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In This Edition

Dahr Jamail warns, "As Antarctic Melting Accelerates, Worst-Case Scenarios May Come True."

Uri Avnery sings, "A Song Is Born."

Bruce A. Dixon returns with, "Deep State Restrained Obama. Will It Restrain Trump? Time To Abandon Mere Hope For Action."

William Rivers Pitt explores, "When Your Lawyer Needs A Lawyer: Trump, Cohen And The FBI Raid."

Jim Hightower asks, "How Low Can The Barons Of High Finance Go?"

John Nichols says, "Let's Start Saving Journalism By Saving This One Newspaper."

James Donahue wonders, "Does Water Have Consciousness?"

Pepe Escobar finds, "From Ankara To Moscow, Eurasia Integration Is On The Move."

Heather Digby Parton hears Republicans, "Cheering For More Death."

Ted Rall concludes, "The Media Never, Ever Gives Peace A Chance."

Charles P. Pierce thinks, "Michael Cohen Should've 'Tread Very F*cking Lightly.'"

Jane Stillwater returns with, "Judas In The White House: Bush, Obama & Trump."

David Swanson returns with, "A Poor People's Campaign Against War."

Michael Cohen wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich tells, "The Truth About An Untethered Trump."

Chris Hedges examines, "The Campaign To Exterminate Muslims."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz reports, "Mexico Agrees To Pay For Trump's Psychiatric Care" but first Uncle Ernie says, "Let's Be Emphatic About The NRA."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Mr. Fish aka Dwayne Booth, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, Mr. Fish, Mike Luckovich, Drew Angerer, Chris J Ratcliffe,Chip Somodevilla, NASA, 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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Let's Be Emphatic About The NRA
They're a terrorist organization that needs to be rounded up and put away!
By Ernest Stewart

"I got my physical notice 30 days prior to. Well, on that day I ceased cleansing my body. No more brushing my teeth, no more washing my hair, no baths, no soap, no water. Thirty days of debris build. I stopped shavin' and I was 18, had a little scraggly beard, really looked like a hippie. I had long hair, and it started gettin' kinky, matted up. Then two weeks before, I stopped eating any food with nutritional value. I just had chips, Pepsi, beer-stuff I never touched-buttered poop, little jars of Polish sausages, and I'd drink the syrup, I was this side of death, Then a week before, I stopped going to the bathroom. I did it in my pants. poop, piss the whole shot. My pants got crusted up.

"So I went in, and those guys in uniform couldn't believe the smell. They were ridiculin' me and pushin' me around and I was cryin', but all the time I was laughin' to myself. When they stuck the needle in my arm for the blood test I passed out, and when I came to they were kicking me into the wall. Then they made everybody take off their pants, and I did, and this sergeant says, "Oh my God, put those back on! You fucking swine you!" Then they had a urine test and I couldn't piss, But my poop was just like ooze, man, so I poop in the cup and put it on the counter. I had poop on my hand and my arm. The guy almost puked. I was so proud. I knew I had these chumps beat. The last thing I remember was wakin' up in the ear test booth and they were sweepin' up. So I went home and cleaned up." ~~~ Ted Nugent ~ excerpt from a 1977 interview Nugent gave to High Times magazine

"I believe that distributed electric propulsion is one of the biggest technology changes in aerospace since the invention of the turbine engine. Turbines, when they were introduced, were essentially laughed at by many because they thought it couldn't replace the wonderful internal combustion engines that existed. [But] within 10 to 20 years they completely replaced that technology. I think we're at that same kind of replacement of technology-that within 10 to 20 years, distributed electric propulsion will replace turbine engines on a small scale, then we'll see it on a larger scale." ~~~ Mark Moore ~ NASA

"The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand. The fight we are in here, make no mistake about it, is a fight of individualism versus collectivism." ~~~ Paul Ryan

Help! I need somebody
Help! Not just anybody
Help! You know I need someone
Help ~~~ The Beatles

Then there was old diaper boy Ted (chicken hawk) Nugent who said in a interview, he was calling for all the following people to be shot:
"Just know that evil, dishonesty, and scam artists have always been around and that right now they're liberal, they're Democrat, they're RINOs, they're Hollywood, they're fake news, they're media, they're academia, and they're half of our government, at least, So come to that realization. There are rabid coyotes running around. You don't wait till you see one to go get your gun. Keep your gun handy, and every time you see one, you shoot one."
If you call for gun control, even if you're child survivors of a gun masacre, Ted says "You Have No Soul." You can see why they call him the Motor City Mad Man and it is't about his stage antics. The reason why he isn't in the "Pop Music Hall of Fame" down in Cleveland is because not only is he a nut job, but primarily because he's a second rate guitarist. And with his mental problems, of course, he sits on the board of directors of the NRA!

The reason you can openly buy weapons of war as easily as you can buy US Senators is because most of Con-gress is owned and operated by the NRA. The NRA isn't a group of sportsmen but con-artists that are owned by the gun manufacturers, pure and simple, There only purpose is to bribe our Con-gress into doing their bidding. Sure not all NRA members are gun stooges, many are just plain fools, like the idiots that elected orange boy.

So let's call a spade a spade, and call the NRA a terrorist organization, which they certainly are. Let's round up the board members and put them away where they can no longer cause murder and mayem. Perhaps a trip to Gitmo in the tiger cages would be in order? If we don't the mass murder and mayhem will continue unabated, forever, and all you'll ever get from your politicians will be his or hers thoughts and prayers for your dead loved ones. Is that the America you want for you and your kids? Well is it?

In Other News

Years ago while sitting out on the deck and watching US air force planes painting the sky with Chem-trails I wondered what will they do when we switch over to electric airplanes where they can't blame their chem-trails with being con-trails. Electric planes would leave no trails at all. Yes today's jets leave a short con-trail that lasts a few seconds before it dissolves. If it isn't gone is a few seconds it's a chem-trail.

We'll soon be riding in electric jets as they're being designed as we speak. Zunum Aero, a start-up partly financed by US aeronautics group Boeing, meanwhile, plans to bring a 12-seat hybrid plane to the market by 2022.

"The price that we're targeting is very much in line with the current aircraft but the operation cost is just a fraction, it's literally 60 to 70 per cent lower than an equivalent aircraft in operation right now," said the startup's founder Matt Knapp.

The expected lower operating costs of electric planes, both due to cheap electricity and simpler motors, means that the highly competitive airline industry could end up adopting them quickly. If your costs are 5 times theirs and they've cut their ticket price by half how long can you compete before you go under?

The transition to electric could also provide another advantage: they are much quieter, meaning they may win exceptions to restrictions imposed due to noise near residential areas.

Combined with the fact that electric planes do not need such long runways, they could be used at some smaller airports close to city centers.

Switching to electric would also help airlines avoid any climate change related penalties that regulators could impose, such as higher taxes and flying restrictions.

For example Norway sees itself as a good test bed for electric planes.

The Nordic nation aims for all new vehicle registrations to be zero emission by 2025 and launched a first electric ferry in early 2015.

After land and water, the northern kingdom is now turning to the sky with the goal of electrifying all short haul flights in just over 20 years.

"In my mind, there is no doubt: by 2040 Norway will be operating totally electric," said Mr Dag Falk-Petersen, head of the country's public airport operator, Avinor.

"There are a lot of issues to deal with, with icy conditions, with heavy winds," said Widero chief executive Stein Nilsen.

"But if we can do that here in Norway, I'm certain that this air plane will cope with any conditions in any place in the world."

So if tRump doesn't get us all killed in the next four years there maybe some hope for us yet?

And Finally

Have you noticed that the rats are beginning to leave tRumps sinking ship in droves? The big cheese himself Con-gressman and Koch brother's puppet, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is leaving next January.

Paul can see the writing on the wall that if he ran he's be defeated as the American people are about to throw the bums out again. Besides Paul has completed his mission by destoring America's economy buy giving trillion dollar tax cuts to the 1% and putting the squeeze on the the poor, the sick, and the elderly to make up that trillion dollar loss that was in his plans all along.

Paul will take his billion dollar bribe and live happily ever after with the swag he was given by the Koch's and others. The people of his district will begin paying for their folly. Trouble is, so will the rest of the elderly, poor, and sick with quite a few paying with their lives for Paul's treason.

