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In This Edition

Chris Hedges returns with, "Let Us Now Praise Amazon Unionists."

Chris Walker returns with, "Arizona Supreme Court Rejects State GOP Lawsuit To Eliminate Mail-In Voting."

Margaret Kimberley warns, "Biden Means What He Says."

Jim Hightower finds, "Truck Drivers Hijacked By Immoral Corporate Bosses."

William Rivers Pitt says, "Dwindling Public Concern About COVID Is Handing Republicans A Gift."

John Nichols examines, "193 Heartless Bastards In The House Of Representatives."

James Donahue is, "Dealing With The Odd Illusion Of Time."

David Swanson returns with, "Don't Let A Mountain In Montenegro Be Lost To A War In Ukraine."

David Suzuki thinks, "Education Should Include Indigenous Knowledge And Wisdom."

Charles P. Pierce says, "Bucha Has Joined The Bloody Atlas Of World Barbarism."

Juan Cole reports, "White House OMB: Climate Crisis To Cost US $2 trillion Each And Every Year In 8 Decades."

Robert Reich explores, "Amazon Workers' Astounding Win, And How Corporate America Is Trying To Take Back Power."

Thom Hartmann concludes, "Democrats Should 'Take On the Swamp' and Mean It."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz reports, "Fauci Testifies That Legalizing Marijuana Would Help People Who Have to Listen to Ted Cruz Talk," but first, Uncle Ernie exclaims. "Scientists Rebel!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Randall Enos, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Mr. Fish, Mary Taylor, Robyn Beck, Alejandra Anna Moneymaker, Villa Loarca, Newsday, Greg Nash, Al Drago, Matthew Hatcher, Sopa Images, Bloomberg, NPR, Genevieve Diamond, Jim Hightower, Pixabay, Pexels, AFP, Unsplash, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

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Scientists Rebel!
Global warming strikes again!
By Ernest Stewart

"There is a very big risk that we will just end our civilisation. The human species will survive somehow but we will destroy almost everything we have built up over the last 2000 years" ~~~ Prof. Hans Schellnhuber ~ director emeritus of the Potsdam Institute.

I see where a loosely federated network of scientists in more than two dozen countries plan acts of civil disobedience starting this week to highlight the climate crisis, members of Scientist Rebellion told I&A. Their non-violent actions are timed to the release Monday of a landmark report from the UN's climate science advisory panel laying out options for slashing carbon pollution and controversial schemes for extracting CO2 from the air, they said in interviews.

Scientist Rebellion targets universities, research institutes and major scientific journals, prodding them and their staff to speak out more forcefully on what they describe as the existential threat of global warming.

"Scientists are particularly powerful messengers, and we have a responsibility to show leadership," said Charlie Gardner, a conservation scientist at the University of Kent specialised in tropical biodiversity.

"We are failing in that responsibility. If we say it's an emergency, we have to act like it is."

Starting Monday, the group hopes to see "high levels of disobedience" with more than 1,000 scientists worldwide taking part in direct non-violent action against government and academic institutions.

The world has seen a crescendo of deadly extreme weather amplified by rising temperatures -- heatwaves, wildfires, flooding, storms engorged by rising seas -- and a torrent of recent climate science projects worse to come.

Much of that research is distilled in periodic reports from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change (IPCC).

Scientist Rebellion was founded in 2020 by two physics PhD students at St Andrews College in Scotland, inspired in part by the more broadly based Extinction Rebellion.

The group's first significant action with more than 100 scientists, in March 2021, targeted the British Royal Society and science publishing behemoth Springer Nature.

"We basically pasted enlarged copies of their journal articles calling for rapid transformative change onto their offices," said Kyle Topher, an environmental scientist from Australia and full-time activist for the group.

Last year's COP26 climate summit in Glasgow saw a score of their members arrested.

"As far as we know this was the first mass arrest of scientists anywhere in the world since Carl Sagan protested nuclear weapons testing in the 1980s," said Gardner.

They also made headlines by leaking an early draft of Monday's IPCC report, which warned that carbon dioxide emissions need to peak within three years if the world is to keep the Paris Agreement targets for global warming in reach.

Scientist Rebellion was founded in 2020 by two physics PhD students at St Andrews College in Scotland.

"As scientists, we tend to be risk averse -- we don't want to risk our jobs, our reputations, and our time," said Rose Abramoff, a soil scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Knoxville, Tennessee and a Scientist Rebellion member.

"But it is no longer sufficient to do our research and expect others to read it and understand the severity and urgency of the climate crisis."

The aim of the group is to "make this crisis impossible to ignore," she added.

Many of its members are in the Global South, where climate change protests up to now have been more muted, even if the impacts are more keenly felt.

"I am not sure this is our last chance, but time is definitely running out," said Jordan Cruz, an environmental engineer in Ecuador who studies the devastating impact of mining industries on human communities in the Andes.

"I am terrified," he said by email. "But it's the kind of fear that motivates action. It is survival!"


11-15-1928 ~ 04-01-2022
Thanks for the music!

04-22-1928 ~ 04-02-2022
Thanks for the film!

12-13-1928 ~ 04-04-2022
Thanks for the music!

12-06-1965 ~ 04-04-2022
Thanks for the truth!

04-26-1942 ~ 04-05-2022
Thanks for the music!

07-23-1926 ~ 04-06-2022
Thanks for the film!


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Until the next time, Peace!

(c) 2022 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, philosopher, author, stand -up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.

Let Us Now Praise Amazon Unionists
The only way to halt the global assault on the human rights of workers is to unionize.
By Chris Hedges

Let us honor those workers who stood up to Amazon, especially Chris Smalls, described by Amazon's chief counsel as "not smart, or articulate," who led a walkout at the Amazon warehouse at Staten Island JFK8 at the beginning of the pandemic two years ago to protest unsafe working conditions. He was immediately fired. Amazon's high-priced lawyers, however, were in for a surprise. Smalls unionized the first Amazon warehouse in the country. He, along with his co-founder Derrick Palmer, built their union worker by worker with little outside support and no affiliation with a national labor group, raising $120,000 on GoFundMe. Amazon spent more than $4.3 million on anti-union consultants last year alone, according to federal filings.

We must not underestimate this victory. It is only by rebuilding unions and carrying out strikes that we will halt the downward spiral of the working class. No politician will do this for us. Neither of the two ruling parties will be our allies. The media will be hostile. The government, beholden to corporations and the rich, will use its resources, no matter which of the two ruling parties is in the White House, to crush worker movements. It will be a long, painful and lonely struggle.

You can tell what the oligarchs fear by what they seek to destroy - unions. Amazon, the country's second largest employer after Walmart, pours staggering resources into blocking union organizing, like Walmart. According to court documents, it formed a reaction team involving 10 departments, including a security group staffed by military veterans, to counter the Staten Island organizing and had blueprints for breaking union activity worked out in its "Protest Response Playbook" and "Labor Activity Playbook." The strike-breaking teams organized compulsory Maoist-type meetings, up to 20 a day, with workers where supervisors denigrated unions. It employed subterfuges making it hard to vote for a union. It put up anti-union posters in the bathrooms. It fired workers suspected of organizing. And it relied on the gutting of antitrust legislation and OSHA, as well as the emasculation of the National Labor Relations Board, which left workers largely defenseless, although the NLRB made a few decisions in favor of the union organizers.

"They called us a bunch of thugs," Smalls told reporters after the 2,654 to 2,131 vote to form the union. "They tried to spread racist rumors. Tried to demonize our character, but it didn't work."

Amazon, like most large corporations, has no more commitment to worker's rights than it does to the nation. It avoids taxes through a series of loopholes designed by their lobbyists in Washington and passed by Congress. The company dodged about $5.2 billion in corporate federal income taxes in 2021, even as it reported record profits of more than $35 billion. It paid only 6 percent of those profits in federal corporate income tax. Amazon posted income of more than $11 billion in 2018 but paid no federal taxes and received a federal tax refund of $129 million. Amazon's Jeff Bezos, the second richest man in the world, is worth over $180 billion. He, like Elon Musk, the richest man in the world, worth $277 billion, plays with space rockets as if they were toys and is finishing work on his $500 million yacht, the largest in the world.

The more powerful workers become, the more the media will be weaponized against them.

Bezos owns The Washington Post. The billionaire bioscientist Patrick Soon-Shiong owns The Los Angeles Times. Hedge funds and other financial firms own half of the daily newspapers in the United States. Television is in the hands of roughly a half-dozen corporations who control 90% of what Americans watch. WarnerMedia, currently owned by AT&T, owns CNN and Time Warner. MSNBC is owned by Comcast, which is a subsidiary of General Electric, the 11th-largest defense contractor in the US. News Corp owns The Wall Street Journal and New York Post. The ruling oligarchs don't care what we watch, as long as we remain entranced by the trivial, emotionally-driven spectacles they provide. None of these outlets challenge the interests of their owners, shareholders or advertisers, who orchestrate the assault on workers. The more powerful workers become, the more the media will be weaponized against them.

