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In This Edition

Norman Solomon says, "The Pandemic Makes The Bernie 2020 Campaign More Vital Than Ever."

Ralph Nader says, "Coronavirus Failures Show Trump Is Clear And Present Danger To The United States."

Glen Ford finds, "Resistance Growing To Covid-Capitalism."

Jim Hightower wonders, "Can The Easter Bunny Save Us?"

William Rivers Pitt explores, "COVID-19 Is Trump's 9/11. Like Bush, He Was Warned And Didn't Act."

John Nichols reports, "We Will Not Sit Back And Let Transit Workers Be Treated Like Cannon Fodder."

James Donahue is, "Looking At The World Through Rose Colored Glasses."

David Swanson interviews, "Gorbachev: Time To Revise The Entire Global Agenda."

David Suzuki says, "Let's Come Together In These Physically Distancing Times."

Charles P. Pierce concludes, "The Easiest Way To Get Fired At Camp Runamuck Is To Do Your Job Correctly."

Juan Cole returns with, "Incompetence On Covid-19 Exposed At Home, Trump Tests Wagging The Dog With Threats Against Iran."

Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich explains, "How To Prepare For The Trump Recession."

Jane Stillwater visits, "The Forgotten."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports, "Trump Tackles Medical Supply Shortage By Awarding ExxonMobil Contract To Drill For Ventilators In Arctic," but first, Uncle Ernie sez, "So, Who Do You Like America? Hitler Or Himmler? It's Your Choice!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of John Deering, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, Erin Scott, Alex Wong, Tom Williams, Doug Mills-Pool, Wiktor Szymanowicz, Barcroft Media, Jane Stillwater, Jim Hightower, AFP, 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 Vidkun Quisling Award-
The Cartoon Corner-
To End On A Happy Note-
Have You Seen This-
Parting Shots-

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

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So, Who Do You Like America? Hitler Or Himmler? It's Your Choice!
And either way you lose!
By Ernest Stewart

"As many of you will recall, Nelson Mandela, one of the great freedom fighters in modern world history famously said, and I quote, 'it always seems impossible until it is done'.

And what he meant by that is that the greatest obstacle to real social change has everything to do with the power of a corporate and political establishment to limit our vision of what is possible and what we are entitled to as human beings." ~~~ Bernie Sanders

"The novel coronavirus was not made in a laboratory, as some conspiracy theories had suggested. Rather, its genome bears a striking resemblance to bat coronaviruses, and it is similar to coronaviruses that infect pangolins." ~~~ Nature magazine

"His removal from prestigious command of an aircraft carrier with almost 5,000 crew members has taken on an added significance, as his punishment is viewed by some in the military as indicative of the government's handling of the entire pandemic, with public officials presenting upbeat pictures of the government's response, while contrary voices are silenced." ~~~ Helene Cooper ~ New York Times

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

So it's come down to this, the corpo-rat controlled DNC has done the dirty work for their masters and Wall Street Joe Biden will be their candidate as Bernie has dropped out once again.

Many say that Bernie changed the way many people think about things like a $15 minimun wage, medicare for all, free state colleges and such till the people are demanding them but that doesn't matter as long as the one percent runs the show. And with the Rethuglicans and the Demoncrats singing their praises it will only get worse, not better.

Despite being Barry's vp Joe doesn't really like black folks, especially black women, although he does love to smell ladies hair, go figure! And like Lying Donald Joe's happy to do the one percents bidding so there is really little difference between them!

You know me, I pledged not to ever vote for the lesser of two evils again, a way back in the 1990s under Slick Willie and have voted Green ever since. Oh, I hear you, a vote for a Green candidate is a vote for Lying Donald as if my one vote could actually change anything. Yes, I agree that Lying Donald is the worst president* ever and would make the worst ten people in the world list as well and Joe is slightly better than Lying Donald. Perhaps, but at least I still vote which is more than the majority of Americans do. Most Americans have given up on voting and with candidates like Lying Donald and Wall Street Joe who can blame them? Who do you like? Hitler or Himmler?

As they used to say, "Election day is near, go to the polls and vote. Vote for the fascist moron of your choice, but vote!" You are sooooo screwed, America!

In Other News

I see where in the coming decades, ecological degradation, rising temperatures, and extreme weather events could intensify the threats to human health posed by viruses.

How will climate change affect the spread of infectious diseases? We know from past epidemics that changes in temperature, rainfall, and humidity can have profound effects on the spread of infectious disease.

In the summer of 1878, for example, the southern United States was struck by a catastrophic outbreak of yellow fever, a viral disease indirectly transmitted between people via mosquitos.

Around 100,000 people contracted the disease, and up to 20,000 people lost their lives. Some estimates put the economic cost as high as $200,000,000. In todays money that's $5,173,560,000!

Yellow fever was a regular scourge of cities in the lower Mississippi River basin in the 18th and 19th centuries.

A U.S. Senate Report noted in 1911: "During its brief reign - July to October - its ravages were such as to completely paralyze both the social and commercial interests of a given city, and even an entire section of our country."

By 1911, improvements in rainwater storage and sanitation had denied the mosquito many of its former breeding grounds in open rain barrels and cisterns close to houses.

But it would take until the end of the 20th century before scientists realized why outbreaks were so much worse in some years than others.

Between 1793 and 1905, there were nine devastating yellow fever epidemics. Seven coincided with a major El Nino episode.

El Nino is a band of warm water that develops off the Pacific coast of South America every 4 years or so. The phenomenon results in high rainfall, warm springs, and hot summers in southern U.S. states.

According to research published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society in 1999, this provided the perfect conditions for mosquitos to spread yellow fever.

The El Nino event coinciding with the 1878 epidemic was one of the strongest on record.

There are lessons to be learned about how future changes in human activity driven by global warming might increase the likelihood of viruses jumping from wild species into our own.

As happened with COVID-19, which is the infection caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, the leaps of these viruses between species can create new diseases to which humans have little immunity.

According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), "Climate change, one of the global environmental changes now underway, is anticipated to have a wide range of impacts upon the occurrence of infectious disease in human populations."

And to make things ever worse we have "the genius" Lying Donald in charge! Have I mentioned how doomed that makes us?

And Finally

Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly fired Captain Brett E. Crozier, of the coronavirus-stricken aircraft carrier U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt. Captain Crozier now has been stricken with the coronavirus and has been hospitalized. Crozier command was terminated for daring to ask for help. I bet that's going to increase Navy enlistments, don't you? NOT!

Sure, Modly was only following ze orders from Lying Donald but that didn't help any of the Nazis' from evading the noose after WWll, if memory serves? German Nazis, American Nazis, what's the difference, "Hang'em High" as Clint Eastwood would say. Speaking of which, Clint says he's voting for the Democratic candidate instead of Lying Donald, this November, but I digress...

Forgive me, for I seem to have strayed, somewhat, from the topic of this evening's symposium. Ergo, Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly has won this week's Vidkun Quisling Award!

Oh, and this just in, on a happy note Modly just resigned after it hit the fan!

Keepin' On

If you think that what we do is important and would like to see us keep on, keeping on, please send us whatever you can, whenever you can, and we'll keep telling you the truth!


12-28-1958 ~ 04-05-2020
Thanks for the film and the good fight!

08-22-1925 ~ 04-05-2020
Thanks for the film!

04-18-1934 ~ 04-06-2020
Thanks for the film!

04-06-1956 ~ 04-07-2020
Thanks for the music!

