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In This Edition

Tom Engelhardt returns with, "Big Brother Isn't Watching You: You're Watching Him!"

Uri Avnery hears, "Son Of A Dog."

Glen Ford concludes, "Building Movement Politics Means Fighting Democrats."

Medea Benjamin gives, "10 Reasons To Fear John Bolton."

Jim Hightower wonders, "Could You Live On 'Psychic Income?'"

John Nichols shows, "What Congress Can Do To Check A Warmongering Lunatic."

James Donahue explores, "Our Ever Changing Magnetic Field."

Pepe Escobar finds, "Gaddafi's Ghost Haunts Walking-Dead King Sarko."

Heather Digby Parton reports, "Trump Is A Walking Blackmail Threat."

Ralph Nader says, "Ten Million Americans Could Bring H.R. 676 Into Reality Land-Relief For Anxiety, Dread And Fear."

Charles P. Pierce reminds us, "History Tells Us It's A Bad Idea To Doubt These Children."

Ted Rall explains, "Dishonest John Bolton Must Be Stopped. Here's Why."

William Rivers Pitt exposes, "The Batman Villain Behind Cambridge Analytica."

John Bolton wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich concludes, "The Buyback Boondoggle Is Beggaring America."

Chris Hedges explains, "'The Gig Economy' Is The New Term For Serfdom."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports, "John Bolton Warns War With North Korea Won't Be Cakewalk Like Iraq" but first Uncle Ernie exclaims, The Kids Are Alright!

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Tim Eagan, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Rubin Bolling, Mr. Fish, Justin Lane, Mark Wilson, Seth Wenig, National Nurses United, Oliver Contreras, Gage Skidmore, The Washington Post, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

The Quotable Quote...
The Vidkun Quisling Award...
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."

The photo on the left is real, the one on the right is a NRA photoshop!

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The Kids Are Alright!
By Ernest Stewart

The kids are alright, the kids are alright, the kids are alright!
The Kids Are Alright ~ The Who

"Glaciers are icons of climate change. We've used their observed retreat as a way of reaching back into past centuries to understand the changes we've caused. Studies like this tell us that the continued retreat of glaciers allows us to reach one or two hundred years into the future, and gain an appreciation of the changes we are already committed to." ~~~ Gerard Roe ~ University of Washington

"John Bolton came here, we talked to him. He's another one of those hawks...who never served in Vietnam. The only person, by the way, in military history who was classified 4F because of his mustache. That's very rare. But, you know, he was all gung-ho, John Bolton was, for the war in Iraq, wants now to mix it up big time with Iran and North Korea. He's what they call an asshole's asshole." ~~~ Bill Maher

"Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness." ~~~ Martin Luther King Jr.

Talk about having a deja vu all over again, eh Yogi! My generation and this the new generation could be as one. Needless to say I am very proud of American youth.

Emma Gonzalez, a student and survivor of the Parkland, Florida, stood on stage at the March for Our Lives for 6 minutes and 20 seconds and didn't say a word, stood there with tears running down her cheeks. After those minutes had gone by she finally said, "Six minutes and about 20 seconds. In a little over 6 minutes, 17 of our friends were taken from us, 15 were injured and everyone in the Douglas community was forever altered."

She was joined by more than 800,000 people on the Mall with more than 500,000 marching in other American cities and a like amount protesting around the world. Washington hasn't seen anything like this since my generation protested the Vietnam war!

Speakers at the Mall included Edna Chavez who lost her brother to gun violence and talked about the normalcy of gun violence in her neighborhood. "I've learned to duck from bullets before I learned how to read."

Parkland student David Hogg, who took videos of hiding with his classmates from the gunman said, "We are going to take this to every election, to every state and every city. When politicians send their thoughts and prayers with no action, we say, 'No more.'"

Eleven-year-old Naomi Wadler has worked to raise awareness of the African American girls and women who have been victims of gun violence but overlooked in the national conversation. She said: "I am here today to acknowledge and represent the African American girls whose stories don't make the front page of every national newspaper."

Cameron Kasky, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, told the crowd in Washington. "Welcome to the revolution. We are the change.... Represent us or get out."

Welcome to the revolution, indeed. My generation marched to end the war, end the draft, to get rid of Nixon, stop the pollution of the air and water, and help black folks to get their Constitution rights. Our kids pretty much did diddly, which was our fault, but our grand children are doing really good! Everybody fight the good fight!

In Other News

I see where global warming to date could wipe out a third of glacier ice. The warming the world has already experienced could be enough to melt more than a third of the world's glaciers outside Antarctica and Greenland, regardless of current efforts to reduce emissions.

There is a new study, which analyses the lag between global temperature rise and the retreat of glaciers.

As global temperatures have risen, many of the world's glaciers have already started to shrink and retreat. Continued warming could see many iconic landscapes - from the Rockies to the Mount Everest region of the Himalayas - lose almost all their glaciers by the end of the century. Worse yet is, no matter what we due the glaciers will continue to melt as they tend to lag behind on global warming. If we returned to normal tomorrow the glaciers would continue to melt for decades to come.

If all the glaciers outside of Antarctica and Greenland melted it would rise the sea level by 20 feet, if Antarctica and Greenland melted too the oceans would rise some 60 feet. How long can you tread water Miami, New York, Boston, San Diego, not to mention all those folks living inland and are not 60 feet above the ocean? Now might be a good time to sell that ocean front shack and replace it with a mountain view shack, ya think?

Oh, and did I mention for those folks living downstream of the glaciers that depend upon them for their water, shouldn't you plan on where you are going to go when the water runs out? It's always something folks, it's always something!

And Finally

Methinks Bill Maher said it best about Bolton, "He's an asshole's, asshole," and isn't that the truth! You know that it is, if you know anything about John Bolton. If you don't John is cheat and a liar and wants us to start WWlll! So if I told you he was a chicken hawk who joined the Maryland National Guard when his number came up for the draft, would it surprise you?

Did I mention that he was a protege of the far right-wing racist U.S. Senator Jesse Helms?

His Justice Department position as an assistant attorney general required him to advance Reagan administration positions, including opposition to financial reparations to Japanese-Americans held in World War II-era concentration camps; see American Happy Camps. He was also involved in the Iran-Contra affair!

He was a signatory to PNAC; Cheney's group that said the best thing that could happen to us was a new Pearl Harbor and then produced it on 911. It was a set up affair like FDR did to the Japanese in order to get us into WWII.

Bush (the dumber), in a recess appointment, made Bolton U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (2005-2006). It was a recess appointment because the Republican controlled Senate wouldn't vote for him. Like current Trump appointees, he hated and wanted to disband the United Nations. Could have that appointment been for his leading the charge against counting all the votes when Papa's appointees on the Extreme Court handed the 2000 election to Bush after Al Gore had actually won it? And folks that's just the tip of the ice berg. He wants to tear up the Iran nuclear agreement and attack both Iran and North Korea!

Finally, while not being his worst offenses, he's set-back wearing a moustache for at the least one hundred years!

Keepin' On

Last week we hit the jackpot, this week, not so much.

Ergo, to keep this up, we need your help. We're all willing to keep working for you for free; but the folks that keep us on the Internet and allow us to use their artwork and artists, their software, their spaces all want their due. Unlike us, they're in it for the money and have no senses of humor when the bills come due. No license, no articles!

So if you could, would you please send us whatever you can, whenever you can, and we'll keep on bringing you the news that you need to know, the truth of the matter that can no longer be found in the Lame Stream Media as all of it is owned lock, stock, and barrel by our 1% masters, and run for their benefit alone. So, if you care about things like the truth, and reality, please visit the donations page and follow the directions! We thank you!


11-30-1968 ~ 03-23-2018
Thanks for the film!

11-08-1932 ~ 03-27-2018
Thanks for the film!


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

Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2018 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.

President Donald Trump speaks to guests during a Greek Independence Day
celebration in the East Room of the White House, on March 22, 2018 in Washington, DC.

Big Brother Isn't Watching You: You're Watching Him!
Tom Engelhardt

A record? Come on! Don't minimize what's happening. It's far too unique, too unprecedented even to be classified as "historic." Call it mega-historic, if you wish. Never from Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar to Soviet despot Joseph Stalin, from the Sun King Louis the XIV to President Ronald Reagan, from George Washington to Barack Obama, has anyone -- star, icon, personality, president, autocrat, emperor -- been covered in anything like this fashion.

In our American world, the only comparison might be to a few days of media coverage of the assassination of John F. Kennedy or the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan or, in more recent times, a terror attack like the one in San Bernardino. Keep in mind, though, that such coverage has been going on for more than two and a half years now. So here's another possible point of comparison, though it only lasted a couple of hours almost a quarter of a century ago. In fact, it may be the most appropriate comparison of all in a landscape in which shrinking media outlets have been scrambling to glue eyeballs to page or screen in an otherwise dazzling landscape of distraction. Think of Donald Trump's White House sojourn so far as our first white Ford Bronco presidency.

Imagine that, in June 2015, The Donald hadn't swept down that Trump Tower escalator into the presidential race to the sounds of Neil Young's "Rockin' in the Free World," but had instead slipped behind the wheel of OJ Simpson's infamous white Ford Bronco and headed off on the nearest highway, the one leading directly into all our brains. The two hours that Simpson spent armed in that vehicle in 1994, four days after the murder of his wife, with the police trailing him and TV news helicopters hovering overhead, would prove to be our first experience of the reality TV version of the "news" in which we're now immersed. If you remember, it seemed to unfold in something like slow motion as roadside crowds turned out to cheer the "Juice" on. It would essentially be two hours of nothing whatsoever that nonetheless seemed to supersede everything else on Earth, two hours during which Americans ordered record amounts of home-delivered pizza, while watching traffic flowing on a highway to nowhere. In the process, a vision of mayhem that might otherwise have passed for boredom was etched permanently into the media's DNA.

Think of Donald Trump as the OJ Simpson of our moment and those hours on that highway as a preview of what media life (which, with the arrival of the handheld screen, has become more or less all life) turned out to be. Think of Donald Trump's presidential run and now presidency as a never-ending white Ford Bronco ride, and if you accept that, all that remains to be asked is who was murdered (democracy?) and did he do it?

All Trump All the Time

Here, in my opinion, may be the strangest thing of all. Who doesn't sense just how unprecedented the media spectacle of our moment is? Every single day is a new Trump dawn, a new firing or appointment at the White House, a new tweet storm, a new outrageous statement or policy, a new insult, a new lie or misstatement, a new bit of news about Stormy Daniels or other women who -- your choice -- had affairs with, were groped by, defamed by, or silenced by him, and so on down an endlessly repetitive list of what has become "the news" more or less 24/7 or perhaps more accurately 24/365 (with not a holiday in sight).

Who wouldn't agree with that? And yet have you noticed how little such coverage is itself actually covered? At least during the election campaign you could get some overview numbers on the blitz of attention the media was giving candidate Trump. It was regularly said, for instance, that he had gotten $5 billion in free advertising in those endless months in which his face, rants, tweets, nicknames, his... well, you name it... was eternally front and center in our media lives.

Post-election, nothing has really changed and yet when was the last time you saw a mainstream news article on such an unprecedented phenomenon? When did anyone front page the fact that no human being in history has ever been covered in this fashion, a fashion that gives the very word "cover" a grim new meaning?

