreme weather in wheat powerhouses Australia, the United States, and Russia, along with a few other factors, caused wheat prices to spike. The result: bread riots in the Middle East that helped bring about the Arab Spring and the still-simmering civil war in Syria.

Geopolitical shocks like Russia's attack on Ukraine fall upon a global food system already wobbling from climate change, according to the latest report released last Monday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations' assemblage of 270 researchers from 67 countries.

The previous IPCC report, out last August, established that average global temperatures have risen 1.1 degrees Celsius since before the 19th century industrial revolution, and warned that without "immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions," it will be impossible to avoid periodic heat waves that make it too hot to grow food or work outside.

The new report looks at how rising temperatures are already pummeling global ecosystems, including the ones that provide our sustenance: farmland and the oceans. It also considers how societies can adapt to make food production more resilient in our warming, increasingly chaotic climate.

"Our report demonstrates that climate change-including increases in hazards such as flooding, drought, or cyclones-is already affecting food systems, and particularly in vulnerable regions" like Sub-Saharan Africa and Central America, says Rachel Bezner Kerr, a professor in the Department of Global Development at Cornell University and a lead author on the report's chapter on food systems. But while people living in nations near the equator will take the worst of the effects-a gaping injustice, given that they have contributed far fewer greenhouse gas emissions than their peers in the global north-"no one is spared from climate change impacts," Bezner Kerr stressed.

Here in the United States, ever fiercer droughts and floods are already wreaking havoc in our two most productive farming regions, California's Central Valley and the Midwestern corn belt.

The damage extends beyond crop failures triggered by destructive weather events. Heightened CO2 in the atmosphere actually helps crops grow faster, but it also boosts their carbohydrate content and drives down their levels of key vitamins and minerals. "This is of particular relevance for fruit and vegetable crops given their importance in human nutrition," the report states. Worse, increased heat stress from climate change more than outweighs the effect of faster growth. Warmer temperatures have already lowered yields of the globe's big three staple crops-corn, wheat, and rice-by 5.3 percent since 1961, the authors found.

And they estimate that these crops' yields will fall an additional 10 to 25 percent for each degree of warming above the current 1.1 degrees. In West Africa, heat and rainfall extremes "intensified by human-induced warming" have already cut yields of millet and sorghum-crucial foodstuffs in the region-by at least 10 percent and 5 percent, respectively. More alarming still is that as much as 30 percent of the globe's current farm and pastureland will become unsuitable for food production-too hot, too dry, too denuded of topsoil-by century's end without substantial and timely cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, the report finds.

As for seafood, the report found that because of ocean warming, the "amount of fish that can be sustainably harvested" from the oceans dropped 4.1 percent between 1930 and 2010-a time frame over which human population more than tripled. Just as on land, severe heat waves hammer oceanic ecosystems and have already already caused collapses of regional fisheries. "These events have very likely doubled in frequency between 1982 and 2016 and have also become more intense and longer," the report found. Startlingly, their frequency is expected to rise by a factor of at least four over the next decades, even if we slash greenhouse gases soon.

As I pointed out last week, coral reefs-engines of oceanic biodiversity, already in stark decline because of warming-may soon be a thing of the past. "Multiple lines of evidence indicate that the majority (70-90 percent) of warm water (tropical) coral reefs that exist today will disappear even if global warming is constrained to 1.5 degrees Celsius," the report finds. At 2 degrees Celsius of warming-an increasingly likely scenario, given stalled global action on cutting greenhouse gas emissions-virtually all of the globe's corals will die off. Around 3 billion people rely on seafood as a major source of protein.


04-02-1971 ~ 03-12-2022
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03-20-1950 ~ 03-13-2022
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10-13-1971 ~ 03-13-2022
Thanks for the photo journalism!

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(c) 2022 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, philosopher, author, stand -up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.

A wounded woman is seen as airstrike damages an apartment complex outside of Kharkiv, Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

Putin Has Given The Masters Of War Exactly What They Wanted
This is a recipe for global war.
By Chris Hedges

The Cold War, from 1945 to 1989, was a wild Bacchanalia for arms manufacturers, the Pentagon, the CIA, the diplomats who played one country off another on the world's chess board, and the global corporations able to loot and pillage by equating predatory capitalism with freedom. In the name of national security, the Cold Warriors, many of them self-identified liberals, demonized labor, independent media, human rights organizations, and those who opposed the permanent war economy and the militarization of American society as soft on communism.

That is why they have resurrected it.

The decision to spurn the possibility of peaceful coexistence with Russia at the end of the Cold War is one of the most egregious crimes of the late 20th century. The danger of provoking Russia was universally understood with the collapse of the Soviet Union, including by political elites as diverse as Henry Kissinger and George F. Kennan, who called the expansion of NATO into Central Europe "the most fateful error of American policy in the entire post-Cold War era." This provocation, a violation of a promise not to expand NATO beyond the borders of a unified Germany, has seen Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Albania, Croatia, Montenegro, and North Macedonia inducted into the Western military alliance. This betrayal was compounded by a decision to station NATO troops, including thousands of US troops, in Eastern Europe, another violation of an agreement made by Washington with Moscow. The Russian invasion of Ukraine, perhaps a cynical goal of the Western alliance, has now solidified an expanding and resurgent NATO and a rampant, uncontrollable militarism. The masters of war may be ecstatic, but the potential consequences, including a global conflagration, are terrifying.

Peace has been sacrificed for US global hegemony. It has been sacrificed for the billions in profits made by the arms industry. Peace could have seen state resources invested in people rather than systems of control. It could have allowed us to address the climate emergency. But we cry peace, peace, and there is no peace. Nations frantically rearm, threatening nuclear war. They prepare for the worst, ensuring that the worst will happen.

So what if the Amazon is reaching its final tipping point where trees will soon begin to die off en masse. So what if land ice and ice shelves are melting from below at a much faster rate than predicted. So what if temperatures soar, monster hurricanes, floods, droughts, and wildfires devastate the earth. In the face of the gravest existential crisis to beset the human species, and most other species, the ruling elites stoke a conflict that is driving up the price of oil and turbocharging the fossil fuel extraction industry. It is collective madness.

The march towards protracted conflict with Russia and China will backfire. The desperate effort to counter the steady loss of economic dominance by the US will not be offset by military dominance. If Russia and China can create an alternative global financial system, one that does not use the US dollar as the world's reserve currency, it will signal the collapse of the American empire. The dollar will plummet in value. Treasury bonds, used to fund America's massive debt, will become largely worthless. The financial sanctions used to cripple Russia will be, I expect, the mechanism that slays us, if we don't first immolate ourselves in thermonuclear war.

Washington plans to turn Ukraine into Chechnya or the old Afghanistan, when the Carter administration, under the influence of the Svengali-like National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, equipped and armed the radical jihadists that would morph into the Taliban and al Qaeda in the fight against the Soviets. It will not be good for Russia. It will not be good for the United States. It will not be good for Ukraine, as making Russia bleed will require rivers of Ukrainian blood. The decision to destroy the Russian economy, to turn the Ukrainian war into a quagmire for Russia and topple the regime of Vladimir Putin will open a Pandora's box of evils. Massive social engineering - look at Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya or Vietnam - has its own centrifugal force. It destroys those who play God.

The Ukrainian war has silenced the last vestiges of the Left. Nearly everyone has giddily signed on for the great crusade against the latest embodiment of evil, Vladimir Putin, who, like all our enemies, has become the new Hitler. The United States will give $13.6 billion in military and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, with the Biden administration authorizing on Saturday an additional $200 million in military assistance. The 5,000-strong EU rapid deployment force, the recruitment of all Eastern Europe, including Ukraine, into NATO, the reconfiguration of former Soviet Bloc militaries to NATO weapons and technology have all been fast tracked. Germany, for the first time since World War II, is massively rearming. It has lifted its ban on exporting weapons. Its new military budget is twice the amount of the old budget, with promises to raise the budget to more than 2 percent of GDP, which would move its military from the seventh largest in the world to the third-, behind China and the United States. NATO battlegroups are being doubled in size in the Baltic states to more than 6,000 troops. Battlegroups will be sent to Romania and Slovakia. Washington will double the number of U.S. troops stationed in Poland to 9,000. Sweden and Finland are considering dropping their neutral status to integrate with NATO.

This is a recipe for global war. History, as well as all the conflicts I covered as a war correspondent, have demonstrated that when military posturing begins, it often takes little to set the funeral pyre alight. One mistake. One overreach. One military gamble too many. One too many provocations. One act of desperation.