The first story I published in a major newspaper, The Christian Science Monitor, was about the US corporation Gulf and Western's crushing of labor organizing in its industrial free zone in La Romana in the Dominican Republic, a campaign that included the intimidation, beating, firing, and assassination of Dominican labor organizers. The story was originally accepted by the Outlook section of The Washington Post until Gulf and Western, which owned Paramount Pictures, threatened to pull its movie advertising from the newspaper. The Monitor, funded by The Christian Science Church, did not carry advertising. It was an early and important lesson on the severe constraints of the commercial press.

The New York Times had gutted an investigative piece a year earlier written by perhaps our greatest investigative journalist, Seymour Hersh, who exposed the killing of some 500 unarmed civilians by the U.S. army in My Lai and the torture at Abu Ghraib, and Jeff Gerth about Gulf and Western. Hersh and Gerth documented how Gulf and Western carried out fraud, abuse, tax avoidance and had links with organized crime. Charles Bluhdorn, the CEO of Gulf and Western, socialized with the publisher, Arthur "Punch" Sulzberger, which included invitations to preview soon-to-be-released Paramount movies in Bluhdorn's home theater. Bluhdorn used his connections at the paper to discredit Hersh and Gerth, as well as to bombard the newspaper with accusatory letters and menacing phone calls. He hired private investigators to dig up dirt on Hersh and Gerth. When the two reporters filed their 15,000-word expose, the business editor, John Lee, in Hersh's words, and "his ass-kissing coterie of moronic editors," perhaps fearful of being sued, neutered it. It was one thing, Hersh found, to go up against a public institution. It was something else to take on a major corporation. He would never again work regularly for a newspaper.

"The experience was frustrating and enervating," Hersh writes in his memoir "Reporter." "Writing about corporate America had sapped my energy, disappointed the editors, and unnerved me. There would be no check on corporate America, I feared: Greed had won out. The ugly fight with Gulf and Western had rattled the publisher and the editors to the point that the editors who ran the business pages had been allowed to vitiate and undercut the good work Jeff and I had done. I could not but wonder if the editors there had been told about Bluhdorn's personal connection to Punch. In any case, it was clear to me and Jeff that the courage the Times had shown in confronting the wrath of a president and an attorney general in the crisis over the Pentagon Papers in 1971 was nowhere to be seen when confronted by a gaggle of corporate con men..."

The United States had the most violent labor wars in the industrialized world, with hundreds of workers murdered by company goons and militias, thousands wounded and tens of thousands blacklisted. The fight for unions, and with them decent salaries, benefits, and job protection, was paid for by rivers of working-class blood and tremendous suffering. The formation of unions, as in the past, will entail a long and vicious class war. The security and surveillance apparatus, including Homeland Security and the FBI, will be deployed, along with private contractors and thugs hired by corporations, to monitor, infiltrate and destroy union organizing.

Unions made possible, for a while, a middle-class salary for auto workers, bus drivers, electricians, and construction workers. But those gains were rolled back. If the minimum wage had kept pace with rising productivity, as The New York Times pointed out, workers would be earning at least $20 an hour.

The nascent organizing at Amazon, Starbucks, Uber, Lyft, John Deere, Kellogg, the Special Metals plant in Huntington, West Virginia, owned by Berkshire Hathaway; REI, the Northwest Carpenters Union, Kroger, teachers in Chicago, Sacramento, West Virginia, Oklahoma and Arizona; fast food workers, hundreds of nurses in Worcester, Massachusetts, and the members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees are signs that workers are discovering that the only real power they have is as a collective, although a paltry 9% of the US workforce is unionized. Fourteen hundred workers at a Kellogg's plant in Omaha that makes Cheez-Its won a new contract with more than 15% wage increases over three years after they went on strike for nearly three months last fall.

The betrayal of the working class by the Democratic Party, especially during the Clinton administration, included trade deals that allowed exploited workers in Mexico or China to take the place of unionized workers at home. Anti-labor legislation was passed by bought-and-paid for politicians in the two ruling parties on behalf of big business. Deindustrialization and job insecurity morphed into the gig economy, where workers are reduced to living on subsistence wages with no benefits or job security, and few rights.

Capitalists, as Karl Marx pointed out, have only two goals: Reduce the cost of labor, which means impoverishing and exploiting workers, and increase the rate of production, which often occurs through automation, such as Amazon's ubiquitous squat orange robots carrying yellow racks across million-square-foot warehouse floors. When human beings interfere in these two capitalist objectives, they are sacrificed.

The financial distress afflicting workers, trapped in debt peonage and preyed upon by banks, credit card companies, student loan companies, privatized utilities, the gig economy, a for-profit healthcare system that has not prevented the US from having roughly a sixth of all reported worldwide COVID-19 deaths - although we have less than a twelfth of the world's population - and employers who pay meager wages and do not provide benefits is getting steadily worse, especially with rising inflation.

Biden, while lavishing $13.6 billion on Ukraine and expanding the military budget to $754 billion, has overseen the loss of extended unemployment benefits, rental assistance, forbearance for student loans, emergency checks, the moratorium on evictions and now the ending of the expansion of the child tax credit. He has refused to fulfill even his most tepid campaign promises, including raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and forgiving student loans. His Build Back Better bill has been gutted and may not be revived.

Amazon workers, like many American workers, endure appalling work conditions. They are forced to work compulsory 12-hour shifts. They are denied bathroom breaks, often urinating into bottles. They endure stifling temperatures inside the warehouse in the summer. They must scan a new item every 11 seconds to hit their quota. The company knows immediately when they fall behind. Fail to meet the quota and you are fired.

Will Evans, in an investigative piece for Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, found that "the company's obsession with speed has turned its warehouses into injury mills." Evans amassed internal injury reports from 23 of the company's 110 "fulfillment centers" nationwide. "Taken together," he writes, "the rate of serious injuries for those facilities was more than double the national average for the warehousing industry: 9.6 serious injuries per 100 full-time workers in 2018, compared with an industry average that year of 4."

Those who are injured, Evans found, are "cast aside as damaged goods or sent back to jobs that injured them further."

"The Amazon tenure of Parker Knight, a disabled veteran who worked at the Troutdale, Oregon, warehouse this year, shows the ruthless precision of Amazon's system," Evans writes. "Knight had been allowed to work shorter shifts after he sustained back and ankle injuries at the warehouse, but [proprietary software tracking program] ADAPT didn't spare him. Knight was written up three times in May for missing his quota. The expectations were precise. He had to pick 385 small items or 350 medium items each hour. One week, he was hitting 98.45% of his expected rate, but that wasn't good enough. That 1.55% speed shortfall earned him his final written warning - the last one before termination."

The New York Times revealed last year that Amazon also regularly shortchanges new parents, patients dealing with medical crises and other vulnerable workers on leave.

"Workers across the country facing medical problems and other life crises have been fired when the attendance software mistakenly marked them as no-shows, according to former and current human resources staff members, some of whom would speak only anonymously for fear of retribution," the newspaper reported. "Doctors' notes vanished into black holes in Amazon's databases. Employees struggled to even reach their case managers, wading through automated phone trees that routed their calls to overwhelmed back-office staff in Costa Rica, India, and Las Vegas. And the whole leave system was run on a patchwork of programs that often didn't speak to one another. Some workers who were ready to return found that the system was too backed up to process them, resulting in weeks or months of lost income. Higher-paid corporate employees, who had to navigate the same systems, found that arranging a routine leave could turn into a morass."

History has demonstrated that the only power citizens have is through the collective, without that collective we are shorn like sheep. This is a truth the ruling class spends a lot of time obscuring.
The ruling class, through self-help gurus such as Oprah, "prosperity gospel" preachers and the entertainment industry, has effectively privatized hope. They peddle the fantasy that reality is never an impediment to what we desire. If we believe in ourselves, if we work hard, if we grasp that we are truly exceptional, we can have anything we want. The privatization of hope is pernicious and self-defeating. When we fail to achieve our goals, when our dreams are unattainable, we are taught it is not due to economic, social, or political injustice, but faults within us. History has demonstrated that the only power citizens have is through the collective, without that collective we are shorn like sheep. This is a truth the ruling class spends a lot of time obscuring.

Any advance we make in social, political, and economic justice immediately comes under assault by the ruling class. The ruling class chips away at the gains we make, which is what happened following the rise of mass movements in the 1930s and later in the 1960s. The oligarchs seek to snuff out what the political scientist Samuel Huntington cynically called "the excess of democracy." The sociologist Max Weber, for this reason, called politics a vocation. Social change cannot be achieved simply by voting. It requires a constant, ceaseless effort. It is an endless striving for a new political order, one that demands lifelong dedication, organizing to keep the rapacious excesses of power in check and personal sacrifice. This eternal vigilance is the key to success.

