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In This Edition

Phil Rockstroh returns with, "Fortune's Fools."

Uri Avnery gives, "The Speech That Was Not Delivered."

Glen Ford is, "Throwing BRICS At The U.S. Empire."

Glenn Greenwald reveals, "The Racism That Fuels The 'War On Terror'."

Jim Hightower says, "GOP Leaders Try Putting Earrings On Their Hog."

Randall Amster demands, "War No More."

James Donahue explores, "The Annual Rite Of The Eostre Holiday."

John Nichols suggests, "Austerity's Cruelest Cut."

Dean Baker points out a funny thing, "Senate Unanimously Votes Against Cuts To Social Security - Media Don't Notice."

Robert Reich sees the charge of, "The Morality Brigade."

Paul Krugman sings those, "Hot Money Blues."

David Sirota has an, "Idea For Supreme Court, Focus On Law, Not Politics."

David Swanson examines the possibilities of, "Bradley Manning's Nobel Peace Prize."

Con-gressman Charles B. Rangel D-NY wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Chris Hedges recalls, "The Day That TV News Died."

Adam Keller exclaims, "Let My People Go!"

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports, "Palestinians, Israelis Come Together To Mock Obama's Hopelessly Naive Speech" but first Uncle Ernie warns us, "They Keep The Law, Legal."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Mike Keefe, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Ruben Bolling, New Clear Vision.Com, Helena Nelson-Reed, Joel Pett, Bill Day, Larry Downing, Militec-1.Com, MSNBC, Natural News.Com, The Onion, Facebook, Reuters, Public Citizen, Black Agenda Report, You Tube.Com and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

The Quotable Quote...
The Dead Letter Office...
The Cartoon Corner...
To End On A Happy Note...
Have You Seen This...
Parting Shots...

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

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They Keep The Law, Legal
By Ernest Stewart

"Canidius, tell Anthony not to disband his legions when he gets back to Rome. They keep the law, legal." ~~~ Julius Caesar

"I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy. And I think that is a function of the fact that some of these institutions have become too large." ~~~ Eric Holder before Congress

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." ~~~ Albert Einstein

"Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got til it's gone?"
Big Yellow Taxi ~~~ Joni Mitchell

Some say that Barry's trip to Israel was about telling Bebe to get his act together and get prepared for the aftermath of what's to come this fall. We're ready; England's ready; and I'm pretty sure Israel's ready, too. All three's economies are crumbling; so the only way out is to spend more and more on another war; if I recall, Iran is on deck; and when the furnace like heat of the coming summer passes, look out. All three countries are currently stealing everything they can from the poor, sick, and elderly to invest in this new war. Which truly might end up being the war to end all wars. Or at least the war after it will be fought with sticks and stones!

We're certainly ready here at home. The Happy Camps are standing by. An ever-growing fleet of drones are taking up positions from coast to coast; and the fiscal tsunami that's rising up in front of us is about to unleash havoc -- a havoc not seen around here since the Great Depression. But Barry's not worried; Barry has the army at his beck and call to remove any trouble makers, any unbelievers, any protesters! I'm reminded of what another great fascist said.

You may recall that after the Battle of Pharsalus, while Julius Caesar stood surveying the decimation of Pompey's army and recalling the love his daughter had for Pompey, one of his Lieutenants, Publius Canidius Crassus, brought news that Pompey had escaped to Egypt. Caesar, who at the time was in command of 5 legions (some 25,000 soldiers), ordered 4 of legions back to Rome under the command of Mark Anthony and took the other legion with him to Egypt in pursuit of Pompey. As he finished issuing a stream of orders to his Captains, Caesar turned to Canidius and said, "When you are back in Rome, there is to be no doubt about Anthony's right to act in my name." Canidius responded, "Yes, Sir, and as always, Caesar's word will be law." Hearing that, Caesar smiled and said with a grin, "Canidius, tell Anthony not to disband his legions when he gets back to Rome. They keep the law, legal."

Northcom is standing by, ready to make Caesar's law legal -- regardless of what that "God Damn piece of paper" says! It can't happen here? Sorry, been there and done that! You remember President Hoover's attack of the men, women and children in Hooverville? Ike got his first combat experience leading the calvary charge through the camp, followed quickly by old Doug-out Doug with America's first use of tanks against just plain folks -- in fact, fellow veterans of WWI and their families; I bet that ruined recruitment for a while! I remember the M-60 tanks rumbling through Detroit during the '67 riots. They didn't fire their cannons; but they had no problems shooting would-be ghetto heros into plant food by Ma Duce, aka M2 50 caliber machine guns. That's a tip you would-be Rambo survivalists should consider -- your AR15 and AK 47's will bounce harmlessly off their armor; but their return fire won't have that same harmless effect on you! Don't take my word for it -- see for yourself!

In Other News

I think Eric Holder said all that needs to be said upon the subject. He made himself perfectly clear the other day -- just as some corporations are too big to fail, their leaders are too big to jail! That should clear up any confusion about there being two sets of law -- one for them and one for us. That was no "crazed sterno bum," but the nations top law enforcement official!

Sure, I hear you cry, "that's the way it's been all along!" And I would have to agree; but the difference is that before, it was always done behind closed doors, not out in the open, calling attention to themselves while they do it! I'm just surprised that Eric didn't stick his thumbs in his ears, stick out his tongue and go, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, while spitting out raspberries! So, that's it -- millions of Americans who lost everything to these financial wizards; sorry there is no recourse, no jail time, no break ups, no recompense. Like my old T-shirt used to say. "I don't need any sex! I get fucked by my government every day!"

Of course, this is nothing new; it's happening all over the world. Cyprus being the latest to come under the thumb of the new world order banksters. Cyprus should have done what Iceland did and jailed the bastards and striped them of everything -- instead of going after the people who had nothing to do with yet-another banksters' disaster. Ditto in Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Ireland. They steal trillions; we pick up their tabs; we steal a loaf of bread to feed our starving children, and they make your life a living hell; nobody likes an uppity slave, do they?

I would've given the Vidkun Quisling Award to Eric; but he's won so many other ones; but this act was certainly an act of treason. Oh, and did I mention the capper to this all? Eric came to that conclusion, "if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy." I'm going to repeat that again for those of you on drugs!

It's open season to screw the little guy!

Screwed we are, boys and girls, since you won't stand up and demand justice. This is just the beginning -- the tip of the iceberg; imagine what they'll get away with next! And after that. And after that! This is a blatant license to steal! Nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah NYAH, America!

And Finally

Like Michele Bachmann who tried unsuccessfully 33 times last year to pass a law that nobody wanted to back and then introduced it again first thing this year, too; Harlem's Con-gressman Charles B. Rangel is at it again. The censured Con-gressman, known for not even having the ethics of the US House, which, as you know, are very twisted to begin with; so, if Charlie don't rise to the level of a Paul Ryan, all you can say is WOW! When the Con-gressman isn't busy stealing campaign contributions and placing them in offshore bank accounts, he is trying to draft whitey into the service. The Con-gressman wants to bring back slavery and force a draft for Obamahood's next war in Iran.

Charles wants to be on the controlling end of the whips and branding irons this time around, and demands all Americans from 18 to 25 spend two years as slaves to the state -- which is supposed to make us all love one another and do whatever we're assigned by our copo-rat masters with glee. This year, Charles submitted to the 113th Con-gress House bill, H.R.748 - Universal National Service Act. You can read the whole bill here and decide for yourself if it's a good thing if little Mary is forced to join the Marine corp and against her will and murder children in some far-off land, or perhaps right here in these United Snakes, if some short, fat man, wearing a girl scout beanie tells her to.

And as I said above, normally, this Vidkun Quisling Award would have gone to Eric Holder; but since he's already won three for other acts of treason, one of which is the highest award (The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds), this week it's Charlie's turn to win the big one which Charlie qualifies for -- having already won the Iron Cross 1st class! As with Michelle, Charlie's bill is going nowhere, thank almighty Zeus; but that doesn't stop Charlie from trying again and again and again! Charlie, do you recall what Einstein said about insanity? Well, do you, punk?

Keepin' On

I guess if Issues & Alibis is to succeed for another year, I'm going to have to take Captain Renault's (Claude Rains) advice from "Casablanca" and "Round Up The Usual Suspects!" Thank mighty Zeus for those "usual suspects," too; they've been keeping us afloat for the last five years; without them, we'd be just like the wind -- "GONE!"

This week, we got a nice donation from Carl in California, just like he did last year at this time; and with his third donation passes that magic threshold and becomes a member of "The Usual Suspects." Your magic decoder ring is in the mail along with the location of the key to the honor bar! Thanks, Carl!

Thanks, ladies and gentlemen; don't know what we'd do without you and the rest of our little band of "Merry Pranksters!" Trouble is, they're the only ones that we've heard from since the beginning of the year, those usual suspects!

We need to hear from the rest of the usual suspects; and we need to hear from a whole new group of newbies, too, if we're going to continue bringing you the truth -- week after week, month after month, year after year, and decade after decade; we need your help; and we need it now. If you're a long time member of our readership, and still gainfully employed, shouldn't you be paying your fair share and perhaps the share of another reader who is out of work, out of their house, out of luck, and out of time, too? You know you should -- time is running out for all of us -- don't be a day late and a dollar shy! As old Ben Jammin' Franklin said, "We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately." You might want to give that some serious thought, America! To help us hang together, just go "here" and follow the instructions, and thanks!


03-27-1927 ~ 03-25-2013
Thanks for the thoughts!


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


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

Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2013 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 12 years managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. Visit the Magazine's page on Facebook and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.

Fortune's Fools
Individual Calling At The Cusp Of Ecological Catastrophe
By Phil Rockstroh

"Sometimes you have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself." ~~~ Miles Davis

As a general rule, musicians, artists, and writers, as well as those possessed of an ardor for self-awareness and a commitment to political activism have been advised to avoid a habitual retreat to comfort take note of the criteria that causes one's pulse to quicken, brings flop sweat to the brow, causes sphincters to seize up, and delivers mortification to the mind. In order to quicken imagination and avoid banality, it is imperative to explore the fears that cause one to awaken in the darkest of night to stare bug-eyed at the ceiling until dawn; to embrace discomfort; to shun crackpot complacency; to wander through the teeming polis of the psyche, and, in so doing, to not only stray and mingle among the outcasts, demimonde and mad, but proceed to the locked-down wards of the region's lunatic asylum, and make an exhausting inquest into the nature of the hopeless cases that have been hidden from public view.

As of late, my darkest thoughts and angst-engendered imaginings have involved the following: The ecological debasement of the earth, the ongoing degradation of daily life within U.S. society, and the attenuated destiny of the individual under the yoke of late stage, global capitalism. My ruminations have been, in large measure, engendered and inflamed by the following: On Tuesday, Feb. 26, of this year, a son was born to my wife, Angela and myself.

August Franklin Rockstroh came into this world at a time when the planet he will inhabit is warmer than it has been in 11,000 years, a condition caused by the industrial production of man-made greenhouse gasses.

