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In This Edition

Norman Solomon returns with, "The Urgent Need for a Biden-Putin Summit."

Thom Hartmann returns with, "Boulder: Is It Time To End The Second Amendment?"

Jesse Jackson returns with, "We Must Confront The Ugly Plague Of Racism And Hate Crimes."

Jim Hightower has, "A Question Of Nature."

William Rivers Pitt says, "Biden Should Stop Making Excuses - It's Time To Leave Afghanistan."

John Nichols reports, "Representative Ro Khanna Explains Why He Called Out Biden's Air Strike In Syria."

James Donahue finds, "Humanity In Self-Destruct."

David Swanson tells, "The Latest Lies About Russia."

David Suzuki says, "Connecting To Nature Is Medicine For Us And Earth."

Charles P. Pierce concludes, "The 60 Minutes Piece On January 6 Was The Sound Of The Ante Being Upped."

Juan Cole reports, "Israelis Cancel VIP Pass For Palestinian Foreign Minister For Consulting With Int'l Criminal Court."

Robert Reich asks, "Why Is Amazon Abusing Its Workers? Because It Can."

Chris Hedges explores, "The Evil Within Us: Evangelicals And Mass Murder In Atlanta."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz reports, "Fauci Nostalgic For Days When He Testified Via Zoom And Could Mute Rand Paul," but first Uncle Ernie sez, "The EPA's Website Is Back Up, Filled With Global Warming Facts."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of John Deering, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Tom Tomorrow, Haroon Sabawoon, David Underwood, Karolina, Megan Varner, Anna Moneymaker, Eric Baradatt, Tom Williams, Drew Angerer, Alex Wong, Anadolu Agency, New York Times, Bloomberg, Education Images, Universal Images Group, Robert Reich, Jim Hightower, Pexels, AFP, Unsplash, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments-

The Quotable Quote-
The Cartoon Corner-
To End On A Happy Note-
Have You Seen This-
Parting Shots-

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The EPA's Website Is Back Up, Filled With Global Warming Facts
Biden replaces Lying Donald's cover-up
By Ernest Stewart

"Climate facts are back on EPA's website where they should be." ~~~ Michael Regan ~ EPA administrator

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

I see where over 12 million people around the world have been pushed out of their homes in the last six months, a new report says, 80 percent of whom were displaced due to natural and global warming disasters.

Most of these displacements occurred in Asian and Pacific countries, according to the report issued by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The region was walloped with 26 climate disasters last year, including three storms that hit the Philippines within a month, one of which was a late-season Category 5 storm that drove at least a million people from their homes and left 3 million without basic needs.

"Repeat events mean that people are barely able to recover from being displaced by one disaster before being hit by another one, which can lead to secondary displacement," said Helen Brunt, Asia Pacific Migration and Displacement Coordinator for the IFRC.

Displacement tends to disproportionately harm the most vulnerable populations, Brunt said. For example, sexual violence occurs more often in temporary shelters that house evacuees, and displaced people can lose identifying documents and run the risk of becoming stateless.

"We can't just wait and respond to disasters and displacement when they happen," she said. "Coordinated action and greater investment to reduce displacement caused by climate disasters is urgently needed right now."

At last the Environmental Protection Agency's webpage about climate change reawakened from a four-year slumber on Thursday morning. Turn to the page now and you'll see: "EPA is restoring the science in addressing the climate crisis."

In April 2017, Lying Donald took down the agency's extensive trove of resources on climate change, saying the site was removing "outdated language" to "reflect the EPA's priorities" under its new leadership. That leader was Scott Pruitt, Lying Donald's's first EPA chief, whose tenure was ridden with scandals over his ritzy spending habits and coziness with industry lobbyists.

The website's removal was a part of a larger trend: The use of the term "climate change" on the websites of federal environmental agencies went down by 38 percent over the course of the Trump era.

"Sorry, but this web page is not available for viewing right now," the EPA's climate change site said for years - until this week.

The Biden administration's EPA didn't just resurrect the Obama-era version. It added language that reflects the growing sense of urgency around our overheating planet, naming the "climate crisis" as a "priority." It includes links to President Joe Biden's executive orders on rejoining the Paris climate agreement and other measures to tackle the crisis. The website currently links to resources on climate research, clean energy programs, information for kids, and it says it will be adding more soon.

The EPA's page on climate has been around for more than two decades, providing information to the public on the latest science and tips to trim your carbon footprint. "If you are looking for information on "'climate change,' 'the greenhouse effect,' or "global warming, " you've come to the right place," it declared in August 1997.

Does it really matter what the government says about climate change on the internet? Experts say yes. The Office of Management and Budget has long advised agencies to expect that their website is the primary way they're communicating with the public, said Gretchen Gehrke, who has been tracking the changing language on government websites over the past four years with the Environmental Data Governance Initiative.

"Most agencies have not created resources that would really allow the public to build their knowledge on an issue," Gehrke said, in an interview earlier this year, but the EPA made headway on making key information accessible under former President Barack Obama. The Trump administration, Gehrke said, removed resources that had been "tailor-made" for an audience looking for the basics, like fact sheets and infographics.

While this information is often available elsewhere on the web, learning the facts about global warming finally has the federal stamp of approval - again.



11-27-1936 ~ 03-19-2021
Thanks for the adventure!

08-13-1981 ~ 03-20-2021
Thanks for the music!

02-13-1934 ~ 03-23-2021
Thanks for the film!

12-20-1950 ~ 03-24-2021
Thanks for the music!

04-12-1916 ~ 03-25-2021
Thanks for the read!


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Until the next time, Peace!

(c) 2021 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, philosopher, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.

The Urgent Need for a Biden-Putin Summit
By Norman Solomon

Last week's outbreak of rhetorical hostilities between the White House and the Kremlin has heightened the urgent need for a summit between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin. The spate of mutual denunciations is catnip for mass media and fuel for hardliners in both countries. But for the world at large, under the doomsday shadow of nuclear arsenals brandished by the United States and Russia, the latest developments are terribly ominous.

Whatever you think of Biden's assertion during an ABC News interview that Russia's President Putin is "a killer" -- and whether or not you think the label might apply to Biden, given his pro-war record -- the existential imperative of U.S.-Russian relations is to avert a nuclear war. Biden's claim during the same interview that Putin does not have "a soul" indicates that much of the new president's foreign-policy thinking is stuck in a cold-war rut.

No doubt many Americans have welcomed Biden's holier-than-thou stance toward Putin. But an overarching reality is routinely hidden in plain sight: Everyone's survival on this planet hinges on Washington-Moscow conflicts not spinning out of control.

Let's face it: Biden is playing to the domestic anti-Russia gallery in the U.S. media and "defense" establishment, while making a dangerous mockery of his own claims to be a champion of diplomatic approaches to foreign affairs.

"Diplomacy is back at the center of our foreign policy," Biden said when he spoke at the State Department in early February. Those who've been heartened by such statements during the first two months of Biden's presidency should insist that he live up to that vow by meeting with the head of the Russian government.

But it's now clear that much more is needed from Biden than just willingness to sit down with Putin. Biden also needs a major attitude adjustment. He would greatly benefit from pondering what happened in a small New Jersey town for a few days in the early summer of 1967.

Keep in mind that at the time, the Soviet Union was in the iron grip of Communist Party leader Leonid Brezhnev and Premier Alexei Kosygin, who saw to it that freedom of the press or the right to publicly dissent did not exist inside their nation. Compared to those days, Russia under Vladimir Putin in 2021 has far more freedom in terms of media, politics and society as a whole.

The Soviet repression and violation of human rights didn't stop President Lyndon B. Johnson from trying to reduce the chances of the world blowing up. He engaged in real summitry with Kosygin. Their extended talks on the campus of Glassboro State College gave rise to what became known as "the Spirit of Glassboro."

That spirit signified only a limited breakthrough. It did not prevent the next year's Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, or the continuing horrific American escalation of the war in Vietnam. Yet it was genuine diplomatic dialogue -- at the highest levels of government -- and it decreased the chances of nuclear annihilation.

In the process, LBJ wouldn't have dreamed of proclaiming his Soviet counterpart "a killer" or declaring him to be without a soul. After more than a dozen hours of direct talks, Johnson stood next to Kosygin and, in effect, made a plea for safeguarding human survival. "We have made further progress in an effort to improve our understanding of each other's thinking on a number of questions," Johnson said.