Russia's threat to attack weapons convoys to Ukraine from the West; its air strike on a military base in western Ukraine, 12 miles from the Polish border, which is a staging area for foreign mercenaries; the statement by Polish President Andrzej Duda that the use of weapons of mass destruction, such as chemical weapons, by Russia against Ukraine, would be a "game-changer" that could force NATO to rethink its decision to refrain from direct military intervention - all are ominous developments pushing the alliance closer to open warfare with Russia.

Once military forces are deployed, even if they are supposedly in a defensive posture, the bear trap is set. It takes very little to trigger the spring. The vast military bureaucracy, bound to alliances and international commitments, along with detailed plans and timetables, when it starts to roll forward, becomes unstoppable. It is propelled not by logic but by action and reaction, as Europe learned in two world wars.

The moral hypocrisy of the United States is staggering. The crimes Russia is carrying out in Ukraine are more than matched by the crimes committed by Washington in the Middle East over the last two decades, including the act of preemptive war, which under post-Nuremberg laws is a criminal act of aggression. Only rarely is this hypocrisy exposed as when USAmbassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the body: "We've seen videos of Russian forces moving exceptionally lethal weaponry into Ukraine, which has no place on the battlefield. That includes cluster munitions and vacuum bombs which are banned under the Geneva Convention." Hours later, the official transcript of her remark was amended to tack on the words "if they are directed against civilians." This is because the U.S., which like Russia never ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions treaty, regularly uses cluster munitions. It used them in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Iraq. It has provided them to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen. Russia has yet to come close to the tally of civilian deaths from cluster munitions delivered by the US military.

The Dr. Strangeloves, like zombies rising from the mass graves they created around the globe, are once again stoking new campaigns of industrial mass slaughter. No diplomacy. No attempt to address the legitimate grievances of our adversaries. No check on rampant militarism. No capacity to see the world from another perspective. No ability to comprehend reality outside the confines of the binary rubric of good and evil. No understanding of the debacles they orchestrated for decades. No capacity for pity or remorse.

Elliot Abrams worked in the Reagan administration when I was reporting from Central America. He covered up atrocities and massacres committed by the military regimes in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and by the US-backed Contra forces fighting the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. He viciously attacked reporters and human rights groups as communists or fifth columnists, calling us "un-American" and "unpatriotic." He was convicted for lying to Congress about his role in the Iran-Contra affair. During the administration of George W. Bush, he lobbied for the invasion of Iraq and tried to orchestrate a U.S. coup in Venezuela to overthrow Hugo Chavez.

"There will be no substitute for military strength, and we do not have enough," writes Abrams for the Council on Foreign Relations, where he is a senior fellow: "It should be crystal clear now that a larger percentage of GDP will need to be spent on defense. We will need more conventional strength in ships and planes. We will need to match the Chinese in advanced military technology, but at the other end of the spectrum, we may need many more tanks if we have to station thousands in Europe, as we did during the Cold War. (The total number of American tanks permanently stationed in Europe today is zero.) Persistent efforts to diminish even further the size of our nuclear arsenal or prevent its modernization were always bad ideas, but now, as China and Russia are modernizing their nuclear weaponry and appear to have no interest in negotiating new limits, such restraints should be completely abandoned. Our nuclear arsenal will need to be modernized and expanded so that we will never face the kinds of threats Putin is now making from a position of real nuclear inferiority."

Putin played into the hands of the war industry. He gave the warmongers what they wanted. He fulfilled their wildest fantasies. There will be no impediments now on the march to Armageddon. Military budgets will soar. The oil will gush from the ground. The climate crisis will accelerate. China and Russia will form the new axis of evil. The poor will be abandoned. The roads across the earth will be clogged with desperate refugees. All dissent will be treason. The young will be sacrificed for the tired tropes of glory, honor, and country. The vulnerable will suffer and die. The only true patriots will be generals, war profiteers, opportunists, courtiers in the media and demagogues braying for more and more blood. The merchants of death rule like Olympian gods. And we, cowed by fear, intoxicated by war, swept up in the collective hysteria, clamor for our own annihilation.

(c) 2022 Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He is the host of the Emmy Award-nominated RT America show On Contact.

Going For Tax Reform Big Time
By Ralph Nader

What if $10 billion were raised over ten years to transform Congress and make it do what it should be doing for the people (See, Think Big to Overcome Losing Big to Corporatism, 1/7/22)? In a more recent column, Facilitating Civic and Political Energies for the Common Good, 2/2/22, I outlined how $1 billion per year could be spent lobbying Congress for a people's agenda. First $100 million per year would be used to get through Congress long-overdue legislation such as full Medicare for All, a living wage, preventing corporate abuses, etc. The second $100 million would be devoted to create facilities making it easy for people to band together in their various organized roles (e.g., workers, consumers, patients, savers) so they could counter corporate bosses who unite their investors and many lobbying trade groups.

Now, I wish to suggest the third $100 million per year be used to make Congress change the disgracefully unfair, wasteful, and inefficient tax laws.

Start with Congress providing the Treasury Department with adequate funds to crack down on tax evasion - estimated to be between $600 billion and $1 trillion a year! Republicans in the Congress, since 2011, have strip-mined the IRS budget, especially in the area of enforcement against tax evasion by the Big Boys and the Big Global Corporations.

The GOP has cut the IRS budget by 20 percent below its 2010 level, inflation adjusted. Thousands of skilled IRS auditors, investigators, and accountants could not be retained. Audits of large companies plunged by 58 percent between 2010 and 2019. Congress was turned into a recidivist enabler of massive tax evasion - which if done by ordinary people would constitute a crime.

Last year, 55 large corporations made $40 billion in U.S. profits and paid NO federal income tax. Other companies paid less than 10 percent. To give you an idea of the size of yearly uncollected taxes, the lowest estimate is $600 billion, which is $168 billion less than the entire $768 billion military budget approved last year. The current IRS Commissioner, Charles P. Rettig, says the sum of uncollected taxes last year was a trillion dollars!

When super-rich individuals and corporations escape taxes, either middle-class taxpayers have to pay more or there are fewer government services or the federal deficit gets bigger. The last two results are the ones usually favored by Congress.

Turning to tax reform, there are lists and lists of proposals to get rid of grossly unfair tax loopholes, parking money in overseas tax havens, unjustifiable commercial tax deductions, arbitrary deferrals of income, rapid depreciation, shell corporations, and other complex travesties cooked up by corporate tax lawyers.

There is the notorious "carried interest" tax escape, condemned by Warren Buffett and just about every impartial tax expert. This is where private equity and hedge funds, in particular, get their no-risk net services for investors taxed at a much lower capital gains tax rate instead of higher ordinary income rates.

These legal tax escapes are called "tax avoidance" and are carved out by commercial interest lobbyists who wine, dine, and give campaign cash to many of the 535 members of Congress. Some of these "avoidances" have existed for years, while others are quietly pushed through at the end of many congressional sessions. If people only knew more specific examples of what profitable freeloaders are getting away with, their ire would spark indignation and civic action. Think tax deductions for extravagant entertainment or paying wrongfully injured people and so forth.

Spending $100 million a year could fund hundreds of skilled peoples' lobbyists on Capitol Hill and back home in congressional districts. These advocates would make tax reform front-page news, push for revelatory public hearings and encourage disclosures by whistleblowers. They would also propose airtight specific legislation. These and other initiatives would make "tax reform" a top-ranked election issue.

For years, all kinds of fair tax proposals have been developed by law professors, and public interest groups, such as the Citizens for Tax Justice and its former director Robert McIntyre. But no legislative muscle has been applied to Congress to counter the relentless corporatist assault on fair and proper tax laws.

Some reformers are concluding that giant corporations are moving the tax code toward de facto tax exemption for themselves. David Cay Johnston, author of many articles and books on this subject, has concluded that corporations, using global tax escapes, can now decide what to pay, when to pay, and where to pay their dwindling taxes. He thinks unenforceable federal income taxes for corporations should be scrapped in favor of a much simpler, more collectible corporate tax system.

Western European nations rely heavily on "value-added taxes" a cascading form of sales tax starting with mining to manufacturing to wholesale and retail levels. Sales taxes are usually easier and quicker to collect.

Other tax reform advocates urge that we start first with taxing pollution, ("tax what we burn before taxing what we earn") corporate crime, and financial transaction taxes on Wall Street trades and speculation.

Doubters of much success in Congress, take note. There are no more than a tiny handful of full-time advocates doing this work. Not a single full-time person, for example, is lobbying to end the "carried interest" tax escape. Similar voids exist for any one of hundreds of such unconscionable and indefensible schemes.

Why would you expect anything to happen with nobody on top of Congress? With $100 million a year, a corps of savvy experts, publicists and communicators could decisively take on Capitol Hill.