Of course, nothing will be done to Paul despite his many capital crimes. You might recall the Crime family Bush got away with their many acts of sedition and treason because Obama, whom we elected to end the wars and bring the Crime family Bush to justice, decided to look the other way and adopt most of their crimes for himself. Which he couldn't do if he brought them to justice, because then someone might bring him to justice too.

And besides when tRump starts world war three by waging the dog, we'll have bigger problems to face, than Ryan's meer acts of treason!

Keepin' On

Come on ya'll, like always we need your help to keep going on! With tRump with his back to the wall with his criminal activities now under close scrutiny and hence thinking about "wagging the dog" in Syria and the Russian and Chinese saying they will knock down any missiles that he sends and then take out the source of the missiles too, we maybe right on the cusp of WWIII!

Ergo, it's not a time you want to run out of your source for honest news, is it? You won't be getting the truth from the Lame Stream Media and that could cost you and your family everything. What do you think will happen if Russia sinks one of our destroyers or guided missile cruisers in retaliation?

Therefore, if you feel you need a trusted source of news in these crazy times wouldn't it pay you in the long run to know what's happening and when it's happening so you can deal with it? Wouldn't it? If so, please help us keeping publishing and send us whatever you can, whenever you can, and we'll keep sending you the important news that you need to know!


11-23-1942 ~ 04-02-2018
Thanks for the film!

09-02-1934 ~ 04-08-2018
Thanks for the laughs!

06-25-1930 ~ 04-11-2018
Thanks for the laughs!


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So please help us if you can...?

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

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

As Antarctic Melting Accelerates, Worst-Case Scenarios May Come True
Dahr Jamail

Some of the world's most profound melting of glaciers is happening in the Antarctic; and is invisible from above.

According to a study recently published in the journal Nature Geoscience, the underwater melting of Antarctic glaciers is now occurring at a rate that is doubling every 20 years. This means that melting in the ice continent of Antarctica could soon outpace that occurring across Greenland, which would make Antarctica the single largest source of sea level rise.

The new study was the first complete underwater mapping of Antarctica, by far the world's largest body of ice.

The study shows that warming ocean waters have caused the base of the ice near the ocean floor around the south pole to shrink by 1,463 kilometers from 2010 to 2016. This development will likely force worst-case projections of sea level rise to be revised upwards.

The current worst-case scenario outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is just over 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) of sea level rise by 2100.

The new data, however, confirms a study from nearly five years ago, in which 90 sea level rise experts were surveyed and confirmed that sea level rise this century will exceed IPCC projections.

Meanwhile, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's worst-case scenario is 2.5 meters (8.5 feet) by the same year. This worst-case scenario does not factor in the new data from the recent Antarctica study.

Glaciers Coming Unplugged

The study, based on an analysis of satellite data, found dramatic changes happening across eight of the major glaciers in Antarctica due to the warmer ocean water underneath them.

The water is melting the glacier ice away from the seafloor, which was acting as a sort of plug, keeping the ice attached to the bedrock. The study showed that the ice, which has been receding by nearly 200 meters per year, is causing the land-based ice to speed up its shift toward the sea, hence increasing sea level rise projections.

The study also warned that this phenomenon suggests a widespread pattern of rapidly increasing melting all the way around Antarctica.

"We're seeing this all across the ice sheet," University of Leeds climate researcher Hannes Konrad, lead author of the analysis, told Inside Climate News. "As the grounding line of the ice shelves moves back, the inland glaciers accelerate and raise global sea level."

The rate of retreat of Antarctica's eight major glaciers has now accelerated to five times the historical average, according to the study.

Sea level rise projections of more than three meters are currently being openly discussed.

A 2017 study by Cornell University showed that rising seas could result in two billion refugees by 2100. That is one-fifth of the total projected global population of humans, which would be 11 billion by then. Moreover, that data is based on the current, lower sea level rise projections; predictions may well increase in the near future.
(c) 2018 Dahr Jamail, a Truthout staff reporter, is the author of The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan (Haymarket Books, 2009), and Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq (Haymarket Books, 2007). Jamail reported from Iraq for more than a year, as well as from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Turkey over the last 10 years, and has won the Martha Gellhorn Award for Investigative Journalism, among other awards.

A Song Is Born
By Uri Avnery

A FRIEND from overseas sent me the recording of a song. An Arab song, with a soft Arab melody, sung by an Arab girls' choir, accompanied by a flute.

It goes like this:

Ahed /
You are the promise and the glory /
Standing as high as an olive tree /
From the cradle to the present /
Your honor will not be violated /
Palestine has been planted in us /
As a dock for every ship /
We are the land and you are the water /

You are covered with blond hair /
You are as pure as Jerusalem /
You taught our generation how the forgotten people should revolt /
They thought the Palestinians are afraid of them because they are wearing armor and holding a weapon? /
Palestine has been planted in us /
As a dock for every ship /
Our nation must be united and resist for the freedom of Palestine and the prisoners /

Your blue eyes are a lighthouse /
For a country that has every religion /
You united the people far away and close /
You ignited the spark in all our hearts /
Your head is raised up high encouraging us /
You ignited the light in our darkness /

Despite the softness of your hands /
Your hands have shaken the world /
Your hands returned the slap to the occupier /
And returned esteem to the nation /
Palestine has been planted in us /
As a dock for every ship /
We are the land and you are the water.

IF I were an adherent of the occupation, this song would frightened me very much.

Because the force of songs is much stronger than the force of weapons. A gun wears out, but a song lasts forever.

In the early days of the Israeli army, there was a slogan hanging in our mess: "An army that is singing is an army of victory!"

The present Palestinian generation has decided to lower its head and wait until the storm has passed. The coming Palestinian generation may act in a completely different way.

On the eve of my 15th birthday, I joined an underground (or "terrorist") group that fought against the British colonial regime. Almost eighty years later I remember just about every song of that time, word for word. Songs like "We are unknown soldiers without uniforms..." and many more. Afterwards I wrote an anthem for my company.

I am not a poet. Far from it. But I have written some songs in my time, including "Samson's Foxes", an anthem for my commando unit in the Israeli army. So I know the force of a song. Especially a song about the heroism of a 16 year old girl.

THE MOMENT I saw the scene of Ahed al-Tamimi boxing the face of an Israeli army captain, I knew that something important had happened.

The British politician Lord Acton famously wrote: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." I would add: "Occupying another people tends to make you stupid, and a long occupation makes you utterly stupid."

In my youth, when I was already a member of the anti-British underground, I was working in the office of a British lawyer, many of whose clients were officials of the British administration. I often asked myself: "How can it be that such intelligent people can behave so stupidly?" They were nice people, who treated even a lowly clerk like me politely. But they had no alternative: the occupation compels the occupier to behave stupidly.

It works like this: in order to uphold an occupation regime for any length of time, the occupier must believe in the superiority of his race and in the inferiority of his subjects, who are seen as primitive creatures. Otherwise, what gives them him the right to subject another people? That is exactly what has happened to us now.

THE MOMENT I saw the face-boxing scene on TV, I knew that something momentous had happened. The Palestinian people now have a national heroine. The Palestinian youth now has a model to emulate.

The Israeli public has got used to the occupation. They believe that this is a normal situation, that the occupation can go on forever. But the occupation is not a natural situation, and some day it will come to an end.

Ten thousand British ruled hundreds of millions of Indians, until a skinny man called Gandhi went to produce salt on the seashore, contrary to the law. The Indian youth arose, and British rule fell away like a leaf from a tree in autumn.

The same stupidity took hold of all the occupation enforcers who dealt with Ahed al-Tamimi. Army officers. Prosecutors, military judges.

If we were wise occupiers - an oxymoron - we would have sent Ahed home long ago. Expelled her by force from the prison. But we are still keeping her locked up. Her and her mother.

True, some days ago the army realized its own stupidity. With the help of Ahed's devoted (Jewish) advocate, Gabi Lasky, a "compromise" was worked out. Several charges were dropped and Ahed was sentenced to "only" eight months in prison.

She will be released in three more months. But that is too late: the picture of Ahed is already engraved in the mind of every Palestinian boy or girl. Ahed, the girl covered with blond hair, her blue eyes shining like a lighthouse. Ahed the saint. Ahed the savior.

The Palestinian Jeanne d'Arc, the national symbol.

THE STORY of Ahed al-Tamimi happened in the West Bank. But it resounded in the Gaza Strip, too.

For most Israelis, the Gaza Strip is something else. It is not occupied territory. It does not concern us.