I mean I'm just one guy. My resources are slim. I have no studies commissioned on this subject and little to draw on except my own experience of everyday life. So here's the closest I can come to catching the nature of that coverage for you. I go to the gym almost every day. There's a waiting area I pass through on my route in and out of the men's locker room. On one wall is a large-screen TV. Sometimes, it's tuned to sports, but mostly it has the cable news on. Basketball games aside, it really doesn't matter what time I arrive, or whether it's MSNBC, CNN, or even on the rarest of occasions (this is New York City, after all!) Fox News, here's what's always the same: on screen are those ever-present talking heads yakking away about, well, Donald Trump or something related to him (the Mueller investigation, the steel and aluminum or Chinese tariffs, Stormy Daniels, the president's Putin bromance... you know the list) and under them there's that crawl, that news ticker, the one that, day in, day out, is always -- and I mean always -- scrolling away on subjects about or related to Donald Trump.

Recently, I started jotting down samples from my brief moments passing through that waiting area and here's what I got: "Trump turning to key allies to fill top cabinet posts"; "Daniels's lawyer: Trump pursuing $20 million in bogus damages"; "Poll: Trump gets bump but Dems widen midterm edge"; "McCain slams Trump for congratulating Putin on reelection"; "Polygraph: porn star truthful about unprotected sex with Trump"; "Lawsuits putting new attention on Trump's past deals to silence accusers"; "Trump Russia probe lawyer John Dowd resigns"; "Trump turns to Bush-era Iraq War architect who advocated military strikes on Iran, North Korea."

And it's not just cable news. Take my hometown newspaper, the New York Times. Never -- of this I have no doubt -- has it covered a president, his doings, and those of his administration this way. As it cuts its copyediting staff (and grammatical errors become a more regular part of its news reports), it has assigned a staggering number of reporters to Donald J. Trump and his doings.

Consider, for instance, the Times front page of March 8th. The two articles atop its right side dealt with Trump's steel and aluminum tariff decision ("More than 100 Republican lawmakers implored President Trump to drop plans...") and the firings and departures plaguing his White House ("Aides' Exodus Leaves Trump to His Instinct"). The mid-page story under a photo of a New Yorker with an umbrella in "thundersnow" was headlined "Porn Actress's Trump Claims Shift, Noisily, to Legal System." And to the left of that was a piece on a Trumpian attack on California's immigration policy ("Attorney General Jeff Sessions sued California this week for not doing enough...").

In other words, across the top of that front page, there was no world but a Trumpian one, or put another way (which is why I happened to save that front section), leaving aside the actual thundersnow storm that hit New York (page A25), there were two other "stormy" articles that day: the Stormy Daniels piece, obviously considered the far more newsworthy and front-paged, while left for page A2O was a piece on a new report suggesting that, given the impact of climate change and "land subsidence" in the San Francisco Bay Area, significantly more of that region than expected was likely to be underwater or subject to disastrous flooding in 2100.

The reportorial effort involved in all of this was striking. Two of the four front-page Trump pieces were the work of two reporters, so five reporters -- Peter Baker twice, Adam Liptak, Maggie Haberman, Jim Rutenberg, and Ana Swanson -- get credit for producing the group of them.

Of the nine pages of national news inside the paper, approximately five were dedicated to Trump-related pieces (GOP doubts about the president; unease on Wall Street over the departure of economic adviser Gary Cohn; the way Trump campaign workers scored jobs in the new administration; reaction to the Trump tax cut in Ohio; the latest on Trump and the Mueller investigation; former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg's agreement to testify for that investigation; and more on Sessions, California, and immigrants). Those pieces absorbed the time and attention of 10 more reporters (and Maggie Haberman a second time).

Two more reporters and another half-page should be added for a piece in the international news section ("Kushner Goes to Mexico, A Shift in US Diplomacy"), and both of the editorials on the opinion page that day ("Gary Cohn Joins the Exodus" and "The Race-Based Mortgage Penalty," which started, "As the Trump administration begins to gut federal enforcement of civil rights laws...") were Trump-focused. On the op-ed page, the very headlines of two of its four columns ("Mr. Trump, Here's a Hero; It's Your Turn" and "Is Trump About to Start a Trade War?") were similarly oriented, and a third column dealt with the president at least in passing.

That's 15 reporters, three op-ed writers, and the unnamed people who produced those editorials. And on any given day of the Trump era so far, you stood a reasonable chance of finding something similar in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and elsewhere across the shrinking world of American newspapers and far more of the same, hour after hour of it, on cable news. And yet you already know that this seemingly overwhelming media reality goes largely unnoted and unacknowledged in those same papers and news shows.

An All-American Cult of Personality

Believe me, if this were happening in Russia or China (The cult of Putin! The cult of Xi!), it would be a major news story and treated as such. After all, thought of a certain way, what we've been watching is indeed the creation of an all-American cult of personality (quite literally so when it comes to Trump's "base," as any of his rallies suggest). And yet that and the media's role in it isn't news.

Admittedly, Donald Trump is a hell of a story. And for a media filled with shrinking news staffs and desperate to find ways to hold onto or increase readership or viewership, he's a godsend (as well as a monster). After all, his greatest skill -- the one he's spent a lifetime perfecting -- is undoubtedly his unerring instinct for just how to attract the camera under more or less any circumstances. The result, however, is a picture of the world that's deceptive in the extreme. These days, if you only watched TV and read mainstream papers, you would be excused for thinking that we were in a world of Donald Trump and little else. By now, he's all but blotted out the sun itself. In this sense, for instance, he isn't so much a climate-change denier in an administration filled with them and dedicated to the promotion of fossil fuels as a climate-change obliterator. (Hence, p. A20 is the only spot left for that "little" story on the sinking of San Francisco.) And doesn't all this suit him to a T? Yes, he hates and excoriates the "fake news media." Can there be any doubt that the negative treatment he regularly receives from all outlets except Fox News does indeed get under his skin, big time. But above all, good news or bad, who can't feel that his deepest desire is simply to be the news, any kind of news, all kinds of news -- and in this he has succeeded beyond anyone's wildest imaginings?

Back in the 1960s and early 1970s, with the help of a thoroughly controlled party press, Communist Party leader Mao Zedong developed a remarkable cult of personality that blotted out just about everything else in China. He, his face, even the mole on that face, loomed over the landscape in an unprecedented way. He was literally looking at you wherever you were in that country.

Donald Trump is evidently our upside-down version of Mao, a major difference being that the media that rushed to create his all-American personality cult did so without either official approval or the threat of a draconian state forcing it to do so. As Trump himself insists almost daily, our "crazed" media has not been brought to heel at all. And yet, the effect is in some ways eerily similar. These days, you can't really escape that big, ambling, shambling, rambling body, that pugnaciously jut-jawed red face topped by the iconic orange comb-over (his equivalent of Mao's mole).

Back in 1948, George Orwell imagined a society 36 years in the future in which, no matter where you went, "Big Brother" was watching you. That certainly fit the desires, if not the capabilities, of totalitarian governments in that twentieth century moment. It even fit with certain tendencies Orwell believed he saw in western capitalist society. And he wasn't wrong: the urge to surveil populations has only grown in our American world in the years since in ways that would have blown the minds of the Communist leaders of that past era.

Seven decades after Orwell's dystopian classic 1984 was published, we in the United States do indeed find ourselves in a full-scale surveillance society -- and that world, as Edward Snowden let us know in such a memorable fashion back in 2013, preceded Donald Trump. But when it comes to Trump, here's the curious thing that Orwell himself couldn't have imagined: Big Brother isn't watching us, we're forever watching him.

Donald Trump, the president we meet in the media every hour of every day, blots out much of the rest of the world and much of what's meaningful in it. Such largely unexamined, never-ending coverage of his doings represents a triumph of the first order both for him (no matter how he rails against the media) and for an American cult of personality that will take us who knows where (but nowhere good).
(c) 2018 Thomas M. "Tom" Engelhardt is an American writer and editor. He is the creator of The Nation Institute's, an online blog. He is also the co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of the 1998 book, The End of Victory Culture: Cold War America and the Disillusioning of a Generation.

Son Of A Dog
By Uri Avnery

THE CLOSER Mahmoud Abbas gets to the end of his reign, the more extreme his language becomes.

Recently he spoke about Donald Trump and uttered the words "May your house be destroyed." In Arabic this is a common curse, and sounds less extreme than in English. But even in Arabic this is not a usual phrase when speaking about a head of state.

This week Abbas spoke about the US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, and called him a "Son of a Dog." This, too, sounds in Arabic slightly less offensive than in English, but is hardly diplomatic.

It is hard to say that Friedman does not deserve it, though I would have wished, as a dog-lover, the Abbas had chosen another animal.

Friedman is a kippah-wearing Jew, who identifies completely with the most extreme settlers in the occupied territories. He certainly would be more fitting as Israeli ambassador to the US than as US ambassador to Israel.

That would be problematic, too, because he has called liberal American Jews "worse than Capos" - "Capos" (short for "camp police") were the prisoners who assisted the Nazis in the concentration camps.

To appoint such a Jewish fascist ambassador to Israel is - well - chutzpah. This could not happen in a normal country, which does not send an ambassador to a country in which he or she has a personal involvement. But Trump does not care. Not for Israel and not for Palestine.

SO WHAT does Trump really care about? He cares about votes in US elections.

Sending a religious Jew to serve as his ambassador in Jerusalem may gain him some votes in the US Jewish community. American Jews generally vote for the Democrats. Why? Out of habit. Generations of new immigrants to the US have voted for the Democratic party - the Irish before the Jews, the Asians after the Jews.

But most American Jews will continue to vote for the Democrats, in spite of the kippah on the head of Friedman. There are voices in the Jewish community which accuse their leaders of neglecting their own concerns, such as rising anti-Semitism, and spending all their energies supporting Israel's extreme right-wing government.

But Trump has far more important supporters: the millions of evangelists. These peculiar Christian fanatics have a special vision: they believe that Jesus Christ will return once all the Jews congregate in the Holy Land. They do not like to mention what they expect to happen next: the Jews will convert to Christianity, and those who do not will perish.

Sounds strange? It sure is strange. But Trump needs these millions of votes, without which he would not have been elected in the first place. He acts according to the beliefs of this sect.

As a result, the President of the US totally ignores the rights of the Palestinian people and their aspirations. According to him, the Palestinians must accept what is offered to them, as a dog must accept what his master throws to him and wag his tail. What exactly? Trump's masterful Peace Plan is still wrapped in secrecy. But it is enough to know who is in charge of it: his Jewish son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

So it is natural for Abbas to despair. He knows that during his remaining days in office, nothing good will happen to the Palestinians.

NEVER SINCE the emergence of the modern Palestinian nation has its situation been as dire as it is now.

The inhabitants of Palestine began to feel like a nation at the end of World War I, when the Ottoman Empire broke down. Photos of demonstrations held at the time in Jerusalem show the new Palestinian flag - black, white, green and red. Until then, the Palestinians were generally considered "South Syrians". But when Syria was turned over to the French and Palestine to the British, this tie was broken.

