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In This Edition

Will Bunch returns with, "Republicans Want To Criminalize Protest."

Ralph Nader finds, "Perfidy Meets Putty-Congressional Democrats Betray Voters."

Margaret Kimberley examines, "Trump/Biden Foreign Policy."

Jim Hightower wonders, "What Makes Ted Cruz So Despicable?"

William Rivers Pitt concludes, "This Nightmare Anniversary Should Remind Us It Didn't Have to Be This Way."

John Nichols reports, "Massachusetts's Governor Is Playing An Ugly Game Of Covid Politics With Teachers' Lives."

James Donahue says, "Antimatter Theory Offers Incredible Probabilities."

David Swanson goes poetic in, "Blinken, Biden, And The Blob."

David Suzuki returns with, "Easy Way Out For Wildlife Conservation Isn't What It Appears."

Charles P. Pierce reminds us that, "The Immune System Is Resolutely Apolitical, And So Is The Virus."

Juan Cole warns, "As Solar, Wind Costs Plummet, Coal, Gas Vastly Over-Priced In Bubble That Could Burst Worse Than 2008."

Robert Reich explains, "How Bidenomics Unites America."

Chris Hedges returns with, "The American Rescue Plan Does Not Address The Deep-Rooted Inequality Killing Us."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Waterford Whispers News reports, "White House Staff Beg Biden To Not Do That Thing Where He Goes Quiet & Doesn't Blink," but first Uncle Ernie exclaims, "Beware Of Zombie Fires!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Bill Day, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Sean Gladwell, Tasos Katopodis, John Tlumacki, Jabin Botsford, Thomas, Jason Redmond, Tayfun Coskun, RethinkX, YouTube, Anadolu Agency, Andrew Harnik, The Spectator, The Boston Globe, Robert Reich, Jim Hightower, Pexels, AFP, Unsplash, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

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Beware Of Zombie Fires!
Are we heading for another Permian-Triassic extinction event?
By Ernest Stewart

"We have this system that we have relied on to counter our mistakes, and we have really exceeded the capacity of that system to provide reliable service," ~~~ Fiona Soper ~ assistant professor at McGill University.

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won't you please, please help me
Help ~~~ The Beatles

I see where on February 19, a Russian icebreaker that transports liquefied natural gas arrived at Sabetta, an LNG loading port in the far north of Siberia. The ship had sailed through the ice-covered Arctic Ocean on its way to and back from China's Jiangsu Province.

The journey is noteworthy because the Arctic Sea route that the ship took is usually only navigable from July to November, when the sea ice is thin.

It was the first time for a ship to successfully navigate the Arctic Sea route to Asia in the dead of winter.

Japanese companies took note. JGC Holdings has built an LNG plant near the port, to and from which Mitsui O.S.K. Lines partially handles transportation. Trading house Mitsui & Co. and other parties have invested in the second phase of the LNG project, which is to be completed around 2023. Once a year-round shipping route is established, transportation time between Russia and Japan will be greatly reduced.

Global warming is something of a boon for Russia, where 55% to 65% of the country is covered in permafrost. It is estimated that 60% of the country's oil and 90% of its natural gas, as well as deposits of nonferrous metals and gold, lie under this thawing part of the planet.

President Vladimir Putin once shrugged off the perils of global warming, saying, "an increase of two or three degrees wouldn't be so bad for a northern country like Russia. We could spend less on fur coats, and the grain harvest would go up."

That was at least partially prophetic. According to Russia's Federal State Statistics Service, grain production in 2020 was up 9.7% from the previous year, the second highest level after 2017. The amount of land under cultivation is also increasing.

But those shrugged-off perils are beginning to overshadow the bumper harvests.

In the Republic of Sakha in far eastern Siberia, the temperature is minus 50 C, yet white smoke rises from the snow-covered ground. In January, local media released an amazing image of a peat fire in the ground under the snow.

Roughly 86,992 sq. miles of Russia, about the size of Greece, was lost to fire in 2020. Most of that was in once-frozen areas. When covered with snow in winter, the fires seem to be extinguished. However, the peat in the ground continues to smolder, and in summer it ignites on the surface. They're being called zombie fires and are believed to be caused by global warming.

There are concerns that the zombies will rage again this year.

Peat fires emit large amounts of carbon dioxide. A record 244 million tons of CO2 equivalents were released by fires near the Arctic Circle, mainly in Russia, in the 12 months through last August, according to the British journal Nature. That is 35% more than a year earlier and equal to 21% of Japan's total emissions in 2017.

In Siberia, plants and other organisms that have been decomposing for more than 10,000 years are trapped in the soil as CO2 and methane gas. These gases are released by fires and other events, further accelerating global warming. The world's permafrost zones are thought to contain twice the amount of carbon that is in the atmosphere.

Meanwhile down in South America the Amazon rainforest is most likely now a net contributor to warming of the planet, according to a first-of-its-kind analysis from more than 30 scientists.

For years, researchers have expressed concern that rising temperatures, drought, and deforestation are reducing the capacity of the world's largest rainforest to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and help offset emissions from fossil-fuel burning. Recent studies have even suggested that some portions of the tropical landscape already may release more carbon than they store.

But the inhaling and exhaling of CO2 is just one way this damp jungle, the most species-rich on Earth, influences the global climate. Activities in the Amazon, both natural and human-caused, can shift the rainforest's contribution in significant ways, warming the air directly or releasing other greenhouse gases that do.

Drying wetlands and soil compaction from logging, for example, can increase emissions of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide. Land-clearing fires release black carbon, small particles of soot that absorb sunlight and increase warmth. Deforestation can alter rainfall patterns, further drying and heating the forest. Regular flooding and dam-building releases the potent gas methane, as does cattle ranching, one chief reason forests are destroyed. And roughly 3.5 percent of all methane released globally comes naturally from the Amazon's trees.

Yet no team had ever tried to assess the cumulative impact of these processes, even as the region is being rapidly transformed. The research, supported by the National Geographic Society and published today in Frontiers in Forests and Global Change, estimates that atmospheric warming from all of these sources combined now appears to swamp the forest's natural cooling effect.

"Cutting the forest is interfering with its carbon uptake; that's a problem," says lead author Kristofer Covey, a professor of environmental studies at New York's Skidmore College. "But when you start to look at these other factors alongside CO2, it gets really hard to see how the net effect isn't that the Amazon as a whole is really warming global climate!

The damage can still be reversed, he and his colleagues say. Halting global emissions from coal, oil, and natural gas would help restore balance, but curbing Amazon deforestation is a must, along with reducing dam building and increasing efforts to replant trees. Continuing to clear land at current rates appears certain to make warming worse for the entire world.



09-15-1933 ~ 03-14-2021
Thanks for the film!

11-15-1939 ~ 03-15-2021
Thanks for the film!


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Until the next time, Peace!

(c) 2021 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.

After people protested police violence, lawmakers are making it a protest.

Republicans Want To Criminalize Protest
Citizens in the affected states need to get out and fight these anti-democratic measures-while they still can.
By Will Bunch

The massive marches against racial injustice and police violence after 2020's killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery. Protests on Native American landagainst the Dakota Access pipeline. The January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Arguably, these three events have little in common with each other, except that now they've inspired some bad ideas and worse legislation in a number of statehouses and on Capitol Hill-most, although not all, from Republicans- that would criminalize one of the most fundamental rights in American democracy, to dissent against the government.

The biggest gut punch to the American Experiment came last week in Kentucky, which just this Saturday marked the one-year anniversary of the senseless killing of Louisville's Taylor, a 26-year-old ER technician who was gunned down in a police drug raid gone horribly wrong. It's bad enough that none of the responding officers has been charged in her death. But now state legislators in conservative Kentucky, which has seen continuous protests since the killing, have advanced a law-of dubious constitutionality-to make it illegal to say bad things to a cop.

The bill that the Kentucky Senate passed last week makes it a misdemeanor to taunt a police officer, with words or gestures, "that would have a direct tendency to provoke a violent response from the perspective of a reasonable and prudent person." In the past, state jurists and the U.S. Supreme Court have cited the 1st Amendment in finding that it's not a crime to say rude things or even curse at a police officer, but now the Bluegrass State is saying that if you flip the bird at a cop and he tries to bash in your skull, the whole thing was your fault.

