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In This Edition

Matt Taibbi takes, "Notes From The House Select Intelligence Hearing On Russia."

Uri Avnery defends the undefensible, "The Most Moral Army."

Glen Ford cautions, "Don't Give the Black Misleaders Your Vote (They'll Just Cash It In)."

Eric Alterman discovers, "Fox's Absurd Unreality Show Is Now Aided And Abetted By Trump's Undersized Hands."

Jim Hightower exclaims, "Are The Rich Different From You And Me? Ask Cadillac!"

Glenn Greenwald states, "Trump Administration Ousts U.N. Official to Protect Israel From Criticism."

David Suzuki concludes, "Intact Wilderness Is A Hedge Against Our Ignorance."

John Nichols examines, "Worried About Voting Machines Being Hacked? There's a Bill to Prevent That."

Chris Hedges with a must read, "A Last Chance For Resistance."

Peter Maass warns, "For Donald Trump, A Terror Attack Will Be An Opportunity Not A Curse."

Jane Stillwater shares, "Hawaii: My own private "Pivot to Asia"."

David Swanson reports, "City Of Charlottesville Passes Resolution Asking Congress To Fund Human And Environmental Needs, Not Military Expansion."

Michael Winship says, "'There's a Smell Of Treason In The Air.'"

Mick Mulvaney wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich finds, "An Orgy of Unnecessary Cruelty."

William Rivers Pitt isn't joking, "When It Comes To Trump, We Should Be Too Petrified To Laugh."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Will Durst says, "Trump Is The Picasso Of Hogwash" but first Uncle Ernie sez, "Trump Declares War On The Poor, Sick, And Elderly."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Steve Breen, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Ruben Bolling, Mario Tama, Tom Williams, Zach Gibson, Drew Angerer, John Tlumacki, Jose Luis Magana, Nancy Wiechec, Al Drago, Matt McClain, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Anadolu Agency, Reuters, AP, The Boston Globe, Getty Images,, Black Agenda Report, You Tube.Com and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

The Quotable Quote...
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To End On A Happy Note...
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Parting Shots...

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

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Trump Declares War On The Poor, Sick, And Elderly
By Ernest Stewart

"Actually, there's no proof that food stops hunger." ~~~ Mick Mulvaney

"Last year, reefs worldwide resembled coral killing fields as warmer waters bleached the colour and the life out of many of these normally vibrant underwater communities." ~~~ Bernard Bowen ~ Australian marine scientist

"Almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so." ~~~ Robert A. Heinlein

You know, the landlord rang my front door bell
I let it ring for a long, long spell
I looked through the window, I peeked through the blind,
And asked him to tell me what was on his mind.
He said, 'Money, honey!
Money, honey!
Money, honey,
If you want to get along with me.'
Money Honey ~~~ Elvis Presley

You may recall last week when Trump Budget "guru" Mick Mulvaney argued that cutting Meals On Wheels is a 'Fairly Compassionate' thing to do to the elderly. It was at this point that I no longer had any doubts that we are swiftly heading to becoming a much nastier version of Nazi Germany! No other president from Nixon on up would have done such a thing. If you had any doubts about Trumps intention of killing off the poor and especially the elderly through trying to get rid of Obama Care and Medicaid, this last outrage should remove all doubts. The US Government is at war with it's people!

As Bertrand Russell said, "The first step in a fascist movement is the combination under an energetic leader of a number of men who possess more than the average share of leisure, brutality, and stupidity. The next step is to fascinate fools and muzzle the intelligent, by emotional excitement on the one hand and terrorism on the other." Does that ring any bells as of late, America? Bertrand said that in Freedom, Harcourt Brace, 1940. Bertrand said that 77 years ago but it still rings true today. You may recall that before he started killing the Jews, Hitler first started killing the retarded, the crippled and such to save Germany a few million Reich Marks; are you having a deja vu yet?

Since Trump is a fan of Hitler, and keeps a book of Hitlers speeches by his bed side (Ivana Trump told her lawyer Michael Kennedy "that from time to time her husband reads a book of Hitler's collected speeches, My New Order, which he keeps in a cabinet by his bed") and has used those ideas openly while running for president. You may recall what George Santayana said about history? George said: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." And since, America, has an attention span of about 10 seconds you can see where Trump is heading, and will, no doubt, take us all down that same path! Oh and when we get to the Happy Camp I call top bunk!

In Other News

According to scientists in the land down under large sections of the Great Barrier Reef are already dead, and scientists warn that the rest of the coral organisms that make up the sprawling reef ecosystem will die if global warming continues unabated.

After a year of record-high-breaking temperatures in 2016, the Great Barrier Reef experienced its worst coral bleaching event on record, as the tiny coral animals evict their color-giving partners - algae that photosynthesize and are the reason for vibrantly hued reefs. Now, scientists have returned to the reef to measure the coral bleaching that has occurred this summer (which runs from mid-December through mid-March in the Southern Hemisphere) compared to last summer.

Scientists from 10 research institutions across Australia, representing the National Coral Bleaching Taskforce, will spend the next few weeks conducting air and underwater surveys of the Great Barrier Reef.

"We're hoping that the next 2-3 weeks will cool off quickly, and this year's bleaching won't be anything like last year," Terry Hughes, lead author of a study describing the team's findings and the convener of the task force, said in a statement. "The severity of the 2016 bleaching was off the chart."

Hughes, who is also a marine ecologist and director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, noted that 2016 was the third major bleaching event, and most devastating, to affect the Great Barrier Reef. The catastrophic bleaching last year impacted a region of the reef approximately 500 miles in length. (The entire reef is about 133,000 square miles.) Heat waves in 1998 and 2002 also caused massive bleaching of the reef.

"Past exposure to bleaching does not make coral reefs any more tolerant to new bleaching events," Hughes said. "Once measurements of the bleaching extent this year are completed, they may reveal that 2017 was the fourth major event," Hughes added.

"It broke my heart to see so many corals dying on northern reefs on the Great Barrier Reef in 2016," Hughes said. "With rising temperatures due to global warming, it's only a matter of time before we see more of these events. A fourth event after only one year is a major blow to the reef."

Let's all hope that this slides under Donald Trump's radar and he doesn't piss off Malcolm Turnbull and the Australian people more than he already did on his last phone call. One can only imagine what Trump would say about global warming destroying the Great Barrier Reef? Because, unlike Trump, and his scalawags, the Australian people belive in global warming as they can plainly see it's effects!

And Finally

A way down yonder in the twilight zone, way down below that Manson/Nixon line where they think they won the civil war and white folks are still murdering black folks for sport, with the backing of the courts comes this strange tale of mythology and the law, whereas the Alabama legislature is considering a bill to give a Birmingham-based church its own police force. The bill, SB 193, would specifically authorize the Briarwood Presbyterian Church, which has more than 4,000 members, to hire its own police force that would be "invested with all of the powers of law enforcement officers in this state." Say what?

It's not like the church couldn't hire rent-a-cops to protect their lunatic leader Harry Reeder (who is a little to the right of Darth Vader), they can. Not to mention the Birmingham police force or the county sheriff department, or the state police, all of who are already at their beck-and-call. So WTF?

The church explains: "The sole purpose of this proposed legislation is to provide a safe environment for the church, its members, students and guests." They also go on about the Sandy Hook shooting, claiming that they need "qualified first responders" in case such a thing would happen to them. Again, private security guards provide the same service if the Rev is that paranoid. No what's at stake here is the seperation of church and state. Perhaps the Alabama legislature will visit the Establishment Clause, you know from the first amendment to the US Constitution, before they pass such an act of treason. If they do pass it, it won't stand up to a court challenge and the ACLU is licking it's chops in anticipation. You can lay all of the this at the feet of Donald Trump whose election has brought all the fascists out from under their rocks with their seething hatred and into our state legislatures!

Keepin' On

Well, good news for a change, I went to the old PO Box and, "Eureka!" -- a donation! Thank Zeus for those "Usual Suspects!" Doctor Dave struck again and donated his way into first place for the 2017 donations tally. Thank you so much, Dave! Now if I could hear from our other two Doctors who are also members of the "Usual Suspects" we could stop all this begging for alms for 2017!

Well, the good doctor's donation put us well on the way to keep on bringing the the truth and facts every week for no charge. We depend upon our advertising and donations from our readership, so you don't have to pay to read us like most all of the other news sites do. The whole point of which is to see that the poor can get to the truth. A lot of our readership reads us in libraries as they no longer have a computer, and, in many cases, a roof over their heads. Who deserves to know the truth more than them?

Ergo, if you read us, and like us, and are still gainfully employed, why not send us whatever you can, as often as you can, so that we can continue on our mission to restore the old Republic by hipping ya'll to the truth! Oh, you don't have to be a member of the "Usual Suspects" to help us get by, just go to our donations page and follow the directions, and thanks!


02-26-1931 ~ 03-17-2017
Thanks for the film!

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Thanks for the music!

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Thanks for the read!

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Burn Baby Burn!

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Thanks for Morse, Lewis, and Endeavour!

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Thanks for the laughs!

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

Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2017 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.

James Comey and Admiral Mike Rogers at Monday's hearing.

Notes From The House Select Intelligence Hearing On Russia
In one of the most anticipated congressional hearings in years, James Comey and Mike Rogers took turns saying nothing
By Matt Taibbi

The hearing on Russia's involvement with the American electoral process began with an army of reporters swarming 'round the committee heads: Republican chair Devin Nunes of the Fresno area, and Democrat and ranking member Adam Schiff of Los Angeles.

The two witnesses were top dogs from the "IC" (everyone in America seems to be using this irritating acronym now). One was FBI Director James Comey, who at various times has been both revered and hated by both Democrat and Republican camps over the years. The other was NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers, who until recently was probably best known for refusing to identify Edward Snowden as a foreign agent. A few notes:

10:05 a.m. It's a small issue in the grand scheme of things, but the effort to describe the Russia Today network as diabolical propaganda without mentioning Voice of America and Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe continues to amaze. Apparently Russia is the only country that funds a media network intended to influence foreign audiences.

Nunes in his opening statement characterizes RT as a disinformation effort that "traffics in anti-American conspiracies," rivaling Soviet propaganda. Here it is hard not to think of the joint intel report that cited the network's reporting on Occupy Wall Street, "corporate greed" and fracking as evidence of its anti-American nature. It also decried the network's use of the term "surveillance state" to describe the U.S., which will be pretty ironic considering the content of today's hearing.

Again, it's a small point, but by these standards pretty much any alternative media outlet is "anti-American," and it's alarming to hear Democrats later ape this language in reference to RT.

Rep. Adam Schiff

10:20 a.m. Schiff delivers a long speech that essentially lays out the Trump-Russia conspiracy. Twitter seems to be unanimous that it's a powerful piece of rhetoric.

Among other things, he unblinkingly cites the Christopher Steele's "golden showers" dossier as a source. This seems like a pretty intense political calculation given that Michael Morell, who would have been Hillary Clinton's CIA director, basically called the dossier useless just last week. The dossier "doesn't take you anywhere, I think," Morell said. But it's all over this hearing, with multiple Democratic members citing it. What that means, who knows, but it's interesting to see that level of commitment from the Democrats.

10:32 a.m. Comey creates the big headline of the day by saying, "I have been authorized ... to confirm that the FBI is investigating" the Russia story.

This both is and isn't big news. Although it's the first time it's been stated publicly, the existence of this investigation has been common knowledge for a long time. Most of the leaked reports on the topic have included this information.

