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In This Edition

Matt Taibbi observes, "Putin Derangement Syndrome Arrives."

Uri Avnery studies the, "University Of Terror."

Glen Ford orates, "MLK And Obama: Two Diametrically Opposed Legacies."

Lee Fang reveals, "Donald Trump's Pick To Oversee Big Pharma Is Addicted To Opioid-Industry Cash."

Jim Hightower asks, "Why Is Trump Hostile To Actual Facts?"

Glenn Greenwald finds, "White House Meeting With Egypt's Tyrant Highlights Key Trump Effect: Unmasking U.S. Policy."

David Suzuki wonders, "Welcome To The 21st Century: Brighter times or a new Dark Age?"

John Nichols concludes, "Jeff Merkley's Heroic Fight Against Gorsuch Is A Fight For The Constitution."

Chris Hedges warns of, "A Nation Of The Walking Dead."

Jane Stillwater calls, "Donald Trump, America's Laxative."

Robert Parry examines, "Mainstream Media As Arbiters Of Truth."

David Swanson demands, "U.S. Out Of Korea."

Michael Winship watches as, "Trump Builds A Watergate All His Own."

Senator Jeff Flake wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich considers, "Trump's Incredibly Dumb Bet On Coal."

William Rivers Pitt sees, "The AHCA: Mass Murder In Broad Daylight."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz reports, "Jared Kushner Says He Read Up On Middle East During Minutes Waiting For Ski Lift" but first Uncle Ernie iz, "Remembering Martin And Malcolm."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of John Cole, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Paul Rubens, Tom Tomorrow, Mr. Fish, Pete Marovich, Gabriella Demczuk, Harry Hamburg, John Locher, Nicholas Kamm, Matt McClain, Pablo Martinez Monsivais, The Washington Post, AP, NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Flickr, The New York Times, Senate Television, 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."

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Remembering Martin And Malcolm
By Ernest Stewart

"Dr. King wants the same thing I want. Freedom." ~~~ Malcolm X

"Climate change is one of the gravest challenges humanity is facing." ~~~ Vladimir Putin

"Bill Kristol: Republican spoiler, renegade Jew. Birth control makes women unattractive and crazy. Would you rather your child had feminism or cancer? Gay rights have made us dumber, it's time to get back in the closet. ~~~ Steve Bannon

The best things in life are free
But you can give them to the birds and bees
I need money (that's what I want)
That's what I want (that's what I want)
Money (That's What I Want) ~~~ Barrett Strong

While I was writing the HTML code for Glen Ford's speech I got to thinking about how Martin and Malcolm had changed my life as a lad. I had been raised by parents who where liberals but who pretended to be fascists in order to get by and keep their positions in the community. I was born and raised in Dearborn Michigan where, at that time, was perhaps the most racist place in the country, bar none. Selma, Alabama had nothing on Dearborn!

What amazed me about Martin and the marches was the non-violence that they employed against a Nazi police state. I realized that he had far more courage than I and this, along with his speeches began to change my conservative thoughts, much to the dismay of my parents. Add to that the Jewish beatniks who baby sat me as both my parents worked. Into this mix I was fortunately introduced to Malcolm X a few weeks before this death.

A best friend of mine was driving to New York to check on a brownstone that his mother owned. He had recently moved to Dearborn and ask me if I wanted to go for three day weekend in Manhattan. So what was I, a 16 year old, who had never been to NYC to say, except hell yes, road trip, road trip!!! My friends old girl friend was a black radical. She was white, but she was down with the cause to the nth degree. Ergo, off we went to Harlem to hear Malcolm X speak. The hall was full and we were the only white faces to be seen but no one seemed to mind. I had expected mad black Muslims, but what I found was peace and clarity!

In one part of the lecture Malcolm asked, how many people want to be free, raise your hands and everybody, including moi, raised their hands. Then he asked how many people would kill to be free, please stand up, and about half the audience stood up. He said if you really want to be free the first thing you must do is kill everyone that is sitting down, because they are what is standing in your way to be free. Which, of course, shocked everyone. Malcolm explained with a parable, in the old days when the Massers mansion caught on fire, who ran to put the fire out, not the master, why should he risk his life when he can afford to build another house. The field hands cheered the fire on, Burn Baby Burn, MotherF*cker! No it was, as he called them, the "houses niggers" who ran to put the fire out, as it was their ego-centric station and betterment they worried about.

All of which I flashed on when Glen spoke of Obama and the Black Misleadership Class, all of them, 21st century house niggers. For those of you who are now flipping out over the use of the N-word, I would remind them it has nothing to do with the color of your skin, but where your head is at. (Yes I get it, that the red-neck types have been misusing the word for centuries) For example, in English literature the greatest N-word of them all was a white man. You may recall Ebenezer Scrooge, who was certainly a N-word until he had his moment of clarity. It's a state of mind, and you can change it, if you want to! Strange thoughts indeed, remembering the life and times of Martin and Malcolm and how they helped change me into a human being! Now, if we could only change, Trump, into a human being!

In Other News

Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, just said that climate change is unstoppable and not caused by human activity. Vlad got half of that right and is batting .500, much better than Trump who's batting .000!

After visiting the Franz Josef Land archipelago in the Arctic, Putin claimed that human activity is not connected in any way to global warming, Putin said in comments broadcast from an Arctic forum held in the northern Russian city of Arkhangelsk.
"The warming, it had already started by the 1930s. That's when there were no such anthropological factors, such emissions, and the warming had already started."
Of course, that's complete and utter nonsense. For starters, humans were emitting emissions in the 1930s (in fact, ever since the start of the industrial age in the 18th century), though at a much lower rate. It's debatable whether or not climate change was having noticeable effects in the 1930s, I think the "dust bowl" drought is proof that it was. But Putin's statement gets even weirder.

He supported his argument by saying that an Austrian explorer who had a "photographic memory" visited the Franz Josef Land archipelago "in the 1930s." He didn't say who this mysterious explorer is, but then he added that 20 years later, this explorer was shown photographs from another expedition "by the future king of Italy" and concluded that "there were fewer icebergs there," Putin said. This is, of course, total bullsh*t. For one thing the future King of Italy, Victor Emmanuel III, the last King of Italy, was on the thrown in 1900 and didn't do any arctic explorations after that.

So, yeah, let's all just ignore what decades and decades of research have concluded, what some of the world's brightest minds are saying, with a 97% consensus, Putin just recalled a story with two characters (one unnamed, the other nonexistent) which invalidates all that science.

Previously, Putin has hailed global warming as a good thing, saying that "with two or three degrees more, Russians wouldn't need fur coats." He was also thrilled that global warming was melting the ice and exposing natural resources and transport routes which had long been too expensive to exploit. It should also be said that Russia is the world's largest natural gas exporter, the fourth largest polluter, and the country's economy greatly relies on fossil fuels. Ergo, his denial that Global Warming is man made, but at least Vlad gets that Global Warming is real. Whether or not it's the boon that Vlad thinks it is, is something that remains to be seen. Unless all his ports are built on stilts methinks he has some surprises to come!

And Finally

I see where Trump reorganized his National Security Council on Wednesday, removing his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, and downgrading the role of his Homeland Security Adviser, Tom Bossert, according to a person familiar with the decision and a regulatory filing.

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster was given responsibility for setting the agenda for meetings of the NSC or the Homeland Security Council, and was authorized to delegate that authority to Bossert, at his discretion, according to the filing.

Under the move, the national intelligence director, Dan Coats, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, are again "regular attendees" of the NSC's principals committee.

You may recall that that Bannon was placed on the committee in part to monitor Trump's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn who got thrown away when his Russian connections, that he swore he didn't have, came to the light of day! Bannon is now free to help dismantle the rest of the government that has to do with helping the people. Ergo when the people start dying by the millions because of this Trump gambit and revolt, then the poor and elderly will be rounded up and put in all the "Happy Camps" that Dubya and Barry had built, which is what this is all about!

Keepin' On

Mother Hubbard and I have a thing going, her cupboard is bare and so is our PO Box! For a change we're doing all right for this time of year but we can't afford to rest on our laurels, and you know how painful that can be!

As I'm sure you know by now, we are a non-profit; boy, are we ever a non-profit, and have had to come before you, from time to time, with cap in hand to make up the difference of what the advertising pays and what we need to break even; and we have to break even to keep on bringing you the real stories -- the truth, week after week after year after year after decade after... well, you get the point, huh? But dig, the sooner that I raise the money that we need to keep publishing, the sooner I'll shut up!

So, if you'd like to get me to shut up about our bills, then send in what-ever you can, when-ever you can, and as soon as they're paid off, zip goes the lips! Also, if you hold the purse strings to advertising dollars, why not send a little business our way. If I could get three more like the three we already have, I wouldn't be bending your ear to our plight now, or, ever again! We have unbeatable rates and a targeted readership. Our three main advertisers have been advertising with us since March of 2004; so, we must be doing something right that they like, i.e., make them some money; and I'm sure we can do the same for your group -- unless you're from the RNC or the DNC, in which case, you might want to look further! We accept no political or corpo-rat monies; so please help us if you can!


10-18-1941 ~ 04-01-2017
Thanks for the laughs!

12-06-1947 ~ 04-05-2017
Thanks for the laughs!

05-08-1926 ~ 04-06-2017
Thanks for the laughs!

06-14-1944 ~ 04-06-2017
Thanks for the music!


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

****** We've Moved The Forum Back *******

For late breaking news and views visit The Forum. Find all the news you'll otherwise miss. We publish three times the amount of material there than what is in the magazine. Look for the latest Activist Alerts. Updated constantly, please feel free to post an article we may have missed.


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

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

Michael Flynn and Donald Trump

Putin Derangement Syndrome Arrives
Whatever the truth about Trump and Russia, the speculation surrounding it has become a dangerous case of mass hysteria
By Matt Taibbi

So Michael Flynn, who was Donald Trump's national security adviser before he got busted talking out of school to Russia's ambassador, has reportedly offered to testify in exchange for immunity.

Trump has stuffed his Cabinet with tyrants, zealots and imbeciles - all bent on demolishing our government from within

For seemingly the 100th time, social media is exploding. This is it! The big reveal!

Perhaps it will come off just the way people are expecting. Perhaps Flynn will get a deal, walk into the House or the Senate surrounded by a phalanx of lawyers, and unspool the whole sordid conspiracy.

He will explain that Donald Trump, compromised by ancient deals with Russian mobsters, and perhaps even blackmailed by an unspeakable KGB sex tape, made a secret deal. He'll say Trump agreed to downplay the obvious benefits of an armed proxy war in Ukraine with nuclear-armed Russia in exchange for Vladimir Putin's help in stealing the emails of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and John Podesta.

I personally would be surprised if this turned out to be the narrative, mainly because we haven't seen any real evidence of it. But episodes like the Flynn story have even the most careful reporters paralyzed. What if, tomorrow, it all turns out to be true?

What if reality does turn out to be a massive connect-the-dots image of St. Basil's Cathedral sitting atop the White House? (This was suddenly legitimate British conspiracist Louise Mensch's construction in The New York Times last week.) What if all the Glenn Beck-style far-out charts with the circles and arrows somehow all make sense?

This is one of the tricks that keeps every good conspiracy theory going. Nobody wants to be the one claiming the emperor has no clothes the day His Highness walks out naked. And this Russia thing has spun out of control into just such an exercise of conspiratorial mass hysteria.

Even I think there should be a legitimate independent investigation - one that, given Trump's history, might uncover all sorts of things. But almost irrespective of what ends up being uncovered on the Trump side, the public prosecution of this affair has taken on a malevolent life of its own.

One way we recognize a mass hysteria movement is that everyone who doesn't believe is accused of being in on the plot. This has been going on virtually unrestrained in both political and media circles in recent weeks.

The aforementioned Mensch, a noted loon who thinks Putin murdered Andrew Breitbart but has somehow been put front and center by The Times and HBO's Real Time, has denounced an extraordinary list of Kremlin plants.

She's tabbed everyone from Jeff Sessions ("a Russian partisan") to Rudy Giuliani and former Assistant FBI Director James Kallstrom ("agents of influence") to Glenn Greenwald ("Russian shill") to ProPublica and Democracy Now! (also "Russian shills"), to the 15-year-old girl with whom Anthony Weiner sexted (really, she says, a Russian hacker group called "Crackas With Attitudes") to an unnamed number of FBI agents in the New York field office ("moles"). And that's just for starters.