Lawmakers are using false narratives about protests, which have been overwhelmingly peaceful, to pass laws they hope will make many folks including ones who seek to protest police violence, white supremacy or climate change to simply stay home.

Although the anti-taunting-the-police provision garnered the most headlines, the Kentucky bill also expands the definition of illegal protest while strengthening the penalties for "rioting" and making it harder to get out of jail, and it even includes some vague language intended to thwart the "defund the police" movement. If the bill passes the state House and is signed by the state's Democratic governor, Andy Beshear (an uncertain prospect), it would surely put more people behind bars for protesting the killing of Breonna Taylor than people who actually killed her.

In a vacuum, this alone would be outrageous. But instead-after a decade in which more Americans protested more things, from Occupy Wall Street to Ferguson to the Women's March to the George Floyd protests, than any time since the 1960s-the Kentucky scheme is just the most extreme example of a flurry of bills meant to criminalize your right to air your grievances against the government.

A bill in Oklahoma, for example, would protect drivers who plowed their car into a crowd of protesters and make it illegal to post information about law-enforcement officers online which, as critics noted, might criminalize videos like the ones that showed the world what happened to George Floyd. In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis-considered a GOP presidential frontrunner for 2024 if Donald Trump doesn't run-is pushing legislation for steep felony sentences for those found to be rioting, and to shield people who shoot protesters or run them over from lawsuits.

The International Center for Not-for-Profit Law said recently that 23 states are considering 48 anti-protest bills so far in 2021. That includes four states looking to join 14 others that have declared oil-and-gas pipelines and other fossil-fuel facilities as "critical infrastructure," which would mean stricter penalties for protesting them-a movement that started after the Dakota Access actions in 2016.

Additionally, some leaders in both parties-even President Biden-are citing the January 6 assault on the Capitol in calling for harsher penalties, including new laws against domestic terrorism. But critics say that even well-meaning efforts to quell certain kinds of dissent have a way of backfiring. "But by using the 'domestic terrorism' label to promote more criminal statutes and police authorities, our country's leaders are invoking systems that have been-and will continue to be-used to target and harm Black and brown people," wrote Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU's National Security Project, and Manar Waheed, ACLU senior legislative and advocacy counsel.

The bigger picture is that-even in a time of optimism over increasing coronavirus vaccines and a generous $1.9 trillion relief package signed by Biden-lawmakers are using false narratives about protests, which have been overwhelmingly peaceful, to pass laws they hope will make many folks including ones who seek to protest police violence, white supremacy or climate change to simply stay home. Just like many of these same Republican legislators want to use the Big Lie about 2020 election fraud that never happened to pass laws in the hopes that many voters will also stay home. Citizens in the affected states need to get out and fight these anti-democratic measures-while they still can.

(c) 2021 Will Bunch is a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News and author of its popular blog Attytood.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speak after a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Perfidy Meets Putty-Congressional Democrats Betray Voters
Where is the outcry among Democratic politicians to reverse completely the corporate takeover of Medicare?
By Ralph Nader

Do you remember the promises made by the Democratic Party's presidential and Congressional candidates on universal health insurance? You can forget their pledges and somber convictions now that your votes put the Democrats in charge of the House and the Senate. The Democrats' leaders are abandoning their promises and retreating into a cowardly corporatist future.

Here is the present scene. Leading Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, have decided to spend tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to subsidize the giant health insurance companies like Aetna and United Healthcare to "cover recently laid-off workers and those who purchase their own coverage," as The New York Times reported. There are no price restraints on the gouging insurance premiums or loophole-ridden policies. That is why giant corporate socialist insurers love the "American Rescue Plan," which gives them socialist cash on the barrelhead. The law lets insurers decide how and whether they pay healthcare bills with co-pays, deductibles, or grant waivers. All these anti-consumer details are buried in the endless and inscrutable fine print.

Whatever happened to the Democrats' (Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pramila Jayapal, etc.) demand for single-payer - everybody in, nobody out - with free choice of doctors and hospitals instead of the existing cruel, and profiteering industry for which enough is never enough? Senator Sanders often mentioned a Yale study, published on February 15, 2020, that found: Although health care expenditure per capita is higher in the USA than in any other country, more than 37 million Americans do not have health insurance, and 41 million more have inadequate access to care. Efforts are ongoing to repeal the Affordable Care Act which would exacerbate health-care inequities. By contrast, a universal system, such as that proposed in the Medicare for All Act, has the potential to transform the availability and efficiency of American health-care services. Taking into account both the costs of coverage expansion and the savings that would be achieved through the Medicare for All Act, we calculate that a single-payer, universal health-care system is likely to lead to a 13% savings in national health-care expenditure, equivalent to more than $450 billion annually...." (See the study: Improving the Prognosis of Health Care in the USA, February 15, 2020). Well, House Speaker Pelosi is discouraging House Democrats from supporting Representative Pramila Jayapal's H.R. 1384, Medicare for All Act of 2019, the gold standard for single-payer. News reports indicate that Representative Jayapal (D-WA) and Representative. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) will reintroduce their Medicare for All bill next week. Speaker Pelosi is telling Democrats in the House to focus instead on the modest expansion of Obamacare with its corporate welfare, utter complexity and seriously inadequate coverage. Almost eighty million Americans are presently uninsured or underinsured - a level that will not be significantly reduced for deprived workers by tweaking Obamacare during the Covid-19 pandemic.

A modified Obamacare, with no price ceilings, will hardly reduce the tens of thousands of American deaths every year because people cannot afford health insurance to get diagnosed and treated in time to prevent fatalities. The Yale study also found that: "ensuring health-care access for all Americans would save more than 68,000 lives and 1.73 million life-years every year compared with the status quo." Tweaking Obamacare does little to stem the relentless surge in healthcare prices and profits in our country, which is unique for not placing billing ceilings on medical procedures and drugs. This "get whatever you can" behavior by the vendors is so uncontrolled that healthcare billing fraud and abuse is costing people one billion dollars A DAY! Malcolm Sparrow, who is an applied mathematician at Harvard, estimates medical billing fraud amounts to at least ten percent of all healthcare expenses each year.

Obamacare does nothing to limit the perverse incentives of a fee-for-service system that includes unnecessary operations, over-diagnosis, and over-prescribing all of which increase the risks of preventable casualties. A Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine peer-reviewed study in 2016 estimates that close to 5000 lives are lost weekly due to such "preventable problems" just in hospitals (see: Study Suggests Medical Errors Now Third Leading Cause of Death in the U.S., May 3, 2016).

It gets worse. Year after year, the corporate Democrats, along with the Republicans, are facilitating expanding corporate takeovers of Medicare and Medicaid. The giant and widening attack on Medicare is called "Medicare Advantage," which more accurately should be called "Medicare [Dis]advantage." Our corporatized government, under both Parties, has been allowing deceptive promotional seductions of elderly people to take Medicare [Dis]advantage - now fully 40% of all Medicare beneficiaries - which is just a corporate insurance plan with multiple undisclosed tripwires.

Former President Trump worsened what he inherited from the Democrats in outsourcing Medicare. He launched something called "direct contracting" that, "could fully turn Medicare over to private health insurers" declared Diane Archer, former chair of Consumer Reports, in her article on March 8, 2021. Medicare Advantage premiums can be pricey. According to Kay Tillow, Executive Director of the Nurses Professional Organization, "The Medicare Advantage Plans are smiling all the way to the bank. In 2019 each Medicare Advantage beneficiary cost taxpayers $11,822 while those in original Medicare cost $10,813 each - that's over $1,000 more and over 9% more per person for the for-profit insurers!"

Where is the outcry among Democratic politicians to reverse completely the corporate takeover of Medicare? Last year, many Democratic candidates pontificated about the need for single-payer health insurance, but now in Congress, we are scarcely hearing a peep about this vital human right. Their campaign rhetoric is just distant memory. Tragically, it is now harder than ever for the elderly to get out of Medicare [Dis]advantage and go back to traditional Medicare.