For instance, The New York Times story from February 14th, about Trump officials having had "contact" with Russian intelligence, spoke definitively of an investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Putin government.

Still, that doesn't mean Comey had to do what he did today. Is this payback to Trump for accusing the FBI of illegally wiretapping him? Is it a good-faith effort to square the ledger in terms of his previous highly controversial decision to out the Clinton email investigation? It's curious and bold either way. One wonders if Trump might fire him.

The true newsworthy detail, of course, isn't that Comey disclosed the existence of an FBI investigation into Trump - as Democrats should know better than anyone, that doesn't necessarily mean anything - but that Comey is doing this now and didn't do so earlier, before the election. Obviously, he made a different choice with regard to the Clinton email story, and the Democrats rightfully should be furious about that.

10:36 a.m. Nunes asks Rogers if Russians hacked vote tallies in Michigan. Rogers answers no, noting that the NSA doesn't do domestic surveillance. Nunes goes on to ask about Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wisconsin, knowing Rogers won't answer. It's a totally meaningless exchange, but instantly becomes Twitter fodder. This is what these hearings are for, primarily. Except for very rare occasions when mega-careful witnesses like Comey and Rogers decide to give up tidbits, for the most part these hearings are held so that House members can ping-pong talking points off witnesses, and then circulate clips of themselves asking questions to which they already know the answers.

10:39 a.m. Florida Republican Tom Rooney asks Rogers about incidental collection of data about "U.S. persons" under the Section 702 program. Admiral Rogers' explanation for how they use that data, and how they protect the rights of U.S. companies and citizens - redacting or "masking" identities, for instance - is almost comically non-reassuring.

Reading between the lines, the NSA seems to have basically unrestricted ability to snoop on foreigners. When their targets are speaking to American persons or communicating with American companies, the agency also seems to have an absurdly permissive mandate to listen to whatever they want to listen to. Only later, it seems, do they figure out how to justify it legally.,P> This is an example of how the hyper-partisan nature of these hearings spoils American politics. Liberals especially should be seriously concerned about such surveillance overreach by the intelligence agencies, and also about leaks directed against individuals by intelligence officials. Similarly, conservatives should be mortified by the possibility of foreign interference in our electoral process.

But because both of these issues are tied in highly specific ways to the political fortunes of Donald Trump, each issue will be ignored by one side and thundered over by the other.

11:03 a.m. Schiff asks both men if Obama wiretapped Trump as Trump claimed. "I have no information that supports those tweets," Comey says. Asked if he engages in McCarthyism, Comey says he tries "not to engage in any isms of any kind, including McCarthyism." He gets laughs. Comey is a very, very slick witness, difficult to read.

An interesting development in this hearing is that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans are treating these witnesses as hostile. And both Comey and Rogers are in their own ways giving both Nunes and Schiff what they want so far. They're allowing members of both parties to make speeches and ask their suggestive questions, while giving them next to nothing.

Rep. Trey Gowdy

11:19 a.m. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, last seen spending two expensive years stepping on his weenie in a pathetic effort to dig up dirt on Hillary Clinton through the Benghazi probe, comes on to the delight of, well, nobody. Gowdy is the first to cross over into open unfriendliness. Ominously, he starts trying to get Comey to say reporters could be held criminally liable for disclosing secret information.

Gowdy later scores a point by getting Comey to explain a hypothetical: how he would go about investigating the leak of a U.S. citizen's name that appears in a newspaper. (He's clearly talking about Flynn.)

Comey, with the caveat that he's not talking about anyone specific, lays out how he would do that, talking about identifying the "universe" of people with access to that information and then using investigative techniques to further narrow the field. Indirectly, Comey confirms Gowdy's interpretation of a "felonious" disclosure to a newspaper that must be prosecuted. It sets up a demand that Comey investigate and prosecute that leak.

Gowdy does in fact go on to make such a demand. But Comey cockblocks Gowdy and says he "can't" promise that he will investigate the leaks.

Gowdy looks like someone just stole his box of Mike and Ikes. He seems surprised, like he didn't expect Comey's answer. Comey smiles and glares at Gowdy like the third-rater he is.

11:43 a.m.Jim Himes asks Comey if Ukraine used to be part of the Soviet Union. Comey says yes. Glad we cleared that up.

11:52 a.m. Mike Conaway of Texas points out that determining the source of a hacking campaign is a forensic enterprise, but asks how they determine intent. In the process, he pins down Rogers as saying he had a "lower level" of confidence in the idea that the Russians preferred Trump to Clinton.

Conaway then plunges into a bizarre metaphor about how his wife went to Texas Tech, so he roots for the Red Raiders and dislikes the Longhorns, or something. Conaway seemed to want to ask if it is possible to root against Texas without liking the Red Raiders, or the opposite, but pretty much everyone watching instantly loses track of whether Hillary Clinton is Texas or Texas Tech in the metaphor.

Comey confidently goes with it. "Wherever the Red Raiders are playing, you want them to win and their opposition to lose," he says. He goes on to elaborate on the metaphor, talking about how the Russians later in the year knew the Red Raiders were going to lose, "so you hope key people on the other team get hurt so they are not as tough an opponent down the road."

The substantively interesting thing here is Comey's sly disclosure that the Russians late in the game expected Trump to lose the election. But his deft handling of Conaway's bumbling hypothetical overshadows the answer.

12:21 p.m. Nunes tries on a new rhetorical line: It's absurd to say Russians prefer Republicans, because Reagan! This is silly, of course, because Trump is a different animal from Reagan, but then Comey and Rogers do something equally silly. On the question of whether the Russians preferred Romney or McCain over Obama, they both look at each other like it's crazy to suggest they ever considered the question. Isn't it their job to know things like that? They're clearly dissembling.

Rep. Peter King, right Samuel Corum

12:25 p.m. Peter King, the most mumbly member on the panel, asks about the report that Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe told Reince Priebus that one of the New York Times stories on Russia was "BS."

"Is there any way you can comment on whether or not Mr. McCabe told that to Mr. Priebus?" King asks.

Comey gives a classically Comeyish answer:

"I can't, Mr. King, but I can agree with your general premise. Leaks have always been a problem. I read over the weekend [about] George Washington and Abraham Lincoln complaining about them. But I do agree in the last six weeks and months there apparently have been a lot of instances of conversations appearing in the media, and a lot of it is dead wrong. Which is one of the challenges, because we don't correct it. It's made it difficult because people are talking, or at least reporters are saying people are talking, in ways that have struck me as being unusually active."
Translation: blow me, I'm not telling you what McCabe said to Priebus. King basically thanks them both and retreats. King will spend much of the day apologizing for asking perfectly legitimate questions.

Although the hearing has generated tons of headlines before it hits the halfway mark, it's really a giant tease.

Both Comey and Rogers indicated from the start that they will reserve their more candid testimony for a later classified hearing with these same members. For the public, this means one thing: we'll continue to get no real answers, and a heavily partisan and politicized version of events, no matter what happens. So long as the investigations aren't closed, and the real information is kept behind closed doors, both parties can pursue their rhetorical campaigns unchecked. And the testimony of people like Comey and Rogers will be useful only for driving interest in the reading of tea leaves.

There should probably be three entirely separate investigations. One should concern the question of whether, or to what extent, the Russians interfered with the election. That's a non-partisan question, really, one everyone should care about, but Republicans won't do anything about it because they will perceive the entire issue as a partisan attack on Trump.

A second inquiry could deal with the question of illegal/politicized leaks of secret surveillance data coming from the "IC." Again, in reality this is a non-partisan concern. Were congressional Democrats really interested in getting at whatever the intelligence community has on Trump, a bipartisan inquiry of this nature would be an excellent pressure point.

Lastly, you could have a completely separate set of hearings into the question of whether or not the Trump campaign engaged in anything untoward in its dealings with Russians last year. If there's anything to this, the public needs to hear it, and it all needs to be public.

But don't expect answers anytime soon. Hearings like today's only add to the frustrating strangeness of this scandal, and it looks like this will continue for quite some time.
(c) 2017 Matt Taibbi is Rolling Stone's chief political reporter, Matt Taibbi's predecessors include the likes of journalistic giants Hunter S. Thompson and P.J. O'Rourke. Taibbi's 2004 campaign journal Spanking the Donkey cemented his status as an incisive, irreverent, zero-bullshit reporter. His books include Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History, The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion, Smells Like Dead Elephants: Dispatches from a Rotting Empire. .

The Most Moral Army
By Uri Avnery

A FEW days ago I happened upon an excellent British movie, "Testament of Youth", based on the memoirs of Vera Brittain.

Vera tells her story, the story of a British girl who grew up in a bourgeois family without worries or sorrows, when World War I put an end to that paradise. Her brother, her friends and her fiancee were killed one by one in the terrible mudscapes of France. She enlisted as a nurse near the front and dealt with hundreds of wounded and dead. The tender country girl turned into a hardened woman.

The scene which impressed me most occurs when she is posted to a hut full of wounded Germans. A German officer, not so young, is dying. In his delirium he sees his beloved, catches the hands of Vera and whispers "Is that you, Clara?" and Vera answers in German "Ich bin hier", I am here. With a happy smile on his lips, the German dies.

On the morrow of the war, an English crowd demands a vengeful peace. Vera takes the stage and tells of this experience. The crowd falls silent.

THE MOVIE brought me back to the affair of Elor Azaria, the soldier who killed a seriously wounded Arab attacker lying helpless on the ground. He has been sharply condemned by the military court but punished with the ridiculously light prison term of a year and a half. His publicity-grabbing attorney has appealed.

Killing a wounded or captured enemy is a war crime. Why?

For many people, this is a mystery. War is the realm of killing and destroying. Soldiers are decorated for killing. So why is it suddenly a crime to kill a wounded enemy? How is it possible to talk about a law of war when war itself breaks all laws? An army that trains its soldiers to kill, how can it demand from them to show mercy?

From the beginnings of humankind, war has been a human condition. It started from the primitive tribe, which defended its limited resources of food from preying neighbors. Neighbors killed were resources gained.

The limits to the ravages of war were fixed after one of the most awful conflicts in history - the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648). Its main battlefield was Germany - a flat country in the center of Europe, without defensible borders. Foreign armies entered it from all sides to fight it out between themselves. Armies devastated entire cities, killing, raping and looting.

It started as a war of religion, but became a war for supremacy and gain.

Millions died. In the end, two thirds of Germany was devastated, one third of the German population exterminated. One of the results was that the Germans, lacking any natural, defensible borders like seas and mountains, created an artificial border: a powerful army. It was the beginning of German militarism, which reached its climax in the Nazi frenzy.

WITNESSING THE atrocities of the Thirty Years' War, humanists pondered ways to limit warfare and create a core of international law. The outstanding proponent was a Dutchman Hugo de Groot ("Grotius"), who laid the foundations for the rules of war.

How can a war be limited? How can arms be "pure", when their very purpose is to kill and destroy? Grotius laid down a simple principle: nothing can be done to limit the means and practices necessary for winning a war. No army will respect such limitations.

But in war, terrible things happen which have nothing to do with victory. Killing civilians, prisoners and the wounded does not contribute to victory. Sparing their lives is good for all sides. If I spare the lives of captured enemy soldiers and the enemy spares the lives of my own soldiers who are captured, everybody wins.

Thus the modern laws of war are not only moral and humane, they are also sensible. All civilized nations recognize them. Breaking them is a crime.