Since then, the Palestinians have experienced many events: the Zionist influx, the Great Arab Rebellion of 1936, the United Nations partition resolution of 1947, the end of British rule, the war of 1948, the Naqbah (catastrophe), the several wars, the rise and murder of Yasser Arafat, and more. But never was their situation as desperate as now.

True, the heart of all the Arab peoples, and indeed all the Muslim peoples, has remained true to the Palestinians. But there is no Arab - or Muslim - government which is not ready to sell the Palestinian cause for its own interests.

Throughout the world there is a lot of sympathy for the Palestinians, but no government would lift a finger for them. And the most powerful country in the world is now their open enemy.

AS IF all this was not enough, the Palestinians themselves are deeply divided between the PLO in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. This is so much in the interest of the Israeli government that it is difficult not to suspect that it is involved.

Between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River there live now about 13 million people, about half of them Jews and the other half Arabs. The Arabs may have a slight majority, which will grow continuously because of their higher birth rate. That does frighten the Zionist demographers. But they "cut off" the Gaza Strip from the rest of the country, pretending that its 2 million inhabitants do not belong to Palestine. That makes the problem seem a little less frightening.

This is the situation now. There is a tacit agreement in Israel not to "count" the inhabitants of the Strip. They are not there. There is only the West Bank, which must be Judaized.

A DESPERATE situation has one advantage: it encourages the search for new solutions.

That is happening now on the Palestinian side. Without waiting for the stepping down of Abbas and the appointment of a new leader, new ideas are popping up.

Yasser Arafat once explained to me why he entered the path to Oslo. We tried everything, he said. We tried the armed struggle. We tried diplomacy. We tried full-scale wars. Everything failed. So we entered a new road: peace with Israel. (The first sign was Arafat's inviting me to a meeting in Beirut.)

It is clear now that Oslo has failed. Yitzhak Rabin was murdered. In Israel the extreme right is in power. It steals the land and puts settlers on it. Israel has a leader who hates the Palestinians, an annexationist from birth.

The path to peace is blocked. The generation of Mahmoud Abbas, the generation of Yasser Arafat, has reached the end of its road.

And here comes a new generation. In a few weeks, a new chapter in the Palestinian story may start.

There have always been voices in the Palestinian community who advocated non-violent struggle. They found no listeners, because in Arab tradition, struggles are generally violent. Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela were not Muslims.

Now the idea of the non-violent struggle is raising its head. Not because of its moral aspect, but because it promises results.

: In a few weeks, the Palestinians will start a non-violent campaign. Its declared aim is the return of the refugees. Thousands of Palestinians are about to march to the borders with Israel, first in the Gaza Strip and then in other places. They will not confront the Israeli army, and not break through the fences. Instead they will put up tent camps on the Palestinian side of the fences and stay there for a long time.

This is a well-tried method. The sleepy Palestinian cause will suddenly return to life. From all over the world, journalists will come and see. The camps will become centers of world attention. Throughout Europe and the world, solidarity camps will spring up. In the Arab countries, the princes and Emirs will find it hard to suppress demonstrations of sympathy.

And what then? Allah is great.

IN MY eyes, this plan has one great defect: the official aim.

If the protest movement concentrated on the aim of Palestinian independence, the world would give its blessing. There is now a world-wide consensus in favor of Palestinian statehood and the end of the Israeli occupation. In Israel, too, this aim has a lot of supporters. "Two States" or one colonial state, independence or occupation - the choice is clear.

The refugee problem is quite different. During the war of 1948, some 650 thousand Palestinians were displaced, either in the turmoil of the fighting or as a deliberate Israeli policy. By now, their families have grown to 6 million.

Some live in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, some in the countries around Israel and throughout the world. Some have taken root and started a new life, some are still refugees, supported by the international community. All are longing for their ancestral homes.

Bringing them back would mean the end of Israel, the displacement of millions of Israelis. This would be possible only through war. The very idea frightens every Israeli.

Is there no solution? I believe there is. Once, after a very emotional meeting with Palestinian refugees in America, I told my wife: "You know what my impression is? That these people are less interested in an actual return than in moral compensation. They want Israel to confess and apologize."

When drawing up plans for peace, I proposed (a) to apologize officially, (b) to allow the return of a symbolic number of refugees, (c) to pay compensation to all others.

How many would be allowed to return? A number of 100 thousand has been mentioned. I believe that we can do much better. In a situation of peace and reconciliation, even the addition of half a million to Israel's present 1.5 million Palestinian citizens would be acceptable.

I discussed this solution with Yasser Arafat. My impression was that he agreed more or less, though he kept the refugee issue as a bargaining chip. Anyhow, this is no longer the main problem on the way of peace.

So why go back 70 years? In a major Palestinian campaign, as planned now, why not concentrate on the main point: an end to the occupation, a State of Palestine next to the State of Israel?

THE NON-VIOLENT struggle is an excellent idea.

It reminds me of a saying of the late Abba Even: "People and states always do the right thing - after all other possibilities have been exhausted."
(c) 2018 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Building Movement Politics Means Fighting Democrats
By Glen Ford

Cops "have the right to shoot us, they get away with it every day," said a despairing Dawnya Walker, one of 300 community residents that descended on Sacramento, California's city hall to protest the police killing of Stephon Clark in his grandmother's backyard. The numbers show that Walker is correct: U.S. police enjoy near-absolute impunity to gun down young Black males without any reasonable fear of punishment. Eight years of a Black, Democratic president in the Oval Office made not the slightest dent in that American reality, despite the re-emergence in 2014 of an incipient social justice movement under the heading of Black Lives Matter.

The youthful insurgency lost momentum -- waylaid by the inexorable pull of Democratic Party politics and corporate philanthropy -- long before Donald Trump entered the White House and installed a pure Dixiecrat as attorney general. Trumpian malevolence cast an orange chill across Black America. "It has been a long time since any victim was given as much attention as Stephon Clark," writes Margaret Kimberley, in the current of issue of BAR.

There is "movement" afoot in the U.S., but it does not "arc towards justice." Ever since Trump's electoral victory, the collective national consciousness has been smothered in a maddening fog of manic, industrial-scale propaganda, spewed non-stop by corporate communications conglomerates working hand-in-glove with the most aggressive elements of the surveillance-intelligence "community" and the bi-partisan War Party. We are enveloped in a toxic miasma of Russia-hate that, by sheer weight and repetition, has infested every aspect of American political thought, distorting and subverting even the most progressive-minded "movements" struggling to find a way towards human dignity under late stage capitalism in a profoundly racist country. Voices for peace and social justice are asphyxiated in the pestilential plume -- unless they find their own air.

Damn right, there is a conspiracy -- possibly the loudest one in history! -- megaphoned by a billionaire-owned media screaming "War, War, War" day and night, fouling the public mind with pure reactionary malice. The duopoly contest has devolved into a dance of death between Donald Trump's raw white supremacist nationalism and Democratic Party corporate imperial warmongering. Only fools claim there is space for progressive maneuver in the interstices between such forces.

What is needed is clarity among genuine leftists and serious Black liberationists in the face of rampaging reaction. There is no lesser evil in this house of fear and apocalyptic brinksmanship. The Democrats have colluded in a budget whose gargantuan military outlays will inevitably doom what's left of the U.S. social safety net -- that is, if the human race is not annihilated, beforehand. They have replaced and outshouted the John McCain's and Lindsay Graham's of the Republican Party in demonizing, not just Vladimir Putin, but every government and movement in the world that resists U.S. lawlessness and aggression.

The Democratic Party remains under the firm control of the Clinton/Obama forces that reinforced mass Black incarceration in the Nineties and militarized the police at unprecedented levels in this century through the Pentagon's 1033 program. In the absence of a renewed, grassroots street offensive against the armed occupation of Black communities, there will be no relief from the daily slaughter and the accompanying political evisceration of Black America.

Yes, it is certain that Trump's very presence encourages the most swinish elements of the police. But it is also true that the Democrats -- including Black Democrats -- have controlled the city governments that maintain the police state in Black neighborhoods and relentlessly disperse our people through gentrification.

And now it is the Democrats that take the lead in purging the Internet of dissenting political views, under the guise of defending fragile American minds against foreign manipulation. Silicon Valley -- the big business sector most supportive of Clinton/Obama Democrats -- is thus given license to shape reality in ways that make corporate dictatorship appear both logical and inevitable. Trump's troglodytes could never finesse such a hijacking of fundamental democratic rights, but the Democrats are pulling it off with alarming speed. There's nothing "lesser" about this evil.

When the Democrats got their wish, that Trump win the Republican presidential nomination, they became the predominant party of the U.S. ruling class and the most aggressive defenders of empire. Into Hillary Clinton's campaign "Big Tent" slivered the dregs of the national security state, for whom peaceful coexistence among nations is anathema. Bernie Sanders cannot purge them from their central position in the party. The World Socialist Web Site reports that "an extraordinary number of former intelligence and military operatives from the CIA, Pentagon, National Security Council and State Department are seeking nomination as Democratic candidates for Congress in the 2018 midterm elections." By WSWS's count, if the Democrats capture a majority of seats in the House this November, "candidates drawn from the military-intelligence apparatus will comprise as many as half of the new Democratic members of Congress."

Such a party is incompatible with any domestic social justice agenda -- and a threat to the survival of the species. The Left's job is to disentangle our people from the political clutches of the ruling class and to build independent people's organizations. The Republicans are a white people's problem, but Black activists cannot confront the police, the oligarchs or the warmongers without fighting the Democrats.
(c) 2018 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

The National Security Advisor position does not need Senate confirmation, so
starting April 9, the hawk of all hawks, John Bolton, will be perched at the White House.

10 Reasons To Fear John Bolton
And this is just for starters...
By Medea Benjamin

Let's not mince words: John Bolton is a war-monger and his appointment to be Donald Trump's National Security Advisor is a threat to global security. Bolton advocates a foreign policy that exaggerates threats, belittles diplomacy, shows contempt for international institutions and is quick to use violence. The National Security Advisor position does not need Senate confirmation, so starting April 9, the hawk of all hawks will be perched at the White House.

Need specifics on why we should oppose Bolton? Here are some. Add your own.

1. Bolton wants to shred the Iran nuclear deal...and bomb Iran. Bolton hates the nuclear deal that was signed under Obama's watch not only by the U.S. and Iran, but also by Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia, and the EU. Although the deal is working and even Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said it is in our national interest, Bolton calls the Iran deal a massive strategic blunder. On May 12, when Trump is required to re-certify that Iran has been complying with the deal, Bolton makes it more likely that the US will pull out of the deal, triggering a major international crisis. Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council, says, "People, let this be very clear: The appointment of Bolton is essentially a declaration of war with Iran."

2. Bolton is in bed with an Iranian terrorist organization called MEK, a fringe group that was listed as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the United States until 2012 and is still considered a terrorist organization inside Iran. Bolton routinely meets with and accepts payments from the group, which has been responsible for the murder of American soldiers, the attempted kidnapping of a U.S. Ambassador, and many violent attacks inside Iran. Bolton considers the MEK a 'viable opposition' that he wants to use to overthrow the Iranian government. With Bolton in power, one of the most detested Iranian cults will be treated by the US government as legitimate representatives of the Iranian people.