Millions of elderly people are deceived by televised marketing lies and slick brochures. The hapless Federal Trade Commission (FTC) should investigate and end the deceptions. Congressional investigations and hearings are long overdue. As the authoritative Dr. Fred Hyde says about the so-called Medicare Advantage: "It's not what you pay, it's what you get." That is, the corporate health plan works until they get sick, until "they want their doctor and their hospital." Dr. Hyde was referring to the narrow networks where these companies park their beneficiaries.

More astonishing in this story of the rapacious corporate takeover of Medicare is that AARP promotes these flawed plans to their members, takes paid ads by big insurers in AARP publications, and derives income from this collaboration.

Imagine, over 50,000 SEIU retirees are automatically placed by their unions in these Medicare [Dis]advantage traps without first being allowed to choose traditional Medicare.

This whole sordid sabotage of the nineteen sixties Democrats' dream, under President Lyndon Johnson, of taking the first step toward universal healthcare coverage for everyone, begs for more exposes. It begs for more clamor by the progressive Democrats in Congress who are strangely passive so far. I'm speaking of Representatives Jayapal, Raskin, Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), and the receding "Squad," as well as Senators Warren and Sanders. If we can't expect these stalwarts to start the counterattack that will save lives, save trillions of dollars over the years, focus on prevention not just treatment, and diminish the anxiety, dread, and fear, that the citizens of Canada and other western nations do not experience because they are insured from birth on, who is left to defend the American people against the arrogant health insurance corporate barons?

I'm sending this column to these self-styled progressive Democrats along with a two-page specific critique of corporate Medicare from the Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) website. PNHP's membership counts over 15,000 pro-single-payer physicians. In a comment on the PNHP site, Don McCanne, M.D., says, "Remember, the mission of private, for-profit Medicare Advantage insurers is to make money, whereas the mission of our traditional Medicare program is to provide health care. We are supporting a program that deferentially caters to the private insurers and their interests when we should be supporting a program that is designed to take care of patients. Those being deceived by the private Medicare Advantage marketing materials really do not realize the bad deal they may be getting until they face the private insurer barriers to needed care. Silver Sneakers won't take care of that." (See:

If you care about this issue, tell your Members of Congress it is time to pass Medicare for All represented by H.R. 1384.

(c) 2021 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).

Trump/Biden Foreign Policy
By Margaret Kimberley

Biden rules like Trump regarding Venezuela, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Palestine and Haiti, because the two imperial parties serve the same masters. Joe Biden has been president for only six weeks but his foreign policy direction is already very clear. There is rarely a lesser evil foreign policy in transitions from one administration to the next. No one is allowed to win Democratic or Republican Party nominations without paying fealty to the ruling classes. The oil companies, hedge funds, and military industrial complex corporations all have agendas to fulfill. They want to broaden the range of U.S. influence, extract resources, and make money for themselves. They have every expectation that their errand boys and girls in Congress and the White House will act accordingly.

Biden is no different in this regard. His secretary of state, Antony Blinken, is not only an Obama holdover, but he used his connections to make money for himself and further U.S interests during the Trump interregnum. He co-founded West ExecAdvisors, a "strategic consultancy" which provided access to Pentagon contracts. As a consultancy and not a lobbying firm, WestExec was not required to disclose information about its clients. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin joined Blinken as a partner at Pine Island Capital Partners, a private equity firm with connections in defense and aerospace. These are not just interesting factoids. This information is essential if one is to understand why there is such consistency in U.S. foreign policy.

Blinken publicly stated that would-be usurper Juan Guaido is still recognized as Interim President of Venezuela. The Obama policy handed over to Trump stating that Venezuela continues to pose "an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States" was recently restated by Biden. This declaration continues the sanctions which deprive that nation of the ability to conduct financial transactions. Its people are deprived of food and medicine, its infrastructure deteriorates and everything from electrical power to safe drinking water is threatened in the process.

Even a signature Obama policy is now disregarded. Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), popularly known as the Iran nuclear deal. Biden and his team now make new demands upon Iran, a country also punished by sanctions when Trump reversed course. They demand that Iran, which abided by the agreement and was free to do as it liked after the U.S. withdrawal, stop enriching uranium. Biden also wants to include discussion of all Iran's military capabilities which were not part of the first agreement.

Trump moved the United States embassy to Jerusalem, a capitulation to Israel's claim of sovereignty over Palestinian territory. But Biden hasn't changed course and the Senate helped make his case by voting 97 - 3 to keep the embassy where it should never have been located.

But the Biden team are shrewd if nothing else. After increasing U.S. troop deployments in Syria, he did what his predecessors did and bombed that country. Just in case that act was considered too Trumpian, they then claimed that he stopped a second bombing because a woman and child were observed in the area. The claim was dubious and the propaganda was obvious to anyone who pays attention, but we can expect them to try and fool the people at opportune moments. What better way to give the impression that there is a difference when in fact there is none.

Haiti is another case in point. In 1994 Biden famously said that, "If Haiti, a godawful thing to say, if Haiti just quietly sank into the Caribbean or rose up 300 feet, it wouldn't matter a lot to our interests." The peak Biden gaffe revealed his own racism, even as he tried to deny it. But Haiti is of interest to the U.S., which continues its tradition of keeping puppets in power like Jovenel Moise, who as per Haiti's constitution should have left office on February 7. The people have taken to the streets in the thousands and braved bullets and brutality to exercise their rights of national sovereignty.

The continued oppression of that country by the U.S. is shown not just in the acceptance of tyranny there, but in the treatment of its people attempting to come here. In February 2021, 981 Haitian asylum seekers were removed, a rate that keeps pace with Trump immigration policy and proves again that expectations of change are at best naive.

Of course U.S. troops are still in Iraq, as the 18th anniversary of the George W. Bush invasion approaches. Perhaps we should refer to Bush/Obama/Trump/Biden foreign policy. The elite consensus on international relations goes back much further than the two most recent presidents. Just ask Haitians, Syrians, Iranians and Iraqis. They bear the brunt of American corruption.

(c) 2021 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.

Ted Cruz's head on the body of Despicable Me's "Gru"

What Makes Ted Cruz So Despicable?
By Jim Hightower

In February, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz ran off to a luxury resort in sunny Cancun, Mexico, during the deep freeze that devastated millions of his constituents. But I wasn't mad that Ted fled; what upset me was that the government let him back into our country.

Cruz is, after all, the two-legged, self-aggrandizing ego that arrogantly and illegally tried to cancel the ballots of millions of voters in last year's presidential election. Then, he helped dupe a crowd of Trumpeteers into storming our nation's Capitol in a violent and silly attempt to seize control of our government by force. Now the wannabe autocrat is demanding that the Supreme Court suppress the people's democratic will.

He's teamed-up with the sour old corporate plutocrat, Mitch McConnell, to back a ploy by Arizona Republicans to disenfranchise Latino, Indigenous American, and Black voters. Cruz and McConnell demand that the Court's partisan Republican justices gut America's landmark Voting Rights Act, which prohibits states from altering election rules to give minority voters less opportunity to participate in the political process than Anglos.

Arizona's Republican lawmakers had passed a nasty provision declaring that any ballot cast in the wrong precinct, no matter how valid, must be tossed in the trash, rather than merely allocating it to the voter's correct precinct. This almost entirely affects people of color, for GOP election officials play nefarious games with them, such as frequently moving their voting places, often at the last minute with little notice. Instead of pushing their party to try winning these peoples' votes, Ted and Mitch simply want to eliminate toe voters. They've asked the Court to nullify the bothersome Voting Rights Act so their party can freely lock out minority voters.

The greatest threat to our democracy is not a violent mob, but a legalistic coup by thugs like Ted Cruz.

(c) 2021 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

President Trump meets with bank CEOs about COVID-19 response in the Cabinet Room at the White House on March 11, 2020, in Washington, D.C.

This Nightmare Anniversary Should Remind Us It Didn't Have to Be This Way
By William Rivers Pitt

COVID-19 was already here a year ago today, and already spreading across the U.S., with more than 1,000 confirmed cases and dozens of deaths on the books. Still, consensus has settled on today as a proper marker for the one-year anniversary of the long, grinding, lethal nightmare we have endured, and continue to endure.