10-10-1946 ~ 04-07-2020
Thanks for the music!

12-31-1948 ~ 04-07-2020
Thanks for the music!

11-22-1939 ~ 04-07-2020
Thanks for the film!

11-24-1949 ~ 04-08-2020
Thanks for ratting out 'Slick Willie!'

03-22-1929 ~ 04-09-2020
Thanks for the visions!


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


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

Until the next time, Peace!

(c) 2020 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.

The Pandemic Makes The Bernie 2020 Campaign More Vital Than Ever
By Norman Solomon

Pressure on Bernie Sanders to quit the presidential race is intensifying. Over the weekend, the Washington Post splashed a major story under the headline "Some Top Sanders Advisers Urge Him to Consider Withdrawing." While sheltering at home, comedian Larry David couldn't curb his enthusiasm for an end to the campaign, telling a New York Times columnist: "I feel he should drop out. Because he's too far behind. He can't get the nomination."

OK, at this point it's highly unlikely -- though still possible -- that Sanders can gain enough delegates to become the Democratic nominee. But the Bernie 2020 campaign has never been only about winning. It has always also been about strengthening vital progressive movements while widening public discourse and political space.

Like the movements fueling -- and being fueled by -- both of the Sanders campaigns for president, those campaigns have organized to challenge the dominant narrow, corporate-power concepts of what is possible or desirable. That has meant continually throwing down gauntlets against systemic injustices that routinely cause preventable catastrophes -- individual, social and environmental.

By now, corporate media outlets often acknowledge that the Sanders campaigns brought into the political mainstream many proposals that were commonly labeled as "fringe" or "radical" just a few years ago. Positions like a $15-an-hour minimum wage, free public-college tuition and Medicare for All have reached center stage for the Democratic Party and the country as a whole.

Yet now, to hear mass media and the party establishment tell it, Sanders should immediately cease expanding the public discourse during this election cycle. Demands that Sanders quit the race are getting louder by the day -- insisting that he function like a traditional politician rather than a movement candidate.

But those calls for normal political behavior are coming at a time when conditions are anything but normal. The coronavirus pandemic is a truly unprecedented life-and-death emergency on a scale so vast that it's difficult to comprehend. The conditions -- and timeworn assumptions -- that have made it so deadly in the United States go far beyond the criminal negligence of top officials in the Trump administration.

For decades, assaults on the public sector, led by Republicans and often abetted by Democrats in Washington, have crippled government capacities to protect public health. While defending for-profit insurance, Democratic leaders have refused to support comprehensive healthcare coverage for all.

At a time when the structural failures of a corporatized society have never been more glaring and deadly, we desperately need Sanders' voice to be heard far and wide. That can and should happen between now and June -- a month when more than a dozen states are scheduled to hold presidential primaries.

The status of "frontrunner" does not change the reality that Joe Biden has failed to step up to the challenge of responding to the pandemic. Biden's severely limited capacities to speak clearly -- or to offer proposals commensurate with the extreme crisis -- continue to be on display.

Meanwhile, consistent with his approach over several decades, the Sanders campaign has provided a flood of position statements, online messaging, virtual roundtables, vibrant interviews and proposals that amount to the "boldest legislation in history."

Solid reasons for Sanders to stay in the presidential primaries are hardly appreciated by party power brokers and big media outlets that have been hostile toward the Bernie 2020 campaign from the beginning.

There's no doubt that Bernie Sanders will do all he can to help defeat Donald Trump. That imperative would not be served by stifling a campaign that continually enhances public understanding of what will be necessary to finally guarantee healthcare as a human right -- and create a truly humane society

(c) 2020 Norman Solomon is co-founder of and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death" and "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State."

U.S. President Donald Trump is flanked by Vice President Mike Pence while speaking during
a news briefing on the latest development of the coronavirus outbreak in the
U.S. in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House March 18, 2020 in Washington, DC.

Coronavirus Failures Show Trump Is Clear And Present Danger To The United States
Eight "pro-contagion activities" by Trump increased the coronavirus death toll in the United States.
By Ralph Nader

Trump ridiculed, then minimized, then delayed the federal government's response to the coronavirus for weeks. Then finally he wrapped his boastful, confused ego around reality. But Trump is actively pushing programs that will endanger more Americans.

Here's a brief look at Trump's pro-contagion activities that leave Americans defenseless in the face of the virus, implemented by his crazed and cruel appointees.

1. Trump is pushing hard to weaken safety regulations for nursing homes. Weakening these regulations leaves elderly residents vulnerable to infectious diseases, meaning more people will get sick and die.

2. Trump is fanatically trying to end Obamacare in court cases. Twenty million people, at least, will lose health insurance. He has no replacement. As a Yale University study just demonstrated, 65,000 to over 100,000 Americans die every year because they do not have health insurance (see the Yale study here). Trump apparently is okay with many more people losing their lives to further entrench his cruel, corporatist ideology. Many more people will stay sick because they are uninsured and therefore cannot afford diagnosis and treatment.

3. Trump is lying about his concern for American workers. Why is OSHA weakening workplace safety protections that keep workers safer? The answer: Trump is a crazed and cruel corporatist.

4. Trump's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) henchmen are racing to weaken, revoke, or not enforce environmental safeguards for the air you breathe, the water you drink, and the food you eat. Certain scientifically condemned pesticides, for example, are in your food, but Trump and his EPA lackeys don't care. These cruel minions are also taking advantage of the coronavirus crisis by signaling to polluters they can open up emission pipes and that the EPA will look the other way. Trump's EPA is taking actions that mean more people will get sick and more people will die.

5. Last month, Food and Drug Agency (FDA) announced that it is suspending inspections of foreign manufacturers importing food, drugs and medical devices into the U.S. through April. This decision is madness! FDA will even suspend inspections of Chinese labs producing large amounts of imported drugs for American patients. This is like telling corporate criminals that the panicked U.S. is unguarded without federal cops on the beat. More unprotected Americans will be at immediate risk of death and disease.

6. Just last week, against the advice of even some major auto manufacturers, clenched- jaw Donald rolled back automobile mileage and pollution standards (See here the New York Times op-ed by Daniel F. Becker and James Gerstenzang on August 2, 2018). Trump's mania knows no bounds! Trump's compulsive crazy desire to repeal all Obama's achievements means he is willing to move us backwards, making the future more dangerous and uncertain. The result is more life-destroying pollutants in your lungs, more consumer dollars spent on gasoline for less mileage per gallon, more climate crisis-exacerbating gases.

7. Trump faces enormous opposition, from medical experts, consumer groups, environmental groups, civil rights groups, anti-poverty organizations, and even conservatives that will take him to court. What does he care?

8. Stubborn Trump's embargo of Iran and other severe sanctions on nations wanting to sell medicines and equipment to virus-plagued poorer locations disrupts international efforts to contain the deadly virus.

Almost no reporters are asking Trump about his reckless, anti-safety policies in the midst of a pandemic that is especially dangerous for victims with pre-existing ailments and sicknesses.

Again, Trump is a clear and present danger to the U.S.A. He is misleading, egomaniacal, unstable, confused, and cannot process information to make decisions carried out properly and quickly.

It's all in plain sight, Trump voters! Do you think he will exempt you and yours from the dangers noted above? His actions will cause cancer, respiratory diseases, exposure to perilous medicines, loss of insurance coverage, and more. This is what happens when the government places the greedy wants of Wall Street over the basic needs of Main Street.