Fifty-four years later, with mutual hostility now at fever pitch in Washington and Moscow, such understanding is essential. But President Biden is not showing that he has the wisdom to seek it.

A former U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union, Jack F. Matlock, wrote last month that "the vital interests of both countries are endangered when their governments treat the other as a threat, or worse, an enemy, rather than as a potential and necessary partner." He noted that the shared challenges include dealing with threats posed by "nuclear weapons, pandemics, global warming and ever more destructive technologies if used in warfare."

Matlock, who served as the top American envoy in Moscow from 1987 to 1991, added: "Presidents Biden and Putin now have the opportunity to find ways to cooperate in dealing with global threats, and encouraging others to do so as well. That would constitute a new operating system, suited to the threats of the present and future rather than replaying follies of the past." No matter how much we might wish to forget or deny it, we are tied together -- as a matter of survival -- by a fraying thread of relations between the United States and Russia.

For those in the USA's government, media and general public who don't want a Biden-Putin summit to happen, I have a simple question: "Do you want to reduce the chances of nuclear war?" Assuming the answer is yes, any opposition to such a summit is illogical at best.

If the leaders of the two countries with more than 90 percent of the world's nuclear warheads can't have a summit meeting and talk with each other, we're in trouble. Real trouble.

(c) 2021 Norman Solomon is co-founder of and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death"and "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State."

Three handguns and three long guns.

Boulder: Is It Time To End The Second Amendment?
American mass murders are a remnant of our slave patrols; RBG was right that Heller was wrongly decided and needs to be overturned.
By Thom Hartmann

Another mass gun murder just happened in America, the seventh in 7 days, and already "Second Amendment legislators" are offering the 2021 version of thoughts and prayers. Lauren Boebert just tweeted, "May God be with them." Standing in front of her wall of assault weapons, most likely.

And, of course, today on rightwing talk radio and Fox News they've already begun lengthy bloviation about the Second Amendment. So, let's just clear a few things up.

The real reason the Second Amendment was ratified, and why it says "State" instead of "Country" (the Framers knew the difference-see the 10th Amendment), was to preserve the slave patrol militias in the southern states, an action necessary to get Virginia's vote to ratify the Constitution.

It had nothing whatsoever to do with making sure mass murderers could shoot up public venues and schools. Founders including Patrick Henry, George Mason, and James Madison were totally clear on that, and we all should be too.

In the beginning, there were the militias. In the South they were called "slave patrols," and were regulated by the states.

In Georgia, for example, a generation before the American Revolution, laws were passed in 1755 and 1757 that required all plantation owners or their male white employees to be members of the Georgia Militia, and for those armed militia members to make monthly inspections of the quarters of all slaves in the state. The law defined which counties had which armed militias and required armed militia members to keep a keen eye out for slaves who may be planning uprisings.

As Dr. Carl T. Bogus wrote for the University of California Law Review in 1998, "The Georgia statutes required patrols, under the direction of commissioned militia officers, to examine every plantation each month and authorized them to search 'all Negro Houses for offensive Weapons and Ammunition' and to apprehend and give twenty lashes to any slave found outside plantation grounds."

It's the answer to the question raised by the character played by Leonardo DiCaprio in Django Unchained when he asks, "Why don't they just rise up and kill the whites?" It was a largely rhetorical question, because every southerner of the era knew the answer: Well-regulated militias kept enslaved people in chains.

Sally E. Haden, in her brilliant and essential book Slave Patrols: Law and Violence in Virginia and the Carolinas, notes that, "Although eligibility for the Militia seemed all-encompassing, not every middle-aged white male Virginian or Carolinian became a slave patroller." There were exemptions so "men in critical professions" like judges, legislators and students could stay at their work. Generally, though, she documents how most southern men between ages 18 and 45-including physicians and ministers-had to serve on slave patrol in the militia at one time or another in their lives.

And slave rebellions were keeping the slave patrols busy.

By the time the Constitution was ratified, hundreds of substantial slave uprisings had occurred across the South. Blacks outnumbered whites in large areas, and the state militias were used to both prevent and to put down uprisings by enslaved men and women. As I detail in my book The Hidden History of Guns and the Second Amendment, slavery can only exist in a police state, which the South had become by the early 1700s, and the enforcement of that police state was the explicit job of the militias.

Southerners worried that if the anti-slavery folks in the North could figure out a way to disband-or even move out of the state-those southern militias, the police state of the South would collapse. And, similarly, if the North were to invite into military service enslaved men from the South, then they could be emancipated, which would collapse the institution of slavery, along with the southern economic and social "ways of life."

These two possibilities worried southerners like slaveholder James Monroe, George Mason (who owned over 300 enslaved humans) and the southern Christian evangelical, Patrick "Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death" Henry (Virginia's largest slaveholder).

Their main concern was that Article 1, Section 8 of the newly-proposed Constitution, which gave the federal government the power to raise and supervise an army, could also allow that federal army to subsume their state militias and change them from slavery-enforcing institutions into something that could even, one day, free their enslaved men, women and children. This was not an imagined threat. Famously, 12 years earlier, during the lead-up to the Revolutionary War, Lord Dunsmore offered freedom to slaves who could escape and join his forces. "Liberty to Slaves" was stitched onto their jacket pocket flaps. During the War, British General Henry Clinton extended the practice in 1779. And numerous freed slaves served in General Washington's army.

Thus, southern legislators and plantation owners lived not just in fear of their own slaves rebelling, but also in fear that their slaves could be emancipated through the newly-forming United States offering them military service.

At the ratifying convention in Virginia in 1788, Henry laid it out:

"Let me here call your attention to that part [Article 1, Section 8 of the proposed Constitution] which gives the Congress power to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States. . . .

"By this, sir, you see that their control over our last and best defence is unlimited. If they neglect or refuse to discipline or arm our militia, they will be useless: the states can do neither ... this power being exclusively given to Congress. The power of appointing officers over men not disciplined or armed is ridiculous; so that this pretended little remains of power left to the states may, at the pleasure of Congress, be rendered nugatory."

George Mason expressed a similar fear:
"The militia may be here destroyed by that method which has been practised in other parts of the world before; that is, by rendering them useless, by disarming them. Under various pretences, Congress may neglect to provide for arming and disciplining the militia; and the state governments cannot do it, for Congress has an exclusive right to arm them [under this proposed Constitution]..."
Henry then bluntly laid it out:
"If the country be invaded, a state may go to war, but cannot suppress [slave] insurrections [under this new Constitution]. If there should happen an insurrection of slaves, the country cannot be said to be invaded. They cannot, therefore, suppress it without the interposition of Congress . . . . Congress, and Congress only [under this new Constitution], can call forth the militia."
And why was that such a concern for Patrick Henry?
"In this state," he said, "there are 236,000 Blacks, and there are many in several other states. But there are few or none in the Northern States. ... May Congress not say, that every Black man must fight? Did we not see a little of this last war? We were not so hard pushed as to make emancipation general; but acts of Assembly passed that every slave who would go to the army should be free."
Patrick Henry was also convinced that the power over the various state militias given the federal government in the new Constitution could be used to strip the slave states of their slave-patrol militias. He knew the majority attitude in the North opposed slavery, and he worried they'd use the new Constitution they were then debating ratifying to free the South's slaves (a process then called "Manumission").

The abolitionists would, he was certain, use that power (and, ironically, this is pretty much what Abraham Lincoln ended up doing):

"[T]hey will search that paper [the Constitution], and see if they have power of manumission," said Henry. "And have they not, sir? Have they not power to provide for the 'general defence and welfare'? May they not think that these call for the abolition of slavery? May they not pronounce all slaves free, and will they not be warranted by that power?

"This is no ambiguous implication or logical deduction. The paper [the Constitution] speaks to the point: they have the power in clear, unequivocal terms, and will clearly and certainly exercise it."

He added: "This is a local [Southern] matter, and I can see no propriety in subjecting it to Congress."

James Madison, the "Father of the Constitution" and a slaveholder himself, basically called Patrick Henry paranoid.

"I was struck with surprise," Madison said, "when I heard him express himself alarmed with respect to the emancipation of slaves. . . . There is no power to warrant it, in that paper [the Constitution]. If there be, I know it not."

But the southern slavemasters' fears wouldn't go away.