One year ago today, the World Health Organization officially labeled the crisis a "pandemic," but most people I've spoken to don't remember that specifically. Today became "Shit Got Real Day" for most of them when it was announced that actor Tom Hanks and his wife had been diagnosed. Later in the evening, the NBA went up in flames, basically calling off the season just before tipoff of a Jazz-Thunder game in Oklahoma City.>{?} The basketball fiasco coughed up its first COVID villain not named Donald Trump. Two days before the season was suspended, Jazz center Rudy Gobert ran around a packed press room and touched every microphone with his bare hands, an act of witless defiance that endeared him to the same subset of the population that sacked the Capitol building the following January.

Two days later, Gobert was diagnosed with COVID, and his teammates, opponents and everyone who went near those microphones suddenly found themselves in the valley of the shadow of death. Gobert's behavior and subsequent diagnosis were the prime impetus for curtailing the season, and all the other major sports leagues - college athletics as well - almost immediately followed suit.

One year ago tonight, then-President Trump gave a speech that forecast exactly how he planned to let half a million people die because he feared looking weak and culpable. He announced, "The virus will not have a chance against us.... Our future remains brighter than anyone can imagine." That speech set the tone for what would be his final year in office: His behavior was horrifying and not at all surprising in equal measure. He carried that tune to his last day in the building, and beyond.

"I needed a president to tell me about the availability of testing for the virus, about deliberate actions taken to contain the spread, about social distancing and other preventative measures, about preparedness for a disruption that may last weeks," I wrote after Trump's address a year ago. "I needed to know there was a steady hand on the wheel, if only for a few minutes. I needed to know the facts if I am to properly protect my people, and by proxy my community. Of course, this president let me down. Donald Trump's barefaced unreliability is the single most reliable aspect of his existence."

Thus began the silent spring. Hospitals filled to bursting with the desperately ill, and medical workers found themselves wearing garbage bags and used Lysol-dipped masks because nobody was in charge and everything was someone else's fault. The schools emptied, and millions of children found themselves trapped at home like bugs in a bottle. Parents began to buckle under the strain of working and schooling from home.

By April, business leaders and some Republican governors were pushing hard for a return to normal, because capitalism cares not one fig for your well-being. You, me, we: All replaceable in the clockwork of profit and "growth." Things loosened up over the summer, a false dawn belied by the fact that the U.S. led the world in infections per capita. Thanksgiving and Christmas stoked the flames, and this past winter saw the worst days of this pandemic stack up like bodies in a cold storage truck.

There seems little merit in cataloging my own personal damage after this year. I am alive and uninfected, at least for now, which at times feels miraculous. At some point my number will come up and I will get the vaccine. My daughter has shown me what resilience looks like, and I am grateful for that beyond measure. Perhaps I will get sick, and perhaps I will die, but not today, probably.

Millions of people in hyper-affected communities of color cannot say the same. Nearly 30 million people in the U.S. were infected and survived over the last year. Now, only God knows how many face what is being called "Long COVID," a debilitating post-infection barrage of brutal symptoms that simply will not abate. Once this is over - if it is ever over - those untold thousands of "long-haulers" will be forced to live with the damage in a country that has a grim knack for ignoring and underserving the disabled.

Meanwhile, even those of us who did not fall ill are experiencing the impact of the past year. Although I have not experienced the worst of it by far, my mind is not right. Specifically, I am forgetting things I once knew by rote. I took my car to the car wash yesterday to scrape the last of winter off, and forgot how to do it for a minute. I've run my car through the wash a dozen times since I got it - New Hampshire road salt eats cars - and it's always the same: Aim left front wheel into groove, pull up until told to stop, put car in neutral, and wait for the scrubbing octopus to attack as I am pulled through the process.

Yesterday, I stared at the gear shift for a long moment after I'd grooved the wheel, and put the car in park, thinking it was neutral. I had forgotten where neutral was on my shifter. The wash tried to pull my car into the water, but because it wasn't in neutral, my whole front axle was nearly torn off. I jolted and threw it into the proper gear while the wash attendant looked at me like I was some strangely ignorant species of bug. I hid my face as I was finally pulled into the maw.

That kind of thing has been happening to me at increasing intervals lately, and I am not alone. "I can't stop noticing all the things I'm forgetting," writes Ellen Cushing for The Atlantic. "Sometimes I grasp at a word or a name. Sometimes I walk into the kitchen and find myself bewildered as to why I am there. (At one point during the writing of this article, I absentmindedly cleaned my glasses with nail-polish remover.) Other times, the forgetting feels like someone is taking a chisel to the bedrock of my brain, prying everything loose.... Everywhere I turn, the fog of forgetting has crept in."

A scrap of Pearl Jam verse wafts through my head often these days: "And to this day, she's glided on / Always home but so far away / Like a word misplaced / Nothing to say, what a waste..." I find it a fitting epitaph for 2020: Always home, so far away, a word misplaced, what a waste.

Even with three different vaccines cascading (with irregular and racially disparate availability) into the population, even with much of the U.S. finally taking seriously the necessity of wearing masks, and even as the winter gives way to spring, I am nowhere near feeling a sense of optimism for the future.

All across the country, state governments that should know better are loosening COVID restrictions exactly, precisely when they should be holding fast. The variants are out there, and COVID is as cunning and ruthless as anything humanity has ever encountered. Quite simply, we as a nation are perfectly capable of screwing ourselves out of all this progress. Some experts say that at least another year must pass ensconced in these fearful doldrums before anything like "normal" comes sniffing around again.

Fear. That is what I will remember, always. Like a thrum below the sternum, a flutter in the blood, fear has been my dismal resting state this year. Fear for myself, my family, my friends, my country and my planet. There is no escaping or assuaging it, because I could be sitting here infected right now and not know it. I feel like $100 and it doesn't matter a damn. It is impossible to rest, really rest, with this shadow on me.

Fear, and sorrow. A fathomless woe yet unspeakable. Someday, perhaps, I will find the words to explain it. I am not nearly there. There is still a vice around my heart, and sometimes I have to remind myself to breathe.

It did not have to be this way, and the ones who made it this way have raked hundreds of millions of dollars off the people they duped into believing it isn't actually this way at all. I will never forget that, I will never forgive it, and I await a reckoning the way my little girl anticipates Christmas on the balls of her feet.

One year later, with nearly 530,000 dead and almost 30 million infected, I recall what Trump said a year ago yesterday: "It will go away, just stay calm. Be calm. It's really working out. And a lot of good things are going to happen."

What a waste.

(c) 2021 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.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker on March 10, 20

Massachusetts's Governor Is Playing An Ugly Game Of Covid Politics With Teachers' Lives
Governor Charlie Baker's attack on education unions for wanting vaccines for teachers recalls Scott Walker's crude anti-labor politics.
By John Nichols

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has sought to position himself as a reasonable Republican-a relative moderate who announced before the 2020 election that he wouldn't vote for Donald Trump and whose condemnation of Trump's incitement of insurrection on January 6 was featured in a video montage by House impeachment managers when they made the case against the former president.

Yet Baker has in recent weeks displayed a downright Trumpian disregard for the health and safety of public school teachers in a fight over reopening schools. In a rush to reinstate in-person learning, Baker clashed with teachers' unions over whether enough was being done to protect educators and other school personnel from the threat posed by Covid-19. That's not uncommon. Similar struggles have played out in states and cities across the country, as officials have pushed for a rapid reopening while unions and their allies have argued that the vaccination of educators and staffers must come first-along with related steps to assure that school buildings are safe and that protocols to prevent the spread of the virus are followed.

But Baker took things a step further as he wrangled with unions over whether he was doing enough to protect teachers. He attacked the unions in language so vitriolic, and dishonest, that his approach drew comparisons with onetime Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, the anti-labor zealot who a decade ago made assaults on public employees and their unions his priority in a fight that drew national attention.

"What is Baker doing?" asked American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, who has been at the forefront in arguing for science-based approaches to reopening schools. Noting that "the educators are trying to have the conditions for safe school reopening." Weingarten wondered, "Why is Charlie Baker not doing what he can to make school reopening safe?"

