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In This Edition

Lee Fang returns with, "Howard Dean Pushes Biden To Oppose Generic Covid-19 Vaccines For Developing Countries."

Ralph Nader wonders, "Can The Decline In Letter-Writing Be Reversed?"

Jesse Jackson asks "Has America Come Any Closer To MLK's Dream?"

Jim Hightower wonders, "Can GOP Autocracy Outlaw American Democracy?"

William Rivers Pitt concludes, "Trump Fans Were Duped Into Donating Money To Whatever He Wants To Use It For."

John Nichols explains, "Biden's 'Transformative' Plan Redefines Infrastructure To Include Caregiving."

James Donahue examines, "The Insanity Of Destroying Our Fresh Water."

David Swanson says, "Biden Finally Lifts Sanctions Against ICC As Demanded By World BEYOND War."

David Suzuki reports, "Supreme Court Decision Puts Canada On Right Track For Carbon Pricing."

Charles P. Pierce explores, "In Terms Of Culture-War Holy-Shit Moments, This Is Right Up There."

Juan Cole warns, "Middle East, Africa, In Special Trouble As Human-Caused Climate Emergency Causes 30% Drop In Agricultural Productivity Growth."

Robert Reich calls Biden, "Mr. Fix-It."

Greg Palast returns with an absolute must read, "Georgia's New Voting Law Is Rife With Hidden Horrors."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Waterford Whispers News reports, "George Floyd Case To Be Most Keenly Watched US Trial Since Last Time Guilty Cop Walked Free," but first Uncle Ernie asks, "How Long Can You Tread Water?"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Randall Enos, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Tom Tomortrow, Tony Spina, Chris LeBoutillier, Jim Watson, Megan Varner, Joe Raedle, Zach D. Roberts, the Palast Fund, Adam Schultz, NBC News, The White Houose, Detroit Free Press, Robert Reich, Jim Hightower, Pexels, AFP, Unsplash, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments-

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

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How Long Can You Tread Water?
By Ernest Stewart

"Sea level rise and destruction of water resources as glaciers melt alone will have horrendous human consequences." ~~~ Noam Chomsky

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

Yes, I can hear the corpo-rats pooh-poohing global warming as average temperatues have only risen 2 degrees Fahrenheit since the begging of the 20th century. What's the big deal?

Two degrees may sound like a small amount, but it's an unusual event in our planet's recent history. Earth's climate record, preserved in tree rings, ice cores, and coral reefs, shows that the global average temperature is stable over long periods of time. Furthermore, small changes in temperature correspond to enormous changes in the environment.

For example, at the end of the last ice age, when the Northeast United States was covered by more than 3,000 feet of ice, average temperatures were only 5 to 9 degrees cooler than today. Ergo, flip that thought around and imagine what the opposite will be like. We're just 2 degrees warmer and all ready we've seen massive changes in our weather.

Both poles are warming at twice the rate as the rest of the world. Both poles are melting at a dizzying rate and raising the oceans water levels causing bigger and worse storms from hurricanes to tornados, rain deluges and deserts. Now double or tripple that rate and you may see what's in store for us? Fire seasons out west keep getting worse every year, starting earlier and ending later. One of the reasons we have all those folks at the border is because of the two hurricanes Eta and Iota that struck central America last November and came ashore and stalled out destroying everything in their paths. Eta was a category 4, and Iota, which hit a week later, was a category 5.

Global warming is causing mass migrations all over the planet from Africa to California. And as the temperature continues to rise it will only get worse, and worse, year after year.

Scientists have high confidence that global temperatures will continue to rise for decades to come, largely due to greenhouse gases produced by human activities. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which includes more than 1,300 scientists from the United States and other countries, forecasts a temperature rise of 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century.

Consider when the arctic was about 17 degrees Fahrenheit warmer, palm trees grew at the north pole and dinosaurs roamed Alaska. Consider Earths current average temperature is 60 degrees, then it was 77 degrees. The last time the ice pack melted the oceans were about 300 feet higher and when there were a lot of volcanic activity the oceans were 800 feet higher. Remember Hurricane Sandy that hit NYC in 2012? It jumped the sea wall in some parts and flooded the subways. So if you continue to live at the sea shore perhaps you better ask yourself this question, "How long can I tread water?"



11-14-1948 ~ 04-06-2021
Thanks for the film!

07-09-1936 ~ 04-07-2021
Thanks for the film!


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Until the next time, Peace!

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

Howard Dean Pushes Biden To Oppose Generic Covid-19 Vaccines For Developing Countries
The former progressive champion, who now works on behalf of corporate interests, joins the drug industry in arguing against sharing the intellectual property for low-cost vaccines.
By Lee Fang

Howard Dean, the former progressive champion, is calling on President Joe Biden to reject a special intellectual property waiver that would allow low-cost, generic coronavirus vaccines to be produced to meet the needs of low-income countries. Currently, a small number of companies hold the formulas for the Covid-19 vaccines, limiting distribution to many parts of the world.

"IP protections aren't the cause of vaccination delays," Dean claimed in a column for Barron's last month. "Every drug manufacturing facility on the planet that's capable of churning out Covid-19 shots is already doing so."

"Creating a new medicine is a costly proposition," wrote Dean. "Companies would never invest hundreds of millions in research and development if rivals could simply copy their drug formulas and create knockoffs."

Dean's claim that global vaccine manufacturing is already at capacity is patently false. Foreign firms have lined up to offer pharmaceutical plants to produce vaccines but have been forced to enter into lengthy negotiations under terms set by the intellectual property owners. The waiver, however, would allow generic drug producers to begin copying the vaccine without delay.

Many of the manufacturing plants prepared to mass produce low-cost vaccines are centered in India, which has committed to supplying the poorest countries in the world. But the waiver petition, Dean wrote, "is unreasonable and disingenuous; it's a ruse to benefit India's own industry at the expense of patients everywhere. President Biden would be wise to reject it."

The strident opposition to the waiver, which is supported by an international coalition of human rights organizations as well as a growing cohort of congressional Democrats, may surprise Dean's liberal supporters. But while Dean boasts a long history of support for single-payer health insurance coverage and government intervention into lowering domestic drug prices, he has reversed his positions on virtually every major progressive health policy issue since moving to work in the world of corporate influence peddling.

Dean is not a registered lobbyist, though he works in the lobbying division of Dentons, a law and lobbying firm, and his rhetoric in the column follows the firm's recent pattern of advocacy. Dentons touts its work on drug intellectual property issues, noting on its website that it has represented Pfizer and other firms in the recent past.

His official role is as a senior advisor to its government affairs practice focused on corporate health care clients, though as The Intercept has previously reported, he engages in almost every lobbying activity imaginable. In the past, Dean has argued that he is not a lobbyist but has declined to discuss what he does at the firm or the identities of his clients. Neither Dean nor Dentons responded to a request for comment from The Intercept.

The column references a proposal led by India and South Africa - joined by Kenya, Bolivia, Pakistan, and dozens of other countries - to request a temporary waiver of intellectual property rights over the creation of Covid-19 vaccines. The waiver to the World Trade Organization would allow unfettered access to the intellectual property and formulas necessary to retool factories and ramp up production of vaccines for the developing world, much of which is currently projected not to reach significant vaccination rates until as late as 2024.