Trump voters face a harsh daily reality where they live, work and raise their families. One hopes they will finally demand a President who empathizes with peoples' dire straits and embraces the Golden Rule. Instead of a President who betrays us while giving sugarcoated campaign speeches and manipulative flatteries.

(c) 2020 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).

Resistance Growing To Covid-Capitalism
By Glen Ford

Covid-19 has laid bare a fundamental truth: that capitalist healthcare is a contradiction in terms, since capital - like the killer virus -- cares for nothing but reproducing itself.

What some may remember as the Year of the Lost Spring - lost loved ones, lost jobs, lost freedom of movement - may also become the year that the oligarchy and its servants in both corporate parties lost popular permission to dictate the terms of life and death in the United States. For the second time this century, the economies of the U.S. and Europe are circling the abyss, dragging much of the rest of the planet with them, while China, site of the first large eruption of Covid-19, leads the world in both economic resilience and global mutual aid -- and Cuba has stepped forward once again as the champion of medical solidarity.

The superpower that has killed millions in its quest for global supremacy has utterly failed the most basic test of legitimacy at home: the ability to protect its own population. Covid-19 has laid bare a fundamental truth: that capitalist healthcare is a contradiction in terms, since capital - like the killer virus -- cares for nothing but reproducing itself. The U.S. "public" health sector is revealed as a hollowed-out shell, crippled and shrunken by decades of unrelenting privatization at the hands of the oligarch-serving political duopoly. In effect, the Lords of Capital have been devouring the nation's protective membrane, leaving the population defenseless against, not only microbes, but every disease of the poor -- plus opiates and the lethal social pathologies that spawn spectacular and uniquely American mass shootings at schools, churches and shopping malls, and the daily slaughter of Black and brown youth on the streets.

The idiot currently occupying the White House did not create the healthcare crisis, and the people know it. Donald Trump is far too incompetent and unfocused to pull off such a monumental crime, which has been unfolding for decades. Democrats have been full partners in stripping the people of public health protections - including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the current darling of corporate media, who continues to press for $2.5 billion in Medicaid cuts in his own state even as he poses as the nation's top virus-slayer. Joe Biden, the not-all-there man who some would like Cuomo to replace as the Democratic presidential nominee, vows to veto Medicare for All - the first, preliminary step towards a real national health care system -- if it ever comes across his White House desk. Politicians of both parties take their orders from the Lords of Capital. Otherwise, they are demonized and threatened with expulsion from the capitalist duopoly, the only electoral game that is allowed under oligarchic rule - which is why Bernie Sanders will always be a loyal sheep-dog for a party that opposes his old-style Democratic reforms.

In the big cities, it is almost invariably the Democrats that enforce Rich Man's Rule - many of them Black Democrats, since the other half of the duopoly is the White Man's Party (GOP). Big labor's only duopoly option is also the Democrats, a straight-jacket that union hacks have no desire to escape, preferring concubinage (whoring) to conflict with the ruling capitalist class.

The unions that purport to fight for the workers, and Blacks, who are overwhelming working class and the most left-leaning ethnicity in the nation, have both been reduced by the duopoly to annexes of the Democratic Party, a fatal embrace. The duopoly serves only one master: Capital. Back when the Democrats were the White Man's Party and an aging Frederick Douglass made his living as a Republican functionary, the former firebrand declared, "The Republican Party is the ship and all else is the sea around us." Just as Douglass' Republicans eventually sanctioned Jim Crow and the dictatorship of Capital, the Democrats have become bulwarks of an austerity Race to the Bottom that has thrown the working class and its most marginalized components overboard to drown in a sea of declining living standards and disappearing "real" jobs and social supports - and without a national health care system.

Covid-19 has made clear the lunacy of this deal with the devil, and that "nobody will save us, but us." Cooperation Jackson, the Mississippi-based "emerging vehicle for sustainable community development, economic democracy, and community ownership," last week put out a call for a general strike to begin on May 1st -- May Day -- and a list of demands "that will transform our broken and inequitable society, and build a new society run by and for us - the working-class, poor, oppressed majority." (See BAR, April 6, 2020.) "Despite the asymmetry of power between ourselves on the Left and the organized working-class, and the forces of the right," says the Call, "we have to do everything we can to intervene. We must stop the worst most deadly version of this pandemic from becoming a reality, and we have to ensure that we never return to the society that enabled this pandemic to emerge and have the impact it is having in the first place. We must do everything that we can to create a new, just, equitable and ecologically regenerative economy."

The proposed demands include protection of front-line workers exposed to the virus, and of "other vulnerable communities, including the homeless, migrants, and refugees from discrimination and attack in this time of crisis"; democratization of the means of production, by converting corporations into cooperatives; universal healthcare and basic services (education, childcare, elderly care, water, electricity, internet, etc.); a universal basic income; democratized credit ("Bail out the people, not the corporations and Wall Street"); a "decarbonized economy and Green New Deal; housing as a human right; clean and decommodified water for all; a Debt Jubilee; release of prisoners and closure of jails and prisons; closure of detention centers and reunification of families; shutdown of overseas military bases and cuts in the military budget, with spending transferred to social needs and infrastructure."

Cooperation Jackson spokesman Kali Akuno said nearly 300 activists took part in a conference call on Monday and reached "consensus on doing collective action to support what's already going on." Committees were formed to launch and sustain the strike and to put together a national strike fund.

"We're trying to answer questions of the last 30 years in a few days," said Akuno. May Day is important, "but we have no illusion that the 'big one' will happen on May 1st," with the epidemic raging and much of the population still on lockdown, "but we'll keep working towards it to send a clear message that we need a new system."

The resistance predates Cooperation Jackson's call. Dr. Abdul Alkalimat, professor of African American Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, compiled and circulated a list of grassroots labor and social activist actions in the time of plague across the nation and the world:

New Orleans

Workers beginning to revolt<

Amazon warehouse workers

GE workers

Uber and Lyft drivers



ICE detainees

Grocery store workers

McDonald's in LA

Local officials in Georgia


Ivory Coast







Lockdown and Beyond

As long as the lockdown continues, activists will have to find novel uses for technology. The Black Is Back Coalition had planned to hold its annual Electoral School gathering in St. Louis this weekend, April 11 and 12, but will instead conduct the event over the internet. The theme has been changed to "Covid-19 Pandemic: Black People Fight Back," with an emphasis on "sellout Negroes in the time of plague," said coalition chairman Omali Yeshitela.

That's an apt description of the battle ahead of us. The Democratic Party has for the last four years blamed all of the ills of capitalism -- and their own crimes -- on the singularly loathsome person of Donald Trump and his imaginary partners in Moscow. Trump has, in effect, been their shield, diverting attention from Democratic complicity in the Race to the Bottom - which is why Hillary Clinton wanted him to be the Republican nominee, and why the Democrats insist he is the only issue in 2020. If Trump is the root of all evil, then all that needs to be done is to replace him with a Democrat - leaving intact the system created by both parties at the behest of the ruling class. But the Covid-19 epidemic would have wrought mass death and economic havoc in the United States no matter which half of the corporate duopoly was in charge, because both corporate parties have been eagerly dismantling and privatizing the public health sector for two generations. The Covid-19 bailout of banks and corporations under Trump is modeled on the bank and corporate bailout under Obama more than a decade ago. Neither scheme saved anybody but the financial and corporate elite. The First Black President and the Thoroughly Racist President both serve the same masters.