At the beginning, the law forbidding the killing of the captured and the wounded applied only to uniformed soldiers. But in recent generations, the dividing line between uniformed soldiers and fighting civilians has become more and more blurred. Guerrillas, partisans, underground fighters, terrorists have become a part of recognized warfare. International law was widened to include them, too.

(What is the difference between a terrorist and a freedom fighter? I am proud of having discovered long ago the only scientific formula: "Freedom fighters are on my side, terrorists are on the other side.")

Thus we come back to Elor Azaria. Killing a wounded, neutralized enemy "terrorist" is a war crime, pure and simple. Wounded "terrorists" have to be treated. They are not enemies anymore, they are just injured human beings. Like the dying German in the movie.

SARAH NETANYAHU, the widely unpopular wife of our Prime Minister, recently said in an interview: "I believe that the Israeli Army is the most moral army in the world!"

She was only quoting an Israeli article of faith, repeated endlessly in all Israeli media, schools and political speeches.

Some might think that a "moral army" is an oxymoron. Armies are immoral by their very nature. Armies are there to make war, and war is basically immoral.

One might wonder how war has survived all these millennia. Humanity has made enormous progress in all fields of endeavor, yet war has endured. It seems that it is too deeply entrenched in human nature and human society.

When two citizens quarrel, they are no longer allowed to kill each other. They have to go to court and accept the verdict, based on a law accepted by all. Common sense would say that the same should apply to nations. When two states have a quarrel, they should go to an international court and accept its judgment peacefully.

How far are we from such a reality? Centuries? Millennia? An eternity?

In the 17th century, war was conducted by mercenaries, who fought for gain. Regiments sometimes changed sides on the battlefield. Soldiers were out for loot. The "Sack of Magdeburg" during the Thirty Years' War lives in German history to this very day. It was an orgy of looting, killing and rape in that town, west of Berlin.

A century later, war was conducted by professional national armies, and became a bit more civilized. The wars of Louis the 16th and Friedrich the Great left the civilian population largely unmolested.

With the French revolution, the modern mass armies came into being. General conscription became the rule, and is still in force in Israel and some other countries.

Conscription means that almost everybody serves side by side - the good and the bad, the normal and the depraved. I have seen well-educated sons of "good families" commit terrible war crimes. When I met them again a few years later, they were law-abiding citizens, proud fathers of families.

My own observation was that if, in an ordinary squad, a couple of stable, moral soldiers face a few bad apples, with the majority of the soldiers in between, there is a chance that the better ones would set the tone.

But there is also the possibility that the better ones assimilate to the others, and in the end the whole lot become dehumanized. That is one good argument for conscientious objection.

(I must admit that I am torn on this issue. On the one hand, I would like morally sound men and women to serve and influence their units, on the other side I deeply sympathize with those who follow the call of their conscience - and pay the price.)

WHEN I see a soldier who shoots a wounded enemy in cold blood, I ask myself: Who are his parents? In what home did he grow up? Who are his commanders?

The major blame must go to the officers, from company leader up to front commander. In an army, the commanders must always bear the main responsibility. Everything depends on the moral standards they impress upon their subordinates. I always blame them first and foremost.

Right at the beginning of this affair I proposed sentencing Azaria to a harsh prison term, for all to see. Then I would pardon him, but only on condition that he publicly admits his crime and asks for forgiveness. Until now, he has refused to do so, and suns himself in the glow of his status as a hero to some parts of the population. So do his parents, who visibly enjoy their public exposure.

SO HOW moral is the Israeli army?

Even before the State of Israel was founded, the underground paramilitary organization (the Haganah) which formed its base prided itself on its morality. "The Purity of Hebrew Arms" was the slogan then, and still is. It was true then as it is now, but It created the belief in the "Most Moral Army in the World." There is no such thing as a really moral army. Unfortunately armies are necessary in this world, but their morality is always questionable.

If I were to grade our army, I would guess that it is more moral than the Russian army and less moral than, say, the Swiss army.

The only completely moral army is the army that does not fight.
(c) 2017 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Don't Give the Black Misleaders Your Vote (They'll Just Cash It In)
By Glen Ford

The Democratic Party acts like it owns Black America. It certainly owns most of the Black political (Misleaderhip) class, who "have used their local, state and national offices to facilitate the mass Black incarceration regime at every stage of its deployment." These servants of the police state and war need to be challenged by candidates that reflect the left-leaning politics of Black America. The Black Is Back Coalition is seeking candidates.

The Black Is Back Coalition, having last year produced a 19-point National Black Agenda for Self-Determination, is now exploring ways to field or support Black radical candidates willing to run for office on a self-determinationist platform. To kick the project off, the Coalition will hold a two-day Electoral Candidate School on April 8 and 9, in St. Petersburg, Florida. The event is also in sync with discussions taking place at the Black Left Unity organization. I'll be one of the presenters at the Black Is Back electoral school, and will emphasize the importance of contesting the hegemonic influence of the Democrats -- a Wall Street party of austerity and war - in Black electoral politics. Blacks are the most left-leaning, anti-war ethnicity in the U.S., but you wouldn't guess that by tallying the voting records of their representatives on Capitol Hill.

However, that's not strange. U.S. duopoly party politics is in general disarray, a reflection of the crises of capitalism.

The Democrats point fingers a world away, at Moscow, as the source of instability in the U.S. political system. Donald Trump persists in claiming to fight for the little (white) guy, while gathering around him the richest Cabinet in the governmental history of the planet.

Electoral politics in the United States has become more removed from reality than at any time in living memory. The two corporate parties have nothing to offer the people, because their corporate masters are determined to strip mine the public sector of everything that can be turned into profit, and to concentrate all effective decision making in the hands of the Lords of Capital. In the corporate game plan, those public functions that are not directly privatized will be placed under the control of quasi-public boards and agencies led by business executives whose mission is to tailor the infrastructures of cities and whole regions in the service of capital. That means moving resources and populations across the landscape -- or out of the region, entirely -- at the whim of the moneyed classes.

You should recognize important aspects of this scenario, since, to a very large degree, it already exists. Blacks have been expelled from U.S. cities in huge numbers since the dawn of the 21st century.

To the extent that the Rulers feel compelled to justify their capital-centric engineering of society, they will describe the dictatorship of the One Percent as "rational governance" - when, in fact, this period represents the final triumph of the irrationality of late stage, casino capitalism, with the fate of whole nations and peoples riding on the roll of the dice on Wall Street. Inevitably, Wall Street will crap out, but at every stage of the game, through speculative highs and lows, the impoverishment of the masses will increase in more or less direct proportion to the concentration of power and wealth among the ruling circles.

The Lords of Capital know full well where their system is heading. It's not a runaway train, but an omnivorous engine of what evil men call "creative destruction" that amasses fantastic riches for the ever-dwindling few at the controls. (An Oxfam report shows the world's eight richest men control as much wealth as half of Earth's population. At least five of them are identified with the Democratic Party.) It is no wonder that the rulers have gone apoplectic in denouncing "fake news," since all of the facts point to a bleak future for everyone but themselves under the global capitalist yoke.

The corporate imperative in the 21st century is, therefore, to eliminate all vestiges of effective democracy. Nobody is to be allowed to tamper with the rich man's infernal machinery -- not in Sao Paulo, Damascus, Pretoria or Detroit. In the United States, overlapping layers of bourgeois law -- the legal sediment of more than two centuries of rich man's rule - render voters all but helpless to affect fundamental change in relationships of power. Property is sacred; corporations are people; checks and balances are designed to keep democracy in check and maintain the balance of power to the moneyed classes' advantage. Yet, vestiges of suffrage rights remain. More importantly, the capitalists cloak their dictatorship in the rhetoric of "We, the people," to legitimize their rule. They are compelled to invoke "national security" emergencies (Russians, Muslims) and crime and drug threats (Blacks) to justify their escalating assaults on the very limited democratic rights that remain.

9/11 provided an excuse/opportunity for a sweeping rollback of civil liberties and democratic rights and for vastly expanded global surveillance and social mapping systems. The rulers have every intention of making the hyper-security regime permanent and further shrinking democracy. However, they are compelled to describe the steady loss of democratic rights and civil liberties as domestic "emergency" or "wartime" measures, in order to maintain the legitimacy of actual corporate governance. This is a central political contradiction of the Ruler's project. The people continue to feel entitled to the social space and democratic rights, including an effective franchise, that are purported to make the U.S. an "exceptional" country -- the national mythology. The Lords of Capital must maintain the fiction that capitalism is the nurturing and necessary environment for government "of the people, and by the people," while constantly creating "emergencies," including structural shocks that demand suspension of democratic rights and the destruction of public institutions. (For example: Detroit's "bankruptcy" and the wholesale charterization of public schools in Black and brown districts -- near-instantaneously in New Orleans after Katrina.) The steady march towards direct corporate rule is depicted as a series of anomalies, exceptions and emergency measures, rather than the logic of the system, itself. This duplicitous game unfolds, in ways big and small, across the nation and the world, as rapidly consolidating cliques of capitalists scheme to eliminate all impediments to their accumulation of wealth, by any and all means available.

The socialist's job is to tell the truth about the nature of the capitalist system, to point out its most salient contradictions and weaknesses, and to build a people's movement to overthrow the class that is creating the disaster -- also by any and all means available. That includes taking advantage of those electoral possibilities that are useful to the ultimate destruction of the capitalist class, whose continued rule threatens all life on Earth.

The revolutionary Black nationalist -- who must also be a socialist, or she is no revolutionary, at all -- fights for achieving self-determination for Black people in the United States and for the emancipation of all humankind from the rule of organized capital. She is fully aware that any socialist movement that does not address Black self-determination is doomed to fail, as is any Black self-determinationist movement that does not seek socialist transformation of society.

White supremacy -- the founding principle of the white settler colony that became the United States -- has always been the greatest impediment to the development of a genuine social contract among the peoples of the United States. Simply put, white majorities reject a social contract (solidarity) with Blacks -- which is why white "backlashes" are a permanent part of the American political cycle. Over the centuries, white refusal to accept a social contract with Blacks resulted in the African American population becoming a separate and distinct polity -- a "nation within a nation" with its own institutions and worldview.

As descendants of people who were denied all human rights, Blacks hunger for every stitch of democracy they can get -- social, economic, and the narrower electoral political variety -- a history that has made them the most progressive ethnicity in the U.S., and the most prone to rebellion against the political order.

More than two generations ago, Blacks in the U.S. won recognition of their citizenship ("civil") rights," allowing them to elect local and national representatives to government. However, the struggle for Black self-determination -- the autonomous, collective power to shape the communities in which Black people live, including providing security for those communities -- was brutally crushed by the U.S. State, which imposed a mass Black incarceration regime that has devastated every aspect of Black life and created the world's biggest Gulag. In the intervening decades, a Black political class firmly allied with the Democratic Party has come to dominate political discourse in Black America. This Black Misleadership Class is bereft of any vision for national social transformation, or genuine Black self-determination, or a just world order. Most damning, these Black politicians have used their local, state and national offices to facilitate the workings of the mass Black incarceration regime at every stage of its deployment. They are, in sum, the Black representatives of the white ruling class -- the internal enemies of Black liberation and self-determination.

The legitimacy of this Black Misleadership Class must be contested at every opportunity, and in all forums, including in the electoral arena. The Black Left must wage the most intense internal Black ideological struggle, a contest for political supremacy in Black America between advocates of true social transformation, Black self-determination, and anti-imperialism, versus accommodation with the capitalist oligarchy and its domestic police state and global war machine.