Amazon's vast machinery, as I write, is no doubt plotting to destroy the union in Staten Island. It cannot allow it to be a successful example. It has 109 "fulfillment centers" it is determined to keep nonunionized. But, if we do not become complacent, if we continue to organize and resist, if we link our arms with our unionized allies across the country, if we are able to strike we - and they - have a chance.

(c) 2022 Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He is the host of the Emmy Award-nominated RT America show On Contact.

People deposit their mail-in ballots for the presidential election at a ballot collection box in Phoenix, Arizona, on October 18, 2020.

Arizona Supreme Court Rejects State GOP Lawsuit to Eliminate Mail-In Voting
By Chris Walker

On Tuesday, the Arizona state Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit from the state's Republican Party that sought to completely eliminate mail-in voting.

The Arizona Republican Party's attempt to abolish or severely curtail mail-in voting in the state is part of a nationwide push by the GOP to place more restrictions on voting in response to former President Donald Trump's loss in the 2020 election.

Republicans issued the request to Arizona's highest court earlier this year, asking it to dismantle the mail-in voting system, or, failing that, to eliminate the "no excuse" provision of its statute that allows any eligible voter in the state to request an absentee ballot. That provision has been allowed in the state since 1991, meaning that it has been utilized in the last eight presidential election cycles.

Nevertheless, the party argued in its lawsuit that "in-person voting at the polls on a fixed date (election day) is the only constitutional manner of voting in Arizona."

At the time, Democrats spoke out against the lawsuit.

"This is yet another attempt by the Arizona Republicans to make it harder for people to vote," said state Sen. Raquel Teran, who is also the chair of the Arizona Democratic Party.

Earlier this week, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat and a defendant in the lawsuit, condemned the state GOP's attempt to eradicate mail-in voting.

"Abolishing early voting doesn't make our elections more secure - it just makes it harder for eligible Arizonans to vote," Hobbs, who is also running for governor, wrote in a tweet. "These partisan attacks on our freedom to vote are about suppressing the vote, not protecting it." Although the ruling is a win for voting rights, the victory may be short-lived. In its ruling, the Arizona state Supreme Court said that they rejected the Republican Party's lawsuit because it hadn't gone through the proper channels. The party can resubmit their complaint in lower state courts, the court said.

Still, the temporary win for voting rights will likely be enough to ensure that mail-in voting remains an option for registered voters in the state, at least through the 2022 midterm elections later this year. Arizona Republicans were hopeful that the state Supreme Court would rule in their favor before November, tossing out mail-in voting before this year's races.

Any attempt to dismantle mail-in voting would be an unpopular choice in the state. Recent polling indicates that Arizonans overwhelmingly support keeping voting by mail as an option in elections, with 74 percent backing the measure and only 10 percent saying they oppose it.

(c) 2022 Chris Walker is based out of Madison, Wisconsin. Focusing on both national and local topics since the early 2000s, he has produced thousands of articles analysing the issues of the day and their impact on the American people.

President Biden speaking in Warsaw, Poland on Marc 27, 2022

Biden Means What He Says
By Margaret Kimberley

Joe Biden may appear to be a confused old man when he blurts out whatever comes to mind. But his outbursts shouldn't be ignored. They always reveal his plans.

"I mean what I say when I say it!" Those words were spoken by president elect Joe Biden in December 2020 during a meeting with a group described as "civil rights leaders." Video of the meeting was leaked and Biden's insulting and dismissive attitude towards Black people was clear even to those who ignored this tendency he has shown throughout his 50 years of public life.

Biden did us a favor by revealing himself and by telling us to pay attention when he speaks. That advice should be followed no matter how strange his words may seem. Even in his bad tempered confusion, Biden always reveals what he is doing.

He recently made news for all the wrong reasons during his recent trip to Europe where he attended a combination G7 summit and NATO meeting in Brussels followed by a trip to Poland.

At the NATO meeting he rather nonchalantly informed the people of the world that they will all suffer because of the misguided effort to punish Russia with sanctions. "With regard to food shortages, yes we did talk about food shortages and it's going to be real. The price of these sanctions is not just imposed upon Russia. It's imposed upon an awful lot of countries as well, including European countries and our country as well. And because both Russia and Ukraine have been the bread basket of Europe in terms of wheat for example." Ukraine won't have a good harvest in the near future and Russia won't be able to sell what it grows. That means rising prices for those scarce wheat products that may still be available. Biden's casual tone is an indication he thinks people and governments all over the world should accept the oncoming disaster he created without complaint.

Not content to disrupt global food supplies he also announced his future plans for Ukraine. He said this to 82nd Airborne troops stationed in Poland. "And you're going to see when you're there. And you - some - some of you have been there. You're going to see - you're going to see women, young people standing - standing the middle of - in front of a damn tank, just saying, 'I'm not leaving. I'm holding my ground.' They're incredible." Why are U.S. troops going to see anything in Ukraine? He tried to clean it up with "you may have already seen it" but he was saying that he intends to have US troops deployed in a country where Russia already has forces. His photo opportunity turned into the announcement of a hot war.

The most remarkable Biden statement that his apologists call a "gaffe" also took place in Poland. He gave what was supposed to be a conventional speech portraying the U.S. as the beacon of freedom and democracy while Russia is really bad. His remarks should have been fairly standard and unexceptional but as always Biden told us what he was up to. In referring to Vladimir Putin he said, "This man cannot remain in power."

The clarifications and backpedaling were immediate, but no one could unhear Biden's words. Despite all denials to the contrary, Biden is after regime change against the Russian government and his actions prove it. The very idea that Russia's government will fall because of sanctions pressure is ludicrous. But once again, Biden gave a heads up in July 2021.

"When I was with Mr. Putin, who has a real problem. He's sitting on top of an economy that has nuclear weapons and oil wells and nothing else. Nothing else. Their economy is, what, the eighth smallest in the world now, largest in the world? He knows he's in real trouble, which makes him even more dangerous, in my view."

The trope of Russia being a "gas station masquerading as a country" or some other such insult is untrue and a sign that this country's foreign policy is run by people who are out of touch with reality. It explains why Biden thought he could instigate a proxy war between Ukraine and the Donbas region which would be used to kill the NordStreamII project and sanction Russia. Biden told us that on January 19, 2022. "And so, I think what you're going to see is that Russia will be held accountable if it invades. And it depends on what it does. It's one thing if it's a minor incursion and then we end up having a fight about what to do and not do, etc." Biden and his team of amateurs actually thought they could create a limited crisis in Ukraine that would not result in a serious response from Russia.

Biden does not have the Bill Clinton or Barack Obama gift of gab. They could finesse their way through war crimes in Serbia or Libya with great eloquence. Only those paying close attention could see the havoc and devastation they brought to the world. Biden is often confused but he is focused when he talks about foreign affairs. His delivery may be reminiscent of a crazy old relative that one wants to ignore, but he is deadly serious. From his own words we can see that he believes the U.S. can do whatever it wants and consequences be damned.

The peril of the Biden presidency is unlike any created by an administration in the past few decades. Of course, each administration builds on the work of its predecessor. It would be a mistake to see Biden as being unique. He is unique only in his frankness and shows his hand with every utterance.

He does mean what he says when he says it but what he says must be confronted. If this country were the great democracy that it claims, any president would be afraid to do what Biden has done. Money that covered the uninsured for covid tests is now gone, while Ukraine and the military industrial complex are flush with cash. The saddest thing of all is that the people go along without so much as a peep in protest. Unless that changes Joe Biden's words will become a terrible reality.

(c) 2022 Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e -mail at Margaret.Kimberley@BlackAgendaReport.Com.

Truck Drivers Hijacked By Immoral Corporate Bosses

By Jim Hightower

Keep On Trucking' was an iconic underground cartoon created in 1968 by comic master Robert Crumb. Featuring various big-footed men strutting jauntily through life, the caricature became widely popular as an expression of young people's collective optimism. "You're movin' on down the line," Crumb later explained, "It's proletarian. It's populist."

But today the phrase has become ironic, for America's truck drivers themselves are no longer moving on down the line of fairness, justice, and opportunity. What had been a skilled, middle-class job in the 1960s is now largely a skilled poverty-wage job, thanks to the industry's relentless push for deregulation and deunionization, decoupling drivers from upward mobility. Trucking has been turned into a corporate racket, with CEOs arbitrarily abusing the workers who move their products across town and country. To enable the abuse, corporate lawyers have fabricated a legal dodge, letting shippers claim that their truck drivers are not their employees, but "independent contractors."