Through its abject obedience to the Democratic Party, the Black Misleadership Class act as mercenaries for the same oligarchy. They are welcomed into the subservient fold because the Lords of Capital have no problem with ethnic and religious "diversity" in the lower ranks of the power structure (mayors, a few corporate executives, even a compliant Black president), as long as society is structured according to the needs of Capital. Black politics will have to be transformed - not just independent of the Democratic Party, but relentlessly opposed to it - or there is no chance of lifting Black America from the bottom of the racial barrel, much less eliminating the racial hierarchy, altogether.

Bernie Sanders' final surrender to the will of his half of the corporate duopoly, was anticlimax. Covid-19 will swell the ranks of dissidents in the party and nation, and Sanders' concession will remove false hope that a corporate party can fight corporate rule. Sanders played a key role in popularizing the term "socialism," but also in sanitizing it as compatible with existing power structures. Jeff Bezos and the rest of the obscenely rich are just as deadly if they are more heavily taxed, as they are when they keep most of their money. A real left must fight for real socialism if the real world is to be saved from the greatest threat to life on Earth: the capitalist ruling classes of the United States and Europe, the historical and unrepentant enslavers of humanity and ravagers of the planet. Real socialism kicks the oligarchy off the commanding heights of the economy so they can no longer inflict unending austerity, war and warming on the planet while the people remain unprotected from the periodic visitation of deadly microbes. It must be a socialism that respects and facilitates the self-determination of Black people and all other oppressed nationalities that demand it - which is the only way that socialism can work in a racist society.

(c) 2019 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

Can The Easter Bunny Save Us?
By Jim Hightower

Glorious news, people! The renowned professor of pandemicology, Dr. Donald Trump, has found the magical antidote to coronavirus that had eluded lesser scientists. It's the Peter Cottontail Solution. While sitting in the Rose Garden, the resident White House Pandemicologist said that it suddenly dawned on him that, Hippity-hoppity, Easter's on its way! So, he declared that he was ready to lift all those pesky health restrictions and "have the country opened up" by Easter.

Would our public health crisis be over by then? Dr. Trump said he didn't worry about such factual details. Instead he explained to the Fox audience that "I just thought it was a beautiful time," noting that all of the nation's churches could be packed on that Sunday, bringing people together in celebration of his miraculous rising of the moribund economy.

But wouldn't such a holy mass gathering actually reinvigorate the diabolical COVID-19 pathogen, spreading its destruction further, deeper, and longer? Sure, said the good doctor, "You are going to lose a number of people," but Wall Street and Corporate America are crippled by employees staying home, so "We have to get back to work." His rallying cry for workers to pump up the sagging stock market echoes a crass "Die for the Dow" ethic espoused by Wall Street barons and billionaires. Of course, for the cold inhumanity of such a dreadful policy idea to be made clear, it needs to be officially embraced as "Texas Stupid." Sure enough, one of my state's right-wing politicos, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, lunged into the national spotlight to one-up Trump, saying that returning America to full economic throttle pronto is worth sacrificing the lives of grandparents who are 70-plus years old. "Let's be smart about it," he blathered, demonstrating to millions that he - and this idea - truly are dumber than a dust bunny.

(c) 2020 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

President Trump participates in a video conference at the White House on April 7, 2020, in Washington, D.C.

COVID-19 Is Trump's 9/11. Like Bush, He Was Warned And Didn't Act
By William Rivers Pitt

The cuckoo clock has died of shock
And the windows feel no pain
The air's as still
As the throttle on a funeral train ~~~ John Prine
Donald Trump is a raist, misogynist, liar, fearmonger, panderer and the undisputed world champion of self-aggrandizement. Until a few days ago, however, George W. Bush was winning in the vile metric of the body count: From September 11 to Afghanistan to Iraq, the sheer volume of human suffering that took place during the eight grinding years of the Bush administration bloodbath - suffering that has continued unabated even unto this moment before us - put him in rare and terrible historic company.

When I woke up this morning, COVID-19 had laid its cold finger on the shoulders of nearly 1.5 million people worldwide, killing more than 80,000 of them. Here in the United States, where the buck allegedly stops on a desk in a rounded White House office, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases will surpass 400,000 before I finish typing this sentence, and the CNN snapshot on my TV screen puts the undercounted death toll at 12,911.

That number - 12,911 - punched me in the heart for reasons far beyond the simple, obvious, staggering fact of it. I am one of those who, for the last 19 years and likely for the remainder of my life, sees "911" and thinks not about emergency responders, but about bodies plunging from mortally slashed buildings on a perfect Tuesday morning. If I catch a clock at 9:11, be it a.m. or p.m., I will wince, and the remainder of my day will be ever so slightly stained with old blood that still smells fresh.

Bush knew of the threat to come.

"It was perhaps the most famous presidential briefing in history," reported The New York Times on the 11th anniversary of the attacks. "On Aug. 6, 2001, President George W. Bush received a classified review of the threats posed by Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network, Al Qaeda. That morning's 'presidential daily brief' - the top-secret document prepared by America's intelligence agencies - featured the now-infamous heading: 'Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.' A few weeks later, on 9/11, Al Qaeda accomplished that goal."

The theories - in the conspiratorial vein, along with the obvious ones about negligence, greed and opportunism that have sprouted up around Bush and September 11 - are legion. The rock-bottom facts, however, are indisputable: The outgoing Clinton administration loudly warned the incoming Bush administration about the heightened level of threat, intelligence professionals like Richard Clarke continued to do so from within the administration, and still the towers came down in a hail of fire, smoke and tears.

Nearly two decades later, Trump similarly knew about the current COVID catastrophe before it exploded. As early as November, a U.S. intelligence report warned the White House that the pandemic could be "cataclysmic."

Peter Navarro, one of Trump's top economic advisers, warned the White House on January 29 that COVID could kill more than 500,000 people in the U.S. On February 23, Navarro warned the White House again: COVID is coming, it will be bad, and worse if the administration doesn't get on the stick straightaway and at speed. Navarro was bounced from the coronavirus task force after sending his memos.

The day after Navarro's January memo was written, Trump said, "We think it's going to have a very good ending for it. So that I can assure you." The day after Navarro's February memo was written, Trump tweeted, "The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA.... Stock Market starting to look very good to me!"

This is but a sliver of the lies, denials and failures that have painted the Trump White House red with the blood of coronavirus victims. Rather than rally to the moment and put his mistakes behind him, Trump has instead made wild and false claims on national television, dumped the guy overseeing the outlay of the $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus/rescue bill and picked fights with Democratic governors while failing to organize any form of coherent pandemic response. And if the reports are true, he's just getting started.

Like Bush, Trump knew that calamity was at our doorstep. Both did nothing worth mentioning to thwart these crises, both took gross advantage of them where and when they could, and both will be recalled by history as murderously incompetent heads of state. The argument about who's worse is over. I am content to call it a tie, for now.

(c) 2020 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.

A bus driver wears a face mask in Washington, DC.

We Will Not Sit Back And Let Transit Workers Be Treated Like Cannon Fodder
As the death toll mounts, unions representing transit workers in major cities demand protective gear.
By John Nichols

Transit workers across the United States and Canada paused at 7:10 pm ET on Friday, March 27, for a moment of silence to honor the memory of Scott Ryan, a bus driver in Snohomish County, Washington, who was the first member of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) to die of Covid-19.

Ryan, a 41-year-old father of three, was a shop steward with ATU Local 1576 in the Everett, Washington, region-an area north of Seattle that is near one of the initial hot spots for the spread of the coronavirus. Local papers reported that he was one of 10 workers in his Community Transit workplace that had tested positive or presumptive positive for the coronavirus.