There can be no successful U.S. revolution against capitalist rule without the fullest participation of Black people, the most left-leaning ethnicity in the country. And Black self-determination is impossible except on socialist terms. To the extent that Black radical electoral activity can weaken and, ultimately, defeat the Black Misleadership Class and its poisonous influence, it should be enthusiastically encouraged.
(c) 2017 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gives an interview to Bill O'Reilly of Fox News, December 16, 2015.

Fox's Absurd Unreality Show Is Now Aided And Abetted By Trump's Undersized Hands
By Eric Alterman

How many times in the last two months have we all woken up and wondered what the hell Trump is going on about now?

Since its founding by Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes in 1996, Fox News has managed to act as an informal propaganda ministry and ideological enforcer for the Republican Party, even as it simultaneously masquerades as a reputable news organization. Impressed by its profits and the career opportunities it afforded, most journalists participated in the scam by refusing to call it out, no matter how often Fox transgressed the most basic rules of honest reporting. Both in style and in substance, Fox presaged the Trump administration and what my last column called its "Upside-Down Day" method of news management. When journalists did honest reporting on corporate and conservative power, they were accused of "activism" and "liberal bias." When Fox concocted fake facts and then demanded political fealty to them from politicians and pundits, the network claimed to be presenting news that was "fair and balanced."

Judged by almost any measure save those relating to professional ethics, Fox has been a spectacular success. Not only has it earned Rupert Murdoch and his fellow shareholders billions of dollars, but it has also permanently altered the media landscape. Today, conservative politicians need not worry about being caught lying so long as they tell the right lies. Fox doesn't only provide the script; it happily manufactures additional lies as needed in order to sustain the original ones. The net result is usually a media-driven "dispute" in which citizens are invited to choose between genuine and "alternative" facts depending on their own prejudices.

Shortly after it was reported that Preet Bharara was investigating Fox News, Trump fired him, effective immediately.

This ideological and intellectual swindle has run through countless manifestations over the past two decades. But only recently has the charade been reinforced by the diminutive thumbs of the president of the United States. How many times in the last two months have we all woken up and wondered what the hell Donald Trump is going on about now, only to learn about some lunatic rant on Fox that aired 10 minutes before the time stamp on his latest tweet? One of the clearest examples of this tendency, however, came not in a tweet but during Trump's Nuremberg-style rally in Melbourne, Florida, on February 18, when he flummoxed much of the Western world with this question: "You look at what's happening last night in Sweden, who would believe this?"

Who indeed? Nobody, including his own staff, had any idea what Trump was talking about. The president himself later clarified that he had caught wind of a segment on Tucker Carlson's show in which a filmmaker named Ami Horowitz claimed, without evidence, that there's a connection between an alleged increase in Swedish crime rates and the rise of the refugee population in the country. But this was no clarification at all, as no one on Carlson's program had mentioned anything that had happened the previous night. Later, two of the law-enforcement sources cited in Horowitz's film complained to the real journalists who contacted them afterward that their work had been misrepresented.

"The president made stuff up by misrepresenting our own baseless reporting?" said the folks at Fox. "No problem." Bill O'Reilly came to Trump's rescue by booking a fellow named "Nils Bildt," whom Fox billed as a "Swedish defense and national security advisor." Bildt came on O'Reilly's show to back up Trump's bizarre accusation with intimations of a conspiracy to suppress the truth. "These things are not being openly and honestly discussed," he intoned. In fact, Bildt himself was a kind of walking alternative fact. He was not any kind of adviser to anyone in Sweden. Actually, he was an immigrant himself, having moved from Sweden to the United States in 1994-and, even more ironically, he was a criminal: Convicted of assaulting a police officer, Bildt was sentenced to a year in a Virginia prison in 2014. When questioned, Bildt told reporters that he had no memory of being in prison that year, but that may have been because he was then living under another name. He also says he has no memory of telling Fox he had the qualifications the network pretended he had.

Recall that in addition to the public crimes against truth and democracy described above, Fox also appears to have acted as an actual criminal organization in private. According to myriad witnesses and alleged victims, its CEO, Roger Ailes, had long tried to treat the place as his own private bordello and used stockholder cash to pay hush money to his unwilling victims. And he was hardly alone: Bill O'Reilly has also cost the company millions of dollars to settle charges of his sexual harassment of his underlings. Most recently, the company paid out yet another multimillion-dollar settlement to a woman who, according to court papers described in The New York Times, was forced to give blow jobs to yet another Fox executive, Francisco Cortes. (For the record, everyone denies everything, except the payoffs.)

Now consider the news in late February that Preet Bharara, then the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, was investigating Fox for potential criminal charges related to the secret payoffs. It's public knowledge that former anchor Gretchen Carlson netted a reported $20 million alone, but it was the secret payoffs with shareholder money that inspired the investigation. Lo and behold, shortly after that report appeared, Donald Trump-a friend to both Murdoch and Ailes and a big fan of Fox News-fired Bharara, effective immediately. True, Trump summarily fired 45 other US Attorneys at the same time, but both Bharara and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer had received assurances from Trump himself that Bharara would keep his job.

Coincidence? Not bloody likely. Moreover, rumor has it that Bharara's replacement will be Marc Mukasey, Ailes's personal lawyer. Kafka wouldn't dare.
(c) 2017 Eric Alterman is Distinguished Professor of English and Journalism, Brooklyn College, City University of New York. He is also the "Liberal Media" columnist for The Nation, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC, and the Nation Institute and the World Policy Institute in New York, as well as former columnist for The Daily Beast, The Forward, Moment, Rolling Stone, Mother Jones, the Sunday Express (London), etc. Alterman is the author of 10 books, including the national bestseller What Liberal Media? The Truth About Bias and the News. He has been called "the most honest and incisive media critic writing today" in the National Catholic Reporter and author of "the smartest and funniest political journal out there" in The San Francisco Chronicle. A winner of the George Orwell Prize, the Stephen Crane Literary Award, and the Mirror Award for media criticism, he has previously taught at Columbia and NYU and has been a Hoover Institution Media Fellow at Stanford University. Alterman received his PhD in American history from Stanford, his MA in international relations at Yale, and his BA from Cornell. He lives with his family in Manhattan, where he is currently at work on a book about the history of the Israel/Palestine debate in the United States for Basic Books. More information is available at

Are The Rich Different From You And Me? Ask Cadillac!
By Jim Hightower

You know what our country needs right now? I think we need something that can bring us together again, something that can heal the raw wound of deep political division imperiling our society. And, guess what? One company has come out with just the balm America needs: An ad for a luxury automobile.

Seriously? Yes. The cultural bridge-builders at Cadillac have produced an advertising campaign intended not only to sell its pricey cars, but also to heal America's social divide. How? By reminding TV audiences about everyone's desire to achieve the American Dream - as symbolized, of course, by the status symbol of owning a Cadillac.

Seriously? Yes. The ads begins with a stark declaration: "We are a nation divided. That's what they tell us." Then Cadillac's ad suddenly shifts gears, gliding into an uplifting, touchie-feelie montage of all-in-this-together inclusiveness: "We carry each other forward," the narrator purrs, "no matter who we are, or what we believe."

Mustering all of the modesty you would expect from a Cadillac executive, the corporation's marketing head explains that "We didn't want to enter the political debate. We wanted to transcend it." Ah, yes... and how better to go beyond rancorous political disharmony than to drive away from it in a luxury car?

The corporate honchos tried out this message on an unbiased audience of Texas Cadillac dealers, and - guess what? - they loved it! One dealer gushed that the ad identifies the ultra-expensive car with "unity, optimism, courage." Seriously? Yes, apparently Cadillac thinks the right and left, the rich and poor, can all become e pluribus unum again by unifying around America's new egalitarian slogan: "A $100,000 car in every garage." See, the rich truly are different from you and me - they actually believe such claptrap.
(c) 2017 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.

Trump Administration Ousts U.N. Official to Protect Israel From Criticism
By Glenn Greenwald

On Wednesday, a U.N. agency published a report noting that "Israel has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole." Yesterday, the author of that report, who has served as executive secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA) since 2010, Rima Khalef, resigned after the Trump administration, working in conjunction with Israel, pressured the U.N. secretary-general to demand that she withdraw the report.

Khalef, a Jordanian national who has served in multiple high government positions, refused the demand to repudiate her own report, instead choosing to resign. The report - which was co-authored by the Jewish American Princeton professor and former U.N. official Richard Falk, a longtime critic of Israeli occupation - has now been removed from the UNESCWA website.

What makes this event most remarkable is how unremarkable the report's conclusion is: It's a point that a former Israeli prime minister - as well as Trump's own defense secretary - has made unequivocally. Back in 2010, Ehud Barak, Israel's former prime minister and its most decorated soldier, explicitly warned that Israel was on a path to what he called a permanent "apartheid" state. As he put it: "As long as in this territory west of the Jordan river there is only one political entity called Israel it is going to be either non-Jewish, or non-democratic. If this bloc of millions of ­Palestinians cannot vote, that will be an apartheid state."

Seven years later, Israel is indisputably committed to exactly that outcome. Many of its key ministers do not even support a two-state solution. Israeli expansion of illegal settlements continues unabated. Palestinians are further away than ever from full political rights, or even enjoying the right of democratic self-determination. As Barak himself pointed out, this is the very definition of apartheid.

Yet now, thanks to the Trump administration's self-destructive devotion to Israeli interests - an odd posture for a president who ran on a platform of "Putting America First" - it is impermissible for U.N. officials to note this reality lest Israel be offended. In its report on the ouster of Khalef, CNN was surprisingly blunt about what this all means:

Memo to critics of Israel inside the U.N. system: Prepare to pay a price. ... The U.S. under Trump has made it quite clear it will defend Israel perhaps more than all other countries at the U.N.
Early on his campaign, Trump issued controversial positions about Israel, including his statement that the U.S. should be "neutral" in the Israel-Palestine conflict and his proclaiming his immunity to AIPAC influence. But, as I noted last July, once he secured the nomination, he quickly switched to the standard pro-Israel line, beginning with his Jared Kushner-written AIPAC speech, and then went even beyond U.S. orthodoxy on Israel by explicitly endorsing expansion of Israeli settlements.

Since his inauguration, all signs indicate Trump will be an inflammatory fanatic when it comes to U.S. support for Israeli aggression, even at the expense of U.S. interests. He nominated a pro-settlement extremist to be his ambassador to Israel. He has repeatedly suggested that his son-in-law Kushner, whose family has long supported extremist settlements, will be his key envoy in the region. And he even appeared to abandon the long-standing U.S. rhetorical commitment to a two-state solution (a commitment it long ago abandoned in action), before his administration re-affirmed it.

What makes all of this most extraordinary is that Trump's own Pentagon chief has previously warned that exactly this kind of mentality - defending Israeli aggression and expansion - is directly harmful to the U.S. At the Aspen Security Forum in 2013, Gen. James Mattis said:

I paid a military security price every day as the commander of CentCom because the Americans were seen as biased in support of Israel, and that moderates all the moderate Arabs who want to be with us, because they can't come out publicly in support of people who don't show respect for the Arab Palestinians.
Indeed, people charged with anti-U.S. terrorism frequently cite U.S. support for Israeli aggression as a key grievance. Moreover, Mattis "called the current situation in Israel 'unsustainable' and blamed the settlements for harming prospects for peace." Most ironically of all, Mattis "called it a choice between giving up the idea of a Jewish state or becoming an apartheid state" - exactly the point the Trump administration is now trying to make unutterable at the U.N.