For now, Congress must pass the Biden administration's restorative funding to the depleted IRS to make the Big Boys pay up.

(c) 2022 Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His latest book is The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for Our American Future. Other recent books include, The Seventeen Traditions: Lessons from an American Childhood, Getting Steamed to Overcome Corporatism: Build It Together to Win, and "Only The Super -Rich Can Save Us" (a novel).

In Praise Of 'Whataboutism'
By Margaret Kimberley

The word "whataboutism" is used to silence and insult opponents of U.S. imperialism. It should be embraced as a means of revealing what is too often kept hidden.

Anyone who speaks out against imperialism, capitalism, or racism with concrete examples of the terrible harm they do, can expect to be charged with the dreaded term "whataboutism." Like clockwork, the act of revealing American crimes will result in an accusation that is used to silence dissent.

When war propaganda prevails regarding Ukraine or any other place where the hegemon is doing its dirty work, it is reasonable to ask probing questions. Why are the deaths of 14,000 people killed by Ukraine's civil war swept under the rug? Why is it forbidden to ask about the U.S. destruction of Libya? But once having asked a good question, one will be told that raising the topic is proof of the whataboutism sin.

The word whataboutism is in the dictionary and is defined as, "the act or practice of responding to an accusation of wrongdoing by claiming that an offense committed by another is similar or worse." That meaning is accurate and also completely defensible.

The charge is meant to censor the speaker, excuse U.S. actions, and defend its human rights violations. The denials and apologies are exactly why whataboutism should be defended. It is terrible when lies and crimes are not countered with verifiable information exposing them.

The term has gained popularity in part because there is so much hypocrisy to point out and there are so many adherents to American exceptionalism who defend what they should condemn. When the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced that it would begin investigating "the Situation in Ukraine" corporate media and their political partners gloated and pointed fingers at Russia. They didn't point out that the U.S., like Russia, is not a signatory of the Treaty of Rome which brought the ICC into existence. Not only is the U.S. not a member state, but in 2002 Congress passed the American Service Members Protection Act, popularly known as the Hague Invasion Act. It gives the U.S. the right to extract any American held at the court in the Hague. The removal part isn't even necessary because the act prohibits the extradition of Americans to the ICC.

The chest thumping about the investigation into Ukraine should surely be followed by a discussion of U.S. hostility to the ICC. It is a clear example of when and how whataboutism should be practiced. Not mentioning the U.S. relationship or rather lack of relationship with the ICC would be an indication of agreement with exceptionalist doctrine.

If Vladimir Putin is described as a war criminal, thug, dictator, and a modern day Hitler, it is appropriate and indeed necessary to ask about American presidents. For brevity's sake consider only those American presidents who served since 2001. U.S. invasions and interventions in western Asia, North Africa, central Asia and the Horn of Africa have displaced more than 37 million people since the "war on terror" began. Why shouldn't George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Donald Trump and Joe Biden be called war criminals too? Silence in the face of their criminality gives license and approval to U.S. aggressions.

American exceptionalism is an illness which infects most of the population of this country. Unfortunately most people need little prompting to defend their nation's misdeeds. George W. Bush is now thought of as a kindly old man who paints pictures of puppies. There is little inclination to acknowledge the one million dead from the Iraq invasion. Doing so would create great discomfort.

Every news story about migrants attempting a perilous crossing from North Africa to Europe should mention the destruction of Libya which took place under the direction of Barack Obama. But Obama is the first Black president, and he is still considered a model of rectitude, a man who brought hope and change. Pointing out his responsibility for an ongoing humanitarian crisis is too much for people propagandized into believing in his goodness and the nation's.

Even Donald Trump, who is ordinarily disparaged and reviled, is not called out for continuing his predecessors' wars or for killing at least 40,000 Venezuelans through his sanctions regime. Trump derangement syndrome doesn't extend to his crimes against people of the global south. The power of the white supremacist exceptionalist myth has a very strong hold.

That myth can't be rooted out and destroyed unless inconvenient facts are brought to light. If the clueless and compromised want to shout, "Whataboutism!" at the top of their lungs by all means they should do so. Although the targets of their scorn should not feel the need to justify themselves. In fact they should proudly own the word, and double down on providing whatever information is causing cognitive dissonance.

The world needs to know about America's crimes and those of its allies too. When the same European nations that turn away African and Middle Eastern refugees announce that they will accept any and all Ukrainians surely whataboutism is in order. When Biden presumes to lecture Russia, his decision to steal $7 billion in Afghanistan's assets should be brought to light. Afghans are in such a desperate state that many of them resort to selling their kidneys in order to feed themselves.

The crisis in Ukraine is just the latest example of an opportunity to point out the wrongs committed by the U.S. and its partners. No one should shrink from doing so, not even when whataboutism is used as a pejorative instead of as the badge of honor that it is.

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

A Rube Goldberg Inflationary Spiral

By Jim Hightower

Last July, several GOP senators combined their 5-watt intellects to charge that inflation was rising because of the "insane tax and spending spree of President Biden and the Democrats." Never mind that the "insane" spending is for such sensible, productive, and enormously popular national needs as childcare and jobless benefits, Mitch McConnell's rabidly partisan flock saw the chance to politicize the public's legitimate worries about rising prices. You poor consumers are made to pay more for basics, they squawked, because of "Socialist Joe's" investments in grassroots people!

Follow the ricocheting pinball of the GOPs logic:

ONE, they say that helping hard-hit families induces them to refuse to go to work; TWO, this creates blockages in the global supply chain; THREE this causes shortages of everything; FOUR, this "forces" corporate bosses to raise all prices; which, FIVE, slams the middle class and poor; so SIX, lazy workers cause inflation.
Whew! Rube Goldberg couldn't have dreamed up a more fantastical diagram to deflect attention from what's really happening, namely that instead of an inflation problem, we have a corporate greed problem.

Of course, the greedmeisters insist that their pursuit of excess corporate profit has not driven any price surges. In our economy of free market competition, they snap, prices are established by the Law of Supply and Demand. It's the magic of the marketplace, they explain.

But magicians don't do magic, they perform illusions. And the illusion of free market competition implodes when it hits the reality that our economy doesn't remotely resemble a competitive marketplace. For some 40 years, corporate-directed government policies have intentionally promoted mega-mergers and green-lighted anticompetitive business tactics. Thus, in short order and with practically no public awareness, much less discussion, America has been transformed into Monopoly Nation - letting the few gouge the many. That's where inflation comes from.

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

Gas prices at the Mobile station outside of the Beverly Center in Los Angeles, CA, on March 10, 2022.

Let's Aim For A Day When Gas Costs Nothing - Because Climate Action Has Made It Worthless
By William Rivers Pitt

One week from tomorrow, the world will pass - and likely ignore - a most curious anniversary. On that day two years ago, as the true scope of the COVID-19 pandemic was revealing itself and the infrastructure of "How Things Are" began to wobble and quake, the price of petroleum dialed down to zero. Less than zero, actually: If you had stores of petroleum, you were in the hole to the tune of about 40 bucks a barrel.

Why? Because thanks to COVID, everything had stopped or was in the process of stopping. Travel became practically nonexistent, and the planetary appetite for oil plummeted to almost nil (comparative to a normal day). The juggernaut that is oil production, like a full-steam oil tanker at sea, cannot stop on a dime; the inertia has to play out before forward motion is checked. So here were the world's oil spigots pumping millions of gallons of petroleum into an already-flooded market, unable to halt... until that day, when every barrel of oil on Earth transformed into a bucket of iron pyrite, colloquially known as "Fool's Gold."

"If you had oil," I wrote at the time, "you had to theoretically pay to get rid of it, instead of getting paid for delivering it. The price of a barrel of oil on Monday stood at -$37.63. Note the minus sign. Prior to yesterday, the lowest price a barrel of oil ever fetched on the market was $10 back in 1986. Note the absence of the minus sign. This is beyond unprecedented territory."

It didn't last, of course. Despite finding itself pantless on the world stage that day, petroleum remained the undisputed heavyweight champion of economic motivators. Amid irony-laden cries from the capitalists for a "Big Oil bailout," the industry eventually eased down global production, enough oil was burned in the daily process of murdering the environment even in that slowed setting, and the glut resolved itself. Rust never sleeps.

It was quite completely surreal for a while there, all the more so because this went down on 4/20, the official holiday for celebrating marijuana in all its beneficent forms. You weren't stoned - well, maybe you probably were - and that shit happened.