Ryan's death was not the only one last week. Members of Transport Workers Union of America (TWU) Local 100 in New York City mourned the deaths of conductor Peter Patrassi and bus operator Oliver Cyrus, the first of their union brothers and sisters to succumb to Covid-19.

Recounting that "in 24 hours, we lost two TWU brothers in New York City and an ATU brother in Washington State," ATU President John Costa warned before the March 27 moment of silence: "Transit workers from coast to coast are continuing to get exposed and infected from Covid-19, and agencies and governments need to act now to protect them. You shouldn't send troops into battle without protective armor, and you shouldn't send nurses and bus operators to work without proper personal protective equipment."

Now, frustrated by the failure of too many cities and systems to protect workers, the Transport Workers Union and the Amalgamated Transit Union have entered into a historic agreement to take "whatever aggressive action is necessary to put maximum pressure on transit agencies that are failing to take protective measures to safeguard transit workers, including the provision of masks and gloves." In so doing, they are mounting a defense not just of their own members but also of passengers who have become increasingly reliant on public transportation in a time of crisis.

In a joint statement, the unions noted that "hundreds of transit workers in more than 20 states have tested positive for the virus. New York City, where 10 transit workers have died, is the national epicenter today, but the virus continues to rapidly spread across the country. Line of duty fatalities among transit workers have also been confirmed in Detroit; New Orleans; Philadelphia; Boston, Washington, D.C.; Rocky Hill, Connecticut; and Everett, Washington."

"It's just too much," Costa told me when we spoke late Friday afternoon. He recounted the deaths of at least eight members of his own union in recent days, and he explained that he was furious with the uneven response of transit agencies to the Covid-19 threat. "Some of them are doing the right thing and some are not," he said. I asked Costa what he meant by "aggressive action." He paused and said, "We didn't sign up to die on these jobs. My operators are tired, they are scared, some of them are sleeping in their cars because they don't want to get their families sick."

"If [transit agencies] don't protect us, we can't keep working," the union leader said, explaining that if conditions do not improve, his members would have to "take a break" from working.

The ATU and the TWU represent more than 330,000 bus operators, train operators, conductors, track workers, car cleaners, mechanics, and other transit workers in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Miami, Philadelphia, San Francisco, the District of Columbia, and dozens of other communities. These frontline workers keep cities moving in times of crisis, getting doctors and nurses to work and patients to clinics and hospitals, and making it possible for delivery drivers, grocery store clerks, and other essential workers to do their jobs.

Expressing concern not just for his own union's members but also for the people they transport, Costa warned that in many cities, "We are working in, and [passengers are] being brought to work in, 40-foot Petri dishes with absolutely no protective equipment."

The ATU and the TWU have been monitoring responses in cities across the country and, on Friday, they bluntly declared:

Too many transit agencies are not providing personal protective equipment for their employees, endangering the lives of our members and the families they go home to. It is beyond shameful that those tasked with overseeing these agencies during this crisis have allowed us to arrive at this juncture! We are prepared to take whatever aggressive action is necessary in order to protect our members and their families. Nothing is off the table. Dying is no way to make a living.
On behalf of their members and the passengers who rely on buses, subways, and other means of transportation, the unions are making necessary demands that transit agencies:
Provide gloves and masks to transit workers;

Regularly disinfect buses, trains, streetcars, and worker facilities, including crew rooms;

Enforce rear-door boarding to maintain a safe distance between riders and bus operators;

Suspend use of any timekeeping systems that require multiple workers to touch the same digital screen, keyboard, or fingerprint-scanning device;

Begin systematically cleaning and sanitizing equipment and facilities;

Urge riders to cover their faces with a bandana or scarf if they are not wearing masks while riding mass transit;

Mandate social distancing among transit riders using their systems, as well as workers in crew rooms and other worker facilities;

Provide "in the line of duty" death benefits for employees; and Agree to "pandemic leave" policies that ensure no one potentially exposed to Covid-19 is compelled to report to work to retain employment.

Promising that "we can-and will-take aggressive action" if these demands are not addressed with the urgency that the moment requires, TWU President John Samuelsen says, "We will not sit back and let transit workers be treated like cannon fodder in this war against the coronavirus."

(c) 2020 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.

Looking At The World Through Rose Colored Glasses
By James Donahue

Reality for most people is unbearable.

We are surrounded by a polluted world. It is polluted not only by toxic waste that has affected the soil that grows our food and oceans where life had its origins, but it fills the air we breathe. Noise invades our solitude. Radio, telephone, television, microwave, low frequency military H.A.A.R.P. (mind control?) signals and ultraviolet rays constantly bombard our space.

There is no peace.

It is impossible to sit for an hour or two of quiet meditation without climbing a mountain, dropping deep down into a cave, or surrounding our bodies with metal and sound proofing materials thick enough to stop the assault.

We live in pain.

It can be physical pain, which comes from disease, physical combat or accidental injury. It also can be mental pain, from the effects of our daily contact with other humans, our jobs and all of the problems listed above.

We live in fear. Most of this emotion is of our own making. We have created a religious system that generates fear. We live among alien life forms that feed on the emotions generated by fear. Thus it is that we are programmed from the time we are little children to be afraid. We fear the unknown. We fear darkness. We fear failure. We fear each other. And most of all, we fear death. The older people get the more fear-bound we seem to be.

A most sorry lot we have turned out to be.

Yet . . .the few moments of splendor that make the adrenaline rush, the dopamine pump and the hearts race don't come very often for us, but when they do, we suddenly know that enduring all of the suffering is worth it, just for these moments.

We wish for more great moments in our life.

Many of us resort to artificial ways to get it. Some people buy expensive new things like cars, boats or houses, but that rush only lasts a few hours before the reality of the payments they are committed to sinks in.

This is the reason narcotics and alcohol are so popular. We go to any lengths to get these things, while at the same time the social programs our society has created go to great lengths to take them away from us. We make laws making the possession and use of the pain killing effects of marijuana, the cocoa leaf, certain mushrooms and the poppy flower punishable by jail and stiff fines. An attempt to ban alcohol in the 1930s was such a failure this law was repealed, but the punishments for consumption of this brain-killing drug in public places can be steep.

The argument given by the church and righteous social "do-gooders" is that these drugs harm our physical bodies and make us dangerous to our fellow man. Therefore, they reason, everybody must suffer during this walk through life without an artificial means of escape. They even went so far as to put Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the so-called "suicide doctor," in prison because he was offering people with incurable illness and pain an early way out.

In our creativity, however, it seems that mankind has either discovered (or been purposefully furnished) an alternative and still legal way of hiding from reality. Instead of breaking the law by smoking marijuana, sniffing cocaine, or feeling the rush of amphetamine, we are opting to make our escape by having our doctors prescribe rose colored glasses.

You know what I mean. We are all rushing to the pharmacy to buy antidepressant drugs. They are called Prozac, Paxil, Zolhoft, Lovan, Effexor, Serzone and Anafranil, to name a few. Pop just one pill a day and suddenly everything seems cheery. The little things no longer bother us, and big problems seem small in their scope.

I think George Orwell predicted the arrival of this pill in his prophetic novel, 1984. Those of you who read this book remember that people had to take their daily dose of a drug that made them happy. It helped get them through a malignant existence under total slavery in an overcrowded world.

That pill is here and people by the droves are gulping it down. Even children.