Jeff Sessions

Others are doing the same. Eric Boehlert of Media Matters, upon seeing the strange behavior of Republican Intel Committee chair Devin Nunes, asked "what kind of dossier" the Kremlin has on Nunes.

Dem-friendly pollster Matt McDermott wondered why reporters Michael Tracey and Zaid Jilani aren't on board with the conspiracy stories (they might be "unwitting" agents!) and noted, without irony, that Russian bots mysteriously appear every time he tweets negatively about them.

Think about that last one. Does McDermott think Tracey and Jilani call their handlers at the sight of a scary Matt McDermott tweet and have the FSB send waves of Russian bots at him on command? Or does he think it's an automated process? What goes through the heads of such people?

I've written a few articles on the Russia subject that have been very tame, basically arguing that it might be a good idea to wait for evidence of collusion before those of us in the media jump in the story with both feet. But even I've gotten the treatment.

I've been "outed" as a possible paid Putin plant by the infamous "PropOrNot" group, which is supposedly dedicated to rooting out Russian "agents of influence." You might remember PropOrNot as the illustrious research team the Washington Post once relied on for a report that accused 200 alternative websites of being "routine peddlers of Russian propaganda during the election season."

Politicians are getting into the act, too. It was one thing when Rand Paul balked at OKing the expansion of NATO to Montenegro, and John McCain didn't hesitate to say that "the senator from Kentucky is now working for Vladimir Putin." Even Bernie Sanders has himself been accused of being a Putin plant by Mensch. But even he's gotten on board of late, asking, "What do the Russians have on Mr. Trump?"

So even people who themselves have been accused of being Russian plants are now accusing people of being Russian plants. As the Russians would say, it's enough to make your bashka hurt.

Sanders should know better. Last week, during hearings in the Senate, multiple witnesses essentially pegged his electoral following as unwitting fellow travelers for Putin.

Former NSA chief Keith Alexander spoke openly of how Russia used the Sanders campaign to "drive a wedge within the Democratic Party," while Dr. Thomas Rid of Kings College in London spoke of Russia's use of "unwitting agents" and "overeager journalists" to drive narratives that destabilized American politics.

This testimony was brought out by Virginia Democrat Mark Warner. Warner has been in full-blown "precious bodily fluids" mode throughout this scandal. During an interview with The Times on the Russia subject a month back, there was a thud outside the window. "That may just be the FSB," he said. The paper was unsure if he was kidding.

Warner furthermore told The Times that in order to get prepared for his role as an exposer of 21st-century Russian perfidy, he was "losing himself in a book about the Romanovs," and had been quizzing staffers about "Tolstoy and Nabokov."

This is how nuts things are now: a senator brushes up on Nabokov and Tolstoy (Tolstoy!) to get pumped to expose Vladimir Putin.

Even the bizarre admission by FBI director (and sudden darling of the same Democrats who hated him months ago) James Comey that he didn't know anything about Russia's biggest company didn't seem to trouble Americans very much. Here's the key exchange, from a House hearing in which Jackie Speier quizzed Comey:

SPEIER: Now, do we know who Gazprom-Media is? Do you know anything about Gazprom, director?
COMEY: I don't.
SPEIER: Well, it's a - it's an oil company.
(Incidentally, Gazprom - primarily a natural-gas giant - is not really an oil company. So both Comey and Speier got it wrong.)

As Leonid Bershidsky of Bloomberg noted, this exchange was terrifying to Russians. The leader of an investigation into Russian espionage not knowing what Gazprom is would be like an FSB chief not having heard of Exxon-Mobil. It's bizarre, to say the least.

James Comey and Mike Rogers at the March 20th House Intelligence Committee hearing on Russia.

Testimony of the sort that came from Warner's committee last week is being buttressed by news stories in liberal outlets like Salon insisting that "Bernie Bros" were influenced by those same ubiquitous McDermott-chasing Russian "bots."

These stories insist that, among other things, these evil bots pushed on the unwitting "bros" juicy "fake news" stories about Hillary being "involved with various murders and money laundering schemes."

Some 13.2 million people voted for Sanders during the primary season last year. What percentage does any rational person really believe voted that way because of "fake news"?

I would guess the number is infinitesimal at best. The Sanders campaign was driven by a lot of factors, but mainly by long-developing discontent within the Democratic Party and enthusiasm for Sanders himself.

To describe Sanders followers as unwitting dupes who departed the true DNC faith because of evil Russian propaganda is both insulting and ridiculous. It's also a testimony to the remarkable capacity for self-deception within the leadership of the Democratic Party.

If the party's leaders really believe that Russian intervention is anywhere in the top 100 list of reasons why some 155 million eligible voters (out of 231 million) chose not to pull a lever for Hillary Clinton last year, they're farther along down the Purity of Essence nut-hole than Mark Warner.

Moreover, even those who detest Trump with every fiber of their being must see the dangerous endgame implicit in this entire line of thinking. If the Democrats succeed in spreading the idea that straying from the DNC-approved candidate - in either the past or the future - is/was an act of "unwitting" cooperation with the evil Putin regime, then the entire idea of legitimate dissent is going to be in trouble.

Imagine it's four years from now (if indeed that's when we have our next election). A Democratic candidate stands before the stump, and announces that a consortium of intelligence experts has concluded that Putin is backing the hippie/anti-war/anti-corporate opposition candidate.

Or, even better: that same candidate reminds us "what happened last time" when people decided to vote their consciences during primary season. It will be argued, in seriousness, that true Americans will owe their votes to the non-Putin candidate. It would be a shock if some version of this didn't become an effective political trope going forward.

But if you're not worried about accusing non-believers of being spies, or pegging legitimate dissent as treason, there's a third problem that should scare everyone.

Last week saw Donna Brazile and Dick Cheney both declare Russia's apparent hack of DNC emails an "act of war." This coupling seemed at first like political end times: as Bill Murray would say, "dogs and cats, living together."

But there's been remarkable unanimity among would-be enemies in the Republican and Democrat camps on this question. Suddenly everyone from Speier to McCain to Kamala Harris to Ben Cardin have decried Russia's alleged behavior during the election as real or metaphorical acts of war: a "political Pearl Harbor," as Cardin put it.

That no one seems to be concerned about igniting a hot war with nuclear-powered Russia at a time when both countries have troops within "hand-grenade range" of each in Syria other is bizarre, to say the least. People are in such a fever to drag Trump to impeachment that these other considerations seem not to matter. This is what happens when people lose their heads.

There are a lot of people who will say that these issues are of secondary importance to the more important question of whether or not we have a compromised Russian agent in the White House.

But when it comes to Trump-Putin collusion, we're still waiting for the confirmation. As Democratic congresswoman Maxine Waters put it, the proof is increasingly understood to be the thing we find later, as in, "If we do the investigations, we will find the connections."

But on the mass hysteria front, we already have evidence enough to fill a dozen books. And if it doesn't freak you out, it probably should.
(c) 2017 Matt Taibbi is Rolling Stone's chief political reporter, Matt Taibbi's predecessors include the likes of journalistic giants Hunter S. Thompson and P.J. O'Rourke. Taibbi's 2004 campaign journal Spanking the Donkey cemented his status as an incisive, irreverent, zero-bullshit reporter. His books include Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History, The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion, Smells Like Dead Elephants: Dispatches from a Rotting Empire. .

University Of Terror
By Uri Avnery

SOME DAYS ago, a man committed an act of terrorism in the center of London, a city I love.

He ran over several persons on Westminster Bridge, stabbed a policeman to death and approached the doors of Parliament, where he was shot dead. All this in the shadow of the tower of Big Ben, an irresistible photographic target.

It was an electrifying world-wide news item. Within minutes, Daesh was blamed. But then the truth came out: the terrorist was a British citizen, a Muslim convert born in England. From early youth he had committed a string of petty crimes. He had been in and out of prison several times.

So how did this individual, of all people, become a religious zealot, a Shahid - a witness to the truth of Allah, who sacrificed his life for the greatness of Islam? How had he become the perpetrator of an act that shook Europe and the world?

BEFORE TRYING to answer this mystifying question, one remark about the effectiveness of "terrorism."

As the term implies, it is a matter of spreading fear. It is a method of achieving a political end by making people afraid.

But why are people so afraid of terrorists? This has always puzzled me, even when as a boy I belonged to an organization that was labeled by our British overlords as "terrorist."

I don't know how many people died in road accidents in the United Kingdom in the same month as the Westminster killing. I surmise that the number was vastly larger. Yet people do not greatly fear road accidents. They do not refrain from walking out into the street. Dangerous drivers are not held in preventive detention.

Yet a very small number of "terrorists" suffices to create a climate of fear throughout entire countries, entire continents, even the entire globe.

Great Britain should be the last place in the world to succumb to this totally irrational fear. In 1940, this small island stood against the colossus of Nazi-conquered Europe. I remember a stirring poster that was pasted to the walls in Palestine. It showed the head of Winston Churchill with the slogan: "Alright Then, Alone!"

Could a lone terrorist with a car and a knife frighten such a country into submission?

To me this sounds crazy, but this is only a side remark. My purpose here is to throw light on an institution few people think about: prison.

THE WESTMINSTER terrorist attack raises a simple question: how did a petty criminal become a shahid who attracts world-wide attention?

There are many theories, many of them raised by experts vastly more competent than I. Religious experts. Cultural experts. Islamist experts. Criminologists.

My own answer is very simple: it's prison that did it.

LETS MOVE as far away from Britain and religion as possible. Let's come back to Israel and our local crime scene.

We often hear of major crimes being committed by people who started as juvenile delinquents.

How does an ordinary person become a chief of organized crime? Where does he study?

Well, in the same place as a British jihadist. Or an Israeli Muslim jihadist, for that matter.

A boy has trouble at home. Perhaps his father regularly beats up his beloved mother. Perhaps his mother is a prostitute. Perhaps he is a dumb pupil and his comrades despise him. Any one of a hundred reasons.

At 14, the boy is caught stealing. After being warned and released by the police, he steals again. He is sent to prison. In prison, the most respected criminals adopt him, perhaps even sexually. He is sent to prison again and again, and slowly he rises in the invisible prison hierarchy.

He is respected by his fellow prisoners, he has authority. Prison becomes his world, he knows the rules. He feels good.

When he is released, he returns to being a nobody. Correction personnel treat him as an object. He longs to go back to his world, the place where he is known and respected. He is not sent to prison because he has committed a crime. He commits a crime in order to be sent to prison.

So he commits a crime, more serious than all before. He becomes a crime boss himself. When he returns to prison, even the chief warder treats him as an old acquaintance.

Throughout the years, prison has acted for this person as a university, a University of Crime. It is there that he learned all the tricks of the trade, until he himself becomes a professor.

The little Muslim thief sent to prison may meet there an incarcerated Muslim preacher, who convinces him that he is not a despised criminal but one of the few selected by Allah to destroy the infidels.

ALL THIS is old stuff. I am not revealing anything new. Every inmate, criminologist, senior police officer, chief prison warder or correction psychologist knows it, far better than I.

If so, how come nobody does anything about it? Why does prison function today as it did centuries ago?

I suspect the simple answer is: Nobody knows what to do instead.

The British once had a good answer: they sent all criminals, even petty thieves, to Australia. If they did not hang them first.

But in modern times, even these remedies were abandoned. Australia is now a strong nation, that sends hapless refugees to remote Pacific islands.

The United States, the world's foremost power, with some of the best universities, keeps millions of its citizens in prison, where they turn into hardened criminals.

Israeli prisons are bursting with inmates, many of them "terrorists" sent there without trial. This is euphemistically called "preventive detention" - an oxymoron if ever there was one.

If one asks a police officer about the logic of this entire system, he shrugs his shoulder and answers - the Jewish way - with another question: What else can you do with them?

So for year after year, century after century, society has sent its criminals to Crime University, where they learn to become better and more professional criminals. Tuition with full board, all expenses paid by the state.

And, of course, a huge army of prison personnel, policemen and women, experts and academics depend on this system for their livelihood. Everybody happy.

Prison is not only counterproductive. It is also inhuman. It turns human beings into zoo animals. (And these should be liberated, too.)