3. Bolton will jeopardize talks with North Korea. The world breathed a sigh of relief at the announcement that Presidents Trump and Kim Jung-un would meet in May. But with Bolton, that meeting may never take place, or could be disastrous. Bolton says, "Talking to North Korea is worse than a mere waste of time. Negotiations legitimize the dictatorship, affording it more time to enhance its nuclear and ballistic-missile capabilities." Instead of talks, Bolton has called for the United States to launch a preemptive strike against North Korea, a strike that could spark a nuclear war.

4. Bolton hates the United Nations and international law. When George Bush nominated Bolton to be UN ambassador in 2005, he proved so controversial to even the Republican-controlled Senate that Bush had to sneak him in as a "recess appointment" when Congress was not in session. It is one thing to be critical of the UN but Bolton opposes its very existence. "There is no such thing as the United Nations," he once said, adding, "If the U.N. Secretariat building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn't make a lot of difference." More than that, he is hostile to the concept of international law, having once declared, "It is a big mistake for us to grant any validity to international law even when it may seem in our short-term interest to do so—because over the long term, the goal of those who think that international law really means anything are those who want to constrain the United States."

5. Bolton was a key instigator of the Iraq war and has no regrets. He was a major figure (along with Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld) pushing for the invasion of Iraq. During the Bush presidency, when he was Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control, he helped fabricate evidence about weapons of mass destruction that led to the March 2003 invasion. And he is one of the few original advocates for that war who still insist it was a good idea.

6. Bolton provided false information about Cuba. As Undersecretary of State, Bolton claimed that Havana was attempting to develop biological weapons and sell them to rogue regimes. Then he tried to fire two intelligence analysts who challenged his erroneous allegations. Bolton has also urged that stronger sanctions be imposed on Cuba, and put Cuba on his "axis of evil" list.

7. He is no friend of the Palestinians. When he was at the United Nations, he constantly protected Israel by vetoing all UN resolutions targeting Israel. Bolton praised Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, breaking with decades of international consensus that the disputed city's status must be negotiated between the two sides. He opposes a Palestinian state, saying, "I don't think there are institutions on the Palestinian side that can live up to the commitments of a treaty with Israel...or could resist takeover by terrorist elements." His solution? Get rid of Palestinians by merging Gaza with Egypt and the West Bank with Jordan.

8. Bolton will create new problems with China. He has been an ardent supporter of diplomatic recognition of Taiwan, and was paid by the Taiwanese government. He advised the Trump administration to reconsider the "One China" policy, an agreement made in 1972 that requires countries to choose between diplomatic relations with China or diplomatic relations with Taiwan. His antagonistic stance toward China could have a negative impact on issues ranging from North Korea and the South China Sea to cyberspace and trade.

9. He hangs out with Islamophobes. Bolton has a decade-long history of associating with anti-Islam activist Pamela Geller, appearing on her internet radio program "Atlas on the Air" and on her video blog. Geller is well-known for her inflammatory public comments about Muslims and the idea that they are trying to impose Sharia law in the US. Bolton wrote the foreword to the book she co-wrote with fellow anti-Islamist Robert Spencer called "The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration's War on America."

10. His white walrus mustache should immediately disqualify him. According to former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, president-elect Trump passed on nominating John Bolton to a senior Cabinet position because he didn't like Bolton's signature mustache. With his hairy upper lip, Bolton just didn't "look the part." We agree. Trump should immediately rescind the offer in favor of someone with less facial hair.

(c) 2018 Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace, is the author of the new book, Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi Connection. Her previous books include: Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control; Don't Be Afraid Gringo: A Honduran Woman Speaks from the Heart, and (with Jodie Evans) Stop the Next War Now (Inner Ocean Action Guide). Follow her on Twitter: @medeabenjamin

Could You Live On 'Psychic Income?'
By Jim Hightower

Today's corporate captains like to think of themselves not as mere businesspeople, but as modern society's innovation geniuses.

But, innovation for what purpose? After all, some of society's most inventive minds are flimflammers, Ponzi-schemers, gamers, embezzlers... thieves. Sure enough, too much innovation coming out of corporate suites these days amounts to shameless schemes to dupe and rip-off rank-and-file workers.

The latest one is a hustle called "gamification," an attempt by such giants as T-Mobile and Walt Disney to give game-like, "psychological" prizes to employees - rather than giving pay raises or cash bonuses. As the honchos of United Airlines learned, however, not everyone bites the corporate bait.

United recently announced a new fun game for employees - rather than giving standard bonus payments this year, bosses were creating a dazzling sweepstakes lottery, with such WOW! prizes as luxury cars and $100,000 in cash. But the sizzle quickly fizzled as United's 90,000 workers realized that more than 99-percent of them would get zero. United had hoped the game would create "excitement" among the rank-and-file, but instead it created resentment. Workers, naturally preferring bonus cash to bogus corporate excitement, rebelled with such fury that United is now reconsidering the switch.

That case aside, however, the corporate push to replace real pay with cheap "psychic income" (such as bosses handing out good-work badges or doling out tickets for a sporting event) is on the rise. Major corporations are even hiring "chief behavioral officers" to analyze reams of personal data on employees to devise non-cash ways to motivate them.

This is Jim Hightower saying... What we have here is the deterioration of executive ethics to the point that openly gaming and cheating America's workaday majority is considered fair play.
(c) 2018 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition. Jim writes The Hightower Lowdown, a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America's ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at

John Bolton arrives for a meeting with Donald Trump at Trump Tower in New York City on December 2, 2016.

What Congress Can Do To Check A Warmongering Lunatic
John Bolton's appointment as national-security adviser does not require Senate confirmation. That doesn't mean Congress is powerless.
By John Nichols

John Bolton is not a savvy analyst of global affairs with a record of smart thinking on the diplomatic and defense challenges facing the United States. He's the opposite of that. Bolton's not even a credible conservative veteran of the diplomatic corps. He's a right-wing political hack whose electoral machinations go back to his days as a 15-year-old Students for Goldwater organizer and extend through his dramatic interventions on behalf of the George W. Bush campaign to shut down recounts of Florida's 2000 presidential vote.

For his record of thuggish and unthinking partisanship, Bolton has been rewarded with positions of power and influence. But he has always made a mess of things-so much so that his "thanks-for-what-ya-done-in-Tallahassee" selection as Bush's ambassador to the United Nations was cut short by the fact that he could never muster sufficient support from a Republican-run Senate to gain an initial confirmation or extend his recess appointment.

It was a Republican senator, Ohio's George Voinovich, who in 2005 warned the chamber that giving in to Bolton's nomination would "put at risk our nation's ability to successfully wage and win the war on terror." An even more conservative Republican, South Dakota Senator John Thune, said he rejected Bolton because the United States should "take our diplomatic posture just as seriously as we take our defense posture"-which was not something he imagined Bolton was capable of doing.

Bolton did nothing to ease concerns about his extremism during a brief yet chaotic tenure at the United Nations, or during an ensuing decade when he occupied himself by raising money for his political action committee and attempting to stir interest in 2012 and 2016 Republican presidential bids that both ended before they began. Indeed, he traveled in such nefarious international circles that one of the top Senate experts on foreign-policy concerns, Virginia Democrat Tim Kaine, has questioned whether Bolton will be able to obtain a full security clearance for White House work.

Shortly after the 2016 election, there was reason to believe that Bolton's experience as a hyper-ventilating Fox News personality had impressed Donald Trump sufficiently to put the former UN ambassador in the running for a high-level State Department position. But that fantasy was abandoned after Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky announced that he would organize Republicans to vote with Democrats against Bolton. "I'll do whatever it takes to stop someone like John Bolton being secretary of state," said Paul. "He's opposed to everything Donald Trump ran on: that the Iraq war was a mistake, regime change made us less safe in the Middle East, including in Iraq.... I don't know how a President Trump could appoint someone who's diametrically opposed to everything Donald Trump ran on."

Paul was more or less right in his assessment. Trump had run as a critic of the Iraq War madness of Bush, Cheney, and neoconservative fabulists like Bolton. But Trump has not governed as a he ran; he has governed as the self-absorbed hypocrite that he is. So it should come only a small-if deeply unsettling-surprise that Bolton is now Trump's pick to serve as the president's national-security adviser.

The strategy behind appointing Bolton national-security adviser is clear enough: It puts him in a position of immense power that does not require Senate confirmation. Bolton's war-hawk ranting about Iraq, North Korea, and most other hot spots and his casual talk about regime change and first-strike assaults on states with nuclear programs would have sunk him in a confirmation fight.

The position of national-security adviser is a unique sinecure. It should be occupied by a responsible individual, but unfortunately it could be filled instead by a man who is referred to as "a warmongering lunatic."

It will not be easy to challenge the Bolton selection, or to provide traditional oversight of Trump's increasingly dangerous inner circle. But that should not prevent aggressive scrutiny and calculated moves to limit the threat posed by a nominee whom Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders correctly describes as "absolutely the wrong person to be national security adviser now."

Congressman Barbara Lee, the California Democrat who has consistently seen through the cynical lies and crude political manipulations that have sought to steer the United States into unnecessary and frequently unconstitutional wars, has the right attitude regarding Bolton.

She has decried the selection, saying: "This is dangerous news for the country and the world. John Bolton was easily one of the most extreme, pro-war members of the Bush Administration. Imagine what havoc he could wreak whispering in Donald Trump's ear."

"I hear the drumbeats of war," warns Lee, who last week explained: "A national security strategy developed by John Bolton will surely and inevitably lead to more war. I will do everything in my power to stop warmonger John Bolton from becoming National Security Adviser."

The power of Congress to check and balance a president who selects an intellectually and emotionally unprepared partisan to serve as national-security adviser may be less clearly defined than it is for State Department picks and UN ambassadors. But it certainly exists. Congress retains the power of the purse, and with it the ability to prod and pressure the Executive Branch on all issues. In addition, argues Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA), "Congress should act to limit Trump's ability to unilaterally use military force, before Bolton can begin to influence his decisions."

Long before the Bolton announcement, Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) and Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA) introduced House and Senate versions of their "Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017." That legislation, which has gained bipartisan support, now seems more urgent than ever.

Members of Congress keep objecting, and they should keep looking for ways to put pressure on the president to rethink a terrible choice-which will not be formalized until April 9.

Because Democrats are in the minority, they must reach out to Republicans and build coalitions of conscience in order to check and balance Bolton. Responsible Republicans must put aside partisanship and find ways to work with Democrats to reassert the role of Congress. This is not a time to divide along party lines. The Bolton selection demands a country-first response from members of both parties. And it can happen, because there are many, many members of Congress who recognize precisely why Senator Paul has warned that empowering Bolton is "a catastrophically bad idea."

"Most disturbingly," argues Paul, "Bolton recently called for preemptive war against North Korea, a massive undertaking with potentially horrific consequences for millions. He has doubled down on the decision to overthrow Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, which I agree with President Trump only further destabilized the Middle East. And earlier this year, Bolton explicitly stated, 'Our goal should be regime change in Iran.'"

In an essay titled, "Why I can't support neocons [Mike] Pompeo at State, [Gina] Haspel at CIA and Bolton as NSA," Paul argued: "The failed neocons' legacy will not be stability, safety and peace. Following their course will only lead to more chaos and quagmires. It will only create more enemies to threaten the American people and result in more sons and daughters never coming home."