Child psychologists we hear are pumping mind-altering drugs into our kids as if it were candy. It is good, they say, for overactive children, treating learning disorders, and all kinds of behavioral problems. Anybody who has raised children know that they misbehave. So why not dope them up? It doesn't seem to harm them and it makes them docile so they are easier to control.

A few years back, when my wife and I were parenting, people used television to keep children occupied much of the day. Our generation turned them into couch potatoes at an early age.

But something odd is happening to our society and I think it may be Prozac related. Adults are behaving like zombies while the world around them falls apart.

(c) 2020 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.

Mikhail Gorbachev

Gorbachev: Time To Revise The Entire Global Agenda
By David Swanson

An Interview with Mikhail Gorbachev, World BEYOND War, April 5, 2020

Q: How did you take the news of the pandemic?

A: I think I took it the way most people did. Initially, there was hope that it could be controlled, localized. But things took a very different turn and the epidemic spread far and wide. Unprecedented measures and decisions became necessary. Leaders, citizens and international organizations found themselves in an extremely difficult situation. All of this will have to be thoroughly analyzed, but the priority now is to take things in hand and defeat this new, vicious enemy.

Q: How do you assess the measures now being taken?

A: The main concern must be people's security and saving people's lives. I assume that the steps now being taken are based on science and the advice of the most competent experts. Right now they are practically unanimous that lockdown is necessary. This is something both the authorities and the people must accept. A lot depends on people's behavior. Utmost responsibility and discipline is of the essence. Then we may hope that the worst could be avoided.

Q: Is it time yet for lessons learned? Do you agree that the world will never be the same?

A: That depends precisely on what lessons will be learned. I recall recent history of how we addressed the nuclear threat. We understood that it is our common enemy, a threat to all of us, and the leaders of two nations, the Soviet Union and the United States declared that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. Then came Reykjavik and the first treaties eliminating nuclear weapons. By now, 85% of those arsenals have been eliminated. We must continue along this path but we now see new challenges. Together with my friends in the Forum of Nobel Peace Laureates we have for years been calling for a radical rethinking of international politics. Let me quote from out appeal adopted back in 2005:

"Focusing on meeting human needs and having a reverence for life are the foundation of human security. Excessive military expenditures actually breeds insecurity. Two areas where funds need to be channeled by the international community are education and health, particularly regarding the scourges of AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis through both protection and prevention." What could one add to this? Just the name of the new dreadful disease.
Over the past five years all we've been hearing is talk about weapons, missiles and airstrikes. But is it not clear by now that wars and the arms race cannot solve today's global problems? War is a defeat, a failure of politics! This common tragedy has reminded us of the futility of trying to go into hiding and sit it out, ignoring the threats that we face. In today's world, no one can hope to go into hiding!

And so I'll never tire of repeating: We need to demilitarize world affairs, international politics and political thinking and reallocate funds from military purposes to the purposes serving human security. We need to rethink the very concept of security. Above all else, security should mean providing food, water, which is already in short supply, a clean environment and, as top priority, caring for people's health.

To achieve human security we need to develop strategies, make preparations, plan and create reserves. This should be the responsibility of national leaders and leaders at all levels.

I believe that preparations should start now for an Emergency Session of the United Nations General Assembly, to be held as soon as the situation is stabilized. It should be about nothing less than revising the entire global agenda.

Q: Could I ask how things have changed for you and for the Gorbachev Foundation?

A: Of course we are complying with all requirements and we have had to start working from home. I am communicating with colleagues by phone and we have created a discussion platform on the web. We'll be adapting to the new circumstances. I've been asked to write an additional chapter for the English edition of my book What Is At Stake Now, to account for the new developments. I have agreed and will work on it.

(c) 2020 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.

Even though we must maintain physical distance, we need to come together more than ever.

Let's Come Together In These Physically Distancing Times
By David Suzuki

These are difficult times, especially for people who lack safe shelter, food and other necessities - and for those on the front lines. Even though we must maintain physical distance, we need to come together more than ever.

As bad as things are, and could get, compassion and wisdom will ensure that good emerges from this. One hopeful trend in recent years is a growing recognition of the need to combine science with traditional Indigenous knowledge to get a more complete understanding of our place in nature and to find better ways to live within its limits.

People who have been connected to place for millennia often have a clear comprehension of how ecosystems work, of the importance of every component of the interconnected webs of which we're all a part. Western science tends to be reductionist, focusing things in isolation, often under controlled or artificial conditions such as flasks and growth chambers.

That can lead to unintended consequences. For example, Paul Mueller won the 1948 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for developing the powerful pesticide DDT. Although the compound effectively stemmed malaria and other insect-borne diseases, scientists missed the big picture until 1962, when Rachel Carson sounded the alarm in her book Silent Spring. Indiscriminate DDT application exterminated "pests," but the chemical also bioaccumulated in the food chain, killing birds and working its way into other animals, including humans.

This reductionist mindset also holds true for much of Western economics. Forests are seen only for their value as timber, not as communities of organisms that also provide irreplaceable services and benefits to people, from clean air and water to climate regulation - even disease prevention.

As mentioned in last week's column, forest and habitat destruction is partly responsible for the fact that 60 per cent of emerging infectious diseases since 1940 (including HIV, Ebola, Zika and a number of coronaviruses) originated from animals - two-thirds from wildlife and the rest from pets and livestock.

Growing research shows the importance of taking a holistic or systems approach to science and economics, and of learning from and working with Indigenous Peoples who have place-based knowledge from thousands of years of observation and experience.

Can we apply this thinking to find a better path from this crisis than the one we're on? I think we can.

Looking at all the good already around us, we see that most people care for each other and want to do the right thing. Altruism is spreading faster than any disease can - and what is altruism but the innate recognition that we're all interconnected with each other and interdependent on all of nature?

We see front-line people in positions that aren't easy at the best of times - health care, emergency services, grocery and food industries, mental health and more - going above and beyond to make sure most of us are safe and fed.

In Canada, we're fortunate to have leaders at all political levels and in the health system keeping us informed and doing their best to help us through this.

Most people are willing to accept the restrictions placed on their lives so that we can overcome this emergency. Many are going out of their way to help neighbours in need. People are emerging onto their balconies or yards to sing or cheer for those who are making extraordinary efforts to keep the health care and food systems going strong.

In other words, people overall are more good than bad, and that should give us hope.

Yes, there are those who will act out of selfishness, or whose ignorance compels them to ignore anything not in their immediate interest. Unfortunately, some wield power and will do all they can to keep us on the same narrow, dangerous path. It appears plans are already in the works to bail out industries that should have been winding down long ago.

We're facing a crisis trifecta: COVID-19, climate disruption and plunging oil prices sparked by a feud between Russia and Saudi Arabia. This is exposing flaws in the systems we've been relying on far beyond their best-before dates.

Now, more than ever, we need to take care of ourselves and each other, so that we can help steer humanity onto a better course. We're showing we can do it.