CURIOUSLY ENOUGH, I was never in prison, though I came close to it several times.

As I have recounted elsewhere, the chief of Israel's political police (sorry, I mean "security agency") once proposed to the Prime Minister to put me in "administrative detention", without involving a judge, as a foreign spy. This was only prevented by Menachem Begin, the leader of the opposition, who refused his assent.

Another time was after my meeting with Yasser Arafat during the siege of Beirut, when the government officially requested the attorney general to investigate me for treason. The attorney, a nice person, decided I had committed no crime. I did not illegally cross any border, since I was invited to occupied East Beirut by the Israeli army as a newspaper editor. Also, there was no suspicion that I had the intention of harming the security of the state.

So I have no personal experience of prison so far. But the absurdity of the entire situation has occupied my mind for many years. I made several speeches about it in the Knesset.

To no avail. No one knows of an alternative.

My late wife, Rachel, was a teacher. She always refused to move up from the second grade (age 8). She maintained that at that age the character of a human being is already fully formed. After that, nothing can be done.

If so, perhaps all efforts should be concentrated on a very early age.

I am sure that somewhere experiments with other answers are being carried out. Perhaps in Scandinavia. Or on the island of Fiji.

Isn't it about time?
(c) 2017 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

MLK And Obama: Two Diametrically Opposed Legacies
By Glen Ford

The following is an edited version of remarks delivered by Glen Ford at a panel discussion organized by World Beyond War, April 3, at New York University, titled: "Remembering Past Wars and Preventing the Next." A video of the entire event can be seen HERE. When we invoke the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, it is usually in the context of "civil rights" and "human rights." Today, it is in the context of peace.

I like to think of Dr. King's work as part of the civilizational project of humanity; that is, how human beings construct a world in which they can coexist and thrive in the bosom of nature.

The civilizational project is a justice project. Civilization is not just about technology, it is not just about wealth and the accumulation of surplus. It's about what people collectively do with that surplus. It's about justice.

The Black Radical Tradition is about justice; it is a civilization-building tradition. Justice is the measure of civilization, and there can be no peace without it.

Of necessity, the Black Radical Tradition speaks to the broad sweep of human historical development. There is nothing narrow or parochial about it.

And sometimes, the Black Radical Tradition finds that perfect voice, at the pivotal time. On April 4, 1967, that was Dr. King's voice, when he told his audience at Riverside Church that their country was "the greatest purveyor of violence" on Earth, and that there was a damnable system in place that had created this nightmare, and that righteous men and women had no choice but to oppose it.

Dr. King spoke of the Triple Evils: racism, militarism and materialism -- meaning, in contemporary society, capitalism.

The sum total of these evils is U.S. imperialism, the global system that was committing the violence he came to that church to oppose; the system of capitalism as it actually exists, that is headquartered in the United States, and whose violence is the greatest obstacle to the construction of a humane civilization.

When Dr. King said that "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice," he was expressing confidence that humanity would throw off -- overthrow -- these evil systems.

That did not sit well with the captains of imperialism, and Dr. King was dead exactly one year later.

But, that did not silence the voices of Black anti-imperialism. Those voices, including Dr. King's own, had gotten even louder and more defiant after the assassination of Malcolm X, three years earlier.

SNCC, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, which some folks thought of as the children of Dr. King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference, were agitating against the war and the draft years before King. They had taken up the anti-imperialist banner in the years after the exile of W.E.B. Dubois and the erasure of Paul Robeson from public life -- men who were giants of anti-imperialism.

When Dr. King was shot down, there erupted the greatest wave of Black rebellion in the history of the United States. That rebellion fueled the explosive growth of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, whose appeal was so compelling that its chapter infrastructure could not absorb the tens of thousands of Black youth that wanted to join.

It was a revolutionary Black nationalism that was profoundly anti-imperialist -- proudly and loudly socialist -- a movement determined to join with a world that was up in arms against the empire.

It was Malcolm's child - out to avenge Dr. King.

Therefore, it had to be crushed by the massive repressive forces of the State, in a dirty war that reached its most savage peak in 1969 with a merciless campaign of political imprisonment and assassination, including the murder of Black Panthers Fred Hampton and Mark Clark by Chicago police and the FBI.

The Party was driven into retreat, back to its founding turf in Oakland, California.

However, the decisive blow to the Black movement for self-determination and against U.S. imperialism was delivered by forces internal to the Black community. It came from a class that had not been concerned about justice in any civilizational sense, but only about getting rid of Jim Crow -- American apartheid -- so that they could also walk the halls of the empire and live the corporate life.

Their vehicle -- the only one that was open to this Black aspiring class -- was the Democratic Party, because the other party was busy transforming itself into the White Man's Party.

With very few exceptions, this was a class for itself, consumed by a mission of "representationalism." They wanted no part in social transformation; they wanted only to be represented in the upper echelons of corporate, governmental and symbolic media power.

Their agenda was solely concerned with their own upward mobility. They were not about justice or peace.

Here are two examples -- founding members of this new, Black Misleadership Class:

Carl Stokes, the first Black big city mayor, elected in Cleveland, 1967. The first thing he did was to appoint a Black retired general as police chief, and the first thing the general did was to arm the cops with hollow point bullets.

Maynard Jackson, the first Black mayor of Atlanta, elected in 1973. Four years later, he fired 1,000 striking sanitation workers - the same folks that Dr. King had gone to Memphis to support nine years earlier -- and died trying.

The rise of a selfish, servile, corporate ass-kissing Black class, combined with murderous application of state power, snuffed out the Black Liberation Movement, which was anti-imperialist at the core.

There was a brief resurgence of Black "movement" politics with the campaign against South African apartheid. But, only briefly.

For two generations, Black movement politics was smothered by the hegemonic power of the Democratic Party, whose tentacles strangled the militancy out of virtually every Black civic organization. The churches, the fraternities, the sororities -- all behave like annexes of the Democratic Party.

They invoke Dr. King's name, and use the word "justice" a lot -- and the word "peace" every so often -- but justice and peace cannot possibly find a home in one of the two parties of war.

So, the question becomes: Does two generations without a real peace and social justice movement in Black America mean that the Black Radical Tradition has been crushed? Have Black people, the historically most left-leaning constituency in the United States, shed their anti-imperialism and embraced war?

The most definitive answer that I have seen to that question came in a Zogby poll, conducted in late February, 2003. It was only a few weeks before George Bush crossed into Iraq -- a war that everyone knew was coming. The Zogby poll asked a straightforward question. Here it is, verbatim:

"Would you support an invasion of Iraq if it resulted in the death of thousands of Iraqi civilians?"
A super-majority of white males said, "Hell yes, let's get it on." A bare majority of white females felt the same way. Sixteen percent of Hispanic Americans said they would invade, even if it meant killing thousands of civilians.

However, only 7 percent of Blacks agreed with that statement -- meaning, only a marginal segment of Black America had any willingness to kill Iraqi men, women and children. This shows that the Black worldview is worlds apart from that of most white men and women. It's also very strong evidence that Black people remain anti-imperialist, despite two generations without a movement that was loudly and proudly and defiantly anti-imperialist.

But, then came the First Black President: Barack Obama.

We at Black Agenda Report feared, correctly, that a pro-war, Black Democratic president would have a profound effect on Black political behavior. We were very anxious about the rise of this guy who we knew would be a war president. We worried about the effect that his presence in the Oval Office would have on the Black worldview. We expected, and got, the worst.

We feared that Black people, for the first time in history, might begin to identify with U.S. national power if one of their number was the personification of that power. That is a very, very heady brew for a people who had been rendered invisible for most of their sojourn in North America.

There was never any question of how the Black Misleadership Class would react to having a Black Democrat in the White House. Their agenda is to stick as close to Power as possible, and to celebrate Blacks being represented in the halls of power, even if that person is engaged in crimes against humanity and crimes against peace. And so, the Black Misleadership Class did not surprise us in terms of their behavior under President Obama.

Back in 2002, when President George Bush was asking for War Powers permission to attack Iraq, only four members of the Congressional Black Caucus went along with him. But by June of 2011, when the United States and NATO were doing their regime change mission in Libya, more than half of the Congressional Black Caucus -- 24 members -- gave their full permission and assent to Obama's continued bombing of Libya. And 31 of the 40 or so voting members of the Caucus opted to continue spending money on the Libyan operation. That number includes John Lewis, who tries to cloak himself in all the vestments of Dr. Martin Luther King. He also voted to continue funding for that war, AFRICOM's first war on Africa.

But, what about the masses of Black people? There was some disturbing evidence of the effect that Barack Obama's presence in the White House was having on Black people's historical, bedrock anti-imperialism. Back in late August of 2013, Obama threatened to launch airstrikes against Syria. Polls showed that 40 percent of Black Americans would have supported such an airstrike, compared to only 38 percent of whites and a smaller percentage of Hispanic Americans.

It is true that only minorities of any American ethnicity supported Obama's threatened strike, but this was the first poll in the history of polling in which more Black people were for a warlike action than white people. Compare that to the only 7 percent of Blacks that supported an invasion of Iraq, a decade earlier. Obama has had his effect.

With the current hysteria about Russia, we see the entirety of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Black Misleadership Class badmouthing the Kremlin with the same intensity and insanity as their white counterparts. What really disturbed me, however, was a conversation I had with a brother who styles himself as a revolutionary. He's head of the Revolutionary Black Panther Party. I was interviewing him after the police "vamped" on some of their members in Milwaukee. All of a sudden, out of the blue, he starts talking about those damn Russians! And he's supposed to be a revolutionary Black Panther!

Dr. Gerald Horne speaks of the "Putin Derangement Syndrome" that afflicts the ruling circles in the United States, who fear the U.S. is losing its dominant position in the world. But, somehow, this insanity has filtered down, even to folks that call themselves Black revolutionaries.

The First Black President has left us with a deep and lingering problem. Even out of office, he packs a weaponized legacy.
(c) 2017 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

Donald Trump's Pick To Oversee Big Pharma Is Addicted To Opioid-Industry Cash
By Lee Fang

Newly-released financial disclosure documents show that Dr. Scott Gottlieb, President Trump's nominee to the lead the Food and Drug Administration, has received significant payments from the opioid industry - while attacking attempts to deter the explosion of opioid pill mills.

The FDA has some of the most significant authority in the federal government to oversee manufacturers of prescription painkillers. Gottlieb is set to appear for his confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee at 10 a.m. tomorrow.

Gottlieb's disclosure statements, required under federal law, show that since the beginning of 2016 he has received almost $45,000 in speaking fees from firms involved in the manufacture and distribution of opioids.

"Our country is in desperate need of an FDA commissioner who will take on the opioid lobby, not one who has a track record of working for it," said Dr. Andrew Kolodny, the co-director of Opioid Policy Research at Brandeis University, reacting to this information.

Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, the maker of a highly addictive generic oxycodone pill, paid Gottlieb $22,500 for a speech in London last November shortly after the U.S. presidential election. Prosecutors have charged that the firm ignored red flags and supplied as many as 500 million suspicious orders in Florida for its oxycodone product between 2008 and 2012. Mallinckrodt reached a tentative settlement this week, agreeing to pay $35 million while admitting no wrongdoing.

The Healthcare Distributors Alliance, a trade group for the largest opioid wholesale distributors in America, also retained Gottlieb as a speaker last September.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, left, is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington in 2009.

Among the distributors represented on the HDA executive committee are AmerisourceBergen Drug Corp., McKesson Corporation and Cardinal Health. Cardinal's CEO, Jon Giacomin, is chairman of HDA.

A 2016 investigation by the Charleston Gazette-Mail found that these three companies supplied unusually large shipments of prescription painkillers in West Virginia, and provided the bulk of 780 million prescription pills sent to pharmacies in the state, a key factor in the fatal overdose epidemic. Cardinal Health also temporarily lost its license to distribute opioids from its Florida warehouse in 2012 after the Drug Enforcement Administration found that the firm supplied several pharmacies known to act as so-called pill mills that routinely filled inappropriate prescriptions for oxycodone. Gottlieb swiftly condemned the DEA's action at the time, writing in the Wall Street Journal that the agency had overstepped its bounds, and that it should lose its authority to police the opioid market.