Despite publicly funded research and huge infusions of government cash for the development and delivery of vaccines, drugmakers have carefully guarded their monopoly on the intellectual property rights and signaled to investors that they plan to soon hike prices. The pharmaceutical industry, including representatives of Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson, have pushed the Biden administration to oppose the intellectual property waiver petition and go further to even impose sanctions on any country that moves to manufacture vaccines without their express permission.

Dean, as The Intercept previously reported, moved through the revolving door after his time serving as Democratic National Committee chair to work for pharmaceutical and biotech companies, advising lobbyists during the Affordable Care Act debate on how to assist pharmaceutical firms with extended exclusivity protections on biologics, which are medicines made from living organisms, such as vaccines. He also serves on the board of the health care-focused investment fund Vatera.

In another recent column, again reflecting the interests of drugmakers, Dean wrote in favor of a last-minute regulation proposed by the Trump administration to narrow the government's ability to lower the prices of certain pharmaceutical products financed with public money, a rule that could stifle any future attempt to rein in the costs of coronavirus vaccines.

"Without taxpayer support for early-stage research at universities," Dean acknowledges, "drug companies would have never been in a position to create lifesaving vaccines so quickly." But, he writes, echoing industry arguments that any form of price controls would stifle innovation, "drug companies won't spend the billions of dollars it takes to commercialize federally funded research if there's a risk the government will seize the fruits of their research."

"He sorts of pops up whenever you argue against anything that would lower drug prices," said James Love, director of Knowledge Ecology International, a nonprofit that works to reform intellectual property rights to expand access to medicine.

"It's appalling because he's introduced as a progressive; he still gets on 'Rachel Maddow,'" said Love. "But he's on the payroll. He's not a registered lobbyist - he somehow finds a way not to register - but he's sort of an influencer, he's paid to influence the debate."

(c) 2021 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. He currently writes for The Intercept.

Can The Decline In Letter-Writing Be Reversed?
By Ralph Nader

When Cornell University Press sent me an early copy of my sister, Laura Nader's book: Letters To and From an Anthropologist, a collection of correspondences compiled over fifty-five years, I wondered whether such print letter-writing exchanges assembled in books were nearing extinction.

My impression preceded young parents relating remarks from their little children asking, "What's a letter?" or "Where do you put the stamp, Mom?" Certainly, the Internet Age is not conducive to sitting down and writing a personal letter exclusive to its recipient. It is quicker to send an email or a text message. But as we know when we receive a thoughtful letter these days, amidst the avalanche of digital messages, filters, and clutter, it is not, by a long stretch, the same sort of impactful communication.

Years ago, I read some of the vast number of letters that Thomas Jefferson wrote week after week, including some exchanges with John Adams. The book of letters between Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. and Harold J. Laski was especially absorbing to anyone interested in political philosophy, government, and law writ large.

A few weeks ago, I perused a translation of personal letters by the great composer Ludwig van Beethoven, starting with the prodigy's letter at age 11 in 1781, dedicating three piano sonatas to the Prince Elector of Cologne, Max Friedrich. In a preface, the translator J.S. Shedlock writes: [Beethoven's] "letters offer a unique biography, for studying the man in relations to his times, while such works as the Eroica and Choral symphonies certainly reflect them outwardly."

Without such letters (handwritten using quill pens) by both famous people and the common folk, much of what is captured with ink on paper would be entirely lost to history. Fortunately, until the 20th century, masters of letter-writing enriched our knowledge with such uncensored observations, in addition to probing the depths of their own personal feelings.

The trials and horrors of war were personally conveyed in battlefield letters from soldiers to their families and friends from the Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. They provided invaluable primary sources that pierce the "fog of war" and its propaganda. A new virtual Museum of American War Letters just opened on Sunday, March 28, 2021, "showcasing extraordinary correspondences from the American Revolution to the present day."

Letters are the writers' exclusive media, written without external censorship, editing, or abridgement. With the arrival of the telephone and the Internet, letter writing became a luxury less and less indulged. As one of Laura's students observed several years ago: "The only letters my generation gets are bank statements, credit card bills, or letters from colleges." Even many of these messages are now delivered digitally.

The U.S. Postal Service has reported a dramatic decline in First Class Mail, now left mostly to requests for donations, subscriptions, and gracious acknowledgement of birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays.

Sadly, for the work of consumer advocates, the fading of print letters has included consumer complaints, often with documentation, that once provided a rich lode of important fresh information that Laura used in her book, No Access to Law: Alternatives to the American Judicial System (1980). Such letters have led to mass recalls of defective products, important litigation, and legislation.

Laura's collection of letters and her responses cover much broader ground. Here you can read the felt concerns and observations of students, scientists worrying out loud, agitating scholars, military officers, prisoners, politicians, reflective workers, lawyers, and feminists. They were drawn to corresponding with Laura because of her prodigious, diverse output as a leading anthropologist and teacher who focused her discipline on controversial subjects such as global power that shaped and controlled local living.

She always insists on answering the question: "Knowledge for what and for whom?" Laura became known for her irreverent, contrarian insights because she expressed them early before they became accepted or commonplace. Her struggles over the University of California's (Berkeley) decades-long, shocking pay inequity between male and female professors is but one of many examples of challenges to accepted norms leading to debate and change.

It is her hope that this collection of correspondences "will inspire both young and old to experience the privacy and freedom communication affords...when pen is put to paper, or when pen is put down to ponder." Since the book came out late last year, a culture too frantically "internetting" barely noticed. Despite Princeton University Professor of Anthropology John Borneman saying, "Her range of fields is amazingly bold...," or how Yale University Professor of Anthropology Erik Harms described her letters as revealing "...the dignified role that disagreement can play in democratic and scholarly discourse."

Literary journals and magazines, who received the book from Cornell University Press, greeted this testament to the societal treasures flowing from letter-writing with editorial indifference.

This is not surprising. Of my scores of timely, policy-focused letters to Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, regarding what they were doing, not doing, or should be doing, 99% received no response or even an acknowledgement from them, their staff, or their departmental appointees. I collected these letters in a volume titled, Return to Sender: Unanswered Letters to the President, 2001-2015 (Seven Stories Press, 2015). Thousands of other ignored citizen correspondents to Presidents and members of Congress weren't so fortunate. I have recently taken to writing print letters to thoughtful practitioners of the fourth estate - including friendly acquaintances - asking them about their practice for replying to letters. So far no responses! Do you ever hear anybody saying these days - "I'm catching up with my correspondence."?

Last month, I wrote to New York Times Book Review editor and touted podcaster, Pamela Paul, wondering if she would have a thoughtful broad-gauged writer contribute an essay on the state of letter-writing within the historic traditions of this genre.

Paradoxically, the Letters-to-the-Editor space is among the most read section in newspapers and magazines. Just this February, John Stewart, an English teacher at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia received a terrific response when he asked his students to write a letter to President Biden or Vice President Harris. He called their words "heartfelt, insightful, acute and achingly beautiful." In the midst of Covid-19 pandemic pressures, he "couldn't be more proud of them."

What's that saying? "Hope Springs Eternal."

(c) 2021 Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His latest book is The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for Our American Future. Other recent books include, The Seventeen Traditions: Lessons from an American Childhood, Getting Steamed to Overcome Corporatism: Build It Together to Win, and "Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us" (a novel).

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. waves to onlookers while leading the 125,000 strong 'Walk to Freedom' on Woodward Avenue in Detroit in 1963.