He arrives into an age wherein it is imperative that we as a species re-imagine nearly all we know. Thus far, from the halls of power to the floors of minimarts, our avidity for avoidance of the realities at hand does not augur well for humankind's chances.

Two weeks before the Deepwater Horizon, Macondo Well "spill" (what a dishonest word for that noxious, bleeding gash) into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, I dreamed of a badly injured fish who had had half his face torn off by some brutal method employed by the practitioners of industrial scale fishing operations to exploit the world's oceans ... The fish had worked himself upon a rock on a craggy shoreline. Holding an eternity of suffering in his remaining eye, the fish turned to face me ... Ever since, this dream image has lived within me. I carry the fish's suffering and I bear his dark rage regarding what our species has done to his/our home -- this complex, mysterious, beguiling, dangerous, sublime, monstrous, and magnificent world we were cast into ... My sense of sorrow, at times, seems unbearable; my rage ... bottomless ... Who will speak for the voiceless -- who will make amends for their suffering?

This much is clear: The means that sustain the present economic order not only defies moral justification (i.e., a culture dependent on the enforced misery of the multitudes and the wanton exploitation of nature) but the order has proven anathema to the balance of the earth's life-enabling forces -- a balance of forces mandatory to the continuance of the human species on the planet. The fate of the earth is inexorably linked to our personal destiny.

Deep down we know this to be true, but the atomizing nature of late capitalism inflicts learned helplessness. Social and political change seems impossible. Personal transformation is relegated to the realm of New Age snake oil. Human longing is deracinated. The Tree of Knowledge rendered a Chia Pet. The unruly call of destiny is bowdlerized into sterile careerism.

Yet, my newly arrived son, as we all do, will long to embrace his own authentic destiny.

The alienation at the mechanized heart of the corporate/consumer state's structure will present a daunting challenge to him, for it is difficult to live a life imbued with depth and resonance without meaningful human engagement. Abiding bonds that bring the depth of oneself deep into life must be formed. A social milieu must be in place that allows for love and friendship, for coming upon mentors, for grappling with antagonists, whereby one is destroyed by catastrophic victories and enlarged by propitious failures.

Although every individual arrives at a fate uniquely his/her own, soul-making is a collaborative effort. Destiny only appears to be a solo act.

My character, like yours, is a composite of all the events, happenstance, and circumstances that transpired before, and after, I arrived in this world. It is resultant from the accumulation of my choices -- and the choices of those in positions of power and authority, over which, I am, all too often, powerless.

But if you discern what I yearn for, you will know who I am.

One's destiny awaits just over the crest of the horizon. It is glimpsed in sublime snatches like a beautiful stranger who catches your gaze from a passing train. Yes, it sleeps within, but must be roused into being by interaction with the outer world. It awaits you in the vastness of life. The truth of your being is honeycombed into life's intricacies. As a general rule (Emily Dickinson accepted) one's destiny does not make house calls.

If character is destiny, the soul of the world is the catalyzing agent that conjures manifestation. While, to some degree, all who live are imprisoned by the past, it is best to be aware of what criteria brought about your incarceration to habit and circumstance.

It is essential to become aware of the contours of your be in possession of a blue print of the prison. In this way, your odds of escape are greatly enhanced.

Are you weighted down by feelings of powerlessness...nettled by feelings of helpless rage? Good. Your feelings are appropriate to the tone and tenor of the times.

Use the feeling of being weighted down to your advantage: Descend deep into the deepest recesses of your being and listen to the garrulous silence therein.

Appropriate your blessed rage as well: What admonitions cry out from the heart of light ensconced within your darker places.

What is it that is essential about your deepest nature that needs to find its way into Animus Mundi -- the soul of the world...must seek out collaboration with even the most mundane moments of the breath of day.

This is how the creative spirit flourishes, how every moment is made holy.

And remember: Your life is a question that you live your way into. Any attempt to coerce an answer amounts to vivisection, not art.

Conversely, and anathema to the process, the guiding principle of the neoliberal economic order reduces the things of the world to mere economic entities. At this point, this much is, or, at least, should be grimly obvious: Existence within a system that defines all things by their ability to enrich the fortunes of a predatory class of elites starves the soul and blights the landscape; it has come to a thief, defiler, and squanderer. Exploited and demeaned, the populace grows callow and empty. Desperate to sate the hollowing emptiness within, the citizens of the corporate/consumer state have internalized the noxious mythos of endless growth, peddled by their exploiters, and have been driven to devour their seed crop.

In doing so, all concerned will condemn their society to the landfill of history. Yet, even in this age of corporate despotism, political duopoly, communal atomization, ecocide and the attendant alienation and ennui, life can be lived with passion and grace, and, as individuals, we can take measures to promote a transformation of the prevailing order.

There are simply too many hidden variables involved to predict and control the future. Consequently, this is what we can do: resist the present, corrupt order; organize to bring it down; and strive to create more viable alternatives.

All of which exist within the spectrum of the doable.

At the end of the day, it is a far better choice to err on the side of your inner calling, than to languish as a simulacrum of yourself...evincing a counterfeit consciousness that demands you spend your days compliant to the demeaning dictates of a ruthless few. As a general rule, one stands powerless before the sweep of history and the caprice of the ruling elite. Regardless, you must choose to slouch in the direction of your destiny, or else your life will consist of a litany of thwarted longings -- an agonizing death within life that is absent death's release and resists the warmth and proffered consolation borne of the living.

All the world may be a stage, but don't allow yourself to be miscast as an expendable, one dimensional character, conceived by miserable hacks.

Deep down, your life's calling is encoded within you. Throughout your lifetime, it will arise as inchoate yearnings, reveal itself as implausible daydreams, or as dream-borne symbols that seem, in regard to your daytime exigencies, abstruse or useless. You may know it as a hollow ache in your chest. Or a nettling voice, in the recesses of your awareness, that asks, "how did it come to this?"

Ignore destiny's entreaties at your own risk. Although, your soul will stay at you; it will implore you to pay attention...even if it must pummel you with nightmares or conjure a state of depression that brings on a darkness at noon.

"We are all subject to the fates. But we must act as if we are not, or die of despair." ~~~ Philip Pullman

To paraphrase Rilke, if you ignore the beckoning call of your own uniqueness, your soul will serenely distain to annihilate the false notions that propel you through the harried hours of meaning-denuded day. When shunted aside or blocked by barriers of calcified habit, the soul's inexorable agency will be experienced as a kindly cataclysm. At times, becoming ensnared in the dark night of the soul will allow a lodestar to reveal itself.

Withal, on a cultural basis, the nature-decimating, soul-shredding agendas of the neoliberal enterprise are propelling us collectively towards economic and ecological cataclysm.

When questioned by the youth of future generations, those born into the world created by our myopic choices, about how you responded when the earth was burning, will you reply that you went to the mall, sat in public places staring at a glowing electronic box, engaged in cretinous palaver about the private lives of sub-cretinous celebrities and the dim machinations of reality show jerk-rockets?

At this critical juncture, one's individual calling will be interwoven with the fate of the earth and the collective destiny of all of humankind. The age of elitist narcissists is drawing to a close. The time for dreamers, visionaries and activist has arrived, and their time of arrival is long past due.

"The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper." ~~~ W.B. Yeats
(c) 2013 Phil Rockstroh, is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. Visit Phil's website, and at FaceBook.

The Speech That Was Not Delivered
By Uri Avnery


I feel the need to speak to you directly, and especially to the young Jewish people amongst you, in order to reach out to your minds and to touch your hearts.

To do so, I gave up the great honor of speaking in your Knesset, as my predecessors have spoken before me. The Knesset, like all parliaments, is composed of politicians, but this time I want to speak directly to you.

I COME as a true friend. A true friend is bound to tell you the truth as he sees it. A true friend does not flatter you. He does not twist the truth to make you feel good.

I know, foreign statesmen and women come to visit your country and feel obliged to tell you how wonderful you are, how brilliant your leaders, how great your achievements. I don't think that a true friend needs to do this.

When you are drunk, a true friend does not encourage you to take the wheel. A true friend asks you for the keys of the car.

If you are drunk with power and success, a true friend does not egg you on to behave irresponsibly. A true friend asks you to calm down, to reflect, to weigh your next steps carefully.

That is my aim today.

I CAN honestly tell you that I have always admired the State of Israel, which was born just 13 years before I was.

You have created a vibrant state out of nothing. Just a few years after the terrible Holocaust, one of the greatest crimes in the annals of mankind, this ancient people has arisen from the ashes and established itself as a powerful presence among the nations. You have established a flourishing democracy. Your science, agriculture, high-tech industry and all the other accomplishments in many fields have aroused the envy of many. Your military prowess is acknowledged by all.

No one with eyes to see can deny the profound similarities between the history of our two nations. From a small group of pioneers, driven by religious persecution, we have developed into mighty nations. Against huge odds, we have built new civilizations. Each of us has built a shining city on the hill. Both of us have achieved liberty and independence in the middle of a terrible war, which threatened our very existence. Both of us had to fight many more wars, earlier and more recent. Both of us can look back on our past with pride and satisfaction.

But both of us know that this history also harbors dark shadows. We have dealt harshly with the people who lived in our countries before us. We have much to apologize for. We should not suppress the bad while celebrating the good.

THOUGH MENACED by enemies, like all of us, Israel can look forward to a bright future. However, dark clouds threaten these prospects. Some of them, I am sorry to say, are of your own making.

It is of these that I want to speak to you.

For the last four years I have followed events in your country with growing apprehension. Indeed - with great fears for your future.

No nation, great or small, can prosper for long without peace. War is the curse of mankind. It coarsens our spirit, consumes our resources, spreads death and destruction. In our time, with the development of ever more deadly means of mass destruction, war threatens our very existence.

Yet there seems to be among you a curious aversion to peace. Peacemakers are denounced as traitors or enemies. Even I have been termed a "Destroyer of Israel" because of my efforts at the beginning of my first term, to bring about peace between you and your neighbors.

I am told that in your recent election campaign, all parties studiously avoided the word "peace". That sounds incredible to me. You need peace, perhaps more than any other people on earth.

I am also told that most Israelis, while longing for peace, strongly believe that "Peace is Impossible". Peace is never impossible, if good men and women earnestly strive for it.

History is full of implacable enemies who made peace after generations of conflict. Look at the peace my country made with Germany and Japan after the deadly struggle not so long ago. Look at the peace between France and Germany after many generations of war. Indeed, Israel herself has made peace and now lives in friendship with Germany, so soon after the Shoah.

Granted that the conflict between you and the Palestinian people is more complex than most, I tell you: peace between you is not only necessary. It is also possible.

PEACE STARTS with seeing your enemy as a human being. With looking him in the eye.

That should be easy for Jews. Do not the Holy Scriptures, our common heritage, tell us that God created all human beings in his image? Did not your great spiritual teacher, Hillel, tell you that the basis of all moral behavior is not to do unto the Other that which is hateful to you?

I am told that lately, there has become evident a rising tide of racism among you, that there have even been incidents of lynching, that many young boys and girls are proud to announce that they are racists.