What was bizarre about Baker's combative approach is that the two statewide education unions, the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA) and AFT Massachusetts, had gone out of their way to work with the governor. They were proactive in their approach, arguing for a science-based "rapid vaccination plan for educators" similar to the one already used to vaccinate first responders. In a February 10 letter, the unions proposed:

Just as the state is moving forward with a plan to vaccinate public transit workers, we also need a plan to vaccinate all educators. We are asking the state to set aside enough vaccine from the supply currently being stored in freezers to pilot our program in 10 to 20 high-need school districts at the same time the state is continuing to vaccinate people aged 65 through 74. As more vaccine becomes available, the program would be scaled up to administer shots to school staff across the state.
That sounded logical, as did the union proposal to conduct the vaccination program at local sites, with trained EMTs and firefighters administering doses. The firefighters' union was on board, signaling that its members were "eager to put our experience to work with this plan." Teachers were ready to go.

"The state has no plan in place to get the vaccine into the arms of all school employees, so we've united with the firefighters' union to create our own," explained MTA President Merrie Najimy in February. "Unions are charged with protecting the health and safety of their members, which ultimately protects their communities. By streamlining an onsite process for vaccinating school employees, this union-led plan will make our schools and communities safer. It's time to act."

Instead of welcoming the proposal, the Baker administration let weeks pass, rejected the model outlined by the unions, and ripped into the teachers. "We're just not going to play that game," sneered Baker, who has been under fire for mishandling the overall vaccination program.

The governor argued that "teachers don't need to be vaccinated to be educating kids," and accused educators of "looking for their own vaccine, and to not participate in the process everyone else is participating in."

A statement issued last week by the governor's office declared that the administration was "dismayed that despite reasonable efforts to prioritize educator vaccinations, the teachers' unions continue to demand the Commonwealth take hundreds of thousands of vaccines away from the sickest, oldest and most vulnerable residents in Massachusetts and divert them to the unions' members, 95 percent of which are under age 65."

Union leaders, who had met with the administration, were shocked by the governor's line of attack, which disregarded concerns about younger teachers with preexisting conditions and sought to pit teachers against the communities they serve.

"I'm actually quite surprised at the vitriol," said Beth Kontos, the president of AFT Massachusetts, the state affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers. "The governor characterizes it as us wanting to take vaccines away from the sick and the elderly, which is totally untrue."

The unions explained that they weren't trying to take vaccines from other groups. Rather, as had been explained to Baker and his aides, they wanted to use doses that had already been set aside for teachers-who the governor wanted to have travel to mass vaccination sites-and make them available at local community clinics.

The unions' approach earned praise from dozens of state legislators, who wrote Baker and explained that the plan proposed by the firefighters and teachers was "the surest path the quick, efficient and accessible vaccination." One of the organizers of the letter, which drew support from Democrats and Republicans, Democratic state Senator Becca Rausch, voiced the sentiment of the legislators when she argued, "Educators and school staff must have #CovidVaccine access before a return to full, in-person school."

Beth Huang, the director of the Massachusetts Voter Table, a statewide coalition of groups working on voter engagement with grassroots organizing, made the Scott Walker comparison.

"Charlie Baker's attack on teachers' unions for wanting vaccines before teaching in-person during the pandemic reminds me of Scott Walker's attacks on teachers' unions for the budget hole during a recession," said Huang, who was educated at the University of Wisconsin and well recalls the storied struggle in that state. "Baker is biz conservative cut from the same cloth as Walker."

(c) 2021 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.

Antimatter Theory Offers Incredible Probabilities
By James Donahue

Ever since Paul Dirac theorized the existence of anti-matter in 1928, there has been a sense among world physicists that all things in the universe must have an opposing counterpart to preserve a necessary symmetry.

The discovery of positrons, the anti-matter equivalent of electrons, and the subsequent discoveries of anti-protons and other anti-particles since Dirac have not only proven the existence of opposite forces, but opened the door to quantum physics.

Since Dirac, scientists have dared to consider the possibility of parallel universes, time travel, teleportation and many of the other things that once fell into the realm of science fiction.

This way of thinking may have been stimulated by science fiction writers, who were quick to exploit the discovery of antimatter as a story plot. Writers, by-and-large, are creative right-brain users who have a way of tapping into the human collective for information that may still be a future event waiting to happen. Thus, we should not be surprised when science fiction plots created by Jules Verne and the many writers who followed start becoming reality. Remember it was Verne who envisioned submarines, men traveling by rocket to the moon, and time travel. Two out of three of his predictions, while total fiction in their day, have since come true.

After Dirac, the sci-fi writers had a field day with visions of anti-worlds, anti-stars and anti-universes, all made of antimatter. Some envisioned the explosive power of joining antimatter with positive matter as energy to propel starships that could travel faster than the speed of light.

When Robert Foot, a physics professor at the University of Melbourne, recently suggested that an anti-matter, or "mirror matter" meteorite caused the 1908 mystery explosion that toppled trees for miles in Tunguska, Siberia, he opened a new wave of thinking among scientists concerning the probability of parallel worlds.

Foot claims that mirror matter arises naturally as opposite symmetries of nature. Thus all matter has its invisible mirror image moving in an opposite direction. There seem to be two thoughts concerning anti-matter. One is that matter remains unchanged whether it moves forward or backward in time. The second thought is that nature doesn't distinguish between right and left-handed orientations.

In a UPI story, science writer Mike Martin quoted Foot as saying that he believes space and time are reversed for mirror matter. "Time moves backward and right-handed spatial coordinates have been interchanged with their left-handed counterparts."

Thus we have a contemporary scientist not only suggesting that a parallel universe exists, but saying it is one that is such an extreme opposite of the universe we live in, that even time is moving in the other direction.

This, of course, leads us into a strange hodge-podge of questions that, at least for now, have no answer.

For example, if the mirror universe is moving backward in time, what is happening to the mirror people there? Are they growing from old to young? Is that universe rushing toward a collapse which would be the opposite of a Big Bang? And if and when this happens, does the mirror universe explode outward and a forward creation begin again, but on the posi-side? And if we are a mirror of that universe, does our universe then turn into the negative image, with time running backwards? In that case, what is now seen by us as anti-matter, would suddenly become positive matter.

If there must be a mirror consisting of anti-matter for all matter in this universe, then we all should have our exact mirror double on the other side of the mirror.

Lewis Carroll may have been on to something when he created the story of Alice In Wonderland, and subtitled: Through The Looking Glass.

(c) 2021 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.

Blinken, Biden, And The Blob
By David Swanson

Blinken, Biden, and the Blob took fright
But they knew just what to do.
They'd run enough ads and start enough fads
Until they had scared you too.
"Where are you going, and what do you wish?"
The old moon asked the three.
"We have come to Iran for a magic dish
"For we must own the China Sea.
"Our golden gun will starve Venezuela
"Into democracy!"

Said Blinken, Biden, and the Blob.

The old moon laughed and sang a song,
As they rocked in their jackets straight.
"You'll never win so long as you're still
"Trying to make America great."

A soprano, Peace, leant her voice as well:
"You can't catch me," she sang.
"With your murder drones or your Star Wars clones -
"Better melt down the whole shebang,"

Peace informed the triumvirate mob,
Blinken, Biden, and the Blob.

Day and night their coups they threw,
Tossing bombs at imperial gloam.
Then up from the earth a cry arose
That sent them crawling home:
"Twas all so pretty a sail, it seemed
"But alas it could not be;
"There's just no way for a killer cop
"To spread democracy.
"Drink from this cup and wake the fuck up,"

Was the cry heard by Blinken, Biden, and the Blob.

Blinken and Biden are two little clowns,
And the Blob is their circus tent.
From Foggy Bottom to Farrrugut West's
An asylum that's up for rent.
So shake off the spell of normalized hell,
Humanitarian cataclysm.
Get out of bed and clear your head
Of this dreamy exceptionalism.

(c) 2021 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.

Human activity is also putting caribou at risk throughout Canada.