Has America Come Any Closer To MLK's Dream?
Dr. King would be marching with those who seek to make it easier to vote. He would be appalled by George Floyd's murder, but not surprised.
By Jesse Jackson

Last weekend marked the 53d anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination. Over half a century. Has America come any closer to his dream?

He would be pleased at some of our progress. Segregation is no longer the law of the land. The Voting Rights Act helped open doors. Dr. King would be pleased that a majority of Americans joined to elect and re-elect an African American president. Georgians just elected a black minister from Dr. King's own historic church to the U.S. Senate. There are now 60 African American members of Congress, 54 Latino members, 20 Asian American or Pacific Islander Americans and 5 native Americans.

Yet the reconstruction has brought reaction. By a 5-4 decision, right-wing judges on the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, even after overwhelming majorities of both parties voted to reauthorize it. Now across the country, Republicans, fearful of the growing involvement of minorities and the young, are seeking to impose restrictions that make voting more difficult.

We've come a long way, yet we still have so far to go.

Dr. King would be marching with those who seek to make it easier to register and to vote. He'd be urging the Senate to pass S1, the For the People election reform bill that would go far to limit voter suppression, gerrymandering and counter the role of secret big money in politics. He surely would be delighted that African American business leaders of major corporations and banks have joined in urging the corporate community to speak out against efforts to suppress the vote.

George Floyd's murder would appall but not surprise Dr. King. The shameful mass incarceration of African Americans and the structural racial inequities of our criminal justice system demand reform. Again, Dr. King would be marching with the Black Lives Matter movement and would be encouraged by the multiracial outpouring of largely peaceful, nonviolent protests demanding reform.

Economic justice was the third movement of Dr. King's civil rights symphony-and the most incomplete. The pandemic has once more stripped the veil off of America's structural racial inequalities. African Americans and Latinos were the most likely to be infected, the most likely to lack health care, the most likely to be frontline workers, the least likely to be able to work from home.

When the economy shut down, African Americans and Latinos suffered the largest loss of jobs, and the greatest collapse of incomes. We are also vulnerable to the most evictions and foreclosures. The schools our children attend are the least likely to have adequate ventilation or space for social distancing.

The level of economic violence suffered daily by poor and low-income families is immoral and unnecessary. Millions of Americans still lack the basic right to adequate health care. Dr. King's legacy has helped to inspire a new Poor People's Campaign, giving voice to the 140 million low income and impoverished Americans who struggle to survive.

Dr. King protested as the War on Poverty was defeated in the jungles of Vietnam. He understood that a bloated military budget, constant interventions across the world, the arms race that threatened all humanity sapped the resources, energy and attention needed to make America better.

Today, the military budget is even higher-in comparable dollars-than it was at the height of the Cold War. The U.S. maintains nearly 800 military bases in more than 70 countries. We fight endless wars on the other side of the world. And worse, we seem headed into a new Cold War, this time with both Russia and China, and have launched a trillion-dollar program to build a new generation of nuclear weapons that we don't need and cannot use.

Our priorities remain distorted. There were no Republican votes for Biden's Rescue Plan to deal with the pandemic and the economic collapse. Many predict that there will be no Republican votes for Biden's American Jobs Plan to rebuild and modernize our infrastructure and begin to deal with the existential threat of catastrophic climate change. Yet there will be bipartisan support for a military budget far beyond our security needs.

Over half a century. We've come a long way, yet we still have so far to go. Hope is provided by a new generation-more diverse, more engaged, better educated, and increasingly on the march.

They are bringing new energy and new numbers to the struggle for justice and peace. About that, Dr. King surely would be pleased.

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

Can GOP Autocracy Outlaw American Democracy?
By Jim Hightower

Ralph Waldo Emerson told of a dinner guest who went on and on about the virtue of honesty, offering his own life as a model of perfect rectitude. "The louder he talked of his honor," said Emerson, "the faster we counted our spoons."

That's my reaction to the cacophony of phony piety arising from Republican governors and legislators who are trying to enact more than 250 new state laws to stop Black, Latino, Asian-American, Indigenous, and other non-Caucasian voters from casting ballots. Yet they proclaim, "We're not racists, we're righteous crusaders protecting the sanctity of the vote."

Really? So why are they specifically targeting people of color with their repressive voting restrictions? For example, panicky Republican lawmakers in Georgia tried to outlaw any early voting on Sundays. Odd. Why?

It's a flagrantly-racist attack on the Black church. For years, a joyous civic tradition called "Souls to the Polls" has played out in Southern Black churches on Sundays prior to election day. After the sermon and prayers, congregants, ministers, musicians, and others in the church family travel in a caravan to early voting locations to cast ballots. It turns voting into a civic, spiritual, and fun experience. What kind of shriveled soul tries to kill that?

Apparently, the same shameful souls in the Georgia GOP who want to stop local groups from providing water and snacks to citizens forced to wait for hours in line to vote. They're actually trying to make it a crime to give water to thirsty voters! Hey, Republicans: What would Jesus do?

This is Jim Hightower saying... Excuse me, but voting in America should not be made a misery. The goal (and duty) of every public official ought to be maximizing voter turnout - after all, the more Americans who vote, the stronger our democracy. But there's the ugly political truth - Republican officials no longer support democracy.

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

Donald Trump walks off stage after an address to the Conservative Political Action
Conference held in the Hyatt Regency on February 28, 2021, in Orlando, Florida.

Trump Fans Were Duped Into Donating Money To Whatever He Wants To Use It For
By William Rivers Pitt

Quantifying the staggering gullibility of the average Trump supporter has become increasingly tough to do.

The events leading up to the January 6 attack on the Capitol building were instructive. After the election was called for Joe Biden, Trump's people kept deploying laughably inept raids on the legal system in state after state. Girded with arguments that amounted to, "Your Honor, this sack of red bliss potatoes proves the election must be overturned because spiders,"

they were giggled and gaveled out of virtually every courtroom they appeared in. More to the point, keen observers - and even the average bystander - could not fail to notice the brazenly unserious nature of the arguments being proffered. The idea that any respectable attorney actually expected to overturn a national election using arguments woven from belly button lint was, for many, a bridge too far.

"But hypocrisy aside, the suit is also a perfect microcosm for so many of the other cases we've seen filed in the past month," University of Texas Law School professor Steve Vladeck wrote at the time. "It is lacking in actual evidence; it is deeply cynical; it evinces stunning disrespect for both the role of the courts in our constitutional system and of the states in our elections; and it is doomed to fail."

So, what was it all for, then? The grift, of course.

Trump and his post-election PAC, Save America, raised hundreds of millions of dollars imploring supporters to pony up and pay for his vividly doomed courtroom fights... except the fine print on the donation page stated that he can use that money however he wishes. If Trump is eating a burger right now, odds are someone in his base inadvertently paid for it back in December. Some 40 percent of those Save America donations went to the Republican National Convention to cover "expenses," and the rest went right into his hip pocket.

You have to figure that's OK with most of that base, right? They'd be honored to buy a meal for the Fearless Leader, and since everything he says and does is being simultaneously carved onto stone tablets for posterity, who are they to judge how a successful man like that uses his (their) cash? The purpose of a cult is to stay in line, maintain that glassy look in the eye, and elevate all as being in service to the Cause.

This, however, is something else entirely:

Facing a cash crunch and getting badly outspent by the Democrats, the [Trump] campaign had begun last September to set up recurring donations by default for online donors, for every week until the election. Contributors had to wade through a fine-print disclaimer and manually uncheck a box to opt out.