I went to gas up a couple of days later while capitalism and petroleum were still putting down this little economic insurrection, stuck the nozzle in the tank, and set the toggle on the handle to hands-free flow to spare myself from the cold. After a few chilly minutes, the toggle closed with a spirited KA-JONK and the pouring stopped, the universal signal for "full tank."I looked at the price line on the pump's readout; it said "$20.44." That can't be right, it's usually twice that at least, I thought, and tried to keep filling the tank. The handle refused to let me continue pouring, KA-JONK, KA-JONK, acting as though the tank was already full. "Great, it's broken," I fumed, "all I need right now... wait."

It wasn't broken; the gas cost $1.59 a gallon. The tank really was full, and for only 20 bucks. I hadn't paid that little for gas since high school, back before the first oil war jumped off in the Middle East.


Flash forward two years, to another trip I made to the gas station this past Wednesday. The news out of Ukraine, already horrific, was becoming increasingly dire by the hour: In the latest installment, the U.S. had cut off all its imports of Russian oil, and the Russians had responded by blowing up a maternity hospital filled with new mothers and their infants.

The price of gas, already rising, went berserk. I spent $50 on half a tank that day, grimly noting the likelihood that this would probably seem cheap in the coming weeks and months. All that was missing was an attendant by the pump to thank me for my custom before punching me in the face. Inflation, a political bugaboo before the Russian invasion, is set to be a long-term financial resident for millions, the roommate you hate for eating your groceries and leaving the lights on all the time.

I stood there listening to my car drink my paycheck in five-dollar swallows and pondered the power of petroleum, again. Now that it is nearly too late to fully confront it, a preponderance of learned scientific opinion - goosed along by Mordor fires and epochal droughts in the West, thousand-year floods every year in the Midwest, and coastal storms that threaten the existence of entire cities - has come to the conclusion that anthropogenic climate disruption is, in fact, a thing... a thing that was manageable and preventable at one time, but is now "baked into" our collective future to at least some deadly degree, and all due to the deliberate profit-bent interference of Big Oil, as I wrote back in 2015:

ExxonMobil, it seems, was fully aware of the existence and dangers of global climate change as early as 1981, a fact revealed by a number of recently-released internal memos. The company was looking to exploit a massive natural gas field in Indonesia, but their pet in-house scientist warned against it, because the field was 70 percent carbon dioxide, and drilling for the gas would release the CO2, which would be dangerous to the environment.

For the next 27 years, despite knowing better, ExxonMobil spent millions of dollars to promote "scientists" and think tanks who worked hammer and tongs to promulgate the idea that climate change was a myth. Climate-deniers like Willie Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics made mad bank by spraying scientific falsehoods into the polluted wind, thanks to the largesse of a number of energy corporations, including ExxonMobil.

They knew. They lied. They paid others to lie. They deranged the conversation, perverted bedrock science into a muddle of greed-inspired opinion-based nonsense, and maybe, or probably, humanity might have missed its window to fix all this because of the long delay they created in the name of profit.

The tyranny of profit is tied to poison in the ground that is treasured for its quality of burning, and never mind the multifaceted doom that waits so patiently for us all: Armageddon once we've squeezed the last black drop from the sand and stone with no plan for what to do next, Armageddon when we can no longer breathe, Armageddon when the wretched petroleum elites in various nations go to war over their precious product, Armageddon when the planet can no longer grow sufficient food to feed its billions of human passengers, Armageddon in the end of potable water, Armageddon at every turn.

Russia's gruesome war in Ukraine is not specifically about oil, but its impact has everything in the world to do with oil. Russia, after the fall of the Soviet Union, became a state run by profiteering oligarchs like, most recently, former KGB officer Vladimir Putin. Once the USSR collapsed, Big Oil pounced on the vast and virtually untapped oil resources, and Russia became a world petroleum power almost overnight.

Multiple European nations - particularly Germany - leaped at the chance to exploit this cheaper energy alternative as a means of escaping the clutches of Saudi Arabia's expensive product. It is no accident that all those damaging sanctions levied against Russia after the invasion barely touch that nation's energy sector. Sure, the U.S. has closed off its own imports of Siberian oil, which amounted to about 3 percent of our total usage. We here would notice it more if we'd cut off Venezuela.

There is good reason for this, which only makes the situation more bleak. If the U.S. and the world came down on Russia's oil business with both feet, the economic shock in Europe would have potentially been enough to rattle, if not splinter, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance. At a minimum, hurling Europe into the expensive dark with a war on its eastern porch would have proven to be strategically discombobulating at a moment when solidarity and a united front were the only things keeping Putin from rolling his tanks into Moldova, and then Georgia, and then God only knows where else.

That was the thinking, anyway, and nothing since has transpired to gainsay it. There are no Russian forces in Moldova, and NATO hasn't fired a shot, yet. The lights are still on in Germany. Five dollars a gallon at the pumps, however, is going to throw serious political weight on the North American continent, especially once the Republican Party figures out how to blame the looming economic earthquake on President Biden. It doesn't have to make sense. It only has to make Fox News. Meanwhile, for the most part, Russia's oil business chugs on. There is a rising tide of angst over this, particularly in the U.S., but that angst carries all the nuance of a boilerplate Hollywood rom-com. Americans want to support Ukraine with more vigor - some even advocate no-fly zones that would have us shooting down the warplanes of a nuclear-armed adversary - but they also want the cheap gasoline that has been their seeming birthright since the introduction of the internal combustion engine and steering wheels.

Over it all hovers Big Oil, ever covetous of its profits and position in a world being steadily rendered into ashes and flood plains. Something has to give. But what?


A growing chorus of voices is looking hard at the catastrophe in Ukraine as an imperative motivator toward clean, renewable energy. At a minimum, having an effective renewable energy infrastructure would make the militaristic whimsy of autocrats like Putin far less impactful on the global economy. At maximum, doing so might just save all our lives. "This moment is a clarion call for the urgent need to transition to domestic clean energy so that we are never again complicit in fossil-fueled conflict," Democratic Senator and Green New Deal sponsor Ed Markey told the Guardian.

As the title of the film about the early days of the oil industry warns, there will be blood. Capitalism will jealously defend its fantastic profits in this sector; indeed, its fight is already well underway. A second Guardian article explains:

Oil and gas companies are facing a potential bonanza from the Ukraine war, though few in the industry want to admit it, and many are using soaring prices and the fear of fuel shortages to cement their position with governments in ways that could have disastrous impacts on the climate crisis.

"There is a huge opportunity for oil and gas companies, though I'm sure it is not one they would have chosen," said Robert Buckley, head of relationship development at Cornwall Insight, an energy analysis company. "They have the opportunity to reposition themselves [as crucial to policymakers]. There is going to be a very high price for oil for a very long time, and even the prospect of physical shortages."

Oil prices have leapt dramatically, to more than $130 a barrel, sending petrol prices in the UK to more than 155p a litre, while gas prices have also surged. Luke Sussams, of Jefferies investment bank, said: "The high-price environment is likely to last a long time. Boris Johnson has said that alongside the accelerated deployment of renewables will be greater production from the North Sea. There is the potential for growth prospects and upside [for fossil fuel producers]."

It is bleakly amusing how often we are told the best solution to the problems caused by capitalism is more capitalism. In this instance, an oil shock caused by war is not taken up as a cause to question oil or war, but as a perfectly spiffy reason to produce more oil in the name of "energy security," even as the climate along with various economies collapse around us, even as the war rages on.

Unsurprisingly, the political pressures surrounding this argument are extreme. President Biden has spent the last several days talking out of both sides of his mouth. Speaking to a global climate summit on Monday, Biden warned that "we only have a brief window before us" to avoid the worst of the looming environmental calamities. Days earlier, however, he was imploring the planet's largest petroleum producers to crank up their production levels. The two concepts cannot exist in the same space at the same time, yet there they are.

It isn't just the oil companies that are in this to win it. "Goldman Sachs, the giant New York investment bank, is cashing in on the war in Ukraine by selling Russian debt to U.S. hedge funds - and using a legal loophole in the Biden administration's sanctions to do it," reports the Guardian. "As the Western world scrambles to defend Ukraine by locking down Russian money, the company is acting as a broker between Moscow's creditors and U.S. investors, pitching clients on the opportunity to take advantage of Russia's war-crippled economy by buying its debt securities low now and selling them high later."

This, among many other reasons, is why journalist Matt Taibbi famously described Goldman Sachs as a vampire squid "wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money." Taibbi wrote that 12 years ago; it has aged well with time.

Russia's war in Ukraine has become a catalyst for capitalist profiteering in its grossest form. Could it also be the spark that motivates people to rise up against the petroleum hegemony and demand that our leadership find a better way, if only to avoid getting financially disemboweled at the gas pump and the grocery store? Enlightened self-interest can be a powerful motivator when grasped with both hands.