But the situation of the Gaza Strip is even worse than straight occupation. The strip is completely surrounded. North and east is Israel, west is the sea, where the Israeli navy shoots at everything except for fishing boats close to the shore. The south belongs to Egypt, which behaves even worse than the Israelis and in close cooperation with them.

The situation in the Gaza Strip is as close to hell as one can get. Food at subsistence level, electricity for two to four hours a day, the water is polluted. Work is extremely scarce. Only the most severely ill are let out.

Why? It has to do with the demon that plagues the Israeli government: the demographic devil.

In historical Palestine, the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan river, there now live about 13 million people, roughly half Jewish and half Arab, with a slight edge in favor of the Arabs. Numbers are uncertain, but roughly there are 3 million Arabs in the West Bank, 2 million in the Gaza Strip and 1.5 million Arab citizens in Israel. The Arab birthrate is higher than the Jewish average.

These numbers disturb the sleep of many Israeli officials, especially politicians. They look for means to change the balance. They once had the illusion that if the situation in Gaza got unbearable, people from Gaza would emigrate. But it did not happen. Palestinians have become very tenacious.

Then a new fashion came up: just ignore the bastards. Just imagine that the Gaza Strip has sunk into the sea, as one Israeli politician once prayed. No Strip. Two million Palestinian less.

But the Strip is there. True, Gaza is ruled by the Islamic Hamas party, while the West Bank is ruled by Abu Mazen's PLO, and the enmity between the two is vicious. But that happened in almost all liberation movements in history. In our case, the underground split between the Haganah ("Defense"), which belonged to the official Zionist leadership, and the Irgun ("Organization", short for National Military Organization). Then the Irgun split, and the even more extreme LEHI ("Fighters for the Freedom of Israel", called the "Stern Gang" by the British) was born. They all hated each other.

But among the people, there is no difference at all. They are all Palestinians. Ahed is the heroine of all of them. Perhaps her model played a role in what happened last week.

For some time, the Gaza Strip was quiet. Some kind of modus vivendi had even come into being between the Hamas government and the Israeli one. The Israelis congratulated themselves on their cleverness. And then it happened.

Suddenly, as if from nowhere, the population of Gaza stood up. Hamas organized them to assemble on Friday near the border fence, unarmed. A prolonged campaign of passive resistance was to start.

When I was asked what would happen, I said that the Israeli army would shoot to kill. Simple: Israelis don't know how to deal with passive resistance. They shoot in order to turn it into violent resistance. With that they know how to deal. With more violence.

AND THAT is exactly what happened last Friday, the first day of the campaign: snipers were posted along the line, with orders to shoot the "ringleaders" - anyone who stood out. 18 unarmed demonstrators were killed, almost a thousand were shot and wounded.

If anyone thought that the democratic world would stand up and condemn Israel, they were sadly wrong. Reactions were feeble, at most. What was revealed was the incredible hold the Israeli government and its Zionist organization has over the world's political establishments and communication outlets. With few exceptions the atrocious news was not published at all, or as minor items.

But this cannot go on for long. The Gaza protests will continue, especially on Fridays (the Muslim holy day), until May 15, the Naqba ("Catastrophe") Day, which commemorates the mass flight / expulsion of half the Palestinian people from their homes. Palestinian flags will fill screens around the globe.

Ahed will still be in prison.
(c) 2018 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Deep State Restrained Obama. Will It Restrain Trump? Time To Abandon Mere Hope For Action
By Bruce A. Dixon

The only good thing I can think to say about the Obama presidency is really kind of negative too, a monstrous crime he almost committed, but backed away from at the last minute. It was the only time in Obama's political career that I've seen him take what might remotely be described as a risk. It was the the aftermath of the August 2013 chemical weapons attack on Ghouta, a suburb of the Syrian capital Damascus which killed 1,300 people. While all the TV talking heads and publicly visible admirals and generals blamed the nerve gas attack on the Syrian government, Obama bucked the warmongering tide which he himself had helped raise, opting NOT to escalate the US war in Syria with carpet bombings of its infrastructure and a no-fly zone, the prelude to an inevitable invasion.

According to Seymour Hersh, the reporter who revealed the My Lai massacre to the world four decades earlier, Obama was hemmed in by his own dedication to America's historically belligerent anti-Iran and pro-Israel policies in the Middle East on the one hand, and some of his spooks and generals on the other who realized that if the Syrian regime was overthrown, it would be replaced by Kurdish militias controlling some areas, by US and Saudi backed jihadis who want to make the 10th century great again in charge of others, by remnants and factions of the Syrian army in a few more places, by Israeli and Turkish annexation of areas near their borders, and direct intervention by neighboring Iran – in short a chaotic regional bloodbath, the uncertain outcome of which would dwarf the mess Obama made in Libya.

So Obama blinked. He accepted a Russian proposal for the handover of Syrian chemical assets, and more talks. While the bloody US-Israeli-Saudi-Turkish and NATO instigated civil war in Syria dragged on and on, it did not mushroom into the much larger disaster that might have been, and might still become.

That was a good thing. At the end of 2013 and in early 2014 Seymour Hersh revealed that Obama almost certainly knew that Ghouta was a false flag attack. Chemical weapons are extremely volatile. They degrade and destroy the rockets and delivery systems used to deploy them within hours, and emit trace chemicals that are easily detectable at moderate distances by rings of remote sensors US and Israeli intelligence agencies have placed near all the Syrian army's bases and staging depots. None of those sensors picked up any chemical weapons activity. Jihadi extremists armed and funded by the US and the Saudis were known to include personnel experienced in the manufacture, arming and deployment of chemical agents. Some had even been busted by Turkish police attempting to buy and transport sarin, its manufacturing equipment and precursor chemicals across Turkey's border with Syria.

Beginning in 2012 after the fall of Libya, Hillary Clinton and President Obama arranged for the shipment of weapons which included surface to air missiles out of Libya and into the hands of their favorite Syrian rebels including ISIL, al Nusra and Al Qaeda, various factions of which were backed by Qatar, Israel, the Saudis and Turkey. But despite lavish funding, epic brutality, more military hardware than they could wield and the unstinting media and diplomatic support of the West, their bloodthirsty puppets were losing the Syrian civil war. So they staged a chemical attack against an area they controlled with the intent of blaming it on the Syrian government. Their aim was to provoke the US into knocking over al Assad so they can fight with the Kurds, Turks, Iranians Saudis, Israelis and Syrians maybe backed by Russian and/or Iran over the possibly radioactive remains of that unhappy country. It almost worked.

In 2014, the Syrian government handed over all or nearly all its chemical weapons arsenal to international authorities including the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons for destruction. There were minor charges in 2015 and 2016 that chlorine gas was used in a few places, but they were small scale affairs and chlorine is so ineffective as a military tool it's hard to make a case that any government with a minimally competent army would use it.

The next major allegation of chemical warfare in Syria was in 2017, when 19 people died near Khan Sheikhoun, a rebel held town in northwest Syria. The Americans and their stooges as usual blamed it on the Syrian government. The Russians offered a different explanation, suggesting that government forces had bombed a place where sarin had been stored. Either way, the timing of the incident made no military sense from the standpoint of the Syrian government. They continued to slowly and surely win the war, shrinking the rebel held areas each month, and had no reason to jeopardize their gains by provoking the US. In recent weeks, Trump Secretary of War Defense admitted that previous allegations that the Syrian government used chemical weapons were false, a fact barely reported on at all by US corporate news sources.

While US presidents come go, there is a permanent layer of cops, spooks, fixers, military types, intelligence professionals, think tankers we can call the deep state, all beholden to the lords of capital, especially the energy industry and America's galaxy of military contractors. Some are Republicans, some are Democrats, and for all we know some might be nonpartisan. Among them are the people who helped prevent Barack Obama from launching a war in which a dozen nations would have fought and millions might have died, which could easily have escalated into a nuclear conflict between the US, Israel and NATO on the one hand and Russia on the other.

We can hope that some of these forces, none of whom are friends of peace or justice, will restrain Donald Trump, as they did Obama. The odds don't look good. Hersh's January 2016 article in the London Review of Books identifies General Michale Flynn as one of thoe who opposed some of the most drastic war plans for Syria, and he's gone. Hope is nothing we can count on. Hope is, as Derrick Jensen says, a longing for a future condition over which we have no agency. Hope might lead some of us to the Democrats, who regularly pretend to be the party of peace when Republicans are in power, and some leftists pretend to believe them. That's acting out of hope because we have no agency over the Democratic party. A three part investigative series by the World Socialist Web Site identifies 57 CIA, military, Homeland Security and other intelligence professionals running as Democrats for seats in Congress this year, nearly all backed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, except in the couple of cases where two of these are running against each other. We have to grow up and admit to each other that Democrats never have and never will be a peace party.