As the election neared, the Trump team made that disclaimer increasingly opaque, an investigation by The New York Times showed. It introduced a second prechecked box, known internally as a "money bomb," that doubled a person's contribution. Eventually its solicitations featured lines of text in bold and capital letters that overwhelmed the opt-out language.

The tactic ensnared scores of unsuspecting Trump loyalists - retirees, military veterans, nurses and even experienced political operatives. Soon, banks and credit card companies were inundated with fraud complaints from the president's own supporters about donations they had not intended to make, sometimes for thousands of dollars.

By the final months of the campaign, the donation scam - known as WinRed - had been required to make 530,000 refunds worth about $64.3 million to Trump donors who fell for the gag. Biden's campaign, by comparison, issued refunds to 37,000 donors that came out to around $5.6 million. "Officials at multiple financial institutions who dealt with complaints estimated WinRed was, at peak, 1-3 percent of volume - a figure confirmed by one of the nation's larger credit-card issuers," Shane Goldmacher, author of the Times piece, explained on Twitter. "That's huge, considering size of U.S. credit card economy."

Why do this if they had to eventually return the money? Because in the time frame when they first raked it in, they could declare their campaign war chest full and avoid looking like the also-rans they were. "In effect, the money that Mr. Trump eventually had to refund amounted to an interest-free loan from unwitting supporters at the most important juncture of the 2020 race," explains Goldmacher.

I have come to envision Trump's most devoted followers as a flock of magic sheep. Shear their wool down to the skin, close your eyes and count to 10, and poof! All the wool has grown back, ready and waiting to be sheared again. And again. And again.

This is the peril of life in an information bubble when the boss is a brigand. Most of these folks probably never heard the details on the courtroom-fundraising scam on Fox News. For sure, they never heard how Sidney Powell, author of many of those courtroom scams, recently told a court that "no reasonable person" would believe the bullshit she's been peddling. Do you think they've heard about this latest one? Don't hold your breath.

God help Trump and his pals if these sheep ever get together and compare notes. Don't hold your breath for that, either. It is far more edifying to believe you are a warrior fighting an end-times battle against the evils of socialist communist terrorist liberalism. I suppose the thought warms you even as your wool keeps mysteriously disappearing. Meanwhile, Trump is laughing all the way to the bank, shears swinging insouciantly from his belt. T'was ever thus.

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

Biden's 'Transformative' Plan Redefines Infrastructure To Include Caregiving
Biden wants to put $400 billion toward expanding quality home or community care. Ai-jen Poo tells The Nation that's "historic" progress.
By John Nichols

President Biden's $2 trillion American Jobs Plan proposes a credible down payment on meeting the nation's long-neglected physical infrastructure needs-$621 billion for roads, bridges, public transit, rail, ports, waterways, airports, and electric vehicles-and it nods in some meaningful ways to the climate concerns raised by campaigners for a more ambitious Green New Deal. The plan, which the president outlined Wednesday, also seeks vital investments in clean drinking water, housing, and high-speed broadband Internet services. But the boldest component of the president's agenda is its $400 billion commitment to fund the care infrastructure of a just and humane society.

"This plan is historic, transformative," says Ai-jen Poo, the cofounder and executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, who for years has been working to convince policy-makers that improving the circumstance of caregivers for the elderly and people with disabilities must be seen as a critical infrastructure investment.

Biden's proposal embraces this idea of "care infrastructure," and adopts the language of advocates, as it seeks to "solidify the infrastructure of our care economy by creating jobs and raising wages and benefits for essential home care workers." With a call on Congress to "put $400 billion toward expanding access to quality, affordable home- or community-based care for aging relatives and people with disabilities," Biden is advancing an agenda that his team says "will help hundreds of thousands of Americans finally obtain the long-term services and support they need, while creating new jobs and offering caregiving workers a long-overdue raise, stronger benefits, and an opportunity to organize or join a union and collectively bargain."

Crowdfunding Hate in the Name of Christ After generations of policy neglect, by both Democratic and Republican administrations, caregivers are finally getting a measure of the recognition and the support they deserve. This represents remarkable progress, says Poo, who told The Nation, "Investing in home and community-based services and the care workforce will help make these jobs good jobs for the first time, and secure services for people who rely on them. The fact that one of the groups of workers excluded from the original New Deal labor laws is at the forefront of this new New Deal moment says so much. It's incredibly hopeful."

Biden's plan proposes this radical shift in thinking about infrastructure for two reasons. First, advocacy groups and unions have worked for years to make the case for improving the lives of caregivers-as an economic and social justice priority. Second, the coronavirus pandemic has made the need for this sort of investment all the more evident. Poo, the author of The Age of Dignity: Preparing for the Elder Boom in a Changing America, and Heather McCulloch, the founder and executive director of Closing the Women's Wealth Gap, have made a compelling case in recent months that as the country comes out of a pandemic year that was especially hard on the women who have historically provided so much of the care to so many Americans, "it's time to think bigger about how we define infrastructure investment and ask who benefits."

"Each year, about 4 million children are born and 4 million people turn 65," Poo and McCulloch explain. "Despite the growing demand for systems to care for children, people with disabilities and older adults so that parents and adult family members can work and support their families, the U.S. has one of the weakest systems of support among advanced economies and COVID has brought our patchwork systems to a breaking point." The Biden plan acknowledges this reality with proposals to create jobs and raise wages and benefits for care workers. And it does so in language that recognizes an emerging understanding of how investing in the human beings who care for children, seniors, and people with disabilities is just as vital for the economy as investing in roads and bridges.

A White House summary of the infrastructure plan explains:

Even before Covid-19, our country was in the midst of a caregiving crisis. In addition to caring for children, families feel the financial burden of caring for aging relatives and family members with disabilities, and there is a financial strain for people with disabilities living independently to ensure that they are getting care in their homes. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of people who need better care are unable to access it, even though they qualify under Medicaid.
It continues:
Caregivers-who are disproportionally women of color-have been underpaid and undervalued for far too long. Wages for essential home care workers are approximately $12 per hour, putting them among the lowest paid workers in our economy. In fact, one in six workers in this sector live in poverty.
Relying on research conducted by Christian Weller, Beth Almeida, Marc Cohen, and Robyn Stone for a study released by the LeadingAge LTSS Center at the University of Massachusetts Boston, the Biden team concludes that "increasing the pay of direct care workers greatly enhances workers' financial security, improves productivity, and increases the quality of care offered." The White House also argues, based on a working paper produced by Krista Ruffini, a visiting scholar at the Minneapolis Federal Reserve's Opportunity and Inclusive Growth Institute, that "increased pay for care workers prevented deaths, reduced the number of health violations, and lowered the cost of preventative care."

This is smart framing to underpin a pair of specific proposals outlined by the White House that would:

Expand access to long-term care services under Medicaid. President Biden believes more people should have the opportunity to receive care at home, in a supportive community, or from a loved one. President Biden's plan will expand access to home and community-based services (HCBS) and extend the longstanding Money Follows the Person program that supports innovations in the delivery of long-term care.

Put in place an infrastructure to create good middle-class jobs with a free and fair choice to join a union. The HCBS expansion under Medicaid can support well-paying caregiving jobs that include benefits and the ability to collectively bargain, building state infrastructure to improve the quality of services and to support workers. This will improve wages and quality of life for essential home health workers and yield significant economic benefits for low-income communities and communities of color.