Patrick Henry even argued that southerner's "property" (enslaved humans) would be lost under the new Constitution, and the resulting slave uprising would be less than peaceful or tranquil:

"In this situation," Henry said to Madison, "I see a great deal of the property of the people of Virginia in jeopardy, and their peace and tranquility gone."

So Madison, who had (at Jefferson's insistence) already begun to prepare proposed amendments to the Constitution, changed his first draft of one that addressed the militia issue to make sure it was unambiguous that the southern states could maintain their slave patrol militias.

His first draft for what became the Second Amendment had said: "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed, and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country [emphasis mine]: but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms, shall be compelled to render military service in person."

But Henry, Mason and others wanted southern states to preserve their slave-patrol militias independent of the federal government. So Madison changed the word "country" to the word "state," and redrafted the Second Amendment into today's form:

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State [emphasis mine], the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
Little did Madison realize that one day in the future weapons-manufacturing corporations would use his slave patrol militia amendment to protect their "right" to manufacture and sell assault weapons used to murder people in schools, theaters and stores, and use the profits to own their own political party.

In today's America, you have the "right" to a gun, but no "right" to healthcare or education. In every other developed country in the world, the reality is the exact opposite.

Pointing out how ludicrous this has become, David Sirota (and colleagues) writes in his Daily Poster newsletter today: "Last week, the National Rifle Association publicly celebrated its success in striking down an assault weapons ban in Boulder, Colorado. Five days later, Boulder was the scene of a mass shooting, reportedly with the same kind of weapon that the city tried to ban."

The Second Amendment was never meant to make it easier for mass shooters to get assault weapons, and America needs rational gun policy to join the other civilized nations of this planet who aren't the victims of daily mass killings.

It's long past time to overturn Heller, which Ruth Bader Ginsberg repeatedly argued the Court should do, and abolish today's bizarre interpretation of the 2nd Amendment.

(c) 2021 Thom Hartmann is a talk-show host and the author of "The Hidden History of Monopolies: How Big Business Destroyed the American Dream" (2020); "The Hidden History of the Supreme Court and the Betrayal of America" (2019); and more than 25 other books in print.

Members of the Bad Asian and Civic Walls groups paint a mural near Krog Street Tunnel on March 21, 2021
in Atlanta, Georgia. The murals are in remembrance of the eight lives lost at the three spa shootings in Atlanta
this past week. All across the United States people have banned together to show support for Asian-American and
Pacific Islander communities after the shootings that left eight dead, six of whom were Asian women.

We Must Confront The Ugly Plague Of Racism And Hate Crimes
The pandemic and the poisonous rhetoric of Donald Trump have exposed once more the hard work that must be done to bring together an inclusive society.
By Jesse Jackson

Last week's murder of eight people in North Georgia, six of them Asian American women, has brought national attention to the increasing violence and hatred suffered by Asian Americans in this country, and to the continuing reality of violence against women.

Hate crimes against Asian Americans were up a staggering 150% in 2020, with Asian American women twice as likely to be victimized as men. Those targeted are of all ages and all different Asian nationalities. The violent attacks are often simply random, as when Xiao Zhen Xie, a 76-year-old grandmother in San Francisco, was punched in the face by a stranger. Children have been bullied and insulted. Asian-owned businesses have been vandalized; homes smeared with hateful graffiti.

The immediate cause of the increasing violence can be traced back to Donald Trump labeling the COVID-19 pandemic the "Kung Flu" and blaming the Chinese for its spread. Trump's taunts focused the anger of frightened people on Asian Americans, despite the fact that Asian Americans-often front-line essential workers-were disproportionately hit by the disease. This comes on top of the resentment fueled by the loss of good jobs in America, as rapacious multinationals and foolish policymakers conspired to cripple manufacturing.

The recent outbreak of race crimes directed at Asian Americans is the most recent chapter of a long, dismal history in this country, dating back to when Chinese workers were first imported in the 1850s to do dangerous, low-wage jobs in mining and railroad construction. Employers suppressed their wages, stripped them of their rights and stomped out any effort to organize. Immediately, fears that the "Chinese were taking American jobs" spread wildly.

Just as with African Americans, Asian Americans were victimized repeatedly by vigilante violence and official injustice. In 1854, the California Supreme Court in People v. Hall ruled that Asians could not testify against a white person. Hall, who had murdered a Chinese immigrant, walked away without penalty.

In 1871, in Los Angeles, a vengeful mob lynched 17 Chinese men. No one was ever punished. In 1882, the U.S. Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, a ban on Chinese immigration that was extended for 60 years. In World War II, Japanese Americans were interned in what were essentially concentration camps, a brazen violation of their rights that the Supreme Court, to its shame, ratified. More recently, when refugees from Vietnam began to work in shrimping off the coast of Texas, the local Ku Klux Klan, garbed in their regalia, set their boats on fire. After 9/11, violence against South Asians soared.

In reality, the 20 million Asian Americans in the United States are very diverse, coming from 20 countries with different languages, religions and races. The largest numbers come from China, India and the Philippines. Collectively, they are the fastest growing minority in the United States.

On average, they are remarkably successful. Their median annual wage is higher than that of all Americans. They are less likely to live in poverty. Over half of those older than 25 have a college degree or more, compared with 30% of all Americans. Seven in 10 who are 5 or older speak English proficiently.

Yet, despite this success, they suffer from systemic racism and face a growing threat of violence. Now is the time to confront this plague. The murders in North Georgia have sparked vigils across the country. Civil rights organizations, African American and Latino groups have rallied in solidarity. The mainstream media has finally put a spotlight on the rise of anti-Asian hate crimes. The Asian American Leaders Table has called on the federal government to ensure robust enforcement of civil rights laws, and to prioritize violence prevention and restorative justice.

Strikingly, they understand that all communities of color struggle in the face of racism and hate crimes. They call on Congress to invest in communities at risk, building for all Americans basic economic rights that include jobs, housing, health care and education. The founding vision of the Rainbow Coalition was the inclusive society. We realized when you combine all the marginalized people who suffer from discrimination-African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, members of the LGBTQ communities, undocumented immigrants, the disabled and more-we represent the majority of America. And when workers come together across lines of race and religion, they can change the world.

The pandemic and the poisonous rhetoric of Donald Trump have exposed once more the hard work that must be done to bring together an inclusive society. Our diversity is truly America's strength, and the hateful reaction to it America's weakness. The rising violence against Asian Americans, the Black Lives Matter marches against police brutality, the tragic epidemic of deaths of despair plaguing displaced working people, the increasing anger at immigrants require all of us to come together, across lines of race and religion and region, to protect one another and to unite in the call for equal justice. Together we can make a more perfect union.

(c) 2021 Jesse Jackson is an African-American civil rights activist and Baptist minister. He was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988 and served as shadow senator for the District of Columbia from 1991 to 1997. He was the founder of both entities that merged to form Rainbow/PUSH.

A Question Of Nature
By Jim Hightower

When corporate executives are absurdly hypocritical, yet so obtuse that they don't even realize it, is it still hypocrisy... or are they just dimwitted?

Consider the histrionics emanating from corporate bunkers over rising public approval for the idea that nature be given legal rights that are enforceable in courts. The Rights of Nature movement argues that if, say, a mining conglomerate decapitates a mountain, that injured citizen of our natural world ought to have its day in court. "Outrageous," shriek the honchos of Corporate America - the courts are for people, not for pieces of property!

Hello, hypocrisy. After all, a corporation is not a person - it has no brain, no pulse, no soul, no life. It's not even a real piece of property, just an inert document printed by a state. Yet, the owners of that piece of paper claim that it magically bestows "personhood" on their syndicate, giving it the legal and political rights of real people. Yet, these "paper people" now cry that Earth's actual living creatures can't have any legal rights because they are just property. Excuse me, but a single drop of water has more life in it than all the corporations in the world.

Also, let's note that the long evolution of law even had to be enlightened to recognize that such "property" as slaves were human beings with fundamental rights. The body of legal (and moral) rights has grown, and it enhances our own humanity to recognize that we and nature are one. Crass corporate exploitation, on the other hand, diminishes all living things, threatening life itself.

Those who reflexively mock the idea of legal standing for marshes, grasslands, forest networks, and other wildlife - might consider taking a moment by a quiet stream in the woods to ponder the question: Does nature need us, or do we need her?

(c) 2021 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates,"is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition. Jim writes The Hightower Lowdown, a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America's ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at

Afghan security official inspect the scene of a blast in Kabul, Afghanistan, on March 15, 2021.