When we grow up, when we abandon hope, that longing for the future condition over which we have no agency, all that's left is the responsibility to take action. Our fates are truly in our own hands. The capitalist warfare state can only produce war, against humans and against the planet itself. We must envision and plan for its end, organize ourselves and build the traditions and institutions that will take its place.
(c) 2018 Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and a state committee member of the GA Green Party. He lives and works in Marietta GA and can be reached at

Michael Cohen, personal lawyer for Donald Trump, walks through the lobby at Trump Tower, January 12, 2017, in New York City.

When Your Lawyer Needs A Lawyer: Trump, Cohen And The FBI Raid
By William Rivers Pitt

Donald Trump's personal lawyer needs a lawyer. That lawyer will also need a lawyer, who in turn will also need a lawyer. If this keeps up, a friend noted, we'll have to change "MAGA" to "My Attorney Got Arrested."

Michael D. Cohen, Trump's long-time consigliere and Man Who Knows All Secrets had his world turned inside out like a laundered sock on Monday morning when the FBI basically raided every place he's ever spent more than five minutes. Cohen's home, office and hotel all got the no-knock treatment courtesy of the office of the United States attorney for the southern district of New York, operating off a tip from special counsel Robert Mueller and his investigative team.

Saying "no" was not an option. Like Arnold Schwarzenegger asking for Cohen's clothes, boots and motorcycle, they took everything. According to the Washington Post on Tuesday, the searches are part of a "federal investigation for possible bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations." A goodly slice of the records seized pertain to adult film star Stormy Daniels and the 2016 payment Cohen made to her in order to buy her silence about an alleged sexual dalliance with Trump. Attorney-client communications between Cohen and Trump himself were also seized.

Possible collusion with Russia, election interference, obstruction of justice ... so of course it's all going to come down to Stormy. This boulder started rolling down the mountain for real a few days ago on Air Force One when Trump finally broke his silence on the Daniels matter and threw Cohen under the bus with the speed of a startled cheetah. I know nothing, said Trump. Ask the lawyer.

Cohen was left holding the bag on the $130,000 hush payment to Daniels, a fact that could make those charges of wire fraud, bank fraud and campaign finance violations all too real. Even Cohen's admission that he paid Daniels himself without Trump's knowledge, and Trump's professed ignorance of the transaction, carries legal peril for Cohen: Acting on behalf of your client in legal matters without the client's knowledge and consent is grounds for disbarment in the state of New York.

Merriam-Webster defines "Schadenfreude" as "Enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others." When word got out that Cohen's inner sanctums had been de-doored by the FBI, the schaden met the freude in the rye and danced the night away. Why? Michael Cohen has moved through the world like a mouthy wheat thresher, "fixing" and intimidating people who make trouble for Trump. He has few friends, and fewer admirers. Today, he has empty filing cabinets in his office and a ball of ice in his gut to show for his years spent as a wanna-be menace on behalf of the pretend-billionaire set. From Manhattan to DC on Monday, many people smiled into their martinis and waited for the latest update.

This is going to become about more than Stormy Daniels, and Trump knows it. His panic on Monday was palpable, and justly so. Michael Cohen is in deep trouble, and Donald is right there with him. Cohen knows where all the bodies are buried, having buried many of them himself. As Rick Wilson points out in The Daily Beast, Cohen "realizes how deep this hole can become if he doesn't roll over. He doesn't have the resources to defend himself, and Trump isn't exactly known for paying his bills in the first place. Cohen is scared, and he's not alone."

What do you call a leader without followers? Just a guy taking a walk.

One jagged nugget of irony to be found in all this is the fact that the warrants came from the offices of New York's southern district US attorney, now headed by a Trump appointee named Geoffrey Berman. As far as Trump is concerned, the rain started falling last year when his own attorney general, Jeff Sessions, recused himself from the Russia probe. It will give Trump no joy to learn that Berman has also recused himself from the matter now consuming Michael Cohen, and that the warrants were approved by one of Berman's underlings.

The tastiest bit of bitter history here is the office itself. Before Berman, the southern district US attorney was a world-class investigator and prosecutor named Preet Bharara. Among his many cases, Bharara was sniffing heavily around shady real estate dealings between Trump and some Russian oligarchs, many of whom have since played starring roles in Mueller's ongoing investigation.

Very early in his presidency, Trump fired or demanded resignations from every serving US attorney in the country, including Bharara. All of Bharara's cases, including those involving Trump and the Russians, came to a screeching halt. This was no accident: A Trump lawyer named Marc Kasowitz bragged about convincing Trump to fire Bharara because, as Kasowitz reportedly told Trump, "This guy is going to get you."

It appears the southern district isn't quite finished with "The Donald" just yet. Trump could complain to the boss, but the boss has recused himself. Lather, rinse, repeat. At last, then, comes the simple astonishment of it all. Obtaining a valid search warrant for an attorney's office is incredibly difficult given the strictures of the attorney-client privilege. Obtaining a search warrant for the offices, home and hotel of the personal attorney to the president of the United States is just slightly less difficult than dropping a warrant on God.

According to the US Attorneys' Manual, obtaining these warrants required investigators to first try and acquire the evidence through other means like a subpoena. The US Attorney or a deputy had to approve the warrants. Approval from the criminal division of the Department of Justice was required, which means Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein also had to approve them. Firewalls and a "privilege team" had to be deployed to protect from infringement of the attorney-client privilege. Finally, the whole thing had to be signed off on by a US District Court judge. They got it all. Damned if they didn't. Even Richard Nixon's lawyers didn't see their offices and homes raided. In an administration without precedent, this was yet another Whole New Thing.

US political history is replete with needle-off-the-record moments when everything just stops with a screech. The firing of Archibald Cox, the testimony of John Dean, Joe Welch asking Joe McCarthy if, at long last, he had any sense of decency ... those moments come, and every moment after is marked forever. This was one of those moments.

There is a certain eerie symmetry to the fact that Cohen was served with these warrants on the anniversary of the surrender at the Appomattox courthouse. If this were a Game of Thrones episode, it would be time to retreat to Maegor's Holdfast with the Tears of Lys and a goblet of good wine. The Main Enemy has splintered the gate, and unfriendly footfalls can be heard on the stairs.

For the record, this is why so many of us were so strident in our belief that Donald Trump should never be allowed anywhere near the power of the presidency. The man is as crooked as a rhombus and has the temperament of a pit viper on a good day, and this is not a good day.

Trump is fit to be tied, frantic in his rage and fear, and as of this writing trembles on the verge of unleashing even more war upon the rubble in Syria ... with John Bolton whispering in his ear all the while. No one in Washington is more eager than Bolton to take advantage of an unstable president's lust to punish. This could be a big moment for the new national security adviser.

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

How Low Can The Barons Of High Finance Go?
By Jim Hightower

"Greed is good," proclaimed Gordon Gekko, lead character in a 1987 film lampooning the low ethics of the high finance barons of Wall Street.

You might think that, surely, this Hollywood portrayal is a gross exaggeration, but check out an egregious example of Gekko-level greed being pushed by today's Wall Street sharks. Big shot financiers have been going all out to kill a sensible labor department rule meant to protect people's retirement accounts from the self-serving guile of financial manipulators. The rule simply requires firms that manage these accounts to put our money in investments expected to produce the best returns for us, rather than in investments that pay the highest interest fees to them.

It's hardly harsh to require them to treat us common customers with basic honesty, applying what amounts to a Golden Rule for bankers. But - oh, howls of outrage exploded from the Wall Street baronies! Lobbyists swarmed into Washington, and scores of lawyers rushed into courts. To defend their right to be dishonest, the greed-fueled bankers resorted to more dishonesty, claiming that the fiduciary rule would hurt "smaller investors."

Huh? Well, they prevaricated, only by misdirecting small retirement savers into high-fee investments can we make enough profit to give "affordable financial advice" to workaday folks. Again, huh? These banks are wallowing in unconscionable levels of profits, but the only "affordable" advice they want to offer to us is bad advice, funneling our retirement stash into deals that benefit them at our expense.