Consider the U.S. jobs market amid the passage of the COVID pandemic. While the disease itself has been a lethal catastrophe, it gave millions of workers pause about the quality of their jobs and their own fulfillment with those jobs. After lockdown or quarantine, many of those millions chose not to return to the grind of their old gigs, choosing instead to seek out a happier and more fulfilling path.

There has been an eruption of successful union organizing for the same reasons, and many employers have been forced to cough up higher wages, better benefits and more reasonable work hours in response. Despite decades of dire capitalist warnings, these improvements in the lives of workers did not cause the Earth to crash into the sun.


We are all going to endure significant economic suffering in the months to come because Russia invaded Ukraine and disrupted the latticework of global petroleum profiteering. When we emerge on the other side, and even as we cope with the present moment, ideas like the Green New Deal as well as other, more muscular climate plans must be brought to bear. We can do it if we choose to; this has been the truth of us since before the moon landings. We can, and we must.

"Until we transform the underlying infrastructure from gas-fired power and plastic production," writes Sara Goddard for Green That Life, "we will still be hijacked by an industry that since its existence has buffeted regular people, destroyed homes and open spaces, and employs corruption and coercion as its business model. Putin is a tyrant who must be toppled, but global dependence on oil will continue to sustain petro-states like Russia until nations refuse to prop up Big Oil."

Let's make every day like 4/20/20, when the price of oil was nearly zero because almost nobody wanted it. Like that, but without the pandemic terrors and deep financial insecurities, of course. You weren't stoned - or maybe you were - and that shit happened. Let's make it happen again for more than a day.

(c) 2022 William Rivers Pitt is a senior editor and lead columnist at Truthout. He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know, The Greatest Sedition Is Silence and House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation. His fourth book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co_written with Dahr Jamail, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in New Hampshire.

People gather to stage anti-war protest in Saint-Petersburg, Russia, on March 2, 2022. The graffiti reads "no war."

Nothing Scares Putin More Than Informed Russians
The Russian anti-war movement is powered by information, so Putin is attacking independent media
By John Nichols

A courageous anti-war movement has developed in Russia, filling the streets of cities across the country with demonstrations against Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to invade Ukraine.

OVD-Info, an independent media project on human rights and political persecutions in the country, reported last week that at least 7,500 Russians have been arrested in "No to War" demonstrations since the start of Putin's invasion. On Sunday, an additional 4,300 Russians were detained as protests erupted in well over 50 cities. The total number of those arrested has continued to rise even as Russian officials implement draconian measures that United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said were designed to impede "the exercise of civil and political rights and criminalize non-violent behavior." Despite the risks, Russia's anti-war protesters understand what Dmitry Muratov, the Nobel Peace Prize–winning editor of the Russian publication Novaya Gazeta, meant when he said, "Finally, only the anti-war movement of Russians, in my opinion, can save life on this planet."

Putin recognizes the threat he faces from demonstrations that have been urged on by Russian dissidents. So does Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. "To all the citizens of the Russian Federation who come out to protest, I want to say-we see you," Zelensky declared last week. "This means that you heard us. This means that you begin to trust us. Fight for us. Fight against the war."

He renewed the direct appeal to Russians on Sunday, announcing, "Citizens of Russia! For you, this is a struggle not only for peace in Ukraine! This is a struggle for your country, for the best that was in it."

It is clear that many Russians are hearing Zelensky's appeals, along with those of the Ukrainian people. But for how long? Putin and his allies are making every effort to close channels of communications and to narrow the discourse. They are following a playbook that authoritarians, including those who pose as small-"d" democrats, invariably use when their actions stir domestic dissent. "The screws are being fully tightened-essentially we are witnessing military censorship," said OVD-Info spokesperson Maria Kuznetsova.

It was only last fall when Muratov and his colleagues, along with Filipino journalist Maria Ressa, were honored by the Nobel committee "for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace." Muratov announced at the time that he would accept none of the prize money, saying, "Since it is a Peace Prize, I believe it should contribute to that cause." At the same time, he explained why authoritarians, in his country and around the world, are so bent on censorship. It is nothing so simple as vanity, he said. It is rooted in fear of the people:

What is censorship? It is a manifestation of distrust to your own people. Those who introduce censorship do not trust their people. In different countries of the world, many individuals who, of course, consider themselves independent, simply do not believe their people. They think that they are the ones to determine what the people should read, watch, see and listen to. Such lack of trust to the people is the most dangerous thing. People must be trusted.
Less than five months after Muratov spoke those words, a new law approved unanimously by the Russian parliament has barred news organizations from reporting on Ukraine in language that deviates from the official line spelled out in press statements from the Ministry of Defense and government agencies. The invasion of Ukraine cannot be referred to as an "invasion" or a "war," and journalists who violate the new law could face up to 15 years in jail.

Novaya Gazeta journalists have already been detained by Russian authorities, and the publication has been forced to curtail its coverage of the Ukraine invasion. It announced on Friday:

Military censorship in Russia has quickly moved into a new phase: from the threat of blocking and closing publications (almost fully implemented) it has moved to the threat of criminal prosecution of both journalists and citizens who spread information about military hostilities that is different from the press releases of the Ministry of Defense. There is no doubt that this threat will be realized.
The Russian prosecutor general's office also moved to block one of the most prominent dissenting outlets, radio station Ekho Moskvy (Echo of Moscow). The station was fined for reporting on Ukraine and, as of last Thursday, "liquidated." Meanwhile, Dozhd (TV Rain), Russia's last independent television channel, halted operations last week after its websites were blocked, and its chief editor and key employees fled the country following threats to their safety and freedom.

March 5, 2022, Poland, Medyka: A journalist with a hard hat in his luggage walks past refugees to
the Ukrainian-Polish border. Numerous people arrive here every day, fleeing the war in Ukraine.

"We are looking on helplessly as Russia's independent media are being silenced to death," said Jeanne Cavelier, the head of the Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk for the global press freedom group Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontieres, or RSF). The Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor, which RSF identifies as a digital press freedom predator, "has blocked around 30 Russian and Ukrainian independent media sites."

RSF reported Saturday, "The latest targets are the BBC's Russian-language news service, the German public radio and TV broadcaster Deutsche Welle, Radio Svoboda-the Russian subsidiary of the Prague-based US broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL)-and the independent Russian site Meduza. The remaining unblocked independent media outlets-Mediazona, Novaya Gazeta, Svobodnaya Pressa, Journalist and Lenizdat-are likely to be blocked soon."

In recent days, RSF has relaunched one of its most innovative projects, Operation #CollateralFreedom, which uses mirror site technology to enable news websites to circumvent censorship in Russia, Ukraine, and other countries.

RSF makes the point that wartime assaults on press freedom are not unique to Russia. Crackdowns on independent media have been seen in countries around the world, from Yemen to Myanmar to China. In recent months, the United States has drawn sharp rebukes from Amnesty International and press freedom groups for seeking to prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for publishing leaked details about US military actions during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

The International Federation of Journalists, a group with which I have been associated over the years, has for some time been campaigning for an International Convention dedicated to the protection of journalists and media professionals. It is sorely needed, as the IFJ's website features daily reports of legal threats, censorship, and violence directed at journalists in dozens of countries.

The IFJ and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) have set up a "Safety Fund for Journalists in Ukraine." The IFJ also has condemned "new attempts from the Kremlin to limit the access to free information in Russian territory." And EFJ General Secretary Ricardo Gutierrez has declared, "Europe must assist Russian journalists who are facing brutal repression."

The United States should do the same, by providing refuge for media workers who must flee Russia, Ukraine, and other conflict zones around the world. And by respecting the fact that independent, speak-truth-to-power media may be the most powerful weapon of all.

Amid all the talk about how best to stop Putin's invasion and prevent the devastation of Ukraine, it is vital to recognize that getting honest information to the Russian people strengthens the anti-war movement-which Dmitry Muratov rightly argues "can save life on this planet."

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

The Abnormal Concept Of Ownership
By James Donahue

The great wall of division among humanity has always been wealth. And wealth can be interpreted as ownership. Those with wealth possess land, the society's monetary supply, and consequently power.

Imagine living in a society where ownership of "things" does not exist. Believe it or not, such social groups really exist on Earth, but usually in primitive tribal settings. But their very existence strongly suggests that property ownership has been an invention resulting from the rise in social structure into collective behavior among larger numbers of people.

It has been said that when Europeans first stepped on American soil, the natives were puzzled at the idea of "owning land." Some of the languages lacked words to even describe personal ownership of anything.

When my wife and I lived among the Navajo people of the Southwest, we discovered that the natives were attempting to change the tribal name to Dine (pronounced Di-nay), which in the Navajo language means "people of the Earth." They complained that the Spanish give them the name Navajo, which meant "thief." This was obviously because the Navajo had no concept of personal ownership and used whatever they found to meet their personal needs.