So far, so good.

Now comes the challenge of selling a plan that asks members of Congress-who are used to supporting traditional roads-and-bridges bills but who have been slow to engage with proposals to improved the circumstance of caregivers-to accept a fuller definition of the word "infrastructure." Ai-jen Poo and other advocates are ready for the fight. The #CareCantWait coalition-which includes the National Domestic Workers Alliance, the National Women's Law Center, the Service Employees International Union, Time's Up, and MomsRising-plans to mobilize members and will invest in a $20 million advertising and organizing campaign to advocate for what Biden has proposed. But it's not stopping there. While the National Domestic Workers Alliance celebrated the presidential proposal Wednesday, it pointedly noted, "Next we need paid family & medical leave for all and investments in child care because #CareCantWait!"

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

The Insanity Of Destroying Our Fresh Water
By James Donahue

My wife and I chose to buy our retirement home on Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula because it was surrounded by fresh water. The peninsula juts north out into Lake Superior. Not many miles to our south was Lake Michigan. And to the east is Lake Huron.

There was method in our madness. While we were ravaged by the winter storms that swept our area, and we were dependent on the trucking of much of our food from warmer climates, we were enjoying some of the best and purest fresh water left anywhere in the world.

The lakes near us were but three of the five Great Lakes, which collectively hold the largest body of fresh water left on the planet. After living in Arizona where big corporations like the Peabody Coal Company were sucking dry the massive underlying reservoir of fresh water just to slide strip mined coal through long slushes to company power plants that supply most of the electricity used in Southern California, and reading horror stories about the industrial waste, huge droughts, floods and storms that are destroying most other natural water supplies, we chose to be near the last good and abundant water supply to be found anywhere.

Our belief was backed by an agreement between the states bordering the Great Lakes and the Canadian government, known as the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact of 1985, and its annex of 2001. This document gives states the power to manage how the water of the lakes can be used and protected. We believed the agreement would protect the Great Lakes from the ravages of big industry.

Now we read a statement by James Weakley, president of the Lake Carriers Association, who warns: "Lake Michigan water is being shipped by boat loads over to China. By using a little-known loophole in the 2006 Great Lakes Compact, (state) minions are allowing Nestle Company to export precious fresh water out of Lake Michigan to the tune of an estimated $500,000 to $1.8 million per day profit."

Nestle, which sells various popular brands of drinking water in small plastic containers, has been selling Lake Michigan water under the brand name Ice Mountain.

How can anybody do this? It seems that there was an effort to stop Nestle from its operations on Lake Michigan and the case ended up in court, where a judge ordered the pumping of lake water to cease. But then an appellate court overturned the ruling, and the company came to an agreement.

This agreement, dubbed the "bottled-water loophole," hinges on wording in the compact that bans removing water from the lakes in containers greater than 5.7 gallons. The authors of the compact were thinking of truck tankers or piping the water. The ban does not mention bottled water. Thus, Nestle is sucking water from a lake aquifer to its Mecosta facility and pouring it in bottles which are sold commercially around the world.

Despite continued efforts by local environmental groups to stop the steal, they are getting away with it. The courts and state government officials are sticking to the original agreement. The company is reportedly pumping millions of gallons of water from a well that leads from a Lake Michigan aquifer at a ridiculous price of $200 a year.

And there is more bad news.

Former Michigan Republican Governor Rick Snyder, who co-chaired the Council of Great Lakes Governors that exists to preserve the Great Lakes, approved a controversial plan by a Canadian company to open a sulfide mine near Marquette, near Lake Superior in 2012. Despite protests by conservationists and the local Native American tribes, construction of the mine was not stopped.

It is known as the Eagle Mine, located just 30 miles from Marquette. Miners are after an ore found below the headwaters of the Salmon Trout River and adjacent to the Yellow Dog River watershed, flowing directly into Lake Superior.

Yeah, Snider did this. The benefit for him was that the mine offered jobs to a job-starved community.

Sulfide mines drain acid poisons into the local water system and this mine has the potential of dumping poison into the most pristine of all the Great Lakes. While we lived there Superior was one of the few lakes where fish could be safely caught and eaten without the risk of mercury or other industrial poisonings. I would not eat that fish now.

We remember British Petroleum (BP) because of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, which killed 11 workers and dumped 206 million gallons of crude oil that devastated the coastline, wrecked commercial fishing, and put thousands of workers out of their jobs.

While all of this was making headlines, British Petroleum spilled 1,600 gallons of oil into Lake Michigan from its refinery at Whiting, Indiana. To date the company has never paid for the cleanup of this mess even though it was a clear violation of the federal Clean Water Act.

These are among the worst of the various plants that are still dumping chemicals and other toxins into the lakes. While the Environmental Protection Agency has been using state and federal laws to contain much of the industrial waste, and launch clean-up efforts, there is still pesticide and fertilizer runoff from the farms.

In short, humans are recklessly and thoughtlessly destroying the last great reservoirs of clean drinking water on Earth. The human body is composed of about 65 percent water. We all need water to live. In fact, we can all go longer without food than we can water to stay alive. Yet we treat water like it is a natural commodity that we will always have it flowing from our taps.

Big corporations are already buying up natural water rights to some of the best sources of fresh spring water in the world. The day is soon coming when bottled water will be our only source of fresh water. And you can be assured that we will pay dearly for every drop.

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

Biden Finally Lifts Sanctions Against ICC As Demanded By World BEYOND War
By David Swanson

After months of demand from World BEYOND War and others, the Biden administration has finally lifted Trump-imposed sanctions on the ICC, stating a preference for a subtler approach to imposing lawlessness in the name of upholding the rule of law.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken states:

"We continue to disagree strongly with the ICC's actions relating to the Afghanistan and Palestinian situations. We maintain our longstanding objection to the Court's efforts to assert jurisdiction over personnel of non-States Parties such as the United States and Israel. We believe, however, that our concerns about these cases would be better addressed through engagement with all stakeholders in the ICC process rather than through the imposition of sanctions.

"Our support for the rule of law, access to justice, and accountability for mass atrocities are important U.S. national security interests that are protected and advanced by engaging with the rest of the world to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow."

One might have thought that the rule of law was protected and advanced by imposing the rule of law, but perhaps "engaging" and "meeting challenges" sounds almost as good without the drawback of meaning anything.

Blinken continues:

"Since the Nuremberg and Tokyo Tribunals after World War II, U.S. leadership meant that history permanently recorded fair judgments issued by international tribunals against justly convicted defendants from the Balkans to Cambodia, to Rwanda and elsewhere. We have carried on that legacy by supporting a range of international, regional, and domestic tribunals, and international investigative mechanisms for Iraq, Syria, and Burma, to realize the promise of justice for victims of atrocities. We will continue to do so through cooperative relationships."
This is ridiculous. There has been no accountability for U.S. and NATO wars ("war crimes"). Opposing the International Criminal Court is the opposite of cooperation. The only thing less cooperative than staying outside of the court and denouncing it would be actively working in other ways to weaken it. Not to worry; Blinken concludes:
"We are encouraged that States Parties to the Rome Statute are considering a broad range of reforms to help the Court prioritize its resources and to achieve its core mission of serving as a court of last resort in punishing and deterring atrocity crimes. We think this reform is a worthwhile effort."
When Trump issued an executive order in June 2020 creating sanctions, the ICC was investigating the actions of all parties to the war in Afghanistan and potentially investigating Israel's actions in Palestine. The sanctions authorized the punishment of any individuals involved in or in any way assisting such court proceedings. The U.S. State Department restricted visas for ICC officials and in September 2020 sanctioned two court officials, including the Chief Prosecutor, freezing their U.S. assets and blocking them from financial transactions with U.S. persons, banks, and companies. Trump's action was condemned by over 70 national governments, including the United States' closest allies, and by Human Rights Watch, and by the International Association of Democratic Lawyers.