I find this incredible. Jews? Racists? After centuries as the victims of racist persecution? Barely more than half a century after the Holocaust?

I am a dark-skinned person. Luckily, my forebears never experienced the ultimate evil of slavery. Unlike millions of Africans, my father's family was not kidnapped from their ancestral village in Kenya. But the evils of slavery are deeply imprinted on my mind. The awful sight of the lynchings is still vivid before my eyes.

So are the freedom marches, in which determined black people braved racist mobs, guns and attack dogs. We shall ever be grateful to the white young men and women who joined these marches, so many of whom were Jews. I just cannot understand: how can any Jew in Israel be a racist, and be proud of it? What on earth do you learn in your schools?

I DID not come here to try and impose a peace plan on you.

Peace should not be imposed. It must flow from the heart. It must be approved by the mind.

Let me share with you, however, a few things that seem to me self-evident:

Peace must be based on what is commonly called the "two-state solution". Two states for two peoples, for the Israelis and for the Palestinians.

It is not only the best solution - it is the only solution.

Those who bandy about other "solutions" are deluding themselves. There is no other solution.

There must be a Palestinian state, side by side with Israel. Your fathers and mothers were content with nothing less than a state of their own, and the Palestinians will not settle for anything less either. Freedom and independence under their own flag is the right of all human beings. You should be the first to understand that.

The State of Palestine must include all the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967. Any changes to the borders must be agreed between the two sides, and be of equal extent.

Jerusalem, this wonderful old city where we are meeting now, and which fills me with excitement, must be shared by the two peoples. What is Arab should be the capital of Palestine, what is Jewish should be the capital of Israel, recognized at long last by all.

The security of Israel must be safeguarded and guaranteed by the world, especially by the United States of America. And so should the security of Palestine.

Obviously, the millions of Palestinian refugees cannot return to Israel. Justice cannot be restored by imposing a new injustice on the present inhabitants. But we must make a great international effort to compensate the refugees generously, and at least a symbolic number should be allowed to exercise their Right of Return. These peace terms have been lying on the table for a long time. The time has come - indeed, the time is long overdue - to turn them into a permanent peace treaty. The other Arab nations, whose commendable peace plan has also been lying on the table for many years, should be welcomed as partners in this effort.

My administration will do its duty by signing a solemn guarantee for the security of both Israel and Palestine. A WORD about the settlements.

The United States has always regarded them as illegal under international law. This is as true now as ever.

Those Israelis who remain on Palestinian territory after the mutually agreed exchange of territories must be repatriated to Israel. As gently as possible. With as much compassion as possible. With as generous compensation as possible. But they cannot stay without the permission of the government of Palestine.

Many of them have settled in the occupied territories for the express purpose of making peace impossible. They must not be allowed to achieve their aim.

I STAND here today, so soon after the swearing-in of your new ministers, before your new government has yet settled down for business, because I feel a great urgency.

Time is passing, settlements are expanding, the chances of peace are diminishing. Therefore we must act now.

If you continue on your present course, disaster will surely overtake you. You are already a minority in the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and your proportion is bound to diminish. Very soon you will be faced by the choice between glorious Israel becoming an odious Apartheid state, a pariah among the nations, or becoming a state governed by the Arab majority. Either way, it will be the end of the Zionist dream.

Don't tell me, don't tell yourselves, that there is nothing you can do.

You are the people of the future. The future is your lives. It is up to you to assure yourselves a life in peace.

Yes, you can!!!

Note: This text was written on Wednesday, a day before President Obama made his historic speech in Jerusalem. It appears that my text came much closer to his actual speech than I had dared to hope. Some passages are almost identical. Readers may want to compare the texts, to see what he left out.
(c) 2013 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Throwing BRICS At The U.S. Empire
By Glen Ford

The meteoric rise of the BRICS nations - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - now concluding their fifth annual summit meeting in Durban, became inevitable once the imperial powers began moving the world's industrial production to the Global South, decades ago. From that point on, the options available to the "West" began to shrink, leading inexorably to the current historical juncture, in which U.S.-led imperialism relies almost entirely on its overwhelming military superiority to maintain itself.

"By 2020," according to United Nations Development Program, "the combined economic output of three leading developing countries alone - Brazil, China and India - will surpass the aggregate production of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the U.K. and the United States." The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, comprised of the world's richest countries, predicts that China will surpass the United States as the world's biggest economy by the end of 2016. By some measures, China actually overtook the U.S. back in 2010.

Brazil's economic development bank is bigger than the World Bank. Last year, BRICS nations sent $75 billion to the IMF to help bail out European financial institutions - so, these countries can well afford to capitalize a BRICS development bank, as they agreed to do, in principle, this week in Durban. It is a question of political will.

U.S. and western European economic decline is an irreversible fact. The essential question facing the Global South, with the BRICS in the lead, is to what extent, and how long, will they shore up the crumbling old Euro-American edifices - in which they also have huge investments and which are backed by a war machine that strives for full spectrum dominance of the planet.

We are living at a crossroads of history. The productive center of the world is shifting back to where it was before western Europe began its 500-year war against the rest of humankind: to China and India, the economic powerhouses of the pre-colonial planet. Europe used force to organize the world to its own, absolute advantage, depopulating a whole hemisphere and much of Africa in the process. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, which was fueled by colonization and slavery, most of the world's people enjoyed similar living standards. The great global imbalance in the human condition, largely along lines of color, is the product of half a millennium of predation.

The gory enterprise could not, however, forever contain the human impulse toward self-determination, or escape the laws of political economy. Unable to export the contradictions of dwindling rates of profit in a decolonizing world, western financial capitalists exported their industrial capacity, instead. Power must shift, as well. This is the central quandary of the BRICS, and of U.S. imperialism.

The United States, firmly in the grip of hyperactive finance capital, has acquiesced to its diminishing role in world trade. It doesn't seriously attempt to directly compete with the core BRICS countries in Africa and Latin America. Washington is betting its global hegemony on military coercion, pure and simple. The U.S. is now the "indispensable nation" only in the sense that it refuses to tolerate a world in which it is not treated as such. Under Presidents Clinton, Bush and, especially, Obama, the U.S. has waged an escalating war against international legal order, largely under the pernicious doctrine of "humanitarian" military intervention. National sovereignty is treated as a dead letter, and trade sanctions are quickly followed by armed, barely covert assaults on unoffending governments. The U.S. publicly announces possession of new systems of warfare that can annihilate targets with a conventional weapon anywhere on the globe in half an hour. The message is clear, repetitive and meant to be terrifying: No nation, or combination of nations, will be allowed to challenge U.S. dominance in the world, as defined by Washington.

The superpower in decline is not only willing to throw the world into chaos to preserve its artificial position at the top, it is actively doing so in Syria, following up its decapitation of Libya. It swarms over Africa, to secure political obedience despite its economic eclipse on the continent. Objectively, the United States has positioned itself as the great and implacable impediment to global development.

Therefore, when the BRICS say that their summit is motivated by "a shared desire for peace, security, development, cooperation, respect for international law and sovereignty," as was announced at the 5th BRICS Academic Forum, earlier this month, they are placing themselves in opposition to the U.S. juggernaut. It is not a place that these nation's governments want to be. But, if they are to continue on the road to self-determination and achievement of their own national goals - including their capitalistic aspirations - they have no choice but to resist Washington's policies of coercion and the threat of strangulation.

It is not up to the BRICS to save the world. But, in order to save their own parts of the planet, they will be forced to confront U.S. imperialism. The monster must be removed from humanity's path. Only then can we truly begin to clear out the rubble of the 500-year war, and build a new global society.
(c) 2013 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

The Denver-born American, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, killed by a US drone strike in Yemen at the age of 16

The Racism That Fuels The 'War On Terror'
By Glenn Greenwald

A new Gallup poll released Monday morning has a surprising finding: a majority of Americans - while supporting air strikes in foreign countries against foreign nationals suspected of Terrorism - oppose such air strikes when used to target US citizens who are suspected Terrorists, whether at home or on foreign soil:

The reason this is surprising is that when the US actually killed a US citizen on foreign soil on the grounds that he was a suspected Terrorist - Anwar al-Awlaki - large majorities approved. One poll at the time reported that "a large proportion of Americans believe the US Government made the correct decision in killing a US born Islamist militant in a drone strike last month" - specifically, that "69 per cent of respondents think the action taken by the US Government to kill Anwar al-Awlaki was justified" (that included 77% Republicans and 73% Democrats approving). Another poll at the time reported that Obama's approval ratings on national security increased eight points in the wake of the Awlaki killing. Meanwhile, Obama aides ran to Politico to boast that Awlaki's corpse would be a significant asset in Obama's re-election bid, leading to this Politico headline:

What can explain this obvious discrepancy? How can it be that a policy which a majority of Americans oppose (killing Americans on foreign soil on the grounds of suspected Terrorism) was so popular and politically beneficial for Obama when it was actually done to Awlaki? I'm not speaking here about those who support the US Government's right to kill US citizens on foreign soil without a trial: people who believe that and support the Awlaki execution are at least being consistent. I'm focusing here on how it can be that a majority of Americans say they oppose having Americans so targeted on foreign soil yet still support the Awlaki killing.

There are several possible factors explaining this discrepancy. It is probably easier to oppose such killings when considered in the abstract than it is when asked specifically about a person like Awlaki who had been subjected to such an intense government and media demonization campaign. It's also possible that intervening events between these polls - particularly the Rand Paul filibuster - created unprecedented media debate about the dangers of Obama's claimed assassination powers and caused people to re-think their wisdom (that was the ground cited by the ACLU's Laura Murphy when she praised Paul's protest:

"As a result of Sen. Paul's historic filibuster, civil liberties got two wins: . . . Americans learned about the breathtakingly broad claims of executive authority undergirding the Obama administration's vast killing program").

But it seems clear there is a much more odious factor driving some of this. Many Americans can (a) say that they oppose the targeted killings of Americans on foreign soil while simultaneously (b) supporting the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen because, for them, the term "Americans" doesn't include people like Anwar al-Awlaki. "Americans" means their aunts and uncles, their nice neighbors down the street, and anyone else who looks like them, who looks and seems "American". They don't think those people - Americans - should be killed without charges by the US government if they travel on vacation to Paris or go to study for a semester in London. But the concept of "Americans" most definitely does not include people with foreign and Muslim-ish names like "Anwar al-Awlaki" who wear the white robes of a Muslim imam and spend time in a place like Yemen.

Legally - which is the only way that matters for this question - the New-Mexico-born Awlaki was every bit as much of an American citizen as the nice couple down the street. His citizenship was never legally revoked. He never formally renounced it. He was never charged with, let alone convicted of, any crime that could lead to the revocation of citizenship. No court ever considered revoking his citizenship, let alone did so. From a legal and constitutional perspective, there was not a single person "more American" than he. That's because those gradations of citizenship do not exist. One is either an American citizen or one is not. There is no such thing as "more American" or "less American", nor can one's citizenship be revoked by presidential decree. This does not exist.