Easy Way Out For Wildlife Conservation Isn't What It Appears
By David Suzuki

H.L. Mencken once wrote that "there is always a well-known solution to every human problem - neat, plausible, and wrong."

This is often the case with society's responses to human-caused wildlife decline.

Take salmon populations along B.C.'s coast. According to assessments by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, only two of 29 wild Chinook salmon populations aren't at risk of extinction. (Data is lacking to determine the status of three. All the rest are at risk.)

A number of factors cause salmon populations to decline, including overfishing, climate change and stream, river and estuary degradation. Because it's a challenge to reduce catch quotas, restore streams and change development and resource-extraction practices, authorities often take an easier way to recover dwindling salmon numbers: hatcheries. Now, 23 federally controlled hatcheries release hundreds of millions of juvenile salmon into the wild every year in attempts to maintain fisheries and offset their decline.

Yet salmon hatcheries only appear to be a simple solution. Salmon released from hatchery stocks add strands of complexity to the threats facing wild salmon, and are believed to contribute to wild salmon declines.

"The latest science shows that large hatcheries cause wild salmon more harm than good," David Suzuki Foundation senior research and policy analyst Jeffery Young said. "Hatchery salmon weaken wild salmon genetics, compete with wild populations for limited resources and drive fisheries that continue to harm wild fish."

Human activity is also putting caribou at risk throughout Canada. Their decline is driven by habitat loss and degradation, especially from linear corridors such as seismic lines, logging roads and recreational trails. Predators use these corridors to increase their caribou-hunting success rates.

In September 2020, Jasper National Park declared that one of three caribou populations living within its boundaries had winked out, while the other two were "dangerously small." Declines in Jasper have been driven by poor wildlife management, like elk introduction, and compounded by habitat loss and degradation in adjacent ranges.

Although the park has stabilized the elk populations, evidence from Jasper's recently extirpated Maligne caribou herd, as well as other available scientific research, indicates more should be done, including limiting human access. Backcountry ski and snowmobile supply routes into Jasper's Tonquin Valley pack trails and bring noise and people into high-quality caribou habitat. Recreational activity can stress caribou, displace them from the best habitat and make it easier for wolves to gain access and kill them.

In November 2020, Parks Canada announced it was contemplating its first captive caribou breeding program in Jasper. "We expect a captive herd for breeding purposes could start producing animals for release as early as 2024," Jasper's conservation manager said.

In February 2021, Jasper lifted access restrictions mid-season in the highly imperilled Tonquin herd's range, despite the conservation community's calls to keep them in place to give the caribou a greater chance of survival. It appears the park's staff - unwilling to invest in current conservation measures to decrease risks and apply a precautionary approach to the remaining herds - is banking on captive breeding as the panacea to its declining caribou problem.

But as with hatcheries, captive breeding programs are not as simple as they appear. Captive breeding is a risky undertaking that involves semi-domesticating wildlife. The risk is compounded if it entails population augmentation - taking caribou from places where they're surviving and putting them into an environment where survival has failed in the past.

Further, as the icing on the oversimplified-solution cake, captive breeding is often accompanied by predator control - killing animals that prey on caribou. This practice throws a wrench into the elegant symbiotic dance between predator and prey that has existed for thousands of years.

Steve Jobs once said, "If you define the problem correctly, you almost have the solution."

Here the primary problem is our failure to set limits to the impacts of human activities in spaces wildlife depend on to survive. Our current solutions indicate that we haven't had the courage to address our problems head-on, nor the sense of responsibility required to roll up our sleeves and clean up our messes.

As long as we capitulate and default to easy solutions to complex problems, we'll likely continue to drive wildlife decline and disappearance.

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

The Immune System Is Resolutely Apolitical, And So Is The Virus
I can't imagine being so consumed by my personal political beliefs that I wouldn't protect myself from a stubbornly nonpartisan plague.
By Charles P. Pierce

Being in the immunological hammock between Dolly Shot I and Dolly Shot II, I have a little more time to despair of my fellow citizens, many of whom are, according to a new Monmouth poll, simply unreachable morons.

Partisanship remains the main distinguishing factor among those who want to avoid the vaccine altogether, with 36% of Republicans versus just 6% of Democrats saying this. Reluctance among these two groups has declined slightly since January (by 6 points among Republicans and 4 points among Democrats), while it has actually grown among independents. Currently, 31% of independents say they want to avoid getting the vaccine altogether - an increase of 6 points since January.
I am fairly political, as should be obvious by now, and even I have to admit that I can't see a political reason to get (or not to get) vaccinated. My immune system is resolutely apolitical, for which I thank god, because, if it weren't, I'd go into anaphylaxis at every Republican campaign event, and CPAC might have turned me into one big fever blister. I can't imagine being so consumed by my personal political beliefs that I wouldn't protect myself from a resolutely nonpartisan virus. But then again, there has been a conservative backlash against public safety and public health for as long as there has been a conservative backlash against all aspects of the political commonwealth.

When I was growing up, Worcester refused to fluoridate its water for ideological reasons. (Among other opponents was the John Birch Society, which believed fluoridation to be a form of mind control, and the publisher of the local newspaper was a founding member of the JBS.) The controversy was nationwide, and its parameters should sound familiar to all of us today. From Science History:

...right-wing groups like the John Birch Society have long implied dark motives behind fluoridation. But more common are groups raising safety questions. Anti-fluoridation literature goes back over half a century, with titles like Robotry and Water: A Critique of Fluoridation (1959). Members of the Fluoride Action Network and Citizens for Safe Drinking Water have linked the chemical to several varieties of cancer, diminished intelligence, birth defects and declining birth rates, and heart disease-among other maladies. The Sierra Club worries about the "potential adverse impact of fluoridation on the environment, wildlife, and human health."

Many opponents see fluoridation as a consequence of collusion among industry, government, and a scientific establishment in thrall to both. The scientific evidence-more complicated than revealed during the original Grand Rapids trials-collides with skeptical public opinion. Seven decades of controversy remind us that the two realms are never truly separate.

Nothing is really new. To paraphrase Ralph Waldo Emerson, stupid is in the saddle and rides far too much of mankind.