One would hope that all of those same institutions would also speak out against the continued U.S. efforts to weaken and eliminate institutions of international law as well as U.S. efforts to strengthen and enlarge the leading international institution for criminal enterprise, NATO. (c) 2021 David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

Because greenhouse gas emissions, mainly carbon dioxide, cause extensive and costly harm, carbon pricing ensures polluters pay for damages.

Supreme Court Decision Puts Canada On Right Track For Carbon Pricing
By David Suzuki

It should be evident that a national government has the authority to set policy regarding nationally important issues. But with the climate crisis, some provincial premiers have pushed back. Governments of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario have been fighting in court to overturn the federal Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act. On March 25, in a significant victory for climate action, Canada's Supreme Court ruled in the federal government's favour. It affirmed that climate change, caused mainly by greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere through burning fossil fuels, is "a threat of the highest order to the country, and indeed to the world" and that there is "broad consensus among expert international bodies that carbon pricing is a critical measure" to reduce emissions.

The ruling also stated, "A provincial failure to act directly threatens Canada as a whole," and "Canada would not be able to push for global action on climate change if provinces were not cooperating in the fight against it."

Although carbon pricing is one of many solutions to reduce the risks of climate disruption, it's a critical policy the David Suzuki Foundation has been advocating for since 1998. Represented by Ecojustice, the Foundation was an intervener in the court cases brought by the three provincial governments, arguing that the climate crisis represents a national emergency. It was also instrumental in getting B.C. to adopt carbon pricing in 2008.

Although this decision was specifically about carbon pricing, it signals that the federal government has the authority to enact national climate and clean energy regulations that reduce harmful emissions. It also sends a clear message to provincial governments that have put entrenched fossil fuel interests ahead of the well-being of our children, communities, future and all living species and ecosystems.

Under Canada's law, provinces are required to set their own carbon price through a tax or cap-and-trade system, meeting minimum standards set by Ottawa. If they don't, they're subject to a federal "backstop" carbon price, including a charge on gasoline and other fuels, offset by household rebates that leave most families better off, and a separate pricing system for heavy industries.

The minimum price is $40 per tonne of emissions as of April 1, set to increase to $170 per tonne by 2030 to meet the current target of reducing emissions at least 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Because greenhouse gas emissions, mainly carbon dioxide, cause extensive and costly harm, carbon pricing ensures polluters pay for damages. Even though it rarely reflects the full costs, it gives polluters incentives to find cleaner ways to operate - reducing their costs and emissions. It also gives cleaner energy sources like solar and wind a growing price advantage over coal, oil and fracked methane.

Where carbon pricing has been enacted, it's been successful without causing economic harm. It's time for all governments to join with industry, academia and all of society to resolve the climate emergency. As I recently told federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, we don't have time for bickering and drawn-out, costly court challenges. In fact, we need far more ambitious action from all levels of government, especially provincial.

We're still not on track to meet climate targets, and the costs of more frequent extreme weather events are mounting. Gas price fluctuations and increases imposed by the oil industry show it takes a lot to get people to adopt better habits and technologies, so making better options widely available is important. That means investing more in transit, electric vehicle charging infrastructure and measures to make homes and buildings more energy efficient.

We must also stop subsidizing the fossil fuel industry with tax breaks, low royalties and pipeline purchases.

Because we've failed to heed the warnings for so long, we've reached a critical point in the climate emergency. Now we must do all we can to prevent the crisis from accelerating. We need federal, provincial and municipal policies, regulations and investments to improve energy efficiency, fast-track clean power, electrify everything and switch to renewable fuels.

There's no shortage of solutions. We just need to employ those proven effective, including carbon pricing. The Supreme Court decision gives Canada the power to make a difference. Now it's time to act.

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

In Terms Of Culture-War Holy-Shit Moments, This Is Right Up There
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson will take some heat from his base for this, but credit where it's due.
By Charles P. Pierce

Credit where it's due. Last Thursday, in our semi-regular weekly survey of what's goin' down in the several states, we took note of Arkansas' HB 1570, a horrific piece of legislation that would prohibit healthcare providers from administering gender transition treatments, which can include surgery and hormone therapy, to people under 18. Well, in this week of famous buzzer-beaters, Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson nailed one like U.S. Reed did against Louisville in 1981.

In a news conference after vetoing the bill, Hutchinson spoke with an uncommon humanity for a Republican governor, at least for one who's already signed an anti-trans bill involving women's sports, and also a bill allowing physicians to refuse to treat patients if the doctors have a religious objection, a provision that makes LGBTQ Arkansans nervous. But, on this one, Hutchinson took the risk of alienating his fundy base.

We are creating new standards of legislating interference for physicians and parents as they deal with some of the most complex and sensitive matters involving young people... House Bill 1570 would put the state as the definitive oracle of medical care overriding parents, patients, and healthcare experts. While in some instances the state must act to protect life, the state should not presume to jump into the middle of every medical, human, and ethical issue. This would be, and is, a vast government overreach.
There was general outrage over the provisions of this bill, which should be understandable to any sentient primate. And, for myself, I have no doubt that Hutchinson looked at what's happening in Georgia over voting rights and decided that there was enough light on this issue that something similar might happen to Arkansas if he signed this particular sliver of authoritarianism. His remarks at his press conference would lead you to that conclusion as well.
I was told this week the nation is looking to Arkansas because I have on my desk another bill passed by the general assembly that is a product of the cultural war in America. I don't shy away from the battle when it is necessary and defensible. But the most recent action of the general assembly, while well intended, is off course. And I must veto House Bill 1570.
In terms of culture-war Holy-Shit Moments, this ranks right up there with Mississippi's beating a Personhood initiative a few years back. No doubt Hutchinson will take considerable heat from people he's generally counted as supporters. He will be accused of bowing to pressure from out-of-state agitators, and to woke interest groups, and to cancel culture, and all the other new conjuring words beloved by the right. The legislature can override his veto with a simple majority. The nation needs to keep looking at Arkansas for a while yet.