But the effort to depict Muslims as something other than "real Americans" has long been a centerpiece of the US political climate in the era of the War on Terror. When it was first revealed in 2005 that the Bush administration was spying on the communications of Americans without the warrants required by the criminal law, a Bush White House spokesman sought to assure everyone that this wasn't targeting Real Americans, but only those Bad Ones that should be surveilled (meaning Muslims the Bush administration decided, without due process, were guilty):

"This is a limited program. This is not about monitoring phone calls designed to arrange Little League practice or what to bring to a potluck dinner. These are designed to monitor calls from very bad people to very bad people who have a history of blowing up commuter trains, weddings and churches."

Identically, when the Israelis attacked the Mavi Marmara flotilla in 2010 and killed 9 people including the US-born teenager Furkan Dogan, some conservatives insisted that he was not a Real American because his parents were Turkish and he grew up in Turkey ("it is silly to call him an 'American of Turkish descent'. He, like the other members of his family, was a Turk"). The stark contrast in reactions between the sustained fury of the Turkish government over the killing of their citizens by the Israelis versus the support for those killings given by the US government was accounted for in part by the blind US support for whatever Israel does (including killing Americans), but also by the belief that Dogan wasn't really an American, not the Real Kind you get upset about when a foreign army kills them.

This decade-long Othering of Muslims - a process necessary to sustain public support for their continuous killing, imprisonment, and various forms of rights abridgments - has taken its toll. I'm most certainly not suggesting that anyone who supports Awlaki's killing is driven by racism or anti-Muslim bigotry. I am suggesting that the belief that Muslims are somehow less American, or even less human, is widespread, and is a substantial factor in explaining the discrepancy I began by identifying.

Does anyone doubt that if Obama's bombs were killing nice white British teeangers or smiling blond Swiss infants - rather than unnamed Yemenis, Pakistanis, Afghans and Somalis - that the reaction to this sustained killing would be drastically different? Does anyone doubt that if his overhead buzzing drones were terrorizing Western European nations rather than predominantly Muslim ones, the horror of them would be much easier to grasp?

Does it really take any debate to know that if the 16-year-old American suspiciously killed by the US government two weeks after killing his father had been Jimmy Martin in Sweden rather than Abdulrahman al-Awlaki in Yemen, the media interest and public outcry would be far more substantial, and Robert Gibbs would have been widely scorned if he had offered this vile blame-the-victim justification for killing Jimmy rather than Abdulrahman? It is indisputably true that - just as conservatives argued that Furkan Dogan was not a Real American - large numbers of Americans believe the same about the Denver-born teenager named Abdulrahman. This ugly mindset is not the only factor that leads the US public to support more than a decade of US killing and rights abridgments aimed primarily at Muslims, including their fellow citizens, but it is certainly a significant one.

Amazingly, some Democratic partisans, in order to belittle these injustices, like to claim that only those who enjoy the luxury of racial and socioeconomic privilege would care so much about these issues. That claim is supremely ironic. It reverses reality. That type of privilege is not what leads one to care about and work against these injustices. To the contrary, it's exactly that privilege that causes one to dismiss concerns over these injustices and mock and scorn those who work against them. The people who insist that these abuses are insignificant and get too much attention are not the ones affected by them, because they're not Muslim, and thus do not care.

The perception that the state violence, rights abridgments and expansions of government power ushered in by the War on Terror affect only Muslims long ago stopped being true. But ensuring that people continue to believe that is the key reason why it has been permitted to continue for so long.

Domestic surveillance aimed at Muslims

The New Jersey Star Ledger this morning has an excellent interview with CUNY Professor Diala Shamas, who just co-authored a new report on the devastating impact of the NYPD's shockingly invasive and indiscriminate surveillance program aimed at Muslim communities in New York and New Jersey. She documents in particular how this type of surveillance, aimed at innocent Muslims, creates an intense climate of fear and chills political speech. Would anyone tolerate having such sweeping surveillance programs infiltrating Jewish or Christian communities in the US? I once asked this question of leading New York Mayoral candidate Christine Quinn, who supports the NYPD program, and she refused to answer). But the answer is obvious: of course not. That is the point.


The ACLU's Jameel Jaffer perfectly summarizes the point I am making from those polls:

(c) 2013 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.

GOP Leaders Try Putting Earrings On Their Hog

Well, there you have it. The Republican Party is "narrow minded" and "out of touch" - a party of "stuffy old men."

That's not the pronouncement of a Democrat, but the official conclusion of the Republican Party itself, as detailed in a hundred-page audit commissioned by the party's national chairman, Reince Priebus. Authored by a panel of five diehard GOP notables, the report concedes that "Public perception of the party is at record lows," noting (with a palpable grimace) the devastating attitude of one particularly important constituency: "Young voters are increasingly rolling their eyes at what the party represents." Ouch.

Having sized-up the problem precisely, the R's hierarchy then stepped forward with the kind of bold and inventive solution that we would expect from such leaders: Better PR. "Our policies are sound," declared Priebus, "but... the way we communicate can be a real problem."

Thus, the Repubs announced that they will launch a $10 million program to market the GOP brand to women, Latinos, young people, and others. Oh, they also intend to hire a chief technology officer to improve the party's social media outreach. Priebus described these moves as unprecedented in scope and ambition.

Someone should clue him in to an old piece of country wisdom: You can put earrings on a hog, but it won't hide the ugliness. Bashing gays, immigrants, women, public employees, union members, the poor, the jobless, and more - while hugging banksters and billionaires - is a position problem, not a communication problem.

And don't expect them to make any real policy changes - so many party factions denounced the audit as an unholy departure from right-wing doctrine that Priebus distanced himself from its conclusions even as he was releasing them: "This is not my report," he weaseled.
(c) 2013 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.

War No More
Ten Years After the Invasion of Iraq, Are We Any Closer to Peace?
By Randall Amster

No one in power specifically called it "a date which will live in infamy," but when the U.S. commenced the invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003, it changed the political map of the world in ways we are still trying to disentangle. The basic idea that nations would only wage war for bona fide reasons and with general support from the international community - tattered as those notions already were - was essentially laid to rest with the Iraq war. What is especially troubling is that we didn't even need the benefit of hindsight to realize the full implications; in real time and without precedent, millions (perhaps even billions) around the world raised principled objections to the impending war before it commenced. Many people knew (and said) that it was illegal, unjust, and immoral, but to no avail. And so it goes...

A decade later, the fictitious rationales of "weapons of mass destruction," liberating people from an evil dictator, promoting human rights, and "restoring democracy," are almost laughable and are not seriously asserted as a viable basis for the war. All we're left with now is a self-fulfilling epitaph proclaiming that the war was about fighting terrorists and insurgents. And with the benefit of the intervening years, it has also become safer to say in polite company (if not publicly) that controlling Middle Eastern oil is a primary impetus of national security. The Iraq war thus lifted the veil on Machiavellian foreign policies and set a new template for the wars of the present - and perhaps the future. That is, unless we heed the lessons and take steps to avert a continuation of the Iraq model. This may well be the only way to honor the fallen on all sides (totaling in the hundreds of thousands, or more) and to even remotely justify the trillions of dollars unwisely spent on the war. The price was definitely not "worth it" (as Madeleine Albright once said about earlier sanctions on Iraq and the resultant impacts on children there), but sometimes the best we can do is try to make sure it never happens again. Indeed, as the sign I held ten years ago said, the Iraq war in its totality was nothing short of "shocking and awful" - and it is incumbent upon us today to work toward ending the scourge of war and promoting the cause of peace in our time.

As a point of departure, let me suggest a number of interrelated "wars" that we might strive to end with undue haste in order to make the transition away from the precipice of perpetual war and toward a more peaceful world:

The War on Ourselves: Humankind seems to have a penchant for hastening its own demise. Symptoms of this phenomenon include rampant gun violence in the U.S., the toxification of our food and water supplies, endemic poverty, and a growing lexicon of industrial-era illnesses and ailments. As the first step toward ending war in general, we must stop waging it on ourselves and on our continuing ability to thrive as a species.

The War on Others: One of the basic lessons of living in an interconnected world is that there is no longer any "there" there, and dividing the world into us/them dichotomies is simply untenable. Pollution, waste, exploitation, disease - all of these know no borders, and cannot be outsourced on an inherently interlinked planet. When we make war (both of the militaristic and economic varieties) on others, we are making war on ourselves as well.

The War on the Environment: Perhaps the root war of all wars is the collective assault humanity is inflicting on the habitat that sustains us, and of which we are a part. In just a few short generations, we have alienated ourselves from the environment around us, poisoned our air and water, destabilized the climate and other essential systems, and dramatically increased our vulnerability to pathogens and sudden changes in ecological systems. As with the above, this war on the environment is likewise a war on us, too.

The War on the Future: At the end of the day, we seem to be leveraging our power and privilege in the present while blithely consuming the bases for future inhabitants to exist at all. Intergenerational justice must be part of our consciousness and ethical framework, in the sense that what we do today has direct repercussions on our children and their children, and so on. No species can survive that doesn't take care to preserve livable conditions for its young. We can harmonize the needs of today with those of tomorrow, if we act now.

Concomitantly, as peace scholars and advocates have long perceived, it's not enough to simply end war, as challenging and necessary as that may be. We also need to make peace, proactively and independent from the ravages of war that oftentimes tend to dominate the public discourse. In this regard, here are some of the potential interfaces for promoting the elusive value of peace:

World Peace: Long an idealistic mantra, the notion of world peace is becoming essential if we are to survive and flourish. We must make peace with the world and in the world - both with the planet and among all of its inhabitants. This doesn't mean we'll suddenly wake up in a conflict-free world (an undesirable aim, even if it were possible), but more so that we'll begin taking immediate steps to promote the healthy existence of all components - human and more-than-human - of the web of life that sustains us within its workings.

Environmental Peacemaking: Activists and scholars have asserted that the environment can in fact serve as a tool for promoting peace. Not only are all living things conjoined by the environment, but in its transcendence of narrow human interests, the environment can serve as a powerful mechanism for highlighting shared interests and a sense of common humanity - even amidst conflicting ideologies or between warring parties. In the world's most troubled "hotspots," people often will share water and other essentials; if they can, so can we.

Healing the Nation(s): One of the unspoken traumas of warfare is the effect on the aggressors themselves. Nations that make war, and the soldiers they send to fight them, suffer injuries well beyond the obvious physical ones. An urgent need for war-weary nations is to establish healing mechanisms for dealing with trauma on all sides, including historical traumas from colonialist pursuits. Between nations and peoples, there must be open forums for reconciliation and remediation as a precondition for peace.

Restorative/Community Justice: At the level of our communities, there are many powerful examples of how to promote healthy dialogue, collective decision-making, and productive forms of conflict management. The growing use of devices such as restorative circles, alternative dispute resolution, non-punitive interventions, and nonviolence workshops in neighborhoods points the way toward a society in which people learn to work together in the pursuit of justice for all - lest there be justice for none.