An example of this behavior among the Navajo was often demonstrated during our time with them. While our Navajo hosts generously shared their home, food and resources during our time with them, we discovered that many of the personal items we brought with us, carefully stored in boxes in an out-building went missing by the time we left the reservation. We could not be angry because we understood the mindset of the people. Even the house we were sharing was provided by the United States government. There were no property boundaries in Navajo territory, which spanned four adjoining states.

The great revolutionary socialist Karl Marx, whose books The Communist Manifesto and Capital helped spark the socialist movement, saw the disparity created by capitalism and property ownership. He defined the conflict between an ownership class that controls production and the proletariat, or laborers that slave to produce for the ownership class. He called capitalism the "dictatorship of the bourgeoisie" and said it was run by the wealthy classes for their own benefit.

The concepts of communism and some forms of socialism that have evolved since Marx's day go so far as to uphold the idea that private ownership of capital is inherently illegitimate. This is because it always benefits the wealthy over the poor, thus creating domination over the working class.

One unidentified commentator on an Internet website, in examining this subject, wrote: "We're used to thinking of ownership as a given mechanism in life because it's ingrained in the culture and language that forms our mindset."

Indeed, in industrialized nations, workers slave for the monetary rewards that provide food, clothing and shelter for themselves and their families. The dream of every household is to own a small piece of land with a house on it, perhaps a car in the yard, and a collection of domestic comforts within the home. Thus the concept of "ownership" is truly ingrained in our psyche.

But the world concept of private ownership is drastically changing as our numbers increase, the gluttony of having things spreads around the planet, we carelessly pollute and destroy our land, water and air, and the world's natural resources begin to run out.

There was a time when even those of us living in a capitalistic society believed that the air and water and sunlight were free for the taking. Had we lived at an earlier time, we might also have included ownership and use of the land. But even this is disappearing.

The State of Oregon, for example, now has a law on the books that claims all of the water in the state to be government owned. If citizens wish to use the water to farm, divert its natural flow in a stream, or store it in a private pond, they must acquire permission to do so. In Oregon it is against the law to even collect rainwater from the roof of your home unless it is collected in a barrel or tub. Once it hits the ground, the water is state-owned.

(c) 2022 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles.

OMG, War Is Kind Of Horrible
By David Swanson

For decades, the U.S. public seemed largely indifferent to most of the horrible suffering of war. The corporate media outlets mostly avoided it, made war look like a video game, occasionally mentioned suffering U.S. troops, and once in a blue moon touched on the deaths of a handful of local civilians as if their killing were some sort of aberration. The U.S. public funded and either cheered for or tolerated years and years of bloody wars, and came out managing to believe falsely that a large percentage of war deaths are of troops, that a large percentage of war deaths in U.S. wars are U.S. troops, that wars happen in a mysterious place called a "battlefield," and that with rare exceptions the people killed by U.S. troops are people who need killing exactly like those given death sentences in U.S. courts (except for the ones later exonerated).

For decades, wise and strategic peace advocates counseled against bothering to mention the millions of men, women, and children slaughtered, wounded, made homeless, terrified, traumatized, poisoned, or starved by U.S. wars. Nobody would care about them, we were told, so mentioning them wouldn't actually help them. It would be smarter to mention only U.S. troops, even if it perpetuated the false belief that the wars were not one-sided genocidal slaughters. It would be even smarter, we were told, to focus on the financial costs of the wars, even though the U.S. government simply invents how ever much money it wants for more wars. Money, we were told, is something that people can care about.

Of course, the obvious problem wasn't what we talked about, but that we weren't allowed on television. Of course, the average U.S. resident is not a heartless sociopath. Of course, people care all the time about distant and different human beings. When hurricane victims are presented in the media as worthy, people donate. When a famine is blamed on nature, the money gushes forth. When cancer is depicted as arising from a pristine, unsullied environment, I just dare you to find a neighborhood that won't run a marathon to cure it. So, in theory, I always believed that people in the United States could in fact care about war victims. Just as they could declare "We Are All French" when a bomb went off in France, they could in theory declare "We Are All Yemeni" when the U.S. and Saudi militaries terrorize Yemeni children, or announce "We Are All Afghans" when Joe Biden steals billions of dollars needed for basic survival.

You'll have spotted the actual problem, of course. There's no such thing as being terrorized by the U.S. military or a U.S. president stealing from foreigners. Just about nobody, in fact, even knows what colors the Yemeni flag is - much less have they pasted them up everywhere. In the U.S. media those things do not exist. But caring about war victims does exist. I distinctly remember how much people cared about fictional infants removed from incubators to get the first gulf war going, or the impact had by videos of individual victims of ISIS. "Rwanda" was a nonsensical argument for a war on Libya precisely because people are understood to care about war victims when needed to. Syrians have been worthy war victims when the wrong side has been falsely accused of using the wrong kind of weapon. Caring about war victims was always a possibility, and now it has burst forth onto central stage. We now see, directed toward Ukrainians, the concern and empathy that were always possible for little children and grandmothers murdered by war in Iraq or dozens of other countries.

For those of us whose opposition to war was always principally driven by concern for its direct victims - augmented by concern for the victims of diverting so many resources into war instead of into useful things - this is an opportunity to speak honestly. Speaking honestly is always more persuasive than speaking manipulatively. Unless you've decided to cheer for Russian mass-murder, here is a chance to say to the media-consuming public: YES! YES! We are with you! War is horrendous! War is immoral! There is nothing worse than war! We must abolish this barbarism! We must abolish it no matter who does it or why. And we'll only do that if we learn the power of nonviolent action to resist it.

Millions of Russians and non-Russians believe that Russia is acting defensively and that whatever it does is justified. Millions of Ukrainians and non-Ukrainians believe that whatever it does is defensive and justified. The arguments are wildly different, and we need not dignify the idiocy of objecting to equating them. There is nothing equal or even measurable about human actions. But Russia had nonviolent alternatives to resist NATO expansion and chose violence. Ukraine had nonviolent alternatives to resist Russian invasion, and U.S. televisions are not telling us to what extent Ukrainians have in fact chosen, with little support or organization, to attempt them.

If we all survive this crisis, the one lesson we need to take away from it is that human beings live under those fantastic streaks of light that television talking heads ooh and aah over. And if those human beings don't seem to matter much, we can just try thinking of them as if they were Ukrainians. Then we can work on comprehending that the enemy is not the people in whose names the bombs fall. The enemy is war.

(c) 2022 David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

The excuse that the world will need fossil fuels for years to come so it's better to
support our own industries wasn't a great argument even 34 years ago when the
IPCC was established - and fossil fuel development and use have accelerated since then.

Fuelling A Climate Of Uncertainty In A Time Of War
By David Suzuki

It's a tragic truth that some people are willing to inflict unfathomable suffering and death for the sake of power and wealth. From Russia's aggression in Ukraine to the push for continued climate-altering fossil fuel expansion, selfish gain means more to some than the health and well-being of our children and grandchildren and those yet to be born.

Take the decades-spanning efforts to downplay and deny the evidence of human-caused climate disruption - efforts that have accelerated in recent days, as the fossil fuel industry and its political and media allies cynically use the Russia-Ukraine crisis to advocate for increased development and expansion of the products and infrastructure they tout.

Alberta's premier tweeted, "Now if Canada really wants to help defang Putin, then let's get some pipelines built." He fails to acknowledge that the pipes are largely being made by a company 60 per cent owned by Russian oligarchs - one with close ties to Putin - and that the Alberta Investment Management Corporation owns half a million shares of a Russian investment fund whose largest holdings are in Russian fossil fuel companies Gazprom, Sberbank and Lukoil.

He did halt Russian alcohol sales, though (which is mostly just Russian Standard vodka, not really popular in Alberta).

UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres had a more rational take, tweeting: "As current events make all too clear, our reliance on fossil fuels makes the global economy & our energy security vulnerable to geopolitical crises. Instead of slowing down decarbonization, now is the time to accelerate the transition to a renewable energy future.

The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, explains the dangers of deception: "Rhetoric and misinformation on climate change and the deliberate undermining of science have contributed to misperceptions of the scientific consensus, uncertainty, disregarded risk and urgency, and dissent."

It adds that "strong party affiliation and partisan opinion polarization contribute to delayed mitigation and adaptation action, most notably in the US but with similar patterns in Canada" and that "Vested economic and political interests have organized and financed misinformation and 'contrarian' climate change communication."