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

The Quotable Quote-

"It is absurd that our tax code allows many of our country's wealthiest people to get away with never paying a cent in taxes on millions or even billions in capital gains income, while working people pay taxes on every check they receive."
~~~ Bernie Sanders

Middle East, Africa, In Special Trouble As Human-Caused Climate Emergency Causes 30% Drop In Agricultural Productivity Growth
By Juan Cole

Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) - A new paper in the journal Nature Climate Change has found that the human-caused climate emergency is responsible for a 20 percent drop in global agricultural productivity growth in the past 60 years.* A. Ortiz-Bobea and colleagues write:

"The cumulative impact of ACC [anthropogenic or human-caused climate change] on global agricultural TFP [Total Factor Productivity] growth over the 1961-2020 period is about -20.8%."
There it is in black and white. A 1/5 reduction in agricultural growth in the past sixty years because we burned coal, gasoline and natural gas for electricity, heat and transportation. We burned quite a lot of it and put billions and billions of tons of carbon dioxide, a heat-trapping gas, into the earth's sensitive atmosphere. It was like setting off thousands of atom bombs up there. It got hot. And agriculture on the whole didn't like it.

What is scary is that the effect of global heating is not static. Their findings suggest "that global agriculture is growing increasingly sensitive to ongoing climate change." And, folks, not only is food production being adversely affected by the heating of the planet, but we should remember that the heating is getting worse. Every time we drive a gasoline-powered vehicle or burn coal (still used to produce a third of electricity in my dirty state of Michigan), we are making the climate emergency worse. We can halt the advance by driving electric and pushing politicians to back wind and solar.

Nor is this negative impact on agriculture evenly distributed. I suppose Americans can be happy that in cooler climes like North America, the negative impact of climate change on agricultural productivity growth was "only" 12.5%.

The bad news is that in places that were already hot, the impact of human-caused climate change was even worse than the average, up around -30 percent:

"ACC since 1961 is greater for warm regions such as Africa (-34.0%), the Near East and North Africa (-30.0%) and Latin American and the Caribbean (-25.9%) "
Great. Like the Middle East needs more crises. Their map also shows a tremendous negative impact on Central America and Mexico. If you want to know why there are people trying to escape from there to the US border, a part of the reason is staring us in the face.

H/t Nature Climate Change.

The authors find that the climate emergency cost humanity the equivalent of all the food produced from 2013 to now. Just wiped it out. We lost 7 years worth of productivity growth.

The human population of 7.7 billion is rapidly growing and might level off at at 11 billion in 2100, according to the UN. So we'll need nearly twice as much food 80 years from now, but the climate emergency is interfering in producing it. That's a dangerous pincer move for humanity.

They continue:

We find a robust relationship between agricultural TFP growth and weather changes... The temperature response function is roughly linear and downward sloping .., indicating that warmer temperatures over the green season are detrimental to TFP growth. We conduct two placebo checks that suggest this relationship is unlikely to arise by chance.
That's a mouthful, but what we need to take away from it is that heating up the planet was bad for the growing season of most crops.

The climate emergency is not a catastrophe, it is a challenge. A big challenge. This new paper has shown us another dimension of the challenge. Our task is to rise that challenge.

*Citation: Ortiz-Bobea, A., Ault, T.R., Carrillo, C.M. et al. Anthropogenic climate change has slowed global agricultural productivity growth. Nat. Clim. Chang. 11, 306-312 (2021).

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

Mr. Fix-It
By Robert Reich

Joe Biden is embarking on the biggest government initiative in more than a half century, "unlike anything we have seen or done since we built the interstate highway system and the space race decades go," he says.

But when it comes to details, it sounds as boring as fixing the plumbing.

"Under the American Jobs Plan, 100% of our nation's lead pipes and service lines will be replaced-so every child in America can turn on the faucet or fountain and drink clean water," the president tweeted.

Can you imagine Donald Trump tweeting about repairing lead pipes?

Biden is excited about rebuilding America's "infrastructure," a word he uses constantly although it could be the dullest term in all of public policy. "Infrastructure week" became a punchline under Trump.

The old unwritten rule was that if a president wants to do something really big, he has to justify it as critical to national defense or else summon the nation's conscience.

Dwight Eisenhower's National Interstate and Defense Highway Act was designed to "permit quick evacuation of target areas" in case of nuclear attack and get munitions rapidly from city to city. Of course, in subsequent years it proved indispensable to America's economic growth.

America's huge investment in higher education in the late 1950s was spurred by the Soviets' Sputnik satellite. The official purpose of the National Defense Education Act, as it was named, was to "insure trained manpower of sufficient quality and quantity to meet the national defense needs of the United States."

John F. Kennedy launched the race to the moon in 1962 so that space wouldn't be "governed by a hostile flag of conquest."

Two years later, Lyndon Johnson's "unconditional war on poverty" drew on the conscience of America reeling from Kennedy's assassination.

But Joe Biden is not arousing the nation against a foreign power - not even China figures prominently as a foil - nor is he basing his plans on lofty appeals to national greatness or public morality.

"I got elected to solve problems," he says, simply. He's Mr. Fix-it.

The first of these problems was a pandemic that's killed hundreds of thousands of Americans - Biden carries a card in his pocket updating the exact number - and its ensuing economic hardship.

In response, Congress passed Biden's $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan - the most important parts of which aren't $1,400 checks now being mailed to millions of Americans but $3,600 checks a child paid to low-income families, which will cut child poverty by half.

Now comes his $2 trillion American Jobs Plan, which doesn't just fund roads and bridges but a vast number of things the nation has neglected for years: schools, affordable housing, in-home care, access to broadband, basic research, renewable energy, and the transition to a non-fossil economy.

Why isn't Biden trumpeting these initiatives for what they are - huge public investments in the environment, the working-class and poor - instead of rescue checks and road repairs? Why not stir America with a vision of what the nation can be if it exchanges fraudulent trickle-down economics for genuine bottom-up innovation and growth?

Even the official titles of his initiatives - Rescue Plan, Jobs Plan, and soon-to-be-unveiled Family Plan - are anodyne, like plumbing blueprints.

The reason is Biden wants Americans to feel confident he's taking care of the biggest problems but doesn't want to create much of a stir. The country is so bitterly and angrily divided that any stir is likely to stir up vitriol.

Talk too much about combatting climate change and lose everyone whose livelihood depends on fossil fuels or who doesn't regard climate change as an existential threat. Focus on cutting child poverty and lose everyone who thinks welfare causes dependency. Talk too much about critical technologies and lose those who don't believe government should be picking winners.

Rescue checks and road repairs may be boring but they're hugely popular. 61 percent of Americans support the American Rescue Plan, including 59 percent of Republicans. More than 80 percent support increased funding for highway construction, bridge repair and expanded access to broadband.

Biden has made it all so bland that congressional Republicans and their big business backers have nothing to criticize except his proposal to pay for the repairs by raising taxes on corporations, which most Americans support.

This is smart politics. Biden is embarking on a huge and long-overdue repair job on the physical and human underpinnings of the nation while managing to keep most of a bitterly divided country with him. It may not be seen as glamorous work, but when you're knee-deep in muck it's hard to argue with a plumber.

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

Demonstrators protest outside of the state capitol building in opposition of House Bill 531 on March 8, 2021, in Atlanta, Georgia.

Georgia's New Voting Law Is Rife With Hidden Horrors
by Greg Palast

When we first reported that handing a slice of pizza to a voter waiting three hours in a line is now a felony in Georgia, other media quickly picked up the story, highlighting the cruelty of Georgia Republicans making predominantly Black voters suffer from hunger and thirst in lines the GOP deliberately made long by closing polling stations in majority-Black precincts.

But the food-in-line prohibition is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to horrific provisions hidden in the 95 pages of Georgia's new anti-voting law.