Bankers claiming that they have a legal right to profit by cheating their own customers is a level of gluttony so gross that it would even gag Gordon Gekko. For more information, connect with Consumer Federation of America:
(c) 2018 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition. Jim writes The Hightower Lowdown, a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America's ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at

The city skyline of Denver, Colorado, with the Rocky Mountains in the distance.

Let's Start Saving Journalism By Saving This One Newspaper
A union's urgent struggle to preserve The Denver Post has been joined by the paper's editorial page.
By John Nichols

When The Denver Post editors revolted against "vulture-capitalist" ownership and suggested it might be time for their newspaper's hedge-fund masters to sell the regional daily to someone-anyone-who cared about journalism, they did not propose a sweeping plan to address the crisis of democratic communications in America.

They simply said-as the paper's current owners (Alden Global Capital) prepared to cut more jobs and further reduce the ability of an already downsized daily to cover a city, a region and a state-that enough is enough.

"At The Denver Post on Monday, more than two dozen reporters, editors, photographers, videographers, page designers, digital producers and opinion staff will walk out the door. Our marching orders are to cut a full 30 by the start of July," read the paper's Sunday editorial. "These heartbreaking instructions raise the question: Does this cut, which follows so many in recent years that our ranks have shriveled from more than 250 to fewer than 100 today, represent the beginning of the end for the Voice of the Rocky Mountain Empire?"

It is not exactly "news" that a major daily newspaper faces the very real threat of being killed by profiteers who neither understand nor care about journalism. That's a common story these days, in cities across the country. But it is newsworthy, and inspiring, when journalists rise to defend journalism.

The Post's editors acknowledged they were late in speaking up. Vital newspapers have been dying for years nationally and in Colorado-where the great Rocky Mountain News ceased publication almost a decade ago.

The decline of daily newspapers has, too frequently and too casually, been blamed on "changing times"-the rise of digital communications, the movement of advertising to new platforms and new algorithms-but there was always more to the story than the technological or social disruptions of the era. Yes, the digital age has altered everything about our communications. And, yes, many once-great daily papers failed to adapt to the shifting media landscape. But a big part of the reason why this adaptation has proven to be so difficult had been the scheming of the profiteers to enhance their bottom lines by kicking journalism-and journalists-to the curb.

There were always bad owners of newspapers, radio stations and television stations, just as there are now bad owners of online news sites. But the hedge funds that have in recent years been buying up major daily newspapers in order to capitalize on what remains of their reputations-or the downtown real estate where big-city newspapers were once headquartered-are not just bad owners. They are, indeed, vultures who pluck at the remains not just of media outlets but of a dying democratic discourse.

While responsible owners have been stabilizing-and in some cases growing-daily papers elsewhere, the union that represents journalists at the Post has argued for some time now that "Alden founders Heath Freeman and Randall Smith are dismantling The Post and other Digital First properties without conscience and with a disturbing lack of ethics."

The Denver unit of The Newspaper Guild makes a good point. And this point is about much more than saving jobs at one newspaper in one city.

Americans have every good reason to worry about the challenges to democracy posed by fake news. But they need to understand that fake news thrives in the news deserts where newspapers, radio stations, television stations and online news sites were once sufficiently staffed to practice a journalism that was sufficient to check and balance the spin doctors, the liars and the false prophets of a win-at-any-cost politics.

The Post's editors recognized this in an editorial that admitted that they were sounding the alarm at a very late stage in the crisis. But they did do with an honest and necessary acknowledgement that too many waning news outlets fail to make:

"When newsroom owners view profits as the only goal, quality, reliability and accountability suffer. Their very mission is compromised. The course correction that needs to come for the benefit of communities across the land depends on owners committed to serving their readers and viewers and users."
They made that admission with an appropriate sense of urgency:
The cuts, backed by our owner, the New York City hedge fund Alden Global Capital, also are a mystery, if you look at them from the point of view of those of us intent on running a serious news operation befitting the city that bears our name. Media experts locally and nationally question why our future looks so bleak, as many newspapers still enjoy double-digit profits and our management reported solid profits as recently as last year.

We call for action. Consider this editorial and this Sunday's Perspective offerings a plea to Alden - owner of Digital First Media, one of the largest newspaper chains in the country - to rethink its business strategy across all its newspaper holdings. Consider this also a signal to our community and civic leaders that they ought to demand better. Denver deserves a newspaper owner who supports its newsroom. If Alden isn't willing to do good journalism here, it should sell The Post to owners who will.

That is a soft validation of the blunter call from The Newspaper Guild, which says that: "Now is the time for new ownership at The Post and all other Digital First newspapers. The Denver Newspaper Guild implores Alden to sell its free-falling properties to local owners while there remains a chance to invest in quality journalism."

"Sell now before it's too late," argues the Guild.

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper took up the call on Monday, telling Rolling Stone in a conversation that touched on the Post's circumstance: "I think it's got to be sold."

Saving this one newspaper won't necessarily create a model for preserving journalism in other cities. But it could. What we know is this: it is necessary to defend newsrooms, to rise up on behalf of old and new media that is sufficiently staffed to cover cities, states, nations and the world. Denver is as good a place as any for a pivot toward a more militant struggle-a struggle which recognizes, finally, and unequivocally, that we must sustain journalism in order to sustain democracy.
(c) 2018 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

Does Water Have Consciousness?
By James Donahue

Water, perhaps the most vital component for life, is so abundant on Earth that most humans take it for granted. Yet the very consistency of water is a mystery within itself.

Comprised of two explosive gasses, hydrogen and oxygen, when combined in a simple formula of two parts oxygen and one part hydrogen, it becomes a fluid substance that has the capability of dowsing fire and maintaining life. Once the gases combine to form water, it almost takes a rocket scientist to figure out how to separate them again.

Not long ago a Japanese scientist claimed that he believed water has a consciousness of its own and that mankind must not only understand this, but learn to show a love and respect for water if we expect to continue our existence.

As a major component of Planet Earth, a sentient giant that many humans believe is the creator of all living things that exist in and on its surface, the discoveries by the late Dr. Masaru Emoto must be given serious consideration. If the Earth is a living thing, and all of the cells that comprise the things on it are not only alive, but aware, who can say that the water that covers a portion of its surface and flows through the underground rivers like blood through our veins is not also alive?

Emoto, the author of Messages From Water, said he discovered that water, which is nearly as old as our planet and a basic component of life, has a consciousness and can perceive, remember and communicate with the environment like all other living organisms.

An alternative medicine specialist, Dr. Emoto also believed water has a natural healing power. He began researching its mysteries in 1994 using a magnetic resonance analyzer to measure its properties.

While we know so little about water, Emoto thought it was important that we learn what the ancients once knew, and start to live in healthy harmony with the substance that comprises over 70 percent of our bodies.

He also thought that humans must experience a paradigm shift of thought before they will have any chance of uncovering the consciousness of water.

Emoto's experiments with water included collecting samples from around the world and then observing and photographing them through a microscope as they were frozen into crystals.

Using magnifications of up to 500 times, Emoto discovered that while thawing, as the frozen flakes became liquid, they revealed certain crystal structures.

"It is impossible to obtain identical crystal pictures even from one type of water . . . but there is a certain tendency in all of the samples to form a crystal grid," he wrote.

He said he had the feeling that each crystal was trying hard to become beautiful. "It's trying to purify itself," he said.

And there was something else. Emoto found that there was a significant difference in the way water crystallized and the crystals broke down again when the samples came from urban areas compared to other more healthy environments.

He said the "healthy water" would show a complete hexagonal crystal structure that did not exist in water from polluted areas.

Emoto believes water contains Hado, an intrinsic vibrational pattern at the atomic level in all matter. "Water is the most receptive of the four elements," he said.

His experiments involved placing bottles of distilled water between amplifiers and playing various kinds of music. When classical works or the chanting of monks were produced the water produced clear and beautiful crystal structures. When pop or heavy metal music was played, the crystals were haphazard.

The experiments also involved the way water reacted to energy from pictures and words. "Letters and pictures contain vibrations, too. Our consciousness, values and feelings are imprinted on such objects," he said.

He said he found that water is capable of memorizing sound vibrations and this memory is reflected in the way it forms crystals. "Water reflects what it perceives," he said.