Thus - Hocus Pocus! - drivers don't get decent wages, overtime pay, workers comp, Social Security, health care, rest breaks, reimbursement for truck expenses (including gasoline, tires, repairs, and insurance) ... and, as "contractors," drivers are not allowed to unionize. This rank rip-off has become the industry standard, practiced by multibillion-dollar shipping giants like XPO, FedEx, Penske, and Amazon. The National Employment Law Project recently reported that two-thirds of truckers hauling goods from US ports are intentionally misclassified as contractors, rather than as employees of the profiteers that hire, direct, set pay levels, and fire them.

Of course, corporate bosses try to hide their greed with a thin legalistic fig leaf - "We believe our [drivers] classifications are legal," sniffed an XPO executive. Sure they are, sport, since your lobbyists write the laws! But might doesn't make right, "legal" doesn't mean moral, and "boss" spelled backwards is double-S.O.B.

(c) 2022 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates,"is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition. Jim writes The Hightower Lowdown, a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America's ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at

Hospital staff walk by a mural at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, New York, on January 18, 2022.

Dwindling Public Concern About COVID Is Handing Republicans A Gift
By William Rivers Pitt

Of all the things I expected to say at this point in 2022, "it's great to be a Republican right now" was nowhere among them. If you had told me a year ago that the post-Trump GOP would be anything other than a shattered shambles today, I would have belly-laughed like Jabba the Hutt and then questioned your fitness as a political observer... yet here we are, so who's the smart guy? Not me.

Despite all that has taken place - Donald Trump's crashing mismanagement of COVID, the economic and social upheaval caused by the pandemic, the loss of one million lives, the sacking of the Capitol Building by a mob of Trump voters wielding Confederate flags, and the disgraceful deportment of that former president as he licks his wounds beneath an indifferent Florida sky - the Republican Party is somehow presently occupying all manner of political catbird seats. If the pattern holds, it may come to be the best trick anyone has seen since "Lazarus, come forth."

At present, President Biden's approval rating hovers down in the depths where only Trump and George W. Bush have visited. This, despite the lowest jobless numbers since time out of mind, a shallowing of COVID infection rates across the board, as well as the president's not-as-bad-as-it-could-be handling of an impossible situation in Ukraine.

Also, and not for nothing, it's quieter now. That sense of waking up every day trapped inside someone else's screaming headache has been dispersed with such vigor that pundits are able to spend time snarking about Biden's "gaffes" after four years of televised Trumpy mayhem. I am no pollster, but you would think that new calm should be worth a 10 point bump all by itself, right? Nope.

2021 and 2022 were both caused, in no small measure, by the daily calamity of Trump in 2020, yet he currently squats on a campaign war chest bursting with over $110 million. This is more than any other PAC, super PAC or the party-affiliated committees. Trump's hoard towers over the sums collected by would-be challengers to the throne.

Aside from fees paid to lawyers representing defendants in the Capitol attack investigation, "Trump has done little to spend his largesse around the party," according to Politico. This strongly suggests Trump wants that money for himself if/when he makes another run for the White House in 2024.

A series of election-night debacles stripped the shine from the polling industry's veneer over the last several cycles, leaving it a feeble stick to lean on. For whatever they are worth, virtually all of them are howling Democratic doom in the upcoming midterms. At present, the GOP stands to regain control of both the House and Senate, setting up a downhill run to 2024 and quite possibly the return of Donald Trump to the White House. Incredible? Yes. Impossible? No such thing anymore.

For me, it all comes back to COVID and Trump's generally ruinous, self-serving handling of the crisis. How can his party be in such a strong position with so many grievous wounds still open and bleeding? The answer may be found in another pair of public surveys, as CNN reports: A recent Gallup poll gives us good insight. Just 3 percent of Americans said the coronavirus or diseases are the top problem facing the country. That's less than half the previous low for this answer (8 percent), which occurred in mid-2021 when case rates were also falling. Two years ago (April 2020), a record 45 percent said the coronavirus was the top problem in the country. It's not surprising that we're nowhere near that level anymore. Still, I had to take a step back when I saw that 3 percent.

The Gallup poll isn't the only one to show that the significance of the pandemic in the minds of Americans has fallen dramatically. A recent NBC News poll also found that just 3 percent said the coronavirus was the most important issue facing the country. The public is not alone in caring less about the pandemic than ever before. Cable news had fewer mentions of "covid" in March (less than 2,700) than in any month since the beginning of the pandemic. At its peak, there were over 17,000 monthly mentions of "covid" on cable news.

(Emphasis added)

Wow, y'all. That was fast... fast, and, I suppose, entirely predictable. After two long years, it is easy enough to figure that the COVID grind has people desperate to care about something, anything else. "What's that, you say? Food and fuel prices are over the moon, and it's World War III in Europe? Huzzah, something else to think about, finally!"

Gallows humor aside, there is a reason why "it's the economy, stupid" is considered political holy writ by both parties. Given the chance to vote their wallet or some larger concept, a majority of voters will infallibly vote "wallet."

Therein, however, lies the Gordian knot of the matter. None of the country's current bread-and-butter concerns about rising inflation and wobbly international supply chains will be properly addressed until COVID-19 is dealt with both here and around the world. You'll have to see Mr. Putin about the gas prices, but even those were heaving upward before the Ukraine invasion, thanks to the aforementioned supply line problems.

...and no matter what the lowering numbers of the moment may preach, COVID is not finished with us. "On March 22 the World Health Organization announced that the Omicron subvariant BA.2 had become the dominant form of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID, worldwide," reports Scientific American. "BA.2 shares many genetic similarities with its close relative BA.1, which fueled a global resurgence in COVID infections in recent months. But BA.2 is between 30 percent and 50 percent more contagious than BA.1."

In other words: Here it comes again, just like all the others did, and we remain woefully unprepared again. The state of our preparedness could actually be described as an incredible act of self-sabotage. Congress recently stripped $15 billion in COVID prep funds from the latest spending package. At this moment, the absence of those funds is requiring states to either restrict or shut down their COVID defenses just as B.A.2 is really beginning to stretch its legs.

I don't know how you fix such irresponsible systemic indifference, especially when the political climate of the moment (3 percent?!) confers no urgency to address it. Like as not, and if history is any guide, B.A.2 or something like it will carve a swath through the country, and we will all find ourselves in a drearily familiar place: right back where we started. If Republicans continue to gain momentum, we can bet that our inexcusably sorry level of pandemic preparedness will plunge us even further into the depths of abandonment.

(c) 2022 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.

Representatives Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Chip Roy (R-Tex.) listen at a press conference, alongside
members of the Second Amendment Caucus, outside the US Capitol Building on March 8, 2022.

193 Heartless Bastards In The House Of Representatives
Most House Republicans voted against capping insulin costs. Why? They defended the right of greedy capitalists to be greedy capitalists.
By John Nichols

More than 10 percent of Americans are living with diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes, and millions of them need insulin to survive.

Unfortunately, because they live in the United States, they are at the mercy of profiteering pharmaceutical companies that have been jacking up insulin prices at an exponential rate in recent years. "One vial of Humalog (insulin lispro), which used to cost $21 in 1999, costs $332 in 2019, reflecting a price increase of more than 1000%," noted a 2020 commentary on drug costs from the Mayo Clinic. "In contrast, insulin prices in other developed countries, including neighboring Canada, have stayed the same."

Insulin prices aren't rising because of research and development costs. The medication has been available for more than a century, and it's cheaply produced. So what, then, has contributed to the increase in cost? According to Dr. S. Vincent Rajkumar, the physician who authored the Mayo assessment, "The manufacturers of insulin know that patients who need it will spend whatever it takes to acquire it, regardless of price. It is a matter of life and death."

While drug prices in general are outrageous, price gouging on insulin has become such a scandal that the notoriously slow-to-act US Congress has finally begun to entertain the notion of intervening. Last Thursday, the House of Representatives voted 232-193 for the Affordable Insulin Now Act, which would cap insulin prices at $35 a month. Under a provision of the legislation, the cost could go even lower if insurance companies negotiated lower prices. The logic behind the measure, which still faces hurdles in the Senate, was summed up by one of its sponsors, Representative Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), during the House debate.

"As a father of a type 1 diabetic, I have seen firsthand how the high price of prescription drugs like insulin can harm patients and harm families. When my daughter turned 26 and got her own health insurance, there were months where she spent a third of her take-home pay-because she's diabetic-on staying alive," said Kildee. "No one should have to choose between taking their medication as prescribed and putting food on the table or a roof over their head."

Who could disagree?

The answer to that question is instructive. While every Democrat who voted on the bill was a "yes," only 12 members of the House Republican Caucus joined them in moving to address a dismal circumstance where, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) noted, "One in four Americans who rely on insulin have been forced to ration or skip their dose, a practice that can be dangerous and even deadly."