Barbara Lee is right. Rand Paul is right. This choice by Donald Trump cannot be answered with politics as usual. It merits energetic bipartisan opposition.
(c) 2018 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

Our Ever Changing Magnetic Field
By James Donahue

A few years ago, in the midst of an Internet scare involving a self-proclaimed psychic's warning that a shift in the magnetic field was eminent and that all life on Earth was doomed, a friend began e-mailing me the "new" compass readings showing the daily locations of the North Pole.

I am not sure that it was moving as fast as he suggested . . . sometimes as much as 12 degrees in a single week . . . but I have since learned that the North Pole is, indeed, on the move. In fact, it may be quite normal for this to be happening.

Searching for more information I have found articles by various writers that since assured me that there is no looming pole shift occurring and that our planet is not going to do an unexpected flip-flop. So for purposes of doom theorists, this report will serve no purpose whatsoever. Except maybe to try to explain what is going on in the core of this amazing planet and give some insight on why the North Pole is rarely at precisely North.

While nobody has ever bored down deep enough to prove it, the theory is that there exists a spinning super-heated iron ball in the center of the Earth. This ball, nearly as wide as the moon, spins slightly faster than the Earth spins. Surrounding this ball is an ocean of hot, seething liquid iron that is in constant motion. Within this stuff can be found hurricanes, or whirlpools powered by the force of all of the movement of both the core and the planet. And these complex motions in an electronically conducting fluid give us the "dynamo effect," or the magnetism of energy that makes the planet a whirling, writhing, living entity.

All of the movement deep in the core of the Earth is causing constant change on the surface. Small wonder, then, that the exact location of the North and South magnetic poles is always changing. Also changing is the force of the magnetic pull. Sometimes it weakens and at other times it gets stronger. We are presently in a strong period, but slowly shifting downward, scientists say.

The exact location of the North Pole, if you are interested, is in Northern Canada, near a little town called Resolute Bay. But it is slowly moving northward. Larry Newitt, of the Canadian Geological Survey, says it is moving at an average speed of 10 km per year and lately has accelerated to 40 km per year. At the rate it is going, Newitt believes it will exit North America and reach Siberia within a few decades.

Is there any chance that it will keep going and eventually shift completely around until it reaches Antarctica?

Complete pole shifts have happened, but scientists believe they take thousands of years to occur. And they don't happen very often. The last one was about 780,000 years ago. The chance of any of us living to see another shift like that is not very probable.

The point to all of this is that our planet is a living, moving, changing organism on which we happen to live. It is a part of a living moving universe that we humans take too much for granted. It does not seem to occur to most people that we are allowed to be here by the will of the energy force that runs this system.

That same force, that some would call God, also possesses the ability to flip us away like the batch of annoying parasites that we have become.

If we don't change our ways and start tending the garden, which has always been our primary purpose, that "flip" might just be our future.
(c) 2018 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.

Libya's then President Muammar Gaddafi (left) greets his then French
counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy at Bab Azizia Palace in Tripoli, on July 25, 2007.

Gaddafi's Ghost Haunts Walking-Dead King Sarko
The 'Liberator of Libya' turned on the Colonel in 2011, but it seems the former French president's ascendancy owed much to the late dictator's beneficence
By Pepe Escobar

NATO's 2011 war on Libya was unanimously sold across the West as a necessary humanitarian operation against the proverbial evil dictator (Hillary Clinton: "We came, we saw, he died."). Russia and China were firmly against it.

Now, in a stunning historical reversal, the ghost of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi seems to have come back to haunt former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the self-described superstar of that R2P ("responsibility to protect") spectacular.

The "Colonel Sarko bombshell" exploded on Wednesday evening: he had been placed under formal investigation for passive corruption, illegal campaign financing, and misappropriation of Libyan state funds.

Sarkozy spent the whole of Tuesday, from 8am until midnight, answering questions in police custody from crack investigators specialized in corruption, tax evasion and money laundering. He was allowed to sleep at home but had to be back the next morning, up until the early evening. He was finally released on bail.

"Formal investigation," under French law, means there is "serious and/or consistent evidence" hinting at involvement in a crime. The next step could be a trial, but the whole investigation could also reach a dead end.

Sarkozy has been the target of no fewer than 10 different investigations so far - seven of them still ongoing.

The French establishment, predictably, is livid. An array of mostly center-right politicians swanned on to political talk shows to support the former president and emphasize "presumption of innocence." Quite the opposite of the Salisbury spy gambit, where the Kremlin and President Putin have been swiftly condemned, evidence-free.

Sarkozy, widely derided by progressives as "King Sarko" during his tenure, is suspected of having financed his 2007 presidential campaign with Gaddafi funds.

And the evidence, in this case, does exist. Among other explosive pieces, an official Libyan document, obtained through an investigation conducted by the French website Mediapart, proves Gaddafi handed over no less than 50 million euros to Sarkozy's campaign.

That was almost double the legal French campaign funding of 21 million euros at the time. The alleged funds would also have infringed regulations against foreign electoral campaign interference and the sources of campaign contributions.

The key go-between in the whole operation was Franco-Algerian weapons dealer Ziad Takiedinne, who in 2005 and 2007 organized visits by Sarko and his cohorts to Libya. A Libyan bank and a German bank account were also part of the scheme.

Former Libyan PM Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi confirmed the document and the financing are all true.

Way before that, there had been confirmation by Abdullah Senoussi, Gaddafi's former director of military intelligence, as well as in notebooks belonging to Libya's former oil minister, Choukri Ghanem, who mysteriously drowned in Vienna in April 2012.

In November 2016, Takiedinne himself - the man who introduced Sarko to Gaddafi - admitted he brought in person to the French Interior Ministry several suitcases full of cash prepared by Tripoli, totaling 5 million euros. He said he was given the money by Sanoussi.

Investigators, who have been in possession of new evidence for several weeks now, are also convinced they have managed to clarify the role of another go-between, Alexandre Djouhri, who lived in Switzerland and connected with the former secretary-general of the Elysee Palace, Claude Gueant. Gueant is also being formally investigated for fiscal fraud.

Everyone in France still remembers King Sarko posing as the Liberator of Libya - and fiercely disputing the title with the shameless, self-promoting, fake "philosopher" Bernard-Henri Levy, a.k.a. BHL.

In September 2011, I outlined for Asia Times - see, for instance, here and here - the myriad reasons why Gaddafi had to go, most of them related to precise French geoeconomic interests and King Sarko's dreams of cross-Mediterranean glory ("We have aligned with the Arab people in their aspiration for freedom"). Turns out it's the Colonel that may have actually made the (faux) King.
(c) 2018 Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times. His latest book is "Obama Does Globalistan." He may be reached at

Trump Is A Walking Blackmail Threat
By Heather Digby Parton

Any decent public relations professional would have done anything to avoid footage of President Donald Trump arriving back at the White House on Marine One and sullenly trudging across the lawn alone as reporters shouted questions at him about the highly anticipated "60 Minutes" interview with adult film actress Stormy Daniels. But that's what they got on Sunday night when the president returned to Washington, leaving the first lady behind in Florida.

One imagines that people around Trump desperately wanted Melania to play the dutiful wife, as so many political spouses have done before, and stand by his side as the whole world looks on with pity. Considering that this major television interview came on the heels of another one, with former Playboy model Karen McDougal -- who says she had a full-fledged love affair with Trump during the same period -- one cannot blame Melania if she told them all to go to hell.

Maggie Haberman of the New York Times reported that Trump had dinner on Saturday night with his attorney Michael Cohen and Melania was not in attendance. It's possible the dinner conversation was a bit stilted, considering that Trump's trusted henchman is at the center of this scandal. Indeed, his behavior is one of the issues that takes this out of the realm of creepy marital misbehavior into something else entirely.

What's unfolding isn't just a story about a rich man's extracurricular liaisons or his alleged episodes of illegal sexual misconduct. The first isn't really of much interest except to the extent that it exposes the flagrant hypocrisy of his supporters, who rent their garments over the personal immorality of presidents of the past and now profess to be uninterested in such private matters. The second is a disgrace that may yet have a reckoning if another accuser, Summer Zervos, gets her day in court.

But beyond the cultural and social aspects of this scandal and what it says about the privileges of rich, white men and the exploitation of women, there is another serious issue of national civic importance. This is a story about a rich (and now extremely powerful) man who is so worried about being exposed or blackmailed that he has everyone who works for him sign nondisclosure agreements. Now it appears that he set up an elaborate system for paying hush money to keep people quiet. If Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels are telling the truth this system may include coercion, conspiracy and threats of violence.

In the "60 Minutes" interview Daniels basically told the same story about the Trump encounter that she told In Touch magazine in 2011. (The magazine was threatened with a lawsuit by Michael Cohen and held the story until last month.) What we hadn't heard before was that a few weeks after Daniels originally gave the interview, this happened:

I was in a parking lot, going to a fitness class with my infant daughter. Taking, you know, the seats facing backwards in the backseat, diaper bag, you know, getting all the stuff out. And a guy walked up on me and said to me, "Leave Trump alone. Forget the story." And then he leaned around and looked at my daughter and said, "That's a beautiful little girl. It'd be a shame if something happened to her mom." And then he was gone.
Daniels said she was "rattled" and indicated that was in her mind later when she was offered large sums to tell the story during the 2016 election campaign. So when her attorney Keith Davidson came to her with the far less generous $130,000 from Michael Cohen, she took it, believing that the smart move was to get some money without having to fear for her safety. For similar reasons she agreed to sign additional denials about the affair after Trump became president. But in January, after the Wall Street Journal reported the story anyway, she hired a very clever lawyer to contest the nondisclosure agreement.

Those alleged threats would sound much more far-fetched if it weren't for the fact that Cohen himself is known to threaten people with language out of a grade-B gangster movie, and if Trump's former bodyguard Keith Schiller wasn't on film manhandling reporters at Trump's instruction (among other things.) According to BuzzFeed, in 2009 an attorney representing some of the people who stood to lose fortunes in Trump's umpteenth casino bankruptcy reported a threatening phone call to the FBI in which the person said, "My name is Carmine. I don't know why you're fucking with Mr. Trump but if you keep fucking with Mr. Trump, we know where you live and we're going to your house for your wife and kids." They traced the call to a pay phone in New York, across the street from where Trump was appearing on David Letterman at the same time.

Let's just say that Trump cannot claim that people around him would never stoop to thuggish behavior.

Karen McDougal's interview illustrates another dimension to this story. She is suing American Media Inc. (AMI), the publisher of the National Enquirer, which bought the rights to her story but did not publish it. She claims that her attorney, who was also Keith Davidson, worked secretly Michael Cohen and AMI as "part of a broad effort to silence and intimidate" her, and that this was a mutual effort to "catch and kill" stories that could damage Donald Trump.

This quote from David Pecker, the owner of AMI, from a New Yorker article by Jeffrey Toobin says it all:

"Once she's part of the company, then on the outside she can't be bashing Trump and American Media."

I pointed out that bashing Trump was not the same as bashing American Media.

"To me it is," Pecker replied. "The guy's a personal friend of mine."

(This article by Scott Pilutik in Slate runs down the possible legal problems with this sort of "collusion," and they are substantial.)