It's not that everyone who denies or downplays climate science is uncaring or, worse, sociopathic. Those with power often exploit the uneducated and uninformed to further their own ends - and in many cases work to degrade education systems to prevent people from acquiring critical thinking and logic skills.MO<> The excuse that the world will need fossil fuels for years to come so it's better to support our own industries wasn't a great argument even 34 years ago when the IPCC was established - and fossil fuel development and use have accelerated since then. Failure to heed the evidence has propelled humanity into a climate emergency.

Those who know better have no excuse. The fossil fuel industry's own scientists accurately warned about the climate consequences of profligate fossil fuel burning 45 years ago. Most opinion writers who sow doubt, confusion and misinformation about climate disruption aren't ignorant enough to outright reject mountains of accumulating evidence - including what people everywhere are plainly experiencing!

So, why do they so strenuously oppose what is clearly necessary, especially knowing that many measures to shift to cleaner energy, reduce consumption and protect carbon sinks like forests, wetlands, kelp forests and more will also lead to less pollution, improved public health and better, more equitable economic outcomes?

Part of it may be fear - fear of change, of losing illusory power and wealth, of having to think differently. Much of it's rooted in selfishness, of taking what they can while they can, under the assumption that negative consequences won't affect them, either because their wealth and power will insulate them, or because impacts won't kick in until after they're gone. Some of it is ego. It's been surmised the Putin is only wreaking such horrible destruction because he wants to cement his imaginary legacy as a great leader who helped restore a failing empire to its former glory.

It's profoundly sad that we're being led by so many short-sighted, narrow-minded people. It's sad that children have to march in the streets and protest for something as basic as survivable conditions. It's sad that young people are being sacrificed - sent to kill and be killed to protect billionaires' interests.

It's time for a radical shift.

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

Now Trump Wants To Ruin The Legacy Of 'The Dude'
Chester A. Arthur, a fixture of New York's patronage system, did a 180 to our collective benefit in 1883.
By Charles P. Pierce

El Caudillo del Mar-a-Lago, the leader of the Republican Party and its presumptive presidential nominee, held another wankfest over the weekend, this one in South Carolina, the home office of American sedition. It was the usual bag of rhetorical horrors, albeit cut a bit short because the weather was lousy. However, he rang a change that was frankly quite ominous.

We will pass critical reforms making every executive branch employee fireable by the President of the United States. The deep state must and will be brought to heel.
I, for one, am not hungering for an Executive Branch in which every job is held by either Jared Kushner or Steven Miller. If you can distinguish this proposal from the game plan followed by every dictator back to Julius Caesar, you have a more nuanced view than I do. There is no quiet part anymore. Everything is said out loud now. In addition, this latest authoritarian wet dream comes at the expense of the legacy of the president who was known in his time as The Dude.

Chester A. Arthur ascended to the White House upon the 1881 murder of President James Garfield. In 1871, as a protege of notorious New York political operator Roscoe Conkling, Arthur was appointed to be the Customs Collector of the Port of New York, a position rich with opportunities for plunder and patronage. By all accounts, Arthur resisted the temptation for plunder, but he was all in for patronage, because that was the way things were done. However, Arthur did have a taste for the finer things; he was known to send to Great Britain for his pants. Hence, he became known in the political world as The Dude.

Upon taking office, Arthur pulled off one of the great 180s in American political history. In 1883, he signed the Pendleton Act, which reformed the American civil service system with an eye toward ending patronage throughout the federal government. That the former pasha of one of America's prime patronage palaces signed this bill made a lot of people dizzy.

(To be honest, the Pendleton Act was a somewhat alloyed blessing. Its author, Senator George Pendleton, had been a Copperhead Democrat during the Civil War and the party's vice-presidential nominee in 1864. Later, he was a virulent opponent of the civil rights of freed Black citizens. Republicans had used patronage to empower Black citizens through government work, and Pendleton saw civil service reform as a way to end this practice. And, by the Wilson administration, applicants for federal jobs had to attach their photos to their applications.)

In any event, the former president* seems to want to bring us back to the 1880s, except without any of the benefits to minority citizens. But, for the moment, the system is holding, and The Dude, yes, he abides.

(c) 2022 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.