Emoto found that water crystallization changed when it occurred in different human environments. For example, when the water was placed in front of a computer monitor, no crystals were produced. But when a piece of paper with a positive word like "love" was attached to the bottle, crystals developed. When placed near a television playing a movie with a positive storyline, there were lovely crystals.

The words "devil" and "angel," having negative and positive connotations among the humans around the water, also affected the water. The crystals changed from a deformed, blackish structure to beautiful hexagonal formations.

"The medium is not as important as the energy it conveys," Emoto said. "If you have a happy and positive conversation on a mobile phone, the water will form good crystals.

"Positive information results in beautiful hexagonal crystals, while negative information shows otherwise," he said. "If we are aware of this and communicate good feelings and messages, the quality of crystals will be beautiful and hence the quality of the water will be good," he said.

As a physician, Dr. Emoto said he believes that if we learn to take care of the water that is within our bodies, we can heal. "As we are mainly composed of water, we should vibrate good energy to the water in our bodies. Positive thinking and emotions, for example, can readily affect the quality of water in our body. Stress, a cause of many illnesses, is a result of the bad energy we carry in our body's water."

Emoto also urged people to be kind to other water-based beings on the planet and create positive energy flows throughout the world.

The tragedy is that water around the world has become highly polluted as a result of human ignorance and un-gratefulness. Emoto believes, however, that we have the power to improve the quality of this water by becoming aware of its qualities and learning to be more grateful for it.

"By changing the vibration, we can change the substance. So we can alter the environment," he said.
(c) 2018 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles.

Iran's Hassan Rouhani, Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russia's Vladimir Putin after a summit on Syria on April 4.

From Ankara To Moscow, Eurasia Integration Is On The Move
The Russia-led Eurasia Economic Union is spreading its wings and
gaining strength, with some key projects, big players and big plans in the pipeline
By Pepe Escobar

As presidents Vladimir Putin, Hassan Rouhani and Recep Tayyip Erdogan met in Ankara for a second Russia-Iran-Turkey summit on the future of Syria, Moscow hosted its 7th International Security Conference attended by defense ministers from dozens of nations.

A more graphic illustration of the synchronicity drive towards Eurasia integration would be hard to find.

Crucially, China sent not only a high-ranking delegation to Moscow, but most of all a loud and clear message. General Wei Fenghe, the new Chinese Defense Minister, side by side with Russian counterpart Sergey Shoigu, said: "The Chinese side came to let the Americans know about the close ties between the Russian and Chinese armed forces." Shoigu, for his part, underlined the "special character" of the Russia-China partnership.

Even before the meeting the Global Times stressed the point that non-stop Russia demonization coupled with the now rolling US-China trade war will only strengthen the "special character" partnership.

And then Iran's Defense Minister, Brigadier General Amir Hatami, expanded the scope, saying "foreign plans" related to security in the Middle East would inevitably fail -they must be hatched within Southwest Asia.

What happened in Moscow necessarily must be crossed over with what happened in Ankara.

A common commitment

The first Russia-Iran-Turkey trilateral meeting on Syria was in Sochi on November 22 last year. Sochi led to the formation of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress and a 150-strong committee tasked to draft a new constitution for Syria. All these procedures essentially follow guidelines established by the 2012 Geneva peace process. Even the UN praised Sochi as an important contribution to a revived intra-Syrian talks process."

For the Ankara meeting, the foreign ministers of Russia (Sergey Lavrov), Iran (Mohammad Javad Zarif) and Turkey (Mevlut Cavusoglu) met in Astana in early April to prepare the terrain.

The final joint statement is unmistakable, emphasizing their common commitment to the sovereignty, unity, independence and territorial integrity of Syria.

The fact that Ankara is Putin's first foreign trip after reelection speaks volumes. The Russia-Iran-Turkey strategy on Syria, incrementally developed in Astana, established a delicate balance of de-escalation zones -the Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta, Idlib, Homs and the Syrian-Jordanian border -and humanitarian corridors, allowing scores of civilians to leave war zones, especially in the case of Ghouta.

The war in Ghouta against a jihadi galaxy has been all but won by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), supported by a Russian mix of air support and negotiation skills and, significantly, no input from Iranian military commanders. So-called "moderate rebel" remnants were dispatched to Idlib. Damascus is free from shelling. That was the SAA's biggest victory after the liberation of Aleppo in December 2016.

Northern Syria, however, remains a much trickier proposition, as we have a de facto NATO versus NATO subplot; Turkish troops versus the YPG Kurds, a proxy US force.

The fact that the SAA-Russia offensive in eastern Ghouta happened in parallel to the neo-Orwellian Operation Olive Branch by the Turks in the Kurdish canton of Afrin spells out a complex Russia-Iran-Turkey deal worked out in Astana -as diplomats confirmed to Asia Times.

As much as Tehran may be exasperated by Turkish military incursions into Syria, by ordering Iranian commanders not to interfere in both eastern Ghouta and Afrin, Tehran made sure Ankara would not derail the extermination, and or transfer of jihadis threatening Damascus.

The key discussion at the trilateral summit in Ankara was about what happens next to Idlib -now the ultimate jihadi "moderate rebel" refuge, where Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which is connected to al-Qaeda, is fighting a Syrian Liberation Front backed by Turkey that also happens to harbor hardcore jihadis such as Ahrar al-Sham.

It will all hinge on whether Ankara will be able to persuade this congregation of nasty forces that the war is in fact over. Otherwise, the SAA, backed by Russian airpower, will embark on yet another bombing campaign, potentially adding extra hundreds of thousands of refugees to the 3.5 million already holed up inside Turkey's borders.

What is certain is that Ankara does not feel inclined to leave Syria's northwest and north-central areas anytime soon. How Moscow and Tehran -not to mention Damascus -will react is an (explosive) open question.

Get me my S-400s on time

The Russia-Turkey partnership is all business -centered on a crucial energy, nuclear and weapons triangle.

Russia, "at the onset of the creation of the nuclear industry in Turkey," according to presidential aide Yury Ushakov, will start building Turkey's first nuclear power plant at Akkuyu at a cost of $20 billion. The first reactor is expected to be ready by 2023, and the plant will be owned by Russia.

Following a contract signed last December, Moscow will also deliver the S-400 surface-to-air defense system to Ankara before 2020, earlier than expected, "at the request of our Turkish friends and partners," according to Putin. NATO is not exactly pleased.

And then there's the $12 billion Turk Stream gas pipeline, which is a work-in-progress -with the overland segment about to receive a go-ahead permit from Ankara. Several EU members are not exactly pleased.

All that spells out Russian diplomacy carefully strengthening relations with pinpointed EU-NATO member states. Even as the ultimate target may be to convince NATO to de-escalate from Russia's western borderlands, or from the Cold War 2.0 Iron Curtain from the Baltic to the Black Sea, that's still a long way from a game-changer such as Turkey actually ditching NATO.

A stalemate would certainly be reached as a concerted Russia-China charm offensive may lead Erdogan to consider the benefits of joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Ankara is deepening its business ties with both Pakistan, a full SCO member, and Iran, now on observer status and about to become a full member.

Russia, China and Iran are the three key vectors of Eurasia integration, which includes everything from Pipelineistan to trade connectivity networks. Erdogan does not covet the role of sideshow spectator.

And just like clockwork, an extra Russia-Iran integration node may be added as Tehran is expected to join the Russia-led Eurasia Economic Union (EEU) before the end of the year. The free trade EEU -now harboring Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Vietnam -is attracting interest from everyone from China, India and Indonesia to Serbia, Israel and South American nations. Erdogan is certainly paying attention.

And now it's time to rebuild

From the start, Syria was a Pipelineistan war. A key target was to ditch the prospect of a $10 billion Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline -a memorandum of understanding was signed in 2011 -and replace it with a Qatar to Turkey pipeline via a regime-changed Syria.

Qatar and the House of Saud ended up certified geopolitical losers in Syria. The Saudi blockade of Qatar failed miserably. The new equation reveals Qatar -supported by Oman and Kuwait -getting closer to Iran and even closer to Turkey.

Ankara operates the Tariq bin Ziyad military base in Qatar. Iran and Qatar are deepening cooperation in South Pars -the largest gas field on the planet. Stranger things have happened than foreseeing a pipeline finally being completed in the near future, carrying Iran-Qatar gas and transiting through Turkey, even as Russia and China remain actively involved in the Qatari gas industry.

With the prospect of Syrian reconstruction finally at hand, Beijing will turbo-charge its plans to turn Syria into a key Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) node.