Trump convinced millions of people to vote for him by promising to prioritize American interests over those of other nations. Yet what Trump is doing at the U.N., and in the Middle East more broadly, is exactly the opposite. He is empowering exactly the ideologues who have long venerated a defense of the Israeli government over all other considerations - not just the human and political rights of Palestinians but also the concrete security interests of the U.S.
(c) 2017 Glenn Greenwald. was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. His most recent book is, With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book "How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy," examines the Bush legacy. He is the recipient of the first annual I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism.

David Suzuki above the Hart River, Yukon

Intact Wilderness Is A Hedge Against Our Ignorance
By David Suzuki

In 2011, I travelled with my family down Yukon's Hart River. It's one of seven pure rivers in the Peel River watershed, a 68,000-square-kilometre wilderness that's been at the centre of a legal dispute for many years and a land-use planning debate for more than a decade. For two weeks, we fished from the river's vibrant green waters and gazed at the limestone and dolostone peaks of the Ogilvie Mountains.

Most Canadians have never been to the North, much less the remote Peel watershed, but many are enchanted by it, nourished even by the idea that we still have vast, unspoiled natural areas where wildlife and biodiversity continue to evade the touch of humankind. Places like the Peel are becoming increasingly rare as humans - the most demanding species ever to live - continue to erode the intact wilderness on which we depend for clean air, water and food.

Around the time of our trip, a six-year land-use planning process for the watershed was reaching its conclusion. In light of an independent commission's recommendation to protect 80 per cent, it looked as if the government was going to keep most of the region free of roads and industry. I could not have imagined that more than five years later, the Peel's fate would be hung up in the courts. The previous Yukon government tossed aside the commission's proposal and brought in its own plan to open up at least 71 per cent of the region to roads, mining and drilling. It was a plan to industrialize the Peel, a plan that valued the wilderness only for the extractive resources that lie beneath it. The decision left the courts as the only option for Indigenous people and environmental organizations working to protect the Peel.

The First Nations of Na Cho Nyak Dun, Tr'ondek Hwech'in, Vuntut Gwitchin and Tetlit Gwich'in, as well as the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and the Yukon Conservation Society, have been fighting the government's decision ever since.

If you travel to the Yukon, you will see many vehicles sporting Protect the Peel bumper stickers, a symbol of this small population's determination to stand up against the government's abuse of power, defend the Yukon's modern-day treaties and protect the wilderness that is an enduring part of the northern identity.

On March 22, the Supreme Court of Canada will hear the Peel case. A positive ruling could not only protect the Peel, but also the rights of First Nations in future land-use planning. Because of this, the case is going forward despite the recent election of a Yukon government that seems on the surface to be friendlier to protection.

As we continue to alter the physical, chemical and biological properties of the planet by burning fossil fuels, intact nature is one of the only things that can save us. Pristine wilderness is a hedge against our collective ignorance. The diversity of our planet's ecosystems makes animals, including humans, resilient in the face of disruption. If protected, the Peel watershed would form the northern part of a proposed wildlife corridor that stretches all the way south to Yellowstone National Park in the U.S. It would be a refuge for wide-roaming species like caribou, moose, wolves and grizzlies to adjust their habitat needs as the planet warms.

The Peel case is anchored by the relationship between First Nations and the land. For instance, the Porcupine caribou herd has been the lifeblood of Gwich'in people throughout the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Alaska for tens of thousands of years, providing sustenance and defining their identity. The herd spends its winters in the Peel before making the longest land mammal migration on Earth to its calving grounds in Alaska, a region now threatened by the Trump administration's "drill everywhere" energy stance. As with so many of these battles throughout the world, Indigenous people are holding the line against destructive resource development. Sadly, our colonial governments are not yet willing to listen.

Fittingly, the Supreme Court hearing takes place on World Water Day. Yukoners have been working for 30 years to protect the clean, life-giving waters of the Peel watershed. A victory at the Supreme Court would be a victory for water, wilderness and our future.
(c) Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

Voting machine

Worried About Voting Machines Being Hacked? There's a Bill to Prevent That.
The SAFE Act would permanently place our elections systems in the same category as other critical infrastructure.
By John Nichols

Nothing is more vital to the maintenance and advancement of the American experiment than the assurance that elections in the United States are conducted openly, honestly, and without interference by domestic or foreign partisans. So why not safeguard our election process? Why not protect voting and elections and democracy itself - officially and permanently?

To that end, Congressmen Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, Keith Ellison of Minnesota and Hank Johnson of Georgia, have introduced groundbreaking legislation - the Securing America's Future Elections (SAFE) Act - that proposes to safeguard US elections from cyber threats and interference by permanently classifying the integrity and security of elections as a component of critical infrastructure of the country.

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

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

This is not the final answer to concerns about election integrity and the many challenges facing American democracy. But it is a practical and consequential beginning.

The SAFE Act legislation is a response of to reports regarding Russia's aggressive cyber tactics during the 2016 election, one of many concerns related to the ongoing FBI investigation into whether members of President Trump's campaign colluded with Russians to influence that election. But this legislation is about more than that. It is, as well, a response to a wrongheaded vote by the Republicans on the House Administration Committee voted to shut down the Election Administration Committee (EAC), a federal agency created to help states update election systems and security. The SAFE Act reauthorizes the EAC for a period of 10 years and requires a random audit of precincts/wards in each state to ensure there are no discrepancies between paper ballots and electronic ballots.

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

To create that confidence the SAFE Act would:

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

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

3. Require NIST and DHS to create basic cybersecurity standards for private companies contracted to work on elections systems in the US.

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

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

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

"As a fundamental tenet of our democracy, our voting systems are a matter of national security and we must make sure they are not compromised or disrupted by outside parties," said Congressman Johnson, who noted recent reports of an alleged data breach at Georgia's Center For Elections Systems - involving as many as 7.5 million voter records. "Expressing Congress' support to designate our voting systems as critical infrastructure will encourage the Department of Homeland Security and the states to better coordinate, engage, and share resources that will improve the security of our electoral process. The SAFE Act will help ensure the security of our voting systems and preserve public faith in the integrity of our electoral process."
(c) 2017 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

President Trump exits Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base on Sunday, following a weekend trip to Florida.

A Last Chance For Resistance
By Chris Hedges

The crawl toward despotism within a failed democracy is always incremental. No regime planning to utterly extinguish civil liberties advertises its intentions in advance. It pays lip service to liberty and justice while obliterating the institutions and laws that make them possible. Its opponents, including those within the establishment, make sporadic attempts to resist, but week by week, month by month, the despot and his reactionary allies methodically consolidate power. Those inside the machinery of government and the courts who assert the rule of law are purged. Critics, including the press, are attacked, ridiculed and silenced. The state is reconfigured until the edifice of tyranny is unassailable.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn in "The Gulag Archipelago" noted that the consolidation of Soviet tyranny "was stretched out over many years because it was of primary importance that it be stealthy and unnoticed." He called the process "a grandiose silent game of solitaire, whose rules were totally incomprehensible to its contemporaries, and whose outlines we can appreciate only now."

Czeslaw Milosz in "The Captive Mind" also chronicles the incremental expansion of tyranny, noting that it steadily progresses until intellectuals are not only forced to repeat the regime's self-praising slogans but to advance its absurdist dogmas. Few ever see the tyranny coming. Those who do and speak out are treated by the authorities, and often the wider society, as alarmists or traitors.

The current administration's budget proposes to give the war industry, the domestic policing agencies, the fossil fuel industry, Wall Street, billionaires and the national security and surveillance agencies more than they could have imagined possible before the election. These forces, as in all fascist states, will be the pillars of the Trump regime. They will tolerate Donald Trump's idiocy, ineptitude and unbridled narcissism in exchange for increased profits and power. Despots are often buffoons. Appealing to their vanity and ego is an effective form of manipulation. Skilled sycophants can play despots like musical instruments for personal advancement.

Trump, like all despots, has no real ideology. His crusade against Wall Street, including Goldman Sachs, and the billionaire class during the presidential election campaign vanished the moment he took office. He has appointed five former Goldman Sachs employees to high posts in his administration. His budget will bleed the poor, the working class and the middle class and swell the bank accounts of the oligarchs. He is calling for abolishing the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts and the cutting of programs that provide legal service to low-income people and grants to libraries and museums. If Trump's budget is approved by Congress, there will not even be a pretense of civil society. Trump and his family will profit from his presidency. Corporations will profit from his presidency. Wall Street will profit from his presidency. And the people will be made to pay.

Despots demand absolute loyalty. It is why they place family members in the inner circles. The Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, whose vanity rivaled that of Trump, and Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein filled their governments with their children, siblings, nephews, nieces and in-laws and rounded out their inner courts with racists, opportunists and thugs of the kind that now populate the White House.

"President Trump's point man on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations is a longtime Trump Organization lawyer with no government or diplomatic experience," reads the opening paragraph of a New York Times article headlined "Prerequisite for Key White House Posts: Loyalty, Not Experience." "His liaison to African-American leaders is a former reality-TV villain with a penchant for resume inflation. And his Oval Office gatekeeper is a bullet-headed former New York City cop best known for smacking a protester on the head."

Despots distrust diplomats. Diplomats, often multilingual and conversant with other cultures and societies, deal in nuances and ambiguities that are beyond the grasp of the despot. Diplomats understand that other nations have legitimate national interests that inevitably clash with the interests of one's own country. They do not embrace force as the primary language of communication. They are trained to carry out negotiations, even with the enemy, and engage in compromise. Despots, however, live in a binary universe of their own creation. They rapidly dismantle the diplomatic corps when they take power for the same reason they attack intellectuals and artists.

Trump's proposed cut of nearly 29 percent to the State Department's budget, potentially eliminating thousands of jobs, is part of the shift away from diplomacy to an exclusive reliance on violence or the threat of violence. The militarization of the diplomatic corps, with the Central Intelligence Agency and military intelligence operatives often taking over embassies, especially in conflict zones, began long before Trump took office. But Trump will deal the coup de grace to the diplomatic corps. Despots replace diplomats with sycophants with no diplomatic experience, such as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who promise to impose the despot's will on the rest of the world.

The dismantling of a diplomatic corps has dangerous consequences. It leaves a country blind and prone to wars and conflicts that could be avoided. Leon Trotsky called Josef Stalin's foreign minister, Vyacheslav Molotov, who negotiated the disastrous 1939 Nazi-Soviet nonaggression pact that left the Soviet Union unprepared for German invasion, "mediocrity personified." The other signatory of the pact, Joachim von Ribbentrop, was a former champagne salesman. Ribbentrop, as Molotov did with Stalin, parroted back to Adolf Hitler the leader's conspiratorial worldview. Ribbentrop, again like Molotov with Stalin, knew that Hitler always favored the most extreme option. Molotov and Ribbentrop unfailingly advocated radical and violent solutions to any problem, endearing themselves to their bosses as men of unflinching resolve. This what makes Steve Bannon so appealing to Trump-he will always call for Armageddon.

There are three institutions tasked in a functioning democracy with protecting the truth and keeping national discourse rooted in verifiable fact-the courts, the press and universities. Despots must control these three to prevent them from exposing their lies and restricting their power. Trump has not only attacked the courts but has also begun purges of the judiciary with his mass firing of U.S. attorneys. The Trump White House plans to fill 124 judgeships-including 19 vacancies on federal appeals courts-with corporatist lawyers such as Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch who are endorsed by the reactionary Federalist Society. By the time Trump's four-year term is up, Federalist Society judges could be in as many as half of the country's appellate seats.