The Quotable Quote -

"The main problem of America is that you're seeing people working all over this country two jobs, they're working three jobs, and they're getting nowhere in a hurry. They're working hard. They can't afford to send their kids to college in many instances. They can't afford child care for their little babies. They're worried to death about retirement."
~~~ Bernie Sanders

Comrades In Crazy: Top 4 Putin Trolls In The Republican Party, Starting With Tucker Carlson
By Juan Cole

Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) - Vladimir Putin is admired on the American Right as no foreign leader has been since Adolf Hitler. Today's counterparts of Charles Lindbergh and Father Coughlin are arguably more organized, and they have the advantage of prominent perches in both old and new media.

1. Tucker Carlson likes Putin in a way he does not like his fellow Americans to his left, i.e. almost everyone. In fact, he is really annoyed at any call for him to be patriotic and unite with fellow Americans across party lines:

"Why do I hate Putin so much? Has Putin ever called me a racist? Has he threatened to get me fired for disagreeing with him? Has he shipped every middle-class job in my town to Russia? Did he manufacture a worldwide pandemic that wrecked my business and kept me indoors for two years? Is he teaching my children to embrace racial discrimination? Is he making fentanyl? Is he trying to snuff out Christianity? Does he eat dogs?"
Underlying these silly questions is the implicit premise that Putin in a Christian White Nationalist just like Tucker, who is much better than Americans not sharing in these key attributes, war crimes be damned.

David Corn at Mother Jones discovered that Russian authorities are putting out Carlson's clips everywhere. Tucker Carlson has risen literally to become the poster boy for the Kremlin.

MSNBC: "Fact-Check: Fox's Tucker Carlson Caught Amplifying Kremlin Claims"

2. Candace Owens, new High Poobah of the Tinfoil Hats Brigade, tweeted, "Have we yet received any explanation for why the US embassy in Kiev removed the fact sheets pertaining to their biological labs in Ukraine from their website?-Why did our department of defense fund them and what does "permit for working with pathogens" mean?

There never have been any US "biological labs" in Ukraine. This meme is a Russian disinformation campaign.

3. Former Democratic presidential candidate and current CPAC Reagan Dinner favorite Tulsi Gabbard wonders, "The price of gas is going through the roof, food prices are going to skyrocket even higher than they are already, and we're facing the very real possibility of war with Russia-a nuclear holocaust. And for what? We still haven't yet received an answer to this question. @FoxNation ."

I dunno. Maybe Russia sent 180,000 troops to invade a sovereign European country and bombard its civilian cities and kill its children and suck its neighbor's blood like an enormous vampire. Why, the resulting energy crisis might even be Russia's fault.

4. Trump thinks Putin is just hearkening back to the loving times of the Soviet Union and that the serial massive war crimes are a form of nostalgia for when Russians and Ukrainians were all in the same Gulag, like when people sing Auld Lang Syne and get teary-eyed over Vodka:

"You say, what's the purpose of this? They had a country. You could see it was a country where there was a lot of love and we're doing it because, you know, somebody wants to make his country larger or he wants to put it back the way it was when actually it didn't work very well."
The big lesson is that some in the American Republican Party will let nothing stand in the way of their solidarity with aggrieved white people.

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

Putin And Trump Have Convinced Me I Was Wrong About The 21st Century
Sanctioning a few of the richest oligarchs is unlikely to have much effect. But there's a more ambitious approach
By Robert Reich

I used to believe several things about the twenty-first century that Putin's invasion of Ukraine and Donald Trump's election in 2016 have shown me are false.

I assumed:

Nationalism is disappearing. I expected globalization would blur borders, create economic interdependence among nations and regions, and extend a modern consumer and artistic culture worldwide.

I was wrong. Both Putin and Trump have exploited xenophobic nationalism to build their power. (Putin's aggression has also ignited an inspiring patriotism in Ukraine.)

Nations can no longer control what their citizens know. I assumed that emerging digital technologies, including the Internet, would make it impossible to control worldwide flows of information and knowledge. Tyrants could no longer keep their people in the dark or hoodwink them with propaganda.

Wrong again. Trump filled the media with lies, as has Putin. Putin has also cut off Russian citizens from the truth about what's occurring in Ukraine.

Advanced nations will no longer war over geographic territory. I thought that in the "new economy" land was becoming less valuable than technological knowhow and innovation. Competition among nations would therefore be over the development of cutting-edge inventions.

I was only partly right. While skills and innovation are critical, land still provides access to critical raw materials and buffers against potential foreign aggressors.

Major nuclear powers will never risk war against each other because of the certainty of "mutually assured destruction." I bought the conventional wisdom that nuclear war was unthinkable.

I fear I was wrong. Putin is now resorting to dangerous nuclear brinksmanship.

Civilization will never again be held hostage by crazy isolated men with the power to wreak havoc. I assumed this was a phenomenon of the twentieth century, and that twenty-first century governments, even totalitarian ones, would constrain tyrants.

Trump and Putin have convinced me I was mistaken. Thankfully, America booted Trump out of office - but his threat to democracy remains.

Advances in warfare, such as cyber-warfare and precision weapons, will minimize civilian casualties. I was persuaded by specialists in defense strategy that it no longer made sense for sophisticated powers to target civilians.

Utterly wrong. Civilian casualties in Ukraine are mounting.

Democracy is inevitable. I formed this belief in the early 1990s when the Soviet Union had imploded and China was still poor. It seemed to me that totalitarian regimes didn't stand a chance in the new technologically driven, globalized world. Sure, petty dictatorships would remain in some retrograde regions. But modernity came with democracy, and democracy with modernity.

Both Trump and Putin have shown how wrong I was on this, too.


Meanwhile, Ukrainians are showing that Trump's and Putin's efforts to turn back the clock on the twenty-first century can only be addressed with a democracy powerful enough to counteract autocrats like them.

They are also displaying with inspiring clarity that democracy cannot be taken for granted. Democracy is not a spectator sport. It's not what governments do. Democracy is what people do.

Ukrainians are reminding us that democracy survives only if people are willing to sacrifice for it. Some sacrifices are smaller than others. You may have to stand in line for hours to vote, as did tens of thousands of Black people in America's 2020 election. You may have to march and protest and even risk your life so others may vote, as did iconic civil rights leaders like the late John Lewis and Martin Luther King, Jr.

You may have to knock on hundreds of doors to get out the vote. Or organize thousands to make your voices heard. And stand up against the powerful who don't want your voices heard.

You may have to fight a war to protect democracy from those who would destroy it.

The people of Ukraine are also reminding us that democracy is the single most important legacy we have inherited from previous generations who strengthened it and who risked their lives to preserve it. It will be the most significant legacy we leave to future generations - unless we allow it to be suppressed by those who fear it, or we become too complacent to care.

Putin and Trump have convinced me I was wrong about how far we had come in the twenty-first century. Technology, globalization, and modern systems of governance haven't altered the ways of tyranny. But I, like millions of others around the world, have been inspired by the Ukrainian people - who are reteaching us lessons we once knew.

(c) 2022 Robert B. Reich is the Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and a senior fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His web site is

Wannabee Strongman DeSantis Deploys Election Police
Florida is putting into effect the first "election police" in the nation - expect other GOP-run states to jump onboard soon, as the Republican War on Democracy continues apace
By Thom Hartmann

"There's a famous statement: Sometimes the vote counter is more important than the candidate." ~~~ Donald Trump

They used to go by the name Ku Klux Klan, those guys who'd show up every election day to "police" the ballot boxes and make sure only "authorized" people had a chance to vote.

By the 1960s, when William Rehnquist got into the game and would stand outside polling places near Phoenix challenging the credentials of every Black, Hispanic or Native American, they'd changed the name to the infamous Operation Eagle Eye.

Now Governor Ron DeSantis is bringing to the game millions of taxpayer dollars and the power, held solely by government, to imprison people.

Florida is putting into effect the first "election police" in the nation. Expect other GOP-run states to jump onboard soon, as the Republican War on Democracy continues apace.

In my new book The Hidden History of Big Brother in America: How the Death of Privacy and the Rise of Surveillance Threaten Us and Our Democracy, I detail the times in America's past when democracy died and was replaced by regional police states that depended on the equivalent of "thought police."

There was the theocratic period in New England throughout the 17th and early 18th centuries, and the complete collapse of democracy in the southern Confederate states in the 1840s. There have also been multiple instances over the years of smaller venues - typically small and remote towns - where a local oligarch ("company towns") or corrupt sheriff commenced a reign of terror for a generation or more.

In every case, controlling the vote is job one. It's the foundation of every autocratic or dictatorial government in history.

The entire concept of republican democracy is predicated on the idea that everybody affected by a vote has the right to vote. Without easy and uncomplicated access to the ballot, no nation can survive as a democratic republic.

Which is exactly why today's Republican Party, having most recently embraced Trump and his fanboys Putin, MBS, and Kim Jong Un, is doing everything it can to make voting complicated, difficult, and even dangerous.

Multiple efforts by Democrats in Congress to put into place laws protecting election workers were defeated by Republicans, most famously when sellout Democrats Kirsten Sinema and Joe Manchin joined every single Republican in the Senate to vote against passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom To Vote Act.

When election workers were being threatened across the nation in the wake of Trump's lies about the election he lost by 7 million votes, the GOP yawned. People got death threats, had their homes and children targeted, and were doxed all across the internet, but Republicans refused to make threats of violence to try to change election outcomes a crime.

But when Democrats started winning elections in states Republicans thought they had a lock on, including Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia, the GOP took decisive action. Not to protect election workers, of course, or even to protect the right of people to vote. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Instead, they cracked down on "voter fraud" crimes like "voting while Black" and "voting while disabled" and "voting while a college student" and "voting while caring about Social Security."

Seriously: these new GOP election laws specifically target racial minorities, disabled and elderly people who need to vote by mail, and college students. All of whom, by coincidence, tend to vote more Democratic than Republican.

The Republican Party nationwide has also been recruiting an army of "poll watchers" to threaten and intimidate voters under the rubric of preventing fraud.

As The New York Times noted following the last election, these self-appointed stormtroopers often harassed and made life miserable not only for voters but for the election workers simply trying to make the elections work:

"That year, a Tea Party-affiliated group in Houston known as the King Street Patriots sent poll watchers to downtown polling locations. The flood of the mostly white observers into Black neighborhoods caused friction, and resurfaced not-too-distant memories when racial intimidation at the polls was commonplace in the South. ...

"'Two poll watchers stood close to the black voters (less than 3 feet away) and engaged in what I describe as intimidating behavior,' Ms. Wilson wrote in an email to the Harris County clerk that was obtained by The Times through an open records request."

And when the poll watchers weren't trying to intimidate voters of color, they were trying to gum up the election works in districts likely to go Democratic with the goal that the results would ultimately be thrown out.

As the Times' writers added:

"'The behavior in the room changed dramatically in the afternoon: The rage in the room from Republican challengers was nothing like I had ever experienced in my life,' wrote Anjanette Davenport Hatter, another election worker.

"Mr. McKernan wrote: 'Republicans were challenging everything at the two tables I could see. When the ballot envelope was opened, they would say they couldn't see it clearly. When the next envelope was opened, they made the same complaint. They were objecting to every single step down the line for no good reason.'

"The chaos provided some of the basis for Michigan officials to debate whether to certify the results...

But while the Republican poll watchers could harass and try to intimidate voters they thought "looked like Democrats," and even slow down the voting and vote-counting processes, they didn't have the uniforms, badges, and guns that would put the fear of imprisonment or death into voters.

DeSantis apparently wants to change that, and Republicans pursuing their GOP War On Democracy are committed to follow his example.

A law similar to Florida's was just introduced into the Georgia legislature, and more will surely follow.

Ukrainians are showing us today how valiantly people can fight to defend their democracy.

Will Americans have the courage that Manchin and Sinema lack to stand up to these GOP threats and attempts to subvert our system of government? Keep an eye on the polls this fall and we'll find out.

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

The Cartoon Corner -

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ John Darkow ~~~

To End On A Happy Note -

Have You Seen This -

Parting Shots -

A person touches a plastered sign of Vladimir Putin

Putin Upset To Find Ukrainians Less Obedient Than Trump
By Andy Borowitz

MOSCOW (The Borowitz Report)-Vladimir Putin is "very upset" that the Ukrainian people are far less obedient than Donald J. Trump, Kremlin sources have confirmed.

According to the sources, Trump's four years of ardent toadying left the Russian President emotionally unprepared for the Ukrainians' defiance.

"If I wanted Trump to do something, I'd just snap my fingers and consider it done," Putin reportedly said. "It was wonderful."

Putin's entire plan for invading Ukraine, in fact, was predicated on the false assumption that the Ukrainians "would act like Trump," one source indicated.

"After he invaded, he kept waiting for the Ukrainians to tell him how strong and smart he was," the source said. "When there were no displays of Trumpian sycophancy, his mood darkened."

At a Kremlin meeting over the weekend, Putin's frustration at the Ukrainians for being less obsequious than Trump boiled over, sources said.

"If the President of the United States can abandon democracy and the rule of law, why can't these people?" Putin asked, pounding his desk.

(c) 2022 Andy Borowitz


Issues & Alibis Vol 22 # 11 (c) 03/18/2022

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