(c) 2020 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

House Intelligence Committee

The Easiest Way To Get Fired At Camp Runamuck Is To Do Your Job Correctly
Inspector General Michael Atkinson is the latest to find that out.
By Charles P. Pierce

The firing of Michael Atkinson as the inspector general of the intelligence community was assured the moment he chose actually to do his job. Nevertheless, the president*, demonstrating the sheer courage that has marked his entire public career, waited until the end of last week's regular news cycle to do so. Obviously, he did it under cover of the news of the pandemic, which is the only story on everyone's mind. Despite its inevitability, the long delay, and the deliberate attempt to bury the news, the firing still has managed to stink to high heaven anyway. From Politico:

But the matter is an urgent priority to some, including Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), who said the Senate should hold a hearing. King, who sits on the powerful Senate Intelligence Committee, said officials such as Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell and Atkinson himself -whom Trump fired late Friday night -should be put under oath. "It should be an open hearing to have members of the administration come forward and provide an explanation," King, who caucuses with the Democrats, said in a phone interview, calling Trump's decision to fire Atkinson "terrible on a lot of levels."
The easiest way to get fired at Camp Runamuck is to do your job the way it's supposed to be done, regardless of how vividly it illustrates the clown college that is this administration*. That's what got Atkinson canned, and he's not taking it silently, either. In a public statement, Atkinson responded:
"It is hard not to think that the President's loss of confidence in me derives from my having faithfully discharged my legal obligations as an independent and impartial Inspector General and from my commitment to continue to do so."
Mmm, this shade is cool and refreshing.
"As an Inspector General, I was legally obligated to ensure that whistleblowers had an effective and authorized means to disclose urgent matters involving classified information to the congressional intelligence committees, and that when they did blow the whistle in an authorized manner, their identities would be protected as a guard against reprisals. Inspectors General are able to fulfill their critical watchdog functions because, by law, they are supposed to be independent of both the Executive agencies they oversee and of Congress."
And where will the next shoe drop? My money is on the inspector general's office at the Department of Health And Human Services, currently overseen by Christi Grimm, the principal deputy inspector general. (HHS hasn't had a full-time inspector general since May 31, because that's the way things go in Camp Runamuck.) I say this because the morning news was alive with an HHS IG report that pretty much lit the federal response to the pandemic on fire. From NBC News:
Hospital administrators also said conflicting guidance from federal, state and local governments on how to use personal protective gear and other issues has led to "a greater sense of confusion, fear and distrust among staff that they can rely on hospital procedures to protect them," according to the report from the inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS...

According to the report, one hospital received two shipments from the Federal Emergency Management Agency with protective gear that had expired in 2010. Another hospital system received 1,000 masks from federal and state governments, even though it expected a much larger delivery, and "500 of the masks were for children and therefore unusable for adult staff," the report said. Elastic on N95 masks from one state government reserve had "dry-rotted" and could not be used, it said.

The report is infuriating and I wish the folks in the HHS IG's office all the luck in the world. They're going to need it.