Donald Trump infamously demanded the Georgia secretary of state "find 11,780" votes. The MAGA crowd in the Georgia legislature found 364,541 votes to cancel, that is, voters whose ballots would be blocked from the count in the next election.

To understand how this mass attack on citizens will work, we have to go back to December 21, 2020, just before the Georgia Senate runoffs, when True the Vote, a Texas group founded by Tea Party crusader Catherine Engelbrecht, challenged the right of 364,541 Georgians to cast ballots. You read that number right: More than a third of a million voters almost lost their vote.

Almost. County elections boards, facing threats by the ACLU and Stacey Abrams's Fair Fight, rejected the challenges, noting that the numbers were too huge to be credible. One voter can challenge another if they have personal knowledge that the other voter is a fraud. The local shills used by the Texas group knew nothing of those they challenged.

However, the new Georgia law specifically authorizes unlimited challenges. And Georgia's Republican Secretary of State has gleefully invited True the Vote to attack voter rolls. (For more on Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, whom voting rights lawyer Gerald Griggs calls the "Vote Suppressor in Chief," see my report for Democracy Now!) But won't those same county boards kick out any new absurd challenges? The MAGA mob in the legislature has got that covered. Under the new law, the State Board of Elections can remove a county board if it doesn't, in the state's opinion, rule properly on these challenges.

And who will make up the state board? The new law hands over the board to the GOP leaders of the legislature plus a representative of Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who is infamous for his own manipulations of the voter rolls which gave him the gubernatorial race against Stacey Abrams.

The True the Vote challenges, officially backed by the Republican Party, centered on Atlanta counties with mostly voters of color. Voting rights attorney Barbara Arnwine, founder of Transformative Justice Coalition and co-plaintiff with Black Voters Matter, warns that the new state board will have the authority to remove the local board and override local decisions.

Follow the Money Where the heck did True the Vote's Engelbrecht get the dollars to mount this multi-county attack on Georgians?

In 2016, our investigator Zach D. Roberts confronted Engelbrecht about her funding by the Koch Brothers, which she didn't deny. ProPublica also traced True the Vote's lucre to the Bradley Foundation, which our team exposed as the funders of attempts to wrongly purge Black voters in Milwaukee.

Don't discount True the Vote. The lawyer who is leading their attack in Georgia is James Bopp Jr., who argued for Citizens United in the Supreme Court case that opened the door to corporate money poisoning our elections.

Follow the List

That's the money. But True the Vote's list of challenge-worthy votes supposedly came from the U.S. Post Office's National Change of Address registry.

Sounds official. Sounds legit. It isn't. In 2017 and 2018, Brian Kemp, then both Secretary of State and candidate for governor, used a similar list to remove hundreds of thousands of voters on the grounds they had moved out of Georgia.

The Palast Investigative Fund, working for Salon, hired the nation's top experts in the use of postal files and found that Kemp's list was as phony as a three-dollar bill. Kemp also claimed he relied on the Post Office, but the experts found Kemp had wrongly barred 340,355 from the polls.

We located one of the voters who was wrongly accused of illegally registering from a former address: 92-year-old Christine Jordan, a cousin of the late Dr. Martin Luther King. I was with her when she was bounced from the polls.

Stacey Abrams cited our story in declaring she'd been cheated out of victory. And cheated she was.

In 2020, the ACLU released a new report by the Palast Investigative Fund in which we identified, by name and address, another 198,351 Georgians who were wrongly removed. Black Voters Matter sued in federal court to reverse the removals.

Crucially, Black Voters Matter -working with the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, which seeks to empower Latino and Latina communities to register to vote -used postcards, billboards, phone calls and publicity to re-register the victims we identified.

The result: Georgia's voters, not the purge, chose the president and senators.

That didn't make Trump or his MAGA loyalists in the legislature happy.

And the federal case (in which I testified for Black Voters Matter) has won a grudging agreement from the state that Georgia must follow the complex process in federal law meant to stop the removal of innocent voters.

But now, innocent voters beware.

Avoiding Federal Law -or Breaking It?

True the Vote is crowing that Georgia Secretary of State Raffensperger has virtually invited it to challenge more voters.

While the press has made much of his war with Trump, Raffensperger is very much a partisan Republican hack -one of the most vicious suppression experts I've encountered in my long career.

Now he has openly stated that he can use True the Vote's challenge trickery to avoid the strictures of federal law. True the Vote's press release quotes Raffensperger:

"I've said since Election Day that I must follow the law in the execution of our elections, and I've also encouraged Georgians to report any suspected problems for my office to investigate," said Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. "Though federal law restricts our ability to update our voter registration lists, the Elector Challenge is a vehicle under our law to ensure voter integrity."
In other words, while Raffensperger must follow federal law, he claims that True the Vote doesn't have to, and he can merrily accept True the Vote's challenges.

Federal law prohibits states from removing voters within 90 days of a federal election. It requires that voters challenged for supposedly living out of state must be sent a postcard, months before an election, allowing the voter to halt their removal. And it requires the postal change-of-address information come from a post office licensed source, not "Joe's Purges-R-Us."

But Raffensperger is saying that if True the Vote gives voters no notice, uses a bogus unlicensed list and demands that voters be removed without notice just days before the election, that's a perfectly fine way to sidestep federal protection.

And if a county elections board finds True the Vote's methods biased, wrong and illegal, as they have so far, the new partisan state board can simply overrule the county.

In other words, to hell with federal law. The state can't commit the crime, but the state can simply adopt the illegal process used by this Koch-moneyed operation.

True the Vote claims its purge operation doesn't threaten rights because the counties will have to send each challenged voter a letter allowing them to show up to a hearing to defend their registration or ballot.

True the Vote, a Texas group founded by Tea Party crusader Catherine Engelbrecht (pictured here), challenged the right of 364,541 Georgians to cast ballots.

But, as Arnwine told me, almost no one will take a day off from work to show up to a courtroom-style hearing to prove they are who they are. And some challenges can occur after a voter has cast a mail-in ballot.

Sen. Raphael Warnock is already campaigning to hold his seat in 2022. He is expected to be on the ballot with Stacey Abrams running for "reelection" as governor. Clearly, the GOP believes Georgia's voters can't be trusted to choose their senators and governor. Rather, Republicans are counting on Jim Crow to "true the vote."

(c) 2021 Greg Palast is author of the New York Times bestseller, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Armed Madhouse and the highly acclaimed Vultures' Picnic, named Book of the Year 2012 on BBC Newsnight Review.

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-

George Floyd Case To Be Most Keenly Watched US Trial Since Last Time Guilty Cop Walked Free

By The Waterford Whispers News

AS PROCEEDINGS get underway in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin for his part in the death of George Floyd, experts believe this will be the most closely watched trial of its kind since the last guy who walked free despite what legal scholars have identified as a case of 'the guy fucking did it.'

"When you say 'the last guy' do you mean officer Robert Olsen?" asked one watcher of the trial, referencing an officer who was found not guilty of murder when he shot naked and unarmed black man Anthony Hill, a war veteran.

"Or are we talking officer Brett Hankison here?" they added of the killer of Breonna Taylor, who will not go on trial for murder but for 'wanton endangerment.' "I could go on but we've got a trial, we know deep down in our bones won't deliver justice, to watch."

Chauvin is on trial for unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter, but younger Americans tuning into their first trial which picks at the scab on the festering boil of institutional racism have been told not to get their hopes up.

"Best case he's getting manslaughter, but as you're watching this you'll feel like George Floyd is on trial for the crime of existing and dying and it'll grind away at your soul. It's a wild ride honestly but don't worry you'll get depressingly used to it over time," added lack of justice expert Douglas Fermin.

Elsewhere, those pointing to the fact that the killing was all captured on video making a conviction a foregone conclusion have been asked if they were born yesterday.

(c) 2021 The Waterford Whispers News

The Animal Rescue Site

Issues & Alibis Vol 21 # 15 (c) 04/09/2021

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