Biden Should Stop Making Excuses - It's Time To Leave Afghanistan
By William Rivers Pitt

War in Afghanistan. In my mind, after all these years, those two words sound like a rock dropped into a bottomless well.

Forty years ago, the whimsy of Cold Warriors motivated the United States to turn its imperial gaze upon that long-battered country. The subsequent actions and decisions - from Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan to the first George Bush - led directly to the attacks of September 11 and the U.S. invasion of that nation. Twenty years later, the U.S. military remains in Afghanistan.

In Afghanistan, generations have seen foreign armies invade, retreat, invade again, yet never ultimately prevail. The Persians, the Greeks, the Mongols and Murghals, the British, the Soviets, and finally the United States ... all have come, and all have gone, except for us, lo these 20 long years.

What began - this time - with George W. Bush has passed through the hands of Barack Obama and Donald Trump to land on the desk of Joe Biden. The specific circumstances of the moment may differ, but the decision before Biden is age-old: Leave in defeat, or remain and be defeated. What do you get when you sift through ashes? You get ashes.

The Afghanistan situation at present serves to highlight one of the most galling elements of the now-departed Trump era. Trump campaigned on the idea that he would not repeat U.S. failures in Iraq and Afghanistan, that he would bring the troops home, and would not start any new wars unless provoked. These were hopeful notes - for those who believed him. That folly was not long-lived, except among those who accept something as true only if Trump says it is.

Trump did not start any wholly new wars, but the rest of these promises were, of course, flat-out broken. He didn't bring the troops home, but merely moved them like breathing chess pieces to various points on the map, deranging a number of long-standing alliances in the process.

Aside from Syria and the Kurds, nowhere was this wrongheaded approach to policy more vividly apparent than Afghanistan. The Trump administration negotiated a May 1 withdrawal date with the Taliban, on the promise that the Taliban would end attacks on U.S. forces and cut ties with al Qaeda. According to observers, the Taliban has failed to live up to those terms.

Perhaps worse, the kind of military drawdown promised by Trump requires an extensive array of logistics, plus the time to effectively implement them. When President Biden took office, none of those logistics were anywhere near being in place, even as the May 1 deadline was breathing down his neck. As with all things Trump - COVID and vaccines most particularly - there was a whole lot of talk but almost no work put into the effort.

Biden had a front-row seat to the eight years President Obama failed to extract us from Afghanistan. He is on record as having opposed Obama's decision to increase U.S. forces there, and today is confronted with a public that has soured deeply on the Forever Wars. Will that be enough to motivate him to finally end this two-decade disaster? "It could happen, but it is tough," he told ABC News on Tuesday. "The fact is that, that was not a very solidly negotiated deal that (Trump) ... worked out."

The reasons why it is so "tough," of course, are chalked up to "national security," the always-available excuse for those who wish to continue dodging this decision. "We've got to be able to assure the world and the American public that Afghanistan will not be a source of planning, plotting to project terrorist attacks around the globe," Sen. Jack Reed, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, recently told reporters. "That's the minimum. I'm not sure we can do that without some presence there."

The government's policy shops unsurprisingly concur. "The Afghan government would probably lose the capability of flying any of its aircraft within a few months and, to be quite blunt, would probably face collapse," John Sopko, special inspector for Afghanistan reconstruction with the US Department of Defense told a House committee on Tuesday.

Is that it, really? I believe this goes far beyond concerns about national security, and deals far more deeply with the hubris of empire and the colonial mind.

Afghanistan was an attractive target not just because it is a profit engine for the "defense" industry that drives so much of U.S. military policy, though that is certainly an unblinking truth and motivating factor. There are also the investors into wildly profitable pipelines and mineral rights to consider. Estimates say there could be $3 trillion in natural resources waiting to be plundered, if only the problems with the Taliban could be settled.

The U.S. has already spent nearly $1 trillion on that war, so maybe if we stay a little longer - undoubtedly killing more people - we can lay that pipe and dig those mines, and maybe make our money back. U.S. capitalism is plunder, and there sits the prize.

The hubris of empire and colonialism, and the lure of profit. We are the United States: When we come, we seldom leave until we get what we came for. On the rare occasions we have been forced out of somewhere, the world was greeted with images of defeat and humiliation that no modern politician wishes to risk repeating. Presidents from Carter to Biden - with a brief Clintonian interlude while Afghanistan was left to burn from the inside out - have played a politics of merciless intervention in that country. This meddling wrought a terrible price 20 years ago, in Afghanistan and the U.S., and the bleeding has never stopped.

May 1 will come and go, and like as not U.S. forces will still be in Afghanistan to see their 21st year in that place. Biden has said that even if the May deadline is missed, our troops will not be there for much longer. By my count, he will be the fourth president to say some version of that since 2001.

It is time to leave.

(c) 2021 William Rivers Pitt is a senior editor and lead columnist at Truthout. He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know, The Greatest Sedition Is Silence and House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation. His fourth book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co_written with Dahr Jamail, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in New Hampshire.

Representative Ro Khanna Explains Why He Called Out Biden's Air Strike In Syria
"I thought it was so important that, early on, Congress take a stand."
By John Nichols

US Representative Ro Khanna is consistent. The California Democrat was an outspoken critic of former president Donald Trump's unauthorized use of military force in the Middle East, and he immediately objected when President Joe Biden ordered air strikes targeting Iranian-backed militias in Syria on February 25. I spoke with Khanna, a member of the House Armed Services Committee and the Peace and Security Task Force of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, on how Democratic members of Congress should respond to military actions by a Democratic president. - John Nichols

JN: Why was it necessary to speak up so quickly and so boldly about Biden's decision to bomb Syria?

RK: I had told myself that I would try not to criticize the president in the first 100 days. I so desperately want the president to succeed. It's important for our party. It's important for our country. But I didn't expect the president to engage in bombing the Middle East in the first 100 days, either.

I thought it was so important that, early on, Congress take a stand and lay a claim, lay down a clear marker, that we cannot continue the cycle of escalation and bombing in the Middle East that has been counterproductive. Certainly we can't continue it without [the president] coming to Congress for the authorization of military force and trying to seek to work in coalition with the United Nations under international law.

JN: Beyond the broader principles, there were specific concerns with this mission, correct?

RK: This was not an imminent threat. It was not that our troops were stationed there and there was intelligence that, if the president didn't act, the troops would be in harm's way in 24 hours or 48 hours or even in a week. I mean, this was a retaliatory threat, and it was clearly not authorized under even a tortured reading of the AUMF [Authorization for Use of Military Force of 2001].

I mean, [this strike] was against Iranian militias in Syria. If anything, in Syria, President Obama had tried to seek an authorization and had failed, and so the congressional record was actually opposed to any escalation in the Middle East.

We can't have a view that, OK, if it's a small attack, then the presi-dent has discretion, but if it's a large attack, then the president has to come to Congress-because small attacks often escalate into large attacks.

JN: It was notable that several Senate Democrats raised concerns. Do you think there is a greater understanding among Democrats that it's important to speak up when there's a Democratic president?

RK: I do! We saw Tim Kaine, who I think carries a lot of weight because he's a very respected voice across the ideological spectrum on matters of foreign policy, come out and be critical. We saw Chris Murphy do that, and Bernie Sanders did that.

I believe the White House took notice. It was no coincidence that a few days later they're openly talking about how we need to have a new conversation about the authorization of military force in Congress, and that the president supports that and supports Congress asserting its role. From reporting I read-and obviously I don't have any information on this-but the reports I've read [indicate] that it has given the White House pause in terms of further strikes against the Iranian militia or in Syria. So I think that speaking out early was very important, because it set a tone that the Congress will not be rolled over by the executive branch on matters of war and peace, and that these issues are bigger than party loyalty.

JN: Drawing up a new AUMF is perilous. Real effort has to go into defining what is authorized, right?

RK: Well, John, you hit the nail on the head on what the challenge has been. Every time [US Representative] Barbara Lee builds a stronger coalition to repeal the AUMF, the debate gets caught up in "Well, what's going to replace it?" One point that should be consistent in whatever replaces it is a sunset provision- that these authorizations shouldn't last more than, ideally, a term of Congress.