Inner Peace: This may well be the most elusive level of peace; finding it in ourselves is too easily neglected even (especially?) among those who dedicate themselves to peace in the world. The rapid pace, all-consuming technologies, economic stresses, and expanding demands of our hyper-modern lives make it difficult to slow down, take inventory, be present with ourselves, or just breathe deeply. Note to self: take a moment, every day, to find solace and connection by doing something compassionate and peaceful for yourself.

Unquestionably, it would be facile to suggest that we can somehow "find the good" in war, and certainly we must not create a paradigm in which war is justified by the lessons learned after the fact. Nonetheless, try we must, since we can only move ahead in the direction of time's arrow. As we strive to make sense of (and reconfigure) the world going forward, we come to recognize that part of our task is to develop the capacity to turn war into peace at every level. The war in Iraq has been a travesty of historical proportions, but perhaps in its stark realism it will be remembered as the genuine "war to end all wars" that people have been anticipating for a century.
(c) 2013 Randall Amster J.D., Ph.D., is the Graduate Chair of Humanities at Prescott College and serves as the executive director of the Peace & Justice Studies Association. Amonsg his most recent books are Anarchism Today (Praeger, 2012) and the co=edited volume "Building Cultures of Peace: Transdisciplinary Voices of Hope and Action" (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009).


The Annual Rite Of The Eostre Holiday
By James Donahue

The celebration this weekend is to the pagan goddess of spring and fertility, Eostre. It was never meant for Jesus.

The Roman Catholic Church scooped up the trappings of the pagan rites of spring the turned it into a celebration of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. In essence the holiday marks the end of winter, the rising of Ra, the Sun, and the rebirth of the green and growing foods from the earth.

Labeled as the holiest holiday among Christians and Jews, for different reasons, the celebration has become a complex mixture of bunnies, baby chicks, painted chicken eggs, candies delivered in baskets filled with fake grass, and ladies wearing new spring hats. Some celebrate by going to church at sunrise because this is the time Jesus was allegedly supposed to have risen from the dead.

Many of us wonder why Easter has become such a hodge-podge of traditions ranging from mysterious visits by Easter rabbits that bring gifts and candy to Easter Parades and the display of Lilies.

The crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus is part of the story, but this also is part of ancient pagan mythology dating back to Semiramis, wife of Mesopotamian ruler Nimrod who declared herself mother of the reborn god Marduke. That was the first Jesus story. After Marduke came the Persian sun-god Mithra, the Egyptian solar god Horus, the Far Eastern god Buddha, and the Indian god Krishna. All of these fellows died, some of them by crucifixion, then rose from the dead after three days. They promised to return and take all people who believed in them to heaven. Their life stories parallel the Bible story of Jesus.

It was the Roman emperor Constantine who advanced the cause of Christianity after his conversion from the Mithraic cult. At the time he came to power, Rome ruled the known world, from Britain to North Africa. Constantine made Christianity the official religion throughout Europe. From there it spread to the New World when the Europeans settled North America.

The Americans carried the celebration of Easter to fantastically new and creative levels compared to anything folks in the old world did.

The mixing of rabbits, colored eggs, candy and the other trappings of the holiday appear to have happened when the Christian holiday got mixed in with pagan rites of spring, which, when you get right down to it, is what Easter is really all about.

For example, in the Western culture, Easter falls on the first Sunday following the full moon on or after the spring equinox on March 21. Thus Easter can occur as early as March 22 or as late as April 25. It may never fall on the real date that Jesus died. That he rose from the dead is a myth that is yet to be proven. The Jewish Passover is associated with the mix, since the Bible story maintains the crucifixion occurred during the time of this religious event as well.

The spring celebrations once honored the pagan goddess Eostre, also known as Ishtar and Oestre. She was the goddess of spring and fertility. Thus the decorating of eggs, showing of blooming flowers and newborn animals like baby chickens all are symbols of newness and rebirth. The rabbit, known for its ability to reproduce its numbers quickly, also became a symbol for the fertility of the season.

It is all about sex and the planting of crops for a new season. Notice too, that the very name of the goddess Eostre, Ishtar or Oestre has evolved to the word Easter. The celebration, if you want to participate, is to her, not to Jesus. It has been so for thousands of years.

There is a story about how the Easter Bunny came into being. It seems The Goddess Eostre took pity on a wounded bird that could no longer fly and transformed it into a white hare, then blessed it with the ability to lay eggs in many colors, but only on one day of each year. When the hare later offended Eostre, she banished it to the stars as the constellation Lepus. The hare was only permitted to return to earth on Eostre's feast day each year and give its special eggs as gifts to the children.

The Easter basket had its origins in Germany, where children traditionally placed their hats in secret places on the night before Easter. If they were good, they were told the "Oschter Haws" would leave colored eggs and treats in their hats. When the German immigrants came to America, the hats and bonnets evolved into baskets.

There is another story that the coloring of eggs is a tradition that dates back to about the Thirteenth Century. It is said that eggs were a forbidden food for Catholics during the Lenten season, so people painted and decorated them to mark the end of the period of penance and fasting. They were eaten on Easter as part of the celebration.

Easter egg hunts and egg rolling are contemporary and very American traditions. The first White House egg roll was started by President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1878. Some people think of egg rolling as symbolic of rolling the stone away from the tomb of Jesus.

Easter candy mostly includes egg-shaped chocolates, rabbit shaped chocolates, and jelly beans, which look like small eggs. Sam Born invented the concept of the marshmallow Peep in the 1950s and that is now included among the traditional Easter candies.

New Yorkers have held a traditional Easter Parade since the mid-1800s. This event was made popular by the 1948 film Easter Parade starring Fred Astaire and Judy Garland, with music by Irving Berlin. Now other cities across America also hold Easter Parades.
(c) 2013 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles. He currently produces daily articles for this web site

Austerity's Cruelest Cut
Democracy Denied in Detroit
By John Nichols

When the voters of Detroit were given the opportunity to decide whether they wanted Rick Snyder to have a role in running their city, it did not go well.

Snyder, as the Republican nominee for governor in 2010, finished with just 5 percent of the vote.

As in: He lost the city by a 20-1 margin.

Snyder made up for the deficit statewide and was elected in a "Republican wave" moment. But there is no evidence that the governor or his policies have risen in popularity since then.

So, for all the carefully prepared marketing that has surrounded Snyder's imposition of an appointed "emergency manager" to run the city, for all the pronouncements about how "Detroit Can't Wait" for state intervention, for all the governor's talk of his suspending of imposition of an unelected boss as "an opportunity to work together, to bring people together as Detroit, Michigan," the important thing to remember is that Detroit did not choose to surrender local democracy.

Detroit certainly did not choose to hand control over to the appointee of a Republican governor whose 2010 vote wasn't even competitive.

That's not conjecture. The opposition to Snyder's agenda has been registered and recorded.

The question of whether to eliminate Michigan's state's emergency manager law was on the ballot last November. Detroit voted overwhelmingly to strike the law from the statute books; 82 percent of Detroit voters, casting ballots in a high-turnout presidential election, voted against letting the governor effectively replace elected mayors and city council members with a hand-picked appointee. The rest of Michigan sided with Detroit on that issue, and the law was eliminated. But Snyder and a lame-duck legislature disregarded the will of the people and passed the new law that, on Monday, was used by Snyder to impose his emergency manager on the city.

On the same ballot last November was a referendum on whether to protect collective bargaining rights so that emergency managers and Republican governors could not bust unions in their push for austerity and privatization. Detroit voted 83 percent to 17 percent in favor of preserving unions.

So Snyder has no credibility when he suggests there is even minimal enthusiasm for his imposition of outside control on Detroit-or other majority-minority cities and school districts across the state-as part of a push to undermine union contracts and cut services. Nor, it should be noted, does he have a credible claim of economic necessity: The governor has held up hundreds of millions of dollars in promised state aid funding for Detroit, funding that could help to stabilize the finances of a city that has been battered not by public employees but by the wave of deindustrialization that has shuttered auto plants, parts suppliers and machine shops across the city.

It's important to expose and challenge the austerity lie.

But it's even more important to expose and challenge the assault on democracy in Detroit and Michigan-and, it should be noted, numerous other states. When a city's voters reject a Republican governor and his agenda, and that governor is still able to shove aside local elected officials and impose his personal appointee to make all the calls regarding how the city is run, democracy is denied. And that denial attacks the most fundamental premises of the American experiment.

As Aura Bogado writes, communities of color across the country already live under a certain kind of receivership-the willful hands of the police.
(c) 2013 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His new book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, has just been published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

Senator Bernie Sanders I-VT

Senate Unanimously Votes Against Cuts To Social Security - Media Don't Notice
By Dean Baker

There are few areas where the corruption of the national media is more apparent than in its treatment of Social Security. Most of the elite media have made it clear in both their opinion and news pages that they want to see benefits cut. In keeping with this position they highlight the views of political figures who push cuts to the program, treating them as responsible, while those who oppose cuts are ignored or mocked.

This pattern of coverage was clearly on display last weekend. Both the New York Times and Washington Post decided to ignore the Senate's passage by voice vote of the Sanders Amendment. This was an amendment to the budget put forward by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders that puts the Senate on record as opposing the switch to the chained CPI as the basis for the annual Social Security cost of living adjustment (COLA).

Switching the basis for the COLA to the chained CPI is one of the most beloved policies of the Washington elite. The idea is that it would reduce scheduled benefits for retirees by 0.3 percentage points annually. This amounts to a cut of 3 percent after ten years, 6 percent after 20 years, and 9 percent after 30 years.

If a typical retiree lives to collect benefits for twenty years the average cut in benefits over their retirement ends up being around 3 percent. This is a much bigger hit to the typical retiree, who relies on Social Security for more than two-thirds of their income, than the tax increases put into law this year were to the typical rich person.

But the magic of the chained CPI is that everyone gets to run around saying that they are not really cutting benefits, they are just "adjusting" the cost of living formula. And the media do their best to assist the politicians pushing these cuts. They almost always uses euphemisms like "changing" or "restructuring" Social Security, trying to conceal the simple reality that politicians are pushing cuts to the program.

It is also worth noting, in contrast to the claims of the pretentious elites, there is no, as in zero, nada, none, basis for the claim that the chained CPI would give a more accurate measure of the rate of inflation experienced by seniors. Research by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that the rate of inflation seen by seniors is actually higher than the CPI that provides the basis for the current COLA.

While this research is far from conclusive, the answer for those interested in accuracy would be to have the BLS construct a full CPI for seniors. But the Washington elites don't give a damn about accuracy, which is why not one of them has called for a full elderly CPI. The elite want cuts to Social Security; accuracy is just something they talk about to children and reporters for major media outlets.

This is why the vote on the Sanders amendment should have been newsworthy. Here was an opportunity for all the senators who have explicitly or implicitly supported the adoption of the chained CPI to step up and say why the switch to the chained CPI was a good and necessary measure. However, not one senator was prepared to stand up and argue the case. Not one member of the senate wanted to go on record in support of this cut to Social Security.