As mentioned above, Davidson also represented Stormy Daniels, encouraging her to sign the nondisclosure agreement and accept the hush money. There are a number of parallels between the lawsuits filed by the two women, which raises the question of how many other people Trump may have paid off through this Cohen-Davidson back channel. How many have signed non-disclosure agreements under duress?

This isn't just idle tabloid curiosity. Donald Trump could not pass a background check to work as a security guard at the Mall of America, much less the White House. It is clear that he has paid hush money to people and worked in concert with friends to keep them quiet. All of this can only lend more credibility to the suspicion that he might be subject to blackmail by other people, beyond the women with whom he's had sex.

Who knows? It might even be a foreign government or two. .
(c) 2018 Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

"The campaigns that exist today are receiving too little on-the-ground assistance for such a widely-supported issue."

Ten Million Americans Could Bring H.R. 676 Into Reality Land-Relief For Anxiety, Dread And Fear
Medicare for all is what the Pentagon does. It is what President Harry Truman wanted from Congress back in the nineteen forties. It is time.
By Ralph Nader

Polls show that over 125 million adults in our country already favor full Medicare for all, with free choice of doctor and hospital without stifling networks. I say 'already' because, as of yet, there is no major national campaign underway showing that an 'everybody in, nobody out' system of health insurance costs less, with better outcomes, is simpler, without maddeningly inscrutable or fraudulent bills, co-pays, deductibles and additional trap doors set by a bunch of greedy corporations. The campaigns that exist today are receiving too little on-the-ground assistance for such a widely-supported issue.

A super-majority of only 535 members of Congress-Senators and Representatives-can make that decision. The bill-H.R. 676, the 'Expanded & Improved Medicare for All Act'-is now supported by 121 House Democrats-two thirds of all the Democrats in the House of Representatives. So that's a good start.

H.R. 676 has been referred to several, regular, Committees of the House whose Chairs are all Republican corporatists. So there have been no public hearings. The bill, not surprisingly, is not moving at all.

Millions of Americans have had the bitter experience of denials of health care, staggering bills, pay-or-die drug prices and even loved ones dying because they couldn't afford health insurance (about 35,000 a year based on Harvard Medical School experts). So, in the next month, imagine what would happen, if just ten million of the 125 million who support full Medicare for all wrote, telephoned or emailed their two Senators and Representative demanding action and a written response by their lawmakers (who don't pay postage).

Just ten million Americans making the least difficult effort-perhaps ending with a demand for a town meeting back home to educate the negative solons-would strike the Congressional Dome like a thunderbolt. Are there a dozen leaders among you up for launching such an electrifying internet mobilization?

Not to be confused with other lesser health insurance bills, mostly in the Senate, H.R. 676 is the real thing. It covers 'all individuals in the U.S. with free health care that includes all medically necessary care, such as primary care and prevention, dietary and nutritional therapies, dental services, and vision care.' No more premiums, co-pays or gaping deductibles.

How does H.R. 676 pay for all these services? Five ways:

(1) from existing sources of government revenues for health care, (2) by increasing personal income taxes on the top 5% of income earners, (3) by instituting a progressive excise tax on payroll and self-employment income, (4) by instituting a tax on unearned income (such as on capital gains), and (5) by instituting a tax on stock and bond transactions. Amounts that would have been appropriated for federal public health care programs, including Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children's Health Insurance Program (SHIP), are transferred and appropriated to carry out this bill.

Presently, all Canadians are covered at an average per capita cost half of what Americans-insured and uninsured-are having to spend for health care. The system proposed in H.R. 676 is similar to Canadian Medicare. It includes public funding and free choice of private delivery of health care. It also has provisions for better record keeping, prevention and quality control. There is even transition retraining for all those clerical and administrative jobs that would not be necessary after displacement of the present bloated, wasteful, redundant health care sub-economy.

What would happen to the giant health insurance companies such as Aetna and United Healthcare? They would be prohibited from selling insurance that duplicates the benefits provided under H.R. 676. They could only sell benefits that are not deemed 'medically necessary,' such as certain cosmetic surgery operations.

Rep. Keith Ellison (Dem.-Minn.), the deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), is officially the lead House Democrat on the bill, which indicates that the DNC may be getting a little more interested in endorsing such legislation.

Meanwhile, Rep. Ellison is talking it up everywhere he travels. He says:

One of the consistent applause lines we're all hearing is: "We need Medicare for all." There's a lot of folks who feel that it's time for us to organize around that. It's a better policy, at a better price. People in labor, people all over the country, they're going to be driving the public conversation, raising the dialogue about this....What some people think is a really important progressive position is just what the rest of the industrialized world does.
Medicare for all is what the Pentagon does. It is what President Harry Truman wanted from Congress back in the nineteen forties!! It is time.

So will the first ten million Americans step up and be counted by sending messages directly to their Senators and Representatives in the month of April? The amount of time required to send a letter, an email or a telephone call is so brief that activated citizens could be called the modern "Minutemen" for universal health insurance. Just think of all the tasks you do every day that take far more time, like trying to figure out bills, denials, exclusions, from this basic human right.

Go to to get the details, the motivation and the groups with which to connect. The Congressional telephone switchboard is 202-224-3121. Make sure to give your legislators your name and contacts; they'll take the call or letter more seriously.
(c) 2018 Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His most recent book is Unstoppable, and "Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us" (a novel).

History Tells Us It's A Bad Idea To Doubt These Children
The Parkland kids are marching in a proud tradition.
By Charles P. Pierce

The varying types of conservative backlash to the March For Our Lives runs the gamut from the usual nyah-nyah-snowflakes to the Cold Dead Hands crowd, as Edroso ably points out in The Village Voice. (Rod Dreher, the famous civilian Benedictine, is particularly choice.) It also includes the very bizarre visual from the very bizarre Tomi Lahren, who sent out a photo of herself with a shootin 'arn tucked in the front of her yoga pants, in violation of every common-sense safety rule regarding the use of both firearms and exercise clothes.

The more compassionate end of things was represented by Dr. Jonah Goldberg, the internationally famous psychologist and trauma specialist, who believes that the kids from Parkland are behaving in such an unruly fashion because of the possible psychological difficulties that he's diagnosed via long-distance telepathy. He criticizes because he cares.

(I pause here to note that there has been a general conservative effort to protect Marco Rubio's tender fee-fee, and to once again turn him into a national treasure. This, despite the fact that all the available evidence is that Rubio can be mugged through the mail. You can scare him out of his deeply held convictions by putting on a fake mustache and hollering boo. Chris Christie was already hopeless and he pretty much demolished Rubio's campaign. And I actually learned this the hard way.)

Emma Gonzalez

As it happens, MSNBC ran a special on Sunday night about the way that Dr. King and the movement used the media to get their message out and to turn this country around on civil rights. One of the longer segments dealt with the Children's Crusade of 1963, the deliberate decision of Dr. King and the movement's leadership to put children on the front lines to face the wrath of the institutions of American apartheid. King was reluctant to take this drastic a step, but Rev. Jim Bevel convinced him of its value.

The criticism was fierce and immediate; the Kennedy brothers went up the wall. Robert Kennedy told King how afraid he was that the kids would be hurt. Black kids, King told him, get hurt every day. Within a month, President John F. Kennedy had finally come off the fence, giving a landmark civil-rights address on television that helped point the country in an entirely new direction. The children in the streets of Birmingham, blasted with fire hoses and chewed on by dogs, made the space that JFK seemed to need.

In June of 1976, in the South African black township of Soweto, it was announced that hereafter, all schoolchildren would be taught in Afrikaans. By then, most black South Africans had become fluent in English. Afrikaans was the language of white South Africa, the language of their oppressors. On June 16, somewhere around 20,000 schoolchildren from Soweto walked out of school and gathered in protest at a local stadium. As they marched, the South African police opened fire on them, killing almost 200 children. (A photo of an 18-year-old named Mbuyisa Makhubo carrying the lifeless body of 12-year-old Hector Pieterson toward a clinic became the iconic image of the uprising.) It can be argued-and it has been-that the worldwide distribution of that one photograph was the beginning of the international revulsion against the apartheid regime and, therefore, the beginning of its end.

It is easy to dismiss children who march. It is easy to drown out their voices in adult condescension. It's even easy to portray them as damaged puppets in the hands of shadowy political masters. That's what the other side said in Birmingham. That's what the other side said in Soweto. But the children who spoke on Saturday know more about gun violence than any of the smug voices telling them to shut up and heal. So dismiss them, if you must. History will laugh at you one day.
(c) 2018 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.

The Quotable Quote...