(c) 2021 John Nichols writes about politics for The Capitol Times. His book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

Humanity In Self-Destruct
By James Donahue

A book by American ecologist Dr. Ellis Silver caused a stir among the scientific community. Silver suggests that humans are not of this Earth and may have been placed here thousands of years ago by an alien race as a punishment because of our inability to get along.

In a sense, Silver argues, we are all in a kind of prison. He does not believe we have a chance of being released from this mess until we learn how to lay down our weapons and reach out to one another in love and kindness.

While many humans consider themselves "civilized," our actions demonstrate our failure, to date, to show our alleged alien captors that we have really learned our lesson. Even the appearance of great teachers like Jesus, Mohammad, the Buddha and Krishna, who all established religious followers under the commandment of loving our fellow man, failed to achieve the goals they were sent here to do.

If anything, the establishment of various religious belief systems helped divide humanity even further. Instead of hating people because of the different color of their skin, their ethnic and language differences, and territorial issues, we now found that people who did not worship God in the way we chose to be heathens and without value.

We have conducted terrible campaigns designed to attempt to rid the world of the types of people that were either offensive to what we believed, or because they were simply in our way as we set about to create "empires" of our own kind. Hitler attempted to eradicate the Jews. Americans did the same thing with the Native Americans. The Christians conducted the "crusades" against unbelievers throughout the Middle East and Europe. Catholics and Protestants in Ireland were at war with each other for years. The white Europeans made slaves of African blacks. The African tribes have set about hating and murdering one another for years. Now the Christians are at war with the Islamic people of the Middle East under the guise of a "war on terror."

This sickness runs so deep that we have virtually destroyed our planet in our quest to destroy one another. We have invented such heinous weapons of war that we can virtually destroy entire nations at the push of a button. And in doing so, we may succeed in destroying ourselves and all living things on the planet. We have come that close to annihilation of everything.

Now, as it was during the Dark Ages, we have established a deadly separation of humanity by creating differences in wealth. A small number of very wealthy people have seized the last remaining resources and consequently the wealth in the world. The others find themselves in slavery to those who rule through control of the money. Consequently the masses are organizing for rebellion, which could be very bloody.

Such a revolution would involve pitchforks fighting against the powerful military industrial complex. It would be the story of David and Goliath all over again.

In the meantime, the careless manufacture of a nuclear electric generating complex at Fukushima, Japan, has gone out of human control following a massive earthquake and tsunami that caused two of the four plants to go into total melt-down. Scientists at the site are even now trying to carefully separate hundreds of highly radioactive cores that could explode at the wrong touch and thus cause the entire complex to explode. They warn that such an event could wipe out all life in the Northern Hemisphere of the world.

Tons of radioactive waste and water have been pouring into the Pacific Ocean at Fukushima since the disaster began ten years ago. It has polluted the ocean and all the sea life.

The terrible explosion at the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil well drilling site in the Gulf of Mexico, and British Petroleum's decision to further pollute the waters by dumping tons of chemicals designed to "hide" the oil by sending it in small parts to the bottom of the sea, has virtually killed sea life in the gulf and parts of the Atlantic Ocean, and sickened many people who live and work along the gulf coast.

These two events and many smaller but similar disasters have left the great oceans of the world filled with toxic chemicals, the animals dying, and have upset the balance of life on the planet. Now the dolphins and whales are found to be dying from a "mysterious" illness that scientists cannot explain.

Now we have gangs ravaging the streets in rebellion against police shootings and political party leadership not only in the United States, but in countries all over the world. This is happening against a world-wide pandemic that is leaving millions of victims dead.

We have stripped our great forests, poisoned our land, filled the skies with toxic gasses from industrial pollution, and shamelessly allowed factories to spew tons of carbon dioxide into our skies. So much CO2 has collected that people are choking from lung diseases and we have created a greenhouse effect that is now warming our planet. Some scientists warn that we may already have reached a point of runaway warming and that the heating cannot be reversed, even if we stopped burning fossil fuels everywhere, immediately, which we will not be able to do.

Now the heating earth is melting the great ice caps at the North and South Poles, which in turn is releasing high concentrations of Methane, a more toxic gas than CO2.

World leaders meeting in Warsaw to discuss proposed cuts in greenhouse gases released from coal burning factories were wrangling over who cuts what and how much to cut. The worry is that forcing such restrictions will destroy industry and subsequently wreck the wealth now enjoyed by the power figures that control the world. Their efforts appear to be a bit late and far too short to do any good now. The world these "leaders" want to continue controlling is rising up to bite them all in the ass.

What these idiots have forgotten, if they ever understood it at all, is that the Earth is a sentient being. And it appears that she has had enough of humanity. The great typhoon that leveled portions of the Philippine Islands, volcano eruptions, the massive earthquake that destroyed the plants at Fukushima, that bands of violent tornadoes and harsh winter storms that are now marching across the landscape of much of the world, may be only the beginning of the hardships looming for this world.

The Great Mother, who has nourished us for so many thousands of years, seems to have decided it is time to clean house. We may expect billions to perish in the years to come. It is a terrible scenario but one that we blindly brought upon ourselves.

Indeed, Dr. Silver may be quite right when he wrote that humans were sent to Earth as a form of imprisonment. We were sent to either learn to get along and love one another or suffer in the hell of our own making. It looks like that latter is now happening.

(c) 2021 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles.

The Latest Lies About Russia
By David Swanson

Things that we now know are not actually true:

Russia impacted the U.S. election results in 2016 or 2020.
Russia hacked into U.S. election machines.
The recent U.S. government report alleging election interference contained any evidence of anything.
The report so much as alleged Russian involvement in the Biden-Ukraine-corruption story.
Russia changed the GOP platform.
Russia worked with WikiLeaks.
Russia met with Michael Cohen in Prague.
17 U.S. agencies claimed Putin launched cyber-attacks in 2016.
Russia hacked Vermont's electricity.
The pee and prostitutes story.
Anyone has confirmed the allegation against Russia of placing bounties on heads in Afghanistan.
The people of Crimea voting to re-join Russia is the worst threat to peace on earth in recent decades, in contrast to U.S. led wars that have killed and displaced millions but not disturbed the stable peaceful world order.
Rejecting lies about Russia requires believing anything good about Russia or Donald Trump.
Threatening or attacking a nation improves its respect for human rights.
Risking nuclear war is justified by some greater good.
Things you can find in the U.S. media:
President Joe Biden written about as a victim or an observer of his calling Vladimir Putin a killer.
The falsehoods above are accepted truth and Russia is to blame for the U.S. mass shooter problem.
Biden calling Putin a killer was a good thing, but Putin wishing Biden good health was a threat made from occupied Crimea.
Noble democratic movements in Russia are represented and led by vicious xenophobe Aleksei Navalny (who in reality has little support in Russia but has posted a video in which he pretends to kill an immigrant).
NATO is good for you.
Wildly out of control military spending is needed to "deter Russia," which spends 8 percent what the United States does on militarism.
(c) 2021 David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

A daily dose of nature is perhaps one of the best remedies for these trying times.

Connecting To Nature Is Medicine For Us And Earth
By David Suzuki

The late urban visionary Jane Jacobs wrote, "Perhaps it will be the city that reawakens our understanding and appreciation of nature, in all its teeming, unpredictable complexity."

While the built form of towns and cities is often disconnected from natural systems, urban ecosystems have much to offer for the more than 80 per cent of people in Canada who live in them. Since the pandemic began, tens of millions of us have been spending more time exploring our yards, parks and neighbourhoods, underscoring the immense value of green spaces for health and well-being.

COVID-19 will long be remembered for upending lives worldwide, but one surprising legacy may be something more revelatory and, hopefully, lasting: a much-needed reconnection to nearby nature.

In the pandemic's early days, getting out of the house often meant wandering through quieted streets and parks, where wildlife began to emerge. Urban dwellers began to notice the sights and sounds of nature in their neighbourhoods - from a family of foxes under a Toronto boardwalk to the calls of birds of prey in cities like Vancouver.

As the pace of life slowed, many people began to notice the return of migrating birds and the emergence of quirky local insects, like mourning cloak butterflies waking from their winter slumber. These gold-tipped, orange and black early risers are often the first butterflies to appear in Canadian cities because they spend colder months tucked into crevices fully grown, waiting for warmer weather.

Spring inspired an unprecedented interest in tending to yards and balconies. Millions of people began plotting what plants they would grow in gardens and on patios and windowsills - many for the first time. It was clear we would be spending more time at home last summer, and the resulting surge in seed and plant sales was historic. The burgeoning interest included growing food - veggies and herbs, fruits and berries - and native plants to support local insects, like bees and butterflies.