With all the Republicans who pronounce endlessly on the need to cut entitlement spending, there was not a single Republican senator who was prepared to say that switching the Social Security COLA to a chained CPI was a good idea. And even though President Obama has repeatedly stated as clearly as he could that he supported the switch to a chain CPI, there was not one Democratic senator who was prepared to stand up and speak in solidarity with the president.

This is a clear case of the elite lining up together against the bases of both political parties. If the chained CPI were put to a vote of the people it would lose in a landslide. But the elites are prepared to use their control of the political process and the media to do everything they can to push this cut forward.

The battle over the chained CPI provides a great case study in the state of American democracy. We will get to see whether the rich and powerful are able to attack a program that is vital to the security of almost all working people, even when the vast majority in both parties stand against them.
(c) 2013 Dean Baker is a macroeconomist and co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC. He previously worked as a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute and an assistant professor at Bucknell University.

The Morality Brigade
By Robert Reich

We're still legislating and regulating private morality, while at the same time ignoring the much larger crisis of public morality in America.

In recent weeks Republican state legislators have decided to thwart the Supreme Court's 1973 decision in "Roe v. Wade," which gave women the right to have an abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb, usually around 24 weeks into pregnancy.

Legislators in North Dakota passed a bill banning abortions after six weeks or after a fetal heart beat had been detected, and approved a fall referendum that would ban all abortions by defining human life as beginning with conception. Lawmakers in Arkansas have banned abortions within twelve weeks of conception.

The morality brigade worries about fetuses, but not what happens to children after they're born. They and other conservatives have been cutting funding for child nutrition, healthcare for infants and their mothers, and schools.

The new House Republican budget gets a big chunk of its savings from programs designed to help poor kids. The budget sequester already in effect takes aim at programs like Head Start, designed to improve the life chances of disadvantaged children.

Meanwhile, the morality brigade continues to battle same-sex marriage.

Despite the Supreme Court's willingness to consider the constitutionality of California's ban, no one should assume a majority of the justices will strike it down. The Court could just as easily decide the issue is up to the states, or strike down California's law while allowing other states to continue their bans.

Conservative moralists don't want women to have control over their bodies or same-sex couples to marry, but they don't give a hoot about billionaires taking over our democracy for personal gain or big bankers taking over our economy.

Yet these violations of public morality are far more dangerous to our society because they undermine the public trust that's essential to both our democracy and economy.

Three years ago, at the behest of a right-wing group called "Citizen's United," the Supreme Court opened the floodgates to big money in politics by deciding corporations were "people" under the First Amendment.

A record $12 billion was spent on election campaigns in 2012, affecting all levels of government. Much of it came from billionaires like the Koch brothers and casino-magnate Sheldon Adelson -seeking fewer regulations, lower taxes, and weaker trade unions.

They didn't entirely succeed but the billionaires established a beachhead for the midterm elections of 2014 and beyond.

Yet where is the morality brigade when it comes to these moves to take over our democracy?

Among the worst violators of public morality have been executives and traders on Wall Street.

Last week, JPMorgan Chase, the nation's biggest bank, was found to have misled its shareholders and the public about its $6 billion "London Whale" losses in 2012.

This is the same JPMorgan that's lead the charge against the Dodd-Frank Act, designed to protect the public from another Wall Street meltdown and taxpayer-funded bailout.

Lobbyists for the giant banks have been systematically taking the teeth out of Dodd-Frank, leaving nothing but the gums.

The so-called "Volcker Rule," intended to prevent the banks from making risky bets with federally-insured commercial deposits - itself a watered-down version of the old Glass-Steagall Act - still hasn't seen the light of day.

Last week, Republicans and Democrats on the House Agriculture Committee passed bills to weaken Dodd-Frank - expanding exemptions and allowing banks that do their derivative trading in other countries (i.e., JPMorgan) to avoid the new rules altogether.

Meanwhile, House Republicans voted to repeal the Dodd-Frank Act in its entirety, as part of their budget plan.

And still no major Wall Street executives have been held accountable for the wild betting that led to the near meltdown in 2008. Attorney General Eric Holder says the big banks are too big to prosecute.

Why doesn't the morality brigade complain about the rampant greed on the Street that's already brought the economy to its knees, wiping out the savings of millions of Americans and subjecting countless others to joblessness and insecurity - and seems set on doing it again?

What people do in their bedrooms shouldn't be the public's business. Women should have rights over their own bodies. Same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.

But what powerful people do in their boardrooms is the public's business. Our democracy needs to be protected from the depredations of big money. Our economy needs to be guarded against the excesses of too-big-to-fail banks.
(c) 2013 Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written twelve books, including The Work of Nations, Locked in the Cabinet, and his most recent book, Supercapitalism. His "Marketplace" commentaries can be found on and iTunes.

Hot Money Blues
By Paul Krugman

Whatever the final outcome in the Cyprus crisis - we know it's going to be ugly; we just don't know exactly what form the ugliness will take - one thing seems certain: for the time being, and probably for years to come, the island nation will have to maintain fairly draconian controls on the movement of capital in and out of the country. In fact, controls may well be in place by the time you read this. And that's not all: Depending on exactly how this plays out, Cypriot capital controls may well have the blessing of the International Monetary Fund, which has already supported such controls in Iceland.

That's quite a remarkable development. It will mark the end of an era for Cyprus, which has in effect spent the past decade advertising itself as a place where wealthy individuals who want to avoid taxes and scrutiny can safely park their money, no questions asked. But it may also mark at least the beginning of the end for something much bigger: the era when unrestricted movement of capital was taken as a desirable norm around the world.

It wasn't always thus. In the first couple of decades after World War II, limits on cross-border money flows were widely considered good policy; they were more or less universal in poorer nations, and present in a majority of richer countries too. Britain, for example, limited overseas investments by its residents until 1979; other advanced countries maintained restrictions into the 1980s. Even the United States briefly limited capital outflows during the 1960s.

Over time, however, these restrictions fell out of fashion. To some extent this reflected the fact that capital controls have potential costs: they impose extra burdens of paperwork, they make business operations more difficult, and conventional economic analysis says that they should have a negative impact on growth (although this effect is hard to find in the numbers). But it also reflected the rise of free-market ideology, the assumption that if financial markets want to move money across borders, there must be a good reason, and bureaucrats shouldn't stand in their way.

As a result, countries that did step in to limit capital flows - like Malaysia, which imposed what amounted to a curfew on capital flight in 1998 - were treated almost as pariahs. Surely they would be punished for defying the gods of the market!

But the truth, hard as it may be for ideologues to accept, is that unrestricted movement of capital is looking more and more like a failed experiment.

It's hard to imagine now, but for more than three decades after World War II financial crises of the kind we've lately become so familiar with hardly ever happened. Since 1980, however, the roster has been impressive: Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Chile in 1982. Sweden and Finland in 1991. Mexico again in 1995. Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Korea in 1998. Argentina again in 2002. And, of course, the more recent run of disasters: Iceland, Ireland, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Cyprus.

What's the common theme in these episodes? Conventional wisdom blames fiscal profligacy - but in this whole list, that story fits only one country, Greece. Runaway bankers are a better story; they played a role in a number of these crises, from Chile to Sweden to Cyprus. But the best predictor of crisis is large inflows of foreign money: in all but a couple of the cases I just mentioned, the foundation for crisis was laid by a rush of foreign investors into a country, followed by a sudden rush out.

I am, of course, not the first person to notice the correlation between the freeing up of global capital and the proliferation of financial crises; Harvard's Dani Rodrik began banging this drum back in the 1990s. Until recently, however, it was possible to argue that the crisis problem was restricted to poorer nations, that wealthy economies were somehow immune to being whipsawed by love-'em-and-leave-'em global investors. That was a comforting thought - but Europe's travails demonstrate that it was wishful thinking.

And it's not just Europe. In the last decade America, too, experienced a huge housing bubble fed by foreign money, followed by a nasty hangover after the bubble burst. The damage was mitigated by the fact that we borrowed in our own currency, but it's still our worst crisis since the 1930s.

Now what? I don't expect to see a wholesale, sudden rejection of the idea that money should be free to go wherever it wants, whenever it wants. There may well, however, be a process of erosion, as governments intervene to limit both the pace at which money comes in and the rate at which it goes out. Global capitalism is, arguably, on track to become substantially less global.