Most House Republicans, 193 out of 210, were on the other side of the debate. Ninety-two percent of the chamber's GOP caucus voted "no."

Those "no" votes included House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, the California Republican who could replace Pelosi as speaker of the House if his party prevails in this fall's midterm election. And Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the Washington State Republican who, as her party's ranking member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, would be the key player on drug-pricing issues in a GOP-controlled House. Other notables included House minority whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Republicans as distinct as Illinois's Adam Kinzinger, who has broken with former President Trump and his party to serve as a thoughtful member of the January 6 committee, and Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Trump-defending, insurrectionist-coddling extremist from Georgia.

What was their excuse? Some members of the caucus echoed the fantasy that capping drug prices could lead pharmaceutical companies to do less research-a silly notion, considering that these companies operate in other countries that regulate profiteering. Top House Republicans defaulted to the traditional GOP stance of defending the right of greedy capitalists to be greedy capitalists. Rodgers warned that tackling price-gouging on prescription drugs could set the United States on a path that would undermine the free-market system. "Today, it's the government fixing the price on insulin," she speculated during the House debate. "What's next? Gas? Food?"

This, of course, is the cruel calculus of corporate-friendly Republicans who are disinclined to disappoint their reliable campaign donors.

For a clearer picture of where the Republicans are coming from, however, check out Representative Matt Gaetz. Instead of blaming Big Pharma for charging astronomically inflated prices for life-saving medications, the Florida Republican blamed people with diabetes. Claiming that the legislation "victimizes insulin payees as people with an uncontrollable disease that are being taken advantage of and need Big Brother to throw them a raft," Gaetz said the real problem is overweight Americans. "Arbitrary price controls are no substitute for individual weight control," the congressman argued. "Since 2000, the number of diabetes cases in the U.S. has nearly doubled. The demand for insulin has increased and the requisite price increase has followed suit. In other words, the price of insulin increases as waistlines increase."

In one statement, Gaetz revealed his ignorance about complex metabolic disorders> as well as basic economics-not to mention the grotesque disparities that are on display in the food and health care systems of the United States. He also confirmed that he, and his Republican colleagues, are heartless bastards.

(c) 2022 John Nichols writes about politics for The Capitol Times. His book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

Dealing With The Odd Illusion Of Time
By James Donahue

Not long ago I was lamenting to a friend my concern that due to aging the time we were allotted in this world was quickly eroding. Even worse, said I, it appears that the human race also may be rushing toward its own conclusion and that our attempts to stop what is happening seem to have failed.

The response received was quite unexpected. The wise recipient of my muse reminded me that time is an illusion. "If it has not happened yet, then there is still time to do something about it," she said. Now I have been down this "time illusion" road before in my writings, but in doing so I have only examined the odd effect of extended and shortened time periods that left us somewhat confused after passing through what seemed like "warps" in the scale of things. But the complete metaphysical concept of time as something created in our own minds to help us deal with the universes of our individual making is something else. Like the filmed theory that we all are existing in a computer matrix, the shock of understanding can be grinding to the senses.

As one writer explained it: "There is no such thing as an absolute past, present or future. All are relative to a particular observer. An individual's memory of history, perception of present and future destiny are all defined in (a) time-stream."

If this is so, then each person has a different concept of time and probably a different memory of what happened in the past, and a different impression of what is occurring right now. While it is true that no one else can perceive our own universe through our eyes, just as we cannot see through theirs, we exist in overlapping universes and those of us who interact with one another regularly share memories of the events we share.

Yet as a news reporter who has covered stories and especially court testimony for many years, I am well aware that stories can vary with each teller. No two people seem to be able to agree completely on just what happened at the scene of a newsworthy event. This is why juries and judges have been assigned the task to listen to the testimony and then come up with their own versions of "truth."

The writer of the descriptive piece quoted from above also noted that as individuals existing within the universe created in our minds, the illusion of events and time become real, even if they are ephemeral.

Major events in our lives, like a traffic accident, our marriage, the birth of children, and perhaps the day we are hired or retired from our jobs, become time-streams. The writer noted that "the time-stream is not a history of the universe. It is the history of one space-time event, one individual. That person's past is defined only for them. Someone else's future may be that person's past. Such is the illusion of time." So what has this to do with my lament about aging and nearing the conclusion of what has been a good and productive life, and watching the world rush toward its own end?

One writer's dialogue with a person identified as Swami Krishnananda, offered the following thought: We are two people, the lower and higher self. The Swami stated that "the higher self is not merely inside us, it is us. But we are not allowing it to manifest itself on account of greed and negative habits and the idiocy of the lower self. The lower self is caught up in the time process and wants to grab the world of perishability. Everything that you want to grab in this world is perishable, and the body which is trained to enjoy those perishable objects also is perishable."

The Swami also said: "All that we seek in this world is like moments inside a dream. So what is the value or worth of anything in this dream world?"

Indeed, we have all had dreams that were so vivid we thought we were really in another time and place. This writer even has experienced dreams that continued like serial movies, with new experiences lived night-after-night until the sequence came to an end. Such dreams caused me to wonder if the nocturnal visions might be another me living in a parallel universe.

So if we are all living together in a universe of our own making, but sharing the horror of a race toward an apocalyptic end of everything and an unmasking of truth for all, why can't we mentally put the brakes on the insanity that appears to grip the "reality" as perceived around us? Perhaps it is because a majority of the people around us are either programmed by religious and social disciplines not to want to stop anything.

(c) 2022 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles.

Don't Let A Mountain In Montenegro Be Lost To A War In Ukraine
By David Swanson

Across the Adriatic from Bari in Southern Italy sits the tiny, largely rural and mountainous, and exquisitely beautiful nation of Montenegro. At its center is a huge mountainous plateau called Sinjajevina - one of the most wonderfully non-"developed" places in Europe.

By undeveloped we should not understand uninhabited. Sheep, cattle, dogs, and pastoral people have lived on Sinjajevina for centuries, apparently in relative harmony with - indeed, as part of - the ecosystems.

About 2,000 people live on Sinjajevina in some 250 families and eight traditional tribes. They are orthodox Christians and work to maintain their holidays and customs. They are also Europeans, engaged with the world around them, the younger generation tending to speak perfect English.

I recently spoke by Zoom from the U.S. with a group of people, young and old, from Sinjajevina. The one thing that every one of them said was that they were prepared to die for their mountain. Why would they feel compelled to say that? These are not soldiers. They said nothing of any willingness to kill. There's no war in Montenegro. These are people who make cheese and live in little wooden cabins and practice old habits of environmental sustainability.

Sinjajevina is part of the Tara Canyon Biosphere Reserve and bordered by two UNESCO World Heritage sites. What on Earth is it endangered by? The people organizing to protect it and petitioning the European Union to help them would probably be standing up for their home were it threatened by hotels or billionaires' villas or any other sort of "progress," but as it happens they're trying to prevent Sinjajevina being turned into a military training ground.

""This mountain gave us life," Milan Sekulovic tells me. The young man, President of Save Sinjajevina, says that farming on Sinjajevina paid for his college education, and that - like everyone else on the mountain - he would die before he allowed it to be turned into a military base.

In case that sounds like baseless (pun intended) talk, it's worth knowing that in the fall of 2020, the government of Montenegro tried to begin using the mountain as a military (including artillery) training ground, and the people of the mountain set up a camp and stayed in the way for months as human shields. They formed a human chain in the grasslands and risked attack with live ammunition until the military and government backed down.

Now two new questions immediately arise: Why does the tiny peaceful little nation of Montenegro need a giant mountain war-rehearsal space, and why did almost nobody hear about the courageous successful blocking of its creation in 2020? Both questions have the same answer, and it's headquartered in Brussels.

In 2017, with no public referendum, Montenegro's post-communist oligarchic government joined NATO. Almost immediately word began to leak out about plans for a NATO training ground. Public protests began in 2018, and in 2019 the Parliament ignored a petition with over 6,000 signatures that should have compelled a debate, instead simply announcing its plans. Those plans have not changed; people have simply thus far prevented their implementation.

If the military training ground were just for Montenegro, the people risking their lives for their grass and sheep would be a great human-interest tale - one we'd likely have heard of. If the training ground were Russian, some of the people who had thus far prevented it would probably be on their way toward sainthood or at least grants from the National Endowment for Democracy.

Every person from Sinjajevina I have spoken with has told me that they're not against NATO or Russia or any other entity in particular. They're just against war and destruction - and the loss of their home despite the absence of war anywhere near them.

However, now they are up against the presence of war in Ukraine. They are welcoming Ukrainian refugees. They are worrying, like the rest of us, about the environmental destruction, the possible famines, the incredible suffering, and the risk of nuclear apocalypse.