Gottlieb argued that the DEA should not treat corporate pharmaceutical firms like street drug dealers. "So Cardinal isn't a Colombian drug ring. Its CEO isn't Pablo Escobar. Like other large distributors, Cardinal has invested heavily in systems to track unusual narcotics-sales patterns," said Gottlieb.

Gottlieb was also paid as a speaker by Johnson & Johnson, which owns a subsidiary that produces the opioid painkiller Nucynta, in January of last year. The federal drug payment disclosure database shows that Gottlieb received payments from Pfizer, the manufacturer of several opioid products, in 2015.

On a call with reporters on Tuesday, Sens. Ed. Markey, D-Mass., and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, announced their opposition to Gottlieb's nomination, citing his opioid industry ties.

"People die because of the opioid epidemic," said Brown. "We need all hands on deck to fight this crisis, including and especially the FDA. Unfortunately Dr. Gottlieb's record indicates that as commissioner he wouldn't take the epidemic and the FDA's authority to rein in prescription painkillers and other drugs seriously enough."

Markey, who opposed President Barack Obama's last FDA commissioner, Dr. Robert Califf, on grounds that the agency was moving too fast to approve dangerous new prescription painkillers, voiced similar concerns over Trump's nominee.

"Dr. Gottlieb has also said he wants the FDA approval process to move faster, and that FDA has too high of a standard for safety. I strongly disagree with that," said Markey during the call.

The opioid crisis claims more than 16,000 lives from overdose deaths every year. The crisis stems in large part to the over-prescribing phenomenon, which has been fueled by deceptive marketing practices and efforts by industry to court doctors. As we've reported, Americans consume about 81 percent of the global supply of oxycodone products (the active ingredient in OxyContin) and almost 100 percent of hydrocodone (the active ingredient used in brands such as Vicodin).

The painkiller crisis is closely linked to heroin addiction, with many heroin users embracing the drug after first using opioids that were prescribed to them.

Gottlieb's financial disclosure form further shows that he made more than $3 million throughout 2016 and the first three months of this year, through a combination of speaking fees, consulting arrangements with drug companies in general, board memberships, and his work at several healthcare-focused investment firms. Gottlieb is well-known as a critic of the FDA approval process and regulations, and has called for revamping agency rules to bring new drugs to market. In sharp contrast to Trump's rhetoric on the campaign trail, Gottlieb has also criticized a range of proposals to bring down drug costs through government intervention in the market.
(c) 2017 Lee Fang is a journalist with a longstanding interest in how public policy is influenced by organized interest groups and money. He was the first to uncover and detail the role of the billionaire Koch brothers in financing the Tea Party movement. His interviews and research on the Koch brothers have been featured on HBO's "The Newsroom," the documentaries "Merchants of Doubt" and "Citizen Koch," as well as in multiple media outlets. He was an investigative blogger for ThinkProgress (2009-2011) and then a fellow at the Investigative Fund of the Nation Institute and contributing writer for The Nation.

In 2012, he co-founded, a blog to cover political corruption that syndicates content with, Salon, National Memo,, TruthOut, and other media outlets. His work has been published by VICE, The Baffler, The Boston Globe, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Progressive, NPR, In These Times, and The Huffington Post. His first book, "The Machine: A Field Guide to the Resurgent Right," published by The New Press, explores how the conservative right rebuilt the Republican Party and its political clout in the aftermath of President Obama's 2008 election victory. He is based in San Francisco.

Why Is Trump Hostile To Actual Facts?
By Jim Hightower

Question: What do you get when you mix a barrel of fables, a sack of mendacity, and a gross of whoppers - topped with a thick layer of subterfuge? Answer: The fiasco called Trumpcare.

"We're going to do something that's great," The Donald trumpeted when he endorsed House Speaker Paul Ryan's bill to displace Obamacare. But Trumpcare was "great" only in the sense that it was a great-big bloated concoction of lies.

Start with the original lie that right-wing Republicans have harped on for nearly a decade: Obamacare is a total failure. We'll "repeal and replace" it as soon as we get control of the national government, they shouted. Then, when Trump happened, he made killing Obama's Affordable Care Act his top legislative priority. Ryan chimed in with a perfect imitation of Chicken Little, squawking that the ACA is in a "death spiral."

In fact, the President and the Speaker were lying. While Obamacare has flaws that require fixing, overall it's been a tremendous success. It has reduced by almost half the number of Americans who had no health coverage (benefitting especially many white working-class people who had supported Trump). Moreover, the overwhelming majority of the millions who gained ACA coverage are satisfied and glad to have it.

Undeterred, the Trumpsters tried another Chicken Little tale. The health law is doomed, they squawked, because it's been unprofitable for the insurance giants, so they're withdrawing. Bogus! In fact, the profits of Aetna, Cigna, Humana, UnitedHealth, and other managed care corporations have soared under Obamacare. The biggest one, UnitedHealth, has seen the value of its shares skyrocket by a spectacular 480 percent since the ACA expansion of Medicaid.

Now we know why Trump & Company are so hostile to truth based news - actual facts expose their lies.
(c) 2017 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition.

White House Meeting With Egypt's Tyrant Highlights Key Trump Effect: Unmasking U.S. Policy
By Glenn Greenwald

Egypt's hideous tyrant, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, is in the U.S. to visit the White House on Monday and this is how the New York Times's Paul Krugman depicted this event:

Krugman believes - or at least wants his Democratic followers to believe - that supporting and praising savage despotism in Egypt is a new development that only happens in "Trump's America." The Washington Post's neoconservative columnist Jackson Diehl this morning encouraged Post readers to believe in the same fairy tale, complaining in his column about the "ugly scene" of a "love-in" between Trump and "the most repressive dictator in Egypt's modern history."

What neither Krugman nor Diehl ever once mentions - either because they're unaware of it or want to conceal it from their readers - is that the U.S. has been supporting, funding, and arming the Sisi tyranny for years under the Obama administration. In March 2015, as Sisi's human rights abuses intensified, Obama personally told the Egyptian tyrant in a call the good news that he was lifting a ban "on the delivery of F-16 aircraft, Harpoon missiles, and M1A1 tank kits" and - in the words of the White House - "also advised President al-Sisi that he will continue to request an annual $1.3 billion in military assistance for Egypt."

In 2015, the official Twitter account of the U.S. Embassy celebrated the delivery of fighter jets to the Sisi regime and even encouraged people to watch a video of them majestically flying over Cairo:

Prior to Sisi, the U.S. - under Obama and multiple administrations before that - spent decades propping up the most savage tyranny in Egypt in the form of funds and weapons to Hosni Mubarak. Recall Hillary Clinton's 2009 proclamation that "I really consider President and Mrs. Mubarak to be friends of my family," while Obama ensured that the flow of money and weapons to Mubarak never ceased.

In sum, aggressive support for savage despotism in Egypt is long-standing U.S. policy - not, as Krugman and Diehl want people to believe, some sort of new Trumpian innovation. As Mona Eltahawy put it in the New York Times last week: "Five American administrations, Democratic and Republican, supported the Mubarak regime."

While it's true, as Eltahawy notes, that Sisi had not been invited to the White House until now, the U.S. has hardly been shy about lavishing the tyrant with all forms of support. In 2014, as Sisi was crushing dissent and the state was issuing mass death sentences, Secretary of State John Kerry flew to Cairo to meet Sisi and publicly praised him - the leader of a military coup - for "transitioning to democracy." Indeed, the year earlier, Kerry praised the Sisi-led military coup against Egypt's first elected president, depicting it as an attempt to protect democracy.

Obama himself - beyond sending him weapons and funds - has openly met with Sisi, as the top photograph of the two leaders in 2014 in New York shows. And during the same time, the Clintons met with him as well, producing this photograph: NEW YORK , NY- SEPTEMBER 22: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi (L), being in United States for the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 69), meet with Former U.S. President Bill Clinton (R) and his wife former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (C), in New York on September 22, 2014.

What Trump is achieving by opening the White House doors to Sisi is not ushering in a new policy but rather clarifying and illuminating a very old one. This Trumpian effect - unmasking in all its naked ugliness what D.C. mavens prefer to keep hidden - is visible in multiple other areas.

Exactly the same thing happened last week when Trump's secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, announced that the U.S. would no longer condition transfers of arms to the regime in Bahrain on human rights improvements. The outrage over this announcement utterly masked the fact that Obama continued to lavish the same Bahraini regime with all sorts of weapons and other forms of support even as it imprisoned dissidents and violently crushed protests. Just compare the reaction of one Obama speechwriter to Tillerson's announcement to the actual reality of his boss's conduct:

There are, of course, instances where Trump is imposing genuinely new destructive policies, such as his deportation crackdown, increased civilian massacres, and the rollback of vital regulations. But in the case of Egypt and Bahrain, the only new aspect of Trump's conduct is that it's more candid and revealing: rather than deceitfully feign concern for human rights while arming and propping up the world's worst tyrants - as Obama and his predecessors did - Trump is dispensing with the pretense. The reason so many D.C. mavens like Diehl are so upset with Trump isn't because they hate his policies but rather despise his inability and/or unwillingness to prettify what the U.S. does in the world.

One could argue that even the pretense of human rights concerns is preferable to dispensing with it altogether since that at least allows the potential for progress. But nobody who looks at Egypt or Bahrain - to say nothing of Saudi Arabia - could possibly argue with a straight face that the U.S. has succeeded in improving human rights in those countries by strengthening their tyrannies and arming their despots.

The real target of this rhetorical human rights pretense - this propaganda designed to prettify U.S. action - is not the oppressed people living under the thumb of those U.S.-supported dictators but rather Americans themselves. It's all designed to allow U.S. citizens to believe the myth that their country stands for Freedom and Democracy in the world and shuns tyrants like Putin or the Iranian mullahs, even though propping up the planet's most savage dictators has long been, and continues to be, central to U.S. policy. The beloved-in-Washington Henry Kissinger built his career on this mentality and is loved because of it, not despite it.

The destructive effect of this propaganda was perhaps never so visible as it was during the Arab Spring. U.S. media outlets covered the Tahrir Square demonstrations as though the U.S. were on the side of the heroic protesters while barely ever mentioning that the tyrant they were fighting was a close U.S. ally for decades. The tear gas canisters Mubarak used against those protesters literally bore "Made in the USA" logos. But the pretty rhetoric about Freedom and Democracy masked the ugly reality about what the U.S. government had actually been doing in Egypt and so many other countries around the world.

A key asset for U.S. imperialism is the ability of U.S. presidents to put a pretty, pleasant face on heinous actions. Recall the 2010 CIA memo explaining that the key to stopping anti-war sentiment in Europe - particularly growing opposition to the war in Afghanistan - was to exploit Obama's popularity there to make the war seem prettier and more attractive to Europeans.

To see how the propaganda works, just look at this morning's New York Times, which frets in its headline: "In a Shift, Trump Will Move Egypt's Rights Record to the Sidelines." Yet the same New York Times in 2015 made clear that while Obama officials were spouting pretty human rights rhetoric in public about Egypt, the Obama policy was also that Sisi's human rights abuses would not stop U.S. support:

Trump's support for Sisi, a true monster, deserves all the condemnation it gets. But anyone who depicts any of this as something new or aberrational for the U.S. - Krugman: "Another morning in Trump's America" - is either ignorant or dishonest. Embracing the world's worst tyrants is and has long been a key prong of U.S. foreign policy. Trump, through a combination of ineptitude and a willingness to openly endorse authoritarianism, just makes all of this less hidden, less deniable.

And that's the reason so many in Washington - who never met a pro-U.S. dictator they weren't willing to arm and fund - are so upset by all this. Sisi isn't someone you invite over to your house for dinner; he's someone you send money and weapons to in secret after you give your pretty speeches in front of American flags about human rights and freedom. What Trump is violating is not any Washington principles or ethics but Washington propaganda tactics.
(c) 2017 Glenn Greenwald. was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. His most recent book is, With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book "How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy," examines the Bush legacy. He is the recipient of the first annual I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism.

Welcome To The 21st Century: Brighter times or a new Dark Age?
By David Suzuki

If you own a smartphone, you have more computing power at your fingertips than NASA scientists had when they put people on the moon in 1969! And it's in a small device, unlike the massive hardware the space agency used.