"Wars throughout history have been waged for conquest and plunder.... the working class who fight all the battles, the working class who make the supreme sacrifices, the working class who freely shed their blood and furnish their corpses, have never yet had a voice in either declaring war or making peace. It is the ruling class that invariably does both. They alone declare war and they alone make peace....They are continually talking about their patriotic duty. It is not their but your patriotic duty that they are concerned about. There is a decided difference. Their patriotic duty never takes them to the firing line or chucks them into the trenches."
~~~ Eugene V. Debs

Dishonest John Bolton Must Be Stopped. Here's Why
By Ted Rall

Personnel is policy, they say in Washington. The appointment of John Bolton as national security advisor is by far President Trump's most dangerous decision.

When the president considers foreign policy, no one is closer to his ear than his national security advisor. He will discuss questions of war and peace with military generals and members of his cabinet, but when there's a diversity of opinion, the views of a national security advisor can be determinative.

"Brent Scowcroft defined the role of the National Security Advisor (NSA)," wrote Stephen J. Hadley, former National Security Advisor under George W. Bush.

"The only person to hold the job twice [under Ford and George H.W. Bush], Brent established the 'Scowcroft Model' for all who followed him in the job: Be an 'Honest Broker,' running a fair, transparent, and inclusive process for bringing issues to the president."

John Bolton is not an honest broker. John Bolton cannot be an honest broker. No human being on earth is less qualified to be Donald Trump's national security advisor.

Given the fact that Donald Trump already leans hard to the right wing of the Republican Party, and that his advisers are drawn from the extreme right as well, and "honest broker" national security advisor would by definition need to provide balance. Ideally it would come from the NSA himself. At minimum he would bring in people with opposing views. Bolton is congenitally incapable of either.

Bolton must be stopped.

His nomination does not require Senate confirmation. But there's nothing preventing members of both parties from traveling to the White House to inform the president that Bolton is a nonstarter. Congress should have nothing to do with this president as long as this dangerous man is whispering sweet bellicose nothings into his ear.

If you haven't been paying much attention, I don't blame you for smelling a whiff of hysteria. How bad could this guy really be?

Bolton was the king of the George W. Bush-era neocons, a man who made Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz look like wimps. As Bush's ambassador to the United Nations, he remarked that it wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing if the institution disappeared or, evoking the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the building housing UN headquarters were to lose a few floors.

These days Bolton is touting "regime change" against Iran. Evoking the same arguments he used to justify the invasion of Iraq, he paints dark portraits of North Korea selling or giving nuclear weapons to Al Qaeda or some other terrorist organization despite the fact that there is no evidence whatsoever that there are any links for common ideology between the two. Just after Trump - correctly, in my view - announced that he would meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, Bolton wrote an opinion essay laying out the so-called "legal" argument in favor of a preemptive nuclear strike against North Korea.

I'd love to be a fly on the wall when that comes up between American and North Korean officials setting up the summit in May.

Most foreign-policy experts, most ordinary Americans, and most sane people generally agree that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was a military, political, economic, and propaganda disaster for the United States and the world. We were not "welcomed as liberators." The war was sold (in large part by Bolton) based on the lie that the U.S. knew that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (they didn't have them so we know that "knowledge" was a lie).

Anti-Americanism increased, as did terrorist attacks and the appeal of terrorist organizations that targeted Americans. Thousands of American troops were killed, tens of thousands wounded, and millions of Iraqis died because of the war. Billions of dollars were squandered and oil prices went up, not down as the neocons had hoped and expected, because of the resulting instability. Perhaps most damning of all, the long simmering Sunni-Shia divide widened into a gaping chasm that continues to chew up the Middle East in places like Yemen.

No one was more in favor of that war than John Bolton. For that reason alone, he's unqualified to provide foreign policy advice to anyone more important than a small marsupial. But Bolton is more than just a warmonger - he's a stupid warmonger. Which is why he still can't accept the fact that he screwed up.

"I still think the decision to overthrow Saddam was correct," he told The Washington Examiner in 2015. "I think decisions made after that decision were wrong, although I think the worst decision made after that was the 2011 decision to withdraw U.S. and coalition forces. The people who say, 'Oh, things would have been much better if you didn't overthrow Saddam,' miss the point that today's Middle East does not flow totally and unchangeably from the decision to overthrow Saddam alone."

Actually, things really would be better if we hadn't overthrown Saddam.

"I think the Iraqi people would be unique in history if they didn't welcome the overthrow of this dictatorial regime," Bolton bloviated in a breathtakingly embarrassing 2002 interview. "And Iraqi opposition leaders of a variety of positions and views are discussing now what will happen after Saddam Hussein. I expect that the American role actually will be fairly minimal. I think we'll have an important security role. I think concluding the destruction of the weapons of mass destruction themselves will be important."

Wonder if the families of those dead and injured American soldiers think their role was "fairly minimal."

I tell you what, John: you go and find those weapons of mass distraction and we'll let you be national security advisor.

For aNewDomain, I'm Ted Rall.
(c) 2018 Ted Rall, syndicated writer and the cartoonist for, is the author of the book "Snowden," the biography of the NSA whistleblower.

Billionaire Robert Mercer speaks on the phone during the 12th International Conference
on Climate Change hosted by The Heartland Institute on March 23, 2017, in Washington, DC.

The Batman Villain Behind Cambridge Analytica
By Wiliam Rivers Pitt

Well lookee here, now. We got ourselves a no-shit Batman villain. He is a billionaire computer genius who sees the world as a clockwork of hyperdetailed algorithms, and is often described as "reclusive" and "secretive" by the press. He describes himself politically as "Libertarian," but his actions suggest he is just another person who doesn't know what the word "libertarian" actually means.

A list of his beliefs and activities include:

* He believes the Clintons ran drugs out of Mena Airport in Arkansas and had opponents murdered;

* He peddles undistilled hate for immigrants and Muslims on a variety of hard-right propaganda sites;

* He donates millions of dollars to fringe candidates like Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, and is in fact a significant part of the reason Trump became president;

* He believes the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were ultimately a health benefit to the Japanese people;

* He denies the existence of racist white people while denouncing the 1964 Civil Rights Act;

* He actively disrupts the discussion of climate change with deliberate disinformation churned out by think tanks he finances;

...and, of course, he holds to the Randian notion that human worth can only be measured in terms of dollar value. This villain, like all effective villains, hides in plain sight, sending his many minions to do his bidding and spend his money with the ultimate goal of recoding the algorithms of politics and power to suit his own ends. What those ends are specifically, no one has said. Perhaps he himself does not know. That does not stop him.

At night, he dresses up as an ocelot and stalks the shadows of the night. Using stealth blimp technology, he becomes a hole in the sky as he travels from city to city dropping copies of Atlas Shrugged on playgrounds and truck stops. His comprehensive understanding of nanotechnology allows him to heal grievous wounds and forestall aging; some liken him to The Wolverine, ageless and unstoppable. He can also see through time.

OK, that last part is all made up, but the rest of it is black-letter fact. His name is Robert Mercer, he is a 71-year-old tech billionaire who made his bones with IBM as a coding whiz, and he is living testament to the incalculable damage done to the country by the Citizens United decision. Now that it is legal to buy elections using billions in dark money, Mercer doesn't just have his thumb on the scale; he has parked his limousine on it.

While other GOP megadonors mostly stayed out of the 2016 presidential election, Mercer and his daughter Rebekah dove right in, unleashing Steve Bannon and the crew at Cambridge Analytica by arming them with the Mercer's bottomless financial resources. Under Bannon's direct supervision, Cambridge Analytica scraped the personal data of millions of Facebook users to create highly sophisticated voter profiles that would be targeted by political ads and other means of persuasion. Campaign themes were road tested, among them "deep state" and "drain the swamp."

These were no simple voter profiles, mind you -- your own grocery store profiles you, but not like this. A vast amount of specific personal information was mined by Cambridge Analytica from catastrophically under-regulated Facebook databases, all in service to the Trump campaign. This information was transformed into a weapon meant to actively exploit people's deepest fears and personal biases via targeted messages. This is where Breitbart and the other elements of Mercer's hard-right media empire came into play, as they were successfully able to use that data to fine-tune their campaign propaganda.

It gets deeper. Way, way deeper, as NPR reports:

On Monday, Channel 4 broadcast the hidden-camera exclusive that appeared to catch [Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander] Nix acknowledging that the firm works secretly in political campaigns around the world by using front companies and subcontractors. Nix attempts to sell the company's potential services, such as the deployment of "honey traps" to target opponents - including secretly filming politicians taking bribes or in the company of prostitutes.

"We'll offer a large amount of money to the candidate, to finance his campaign in exchange for land for instance," Nix says on hidden camera. "We'll have the whole thing recorded, we'll blank out the face of our guy and we post it on the Internet." He is heard saying that one strategy for compromising opponents is to "send some girls around to the candidate's house," adding that he prefers to use Ukrainian girls. They "are very beautiful, I find that works very well," he says.

Two other individuals also appear in the hidden-camera footage: the company's chief data officer -- Tayler, who has been tapped as interim CEO -- and Mark Turnbull, the managing director of CA Political Global. Nix advises the undercover reporter that "I'm just giving you examples of what can be done, what has been done."

"Was there a Russia connection?" stands as the permanent question of the hour nowadays, but the answer regarding Cambridge Analytica remains unclear. "No definitive evidence has emerged that connects Cambridge Analytica and the Trump campaign to Russia's efforts to influence our election," reports Sean Illing of Vox. "But if the ongoing investigations conclude that the Trump campaign did help Russia target voters, expect to hear more about Cambridge Analytica. It's entirely possible that such collusion could have occurred and the work of Cambridge Analytica had nothing to do with it; however, that would be strange, since targeting voters is precisely what the company was hired to do."

What we have here is the illicit plundering of oceans of personal data that were then used to create highly specified voter databases specifically intended to disrupt the nation's political discourse going into the 2016 election. Setting traps for political opponents using sex and bribes is bragged about on captured footage (which might explain the ongoing timidity of Congress). The Mercers and their hatchetman Bannon do not seek to use this data just to win. They literally want to burn the entire political system -- the social safety net, civil rights protections, everything -- down to the stumps. Trump won, and the stumps are beginning to show. For them, this is about changing the culture, about changing the very nature of the nation itself, by any means necessary.

As for a Russia connection, Occam's Razor is informative. There is no evidence of Cambridge Analytica and Russia working together yet, but since they were both doing the same thing to assist the same candidate at the same time, the simplest explanation may indeed be the correct one.

Facebook is getting clobbered and losing billions over this growing scandal, Cambridge Analytica is on the run, and the reporting on this will be coming fast and furious for many days to come. The real story, however, is Robert Mercer, the right-wing recluse genius who dreams of an algorithm that will change the world.

When Citizens United shattered the barriers between campaign funding and brazen bribery, billionaires like Mercer discovered they could blast a hole in the fabric of political reality by writing checks with enough zeroes to the left of the decimal. Mercer is not alone, but he is the money behind Trump's astonishing ascendancy, and his influence only promises to grow. When you're a billionaire committed to devising expensive new gutterball tactics and the Supreme Court is on your side, the sky's the limit.

Batman would have a word for such a villain and his plans.

(c) 2018 William Rivers Pitt is a senior editor and lead columnist at Truthout. He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know, The Greatest Sedition Is Silence and House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation. His fourth book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co-written with Dahr Jamail, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in New Hampshire.

The Dead Letter Office...

John gives the corporate salute

Heil Trump,

Dear Nationaler Sicherheitsberater Bolton,

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 plans to go to war with everybody, 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 "Rethuglican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Trump at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 04-28-2018. We salute you Herr Bolton Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

The Buyback Boondoggle Is Beggaring America
By Robert Reich

Trump and Republicans branded their huge corporate tax cut as a way to make American corporations more profitable so they'd invest in more and better jobs.

But they're buying back their stock instead. Now that the new corporate tax cut is pumping up profits, buybacks are on track to hit a record $800 billion this year. For years, corporations have spent most of their profits on buying back their own shares of stock, instead of increasing the wages of their employees, whose hard work creates these profits.

Stock buybacks should be illegal, as they were before 1983.

Stock buybacks are artificial efforts to interfere in the so-called "free market" to prop up stock prices. Because they create an artificial demand, they force stock prices above their natural level. With fewer shares in circulation, each remaining share is worth more.