Trump has continued to attempt to discredit the press. During his rally in Nashville on Wednesday, he told the crowd, "Some of the fake news said I don't think Donald Trump wants to build the wall. Can you imagine if I said we're not going to build a wall? Fake news. Fake, fake news. Fake news, folks. A lot of fake." He went on to say in an apparent reference to the reporters covering the rally, "They're bad people."

The attacks on universities, which will be accelerated, are on display in the budget proposal. The Department of Health and Human Services, the National Science Foundation, NASA, the Department of Education, the Commerce Department, the National Institutes of Health, the Energy Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs all give grants and research money to universities. Colorado State University, for example, gets about 70 percent, or $232 million, of its research budget from federal sources. In February, Trump suggested he might attempt to cut federal funding for universities such as UC Berkeley. His comment was made after a riot at the California school forced the cancellation of a speech there by the far-right ideologue Milo Yiannopoulos, who has called Trump "Daddy." A university will of course be able to get corporate funding for research if it casts doubt on the importance of climate change or does research that can be used to swell corporate profits or promote other business interests. Scientific study into our ecocide and the dangers from chemicals, toxins and pollutants released by corporations into the atmosphere will be thwarted. And the withering of humanities programs, already cut in many universities, will worsen.

It will be increasingly difficult to carry out mass protests and civil disobedience. Repression will become steadily more overt and severe. Dissent will be equated with terrorism. We must use the space before it is shut. This is a race against time. The forces of despotism seek to keep us complacent and pacified with the false hope that mechanisms within the system will moderate Trump or remove him through impeachment, or that the looming tyranny will never be actualized. There is an emotional incapacity among any population being herded toward despotism or war to grasp what is happening. The victims cannot believe that the descent into barbarity is real, that the relative security and sanity of the past is about to be obliterated. They fail to see that once rights have become privileges, once any segment of a society is excluded from the law, rights can instantly be revoked for everyone. There is a hierarchy to oppression. It begins with the most vulnerable-undocumented workers, Muslims, poor people of color. It works upward. It is a long row of candles that one by one are extinguished. If we wait to resist, as the poet C.P. Cavafy wrote, the "dark line gets longer and the snuffed-out candles proliferate."
(c) 2017 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. Keep up with Chris Hedges' latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at

Russian Emergency Situations Ministry officers and firefighters try to save people as a massive explosion shattered a nine-story apartment building in Moscow in 1999.

For Donald Trump, A Terror Attack Will Be An Opportunity Not A Curse
By Peter Maass

CAN WE BREATHE a sigh of relief after federal judges blocked President Donald Trump's discriminatory executive orders? For a moment we can, but we are just a terrorism attack away from the White House gaining a new pretext for its wrathful crackdown against Muslims and immigrants.

Among the alterations in American politics since Trump's inauguration, this may be the most frightening one: a terror attack on U.S. soil will be used by the White House as an excuse for implementing an extra-legal agenda that could only be pushed through in a time of crisis. What the courts will not allow today, what protesters will hit the streets to defend tomorrow, what even the pliant Congress would have a hard time backing - the White House is almost certainly counting on all of this changing in the wake of a domestic terrorist attack.

This macabre turn, in which terrorism becomes an opportunity rather than a curse, has ample precedents that tell us one thing: be prepared.

It wasn't long ago that 9/11 was used as a pretext for invading Iraq. Although it was almost immediately clear that Iraq had nothing to do with the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told President George W. Bush on the evening of September 11, "Part of our response maybe should be attacking Iraq. It's an opportunity." Just a few years earlier, Rumsfeld, along with Paul Wolfowitz and Dick Cheney, had signed a now-infamous letter calling for the removal of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. The with-us-or-against-us atmosphere after 9/11 enabled them to carry out the task.

It has happened overseas, too. Vladimir Putin's rise to power in Russia was accelerated by a series of mysterious bombings against apartment buildings across the country, and the bombings were so essential to consolidating Putin's rule that he was suspected of organizing them. There was also, most famously, the Reichstag fire in 1933, in which the German Parliament burned to the ground, leading Adolf Hitler, the new chancellor, to warn that "there will be no mercy now. Anyone standing in our way will be cut down."

The Trump administration has already begun laying the groundwork for extreme initiatives if - or more likely when - a terror attack occurs on U.S. soil and is tied to ISIS, al Qaeda or another Muslim group, according to civil liberties lawyers and activists. Under the guise of protecting national security, a blitz of presidential actions could target not just immigrants and Muslims but other minority groups as well as the media and the judiciary. These initiatives will be "more dire and much more severe" than Trump's first executive order in late January against the citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, according to Vince Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

While the bad news is stark - expect the worst from Trump when an attack happens on U.S. soil - the better news is that people are already organizing to prevent the worst from happening. There is, it turns out, quite a bit that can be done to prepare for the nearly inevitable moment when the Trump administration tries to take advantage of the tragedy of a man or a woman using a bomb, a gun, a knife or a truck to kill Americans in the name of an Islamic terror group.

Police officers react to the explosions near marathon runner Bill Iffrig at the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon.

The first thing to understand is that attacks by foreign-born terrorists are rare. From 1975 through 2015, a total of 3,024 Americans were killed in such attacks, with most of those occurring on 9/11, according to a recent Cato Institute report. In other words, the annual odds of being killed by a foreign-born terrorist are 1 in 3,609,709. Each of these deaths is a tragedy, of course, but they represent a fraction of the preventable fatalities from any number of causes, including spouse-on-spouse violence, traffic accidents, and even toddlers with unsecured guns.

Trump's eagerness to exploit only a particular type of terror attack - by Muslims - was reflected in his selective reaction to two incidents in his first month in office. In late January, he remained silent when a white Christian shot dead six Muslims in a Canadian mosque. A few days later, an Egyptian with a machete attacked French soldiers at the Louvre while shouting "Allahu Akhbar." Nobody was killed, not even the attacker - one soldier was slightly injured before the Egyptian was shot four times. Yet within hours, Trump tweeted, "A new radical Islamic terrorist has just attacked in Louvre Museum in Paris. Tourists were locked down. France on edge again. GET SMART U.S."

His disingenuity exposes a glaring fallacy in his executive orders. The handful of Muslim-majority countries named in the orders represent a negligible threat for domestic terrorism. The few attacks in America that have involved Muslims, including 9/11, drew largely on people from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Egypt - but those countries were not included in either order from the Oval Office. A ruling by Judge Theodore Chuang that blocked the second order noted "strong indications that the national security purpose is not the primary purpose of the travel ban."

The unique dynamic is that the White House has made clear its wish to impose an array of extreme and unconstitutional policies that are nearly impossible to carry out in ordinary times. Trump has previously said, for instance, that he wants to ban all Muslim immigration - "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on," as he famously stated during the presidential campaign. His top adviser, Steve Bannon, has even complained about the proportion of legal immigrants already in America - which he described as 20 percent of the population, though it's actually just over 13 percent. "Isn't the beating heart of this problem, the real beating heart of it, of what we gotta get sorted here, not illegal immigration?" Bannon asked on a radio show in 2016. "We've looked the other way on this legal immigration that's kinda overwhelmed the country."

In a way, the White House is like a pistol cocked to go off at the first touch. Warren, the head of the Center for Constitutional Rights, described the president's early use of anti-Muslim executive orders as

"a precursor, a mirror into what we're going to be looking at" after a significant terror attack. Warren added, "I think the Trump administration will move by executive fiat for everything. It will create what's essentially a constitutional crisis in the country."

But Trump is not the pre-ordained winner of the crisis he will initiate.

Protesters walk during the Women's March on Washington on Jan. 21, 2017 in Washington.

Michael Walzer, a political theorist who has been around long enough to have chronicled, in real time, the social movements of the 1960s, wrote in an essay earlier this month that there are two types of necessary politics against Trump. "Resistance is defensive politics, but we also need a politics of offense - a politics aimed at winning elections and, as we used to say, seizing power," Walzer wrote. He pointed to a particularly hopeful development that others have also noted after Trump's inauguration: local organizing against the federal government.

The women's march the day after the inauguration was a nearly immediate example. In cities across the country, large crowds turned out to protest the new president and his far-right agenda. The sanctuary city movement has also taken root, with local leaders vowing to oppose federal orders that are unconstitutional or immoral, especially ones that involve undocumented immigrants. And key legal challenges to Trump's executive orders have come from attorneys' general in a variety of states who have vowed to continue their war of legal writs.

Warren describes the popular reaction to a post-terrorism crackdown as an "X factor." In the wake of the president's first executive order, which led to Muslims being turned away at America's borders, airports across the country were besieged by spontaneous protests that involved thousands of people and a small army of lawyers to help immigrants and refugees who were detained by customs authorities. Boots on the ground will be crucial after the next attack, argues Ben Wizner, a prominent ACLU lawyer who earlier this month tweeted, "If/when there is an attack, we'll need millions in the streets with a message of courage and resilience."

Another X factor is the judiciary, which bears a larger share of responsibility than usual because both houses of Congress are controlled by the Republican Party and have shied away from fulfilling their constitutional role as a check on the executive branch. So far, federal courts have stood up to the White House. Karen Greenberg, the director of the Center on National Security at Fordham Law School, believes the judicial response to Trump's executive orders marks a notable break from the post 9/11 era, when courts generally did not support legal challenges to government policies on terrorism, torture, surveillance and drone warfare.

"I'm a real critic of how the courts handled national security,"Greenberg said. "I think they punted entirely. But if you look at the immigration ban and some of the pushback from the courts on ISIS prosecutions and how they are being handled, the courts have woken up from their 'I want to be asleep on national security' stage. I think the courts may rise to the occasion."
Trump has provided confirmation, via Twitter, of the judicial branch's new spine and key role. After the courts shot down his first executive order, he lashed out in a series of tweets against federal Judge James Robart. The sharpest one, tweeted by Trump from his Mar A Lago estate, warned: "Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!"

The writer Mark Danner noted in a recent essay that the controversy over the first executive order may have served "the desire of the president and his advisers to stage a fight with a major institutional force not yet recumbent before him: the judiciary." As Danner went on to explain, "the president's assertion of his 'unreviewable' powers in the face of 'so-called' judges was not just absurd or ignorant but a bit of bait, establishing the basis for blaming the judiciary for any terrorist attack that was to come. On this he tweeted indefatigably and repeatedly."

Another X factor is the media, which Trump has defined as a public enemy (though of course he means only the outlets that criticize him). Portions of the media, such as Breitbart, Infowars and probably Fox News, will likely support whatever crackdown the president proposes in the wake of a terrorist attack. Other parts of the media will hopefully do the work they are supposed to do. As Greenberg notes, the press will "need to be on the ground and report information before it is misrepresented." That work can begin now, before an attack, with reporting that explains the rarity of Muslim-related terrorism in the United States and the constitutional as well as moral pitfalls of letting a demagogue turn tragedy to his own advantage.
(c) 2017 Peter Maass has written about war, media, and national security for The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, and The Washington Post. He reported on both civilians and combatants during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is the author of Love Thy Neighbor: A Story of War, an award-winning memoir about the conflict in Bosnia, and he wrote Crude World: The Violent Twilight of Oil. Peter, awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2012, has focused most recently on government and corporate surveillance, and is working on a book about surveillance for Alfred A. Knopf. He has taught writing at Princeton and Columbia universities, and he has been awarded fellowships at the Shorenstein Center at Harvard and the American Academy in Berlin. He is on the advisory boards of the Solutions Journalism Network, and the Program for Narrative and Documentary Practice at Tufts University. A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, he lives in New York City.