(c) 2021 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-

"Right-wing Republicans in CA are trying to recall @GavinNewsom for the crime of telling people to wear masks and for listening to scientists during COVID. Extremist Republicans have done enough to undermine democracy already. We must all unite to oppose the recall in California."
~~~ Bernie Sanders

The coal plant isn't worth what the Department of Energy or Wall Street thinks it is. It is worth much, much less. This is true of natural gas plants, too

As Solar, Wind Costs Plummet, Coal, Gas Vastly Over-Priced In Bubble That Could Burst Worse Than 2008
What do you call it when people invest $2 trillion into an industry that is becoming worthless? That, my friend, is a bubble.
By Juan Cole

A new report by RethinkX, a think tank using the ideas of Tony Seba, who teaches Business at Stanford University, demonstrates that the value of fossil fuels and of the electric plants they fuel is vastly overstated by government agencies and financial analysts.

Seba and his colleagues point out the coal and nuclear have attracted $2 trillion in investments since 2010, on the basis that, say, a coal plant built in 2015 will go on producing electricity at 7.5 cents a kilowatt hour for 20 years, i.e. through 2045.

Bzzt. Wrong answer. Coal plants are routinely being driven out of business by ever cheaper solar, wind and battery installations, as well as by cheaper natural gas.

So coal can't actually be expected to generate electricity at 7.5 cents a kilowatt hour (imagine burning ten 100-watt light bulbs for an hour) for twenty years.

Therefore, the coal plant isn't worth what the Department of Energy or Wall Street thinks it is. It is worth much, much less. This is true of natural gas plants, too.

So what do you call it when people invest $2 trillion into an industry that is becoming worthless?

That, my friend, is a bubble.

A frightening characteristic of bubbles is that they burst. The market in securitized bad mortgages burst in 2008. The market in worthless fossil fuels could burst at any moment. That is, the over-valuation of coal and gas plants is a national security emergency.

One of the first big bubbles in modern capitalism was the tulip bubble or tulipomania in the Netherlands. Tulips were exported in the 1600s to Western Europe from the Ottoman Empire. They are fragile flowers and were hard to grow in Europe, but people went wild for them and everyone in the Netherlands of any standing felt as though they needed to have a collection. Wealthy Dutch merchants ran up the price in 1632, with fine bulbs costing the equivalent of $50,000 to $150,000, and some rare bulbs went for $750,000.

People securitized tulips in the stock market and borrowed money to buy the securities, so they were highly leveraged. Since it was just a fad, and nobody actually needed a fancy tulip, the fad began passing, and the cost of each tulip declined. With each decline, people who had gone into debt to buy the flowers were more in debt, because they had expected future profits to cover the debts and now there were only future losses. The fad was over by the late 1630s, leaving many bankrupt Dutch behind.

So Tony Seba is saying that coal, gas and oil are like those early modern Ottoman tulips?

Tony Seba is saying that coal, gas and oil are like those early modern Ottoman tulips.

People are investing way too much money in death-spiral fossil fuels. (If you have them in your retirement portfolio, dump them fast).

They write,

"Capacity factor of conventional coal, gas, nuclear, and hydro power plants will not remain high or constant, but will instead decline dramatically over the next 10 to 15 years as they are out-competed and disrupted by the combination of solar photovoltaics, onshore wind, and lithium-ion batteries (SWB). In fact, capacity factor in conventional energy has been dropping since at least 2010. For instance, the average capacity factor of coal in the United States has fallen from 67% in 2010 to just 40% in 2020 - first because of competition with cheap gas from fracking, and now because of SWB.14 In the United Kingdom, coal capacity factor has collapsed even faster, from 58% in 2013 to just 8% by 2019."
One implication here is that coal plants don't actually produce electricity for 7.5 cents a kilowatt hour in the U.S. any more. If you take into account the likelihood of severe under-utilization or early closure in the near future, it could be as much as 75 cents a kilowatt hour. All the money sunk in a coal plant on the assumption that it would have a 20 year life was invested based on a basic math error. Even still-experimental technologies like tidal power, using the energy of ocean waves, come in at 20 cents a kilowatt hour, considered too expensive to be practical. So what is practical about coal and gas?

Another take-away of this study is that the US government and private energy analysts have consistently and vastly underestimated the rate at which renewables are falling in cost. This underestimate has in turn helped falsely inflate the value of fossil fuels.

Seba and colleagues urge the Biden administration to take account of these findings to protect Americans from this de facto bubble and to move even more quickly to wind, solar and batteries.

(c) 2021 Juan R.I. Cole is the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. He has written extensively on modern Islamic movements in Egypt, the Persian Gulf and South Asia and has given numerous media interviews on the war on terrorism and the Iraq War. He lived in various parts of the Muslim world for nearly 10 years and continues to travel widely there. He speaks Arabic, Farsi and Urdu.

Joe Biden signs the American Rescue Plan in the Oval Office.

How Bidenomics Unites America
By Robert Reich

A quarter century ago, I and other members of Bill Clinton's cabinet urged him to reject the Republican's proposal to end welfare. It was too punitive, we said, subjecting poor Americans to deep and abiding poverty. But Clinton's political advisers warned that unless he went along, he jeopardized his reelection.

That was the end of welfare as we knew it. As Clinton boasted in his State of the Union address to Congress that year, "the era of big government is over."

Until last Thursday, that is, when Joe Biden signed into law the biggest expansion of government assistance since the 1960s - a guaranteed income for most families with children, raising the maximum benefit by up to 80 percent per child.

As Biden put it in his address to the nation, as if answering Clinton, "the government isn't some foreign force in a distant capital. No, it's us, all of us, we the people."

As a senator, Biden had supported Clinton's 1996 welfare restrictions as did most Americans. What happened between then and now? Three big things.

First, COVID. The pandemic has been a national wake-up call on the fragility of middle-class incomes. The deep COVID recession has revealed the harsh consequences of most Americans now living paycheck to paycheck.

For years, Republicans used welfare to drive a wedge between the white working middle class and the poor. Ronald Reagan portrayed black, inner-city mothers as freeloaders and con artists, repeatedly referring to "a woman in Chicago" as the "welfare queen."< P> Whites who were putting more hours into paid work than ever - women had streamed into the workforce in the 1970s in order to prop up family incomes decimated by the decline in male factory jobs - were particularly susceptible to the message. Why should "they" get help for not working when "we" get no help, and we work?

By the time Clinton campaigned for president, "ending welfare as we knew it" had become a talisman of so-called New Democrats, even though there was little or no evidence that welfare benefits discouraged the unemployed from taking jobs. (In Britain, enlarged child benefits actually increased employment among single mothers.)

Yet when COVID hit, public assistance was no longer necessary just for "them." It was needed by "us."

The second big thing was Donald Trump. He exploited racism, to be sure, but replaced economic Reaganism with narcissistic grievances, claims of voter fraud, and cultural paranoia stretching from Dr. Seuss to Mr. Potato Head.

Trump obliterated concerns about government giving away money. The CARES Act, which he signed into law at the end of March, gave most Americans checks of $1,200 (to which he calculatedly attached his name). When this proved enormously popular, he demanded the next round of stimulus checks be $2,000.

Part of the GOP's incapacity to respond to Biden's momentous redistribution was due to the Party's equally momentous distribution upward - its $1.9 trillion 2018 tax cut whose benefits went overwhelmingly to the top 20 percent. Despite promises of higher wages for everyone else, nothing trickled down.

Meanwhile, during the pandemic, America's 660 billionaires - major beneficiaries of the Trump tax cut - became $1.3 trillion wealthier, enough to give every American a $3,900 check and still be as rich as they were before the pandemic.

The third big thing is the breadth of Biden's plan. Under it, more than 93 percent of the nation's children - 69 million - receive benefits. Americans in the lowest quintile increase their incomes by 20 percent; those in the second-lowest, 9 percent; those in the middle, 6 percent.

Rather than pit the working middle class against the poor, this unites them. Over 70 percent of Americans support the bill, including 63 percent of low-income Republicans (a quarter of all Republican voters). Younger conservatives are particularly supportive, presumably because people under 50 have felt the brunt of the four-decade slowdown in real wage growth.

Given all this, it's amazing that zero Republican members of Congress voted for it, while 278 voted for Trump's tax cut for corporations and the rich.

The political lesson is that today's Democrats - who enjoy popular vote majorities in presidential elections (having won seven of the past eight) - can gain political majorities by raising the wages of both middle class and poor voters, while fighting Republican efforts to suppress the votes of likely Democrats.

The economic lesson is that Reaganomics is officially dead. For years, conservative economists have argued that tax cuts for the rich create job-creating investments, while assistance to the poor creates dependency. Rubbish.

Bidenomics is exactly the reverse: Give cash to the bottom two-thirds and their purchasing power will drive growth for everyone. This is far more plausible. We'll learn how much in coming months.

(c) 2021 Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His web site is

A homeless person is seen on a cold weather in Manhattan of New York City, United States on February 23, 2021.

The American Rescue Plan Does Not Address The Deep-Rooted Inequality Killing Us
Biden's bailout will not alter the structural inequities and other fundamental underpinnings of America's death spiral.
by Chris Hedges