On the Russian front, Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak has confirmed that energy giants Lukoil and Gazprom Neft are already focused on rebuilding -and developing -Syria's badly damaged energy infrastructure, following a cooperation roadmap signed last February.

The Russian companies have been invited to upgrade the Baniyas refinery and to build a new refinery in partnership with Iran and Venezuela. Damascus and Moscow will launch a direct shipping line to facilitate trade and set up a bank controlled by their own central banks.

According to Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi, nearly US$1 billion worth of agreements on energy, trade and finance have already been signed. Previously, Syrian Ambassador to Russia Riyad Haddad promised that nations which helped Syria fight terrorism "have the right to be at the forefront" of those restoring the country's economy.

That means, essentially, Russia, Iran and China. It remains to be seen what role -if any -will be played by Erdogan's new Ottomanism.
(c) 2018 Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times. His latest book is "Obama Does Globalistan." He may be reached at

Cheering For More Death
By Heather Digby Parton

I wish I understood why Republican voters cheer this behavior:

The Trump administration took additional steps to weaken Obamacare on Monday, allowing U.S. states to relax the rules on what insurers must cover and giving states more power to regulate their individual insurance markets.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a final rule that allows states to select essential health benefits that must be covered by individual insurance plans sold under former President Barack Obama's healthcare law. The 2010 Affordable Care Act requires coverage of 10 benefits, including maternity and newborn care and prescription drugs. Under the new rule, states can select from a much larger list which benefits insurers must cover.

That could lead to less generous coverage in some states, according to Avalere Health, a research and consulting firm.

President Donald Trump's administration has used its regulatory power to undermine Obamacare after the Republican-controlled Congress last year failed to repeal and replace the law. About 20 million people have received health insurance coverage through the program.

The new CMS rule also allows states the possibility of modifying the medical loss ratio (MLR) formula, the amount an insurer spends on medical claims compared with income from premiums that is also a key performance metric. A state can request "reasonable adjustments" to the medical loss ratio standard if it shows that it could help stabilize its individual market.

Insurers could also have an easier time raising their rates under the new rule. Obamacare mandated that premium rate increases of 10 percent or more in the individual market be scrutinized by state regulators to ensure that they are necessary and reasonable. The new CMS rule raises that threshold to 15 percent.

I guess GOP voters might believe this will result in lower prices and better care. Or, more pertinently, will end up denying health care to people they hate which I suspect is the real motivation for their bizarre and frankly, sadistic hatred of the ACA.

Trump wasn't able to completely repeal the program. But they're doing everything they can to kill it with a death by a thousand cuts. It's just another reason for decent Americans to organize and vote in 2018 and 2020. There will be tremendous pressure to cut everything because of the GOP tax cuts. It's going to take a strong Democratic majority with a mandate and a president to fix this damage. It will be a very heavy lift.

And that's if we survive which at this point is not assured.
(c) 2018 Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

"American political culture has devolved from the Vietnam era, when pacifists were
marginalized, to a kneejerk bellicosity in which they don't exist as part of the debate."

The Media Never, Ever Gives Peace A Chance
Nowhere to be found was a pacifist: someone who opposes war, all war, no matter what. Nor were there any anti-interventionists: people who say Syria is not our business and should be left to sort out its own affairs.
By Ted Rall

At this writing, President Trump is considering "the possibility of retaliation in Syria in response to a suspected chemical attack on young children and families in the Syrian city of Douma," reported CBS News. "If it's the Russians, if it's Syria, if it's Iran, if it's all of them together, we'll figure it out," Trump said. "Nothing's off the table," including a military attack by the United States.

Whether that possibility involves a cruise missile strike, drone attacks or conventional bombing raids by fighter jets, this is deadly serious business. People, mostly innocent civilians and Syrian grunts who had nothing to do with the "suspected" chemical attack, will die. People will be injured. Survivors will be traumatized. An attack could escalate and expand the current conflict, leading to more death and destruction.

The stakes are high, but U.S. policymakers are as glibly insouciant as if they were choosing between Hulu and Netflix. This is not new or Trumpian. It's always been like this. American leaders don't take these life-and-death decisions seriously.

If the United States were a sane country populated by rational, civically-engaged citizens, Americans would pour derision and ridicule on anyone who seriously considered raining bombs over a "suspected" anything. And the skepticism in this case ought to be exponentially greater considering that this is Syria. ,P. We've already been down this "Syria's Assad regime used chemical weapons against their own people so we should bomb his forces" road. It happened under Obama. What is certain here is uncertainty: maybe it's true, maybe it's not. As legendary investigative journalist Seymour Hersh pointed out in 2014, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) believed that at least one major faction of the Syrian opposition, the al-Nusra Front, possessed significant manufacturing facilities and stockpiles of sarin nerve agent and other proscribed toxic chemicals.

Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? Since when is "maybe they did it, maybe they didn't, oh well" sufficient?

American political culture has devolved from the Vietnam era, when pacifists were marginalized, to a kneejerk bellicosity in which they don't exist as part of the debate.

To its credit, The New York Times - still with blood on its hands from its unwholesome publishing of Judith Miller's pro-Iraq War screeds - has printed statements by those who oppose rushing into war with Syria. "We would prefer to start with a proper investigation," the newspaper quoted Britain's ambassador to the United Nations. It also ran letters to the editor that expressed doubts about Syria's motivations and Trump's trustworthiness.

Nowhere to be found was a pacifist: someone who opposes war, all war, no matter what. Nor were there any anti-interventionists: people who say Syria is not our business and should be left to sort out its own affairs.

It's the same at The Washington Post. Some writers there wonder aloud whether Trump's sabre-rattling is more "Wag the Dog" than "Doctor Strangelove": if he bombs Syria, will it be to take our minds off the Russia stuff? Also, weirdly, this headline: "Something for Trump to keep in mind on Syria: His strikes last year were pretty popular." How does Amber Phillips sleep at night? Again: no pacifists. No anti-interventionists.

It's not like they're not out there in Real America. The nativist America Firsters who formed the core of Team Trump in 2016 included a lot of isolationists - and Trump ran on a no-more-nation-building platform. They're disgusted more by the cost of the bombs we drop on Muslim countries than the lives they destroy; if there's any nation-building to be done, they ask quite reasonably, why not start with America's own rusted-out, broken-down infrastructure?

Getting the paper out every day is a miracle. Editors can be forgiven for sometimes forgetting to cover all the bases by offering a wide spectrum of solutions to the problems covered by their news stories and debated in their opinion sections. The same goes for the producers laboring through cable news' 24-7 news cycle. At a certain point, however, they ought to take a step back and consider the effect of their editorial decisions. They've created a relentless culture of ultraviolence, a debate without diversity between those who want bombs and those who want even more wars, to the point that not going to war isn't even something we get to consider as a legitimate option.
(c) 2018 Ted Rall, syndicated writer and the cartoonist for, is the author of the book "Snowden," the biography of the NSA whistleblower.

Michael Cohen Should've 'Tread Very F*cking Lightly'
President* Trump's lawyer goon gets a visit from the FBI.
By Charles P. Pierce

No knock.

Who's there?


FB who?

FBI, motherfcker.

-New Variation On Traditional New York Humor

Michael Cohen, capo di tutti tuff-guy in the president*'s entourage, got a visit from those nice young folks at the Bureau on Monday. I think I can say without fear of contradiction that pure, uncut schadenfreude has descended on any number of people in New York and Washington. From the NYT:Blockquote> Federal prosecutors in Manhattan obtained the search warrant after receiving a referral from the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, according to Mr. Cohen's lawyer, who called the search "completely inappropriate and unnecessary." The search does not appear to be directly related to Mr. Mueller's investigation, but likely resulted from information he had uncovered and gave to prosecutors in New York. And, because it's 2018, there is a Stormy angle.

Mr. Cohen plays a role in aspects of the special counsel's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. He also recently said he paid $130,000 to a pornographic-film actress, Stephanie Clifford, who said she had an affair with Mr. Trump. Ms. Clifford is known as Stormy Daniels. Mr. Ryan said Mr. Cohen has cooperated with authorities and turned over thousands of documents to congressional investigators looking into Russian election meddling. The payments to Ms. Clifford are only one of many topics being investigated, according to a person briefed on the search. The F.B.I. also seized emails, tax documents and business records, the person said.
Cohen was the president*'s designated hitter, his bully with a briefcase and a line of bullshit straight out of a cheap mob movie. McKay Coppins of Buzzfeed hipped us to Cohen in 2015.
"I'm warning you, tread very fucking lightly. Because what I'm going to do to you is going to be fucking disgusting. You understand me?"
As Mr. Spade was known to say, and as we are known to quote him: "the cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter."