Hawaii: My own private "Pivot to Asia"
By Jane Stillwater

"There are only 8000 actual native Hawaiians left here right now," said a friend of mine who I was visiting in Honolulu. So. What has happened to the rest of them -- besides the usual death by disease and colonialism that is. "They can't afford to live here any more. They have been forced to move to the mainland." Ah. Economic genocide strikes again.

Hell, I can't afford to live here either -- but then who can? The American military, that's who. "In the past two years, we've seen tremendous growth in the number of military units deployed here and also the number of military housing units built," said my friend. Oh. Right. The pivot to Asia.

But Hawaii has also pivoted to Asia in another big way -- its Asian tourists. Staying in a Waikiki hotel is really expensive -- and yet even the most expensive hotels here are positively flooded with thousands of Japanese and South Korean tourists right now, many of them being sweet young married couples with really cute babies. But how the freak can they afford to vacation here in such large numbers? I thought that China was the one siphoning off most of America's money. Apparently not.

My friend also told me, "Developers are building a whole bunch of condos over near the Ala Moana shopping center right now, ones that sell for two or three million dollars a pop. And the Japanese are buying them up as fast as they can be built." Oh. That makes sense -- so that when the entire island of Japan becomes radioactive because of Fukushima, people over there will have another island to come to. That's thinking ahead. For now.

Anyway, I came over here to speak at a book convention -- and my talk went very well if I do say so myself. Who knew that I would excel at public speaking? Certainly not me. But public speaking is a lot like writing. No interaction with individual people is involved. That works for me because I'm just not at ease with being one-on-one with individual people. Plus at the conference's banquet, I finally got to sit at the popular kids' table.

I love Hawaii, would love to live here. The weather is nice, the beaches are amazing -- plus you don't have to go all the way to Tokyo or Seoul (or time-travel to Vietnam under Nixon) to get that happy feeling of being in Asia. You don't have to pivot very far any more.

I can't even imagine what it must feel like to be a native Hawaiian living here right now, working a menial job, seeing all of this breath-taking beauty that is Hawaii and knowing that all this paradise used to be theirs -- but is not any more. Perhaps they might feel like Palestinians do, thrown off their land by European colonialists who strongly believe in the motto, "Do unto the Palestinians what the Nazis did unto us."

Oh, if only President Trump had passed his travel ban just a little bit earlier -- then Captain Cook and James Dole wouldn't have been allowed to land here, kept out "for national security reasons". And the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria would have been turned back too -- not to mention that the Pilgrims would have been prohibited access to Plymouth Rock.

And then there would have been no brutal Indian massacres, no ghastly slave trade, no Civil War that butchered hundreds of thousands and perhaps even no World War I or World War II. And the Muslim Holocaust in the Middle East wouldn't have happened either because America would still be in the hands of the Cherokee and the Sioux who don't really care about being greedy and blood-thirsty colonialists. And millions wouldn't have died in Africa either because there would be no American corporate pirates over there to steal Africa's land, diamonds and gold.

Europeans would have been forced to stay in Europe where they belonged and not brought their terrorism here.
(c) 2017 Jane Stillwater. Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world. And while you're at it, please buy my books!

The Quotable Quote...