The established ruling elites know there is a crisis. They agreed, at least temporarily, to throw money at it with the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 bill known as American Rescue Plan (ARP). But the ARP will not alter the structural inequities, either by raising the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour or imposing taxes and regulations on corporations or the billionaire class that saw its wealth increase by a staggering $1.1 trillion since the start of the pandemic. The health system will remain privatized, meaning the insurance and pharmaceutical corporations will reap a windfall of tens of billions of dollars with the ARP, and this when they are already making record profits. The endless wars in the Middle East, and the bloated military budget that funds them, will remain sacrosanct. Wall Street and the predatory global speculators that profit from the massive levels of debt peonage imposed on an underpaid working class and loot the U.S. Treasury in our casino capitalism will continue to funnel money upwards into the hands of a tiny, oligarchic cabal. There will be no campaign finance reform to end our system of legalized bribery. The giant tech monopolies will remain intact. The fossil fuel companies will continue to ravage the ecosystem. The militarized police, censorship imposed by digital media platforms, vast prison system, harsher and harsher laws aimed at curbing domestic terrorism and dissent and wholesale government surveillance will be, as they were before, the primary instruments of state control.

This act will, at best, provide a momentary respite from the country's death spiral, sending out one time checks of $1,400 to 280 million Americans, extending $300 weekly unemployment benefits until the end of August and distributing $3,600 through a tax credit for children under the age of 6 and $3,000 per child ages 6 to 17 starting on July 1. Much of this money will be instantly gobbled up by landlords, lenders, medical providers and credit card companies. The act does, to its credit, bail out some 1 million unionized workers poised to lose their pensions and hands $31.2 billion in aid to Native communities, some of the poorest in the nation.

But what happens to the majority of Americans who get government support for only a few months? What are they supposed to do when the checks stop arriving at the end of the year? Will the federal government orchestrate another massive relief package? I doubt it. We will be back where we started.

By refusing to address the root causes of America's rot, by failing to pump life back into the democratic institutions that once gave the citizen a voice, however limited, and make incremental and piecemeal reform possible, by not addressing the severe economic and social inequality and dislocation that afflicts at least half the country, the anomie and ruptured social bonds that gave rise to a demagogue like Donald Trump will expand. The American empire will not staunch its disintegration. The political deformities will metastasize.

When the next demagogue appears, and the Republican Party has banked its future on Trump or his doppelgänger, he or she will probably be competent. The Republican Party in 43 states has proposed 250 laws to limit mail, early in-person and Election Day voting and mandate stricter ID requirements, as well as reduce the hours at voting sites and the numbers of voting locations potentially disenfranchising tens of millions of voters. The party has no intention of playing by the rules. Once back in power, cloaked in the ideological garb of Christian fascism, the new or the old Trump will abolish what little is left of democratic space.

The established elites pretend that Trump was a freakish anomaly. They naively believe they can make Trump and his most vociferous supporters disappear by banishing them from social media. The ancien regime, will, they assert, return with the decorum of its imperial presidency, respect for procedural norms, elaborately choreographed elections and fealty to neoliberal and imperial policies.

But what the established ruling elites have yet to grasp, despite the narrow electoral victory Joe Biden had over Trump and the storming of the capital on January 6 by an enraged mob, is that the credibility of the old order is dead. The Trump era, if not Trump himself, is the future. The ruling elites, embodied by Biden and the Democratic Party and the polite wing of the Republican Party represented by Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney, is headed for the dustbin of history.

The elites collectively sold out the American public to corporate power. They did this by lying to the public about the consequences of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), trade deals, dismantling welfare, revoking Glass-Stegall, imposing austerity measures, deregulating Wall Street, passing draconian crime bills, launching endless wars in the Middle East and bailing out the big banks and financial firms rather than the victims of their fraud. These lies were far, far more damaging to the public than any of the lies told by Trump. These elites have been found out. They are hated. They deserve to be hated.

The Biden administration-and Biden was one of the principal architects of the policies that fleeced the working class and made war on the poor-is nothing more than a brief coda in the decline and fall, set against which is China's rising global economic and military clout.

The loss of credibility has left the media, which serves as courtiers to the elites, largely powerless to manipulate public perceptions and public opinion. Rather, the media has divided the public into competing demographics. Media platforms target one demographic, feeding its opinions and proclivities back to it, while shrilly demonizing the demographic on the other side of the political divide. This has proved commercially successful. But it has also split the country into irreconcilable warring factions that can no longer communicate. Truth and verifiable fact have been sacrificed. Russiagate is as absurd as the belief that the presidential election was stolen from Trump. Pick your fantasy.

The loss of credibility among the ruling elites has transferred political influence to those outside established centers of power such as Alex Jones, celebrities and those, such as Joe Rogan, Glenn Greenwald and Matt Taibbi who were never groomed by the media conglomerates. The Democratic Party, in an effort to curb the influence of the new centers of power, has allied itself with social media industry giants such as Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Patreon, Substack and Spotify to curtail or censor its critics. The goal is to herd the public back to Democratic Party allied news organizations such as The New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN. But these media outlets, which in the service to corporate advertisers have rendered the lives of the working class and the poor invisible, are as reviled as the ruling elites themselves.

The loss of credibility has also given rise to new, often spontaneous groups, as well as the lunatic fringe that embraces conspiracy theories such as QAnon. None of these groups or individuals, whether they are on the left or the right, however, have the organizational structure, coherence and ideological cohesiveness of radical movements of the past, including the old Communist Party or militant labor unions. They traffic in emotional outrage, often replacing one outrage with another. They provide new forms of identity to replace the identities lost by tens of millions of Americans who have been cast aside. This energy can be harnessed for laudable causes, such as ending police abuse, but it is too often ephemeral. It has a tendency to transform political debate into grievance protests, at best, and more often televised spectacle. These flash mobs pose no threat to the elites unless they build disciplined organization structures, which takes years, and articulate a vision of what can come next. (This is why I support Extinction Rebellion, which has a large grassroots network, especially in Europe, carries out effective sustained acts of civil disobedience and has a clearly stated goal of overthrowing the ruling elites and building a new governing system through people's committees and sortition.)

This amorphous, emotionally driven anti-politics is fertile ground for demagogues, who have no political consistency but cater exclusively to the zeitgeist of the moment. Many of those who support demagogues know, on some level, they are con artists and liars. But demagogues are revered because, like all cult leaders, they flout conventions, are outrageous and crude, claim omnipotence and disdain traditional decorum. Demagogues are weaponized against bankrupt well-heeled elites who have stripped the public of opportunities and identities, extinguishing hopes for the future. A cornered population has little left but hate and the emotional catharsis expressing it brings.

The engine of our emerging dystopia is income inequality, which is growing. This bill does nothing to address this cancer. The bottom 50 percent of households in 2019 accounted for only 1 percent of the nation's total wealth. The top 10 percent accounted for 76 percent. And this was before the pandemic accelerated income disparity. More than 18 million American depend on unemployment benefits, as businesses contract and close. Nearly 81 million Americans struggle to meet basic household expenses, 22 million lack enough food and 11 million say they can't make their next house payment. Only deep structural reforms accompanied by New Deal-type legislation can save us, but such changes are an anathema to the corporate state and the Biden administration. History has amply demonstrated what happens when income disparities of this magnitude afflict a country. We will be no exception. Lacking a strong left, the United States will in desperation embrace authoritarianism, if not proto-fascism. This will, I fear, be Biden and the Democratic Party's real legacy.

(c) 2021 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.

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White House Staff Beg Biden To Not Do That Thing Where He Goes Quiet & Doesn't Blink
By The Waterford Whispers News

SEVERAL members of Joe Biden's administration and a number of war-hardened secret service members have been placed on stress leave after reporting that they can 'no longer cope' with the president's frequent zone-outs where it looks like he's after dropping dead.

It is believed the 78-year-old Biden frequently just stops talking during meetings, stares straight ahead and does not blink for minutes at a time, causing no end of panic for the staff at hand until he just comes 'back in the room' with a celebratory meeting over the passing of the $1.9tn relief bill just the latest example.

"The president likes to take a 'moment of pause' to reflect on difficult decisions and it looks for all the world like he's dropped dead where he's sitting" said one source close to the Oval Office pacing around the Rose Garden outside the White House, chain-smoking cigarettes to calm down after Biden 'did a Joe again' at a briefing meeting.

"The face masks don't help either, that's for sure. And the dogs aren't here to do the 'bite test' on him. We're talking four, five minutes at a time when the man doesn't blink, just stares ahead, slightly slumped in his chair. And won't answer when you talk to him, either. 'Mr President, are you okay?' we'll ask, and he won't respond until we're approaching him with a mirror to see if he's breathing and then he'll just snap back to life and start issuing orders. Vice President Harris has yelled at him to 'not do that corpse shit again', we've heard her through the doors."

President Biden has yet to respond on the matter, in fact he's been quiet all morning, and it doesn't appear that he's touched his coffee, and oh Jesus is he even breathing, oh God someone call... no, wait, he's fine, he's fine.

(c) 2021 The Waterford Whispers News

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Issues & Alibis Vol 21 # 12 (c) 03/19/2021

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