And that's O.K. Right now, the bad old days when it wasn't that easy to move lots of money across borders are looking pretty good.
(c) 2013 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"Do not fear the enemy, for your enemy can only take your life. It is far better that you fear the media, for they will steal your HONOR. That awful power, the public opinion of a nation, is created in America by a horde of ignorant, self-complacent simpletons who failed at ditching and shoemaking and fetched up in journalism on their way to the poorhouse."
~~~ Mark Twain

Idea For Supreme Court, Focus On Law, Not Politics
Justices' comments suggest marriage equality might be judged not on legal merits but irrelevant, external factors
By David Sirota

Are discriminatory laws, like big financial institutions, Too Big to Fail? After the statements of Supreme Court justices during yesterday's hearing on California Proposition 8, this is the single biggest unanswered - and still unasked - question in the fight for equal rights.

To appreciate how that single radical jurisprudential theory of Too Big to Fail connects issues as disparate as financial regulation and same-sex marriage, remember that the last few weeks has seen America's normally opaque government for the first time articulate that theory in public. As you may recall, the attorney general, the assistant attorney general and President Obama's nominee to head the Securities and Exchange have all admitted that prosecutors take into account external factors (macroeconomic effects, shareholder losses, etc.) when deciding whether to charge lawbreaking financial institutions with serious crimes.

If this seems like a radical and corrupt notion, that's because it is. The reason the statue of Justice wears a blindfold is because justice is supposed to be blind to anything other than lawbreaking. It is not supposed to take into account any other factors like potential economic consequences or political tumult because once those factors begin predetermining actions of the justice system, that system by definition loses its impartiality.

Yet as evidenced by Supreme Court justices' comments yesterday, external factors are exactly what are being considered not merely in bank prosecutions, but also in one of the biggest civil rights fights in modern history: the case that asks the court to decide whether state same-sex marriage bans violate the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

To detect which particular external factors seem to be at work in this battle, first note that during Tuesday's Supreme Court hearing on same-sex marriage, "justices said they were wary of ruling broadly in a way that would make gay marriage legal nationwide," according to the Los Angeles Times.

Some, like Justice Anthony Kennedy, seemed so afraid of a "broad" ruling that they floated the cowardly idea of backing the court out of having to rule at all. Others, like Justice Sonia Sotomayor, suggested it is "too soon for the court to rule on gay marriage." As proof, she noted that "we let racial segregation perk for 50 years from 1898 to 1954 and only then did courts get involved." Both seemed to be echoing earlier sentiments from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who said of another civil rights issue, a woman's right to choose, that the court's Roe v. Wade ruling "moved too far, too fast."

In the abortion case, the New York Times says Ginsburg believes this because "the broad ruling in the abortion case froze activity in state legislatures, created venomous polarization and damaged the authority of the court." Likewise, now, the New York Times says judges fear a broad ruling on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans could create a similar culture war. This is precisely where the dangerous notion of Too Big to Fail creeps in.

It seems the justices and most of the court speculation is far more concerned with external factors - in this case, the possible future (and thus, unknowable) political fallout from potential rulings - than with simply evaluating same-sex marriage laws and ruling on their constitutionality. Put another way, the justices seem to be suggesting that the political passions attached to same-sex marriage bans may make those bans Too Big to Fail (or, at least too big for the court to overturn). And worse, it seems that many of those justices may be trying to shape a ruling based not on questions of constitutionality alone, but on their individual subjective perception of what the fallout from a ruling is most likely to be.

This, of course, is analogous to the justice system's posture toward banks. In financial prosecutions, Too Big to Fail has in practice meant prosecutors not seeing justice as blind to external factors, but instead refusing to aggressively go after lawbreaking banks for fear that doing so would create negative economic fallout. In the same-sex marriage case, Too Big to Fail may now mean justices similarly not seeing justice as blind to external factors, but potentially refusing to overturn illegal marriage bans for fear that doing so would create negative political fallout.

It is certainly true that the fallout from refusing to prosecute banks and from refusing to overturn same-sex marriage bans are different. But the point is that the legal precedent at work is exactly the same - and that means not merely that the justice system is corrupted, but that the social mechanics and incentives necessary for law and order are being permanently skewed.

So, for instance, in the financial sector, the Too Big to Fail precedent effectively encourages banks to become as large and as sprawling as possible so that when they do break the law, prosecutors will see prosecution as too dangerous for the economy as a whole.

Similarly, in civil rights litigation, the Too Big to Fail precedent may disproportionately empower and therefore embolden proponents of discrimination by telling those bigots that perception of political fallout is more important than a law's constitutionality. That effectively tells bigots that if they can realistically threaten a divisive culture war in response to a pro-equality court ruling, then that alone may prevent such a ruling from ever being handed down in the first place.

No doubt, that's music to the ears of those like Republican operative Karl Rove and Republican mouthpiece Peggy Noonan who seem to want to deny or delay equal rights. Just as neo-confederates did during Jim Crow, they are claiming that when it comes to equality, "states rights" should prevail and that if progress is going to happen at all, it should happen slowly. In making such an argument, they are playing right to the ascendant notion of Too Big to Fail - they are implying that an anti-gay backlash to a pro-equality ruling should make same-sex bans impervious to wholesale judicial rejection.

One overarching problem with that line of reasoning (beyond the fact that it blatantly ignores the constitutional right to equal protection under the law) is how it reduces the constitution's protection of minority rights, and undermines the whole notion of a judiciary that is insulated from public opinion.

Think about it: that branch of government exists separately from the other two elected branches specifically so that it can rule without regard to the electorate's political whims. It was deliberately designed this way, in part, so that the court could guarantee that a law's constitutionality is never contingent on majority public opinion (that's the whole minority rights thing - even if 90 percent of Americans support a law that openly embraces discrimination, the independent judiciary is supposed to enforce constitutional precepts against such a statute). Indeed, a law is supposed to be either constitutional or unconstitutional, regardless of whether it is divisive or has negative political fallout. The Supreme Court and anti-gay conservatives seem to be saying the opposite - they seem to be tacitly endorsing a stealth form of mob rule, and then citing the prospect of a mob backlash to argue that same-sex bans are Too Big to Fail.

If that mob rule ideology and Too Big to Fail doctrine are allowed to prevail, there will be real human consequences for LGBT people who would continue to be subjected to institutional discrimination. Those are consequences that should be way too big to tolerate.
(c) 2013 David Sirota is a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist, magazine journalist and the best-selling author of "Hostile Takeover" and "The Uprising." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at E-mail him at David Sirota is a former spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee. Follow him on Twitter @davidsirota .


Bradley Manning's Nobel Peace Prize
By David Swanson

Whistleblower Bradley Manning has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and he should receive it.

No individual has done more to push back against what Martin Luther King Jr. called "the madness of militarism" than Bradley Manning. The United States is the leading exporter of weapons and itself spends as much preparing for more wars as the rest of the world combined. Manning is the leading actor in opposition to U.S. warmaking, and therefore militarism around the world. What he has done has hurt the cause of violence in a number of other nations as well.

And right now, remaining in prison and facing relentless prosecution by the U.S. government, Manning is in need of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Alfred Nobel's will left funding for a prize to be awarded to "the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."

The intent of the prize was to fund this work. As a result of enormous legal expenses, Bradley Manning is in need of that funding, unlike some other peace prize recipients. In addition, his secret trial -- with a potential death sentence -- could use all the attention that can be shined on it.

The people of the United States and the rest of the world have learned more about the intentions of the U.S. government from Bradley Manning than from anyone else. "Thanks to Manning's alleged disclosures, we have a sense of what transpired in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have an image of how Washington operates in the world," author Chase Madar wrote in his book about Manning's whistleblowing.

"Thanks to those revelations we now know just how our government leaned on the Vatican to quell opposition to the Iraq War. We now know how Washington pressured the German government to block the prosecution of CIA agents who kidnapped an innocent man, Khaled El-Masri, while he was on vacation. We know how our State Department lobbied hard to prevent a minimum wage increase in Haiti, the hemisphere's poorest nation."

Manning revealed a secret U.S. war in Yemen, U.S. records of massive civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, video of a U.S. helicopter attack on civilians and their rescuers in Baghdad, and facts about the corruption of numerous governments including those of the United States, Tunisia, and Egypt. In those last two nations Manning's revelations contributed to nonviolent pro-democracy movements.

Among the revelations made by Manning through WikiLeaks is the extent of time and energy the U.S. State Department puts into marketing U.S. weapons to the world's governments. We all have a better understanding of the work that is needed for peace as a result of this exposure of "diplomacy" as consisting so greatly of weapons selling.

The Guardian newspaper and BBC Arabic detailed last week how the United States armed and trained Iraqi police commando units that ran torture centers and death squads. Maggie O'Kane, executive producer of the documentary, said: "I hope this film will be a legacy that actually says, 'If you want to go to war, this is what war means. It means 14-year-old boys being hung up and tortured. It means men being turned on spits. And that's called counter-insurgency. . . .' This would not be coming to light if it hadn't been for Bradley Manning."

Not only has Manning done the most to resist militarism, but he has done it for its own sake, and not by chance or for any ulterior motive. This is made clear by his recent statement in court and by his earlier communications in the chat logs that have long been a part of his case. Manning was horrified by crimes and abuses. He believed the public should know what was happening. He believed democracy was more important than blind subservience in the name of a "democracy."

Manning has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by the Movement in the Icelandic Parliament, the Pirates of the EU; representatives from the Swedish Pirate Party, and the former Secretary of State in Tunisia for Sport & Youth. The nomination states, in part: "These revelations have fueled democratic uprisings around the world, including a democratic revolution in Tunisia. According to journalists, his alleged actions helped motivate the democratic Arab Spring movements, shed light on secret corporate influence on the foreign and domestic policies of European nations, and most recently contributed to the Obama Administration agreeing to withdraw all U.S. troops from the occupation in Iraq."

The Norwegian Nobel Committee (send them a note) can either begin awarding the peace prize to opponents of war or continue on its current course -- one which already has many questioning, not whether Manning is worthy of the prize, but whether the prize is worthy of Manning.
(c) 2013 David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie."

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Obama,

Dear Unterfuhrer Rangel,

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 attempt to reinstate the draft for everybody between the ages of 18 and 25, 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 "Demoncratic 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 with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds, presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 05-25-2013. We salute you Herr Rangel, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

Phil Donahue was fired from MSNBC for espousing anti-war
views before the start of the conflict in March of 2003.

The Day That TV News Died
By Chris Hedges

I am not sure exactly when the death of television news took place.

The descent was gradual-a slide into the tawdry, the trivial and the inane, into the charade on cable news channels such as Fox and MSNBC in which hosts hold up corporate political puppets to laud or ridicule, and treat celebrity foibles as legitimate news. But if I had to pick a date when commercial television decided amassing corporate money and providing entertainment were its central mission, when it consciously chose to become a carnival act, it would probably be Feb. 25, 2003, when MSNBC took Phil Donahue off the air because of his opposition to the calls for war in Iraq.

Donahue and Bill Moyers, the last honest men on national television, were the only two major TV news personalities who presented the viewpoints of those of us who challenged the rush to war in Iraq. General Electric and Microsoft-MSNBC's founders and defense contractors that went on to make tremendous profits from the war-were not about to tolerate a dissenting voice. Donahue was fired, and at PBS Moyers was subjected to tremendous pressure. An internal MSNBC memo leaked to the press stated that Donahue was hurting the image of the network. He would be a "difficult public face for NBC in a time of war," the memo read. Donahue never returned to the airwaves.

The celebrity trolls who currently reign on commercial television, who bill themselves as liberal or conservative, read from the same corporate script. They spin the same court gossip. They ignore what the corporate state wants ignored. They champion what the corporate state wants championed. They do not challenge or acknowledge the structures of corporate power. Their role is to funnel viewer energy back into our dead political system-to make us believe that Democrats or Republicans are not corporate pawns. The cable shows, whose hyperbolic hosts work to make us afraid self-identified liberals or self-identified conservatives, are part of a rigged political system, one in which it is impossible to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, General Electric or ExxonMobil. These corporations, in return for the fear-based propaganda, pay the lavish salaries of celebrity news people, usually in the millions of dollars. They make their shows profitable. And when there is war these news personalities assume their "patriotic" roles as cheerleaders, as Chris Matthews-who makes an estimated $5 million a year-did, along with the other MSNBC and Fox hosts.