But they are also up against the major boost given to NATO by the Russian invasion. Talk in Montenegro, as elsewhere, is much more NATO-friendly now. The Montenegrin government is intent on creating its international ground for training for more wars.

What a crying shame it would be if the disastrous Russian attack on Ukraine were allowed to succeed in destroying Sinjajevina!

(c) 2022 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.

Institutionalized education often ignores our connection to nature.

Education Should Include Indigenous Knowledge And Wisdom
By David Suzuki

When I was a boy, my father's biggest threat was not physical punishment, but pulling me out of school. Like many families, ours viewed education as key to success. But what does "success" mean?

For most, it's a job or career, economic security, maybe a home - all laudable pursuits requiring some schooling. But education's goal must surely be more than merely providing information and skills to help people find their place in society. It must give insight into the society or country, its people, its claims and aspirations and how those fit into the global community. This is crucial as we confront the catastrophic crises of climate change and mass species extinction.

In that regard, our school systems are failing. Institutionalized education often ignores our connection to nature.

When the Pleistocene epoch ended more than 11,000 years ago, ice sheets that had covered the Northern Hemisphere began to recede, and plants and animals moved in to repopulate the newly exposed land. Humans followed and, like all life that came to occupy these territories, were invasive species seeking out niches. Many, including human families and groups, no doubt failed to survive, but as the mix of flora and fauna found equilibrium, so did humans. Throughout what we now call "Canada," people were remarkably successful in adapting to new circumstances and developing a diversity of rich cultures.

We owe our survival to our brains, which enable curiosity, keen observational skills, inventiveness and memory. Because we could communicate through language, each generation was able to pass on vital lessons from observation, mistakes, failures and successes. This was critical for survival and became the foundation of Indigenous knowledge.

Human cultural evolution advanced orders of magnitude faster than biological evolution in most other animal and plant species - which depends on rare mutations, gene shuffling and reorganizing from generation to generation. Yet despite the wide linguistic, cultural and historic diversity among tribal groups, humans remained biological beings of a single species.

Invaders and colonizers throughout history have regarded Indigenous Peoples and their cultures as "primitive," paying little attention to the worthiness of their knowledge, values and beliefs. Europeans felt confident in their superiority, and were driven by "resourcism," which viewed everything in what they saw as the "New World" as "opportunity" and "resources" to extract.

In the perspective of many Indigenous Peoples, earth (soil), air (atmosphere), fire (sunlight) and water are sacred gifts, and other species are biological kin that generously allow themselves to be taken and used by people. In ceremony that persists, Indigenous Peoples celebrate and give thanks for nature's abundance and generosity while acknowledging a responsibility to act properly so it can continue. This reciprocity includes the idea of generations - usually seven - of ancestors and those to come. Canada was not founded on this perspective, so it hasn't been part of formal education here.

Today, most children grow up in cities where their parents' highest priorities are money, jobs and security, so politicians value the economy above all. But the economy isn't something that emerges from nature; it's a human construct created by exploiting nature.

Many urban kids grow up thinking nature is somewhere else, separate from them. But the atmosphere gives us air to breathe and weather, climate and seasons. It surrounds us and is inseparably within us. All our cells are inflated by water, enabling metabolic reactions. Every bit of our nutrition comes from animals and plants, most grown in soil that's a living mix of organic and inorganic material. Every bit of energy released by burning fuels and in our bodies - allowing us to move, grow, work and play - is sunlight captured through photosynthesis in plants. These sacred elements are cleansed, replenished and created by the web of living things we call "biodiversity."

The failure of education systems to incorporate the Indigenous perspective is evident in recent events, such as the small group of dissident truckers in Canada and the U.S. honking about "freedom." We can't free ourselves from responsibility when the air in our lungs is part of the matrix shared by all other human and non-human animals, and plants.

Freedom without responsibility creates chaos. It's ludicrous and dangerous. Education is critical at this moment, but it has to go beyond the narrow lessons taught in schools.

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

Bucha Has Joined The Bloody Atlas Of World Barbarism
Our species has invented the technology to document in real time what our species is capable of.
By Charles P. Pierce

The World of Stationery, scheduled for this Tuesday in Ukraine, has been postponed due to unforeseen events. The outlook is not good for the Agile Rock Conference on Saturday, either. From the New York Times:

But the troops opened fire on Ms. Pomazanko, 56. Bullets ripped through the wooden gate and fence around her house, killing her instantly. Her body still lay in the garden on Sunday, where her 76-year-old mother had covered her as best she could with plastic sheeting and wooden boards. "They were driving up the street," said her mother, Antonina Pomazanko. "She thought they were ours." Ms. Pomazanko's killing is just one of scores being uncovered days after Russian troops withdrew from the outlying suburbs of Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, after weeks of fierce fighting. On Sunday, Ukrainians were still finding the dead in yards and on the roads amid mounting evidence that civilians had been killed purposely and indiscriminately.
Bucha has now joined Srebrenica, Lidice, the Katyn Forest, Osweicim, Nanking, My Lai, Wounded Knee, and thousands of other places the world probably has forgotten-or never knew about in the first place-in a bloody atlas of world barbarism. It is a scalding reminder that actual war does not consist of really cool videos of drone strikes. It is a shameful demonstration of what happens when war is brought down from the contrails of a B-52 to the fields and the asphalt on which tanks roll, and above which the bullets fly. Europe has not seen a full-on ground war since V-E Day. And now, as the generation in this country who saw it back then is dying away, their grandchildren and great-grandchildren are getting a look at war beyond the vicarious thrill of watching things blow up in foreign lands.

On October 20, 1862, the New York Times reviewed a new photographic exhibition by Matthew Brady, who had returned only recently from the banks of Antietam Creek in Maryland.

We recognize the battle-field as a reality, but it stands as a remote one. It is like a funeral next door. The crape on the bell-pull tells there is death in the house, and in the close carriage that rolls away with muffled wheels you know there rides a woman to whom the world is very dark now...Those who lose friends in battle know what battle-fields are, and our Marylanders, with their door-yards strewed with the dead and dying, and their houses turned into hospitals for the wounded, know what battle-fields are. Mr. Brady has done something to bring home to us the terrible reality and earnestness of war. If he has not brought bodies and laid them in our dooryards and along the streets, he has done something very like it.
That's the point at which we arrived over the weekend, when the pictures and videos from the streets of Bucha rolled in.

Russia, under the rule of Vladmir Putin, has consciously chosen to be an outlaw nation. It has consciously chosen to make war in this place at this time. It has consciously decided that the opprobrium of the world is a small price to pay for whatever twisted imperial fantasies it has cherished since the days of the Tsars. And in this, it has allies at the highest levels of some European nations. It has economic partners who see none of this bloodletting as an obstacle to business. It has pundits and journalists in this country who are willing accomplices. It decided on killing because the impulse to kill to obtain what we want is hardwired into human evolution, and human advancement, and human technology, like a flaw in the manufacturing process.

Humans are doing these things to other humans, as they have since we first lurched out of the Rift Valley. We have evolved enough to be revolted by the whole business, at a remove, of course, and largely ex post facto. We have evolved enough to produce the technology that brings us the images of that of which our species is capable. But still the pictures come, and still the reminders echo with the words of the NYT reporter at that exhibition so long ago, but so present with us now, again.

Of all objects of horror one would think the battlefield should stand preeminent, that it should bear away the palm of repulsiveness. But, on the contrary, there is a terrible fascination about it that draws one near these pictures, and makes him loth to leave them. You will see hushed, reverend groups standing around these weird copies of carnage, bending down to look in the pale faces of the dead, chained by the strange spell that dwells in dead men's eyes.

(c) 2022 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.