Technology moves in leaps and bounds. As someone who grew up before home computers, transoceanic phone lines, jet planes, satellites, organ transplants, birth control pills, photocopiers, hand-held calculators or cellphones, I'm amazed at how quickly technological innovation is occurring and by its profound effects on society. Every day, products are becoming smaller, faster, more efficient and accessible to a greater number of people.

Despite the phenomenal advances in everything from communications technology to transportation to energy systems, many people still believe the only way to get energy is to burn fossil fuels, as we've been doing since the dawn of the Industrial Age almost 300 years ago! In fact, evidence suggests people have been burning coal for heat as far back as 3490 BCE in China.

Naysayers have always been with us. At various times, people have argued that humans would never be able to travel the oceans in steam-powered ships or fly in airplanes, let alone send spacecraft beyond the solar system. Street lights were controversial in the early 19th century. Some saw them as impossible. Others argued they would lead to increased illness, declining morals and rejection of God's plan for periods of light and dark. At one time or another, people have claimed telephones, trains, automobiles, computers, nuclear power and radios were impossible or impractical. Many technological leaps stoked fears, often valid, that new inventions would put people out of work. The growing automobile industry in the early 20th century killed jobs in the horse-and-buggy business.

We've long been using coal, oil and gas for heat and energy for good reasons. They're incredibly powerful and valuable resources that both provide and store energy. And they're inexpensive - if you don't take into account the costs of environmental damage and pollution-related health care. Millions of years ago, plants and microscopic organisms captured and transformed energy from the sun through photosynthesis, storing it in carbon and hydrogen bonds. As those plants and microorganisms died and were buried under layers of sediment, heat and pressure compressed the energy.

Despite their efficiency and cost, fossil fuels aren't better energy sources than solar, wind and tide, even though renewables require separate storage for large-scale deployment. Fossil fuels pollute the environment, cause illness and death, accelerate global warming and damage or destroy ecosystems. They'll also eventually run out. They're already more difficult and expensive to obtain. Easily accessible sources are becoming depleted, spurring increased reliance on damaging and dangerous unconventional sources and methods such as oilsands, deep-sea drilling and fracking.

Fossil fuels are useful for many purposes beyond generating energy - some of which we have, no doubt, yet to discover. They're used for medicines, plastic products and lubricants - another reason inefficiently burning through our limited supplies makes no sense.

Fortunately, clean energy technologies are improving daily. Just as many people are surprised at the rapid development of computing technologies used in smartphones and other devices, we'll continue to see amazing developments in renewable energy. Wind and solar are improving and coming down in cost, as are energy storage systems. Electrical grid management systems are changing with advances in computer science. Innovative ideas like biomimicry are showing great promise in the energy field with research into areas like artificial photosynthesis.

Embracing science, innovation and progressive ideas gives us hope for a healthier future. It's unfortunate that so many people, including government leaders in the U.S. and parts of Canada, are rejecting brilliant new ideas in favour of outdated and destructive ways of generating energy.

We're well into the 21st century. If humans want to make it to the 22nd, we must change course. Science offers great tools for understanding and innovating. We owe it to ourselves to at least understand how science acquires and integrates knowledge and what that means. We can't just keep digging up and burning non-renewable resources, polluting air, water and land and putting human health and survival at risk. Nor do we have to. We have better options.
(c) 2017 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

Senator Jeff Merkley filibusters on April 5, 2017.

Jeff Merkley's Heroic Fight Against Gorsuch Is A Fight For The Constitution
The Oregon senator filibustered for more than 15 hours in order to challenge the awarding of a stolen seat to Trump's nominee.
By John Nichols

Senators are not merely allowed to filibuster against judicial nominees they deem to be inappropriate or illegitimate choices to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States.

They are required to do so.

The Constitution establishes a system of checks and balances. Along with the impeachment power (the exercise of which begins with the House), the provision for senatorial advice and consent is the essential underpinning of that system.

When a nominee to the high court is being considered, senators have the authority to grant consent or to withhold it. And, when they choose to withhold it out of concern about the corruption of the process by which judicial nominations are considered, senators have a duty to use every power available to them to prevent a rush to a wrongheaded judgement.

That is what Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley, among the ablest and most experienced legislators in the chamber, was doing Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, when he held the floor for more than 15 hours with a traditional "talking filibuster" against Donald Trump's nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

"The refusal to consider Merrick Garland was the real nuclear detonation-all else follows." ~~~ Senator Jeff Merkley

"By stealing a Supreme Court seat for the first time in American history, the Senate is undermining the Court and the rule of law, and turning the highest court in the land into a political committee," Merkley explained as he went to the floor at 6:46 Tuesday evening. "This assault on our democracy demands as robust a resistance as we can possibly mount."

By 6:46 the following morning, he was still going. And he kept going until after 10 a.m.

The Democratic senator-who a few years back completed an Iron-distance triathlon (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, 26.2 mile run)-said he was keeping at it for more than 15 hours because "so much is at stake." Americans tuned in to CSPAN through the night and into the following day as Merkley decried the "sabotaging" of the process by his Republican colleagues.

Often standing beside an image of the Constitution, Merkley explained that Judge Gorsuch is seeking to fill a seat that, by all rights, should have gone to Judge Merrick Garland. Nominated by President Obama more than a year ago, rated as qualified by just about everyone (including Gorsuch), Garland was denied a hearing by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans who openly lied about the process as they corrupted it.

McConnell's Republicans claimed that the Senate has no tradition of considering and approving Supreme Court nominees in presidential election years. That was blatantly false, as Merkley explained Wednesday morning when he reviewed presidential-year deliberations going back to Thomas Jefferson's presidency. Yet candidate Donald Trump took up the Republican lie as part of his presidential campaign in 2016. And now President Trump and his allies are seeking to take advantage of the crisis they created by advancing the Gorsuch nomination.

The Republican threat to use the "nuclear option" on Thursday-changing the rules of the Senate to upend a Democratic filibuster of the Gorsuch nomination-is a further corruption of the process.

While the Senate GOP "talks about their nuclear option" said Merkley "the refusal to consider Garland was the real nuclear detonation-all else follows."

The Oregon senator's determination to hold the floor of the Senate in order to drive that point home represents an inspired defense of the Constitution, the system of checks and balances and the rule of law in a Capitol where the founding premises of the American experiment are under assault by McConnell and his minions.
(c) 2017 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

A Nation Of The Walking Dead
By Chris Hedges

Opioids and experiences that simulate the deadening effects of narcotics are mechanisms to keep us submissive and depoliticized. Desperate citizens in Aldous Huxley's 1932 novel "Brave New World" ingested the pleasure drug soma to check out of reality. Our own versions of soma allow tens of millions of Americans to retreat daily into addictive mousetraps that generate a self-induced autism.

The United States consumes 80 percent of opioids used worldwide, and more than 33,000 died in this country in 2015 from opioid overdoses. There are 300 million prescriptions written and $24 billion spent annually in the U.S. for painkillers. Americans supplement this mostly legal addiction with over $100 billion a year in illicit marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin. And nearly 14 million U.S. adults, one in every 13, regularly abuse alcohol.

But these monetary figures are far less than what we spend on gambling. Americans in 2013 lost $119 billion gambling, with an additional $70 billion-or $300 for every adult in the country-spent on lottery tickets.

Federal and state governments, reliant on tax revenues from legal gambling and on lottery ticket sales, will do nothing to halt the expansion of the industry or the economic and psychological toll it exacts on those in financial distress. State-run lottery games had sales of $73.9 billion in 2015, according to the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries. This revenue is vital to budgets beset by declining incomes, deindustrialization and austerity. "State lotteries provided more revenue than state corporate-income taxes in 11 of the 43 states where they were legal, including Delaware, Rhode Island, and South Dakota," Derek Thompson wrote in The Atlantic. "The poorest third of households buy half of all lotto tickets," he noted. Gambling is a stealth tax on poor people hoping to beat the nearly impossible odds. Governmental income from gambling is an effort to make up for the taxes the rich and corporations no longer pay.

Slot machines and other electronic gambling devices are engineered to draw us into an Alice-in-Wonderland rabbit hole. They, like our personal computers and hand-held devices, cater to the longing to flee from the oppressive world of dead-end jobs, crippling debt and social stagnation and a dysfunctional political system. We become rats in a Skinner box, frantically pulling levers until we are addicted and finally entranced by our compulsion to achieve fleeting, intermittent and adrenaline-driven rewards. Much like what happens to people using slot machines, the pigeons or rats in Skinner's experiments that did not know when they would get a reward, or how much they would get, became the most heavily addicted to operating the levers or pedals. Indeed, Skinner used slot machines as a metaphor for his experiments.

The engineers of America's gambling industry are as skillful at forming addiction as the country's top five opioid producers-Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson, Insys Therapeutics, Mylan and Depomed. There are 460 commercial casinos, 486 tribal casinos, 350 card rooms, 55 racetracks and hundreds of thousands of gaming devices, many located in convenience stores, gas stations, bars, airports and even supermarkets.

The rush of anticipation, available in 20-second bursts, over hours, days, weeks and months creates an addictive psychological "zone" that the industry calls "continuous gaming productivity." Heart rates and blood pressure rise. Time, space, the value of money and human relationships hypnotically dissolve. A state of extreme social isolation occurs.

Gambling addicts, like many addicts, are often driven to crime, bankruptcy and eventual imprisonment. Many lose everything-their marriages, their families, their jobs, their emotional health and sometimes their lives. Gambling addicts have the highest rate of suicide attempts among addicts of any kind-1 in 5, or 20 percent-according to the National Council on Problem Gambling.

Donald Trump is in large part a product of gambling culture. His career has not been about making products but about selling intangible and fleeting experiences. He preys on the desperate by offering them escapist fantasies. This world is about glitter, noise and hype-Trump called the Trump Taj Mahal, his now-closed casino, "the eighth wonder of the world." The more money you spent, the greater your "value," the more you were pampered, given free hotel rooms and gifts, handed passes to special "clubs" with lavish buffets. Scantily clad hostesses hovered around you serving complimentary drinks. If you spent big, you were invited to exclusive parties attended by supermodels and famous athletes. Decorated chips-some featuring a photo of Donald Trump-turned cash into a species of Monopoly money. But in the end, when you were broke, when there was no more money in your bank account and your credit cards were maxed out, you were thrown back, in even greater financial distress, into the dreary universe you tried to obliterate.

Roger Caillois, the French sociologist, wrote that the pathologies of a culture are captured in the games the culture venerates. Old forms of gambling such as blackjack and poker allowed the gambler to take risks, make decisions and even, in his or her mind, achieve a kind of individualism or heroism at the gambling table. They provided a way, it can be argued, to assert an alternative identity for a brief moment. But the newer form, machine gambling, is an erasure of the self. Slot machines, which produce 85 percent of the profits at casinos, are, as the sociologist Henry Lesieur wrote, an "addiction delivery device." They are "electronic morphine," "the crack cocaine of gambling." They are not about risk or about making decisions, but about creating somnambulism, putting a player into a trancelike state that can last for hours. It is a pathway, as sociologist Natasha Dow Schull points out, to becoming the walking dead. This yearning for a state of nonbeing is what Sigmund Freud called "the death instinct." It is the overpowering drive by a depressed and traumatized person to seek pleasure in a self-destructive activity that ultimately kills the organism.

"It is not the chance of winning to which they become addicted," Schull writes in "Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas," "rather, what addicts them is the world-dissolving state of subjective suspension and affective calm they derive from machine play."

Gamblers are closely tracked by the casino industry. The length of time gamblers spend on machines increases the profits for the casino. The science of keeping people in front of slot machines-called "time on device" within the industry-has led to the creation of ergonomic consoles, the appealing, warm screens on slot machines, seductive video graphics and surround-sound acoustics.

The industry also invests heavily in surveillance. Gamblers carry player or loyalty cards. They insert these cards into the slot machines when they play. These cards, linked to a central database, are used by the industry to build profiles of gamblers. The value and frequency of bets are captured, along with wins and losses. The industry knows when the players take breaks, where and what they eat in the casinos, what they drink and what hotel rooms they select. Slowly the traits and the habits of the gambler, triangulated with demographic data, are pieced together to allow the industry to build a personal profile. With the profile, the casino determines at what point a player will accumulate too many losses and too much pain and is about to walk away from a machine. A few moments before that pain level is reached, a hostess will magically appear with a free drink, a voucher for a meal or tickets to a show. Casinos can also use profiles to project how much a player will spend gambling during his or her lifetime.