"The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men"
~~~ Plato

City Of Charlottesville Passes Resolution Asking Congress To Fund Human And Environmental Needs, Not Military Expansion
By David Swanson

Charlottesville, Va., City Council Monday evening, March 20, 2017, passed a resolution opposing President Donald Trump's budget proposal, which shifts funding to the military from many other programs. The draft resolution brought up for consideration reads as follows. It was passed with a few alterations. The final version should soon be posted online by the City, as should video of the meeting in which it was read aloud and discussed.

Fund Human and Environmental Needs, Not Military Expansion

Whereas President Donald J. Trump has proposed to divert $54 billion from human and environmental spending at home and abroad in order to increase the military budget, bringing military spending to well over 60% of federal discretionary spending; and

Whereas the citizens of Charlottesville already pay $112.62 million in federal taxes for military expenditures, an amount that each year could fund locally: 210 elementary school teacher salaries; 127 new clean energy jobs; 169 infrastructure jobs; 94 supported employment opportunities for returning citizens; 1,073 preschool seats for children in Head Start; medical care for 953 military veterans; 231 college scholarships for CHS graduates; 409 Pell Grants for Charlottesville students; healthcare for 3,468 low-income children; enough wind power to power 8,312 households; healthcare for 1,998 low-income adults; AND solar panels to provide electricity for 5,134 households.

Whereas economists at the University of Massachusetts have documented that military spending is an economic drain rather than a jobs program;[1] and

Whereas our community's human and environmental needs are critical, and our ability to respond to those needs depends on federal funding for education, welfare, public safety, and infrastructure maintenance, transit and environmental protection; and

Whereas the President's proposal would reduce foreign aid and diplomacy, which help to prevent wars and the victimization of people who become refugees in our community, and 121 retired U.S. generals have written a letter opposing these cuts;

Be it therefore resolved that the City Council of Charlottesville, Virginia, urges the United States Congress, and our representative in particular, to reject the proposal to cut funding for human and environmental needs in favor of military budget increases, and in fact to begin moving in the opposite direction, to increase funding for human and environmental needs and reduce the military budget.

1. "The U.S. Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities: 2011 Update," Political Economy Research Institute,


Passage of the resolution followed the proposal of a different version by a large coalition of local groups.

At Monday's meeting, the resolution passed by a vote of 4-0, with one abstention.

City Council Member Bob Fenwick, a veteran of the U.S. war in Vietnam with two sons veterans of that in Afghanistan, said that cutting back on military adventurism makes people better off. "We have had enough of war," he declared.

City Council Member Kristin Szakos drafted the resolution version above.

Also voting in favor were Council Members Wes Bellamy and Kathy Galvin.

In my view, this is an important statement to Congress, the country, and the world from our city council which has chosen to represent us. Charlottesville did not make a familiar and misleading statement exclusively against spending cuts, which would have fueled predictable and irrelevant demands for smaller government. Charlottesville addressed the reality of money being moved from everywhere else to the military, and urged the deeply moral action of moving money in the opposite direction.

It's worth noting that the assertion that military spending is an economic drain is a reflection of the fact that tax cuts produce more jobs than military spending. Military spending produces fewer jobs than does never taxing money in the first place. The study cited above does not, of course, assert that military jobs do not exist.
(c) 2017 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.

FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Mike Rogers appear in front of the House Permanent Select
Committee on Intelligence at the Longworth House Office Building on Monday, March 20, 2017 in Washington, DC.

'There's A Smell Of Treason In The Air'
FBI and NSA chiefs verify a Russia probe and refute the president's claims as Republicans scramble to pretend the "drip, drip, drip" hasn't started.
Michael Winship

Monday's hearing of the House Intelligence Committee was proof positive of the absolute need for both a special prosecutor and an independent, bipartisan commission with subpoena power to conduct a full investigation of the Trump campaign's connections with Russian intelligence - as well as Russia's multipronged attack on our elections and Trump's business connections with that country's oligarchs.

And it's proof more than ever that even if we get that prosecutor and inquiry, a free and independent press may be the only real way to ever get to the bottom of what ranking committee member Adam Schiff said may represent "one of the most shocking betrayals of our democracy in history."

Just as FBI Director James Comey officially revealed for the very first time (finally!) that indeed since late July the FBI has been investigating whether members of Trump's campaign colluded with Russia's interference with our elections, Republicans, led by committee chair and Trump enabler Devin Nunes did their best to blow smoke aimed at deflecting attention from what Trump and his team may or not have done. Instead, they asked question after question about the illegality of leaks of confidential material to the media - in particular, leaks about former Trump national security adviser Mike Flynn's contacts with Russia.

(Note that there was agreement that leaks are illegal but no one mentioned that it's the media's complete and constitutionally guaranteed right to report on them. Nor was anyone asked how many times GOP members of the committee have done their own leaking.)

Trump did what he could to distract as well, firing a volley of five heated early-morning tweets just before testimony began, reiterating claims that disgruntled Democrats manufactured charges about Russia's involvement in the election and contact with Trump aides. There were more during the hearing itself - from Trump or someone at the White House tweeting in his name - twisting the day's testimony by Comey and National Security Agency chief Mike Rogers. Bizarrely, the two men then were placed in the position of having to rebut Trump's allegations while they still were in the witness seats, correcting and putting the president in his place - virtually in real time.

Not only did Comey verify that the FBI was actively investigating Trump and his associates, he also flatly denied on behalf of his agency and the Justice Department that prior to January's inauguration now-former President Obama had ordered eavesdropping on Trump Tower. Under normal circumstances this would seem to neutralize yet another of Trump's wacky tweet storms, this one from two weeks ago, but as we've learned so well, the truth has never been a barrier to the social media madness of King Donald I.

And yet, as presidential historian Douglas Brinkley told The Washington Post, "There's a smell of treason in the air. Imagine if J. Edgar Hoover or any other FBI director would have testified against a sitting president? It would have been a mindboggling event."

But here we are, adrift in a Cloud Cuckoo Land of prevarication and incompetence in which little seems capable of boggling or driving our minds agog these days and where the truth shall not set you free but subject you to ridicule from the rabid trolls of the right.

And still there is hope. Even though neither Comey nor Rogers would reveal much of what they are discovering - continually citing the confidentiality they said was necessary to an ongoing investigation - the questions asked, despite the "no comment" answers, suggested ongoing areas of inquiry not only for investigating committees but also for the press.

For it is the free and independent media that continue to provide our clearest window into the extent of the investigation and the possible interface among the Trump campaign, Russia and the right. Late Monday, for example, McClatchy News reported:

"Federal investigators are examining whether far-right news sites played any role last year in a Russian cyber operation that dramatically widened the reach of news stories - some fictional - that favored Donald Trump's presidential bid, two people familiar with the inquiry say.

"Operatives for Russia appear to have strategically timed the computer commands, known as 'bots,' to blitz social media with links to the pro-Trump stories at times when the billionaire businessman was on the defensive in his race against Democrat Hillary Clinton, these sources said."

McClatchy reports that most of the stories were linked from social media posts and many of them connected to stories at Breitbart and Alex Jones' InfoWars, as well as Russia Today and Sputnik News:
"Investigators examining the bot attacks are exploring whether the far-right news operations took any actions to assist Russia's operatives. Their participation, however, wasn't necessary for the bots to amplify their news through Twitter and Facebook."
The spin machines are twirling at cyclonic speeds as the White House and the Republican Party counterattack or try to act as if none of this is happening. Like the refugee couple in Casablanca, they pretend to hear very little and understand even less. At the end of Monday's testimony, intelligence committee chair Nunes actually told David Corn of Mother Jones that he had never heard of Roger Stone or Carter Page, two of the Trump/Russia story's most prominent and tawdry players. Ingenuous or ignorant? You be the judge.

"Is it possible that all of these events and reports are completely unrelated and nothing more than an entirely unhappy coincidence?" Adam Schiff asked at Monday's hearing.

"Yes, it is possible. But it is also possible, maybe more than possible, that they are not coincidental, not disconnected and not unrelated, and that the Russians use the same techniques to corrupt US persons that they employed in Europe and elsewhere. We simply don't know. Not yet. And we owe it to the country to find out."

During Schiff's questioning on Monday, Comey seemed to nod toward agreeing that Russia's hacking of the Democratic National Committee was not unlike the 1972 physical break-in at the DNC. You know, the one that precipitated the revelations, resignations and prison convictions of Watergate. Drip, drip, drip...
(c) 2017 Michael Winship is senior writing fellow at Demos, president of the Writers Guild of America, East, and was senior writer for Moyers & Company and Bill Moyers' Journal and is senior writer of

The Dead Letter Office...

Mick gives the corporate salute

Heil Trump,

Dear Deputy Fuhrer Mulvaney,

Congratulations, you have just been awarded the "Vidkun Quisling Award!" Your name will now live throughout history with such past award winners as Marcus Junius Brutus, Judas Iscariot, Benedict Arnold, George Stephanopoulos, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Prescott Bush, Sam Bush, Fredo Bush, Kate Bush, Kyle Busch, Anheuser Busch, Vidkun Quisling and last year's winner Volksjudge John (the enforcer) Roberts.

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your pledge to starve every poor and elderly American to death out of compassion, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Republican whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Trump at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 05-27-2017. We salute you Herr Mulvaney, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

An Orgy of Unnecessary Cruelty
By Robert Reich

The theme that unites all of Trump's initiatives so far is their unnecessary cruelty.

1. His new budget comes down especially hard on the poor - imposing unprecedented cuts in low-income housing, job training, food assistance, legal services, help to distressed rural communities, nutrition for new mothers and their infants, funds to keep poor families warm, even "meals on wheels."

These cuts come at a time when more American families are in poverty than ever before, including 1 in 5 children.

Why is Trump doing this? To pay for the biggest hike in military spending since the 1980s. Yet the U.S. already spends more on its military than the next 7 biggest military budgets put together.

2. His plan to repeal and "replace" the Affordable Care Act will cause 14 million Americans to lose their health insurance next year, and 24 million by 2026.

Why is Trump doing this? To bestow $600 billion in tax breaks over the decade to wealthy Americans. This windfall comes at a time when the rich have accumulated more wealth than at any time in the nation's history.

The plan reduces the federal budget deficit by only $337 billion over the next ten years - a small fraction of the national debt, in exchange for an enormous amount of human hardship.

3. His ban on Syrian refugees and reduction by half in the total number of refugees admitted to the United States comes just when the world is experiencing the worst refugee crisis since World War II.

Why is Trump doing this? The ban does little or nothing to protect Americans from terrorism. No terrorist act in the United States has been perpetrated by a Syrian or by anyone from the six nations whose citizens are now banned from traveling to the United States. You have higher odds of being struck by lightening than dying from an immigrant terrorist attack.

4. His dragnet roundup of undocumented immigrants is helter-skelter - including people who have been productive members of our society for decades, and young people who have been here since they were toddlers.

Why is Trump doing this? He has no compelling justification. Unemployment is down, crime is down, and we have fewer undocumented workers in the U.S. today than we did five years ago.

Trump is embarking on an orgy of cruelty for absolutely no reason. This is morally repugnant. It violates every ideal this nation has ever cherished. We have a moral responsibility to stop it.
(c) 2017 Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His website is

President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign-style rally at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, March 20, 2017

When It Comes To Trump, We Should Be Too Petrified To Laugh
By William Rivers Pitt

Head like a hole
Black as your soul
I'd rather die
Than give you control ...

Trent Reznor

There's a joke in here somewhere, but in the immortal words of Vincent Vega, I think I'm too petrified to laugh.

White House adviser and Jedi-level bullshit artist Kellyanne Conway told a New Jersey newspaper last week that the microwave ovens are watching us. Too bad she didn't drop that brick a few weeks ago; Betsy DeVos could have used it to buttress the guns-in-schools-because-bears argument she unspooled during her confirmation hearing. They keep microwaves in teacher's lounges, don't they? Surely there's one in the cafeteria. Be afraid.

Not to be outdone, Donald Trump's boon companion Roger Stone was recently on InfoWars with Alex Jones railing that the "deep state" was trying to assassinate him via fender bender. Seems Roger's ride took a little broadside tap from a car with tinted windows, suggesting immediately that it was CIA issue. Had the offending automobile not been going three miles per hour, it might have been a bloodbath. Stone could very easily be the inspiration for Warren Zevon's "Excitable Boy," but he and Conway have a point of sorts: If the cars and appliances join forces against us with the "deep state" behind them, we're all back to living in the trees. Just ask Alex; I think he'll know.

All of this, of course, is trickling down from the First Federated Font of Nonsense otherwise known as the president of the United States. Conway, Stone and the rest of the White House pack may find a jewel of foolishness now and again, but only Trump has the awesome capacity to be ridiculous, embarrassing, insulting, tawdry, orange, dangerous and wrong simultaneously and with astonishing consistency.

President Obama was wiretapping him, eh? Trump dropped that preposterous clunker more than a week ago, and still it rumbles on (FBI Director Comey laid waste to Trump's accusations before a congressional committee on Monday, which means Trump and the crew pushed his wiretapping fiction with newly increased vigor). The president is too much of a cad to summon the ability to admit error. Instead, he sucks poor dupes like Press Secretary Sean Spicer into the maw of his bottomless need for attention, and both Spicer and the United States become an international joke for claiming Britain did the spying for Obama, which is why there's no evidence of it. The US was forced to formally apologize to Britain in historically humiliating fashion, but Trump still refuses to back down. It was, in its own vile way, an awesome sight to behold.

In a short span of hours on Friday, Trump was owned and humiliated by two other international leaders from countries that used to be among our strongest allies. It began at the St. Patrick's Day press conference with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny when Trump attempted to offer an "Irish proverb." What he actually offered, probably, was a Nigerian poem (no one is completely sure, but it definitely wasn't Irish; quite the research team you've got there, Don). Kenny took the podium and offered a stirring, evocative defense of immigrants in the United States by describing how much good the Irish have done for this nation over the generations. It was a stinging rebuke of Trump's demagoguery on the subject and he had to stand there and take it, flapping like a bundle of old rags left out in the rain.

Flash forward to the press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Trump managed to be only nominally embarrassing for most of it, until he decided to blunder into his alleged area of expertise: trade. He began complaining about how well Germany has done in its trade deals with the US, and how badly US workers have been harmed by those deals. Merkel was required, right in the middle of the presser, to inform Trump that, in fact, Germany has no direct trade deals with the US, and all deals between the two countries are handled by the European Union. So much for the trade expert.

A joke was floated months ago that at some point, Trump is going to rip off his mask and reveal himself to be Andy Kaufman. That scenario becomes more plausible by the day. It has to be a joke, right? The phenomenon just doesn't stop, and if Trump fails to make enough of a fool of himself while standing beside a world leader at an internationally televised press conference, there's always Twitter to fall back on.

Yes, I often find these people funny in their rank absurdity. Yet perhaps the more important question is: What do they find funny? I fear I know the answer to that all too well. They thoroughly enjoyed the look of horror on people's faces when the White House budget was revealed last week. The dismay of poor and working-class people, people of color, environmentalists, educators, artists, activists and, frankly, most Americans at the priorities put forth in that document is music to our supposed leaders' ears. It is all part of what passes for bedrock conservative ideology these days: "Make the liberals angry." That is all they have: cruelty for cruelty's sake.

Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget director, told us that Meals on Wheels and after-school lunch programs for students have to go because they don't actually accomplish anything. This was perhaps the filthiest, most brazen lie yet told by a member of this administration, and friends, that's saying something. Meals on Wheels serves more than 2.4 million elderly people, including 500,000 veterans, to demonstrably beneficial effect. A fed student is a focused student, but just the simple act of filling the stomach of a food-insecure child is a towering victory all by itself.

Compared to the appropriations for Defense and Homeland Security, the money required to fund programs like these is so small as to be practically nonexistent. Cutting them will do nothing to lower the deficit; hell, they could be funded in a year if Trump would only stay one weekend a month in the nice white mansion we have set up for him in Washington, DC instead of flitting off to his golf course or his skyscraper on the taxpayer's dime. There is no plausible explanation for taking such programs away from the most vulnerable among us beyond a hatred and greed that beggars description.

That so many like-minded ghouls have found each other is perhaps one of the most dangerous events in history. They have shown us what they intend to do. They have put it all down on paper, and no amount of slapstick bungling ameliorates the gross horror of their true mission to even the tiniest degree. All we have going for us for the time being is that they're really, really bad at their jobs. For now. Even rocks learn how to roll.

Too petrified to laugh indeed.
(c) 2017 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.

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~~~ Steve Breen ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Trump Is The Picasso Of Hogwash
By Will Durst

The English language has a healthy share of euphemisms for lying. Fabrication. Falsification. Making stuff up. Inoperative statements. Alternative facts. Big fat fibs. Untruths. Puffery. Flummery. Fast food advertising. NFL owner profit-loss statements.

But they all mean the same thing: saying out loud things you know are not true. No matter which polite term you prefer, America in the middle of a lying renaissance. And we have President Donald J. Trump to thank for perfecting the practice of public prevarication to an art form. He is the Picasso of hogwash.

Throughout his career, Trump has deflected trouble by waving a bright shiny object,

throwing it into a corner and yelling, "Hey what's that over there?"

In the business world The Donald erected huge TRUMP signs before reneging on promises and stiffing contractors. On the campaign trail he shot out baseless allegations like a t-shirt cannon at minor league ballgame. Now, as president, cascades of groundless gibberish flow from him like rainwater off the Oroville Dam spillway.

Every politician lies, and both Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon got caught in whoppers, but not until the end of their second terms. Trump has rocketed out of the gate as the least credible federal office-holder in history. It's like being called the scariest clown at a circus convention.

First, Mr. Trump claimed his inauguration was the most attended ever, when photos clearly reveal half of those that assembled in 2009. Who you going to believe - me, or your lying eyes?

He then accused 3,000,000 non-existent people of voting illegally, the same exact amount he lost the popular vote by. Alternative facts are kissing cousins to alternative math. 2 plus 2 is whatever he says it is. And 0 + 0 is 3,000,000.

Recently, the new president accused the old president, Barack Hussein Obama, of wiretapping Trump Tower. With no proof. At all. Even Trump's own staff were quoted as saying, "Hunh, what?" Then were force marched onto television to lob sparkly Christmas ornaments at weekend anchors and production assistants.

James Clapper, the former director of National Intelligence, which is starting to sound like an oxymoron, denied that any surveillance was authorized. But Chief Aide Kellyanne Conway suggested that perhaps it was done through partisan kitchen appliances dabbling in espionage.

One reason President Trump gets away with his fables and fakery is because the media has the attention span of a hover of hummingbirds in a green house on blossom day. Although people are questioning the provenance of his charges, nobody's talking about his Russian connections anymore. Mission Accomplished.

It's a genius strategy that can work in real life as well. Think grade school and get creative.

- Tell the boss the report is overdue because it was eaten by a pack of wild Tanzanian boars that have overrun your back yard. Even if you live in a high rise

- Caught holding someone else's wallet? You weren't stealing, but rather protecting their possessions from other unscrupulous persons by hiding the money in your pocket for safekeeping.

- Does your spouse have naked photos of you in the arms of another? Total misunderstanding: this unfortunate person was suffering from hypothermia and you were simply applying life- restoring, body heat. Internally.

Accountability is soooooo 2015. As Nike used to say, "Just Do It."
(c) 2017 Will Durst is an award- winning, nationally acclaimed columnist, comedian and former bus boy at Dante's Sea Catch on Pier 39 in San Francisco, California. Go to for info about his new one-man show "BoomeRaging: From LSD to OMG," and the documentary "3 Still Standing." Follow Will Durst on Twitter:

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Issues & Alibis Vol 17 # 10 (c) 03/24/2017

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