The Quotable Quote -

"When I talk about a political revolution, what I am referring to is the need to do more than just win the next election. It's about creating a situation where we are involving millions of people in the process who are not now involved, and changing the nature of media so they are talking about issues that reflect the needs and the pains that so many of our people are currently feeling. A campaign has got to be much more than just getting votes and getting elected. It has got to be helping to educate people, organize people. If we can do that, we can change the dynamic of politics for years and years to come. If 80 to 90 percent of the people in this country vote, if they know what the issues are (and make demands based on that knowledge), Washington and Congress will look very, very different from the Congress currently dominated by big money and dealing only with the issues that big money wants them to deal with."
~~~ Bernie Sanders

White House OMB: Climate Crisis To Cost US $2 trillion Each And Every Year In 8 Decades
By Juan Cole

Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) - Timothy Gardner at Reuters has gotten an advance look at a White House Office of Management and Budget document that concludes that by the end of this century, when Olivia Rodrigo would be 100 if she has the long life we wish for her, the annual cost of the climate crisis we are causing will amount to $2 trillion a year in today's dollars.

$2 trillion is an incredible expense.

But we shouldn't think of the problem as in the distant future. We're being hit, and badly, right now by the climate emergency.

From 1980 to 2021, the National Centers for Environmental Information says that America suffered 310 major climate and weather events of over $1 billion each, the total cost of which in today's dollars is $2.1 trillion.

That's a heavy cost for a forty-year period. We'll be having to spend that much every day in only a few decades.

The past seems near to us, and even a little bit into the future seems distant and clouded with mist. 78 years ago we were wrapping up World War II. Frank Sinatra's "White Christmas" was rising on the charts. Zorro and Captain America were playing in the movie theaters. I'll be 70 this year and have some memories of the mid-1950s. I'm telling you, it passes like lightning. Before you young'uns know it you'll be facing the fin de siecle. The more coal, gas and oil you burn, the less fun it will be. Cut way back now, and it won't be so bad.

The Brown University Costs of War project concludes that the "War on Terror" launched by George W. Bush after the September 11, 2001, attacks, including the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, extra spending on homeland security, and veterans' health care, will come to $8 trillion.

So by the late 2090s we'll be spending that every four years.

All of World War II, including the US conquest of much of Europe and of east Asia, cost $4.7 trillion in today's dollars.

We'd be spending that in 78 years every 2.5 days.

What will we be spending it on? Gardner says the bills will come due every year then for "coastal disaster relief, flood, crop, and healthcare insurance, wildfire suppression and flooding."

Through this century, the crisis will accelerate unless we stop burning coal, gas and petroleum now.

USA Today: "Climate change: How US cities are already feeling the effects | JUST THE FAQS"

The climate and weather catastrophes will be on steroids. Remember how Hurricane Maria flattened Puerto Rico in 2017? How it made landfall in Yabucoa with sustained winds as high as 155 mph, having gotten up even higher for a while as one of our first known category 6 storms?

Warm ocean water increases the ferocity of tropical storms, and because of evaporation it puts more water into the atmosphere, so the downpours and flooding are worse and worse. That extra moisture contributed to Hurricane Harvey, the "500-year storm," which submerged Houston with its worst flooding on record in 2017.

The 500-year storms will come more and more frequently.

Then there were those headlines in 2018 that Kanye West, Kim Kardashian and Lady Gaga had to flee their Malibu mansions before advancing wildfires. There will be more and more such bonfires of the vanities.

I hear people talking about a "point of no return" or wondering if it is "game over." The climate is not like that. It is not an either-or proposition. Billions of human beings will be living on earth in 78 years, Things can be merely annoying, or challenging, or disastrous. The climate crisis is on a scale from 1 to 100. We can land at 15, which is not so bad. Or we can land at 95, which will make our lives really tough. It all depends on how much carbon dioxide we put into the atmosphere now.

Vote for politicians who understand all this and will pass legislation to address it immediately. Your children and grandchildren with thank you. But even those of us alive the rest of this decade will benefit from drastic action to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Science tells us that the process of warming will cease within a few years of such big cutbacks.

(c) 2022 Juan R.I. Cole is the founder and chief editor of Informed Comment. He is the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. He has written extensively on modern Islamic movements in Egypt, the Persian Gulf and South Asia and has given numerous media interviews on the war on terrorism and the Iraq War. He lived in various parts of the Muslim world for nearly 10 years and continues to travel widely there. He speaks Arabic, Farsi and Urdu.

In a stunning victory, Amazon workers on Staten Island vote for a union

Amazon Workers' Astounding Win, And How Corporate America Is Trying To Take Back Power
By Robert Reich

On Friday, Amazon - America's wealthiest, most powerful, and fiercest anti-union corporation, with the second-largest workforce in the nation (union-busting Walmart being the largest), lost out to a group of warehouse workers in New York who voted to form a union.

If anyone had any doubts about Amazon's determination to prevent this from ever happening, its scorched-earth anti-union campaign last fall in its Bessemer, Alabama warehouse should have put those doubts to rest.

In New York, Amazon used every tool it had used in Alabama. Many of them are illegal under the National Labor Relations Act but Amazon couldn't care less. It's rich enough to pay any fine or bear any public relations hit.

The company has repeatedly fired workers who speak out about unsafe working conditions or who even suggest that workers need a voice.

As its corporate coffers bulge with profits - and its founder and executive chairman practices conspicuous consumption on the scale not seen since the robber barons of the late 19th century - Amazon has become the poster child for 21st-century corporate capitalism run amok.

Much of the credit for Friday's victory over Amazon goes to Christian Smalls, whom Amazon fired in the spring of 2020 for speaking out about the firm's failure to protect its warehouse workers from COVID. Smalls refused to back down. He went back and organized a union, with extraordinary skill and tenacity.

Smalls had something else working in his favor, which brings me to Friday's superb jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The report showed that the economy continues to roar back to life from the COVID recession.

With consumer demand soaring, employers are desperate to hire. This has given American workers more bargaining clout than they've had in decades. Wages have climbed 5.6 percent over the past year.

The acute demand for workers has bolstered the courage of workers to demand better pay and working conditions from even the most virulently anti-union corporations in America, such as Amazon and Starbucks.

Is this something to worry about? Not at all. American workers haven't had much of a raise in over four decades. Most of the economy's gains have gone to the top.

Besides, inflation is running so high that even the 5.6 percent wage gain over the past year is minimal in terms of real purchasing power.

But corporate America believes these wage gains are contributing to inflation. As the New York Times solemnly reported, the wage gains "could heat up price increases."

This is pure rubbish. But unfortunately, the chair of the Federal Reserve Board, Jerome Powell, believes it. He worries that "the labor market is extremely tight," and to "an unhealthy level."

As a result, the Fed is on the way to raising interest rates repeatedly in order to slow the economy and reduce the bargaining leverage of American workers.

Pause here to consider this: The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that corporate profits are at a 70-year high. You read that right. Not since 1952 have corporations done as well as they are now doing.

Across the board, American corporations are flush with cash. Although they are paying higher costs (including higher wages), they've still managed to increase their profits. How? They have enough pricing power to pass on those higher costs to consumers, and even add some more for themselves.

When American corporations are overflowing with money like this, why should anyone think that wage gains will heat up price increases, as the Times reports? In a healthy economy, corporations would not be passing on higher costs - including higher wages - to their consumers. They'd be paying the higher wages out of their profits.

But that's not happening. Corporations are using their record profits to buy back enormous amounts of their own stock to keep their share prices high, instead.

The labor market isn't "unhealthily" tight, as Jerome Powell asserts; corporations are unhealthily fat. Workers don't have too much power; corporations do.

The extraordinary win of the workers of Amazon's Staten Island warehouse is cause for celebration. Let's hope it marks the beginning of a renewal of worker power in America.

Yet the reality is that corporate America doesn't want to give up any of its record profits to its workers. If it can't fight off unions directly, it will do so indirectly by blaming inflation on wage increases, and then cheer on the Fed as it slows the economy just enough to eliminate American workers' new bargaining clout.

(c) 2022 Robert B. Reich is the Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and a senior fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His web site is

Democrats Should 'Take On the Swamp' and Mean It
If the Democratic Party wants to win big this fall and in 2024, their best bet is to oppose corruption in all its forms. And then, unlike the Trumpy Republicans, to walk the talk!
By Thom Hartmann

Russian presidential candidate Alexi Navalny is rotting in a Russian gulag because he picked up the most powerful weapon a candidate can wave against an entrenched political opponent: "Corruption."

Democrats need to learn from his effort, and Republicans are handing them all the ammunition they'll need for this fall.

When they make a clear and convincing case about the corruption of their opponents - like Navalny did against Putin in Russia - politicians claiming to fight corruption always win (unless they're poisoned and then thrown in prison).

Both Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil and Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Ukraine ran on anti-corruption platforms and won (only one was serious about the issue). There's no more powerful tool in a politicians toolbox.

Bolsonaro, during his first election, laid it out in terms most people agree with:

"The evils and harms of corruption affect the population in every way. This is what we want to stop. A corrupt government stimulates crime in all areas."
But, as The Washington Post points out, "Now, he'll have to find another slogan."

Donald Trump also ran against corruption in 2016 and it was his most powerful sales pitch.