The industry was the human laboratory for refinements now incorporated into the security and surveillance organs of the state. "Many surveillance and marketing innovations first used in casinos were only later adapted to other domains," Schull writes, "including airports, financial trading floors, consumer shopping malls, insurance agencies, banks, and government programs like Homeland Security."

"They have an algorithm that senses your pain points, your sweet spots," Schull told me. "The zone is a term that I kept hearing over and over again as I went to gamblers' anonymous meetings and spoke to gambling addicts. This really describes a state of flow where time, space, monetary value and other people fall away. You might say a state of flow, or the zone, sounds very different from the thrills and suspense of gambling. But what the casinos have hit upon is that [they] actually make more money when [they] design a flow space into these machines. People don't even know that they're losing. They just sit there. Again, it's time on machines."

"When you look at contemporary slot machines, they don't operate on volatility," she continued. "One designer of the mathematics and algorithm of these games said we want an algorithm that makes you feel like you are reclining on a couch. The curves, architecture and the softly pixelated lights, they want you to sit back and go with the flow. I just couldn't make sense of that for the longest time in my research. Gamblers would say, 'It's so weird, but sometimes when I win a big jackpot I feel angry and frustrated.' What they're playing for is not to win, but to stay in the zone. Winning disrupts that because suddenly the machine is frozen, it's not letting you keep going. What are you going to do with that winning anyway? You're just going to feed it back into the machines. This is more about mood modulation. Affect modulation. Using technologies to dampen anxieties and exit the world. We don't just see it in Las Vegas. We see it in the subways every morning. The rise of all of these screen-based technologies and the little games that we've all become so absorbed in. What gamblers articulate is a desire to really lose a sense of self. They lose time, space, money value, and a sense of being in the world. What is that about? What does that say? How do we diagnose that?"

"It's the flip side to the incredible pressure, which is experienced as a burden, to self-manage, to make choices, to always be maximizing as you're living life in this entrepreneurial mode," she said. "We talk about this as the subjective side of the neoliberal agenda, where pressure is put on individuals to regulate themselves. In this case, they are regulating themselves, but they are regulating themselves away from that. This really is a mode of escape. It's not action gambling. This is escape gambling. You can see it on their faces. The consequences and ethics are distasteful. It's predatory. It's predation on a type of escape where people are driven to exit the world. They're not trying to win. The casinos are trying to win. They are trying to make revenue. They're kind of in a partnership with the gamblers, but it's a very asymmetrical partnership. The gamblers don't want to win. They want to just keep going. Some people have likened gamblers to factory workers who are alienated by the machine. I don't see it that way. This is more about machines designed to synchronize with what you want-in this case escape-and [to] profit from that."

Trump understands this longing for escape and the art of creating an updated version of P.T. Barnum's "Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan & Hippodrome." Trump used his skills as a con artist to pull in hundreds of millions of dollars and then to achieve the presidency.

"People have called it a mode of ludo-capitalism," Schull said. "In a way, you can connect that to the ludo-politics that we see. Pleasure. To get what you want. What you want is to escape into a flow, to be taken away. We see this in the political domain a lot-in the rallies, in the surging of feelings, the distraction. If you look at the way a casino is designed, and you remember that Trump is a designer of many casinos, including his non-casino properties, they follow the same design logic of disorientation and trying to sweep people away from themselves, away from rationality, away from a position where they have clear lines of sight and can act as decision-making subjects. You see that on the floors of casinos, you see that in political rhetoric today."

The corporate state will expand our access to a variety of opioids and numbing situations to temporarily alleviate our stress, financial dislocations, depression and anxiety. Aided by state and local governments, it will build new pleasure palaces. It will lure millions into its glittering and seductive Venus' flytraps. It will make sure we have tempting retreats within easy reach to achieve a death-in-life experience. Much of the society will be put to sleep. Those who refuse to become zombies, who rise up to resist, who seek at all costs to remain distinct individuals, will be silenced with the corporate state's cruder tool for submission: force.
(c) 2017 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. Keep up with Chris Hedges' latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at

Donald Trump, America's Laxative
By Jane Stillwater

Did you know that the Pentagon (aka "Murder Incorporated") has never been audited? And that over ten trillion dollars are missing from its budget? We would never let the Mafia get away with that.

Did you know that Russia has just invented a new super-missile that can do almost everything but sing the blues? How could Russia do that? Because Putin is investing Russia's money in education so it will have scientists who can work smarter not harder. America, on the other hand, is investing its money on murdering babies in the Middle East -- while our education system here at home only produces more and more dumb Americans. Shades of Sputnik and 1954.

And then these very same Americans turned around and elected people who would only make their miserable lives even more miserable. People like Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell -- and Donald Trump.

At first I too was actually dumb enough to think that Trump actually would "drain the swamp". But then I realized that yours-truly had just been naive and that Trump was draining the American swamp in the same way that Hurricane Katrina drained New Orleans.

Now, however, I actually think that electing President Trump might actually be a good thing after all. Why? Because, for far too long, America's guts have been tied up in knots by a blockage caused by mass murder world-wide and massive economic disaster and moral denial here at home. For the past 60-plus years, America has been economically, politically and morally constipated.

And now President Trump has come along and given us all that drastic enema we so badly need. And now Americans are finally starting to wake up -- and actually starting to feel some actual movement in their intestinal fortitude. At last!

Suddenly Americans are starting to realize that their education system sucks eggs, their infrastructure is wobbly at best, their jobs have fled overseas, their democracy is gone, their treasures have all been squandered in order to murder huge numbers of babies in the Middle East -- and that they have been constantly lied to since Franklin Roosevelt died.

Finally Americans are starting to do something more than just pass gas.

Americans are now waking up, becoming unobstructed and starting to demand life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness instead of just more and more butchery and dumbness. Thank you, Donald Trump!

PS: Lots of people tell me that Clinton would have been a much better president than Trump. I beg to disagree. While Trump has shamelessly thrown us Americans into the deep end of a caustic and toxic swamp where we at least have a chance to swim for our lives before it's too late, Clinton would have let us happily die of a thousand cuts like the proverbial frog who got boiled to death by having its temperature raised degree by degree -- and too late we would have screamed "Ouch!"

You don't believe me? Just go down to Haiti and ask almost anyone what they think of the Clinton Foundation.
(c) 2017 Jane Stillwater. Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world. And while you're at it, please buy my books!

Mainstream Media As Arbiters Of Truth
An angry mainstream U.S. media is shaking its fist at anyone who won't clamber onboard the Russia-gate groupthink bandwagon
By Robert Parry

The mainstream U.S. media is never more unctuous and unprofessional as when it asserts that it alone must be the arbiter of what is true and what is not, regardless of what the evidence shows or doesn't show.

For instance, New York Times columnist Charles W. Blow declared on Monday that the public can longer debate whether Russia leaked to WikiLeaks the emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman John Podesta despite the failure of the U.S. government or private researchers to present evidence that establishes that claim as fact.

Blow acknowledged that "We are still not conclusively able to connect the dots on the question of whether there was any coordination or collusion between members of Donald Trump's campaign and the Russians... but those dots do continue to multiply at an alarming rate."

But Blow also asserted that "It is absolutely clear that the Russians did interfere in our election. This is not a debatable issue. This is not fake news. This is not a witch hunt. This happened."

Blow chastised people who still wanted evidence of this now non-debatable issue, seeing them at fault "because this fact [of the Russian meddling] keeps getting obscured in the subterfuge of deflection, misdirection and ideological finger-pointing about what has yet to be proven."

So, if you insist on asking for proof of the core allegation in Russia-gate, you are guilty of "subterfuge..., misdirection and ideological finger-pointing."

And if that indictment doesn't quiet you up, there's the column by The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne Jr. who explains that the real victims in Russia-gate are the accusers who have promoted this guilt-by-association scandal that has impugned the integrity of a growing number of Americans who either talked to Russians or who expressed doubts about the investigation.

While the Russia-gate accusers have essentially deemed these Americans "traitors" or the Kremlin's "useful idiots" or some other derogatory phrase, Dionne sees the much greater offense coming from the people so accused who have complained about what they see as McCarthyism. Dionne writes:

"These days, any liberal who raises alarms about Trump's relationship with Russia confronts charges of McCarthyism, hysteria and hypocrisy. The inclination of many on the left to assail [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is often ascribed to partisan anger over his success in undermining Clinton's candidacy.

"There's no doubt that liberals are angry, but ask yourself: Shouldn't everyone, left, right and center, be furious over Russia's efforts to inject calumny and falsehood into the American political bloodstream?"

So, Dionne suggests that people who question the credibility of the Russia-gate allegations are somehow un-American by favoring the injection of "calumny and falsehood into the American political bloodstream." But that mainstream hostility toward skepticism has been at the heart of the Russia-bashing campaign that we have witnessed for the past several years.

Blacklisting Journalists

And, that campaign indeed has been replete with McCarthyism. You even have The Washington Post promoting a blacklist of 200 Internet news sites (including and other prominent independent-minded outlets) as guilty of "Russian propaganda" for reporting skeptically on some State Department claims about the New Cold War.

But Dionne also is dishonest in claiming that the alleged leaks blamed on Russia are false. The central allegation in Russia-gate is that the Russians obtained two batches of Democratic emails and released them to the American public via WikiLeaks. Even if that is the case, nothing in those emails was fabricated.

The emails represented real news including evidence that the DNC displayed improper bias against Sen. Bernie Sanders's insurgent campaign; excerpts of Hillary Clinton's paid speeches to Wall Street that she was trying to hide from the voters; and revelations about pay-to-play aspects of the Clinton Foundation's dealing with foreign entities.

So, even if the Russians did give the emails to WikiLeaks - although WikiLeaks denies that the Russians were the source - the core reality is that the emails provided real information that the American people had a genuine right to know. But Dionne and the mainstream U.S. media have conflated this truth-telling with cases of "fake news," i.e., made-up stories that investigations have shown had no connection to Russia, simply to sleazy entrepreneurs seeking to make some money via lots of clicks. In other words, Dionne is lying or engaging in "fake news" himself.

Such phony journalism is reminiscent of other shameful chapters of the mainstream media's history of serving as propaganda conduits and marginalizing independent reporters who displayed professional skepticism toward the dangerous groupthinks of Official Washington.

A pivotal moment in the chaos that is now consuming the planet came on Feb. 6, 2003, when The Washington Post's editorial and op-ed pages presented a solid phalanx of misguided consensus that ruled out any further dissent about the existence of Iraq's WMD after Secretary of State Colin Powell presented his slam-dunk case before the United Nations the day before.

The Post's editorial board - led by editorial page editor Fred Hiatt - judged Powell's WMD case "irrefutable," an opinion echoed across the Post's op-ed page.

"The evidence he [Powell] presented to the United Nations - some of it circumstantial, some of it absolutely bone-chilling in its detail - had to prove to anyone that Iraq not only hasn't accounted for its weapons of mass destruction but without a doubt still retains them," wrote Post columnist Richard Cohen. "Only a fool - or possibly a Frenchman - could conclude otherwise."

The Post's senior foreign policy columnist Jim Hoagland then demanded the surrender of any WMD-doubting holdouts: "To continue to say that the Bush administration has not made its case, you must now believe that Colin Powell lied in the most serious statement he will ever make, or was taken in by manufactured evidence. I don't believe that. Today, neither should you."

This enforced WMD consensus contributed to arguably the most disastrous U.S. foreign policy decision in history as President George W. Bush launched an illegal invasion of Iraq that got nearly 4,500 U.S. soldiers killed along with hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and spread bloody chaos across the Middle East and now into Europe. There was also the problem that no hidden caches of WMD were discovered.

So, you might assume that editorial-page editor Fred Hiatt and other prominent mainstream journalists who pushed the bogus WMD claims and pushed the few dissenters to the fringes of the public debate, received some appropriate punishments - at least being unceremoniously fired in disgrace. Of course, if you thought that, you don't understand how the U.S. mainstream media works. To this day, Fred Hiatt is still the editorial-page editor of The Washington Post.