The David Suzuki Foundation's Butterflyway Project ballooned, from nine cities with volunteer "Rangers" in 2019 to more than 100 communities in 2020. Despite the uncertain times, these keen volunteers doubled down on planting native wildflowers throughout their neighbourhoods. The project's aim is to inspire people to create pollinator-friendly habitat to support local insects - what renowned naturalist E.O. Wilson called "the little things that run the world" - at the heart of our food webs and urban ecologies.

Although urban conservation programs have long been viewed as mostly symbolic education exercises, researchers are finding that the value of creating habitat in our yards and communities can be immense. In January, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences highlighted that insects are facing "death by a thousand cuts" from pesticides, light pollution, habitat destruction, climate disruption and more.

A series of 12 studies pointed out that insects are essential to ecosystems and human survival and that "severe insect declines can potentially have global ecological and economic consequences." Insects pollinate plants, provide food for other life and help naturally recycle waste.

The scientists also stated that it "is vital that people learn how they can take action." One report offered eight simple things people can do, including converting lawns to habitat, growing native plants, reducing use of harmful chemicals, limiting exterior lighting, increasing awareness and appreciation of insects and advocating for action.

As author and plant ecologist Robin Wall Kimmerer says in her essential book Braiding Sweetgrass, "Restoring land without restoring relationship is an empty exercise. It is relationship that will endure and relationship that will sustain the restored land. Therefore, reconnecting people and the landscape is as essential as re-establishing proper hydrology or cleaning up contaminants. It is medicine for the earth."

Although we can't predict what "normal" will look like once we emerge from the pandemic, a daily dose of nature is perhaps one of the best remedies for these trying times. That's the pitch behind the BC Parks Foundation's new PaRx nature prescription program, which supports health-care professionals who want to improve their patients' health by offering nature prescriptions.

As the pandemic's first anniversary passes, let's get outside and connect with nature nearby. You could even connect with one of the over 1,000 newly recruited Butterflyway Rangers and help bring butterflies to your neighbourhood, one native wildflower at a time.

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

The 60 Minutes Piece On January 6 Was The Sound Of The Ante Being Upped
It was astonishing to hear a federal prosecutor speak so matter-of-factly about sedition.
By Charles P. Pierce

There are some things in our politics that make me more nervous than Louie Gohmert around a thesaurus. One is the nature of political prosecutions, and the other is prosecutors who ply the media with tales of dark doings and veiled cabals. That's because I remember the bad old days of COINTELPRO, and the various illegitimate prosecutions contained in the backlash against the civil rights movement, and because I know how federal prosecutors can bully and cajole people out of a proper legal defense. It's also because I grew up in a home where the Catholic conspiracy theories were alive and well. (I spent one rainy weekend when I was in high school reading John Stormer's None Dare Call It Treason at my father's recommendation. I came away from it with an unquenchable sweet-tooth for right-wing political paranoia.) So, when Michael Sherwin, until recently the supervisor of the Department of Justice's investigation into the events of January 6, popped up on 60 Minutes on Sunday night to talk about what his investigation has uncovered so far, I have to admit that certain bells went off in my head. This is part of what Sherwin said:

Correct. 400 defendants. And the bulk of those cases are federal criminal charges, and significant federal felony charges. Five, 10, 20-year penalties. Of those 400 cases, the majority of those, 80, 85%, maybe even 90, you have individuals, both inside and outside the Capitol, that breached the Capitol, trespassed. You also have individuals, roughly over 100, that we've charged with assaulting federal officers and local police officers. The 10% of the cases, I'll call the more complex conspiracy cases where we do have evidence, it's in the public record where individual militia groups from different facets: Oath Keepers, Three Percenters, Proud Boys, did have a plan. We don't know what the full plan is, to come to D.C., organize, and breach the Capitol in some manner.
That's flatly astonishing to me-not the sheer number defendants, which seems apropos based on what we saw on live TV and what we have seen in videos released in the extended aftermath, but rather hearing a federal prosecutor replying this matter-of-factly about the most profound offense in the political catalogue.
Scott Pelley: I'm not a lawyer, but the way I read the sedition statute, it says that, "Sedition occurs when anyone opposes by force the authority of the United States, or by force hinders or delays the execution of any law of the United States." Seems like a very low bar, and I wonder why you're not charging that now?

Michael Sherwin: Okay, so I don't think it's a low bar, Scott, but I will tell you this. I personally believe the evidence is trending towards that, and probably meets those elements.

Scott Pelley: Do you anticipate sedition charges against some of these suspects?

Michael Sherwin: I believe the facts do support those charges. And I think that, as we go forward, more facts will support that, Scott.

That sound you hear is the sound of the ante being upped. Sedition trials in this country have a history that is decidedly mixed, going back to the Sedition Act of 1798, one of the reasons why John Adams is one overrated president. (Matthew Lyon, a hapless congressman, was hauled into court for calling Adams "pompous," which was like calling Thomas Jefferson tall.) More recently, and certainly of more relevance to current events, the government brought sedition charges against 13 white supremacists in Fort Smith, Arkansas. An all-white jury acquitted them all. (One of the defendants, Richard Wayne Snell, was already in jail for murder. Snell was executed on the day that Timothy McVeigh blew up the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City. Snell spent the morning of his execution watching the news coverage from Oklahoma, and it later was reported that Snell himself had plotted to blow up that same building in 1983.) There are manifest differences between these two cases, the most obvious one being that the insurrectionists on January 6 committed their alleged crimes in Washington and not in Arkansas, and their actions actually were directed at obstructing the operation of the government. I would like the Fed to tread lightly here, but they also should move forward with a kind of unprecedented relentlessness.

(c) 2021 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.