Buybacks don't create more or better jobs. Money spent on buybacks isn't invested in new equipment, or research and development, or factories, or wages. It doesn't build a company. Buybacks don't grow the American economy.

So why are buybacks so popular with Corporate CEOs?

Because a bigger and bigger portion of CEO pay has been in stocks and stock options, rather than cash. So when share prices go up, executives reap a bonanza. The value of their pay from previous years also rises - in what amounts to a retroactive (and off the books) pay increase on top of their already outrageous compensation.

Buybacks were illegal until Ronald Reagan made them legal in 1982, just about the same time wages stopped rising for most Americans. Before then, a bigger percentage corporate profits went into increasing workers' wages.

But since corporations were already using their profits for stock buybacks, there is no reason to believe they'll use their tax windfall on anything other than more stock buybacks.

Let's not compound the error. Make stock buybacks illegal, as they were before 1982.
(c) 2018 Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His web site is

'The Gig Economy' Is The New Term For Serfdom
By Chris Hedges

A 65-year-old New York City cab driver from Queens, Nicanor Ochisor, hanged himself in his garage March 16, saying in a note he left behind that the ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft had made it impossible for him to make a living. It was the fourth suicide by a cab driver in New York in the last four months, including one Feb. 5 in which livery driver Douglas Schifter, 61, killed himself with a shotgun outside City Hall.

"Due to the huge numbers of cars available with desperate drivers trying to feed their families," wrote Schifter, "they squeeze rates to below operating costs and force professionals like me out of business. They count their money and we are driven down into the streets we drive becoming homeless and hungry. I will not be a slave working for chump change. I would rather be dead." He said he had been working 100 to 120 hours a week for the past 14 years.

Schifter and Ochisor were two of the millions of victims of the new economy. Corporate capitalism is establishing a neofeudal serfdom in numerous occupations, a condition in which there are no labor laws, no minimum wage, no benefits, no job security and no regulations. Desperate and impoverished workers, forced to endure 16-hour days, are viciously pitted against each other. Uber drivers make about $13.25 an hour. In cities like Detroit this falls to $8.77. Travis Kalanick, the former CEO of Uber and one of the founders, has a net worth of $4.8 billion. Logan Green, the CEO of Lyft, has a net worth of $300 million.

The corporate elites, which have seized control of ruling institutions including the government and destroyed labor unions, are re-establishing the inhumane labor conditions that characterized the 19th and early 20th centuries. When workers at General Motors carried out a 44-day sit-down strike in 1936, many were living in shacks that lacked heating and indoor plumbing; they could be laid off for weeks without compensation, had no medical or retirement benefits and often were fired without explanation. When they turned 40 their employment could be terminated. The average wage was about $900 a year at a time when the government determined that a family of four needed a minimum of $1,600 to live above the poverty line.

The managers at General Motors relentlessly persecuted union organizers. The company spent $839,000 on detective work in 1934 to spy on union organizers and infiltrate union meetings. GM employed the white terrorist group the Black Legion-the police chief of Detroit was suspected of being a member-to threaten and physically assault labor activists and assassinate union leaders including George Marchuk and John Bielak, both shot to death.

The reign of the all-powerful capitalist class has returned with a vengeance. The job conditions of working men and women, thrust backward, will not improve until they regain the militancy and rebuild the popular organizations that seized power from the capitalists. There are some 13,000 licensed cabs in New York City and 40,000 livery or town cars. The drivers should, as farmers did in 2015 with tractors in Paris, shut down the center of the city. And drivers in other cities should do the same. This is the only language our corporate masters understand.

The ruling capitalists will be as vicious as they were in the past. Nothing enrages the rich more than having to part with a fraction of their obscene wealth. Consumed by greed, rendered numb to human suffering by a life of hedonism and extravagance, devoid of empathy, incapable of self-criticism or self-sacrifice, surrounded by sycophants and leeches who cater to their wishes, appetites and demands, able to use their wealth to ignore the law and destroy critics and opponents, they are among the most repugnant of the human species. Don't be fooled by the elites' skillful public relations campaigns-we are watching Mark Zuckerberg, whose net worth is $64.1 billion, mount a massive propaganda effort against charges that he and Facebook are focused on exploiting and selling our personal information-or by the fawning news celebrities on corporate media who act as courtiers and apologists for the oligarchs. These people are the enemy.

Ochisor, a Romanian immigrant, owned a New York City taxi medallion. (Medallions were once coveted by cab drivers because having them allowed the drivers to own their own cabs or lease the cabs to other drivers.) Ochisor drove the night shift, lasting 10 to 12 hours. His wife drove the day shift. But after Uber and Lyft flooded the city with cars and underpaid drivers about three years ago, the couple could barely meet expenses. Ochisor's home was about to go into foreclosure. His medallion, once worth $1.1 million, had plummeted in value to $180,000. The dramatic drop in the value of the medallion, which he had hoped to lease for $3,000 a month or sell to finance his retirement, wiped out his economic security. He faced financial ruin and poverty. And he was not alone.

The corporate architects of the new economy have no intention of halting the assault. They intend to turn everyone into temp workers trapped in demeaning, low-paying, part-time, service-sector jobs without job security or benefits, a reality they plaster over by inventing hip terms like "the gig economy."

John McDonagh began driving a New York City cab 40 years ago. He, like most drivers, worked out of garages owned and operated by businesses. He was paid a percentage of what he earned each night.<> "You could make a living [then]," he told me. "But everyone shared the burden. The garage shared it. The driver shared it. If you had a good night, the garage made money. If you had a bad night, you split it. That's not the case anymore. Right now we're leasing [cabs at the garages]." Leasing requires a driver to pay $120 a day for the car and $30 for the gas. The drivers begin a shift $150 in debt. Because of Uber, Lyft and other smartphone ride apps, drivers' incomes have been cut by half in many cases. Cab drivers can finish their 12-hour shifts owing the garages money. Drivers are facing bankruptcies, foreclosures and evictions. Some are homeless.

"The TLC [New York City Transportation and Limousine Commission] wanted to limit yellow cab drivers to 12 hours a day," he said, referring to the distinctive yellow cabs that have medallions and can pick up passengers anywhere in the five boroughs. "There was a protest. Yellow cab drivers were protesting that they have to work a 16-hour day in order to make a living. It's cut everything. Everybody's fighting for that extra fare. You would be at a light with two or three other yellow cabs. You saw someone up the street with luggage you would run the lights to get to them. Because that might be an airport job. You're risking your own life, risking getting tickets, you're doing things you would never have done before."

"We don't have any health care," he said. "Sitting for those 12 to 16 hours a day, you are getting diabetes. There's no blood circulation. You're putting on weight. And then there's that added stress you're not making any money."

Uber and Lyft in 2016 had 370 active lobbyists in 44 states, "dwarfing some of the largest business and technology companies," according to the National Employment Law Project. "Together, Uber and Lyft lobbyists outnumbered Amazon, Microsoft, and Walmart combined." The two companies, like many lobbying firms, also hire former government regulators. The former head of the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, for example, is now on the board of Uber. The companies have used their money and their lobbyists, most of whom are members of the Democratic Party, to free themselves from the regulations and oversight imposed on the taxi industry. The companies using ride-hail apps have flooded New York City with about 100,000 unregulated cars in the past two years.

"The yellow cab has to be a certain vehicle," said McDonagh. "It's a Nissan. [Nissan won the bid to supply the city's cabs.] Every yellow cab has to charge a certain price. When that drop goes down, that's regulated by the city. They added on all these extra taxes, for the MTA and for the wheelchair [half of all yellow cabs are required to be wheelchair-accessible by 2020], a rush-hour tax. Uber comes in. No regulations at all. They could pick whatever type of car they want. Whatever color of car. They could change prices when it's slow. They can lower the prices. When it's busy they can do price surging. It can be two or three times. Whereas the yellow cab is just plowing along at the same rate at the same time. Going to Kennedy Airport from Manhattan is $52. No matter what the traffic is like, no matter how many hours it takes you to get there. Uber will jack up its prices two or three times. You might have to pay $100 to get to Kennedy Airport. While the yellow cab industry is almost regulated to death, Uber is coming in with new technology, figuring out different ways how [it is] going to make money. ... It's finished, with the yellow cabs."

Life for Uber and Lyft drivers is as difficult. Uber and Lyft use bonuses to lure drivers into the business. Once the bonuses are gone, these drivers sink to the same economic desperation as those driving yellow cabs.

"Uber is leasing cars," McDonagh said. "They have car dealerships that will sell. They advertise as, 'Listen, you can have bad credit. Come down to Uber. We'll get you the money or loan to buy this car.' And what they do is they'll take the money directly out of what you're making that day to pay for the loan. They can't lose. And if you go under, they'll sell the car back to the dealership and then redo it for the next immigrant driver. There's a whole scam going on."

"As a yellow cab driver, you don't see the world vision," he said. "But there's that famous term 'the race to the bottom.' You're working more and more hours for less and less wages. This is the new gig economy. Someone will use an Uber to go to an Airbnb and get on his phone to order something from Amazon to eat in his house. All those shops are now gone. From cashiers to cab drivers. I feel like I'm a blacksmith or a typesetter at a newspaper business trying to explain to you what the yellow cab industry used to be. We're becoming obsolete."

"Guys are sleeping in the cab," McDonagh said. "They'll go out to Kennedy at 2 or 3 in the morning. They pull into the lot and go to sleep to catch [passengers off] the first flight that's coming in from California a couple of hours later. You have guys who won't go home for a couple of days. They'll just stay out on the street. They roam the street to try to make money. It's dangerous for the passenger. The amount of accidents will be going up because drivers are drowsy."

McDonagh said Uber and Lyft cars must be regulated. All cars should have meters to guarantee an adequate income for drivers. And drivers should have health care and benefits. None of this will happen, he warned, as long as we live under a system of government where our political elites are dependent on campaign contributions from corporations and those who should be regulating the industry look to these corporations for future employment.

"We have to limit the amount of cabs, particularly here in New York City," McDonagh said. "If we did it in the yellow cab industry for 50 years, why can't we do it with Uber? They're adding 100 cars a week through the streets of New York. This is insane. When you call an Uber, the biggest complaint people have now is, 'The car is here too quick.' They're there within two or three minutes. I can't even get dressed. ... They're rolling empty throughout the city, waiting for that hit."

"Horses in Central Park are regulated," he pointed out. "There's 150 of them. They make a great living there, the guys on the horse and buggies. Say Uber comes in and says, 'We want to bring in Uber horses. And we want to add 100,000.' And let's see how the market will handle it. We know what's going to happen. No one will make money. They're all around Central Park. And now no one can go anywhere because there are now 100,000 horses in Central Park. It would be considered madness to do that. They wouldn't do it. Yet when it comes to the yellow cab industry, for 50 years all we could have was 13,000 cabs, and then within a year or two we're going to add 100,000. Let's see how the market works on that! We know how the market works."

"They [the horses] work less hours [than cab drivers]," he said. "They don't work in hot and cold temperatures. If you believe in reincarnation, you should come back as a horse in Central Park. And they all live on the West Side of Manhattan. We live in basements in Brooklyn and Queens. We haven't upped our status in life, that's for sure."
(c) 2018 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. Keep up with Chris Hedges' latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at

The Cartoon Corner...

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~~~ Tim Eagan ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

John Bolton Warns War With North Korea Won't Be Cakewalk Like Iraq
By The Onion

WASHINGTON-Acknowledging that total war with a personality cult ruled by a nuclear-capable despot will be a harrowing commitment posing many unique challenges, newly appointed National Security Advisor John Bolton promised the American public Friday that the upcoming war with North Korea certainly won't be a cakewalk like Iraq.

"You have to admit, things in Iraq were pretty cut-and-dried-we went in there, we deposed the leader, we installed our own government, we never even had to think about the long-term consequences, and certainly no hordes of soldiers were forced to fight the tens of thousands of American teens we're going to throw at them in great, meat-grinding, human-wave attacks like we're about to see in North Korea," said Bolton, who noted that as one of the architects of the "ultimately painless and remarkably successful" 2003 Iraq invasion, he knew what he was talking about when it came to planning a massive land campaign in Asia.

"It's a good thing we have regional, expendable allies, because after the first 90 minutes of this war, somewhere around 2 million South Koreans are going to be a thin layer of greasy soot in the stratosphere, if my plan goes correctly. Then we simply commit an entire generation of young Americans to dying in numbers so great that they will permanently change the geography of the Korean peninsula. As will North Korea's nukes and our fission weapons, of course. Believe me, this war is going to be an absolute mess."

Bolton also warned that further delays in mobilizing for war with North Korea would inevitably push back the start of the U.S.'s upcoming war with Iran.
(c) 2018 The Onion

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Issues & Alibis Vol 18 # 12 (c) 03/30/2018

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