(c) 2020 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-

"The Fake News Media and their partner, the Democrat Party, is doing everything within its semi-considerable power ... to inflame the CoronaVirus situation."
~~~ Donald Trump

Although Trump has resisted the entreaties of far right uber-hawks in his administration
to bomb Iran on several occasions, he may be weakening on that score.

Incompetence On Covid-19 Exposed At Home, Trump Tests Wagging The Dog With Threats Against Iran
One reason for Trump's saber-rattling against Iran may be that he hopes a conflict with Iran could take the public's mind off his criminal mishandling of the coronavirus.
By Juan Cole

AFP quotes Trump as saying at a news conference and then on Twitter:

"We don't want hostility, but if they are hostile to us, they're going to regret it like they've never regretted anything before . . . If this happens, Iran will pay a very heavy price, indeed! . . . Upon information and belief, Iran or its proxies are planning a sneak attack on US troops and/or assets in Iraq."
Trump's posture in Iraq is that of a man sitting high up in a tree on a branch and sawing away at it on the side closer to the tree trunk. The NYT reports that he is having his Pentagon plan a violent campaign of extermination against the Brigades of the Party of God (Kata'ib Hizbullah), whose leader Trump blew away on January 3 along with Iranian general Qasim Soleimani. Even the top US commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Robert P. White, wrote a frank letter warning against such a course of action.

White pointed out that a feud with a major Shiite militia would embroil the US in a new round of fighting, would require a substantial escalation in troop strength on the ground in Iraq, and would interfere with the US military mission of training Iraqi troops to fight the remnants of ISIL, the terrorist group that once claimed to be a "caliphate."

Washington does not appear to understand that the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), to which US journalists and politicians often refer to as Shiite militias, are actually part of the Iraqi government. In 2018 Parliament recognized them as a sort of National Guard, to be integrated with the Iraqi military. These paramilitaries also spun off political parties, and their joint coalition won 40 seats in parliament in the last election, making them the second-largest Shiite party. For the US to make war on them is for it to make war on a key part of the Iraqi government itself.

In its attacks on the Brigades of the Party of God in late December and since, the US has alienated much of Shiite Iraq against itself. In January Parliament voted a binding act requiring the prime minister to find a way to move US troops out of the country.

The Popular Mobilization Units, in turn, have waged a low-intensity campaign to get US troops out of Iraq, with attacks on bases where they are stationed that have left two US servicemen dead and several others wounded, along with a British servicewoman. They have also subjected the US embassy to rocket or mortar fire, though so far they have not hit the building or injured any Americans there.

Although Washington codes the PMF as Iranian proxies, they are Iraqi forces whom many Iraqis see as national heroes for their role in defeating ISIL (at a time when the US-built Iraqi Army had collapsed). In fact, at a time when the US joint missions against ISIL with the formal Iraqi military have been frozen because of the coronavirus, the Popular Mobilization Forces are still actively fighting ISIL in provinces such as Diyala. There is no evidence that they are attacking bases where US soldiers are stationed because Iran told them to. They now have a feud with the US, after Trump blew away Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis at Baghdad International Airport.

An adviser to the Iraqi military, a Mr. al-A'sam, said this week that the US military in Iraq is intensively spying on the Popular Mobilization Units, seeking Iraqi informers in the Baghdad government as well as deploying drones to fly over PMF bases.

Nevertheless, the PMF were in part trained and funded by Iran. AP reports that Esmail Ghaani, Soleimani's successor as head of the Jerusalem Brigade of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, is in Baghdad this week in a bid to unite the PMF, which is beset by internal disputes. He may also be attempting to ward off the installation of Adnan al-Zurfi, a pro-American conservative, as the new prime minister. Al-Zurfi was proposed by Iraq's pro-American Kurdish president, but faces steep opposition in parliament and from the paramilitaries.

Iran or no Iran, it seems likely that at some point a PMF group will in fact again attack US troops in Iraq. Is Trump setting up a scenario where he can blame any such attack on Iran, and then use that as a pretext to bomb Iranian soil? Although Trump has resisted the entreaties of far right uber-hawks in his administration to bomb Iran on several occasions, he may be weakening on that score.

One reason for Trump's saber-rattling against Iran may be that he hopes a conflict with Iran could in turn take the mind of the public off his criminal mishandling of the coranavirus threat domestically in the US. Presidents have been known to resort to military action in a bid to keep or regain their popularity at home. After a 1990 film, that move is now called "wagging the dog."

Trump may be among the few presidents not to have a dog while in the White House. But that won't stop him from wagging one.

(c) 2020 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.

The Dead Letter Office-

Heil Trump,

Dear Stellvertretender Sekretar der Marine Modly,

Congratulations, you have just been awarded the "Vidkun Quisling Award!" Your name will now live throughout history with such past award winners as Marcus Junius Brutus, Judas Iscariot, Benedict Arnold, George Stephanopoulos, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Prescott Bush, Sam Bush, Fredo Bush, Kate Bush, Kyle Busch, Anheuser Busch, Vidkun Quisling, and last year's winner Volksjudge Samuel (the con) Alito.

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your firing Captain Brett Crozier for daring to care about the sailors under his command, Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Trump at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 05-23-2020. We salute you herr Modly, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

How To Prepare For The Trump Recession
By Robert Reich

The global coronavirus pandemic has put our economy in free-fall.

Even through Donald Trump's reckless economic policies, like his pointless trade war with China or his deficit-busting tax cuts for his billionaire donors, the economy has somehow managed to keep chugging along -until now.

All of the stock market gains from Trump's time in office have been wiped out, and over the course of just over one week in March the Dow Jones Industrial Average experienced its five largest drops in history.

Worse than a plummeting stock market, businesses and major industries have been forced to shutter their windows to help combat the rapid spread of the virus, putting hundreds of thousands of workers' paychecks at risk.

A recession is inevitable at this point. Here are 3 things we can do to prepare.

Number one: We need to reform unemployment insurance so it reflects the needs of today's economy. When it was first created in 1935, unemployment insurance was designed to help full-time workers weather downturns until they got their old jobs back. But there are fewer full-time jobs in today's economy, and fewer people who are laid off get their old jobs back again.

As a result, only 27% of unemployed workers receive benefits today, compared to 49% of workers in the 1950s. We need to expand unemployment coverage so that everyone is protected.

Number two: We need to strengthen Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, also known as public assistance. Since its creation in 1996, the number of families receiving cash assistance has declined dramatically - and not because they're doing well. Between 2006 and 2018, just 13% of families were lifted out of poverty, while the number of families receiving public assistance fell by 39%.

Already weak, the program didn't hold up well during the Great Recession. Funding doesn't automatically expand during economic downturns - meaning the more families are in need, the less money there is to help them. The program also has strict work requirements, which can't be fulfilled in a deep recession. Worse yet, many individuals in need have already exhausted their five years of lifetime eligibility for assistance.

We need to reform the public assistance program so that more families in need are eligible. It should be easier to waive the strict work eligibility requirements during the economic downturn, and the lifetime five-year limit should be suspended.

Number three: We need to protect the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP or food stamps.

Unlike public assistance, SNAP responded well during the Great Recession. Its requirements are designed to expand during economic downturns or recessions.

Waiving work requirements during the Great Recession made thousands of people in need eligible for the program who otherwise wouldn't have been. Between December 2007 and December 2009, the number of SNAP participants rose by 45%. The program helped keep an estimated 3.8 million families out of poverty in 2009.

But that might not be an option this time around, as SNAP has come under attack from the Trump administration, which is trying to enact a draconian rule change that would kick an estimated 700,000 of our most vulnerable citizens off of the program. Luckily, a judge blocked the rule from going into effect, but the administration is still fighting to enforce it -even in the middle of a global pandemic. We need to make sure SNAP's flexibility and ability to respond to economic downturns is protected before the next recession hits.

Stronger safety nets are not only good for individuals and families in need. They will also prevent the looming recession from becoming an even deeper and longer economic crisis.

(c) 2020 Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His web site is

The Forgotten
My trip to an asylum-seekers' shelter in Tijuana
By Jane Stillwater

The other day, my friend Ana and I hopped aboard the San Diego Trolley to San Ysidro and then walked across the border to Mexico. Nothing could be more simple.

On the other side of the border, we found lots of taxi drivers. Ana knows Spanish. She bartered. "¿Cúantos para rentar un taxi todo al día hoy?" she said. How much will it cost to rent your taxi for a day?

"$100," yelled a stranger driving a red Nissan. "I don't trust him," said Ana. "I do," said me. "$75," said Ana, "but we're not buying you lunch." Deal.

Alvaro drove us to our first asylum-seeker's shelter, run by a non-profit group called Pro. Libertad y Derechos Humanos en America.

First we talked with a man from Honduras. "I fled for the same reasons as most of the men here," he told us. "Gang violence, corrupt government, fear for my life. If I ever go back there again, they will murder me. Tingo mucho miedo." He has much fear. I didn't bother to tell him that I myself have given up fear for Lent.

"We do the best that we can to be helpful," said the shelter's director, a kind and compassionate woman who has dedicated her entire adult life to helping those who have far less than she does. "We used to have over 150 men here in response to the United States' recent 'Remain in Mexico' program -- mostly refugees escaping from gangs and government thugs in Central America. Now, however, we have far less."

Hmmm. I wonder what became of those missing men. Rumor on the border has it that the U.S. has been paying to have them shipped off to Guatemala like so many packages stamped "Return to Sender".

Once in Guatemala, however, these asylum-seekers are screwed. The only option they have left there is death -- the ultimate asylum.

Meanwhile, back in the USA, we are all busy worrying about perhaps dying of the coronavirus (or perhaps running out of toilet paper). But our chances of dying from COVID-19 are around 3% at most -- and even then you most likely gotta be old, obese, a smoker or in bad health in order to actually kick the bucket.

But in the many asylum-seekers' shelters and camps on either side of the US-Mexico border, your chances of death are much higher -- especially if you are a child in a cage. Asylum-seekers here are constantly playing peekaboo with death.

But this ultimate tragedy no longer matters to those of us north of the border. The American spotlight, the American news cycle has moved on. The men that we talked to in Tijuana, collateral damage from America's brutally flawed foreign policy in Central America and the gangs that are left in its wake, are forever stuck here to die alone and afraid in TJ -- and they have all been forgotten.

PS: In my next article, I'll try to describe my visit to a women's asilo-buscando shelter, followed by the total incongruity of sipping margaritas on a lovely Tijuana beach -- right next to Trump's ugly Wall.

PPS: On a happier note, at lunchtime our taxi driver took us to his favorite place in Tijuana for tacos, tamales and barbacoa. The real deal. I even bought extra tamales, smuggled them back across the border and had them for dinner that night at my San Diego AirBnB.

PPPS: If everyone wore face masks for three weeks, the COVID problem would be solved, right? Boom. End of pandemic. And we can make instant face masks ourselves with just a bandana and two rubber bands. Don't have to be a narcissistic blowhard to figure this one out. Just watch the freaking video.

(c) 2020 Jane Stillwater. Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world. And while you're at it, please buy my books!

The Cartoon Corner-

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

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

Trump Tackles Medical Supply Shortage By Awarding ExxonMobil Contract To Drill For Ventilators In Arctic
By The Onion

WASHINGTON-Saying there was no way the coronavirus could win with such amazing corporations on their side, President Donald Trump kicked off his plan to tackle the medical supply shortage Tuesday by awarding ExxonMobil an exclusive contract to drill for ventilators in the arctic.

"Today, the heroic crews at ExxonMobil will travel to Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, where they will drill 6,000 feet below the earth in search of new, undiscovered mechanical breathing devices," said Trump, signing the $86 billion deal that gave the oil company sole access to survey, drill, and extract from over 30,000 square miles of "vast, untapped reservoirs of respiratory ventilators."

"While this crisis is a challenge, I want to assure the American people that there are millions of medical devices lying just below the arctic surface, and all we need is ExxonMobil's vast network of drilling rigs to find them. That's why we're also announcing the construction of a long-distance ventilator pipeline, as well as an exclusive, multi-billion-dollar contract with Shell to begin extracting ventilators on Native American reservations throughout South Dakota."

At press time, President Trump had reportedly once again downplayed the need for medical supplies after one of ExxonMobil's largest offshore tankers exploded.

(c) 2020 The Onion

The Animal Rescue Site

Issues & Alibis Vol 20 # 15 (c) 04/10/2020

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