Slandering Dr. King

One might note, however, that historically the mainstream U.S. media has performed no better than it has in recent years.

Fifty years ago, on April 4, 1967, at Riverside Church in New York City, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave one of the most important speeches in U.S. history, taking to task American militarism and the Vietnam War. Famously and courageously, King denounced his own government as "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today."

King, whose life was increasingly at risk, was then put at even greater risk by being denounced by The New York Times and The Washington Post. The Post blasted King for spreading what today we might call "fake news," accusing him of "sheer inventions of unsupported fantasy." The Times chimed in that King's words were "facile" and "slander" while urging him to focus instead on "the intractability of slum mores and habits," i.e. those lazy and immoral black folks. (Exactly a year later, King was shot dead.)

But you might ask, don't the Post and Times at least get the big investigative stories right and thus warn the American people about abuses to their democratic process? Well, not exactly.

Take, for example, the case of Richard Nixon conspiring with South Vietnamese leaders to sabotage President Lyndon Johnson's Paris peace talks in fall 1968 so Nixon could eke out a victory over Vice President Hubert Humphrey. Nixon's manipulation of that election - while half a million American soldiers were in the war zone - was treated by the Post and Times as a conspiracy theory for nearly half a century, even as honest journalists chipped away at Nixon's denials by uncovering evidence of the deal that continued the war for another four years.

Some reporters, such as the Christian Science Monitor's Beverly Deepe, were onto the story in real time. Others, including Seymour Hersh, advanced knowledge about these events over the decades. Five years ago, I uncovered a top secret file that Johnson's National Security Adviser Walt Rostow dubbed "The X-Envelope" which contained wiretap proof of what Johnson called Nixon's "treason." Besides writing up the details, I posted the documents on the Internet so anyone could see for themselves.

Yet, as recently as last October, The New York Times ignored all this evidence when referencing the supposed "October Surprise" of 1968, citing - instead of Nixon's peace-talk sabotage - the fact that Johnson had ordered a bombing halt of North Vietnam. In other words, the Times was still promoting Nixon's version of the story nearly a half century later.

Only early this year, when a scholar uncovered some cryptic notes by Nixon's chief of staff H.R. Haldeman that seemed to reference Nixon's instructions regarding the sabotage did the Times finally deign to acknowledge the reality (because the Times published the finding on its op-ed page, which I guess makes it true). But the Times did so without acknowledging all the hard work that journalists had done over the years so the cryptic notes would fit into a complex puzzle that made sense.

Nor did the Times acknowledge its own role in obscuring this history for so long.


To add insult to the historical injury, the Times pretended that it was right to have ignored the earlier work. Times columnist Nicholas Kristof dismissively treated those decades of investigative journalism by writing: "Nixon's initiative, long rumored but confirmed only a few months ago, was meant to improve his election chances that year."

"Long rumored"? The reality was that Nixon's perfidy had long ago been proven by independent-minded journalists but their work was ignored by The New York Times and pretty much everyone else in the mainstream media until the self-proclaimed truth monitors decided that the discovery of one new piece of the mosaic was the appropriate time to proclaim that the reality could now be accepted as a reality.

To explain the near half-century gap in the Times' failure to investigate this historic act of treason, the Times then smeared the journalists who had done the investigating as rumor-mongers.

So, in light of the mainstream media's dismal performance over the decades, what is one to make of the dictate now that we must accept that the Russians did leak the emails to WikiLeaks even if no one is showing us the evidence? It also appears that we are supposed to dismiss the contents of the emails as "fake news" (even though they are genuine) so that will buttress the narrative that Russia is undermining our democracy by disseminating "fake news."

Perhaps getting people to accept this false narrative is crucial to giving credibility to the Times' full-page ads professing the newspaper's undying love of the truth and to The Washington Post's new melodramatic slogan, "Democracy Dies in Darkness."

While there's no doubt that truth is important to an informed electorate, there is something scary when the mainstream media, which has such a checkered history of misreporting the truth, asserts that it is the one that gets to decide what the truth is.
(c) 2017 Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America's Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and

The Quotable Quote...