The Quotable Quote-

"Once you take that right away from people who commit a crime and you say you can't vote because you committed the crime, then you are moving down a very slippery slope."
~~~ Bernie Sanders

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki at a press conference on September 22, 2020.

Israelis Cancel VIP Pass For Palestinian Foreign Minister For Consulting With Int'l Criminal Court
By Juan Cole

Naila Khalil reports at al-`Arabi al-Jadid (The New Arab) reports from Ramallah that Israel has withdraw the VIP Pass from Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki.

The government of Binyamin Netanyahu was apparently angered that al-Maliki and other Palestine officials conducted talks in the Hague this past Thursday with Fatou Bensouda of the International Criminal Court. The ICC has decided to look into war crimes committed in the Occupied Territories of Palestine, i.e. Gaza and the Palestinian West Bank, both by Palestinian and Israeli officials.

Ahmad al-Deek, the political counselor of the Palestinian foreign ministry, told al-`Arabi al-Jadid, "The minister Riyad al-Maliki was returning from a European trip today, during which he visited Greece and the Netherlands, and in the latter met the foreign minister, the public prosecutor, and a number of other members of the [International Criminal] Court, thereby completing the consultations that the state of Palestine is undertaking as a signatory member of the Rome Statute. While he was in the process of retuning, the Occupation authorities detained and delayed him."

He and his entourage entered the Palestinian West Bank from Jordan over the Allenby Bridge, having to go through an Israeli security check, which was when he was detained.

Al-Deek explained that the Israelis cancelled their usual coordination with minister al-Maliki regarding his entry into Palestine. They had notified Palestinian authorities just that morning that they were withdrawing his VIP pass, which ordinarily would have allowed him to be waved through at the border checkpoint. This came after al-Deek's consultations with the International Criminal Court.

Netanyahu's government has loudly objected to the ICC investigation of war crimes committed on Palestinian soil– understandably enough, since the bulk of them have been committed by Israeli authorities. The ICC is also investigating war crimes committed by Hamas in Gaza.

The Israelis also detained the Palestinian team that had accompanied al-Deek at the crossing and interrogated them. They included the deputy foreign minister for multilateral relations and the head of the UN and human rights divisions. They were questioned for an hour before being released even though they formally have the status of ambassadors. They questions centered on the International Criminal Court.

Al-Deek branded this treatment of Palestinian officials as an act of enmity against the state of Palestine. He said that they had anticipated this threat and that European government officials had also warned them that they thought Israel would try to pull something like this.

The Palestine Authority is formally apprising the Dutch government of these actions by Israel, inasmuch as it is the seat of the International Criminal Court, in hopes that it will take action against Israel.

He said that the Palestinians were undeterred in their determination to complete their consultations with the ICC.

I would add that the treatment Israel afforded these Palestinian officials is a further violation of the Oslo accords.

Moreover, it is worth pointing out that one reason Israeli officials give for not vaccinating the 5 million Palestinians under their military control is that the Oslo accords gave the responsibility for health matters to the Palestine Authority. But that authority was never allowed by Israel actually to take over governing most of Occupied Palestine, and even in its own little sphere it is under the thumb of the Israeli military. If the Palestinians can't so much as return home from abroad without being detained and interrogated by Israeli border guards, they aren't actually in charge of anything. Including vaccinations.

In fact, the Geneva Convention of 1949 gives Israel the responsibility for the people it militarily occupies, including the responsibility for their health and well-being. Only a few thousand of the 5 million occupied Palestinians have been offered a vaccination.

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

Jeff Bezos, chairman and founder of and owner of the Washington Post, addresses the Economic Club
of New York, at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel, October 27, 2016 in New York City.

Why Is Amazon Abusing Its Workers? Because It Can
The power shift can be reversed-but only with stronger labor laws, tougher trade deals, and a renewed commitment to antitrust.
By Robert Reich

The most dramatic change in American capitalism over the last half century has been the emergence of corporate behemoths like Amazon and the simultaneous shrinkage of organized labor. The resulting imbalance has spawned near-record inequalities of income and wealth, corruption of democracy by big money, and the abandonment of the working class.

All this is coming to a head in several ways.

Next week, Amazon faces a union vote at its warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama. If successful, it would be Amazon's first U.S.-based union in its nearly 27-year history.

Conditions in Amazon's warehouses would please Kim Jong un-strict production quotas, 10-hour workdays with only two half-hour breaks, unsafe procedures, arbitrary firings, "and they track our every move," Jennifer Bates, a warehouse worker at Bessemer, told the Senate Budget Committee last week.

To thwart the union drive, Amazon has required Bessemer workers to attend anti-union meetings, warned workers they'd have to pay union dues (wrong-Alabama is a so-called "right-to-work" state that bars mandatory dues), and intimidated and harassed organizers.

Why is Amazon abusing its workers?

The company isn't exactly hard-up. It's the most profitable firm in America. Its executive chairman and largest shareholder, Jeff Bezos, is the richest man in the world, holding more wealth than the bottom 39 percent of Americans put together.

Amazon is abusing workers because it can.

Fifty years ago, General Motors was the largest employer in America. The typical GM worker earned $35 an hour in today's dollars and had a major say over working conditions. Today's largest employers are Amazon and Walmart, each paying around $15 an hour and treating their workers like cattle.

The typical GM worker wasn't "worth" more than twice today's Amazon or Walmart worker and didn't have more valuable insights about how work should be organized. The difference is GM workers a half-century ago had a strong union behind them, summoning the collective bargaining power of over a third of the entire American workforce.

By contrast, today's Amazon and Walmart workers are on their own. And because only 6.4 percent of America's private-sector workers are now unionized, there's little collective pressure on Amazon or Walmart to treat their workers any better.

Fifty years ago, "big labor" had enough political clout to ensure labor laws were enforced and that the government pushed giant firms like GM to sustain the middle class.

Today, organized labor's political clout is miniscule by comparison. The biggest political players are giant corporations like Amazon. And what have they done with their muscle? Encouraged state "right-to-work" laws, diluted federal labor protections, and kept the National Labor Relations Board understaffed and overburdened.

They've also impelled government to lower their taxes (Amazon paid zero federal taxes in 2018); extorted states to provide them tax breaks as condition for locating facilities there (Amazon is a champion at this game); bullied cities where they're headquartered (Amazon forced Seattle to back down on a plan to tax big corporations like itself to pay for homeless shelters); and wangled trade treaties allowing them to outsource so many jobs that blue-collar workers in America have little choice but to take low-paying, high-stress warehouse and delivery gigs.

Oh, and they've neutered antitrust laws, which in earlier era would have had companies like Amazon in their crosshairs.

This decades-long power shift-the emergence of corporate leviathans and the demise of labor unions-has resulted in a massive upward redistribution of income and wealth. The richest 0.1 of Americans now has almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent put together.

Corporate profits account for a growing share of the total economy and wages a declining share, with multi-billionaire executives and investors like Bezos taking home the lion's share.

The power shift can be reversed-but only with stronger labor laws, tougher trade deals, and a renewed commitment to antitrust.

The Biden administration and congressional Democrats appear willing. The House has just passed the toughest labor law reforms in over a generation. Biden's new trade representative, Katherine Tai, promises that trade deals will protect the interests of American workers rather than exporters. And Biden is putting trustbusters in critical positions at the Federal Trade Commission and in the White House.

I'd like to think America is at a tipping point similar to where it was some hundred twenty years ago when the ravages and excesses of the Gilded Age precipitated what became known as the Progressive Era. Then, reformers reversed the course of American capitalism for the next 70 years, making it work for the many rather than the few.

Today's progressive activists-in Washington, at Amazon's Bessemer warehouse, and elsewhere around the nation-may be on the verge of doing the same.

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

Activists took part in the rally in response to the Atlanta, Georgia spa shootings that left eight people dead, including six
Asian women, and the rising number of attacks against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020.

The Evil Within Us: Evangelicals And Mass Murder In Atlanta
Millions of largely white Americans, hermetically sealed within the ideology of the Christian Right, yearn to destroy the 'Satanic' forces they blame for the debacle of their lives. And one such evangelical just killed eight people in Atlanta.
by Chris Hedges

Robert Aaron Long, 21, charged with murdering eight victims, six of whom were Asian women, at three Atlanta-area massage parlors, told police that he carried out the killings to eliminate the temptations that fed his sexual addiction. His church, Crabapple First Baptist Church, in Milton, Georgia, which opposes sex outside of marriage, issued a statement condemning the shootings as "unacceptable and contrary to the gospel."

The church, however, also immediately took down its web site and removed videos, including one that was captured by The Washington Post before it was deleted where the church's pastor, the Rev. Jerry Dockery, told the congregation that Christ's second coming was imminent. And when Christ returned, Dockery said, he would wage a ruthless and violent war on nonbelievers and infidels, those controlled by Satan.

"There is one word devoted to their demise," the pastor said. "Swept away! Banished! Judged. They have no power before God. Satan himself is bound and released and then bound again and banished. That great dragon deceiver-just that quickly-God throws him into an eternal torment. And then we read where everyone-everyone that rejects Christ-will join Satan, the Beast and the false prophet in hell."

I heard a lot of these types of sermons by fundamentalist preachers during the two years I crisscrossed the country for my book American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. I attended Bible studies, prayer groups, conventions, tapings of Christian television shows, rallies held by Patriot Pastors, talks by leaders such as James Dobson, D. James Kennedy and Tony Perkins and creationist seminars. I visited the 50,000-square-foot Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, took an Evangelism Explosion course, joined congregations at numerous megachurches for Sunday worship and participated in right-to-life retreats. I spent hundreds of hours interviewing scores of believers.