Louise and I lived in Washington, DC at the time of the election and knew, socially, quite a few Trump voters, most of them active duty or retired military.

More than half of them were willing to vote for either Trump or Bernie Sanders: their issue was that our government had grown so corrupt that politics in DC needed a strong and incorruptible president who'd shake things up and clean house.

"Trump's too rich to be bought," they'd tell us, sometimes adding a variation on, "And Bernie doesn't care about getting rich so he can't be bought, either."
This phenomenon is completely independent of party.

Just after the 2016 election Huffington Post contributing writer Jon Hotchkiss put together a fake Facebook account and joined a few dozen pro-Trump groups. He then put together a pro-Trump meme that asked, "What do you like about President Trump?"

"I got more than a thousand responses in 24 hours," Hotchkiss wrote, "and the thing people wrote most is that they like Trump because he's not a politician ― he's a real American not corrupted by Washington, and beholden to no one."
During the Republican primary election, Trump said of his GOP competitors:
"They will be bombarded by their lobbyists that donated a lot of money to them. Again, Jeb raised $107 million dollars, OK? They're not putting that money up because it's a wonderful charity. Well, it is a charity, but for them, not for America."
That was in July of 2015 when he was considered a long-shot, five months before President Obama said, "I continue to believe Mr. Trump will not be president."

Trump argued that normal, corruptible politicians would have to bend to their campaign donors, even when that meant sending jobs overseas.

"So their lobbyists, their special interests and their donors will start calling President Bush, President Clinton, President Walker. Pretty much whoever is president other than me. Other than me. And they'll say: 'You have to do it. They gave you a million dollars to your campaign, two million, five million."
Across the auditorium heads were bobbing as Trump tossed out the punch line he used in hundreds of speeches:
"And the plant will be built in Mexico and [that's how] we just lost lots of plants all over our country."
But after seizing control of the House, Senate and White House in the 2016 sweep, powered in large part by Trump's anti-corruption promises, the Republican Party took a cue from Bolsonaro instead of Bernie:
Trump assembled the most corrupt Cabinet in US history: five different agencies' inspectors general referred their cabinet officer heads to the US Justice Department for criminal prosecution.

Attorney General Barr was so corrupt that he ignored those referrals, and then lied about and concealed from the American people the results of Robert Mueller's investigation into the Trump campaign's multiple connections to and assistances from Russia.

Trump put a fossil fuel lobbyist in charge of the Interior Department.

The Environmental Protection Agency was taken over by Andrew Wheeler, a coal lobbyist.

The Transportation Department was run by Mitch McConnell's wife, Elaine Chao, whose family is worth hundreds of millions of dollars from their Taiwan-based shipping business...that's regulated by the Transportation Department.

Wilbur Ross, the billionaire Forbes Magazine called a "grifter," was put in charge of the Commerce Department, giving him access to piles of profitable inside information.

Trump brought criminals and fascists like Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn into the heart of our political system.

Republicans in the House and Senate passed only one consequential piece of legislation during Trump's entire four years in office, and that was an insanely corrupt $2.5 trillion tax cut for the billionaire oligarchs who own the Party.

Republicans refuse to pass legislation to control our epidemic of gun violence because they're taking money from the gun industry.

Republicans won't do anything about drug prices because they're paid off by Big Pharma.

Republicans block regulations that would reduce greenhouse gasses because they're owned by the fossil fuel industry.

Republicans won't improve our food safety amidst a nationwide crisis of deadly food-borne illnesses because Big Ag tells them how to vote.

Even though the big banks stole billions and crashed our economy on Bush's watch in 2008, Republicans still refuse to hold them responsible, support banking regulations, or break up the "too big to fail" institutions that hand them millions.

But, as Jair Bolsonaro proved in Brazil, you can only successfully use the corruption card once if you have no intention of actually cleaning up corruption.

To stay in power, you have to make sure you've seized such complete control of your country's elections and judiciary that no matter how unpopular you are, you can retain power through sham elections.

Which, eerily, is exactly what corrupt Trumpy Republicans are doing in state after state as the naked corruption of the Trump wing of the GOP is laid bare.

As the CNN headline noted this January:

"At least 19 states passed 34 laws that restrict voting in some way in the last year, analysis shows."
Since then the pace has picked up; the most recent law will require any voters in Arizona who registered to vote more than 18 years ago to re-register and start over from scratch. That alone will knock out an estimated 200,000 older voters who're worried about Republican Senator Rick Scott's plan to phase out Social Security and Medicare within five years if the GOP retakes the Senate.

All of which means OPPORTUNITY for Democrats this fall.

Issues rarely exist outside of a frame, and in American politics that frame is usually broadly defined as either "conservative" or "liberal," "Republican" or "Democratic." And once an issue is dropped into one of those four frames, its ability to reach voters "on the other side" or independents diminishes fast.

Whether it's healthcare, education, immigration, or even voting rights, once its framed and thus perceived as ideological or partisan, that issue's ability to reach the broadest possible audience is narrowly circumscribed.

Put the "corruption" frame around an issue, though, and it cuts through American politics like a hot knife through butter. As Trump's 2016 candidacy proved, you can take down the most well-known, issue-savvy, richly funded Republican politicians in America, one after the other, if you just credibly allege corruption.

When Democrats run:

on expanding healthcare (as Stacey Abrams is doing now in Georgia), they can frame their Republican opponents as corrupt stooges of the insurance industry.

on ending student debt, they can frame their Republican opponents as toadies of the corrupt bankers who make billions in profits every year from student loans and high college tuition.

on voting rights, they can frame their opponents as corrupt toadies who're rigging the system so they can continue to wallow in the big bucks their "donors" shower on them.

on inflation, they can frame the issue as Republicans refusing to do anything about companies that exploit the end of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine to rip off consumers.

on labor, they can tell the story of Republicans fighting against the right to unionize ever since it was first put into law in the 1930s, and how Reagan put his "War on Working People" on steroids in the 1980s when he took down PATCO.

on drug prices, they can point out Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz's recent corrupt assertion that high insulin prices are justified because, he says, there's too many fat people in America.

on green energy, they can frame the issue as a corrupt fossil fuel industry that doesn't care how much Americans pay for energy or how many die from exhaust fumes and climate change, so long as they can maintain their profits from our addiction.

on immigration, they can point out how Republicans have no problem with "illegal employers" because they're on the take from those giant corporations, and refuse to fund programs to help struggling democracies to our South because it might raise billionaires' taxes.

As Donald Trump showed us in 2015/2016, almost every issue can be reduced to corruption or, as he called it, "the swamp."

Most members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus are already framing issues this way.

And if the Democratic Party wants to have serious electoral victories this fall the Democrats who're deeply in the pockets of special interests are going to have to renounce their own corruption.

It appears this is already happening. Here in Oregon, for example, "corporate problem solver Democrat" Kurt Schrader - a reliable vote against many progressive positions including letting Medicare negotiate drug prices - has announced that he's no longer taking money from Koch's enterprises.

It's a start.

The core of the problem for corporate-funded Democrats is that five corrupt Republican appointees on the US Supreme Court legalized political bribery with their notorious Citizens United decision in 2010. That began a great bifurcation of the Party into "clean" progressive and "corrupt" corporate wings.

A solution to this problem is to openly acknowledge it and work to fix it, be that through overturning Citizens United legislatively, through Constitutional amendment (unlikely), or through expanding the Court so the decision can be re-litigated.

There are few issues that animate American voters more than corruption in politics. It's so powerful that it's already affecting Democratic voters' perception of a few on our side.

Young people know, for example, that climate action is stalled by every Republican in the Senate and Joe Manchin making piles of cash from his coal business and being the largest Democratic recipient of fossil fuel money.

Minimum wage workers and people on Medicare know that every Republican in the Senate was helped by Kirsten Sinema, who shot down their hoped-for raise and regulation of drug prices because of the big bucks she got from the same billionaires and industries that fund the GOP.

If the Democratic Party wants to win this fall and in 2024 in a big way, their best bet is to fully oppose corruption in all its forms. And then, unlike the Trumpy Republicans or Jail Bolsonaro, to walk the talk when they govern.

(c) 2022 Thom Hartmann is a talk-show host and the author of "The Hidden History of Monopolies: How Big Business Destroyed the American Dream" (2020); "The Hidden History of the Supreme Court and the Betrayal of America" (2019); and more than 25 other books in print.

The Cartoon Corner -

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Randall Enos ~~~

To End On A Happy Note -

Have You Seen This -

Parting Shots -

Fauci Testifies That Legalizing Marijuana Would Help People Who Have to Listen to Ted Cruz Talk
By Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)-Adding his voice to the movement to legalize cannabis at the federal level, Dr. Anthony Fauci testified that marijuana could be helpful to people who have to listen to Senator Ted Cruz speak.

"Medically speaking, there is no way to completely alleviate the pain of hearing Ted Cruz's voice," Fauci told the Senate. "But, anecdotally, I can tell you that marijuana helps."

Fauci said that a septuagenarian man who had previously suffered while listening to Cruz noted "marked improvement" when he ingested marijuana prior to another encounter.

"The results were dramatic," he said. "His feelings of anger, depression, and despair were all greatly reduced."

"Sitting here before you today, I can tell you that people are breaking the law in order to survive experiencing Ted Cruz," he said. "They should be allowed to come out of the shadows."

(c) 2022 Andy Borowitz


Issues & Alibis Vol 22 # 14 (c) 04/08/2022

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