"By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you'll become happy; if you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher."
~~~ Socrates

U.S. Out Of Korea

By David Swanson

My biggest concern is not the embarrassment of a U.S. public afraid of the tiny impoverished nation of North Korea. If that embarrassed me, how would I survive what U.S. culture makes of ISIS, or -- for that matter -- the election of Donald Trump? My biggest concern is that U.S. war profiteers may end up using Korea to get us all killed.

The United States bombed the living hell out of North Korea, and -- in hopes that nothing would survive -- dropped diseased insects on the place, hoping to start plagues. One bit of later collateral damage was the release of Lyme disease in Lyme, but Hollywood came out of it with the concepts of brainwashing and Manchurian candidates, so some might call it a fair trade.

The United States has thus far refused to ever end the war, sign a peace, or allow reconciliation. Southern and Northern efforts toward peace have been thwarted. Northern proposals (echoed by China) to halt nuclear testing if the U.S. will halt the "exercises" in which it practices for the nuclear bombing of the North have been mocked and scorned. North Korea has committed to no first use, as has China. The U.S. has proposed first use and made plans for it, while heavily militarizing South Korea, building a new base on Jeju Island, sending armed drones to the border, and installing THAAD.

Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, formerly Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), is part of what the United States calls "missile defense" and much of the world thinks of as missile offense. The U.S. calls it a (highly profitable) tool to protect South Korea from the attack that the North is not threatening. China sees it as part of U.S. efforts to encircle China and to be prepared to strike first and to minimize the Chinese response.

Giving not a rat's rear what China or North Korea or even South Korea has to say, distracted by its efforts to stir up World War III with Russia, and obsessed with prolonging its numerous wars in the Middle East and Africa, the United States simply pushes ahead.

On Wednesday, April 5, a group of South Koreans plans to demonstrate against the current course in front of the White House in Washington, D.C. One of them, Rea-kyung Lee, Chairman of the board of the Tomorrow Association, provided me with a statement that I paraphrase thus:

"The Korean people will be closely watching how U.S. President Trump and the Chinese National Chairman Xi Jin Ping deal with the deployment of THAAD onto the Korean Peninsula when they meet in the United States on April 6 and 7.

"The United States is unilaterally imposing THAAD deployment without any normal and proper agreement with South Korea. The former Korean president who initiated the process has recently been impeached for corruption. A new election is planned for early May. Meanwhile, China is imposing sanctions on South Korea in retaliation.

"The United States must halt THAAD deployment. China must end sanctions.

"The democratic citizens of South Korea have ousted a corrupt president using peaceful, non-violent candlelight demonstrations. The hurdles still faced are long-standing. Following the period of Japanese imperialism, the Korean people desired to establish an independent and unified nation, but were frustrated by the U.S.-Soviet military occupations of the peninsula, and the war between the United States and China.

"The residents of the Korean peninsula have been being forced to undergo the tragic status of national division, while constantly experiencing daily life under the threat of war for more than 70 years. The U.S. and China, in fighting for supremacy over the Korean peninsula, should not repeat such historical crimes."

To help out, attend the conference and demonstration planned for April 7-9 in Huntsville, Alabama.
(c) 2017 David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

President Donald Trump waves as he walks on the South Lawn toward the White House on Sunday, March 19, 2017.

Trump Builds A Watergate All His Own
Like the scandal that brought down Richard Nixon, the attempted cover-up of the president's relationship with Russia is slowly falling apart.
By Michael Winship

It's deja vu all over again.

As the Trump Russia story continues to stutter forward, comparisons to Watergate are everywhere - and justifiably so. The revelations and denials, the slow unraveling of deception, the critical role of a free and independent press challenging the cover-up and digging for the truth are all very familiar, especially to those of us who actually were in Washington back during those peculiar days and nights of Richard Nixon.

But another inside-the-Beltway, historic parallel struck me last week when reports emerged of House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA) suddenly jumping from his Uber car into another and covertly racing to the White House grounds, where he met with who-knows-who about who-knows-what. (The New York Times reported on Thursday that White House officials Ezra Cohen-Watnick and Michael Ellis gave Nunes access to "intelligence reports that showed President Trump and his associates were incidentally swept up in foreign surveillance by American spy agencies." Early Thursday evening, The Washington Post added to the list John Eisenberg, legal adviser to the National Security Council.)

When it comes to paralleling Nunes and his car switcheroo, there hasn't been such noteworthy bolting from a vehicle in the District of Columbia since a South American stripper named Fanne Foxx dashed from the limousine of House Ways and Means Chairman Wilbur Mills and jumped into the Tidal Basin. That was in 1974, just a couple of months after Nixon's resignation. Foxe and Rep. Mills were having an affair and soon after his companion's 2 a.m. dip, Mills, who was considered by many to be the most powerful man on Capitol Hill, had to give up his chairmanship. Foxe had her 15 minutes of fame, during which her exotic dancer sobriquet was changed from "The Argentine Firecracker" to "The Tidal Basin Bombshell."

No word as to what Rep. Nunes' stripper name will be, but I'm open to suggestions. Certainly Devin "D for Dumb" Nunes is a real possibility. Which brings to mind another congressional highlight of 1974, and I'm not talking about the superb work of the House Judiciary Committee passing articles of impeachment against Nixon. It also was the year that a start-up magazine, New Times, made a splash with its cover story naming, "The 10 Dumbest Members of Congress." It was written by Nina Totenberg, now NPR's star legal affairs correspondent.

No. 1 on her list was Sen. William Scott, Republican from Virginia, a one termer whose stupid-is-as-stupid-does behavior reportedly included racist and anti-Semitic remarks.

During a defense briefing that included information about missile silos in Russia, Scott is alleged to have said, "Wait a minute! I'm not interested in agriculture. I want the military stuff." Nor did he seem to know the difference between the Suez Canal and the Persian Gulf, so thank God he never was anywhere near the nuclear codes.

To make matters worse, when the article appeared, Scott called a press conference in his office to angrily denounce the story, giving it even wider coverage and proving once and for all that he really was exactly who Totenberg and the magazine said he was.

Which brings us back to Devin Nunes. Certainly, in this current Congress he already has a lot of competition for dumbest. The Texas House Republicans alone include an impressive array of top-tier candidates. (And I say that as a Yankee who nonetheless received half his chromosomes from a smart and capable Texan.)

Or maybe Nunes is dumb like a fox. Between his feckless dashing about Washington like a barely housebroken Scooby-Doo and his postponement of more open hearings that might further reveal the administration's culpability, he has done his best to obfuscate and obstruct. He's certainly a tool, his fumbling mistakes and misrepresentations thoroughly mucking up his committee's investigation, probably beyond redemption. Which doubtless is just what his White House pals wanted.

Hard to believe he wants to go out this way (and he should resign, recuse himself or be replaced by House Speaker Ryan). There are even those who say that when the committee room doors are closed, in private he has been a helpful colleague - until now.

Apparently, Nunes been played and played big-time, a cog in the Steve Bannon machine designed to subvert the current investigations. That classified - and said to be anonymous! - information about which Nunes insisted he had to brief President Trump but at the same time hide from the eyes of his committee turns out to have been leaked to him by the supposedly leak-averse White House itself. In other words, he was briefing the White House on documents he got from the White House. Huh?

And what was in those documents? According to The Times:

"The intelligence reports consisted primarily of ambassadors and other foreign officials talking about how they were trying to develop contacts within Mr. Trump's family and inner circle before his inauguration, officials said...

"Mr. Nunes has acknowledged that the incidental intelligence gathering on Trump associates last year was not necessarily unlawful, and that it was not specifically directed at Mr. Trump or people close to him. American intelligence agencies typically monitor foreign officials of allied and hostile countries, and they routinely sweep up communications linked to Americans who may be taking part in the conversation or are being spoken about."

Shocker - not. And far removed from the myth of Barack Obama "wiretapping" Trump Tower, as the current president claimed.

Now, how about the men who allegedly handed off the info to Rep. Nunes? There's Michael Ellis, who's in the White House Counsel's office. He used to work for Nunes at the intelligence committee and now reports to the aforementioned National Security Council attorney John Eisenberg.

And you may remember Ezra Cohen-Watnick - he's the guy who national security adviser H.R. McMaster recently wanted to bounce from his position as the National Security Council's senior director for intelligence. Cohen-Watnick, 30, went running to his protectors, Steve Bannon and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner. They then went to Trump, who overruled McMaster and saved the kid's job. After Trump sent his scurrilous tweets about wiretapping, Cohen-Watnick apparently wanted to pay his debt to the boss and seems to have set about trying to find something, anything, that might be interpreted as supporting his president's fantasy.

Cohen-Watnick is a protege of McMaster's short-lived predecessor as national security adviser, the notorious Michael Flynn, who lost his job for, among other sins, purportedly lying to Vice President Mike Pence and others about his conversations with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. At least that was the cover story. He also may have been involved in a private, half-baked scheme to kidnap Turkish opposition leader Fethullah Gulen from exile in Pennsylvania and turn him over to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and certain death, thus avoiding formal extradition.

Still with me? Earlier reports had indicated that Flynn might be cutting a deal with the FBI, copping a plea in exchange for telling everything he knows about Donald Trump's team and Russia, including possible collusion in that country's interference with the 2016 election. Now The Wall Street Journal reports that according to officials, Flynn has offered to be interviewed by the agency and the congressional intelligence committees in exchange for immunity, "but has so far found no takers." His lawyer wrote, "Gen. Flynn certainly has a story to tell, and he very much wants to tell it, should the circumstances permit." I'll bet, but it may take a while; no one seems anxious to grant Flynn's request anytime soon. And it's pretty funny coming from a fellow who last September told Meet the Press, "When you are given immunity, that means you probably committed a crime."

Which brings us back to Watergate. When Woodward and Bernstein started writing their articles in June 1972, there was frustration, because while they were on the front page of The Washington Post almost every day, their reporting was buried in other newspapers around the country and the story got little traction - much as the Russia story has been ignored or denied by Trump's base. Richard Nixon won re-election in a landslide.

In my memory, Watergate finally began to really crack open months later when the burglars appeared for sentencing in March 1973. One of them, James McCord, had written a letter to Judge John Sirica and then met with him in chambers, begging for a deal and singing like the Vienna Boys Choir about who at the Nixon White House had asked the burglars to take the rap and remain silent in exchange for a payoff.

So maybe now a similar agreement eventually will be reached with Flynn. Add to that the seeming seriousness of Republican Richard Burr, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who as of this week - and unlike the hapless Nunes - seems committed to getting honest answers, much as his fellow North Carolinian, Democrat Sam Ervin, sought when he chaired the Senate Watergate Committee. (That said, the apparent commitment of Burr - and Democratic vice chair Mark Warner of Virginia - does not yet negate the real need for an independent, bipartisan inquiry and a special prosecutor.)

Senators of both parties serving on the intelligence committee were stunned Thursday when Clinton Watts, a senior fellow at the George Washington University's Center for Cyber and Homeland Security, told them in a public hearing that not only had Russia hacked Hillary Clinton but also other GOP presidential candidates who ran against Trump in the primaries, including Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and Lindsey Graham. What's more, Watts said, "the commander in chief has used Russian active measures at times against his opponents."

In part, he noted, that's why Russia was so successful - Trump played such a willing (if possibly unwitting) role in their scheme: "... Part of the reason these active measures work, and it does today in terms of Trump Tower being wiretapped, is because they [Trump's associates] parrot the same lines."

Sure, there's a chance this will all lead to naught. But we have to find out. Every piece of this puzzle inexorably leads us to the big looming questions one longs to ask Trump and his cohort under oath: If there's really nothing going on, why are you working so hard to keep the truth from coming out? What exactly are you hiding?

Or is this a knee-jerk authoritarian response to anyone who dares challenge the leader, a dictatorial reaction that will only worsen with time and the consolidation of power? That may be the most frightening question of all.
(c) 2017 Michael Winship is senior writing fellow at Demos, president of the Writers Guild of America, East, and was senior writer for Moyers & Company and Bill Moyers' Journal and is senior writer of

The Dead Letter Office...

Jeff gives the corporate salute!

Heil Trump,

Dear Uberfuhrer Flake,

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 success gathering the last bit of information on all Americans with the ability to sell it all to the highest bider, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Republican whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

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

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

Trump's Incredibly Dumb Bet On Coal
By Robert Reich

When Donald Trump was running for president, he talked a lot about putting people back to work. And one of the industries he focused on most was the coal industry. He even put on a hard hat and waved around a pick axe to show how much he loved coal.

But there simply aren't very many coal jobs to be had any more in the U.S. That's not because of anything Obama did. Coal jobs are decreasing because demand for coal is decreasing, and because machines now do much of the work.

In 1985 the coal industry employed a over 178,000 miners. By 2016, it employed just 56,000.

By contrast, in 2016, wind and solar energy provided more than 6 times the number of jobs as coal. The trend is toward even more jobs in wind and solar, regardless of what Trump does.

Solar energy is exploding worldwide, an almost sixfold increase in just the last 5 years. But America ranks fifth in the production of solar energy, behind China, Germany, Japan and Italy.

If we really want to lead - if we really want to join the New Energy Economy - we have to go with the energy of the future, not the energy of the past. The other option - the one Donald Trump is proposing - leaves us following, not leading.

It's our choice.
(c) 2017 Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His website is

House Speaker Paul Ryan discusses the American Health Care Act at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, March 9, 2017.

The AHCA: Mass Murder In Broad Daylight
By William Rivers Pitt

In light of House Speaker Paul Ryan's revelations this week that House Republicans plan to continue pushing to overhaul the health care system in the months ahead, despite their colossal failure to pass the American Health Care Act (AHCA), there's one truth we can't repeat to each other enough: The AHCA would have amounted to attempted mass murder on a national scale, and the implications of its near-success are flatly terrifying.

The total collapse of the AHCA -- the GOP-designed legislative torpedo intended to sink Obamacare once and for all -- was seen as a stinging rebuke for President Trump, Speaker Ryan and the Republican Party in general. It raised doubts about their ability to govern and keep their promises, and the defeat put their whole legislative agenda in peril. Many people took great joy from these developments, and from watching the Republicans try to puzzle their way through why the whole thing exploded so ignominiously in their faces.

Trump, as is his way, meandered through the blame game with typical stagger-step precision. It was the Democrats fault, no, the media's fault, no, Ryan's fault, no, the sink in the bathroom's fault, until eventually blame for the fiasco was properly laid at the feet of a clutch of ultra-conservative House members who call themselves the Freedom Caucus. These Flat-Earth bitter-enders are a real piece of work; their entire purpose in government is to destroy government. They took one look at the AHCA, deemed it too generous, and locked themselves together in a Trojan phalanx of "No" votes that ultimately ran the thing onto the reef.

That's the horserace crap, the kind of "details" and "substance" we got during media coverage of the 2016 presidential campaign. The rancid meat on this bone, however, can be found in the bloody body of the AHCA itself. Before Ryan started meddling with it to try and placate the Freedom Caucus, the bill was already an astonishment of greed and cruelty. According to The Washington Post:

The latest version that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office had a chance to analyze would have, over the course of 10 years, cut taxes by $1 trillion, disproportionately benefiting the rich; cut Medicaid spending by $839 billion, exclusively harming the poor and sick; and cut the Affordable Care Act's health insurance subsidies by about $300 billion, mostly hurting older people of modest means. Add it all up, and the CBO estimated that 24 million people would have lost their health insurance as a result. It would have allowed them to pass two permanent tax cuts for the rich.
That was before Ryan realized he had a Freedom Caucus problem, before he went back into the bill to make changes that might attract those votes. According to the same Post article, once Ryan was done groveling to his right flank by removing even more basic protections for people, "Trumpcare also would have repealed the 'essential health benefits' that plans are required to cover now. States would have been allowed to write their own rules, so, depending on where you lived, insurance companies might have been able to sell you 'insurance' that didn't cover hospitalizations, prescription drugs, maternity care, mental health care and preventive care, and also imposed annual and lifetime limits on your benefits."

Not only did the AHCA in its original form steal trillions of dollars in tax cuts for the wealthy, eviscerate Medicare in historic fashion, throw millions of people out of their insurance plans and all but doom the elderly and the infirm. After the revisions, even basic items like emergency room and maternity care were chopped down because the Freedom Caucus found them to be too generous. Ponder that a moment: This bill failed not because it was too vicious, but because it was not vicious enough.

Make no mistake about it: This was a mass murder bill, plain and simple, one that would have lost by only a handful of votes had it come to the floor of the House.

The callousness with which the GOP Congress contemplated stripping away the health care of 24 million poor, sick and older people reflects an underlying eugenicist view within Trump and Bannon's camp that the lives of the rich and powerful matter more and are the only ones worth protecting because they believe the rich are genetically superior to the poor.

In a recent New Republic article, journalist Sarah Jones documented the prevalence of this view within Trump's inner circles:

The most powerful people in America appear to enthusiastically embrace the idea that humans can be divided into inherently superior and inferior specimens and treated accordingly. "You have to be born lucky," President Donald Trump told Oprah Winfrey in 1988, "in the sense that you have to have the right genes." His biographer Michael D'Antonio explained to Frontline that Trump and his family subscribe "to a racehorse theory of human development. They believe that there are superior people and that if you put together the genes of a superior woman and a superior man, you get a superior offspring."

So does Trump's chief strategist Steve Bannon, if the reports are to be believed. Sources told The New York Times this November that despite his devout Catholicism, Bannon "occasionally talked about the genetic superiority of some people and once mused about the desirability of limiting the vote to property owners." Adam Serwer of The Atlantic reported in January that Attorney General Jeff Sessions praised the Immigration Act of 1924 in a 2015 interview with Bannon, which could be an insight into the views of both these immigration hardliners: The act required would-be immigrants to specify whether they'd ever spent time in prison or the "almshouse," and if their parents had ever been confined to a psychiatric hospital.

The AHCA was a mass murder bill aimed at bettering the rich while setting up the poor, elderly and infirm for ultimate disposal by dint of poor health. It very nearly earned a majority of votes in the House of Representatives, and in its final form was so wantonly punishing that it denied people access to lab work meant to help them find out what ails them in the first place. 400 years ago, the British ran a version of this game by shipping their "undesirables" off to the new American colonies where they could be worked to death for the betterment of the landed aristocracy. Four centuries later, that colony now seems content to let those same "undesirables" wither and die anonymously for the crime of not being "born lucky."

This bill happened, it almost made it through the House, and had it survived the Senate would have been signed into law with much pomp and circumstance by President Trump ... but not enough people are talking about what it really was. The failure of the AHCA may well have been the most important event of the 21st century.

The tax reform bill and the budget fight loom, not to mention the possibility of more attempts at "health care reform," so we better start talking about it right now, because God only knows what Trump and the GOP have in mind next. If they are capable of proposing legislation like this without blinking, only to kill it because it wasn't bloodthirsty enough, they are capable of anything.
(c) 2017 William Rivers Pitt is a senior editor and lead columnist at Truthout. He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know, The Greatest Sedition Is Silence and House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation. His fourth book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co-written with Dahr Jamail, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in New Hampshire.

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ John Cole ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Jared Kushner Says He Read Up On Middle East During Minutes Waiting For Ski Lift
By Andy Borowitz

BAGHDAD (The Borowitz Report)-Jared Kushner said on Tuesday that he became "incredibly well-informed" on the Middle East by reading up on the region while waiting for the ski lift on a recent trip to Aspen.

"There would be times when you'd have to wait five or even ten minutes for the ski lift, and that's when I'd take out my phone and read up on the Middle East," he said. "I really got into it."

Kushner said that the Middle East was a "truly fascinating region" because of "all the countries that they have there."

"There is Israel, and Egypt, but there is also Yemen and places like that," he said. "Sometimes I would start learning about a new country, but then the ski lift would come."

Kushner said that, during a meeting on Monday in Baghdad, he "wowed" the Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, with knowledge that he had gleaned about the nation while waiting for the ski lift.

"I told him that Iraq's main agricultural products include wheat, barley, corn, and rice," he said. "He seemed really surprised that I would know things like that."

"Something else that's interesting about the Middle East is there is a country called Jordan," he added.

Kushner's wife, Ivanka Trump, said that her husband's ability to learn so much about the Middle East while waiting for the ski lift was "nothing short of amazing."

"Jared is such a quick learner," Trump said. "He reminds me of Daddy."
(c) 2017 Andy Borowitz

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