The simplistic message was always the same. The world was divided into us and them, the blessed and the damned, agents of God and agents of Satan, good and evil. Millions of largely white Americans, hermetically sealed within the ideology of the Christian Right, yearn to destroy the Satanic forces they blame for the debacle of their lives, the broken homes, domestic and sexual abuse, struggling single parent households, lack of opportunities, crippling debt, poverty, evictions, bankruptcies, loss of sustainable incomes and the decay of their communities. Satanic forces, they believe, control the financial systems, the media, public education and the three branches of government. They believed this long before Donald Trump, who astutely tapped into this deep malaise and magic thinking, mounted his 2016 campaign for president.

The killings in Atlanta were not an anomaly by a deranged gunman. The hatred for people of other ethnicities and faiths, the hatred for women of color, who are condemned by the Christian right as temptresses in league with Satan, was fertilized in the rampant misogyny, hypermasculinity and racism that lie at the center of the belief system of the Christian right, as well define the core beliefs of American imperialism. The white race, especially in the United States, is celebrated as God's chosen agent. Imperialism and war are divine instruments for purging the world of infidels and barbarians, evil itself. Capitalism, because God blessed the righteous with wealth and power and condemned the immoral to poverty and suffering, is shorn of its inherent cruelty and exploitation. The iconography and symbols of American nationalism are intertwined with the iconography and symbols of the Christian faith. In short, the worst aspects of American society are sacralized by this heretical form of Christianity.

Believers are told that Satanic forces, promoting a liberal creed of "secular humanism," lure people to self-destruction through drugs, alcohol, gambling, pornography and massage brothels. Long, who had frequented two of the massage parlors he attacked, was arrested on his way to Florida to attack a business connected with the pornography industry. He had attempted to block porn sites on his computer and sought help for his fascination with porn from Christian counselors.

The secular humanists, along with creating a society designed to tempt people into sin, are blamed for immigration programs that fuel demographic shifts to turn whites into a minority. The secular humanists are charged with elevating those of other races and beliefs-including Muslims whose religion is branded as Satanic-along with those whose gender identities challenge the sanctity of marriage as between a man and a woman and patriarchy. The secular humanists are believed to be behind an array of institutions including the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the National Organization for Women, Planned Parenthood, the Trilateral Commission, the United Nations, the State Department, major foundations (Rockefeller, Carnegie, Ford), elite universities and media platforms such as CNN and The New York Times.

In D. James Kennedy's book "The Gates of Hell Shall Not Prevail: The Attack on Christianity and What You Need to Know to Combat It," he writes that although the United States was once a "Christian nation," that is no longer the case because today "the hostile barrage from atheists, agnostics and other secular humanists has begun to take a serious toll on that heritage. In recent years, they have built up their forces and even increased their assault upon all our Christian institutions, and they have been enormously successful in taking over the 'public square.' Public education, the media, the government, the courts, and even the church in many places, now belong to them."

The incendiary rhetoric creates an atmosphere of being under siege. It imparts a sense of comradeship, the feeling that although the world outside the walls of the church or the home is dangerous and hostile, there is a select community of brothers and sisters. Believers only owe a moral obligation to other Christians. The world is divided between comrades and enemies, neighbors and strangers. The commandment "Love your neighbor as yourself" is perverted to "Love your fellow Christians as yourself." Nonbelievers have no place on the moral map.

When Christ returns, believers are told, He will lead the elect in one final apocalyptic battle against the people and groups blamed for their dislocation and despair. The secular world, the one that almost destroyed them and their families, will be eradicated. The flaws in human society and in human beings will be erased. They will have what most never had: a stable home and family, a loving community, fixed moral standards, financial and personal security and success and an abolition of uncertainty, disorder and doubt. Their fragmented, troubled lives will become whole. Evil will be physically vanquished. There will be no more impurity because the impure will no longer exist.

This externalization of evil, however, is not limited to the Christian Right. It lies at the core of American imperialism, American exceptionalism and American racism. White supremacy, which dehumanizes the other at home and abroad, is also fueled by the fantasy that there are superior human beings who are white and lesser human beings who are not. Long did not need the Christian fascism of his church to justify to himself the killings; the racial hierarchies within American society had already dehumanized his victims. His church simply cloaked it in religious language. The jargon varies. The dark sentiments are the same.

The ideology of the Christian right, like all totalitarian creeds, is, at its core, an ideology of hatred. It rejects what Augustine calls the grace of love, or volo ut sis (I want you to be). It replaces it with an ideology that condemns all those outside the magic circle. There is, in relationships based on love, an affirmation of the mystery of the other, an affirmation of unexplained and unfathomable differences. These relationships not only recognize that others have a right to be, as Augustine wrote, but the sacredness of difference. This sacredness of difference is an anathema to Christian fundamentalists, as it is to imperialists, to all racists. It is dangerous to the hegemony of the triumphalist ideology. It calls into question the infallibility of the doctrine, the essential appeal of all ideologies. It suggests that there are alternative ways to live and believe. The moment there is a hint of uncertainty the ideological edifice crumbles. The truth is irrelevant as long as the ideology is consistent, doubt is heretical and the vision of the world, however absurd, absolute and unassailable. These ideologies are not meant to be rational. They are meant to fill emotional voids.

Evil for the Christian fundamentalists is not something within them. It is an external force to be destroyed. It may require indiscriminate acts of violence, but if it leads to a better world this violence is morally justified. Those who advance the holy crusade alone know the truth. They alone have been anointed by God or, in the language of American imperialism, western civilization, to do battle with evil. They alone have the right to impose their "values" on others by force. Once evil is external, once the human race is divided into the righteous and the damned, repression and even murder become a sacred duty.

Immanuel Kant defined "radical evil" as the drive, often carried out under a righteous facade, to surrender to absolute self-love. Those gripped by radical evil always externalize evil. They lose touch with their own humanity. They are blind to their own innate depravity. In the name of western civilization and high ideals, in the name of reason and science, in the name of America, in the name of the free market, in the name of Jesus, they seek the subjugation and annihilation of others. Radical evil, Hannah Arendt wrote, makes whole groups of human beings superfluous. They become, rhetorically, living corpses before often becoming actual corpses.

This binary world view is anti-thought. That is part of its attraction. It gives to those who are alienated and lost emotional certitude. It is buttressed by hollow cliches, patriotic slogans and Bible passages, what psychologists call symbol agnostics. True believers are capable only of imitation. They shut down, by choice, critical reflection and genuine understanding. They surrender all moral autonomy. The impoverished language is regurgitated not because it makes sense, but because it justifies the messianic and intoxicating right to lead humankind to paradise. These pseudo-heroes, however, know only one form of sacrifice, the sacrifice of others.

Human evil is not a problem to be solved. It is a mystery. It is a bitter, constant paradox. We carry the capacity for evil within us. I learned this unsettling truth as a war correspondent. The line between the victim and the victimizer is razor thin. Evil is also seductive. It offers us unlimited often lethal power to turn those around us into objects to destroy or debase to gratify our most perverted desires or both. This evil waits to consume us. All it requires to flourish is for us to turn away, to pretend it is not there, to do nothing. Those who blind themselves to their capacity for evil commit evil not for evil's sake, but to make a better world. This collective self-delusion is the story of America, from its foundation on the twin evils of slavery and genocide to its inherent racism, predatory capitalism and savage wars of conquest. The more we ignore this evil, the worse it gets.

The awareness of human corruptibility and human limitations, as understood by Augustine, Kant, Sigmund Freud and Primo Levi, has been humankind's most potent check on evil. Levi wrote that "compassion and brutality can coexist in the same individual and in the same moment, despite all logic." This self-knowledge forces us to accept that no act, even one defined as moral or virtuous, is ever free from the taint of self-interest. It reminds us that we are condemned to always battle our baser instincts. It recognizes that compassion, as Rousseau wrote, is alone the quality from which "all the social virtues flow."

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said that "some are guilty, but all are responsible." We may not be guilty of the murders in Atlanta, but we are responsible. We must answer for them. We must accept the truth about ourselves, however unpleasant. We must unmask the lie of our pretended innocence. Long's murderous spree was quintessentially American. That is what makes it, along with all other hate crimes, along with our endless imperial wars, police terror, callous abandonment of the poor and the vulnerable, so frightening. This evil will not be tamed until it is named and confronted.

(c) 2021 Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He is the host of the Emmy Award-nominated RT America show On Contact.

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To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

Anthony Fauci and Rand Paul speak in a splitscreen.

Fauci Nostalgic For Days When He Testified Via Zoom And Could Mute Rand Paul

By Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)-Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Friday that he misses the days when he testified before Congress via Zoom and could mute Senator Rand Paul.

The esteemed virologist said that Thursday's interaction with Paul "made we wish I was just on Zoom again so I could turn that nonsense off."

"Back in the days when I was on Zoom and he would go off on some tangent that was the exact opposite of scientific fact, I would just mute him and nod my head like I was listening," Fauci said. "I'd use that time to think about what I would have for dinner that night, or maybe what to watch on Netflix."

After Paul claimed on Thursday that the idea of vaccinated people wearing masks was just "theatre," Fauci said, "I instinctively reached for the mute button and then I realized I wasn't on Zoom. That was a disappointing moment for me, I can tell you." Reflecting on his Senate testimony, Fauci said,

"I know that everybody in the country is impatient for things to get back to normal, and I get that, but let's be honest: being on Zoom has a lot going for it. Even when the pandemic is over, I think I'm going to use it if I have to talk to Rand Paul."

(c) 2021 Andy Borowitz

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Issues & Alibis Vol 21 # 13 (c) 03/26/2021

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