It does not matter that these celebrities and their guests, usually retired generals or government officials, got the war terribly wrong. Just as it does not matter that Francis Fukuyama and Thomas Friedman were wrong on the wonders of unfettered corporate capitalism and globalization. What mattered then and what matters now is likability-known in television and advertising as the Q score-not honesty and truth. Television news celebrities are in the business of sales, not journalism. They peddle the ideology of the corporate state. And too many of us are buying.

The lie of omission is still a lie. It is what these news celebrities do not mention that exposes their complicity with corporate power. They do not speak about Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act, a provision that allows the government to use the military to hold U.S. citizens and strip them of due process. They do not decry the trashing of our most basic civil liberties, allowing acts such as warrantless wiretapping and executive orders for the assassination of U.S. citizens. They do not devote significant time to climate scientists to explain the crisis that is enveloping our planet. They do not confront the reckless assault of the fossil fuel industry on the ecosystem. They very rarely produce long-form documentaries or news reports on our urban and rural poor, who have been rendered invisible, or on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or on corporate corruption on Wall Street. That is not why they are paid. They are paid to stymie meaningful debate. They are paid to discredit or ignore the nation's most astute critics of corporatism, among them Cornel West, Medea Benjamin, Ralph Nader and Noam Chomsky. They are paid to chatter mindlessly, hour after hour, filling our heads with the theater of the absurd. They play clips of their television rivals ridiculing them and ridicule their rivals in return. Television news looks as if it was lifted from Rudyard Kipling's portrait of the Bandar-log monkeys in "The Jungle Book." The Bandar-log, considered insane by the other animals in the jungle because of their complete self-absorption, lack of discipline and outsized vanity, chant in unison: "We are great. We are free. We are wonderful. We are the most wonderful people in all the jungle! We all say so, and so it must be true."

When I reached him by phone recently in New York, Donahue said of the pressure the network put on him near the end, "It evolved into an absurdity." He continued: "We were told we had to have two conservatives for every liberal on the show. I was considered a liberal. I could have Richard Perle on alone but not Dennis Kucinich. You felt the tremendous fear corporate media had for being on an unpopular side during the ramp-up for a war. And let's not forget that General Electric's biggest customer at the time was Donald Rumsfeld [then the secretary of defense]. Elite media features elite power. No other voices are heard."

Donahue spent four years after leaving MSNBC making the movie documentary "Body of War" with fellow director/producer Ellen Spiro, about the paralyzed Iraq War veteran Tomas Young. The film, which Donahue funded himself, began when he accompanied Nader to visit Young in the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

"Here is this kid lying there whacked on morphine," Donahue said. "His mother, as we are standing by the bed looking down, explained his injuries. 'He is a T-4. The bullet came through the collarbone and exited between the shoulder blades. He is paralyzed from the nipples down.' He was emaciated. His cheekbones were sticking out. He was as white as the sheets he was lying on. He was 24 years old. ... I thought, 'People should see this. This is awful.'"

Donahue noted that only a very small percentage of Americans have a close relative who fought in Iraq or Afghanistan and an even smaller number make the personal sacrifice of a Tomas Young. "Nobody sees the pain," he said. "The war is sanitized." "I said, 'Tomas, I want to make a movie that shows the pain, I want to make a movie that shows up close what war really means, but I can't do it without your permission,' " Donahue remembered. "Tomas said, 'I do too.' "

But once again Donahue ran into the corporate monolith: Commercial distributors proved reluctant to pick up the film. Donahue was told that the film, although it had received great critical acclaim, was too depressing and not uplifting. Distributors asked him who would go to see a film about someone in a wheelchair. Donahue managed to get openings in Chicago, Seattle, Palm Springs, New York, Washington and Boston, but the runs were painfully brief.

"I didn't have the money to run full-page ads," he said. "Hollywood often spends more on promotion than it does on the movie. And so we died. What happens now is that peace groups are showing it. We opened the Veterans for Peace convention in Miami. Failure is not unfamiliar to me. And yet, I am stunned at how many Americans stand mute."
(c) 2013 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. He is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His latest book is, ""Death Of The Liberal Class."

Barry wears a beanie.

Let My People Go!
By Adam Keller

Last night, the night of the Passover Seder, the streets of Israel's cities were empty and deserted, and from the windows could be heard the singing of ancient hymns and passages from well-accustomed texts.

Slaves we were, now we are free. Slaves we were, now we are free! With hard labor, with mortar and with bricks, and with all manner of service in the field the Egyptians embittered our fathers' lives. We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, and our God took us out from there with a strong hand and with an outstretched arm. And if He had not taken our fathers out of Egypt, then we, our children and our children's children would still be enslaved to Pharaoh in Egypt. Not only our fathers did He redeem from Egypt, but also us did He redeem with them. Slaves we were, now we are free. Slaves we were, now we are free!

Already for forty-six year all these things have been read out and sung and chanted also by settlers in the Occupied Territories. Sitting down at armed enclaves surrounded by wire fences and walls and guarded by the soldiers of a mighty army, they told at length of slaves going out of bondage and into liberty. Did the echo of the singing reach the villages nearby whose land was confiscated and their springs clogged and their water taken away and their sons held behind bars and their roads blocked by military checkpoints? In the city of Hebron Palestinians held a protest march, their faces covered with masks of Martin Luther King, the Black leader who was deeply inspired by the story of the Exodus. When the Palestinian disciples of Martin Luther King dared s to get closer to the fences of the settler enclave at the heart of Hebron, soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces attacked them and beat them up, sprinkling them with tear gas and dragging them into custody, so as to ensure they would not interfere with the settlers' Passover festivities.

What is it which makes this Passover different from the forty five which preceded it, the forty five Passovers celebrated under an ongoing occupation and burgeoning settlement enterprise? This year, three days before Passover, we got a visit from Barack Hussein Obama. The Black man who managed to do what was long considered impossible and got elected President of the United States of America - elected, not just once but twice. The Black man who tried to remind us of the meaning of the holiday we are celebrating.

(...) I come to Israel on the eve of a sacred holiday - the celebration of Passover. And that is where I would like to begin today. Just a few days from now, Jews here in Israel and around the world will sit with family and friends at the Seder table, and celebrate with songs, wine and symbolic foods. After enjoying Seders with family and friends in Chicago and on the campaign trail, I'm proud to have brought this tradition into the White House. I did so because I wanted my daughters to experience the Haggadah, and the story at the center of Passover that makes this time of year so powerful.

It is a story of centuries of slavery, and years of wandering in the desert; a story of perseverance amidst persecution, and faith in God and the Torah. It is a story about finding freedom in your own land. For the Jewish people, this story is central to who you have become. But it is also a story that holds within it the universal human experience, with all of its suffering and salvation. It is a part of the three great religions - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam - that trace their origins to Abraham, and see Jerusalem as sacred. And it is a story that has inspired communities around the globe, including me and my fellow Americans.

To African-Americans, the story of the Exodus told a powerful tale about emerging from the grip of bondage to reach for liberty and human dignity - a tale that was carried from slavery through the civil rights movement. For generations, this promise helped people weather poverty and persecution, while holding on to the hope that a better day was on the horizon. For me personally, growing up in far-flung parts of the world and without firm roots, it spoke to a yearning within every human being for a home.

As Dr. Martin Luther King said on the day before he was killed - “I may not get there with you. But I want you to know that... we, as a people, will get to the promised land.”

For the Jewish people, the journey to the promise of the State of Israel wound through countless generations. It involved centuries of suffering and exile, prejudice, pogroms and even genocide. Through it all, the Jewish people sustained their unique identity and traditions, as well as a longing to return home. And while Jews achieved extraordinary success in many parts of the world, the dream of true freedom finally found its full expression in the Zionist idea - to be a free people in your homeland.”

“Peace is necessary. Indeed, it is the only path to true security. You can be the generation that permanently secures the Zionist dream, or you can face a growing challenge to its future. Given the demographics west of the Jordan River, the only way for Israel to endure and thrive as a Jewish and democratic state is through the realization of an independent and viable Palestine. Given the frustration in the international community, Israel must reverse an undertow of isolation. And given the march of technology, the only way to truly protect the Israeli people is through the absence of war - because no wall is high enough, and no Iron Dome is strong enough, to stop every enemy from inflicting harm.

This truth is more pronounced given the changes sweeping the Arab World. Peace must be made among peoples, not just governments. No one step can change overnight what lies in the hearts and minds of millions. But progress with the Palestinians is a powerful way to begin. The Palestinian people's right to self-determination and justice must also be recognized. Put yourself in their shoes - look at the world through their eyes. It is not fair that a Palestinian child cannot grow up in a state of her own, and lives with the presence of a foreign army that controls the movements of her parents every single day. It is not just when settler violence against Palestinians goes unpunished. It is not right to prevent Palestinians from farming their lands; to restrict a student's ability to move around the West Bank; or to displace Palestinian families from their home. Neither occupation nor expulsion is the answer. Just as Israelis built a state in their homeland, Palestinians have a right to be a free people in their own land."

Thus spoke Moses Obama to the ears of Israel, the State of Israel which has long since become a collective Pharaoh while continuing to speak at length of the Exodus from Egypt. And the hundreds of young Israelis who heard the speech responded with a prolonged standing ovation.

So, maybe this time the story will be a bit different. Maybe this time Pharaoh's heart would not be hardened. Maybe the Palestinians would go from bondage to liberty and from darkness into light and will be a free people in their own land, even without our waiting for ten plagues to come upon us.

Perhaps the most important thing we heard from Obama was: "Today, I want to tell you - particularly the young people - that so long as there is a United States of America, Ah-tem lo lah-vahd [you are not alone]." A promise very pleasing to the Israeli ear, but which contains - to those who can listen - also a warning and an alert. As long as the United States of America is there, we're not alone. But nowadays it is no longer science fiction to speak of the decline of America and reflect on the possibility that once upon a time the United States would no longer be the dominant power in the world. The day when the condition of the American Empire would approximate that of the British Empire and that even if it wanted to, America would not be able to offer much help to Israel. And should the Israeli Pharaoh continue to harden his heart until that moment, we might have to refer also to the continuation of the story. Also to a mighty wave of water descending upon horse and rider.
(c) 2013 Adam Keller is an Israeli peace activist who was among the founders of Gush Shalom.

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Israelis and Palestinians stood together, in total harmony, and agreed the President's speech was really silly and laughable.

Palestinians, Israelis Come Together To Mock Obama's Hopelessly Naive Speech

JERUSALEM-Coming together for the first time in generations, Palestinian and Israeli citizens were reportedly seen gathered at the West Bank today mocking President Obama's hopelessly naive speech proposing the possibility of a two-state solution. According to sources, members of both sides of the longstanding conflict united in fits of laughter and sarcastic applause at what they called an "extremely impractical" and "actually pretty hilarious" address.

"Give me a fucking break," said Palestinian citizen Hassan Tannous, 42, who, along with Israeli man Dov Eshel, rolled his eyes after Obama claimed that an independent Palestinian state is a viable and sustainable option. "The guy really thinks we're all going to work out this centuries-old war built on generations of religious and cultural resentment because he said some nice things about both sides-what an idiot."

"Oh God, and he really looked like he actually believed everything he was saying," added Tannous, who peacefully joined hands with Israelis and Palestinians and came together to mock Obama's remarks. "It really was pitiful, and sort of charming in a really simple-minded way."

Following the address, sources said Israelis and Palestinians spent over two hours standing among one another, reportedly slapping each others' backs and repeating their favorite parts of the American president's gullible calls for both sides to negotiate and make hard choices about peace.

Reports also confirmed that both sides exuded a hearty laugh after one of the Israelis mimicked a portion of Obama's speech in which he described a world where "Jews and Muslims and Christians can live in peace and prosperity in this Holy Land."

Sources confirmed that during this time not a single mortar shell was fired and not a single innocent civilian was shot.

"I think President Abbas and I can agree that the speech was one of the silliest things we have ever heard," said Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu, who was flanked by the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas. "We have come together to announce that there is very little chance of a two-state solution and violence will probably persist, but we both strongly believe that the president was just absolutely adorable up there today."

"And together, we can make fun of the president much more effectively than if we were apart," he added.

Sources reported that the unity between the Israelis and Palestinians continued well into the afternoon, when, after the laughter died down and eventually gave way to silence, three suicide bombers ignited their vests and sent everyone scattering back to their sides.
(c) 2013 The Onion

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Issues & Alibis Vol 13 # 13 (c) 03/29/2013

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