The FBI doesn't raid the offices of high-end lawyers unless they are absolutely sure about what they're looking for, and absolutely sure they're inbounds, too. Attorney-client privilege is a serious business, and that's a good thing. It's pretty plain that this is a serious turn in Robert Mueller's investigation. It's also pretty plain that his investigation is going everywhere it can possibly go.

Tread very f*cking lightly, Mr. Cohen. What can happen to you can be f*cking disgusting.
(c) 2018 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.

The Quotable Quote...

"Today the world is the victim of propaganda because people are not intellectually competent. More than anything the United States needs effective citizens competent to do their own thinking."
~~~ William Mather Lewis ~ President, George Washington University 1923 ~ 1927

Judas In The White House: Bush, Obama & Trump
By Jane Stillwater

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the economy is definitely booming. But outside of the Bay Area? Not so much.

I'm currently in Reno at a book convention, trying to flog my latest detective novel -- and I am also detecting something else here as well. From what I can tell after just a few days' stakeout, many residents in the "Biggest Little City in the World" are clearly hurting for money and jobs -- just like so many other folks in America today.

But how can this be? How can the richest country in the world have fallen so low?

The answer is simple. "Judas in the White House" -- or three of them, to be exact.

When all the votes were counted (or not) after the 2000 presidential election, American voters had given a clear mandate that we wanted to go in a people-friendly direction and away from all this nonsense about "war". People voted for Gore. People voted for Nader. We shoulda gotten ecology and a fat peace dividend back in 2000. Instead we got George W. Bush shoved down our throats. And 9-11. And all its shabby results. Judas in the White House.

And then along came Obama. We voters gave him a clear mandate too -- we wanted it our way, jobs and peace. Instead we got even more merciless slaughter in Iraq and Afghanistan shoved down our throats. Plus the horrors of additional "wars" and proxy wars in Libya, Syria, Yemen, Palestine and Ukraine too. Pathetic.

At the Reno convention this week, a handwriting analyst, Sheila Lowe, gave a very interesting talk. She said, "Obama's handwriting shows that he was a great leader -- but was under intense pressure to do things against his will."0 But, all the same, he still did them anyway. Humph. Judas in the White House.

And then there's Trump. "Make America great again," he told his naive voters. And then he sold America out for 30 pieces of Wall Street and War Street. America now has more gun-toting Special Ops units in more countries worldwide than it has ambassadors. That's just cray-cray. Not to mention Trump's new BFFs, the slaughtering Saudis and infamous Israelis. Judas in the White House. It makes sense that Reno is hurting. It makes sense that America is hurting too. We've been sold out.

PS: Bush, Obama and Trump aren't the only presidents who sold Americans out in order to keep the military-industrial complex happily lining their pockets with silver to the severe detriment for the rest of us. This has been an ongoing trend that only presidents Kennedy and Carter have even tried to buck.

President Wilson: Got us involved in grim European military-industrial battles that were none of our business.

President Roosevelt: World War II was allegedly fought to preserve democracy against fascism [Fascism defined as governments and corporations working together to screw the rest of us] but actually it was fought because Hitler and Tojo got too greedy and started horning in on America's and Britain's military-industrial complex swag.

President Truman: Proof is only just now surfacing that Korea was originally attacked by America because the Korean government was apparently becoming too nice to its own people and too representational -- a very bad example to set. So Truman authorized dropping 1.5 million bombs on Korea, tearing the country apart and installing a cruel dictator in the south instead.

President Eisenhower: Allowed covert operations against Iran, Congo and various Central American countries because their leaders were becoming a bit too democratic and actually setting up unions, hospitals and schools. Clapped his hands in glee that a brutal dictator was our ally in Taiwan.

President Johnson: Had a good thing going with the Great Society but lied us into the "war" on Vietnam instead because Uncle Ho was becoming too democratic. Johnson also conspicuously looked the other way when Israeli neo-cons murdered 34 American sailors aboard the USS Liberty.

President Nixon: Lied to us in order to continue the "war" on Vietnam just because he could -- and to help the US military-industrial complex continue to gut our treasury too.

Reagan: Mr. Judas himself. All it took was 30 pieces of silver to get him to murder thousands of Mayans, crucify Central America -- and destroy the American economy as well. Trickle down? More like Trickle Up.

President Bush the First: Invented that phony Gulf "War" in order to steal Iraq's oil for himself and his cronies. Hey, his plan worked. Nothing in it for the rest of us except Gulf War Syndrome however.

President Clinton: Chit-chatted a lot about our "peace dividend" but then went out of his way to destroy Yugoslavia and turn it into a hellhole. Why? Because Tito had been treating his people too kindly. Stuff like that just had to be stopped! And boy was it.

So. Here's my one obvious question. "Have we Americans ever learned anything after all these decades of being betrayed again and again by our presidents in favor of warmongers and corporate carpetbaggers?" Apparently not.

My only hope is that Americans will now start to build on the current heroic Parkland protests and finally realize that the foul act of murdering any child anywhere is bad, bad and wrong -- no matter how much profit for warmongers is involved.
(c) 2018 Jane Stillwater. Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world. And while you're at it, please buy my books!

A Poor People's Campaign Against War
By David Swanson

A Poor People's Campaign Against War By David Swanson Movements that are serious about human survival, economic justice, environmental protection, the creation of a good society, or all of the above, address the problem of militarism. Movements that claim to be comprehensive yet run screaming from any mention of the problem of war are not serious.

Toward the not-serious end of the spectrum sit most activist efforts devoted to political parties in a corrupt political system. The Women's March, the Climate March (which we had to work very hard to squeeze the slightest mention of peace out of), and the March for Our Lives are not especially serious. While the March for Our Lives is a single-issue "march," its issue is gun violence, and its leaders promote military and police violence while shunning any recognition of the fact that the U.S. Army trained their classmate to kill.

It's certainly encouraging that some "Indivisible" groups have been opposing Trump's latest disastrous nominations in part on anti-militarist grounds. But one should hesitate to look to partisan groups for a revaluation of moral values.

Toward the more serious end of the spectrum are Black Lives Matter, which includes a serious analysis of militarism and the relationships among supposedly separate "issues" throughout its platform, and the Poor People's Campaign, which on Tuesday published a report by the Institute for Policy Studies that takes on the interlocking evils of militarism, racism, extreme materialism, and environmental destruction.

"Few recall," the report says, "that the war in Vietnam drained away many of the resources for the War on Poverty, which did much but could have done much more. 'Bombs dropped in Vietnam explode at home,' Dr. King said. Fewer still recall the prophetic voice of the Poor People's Campaign and that Dr. King died organizing a nonviolent revolution to push America toward a social ethos grounded in love. . . . [T]he new Poor People's Campaign will bring together people from all walks of life to the National Mall in Washington and to state capitols across the nation from May 13th to June 23rd, 2018, just over forty days to demand that our country see the poor in our streets, confront the damage to our natural environment, and ponder the ailments of a nation that year after year spends more money on endless war than on human need."

The new Poor People's Campaign knows where the money is.

"The current annual military budget, at $668 billion, dwarfs the $190 billion allocated for education, jobs, housing, and other basic services and infrastructure. Out of every dollar in federal discretionary spending, 53 cents goes towards the military, with just 15 cents on anti-poverty programs."
And it doesn't fall for the lie that the money needs to be there.
"Washington's wars of the last 50 years have had little to do with protecting Americans, while the profit motive has increased significantly. With private contractors now performing many traditional military roles, there have been almost 10 times as many military contractors per soldier in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars as there were during the Vietnam War. . . "
The new Poor People's Campaign recognizes the other 96% of people as being people too.
"U.S. military interventions have caused staggering numbers of civilian deaths in poor countries. According to the United Nations, almost one-third more civilians died in Afghanistan during the first nine months of 2017 than during that same period in 2009 when the counting began. . . . Perpetual war has also taken a toll on U.S. troops and personnel. In 2012, suicide claimed more military deaths than military action."
This campaign recognizes the connections.
"Militarism abroad has gone hand in hand with the militarization of U.S. borders and of poor communities across this country. Local police are now equipped with war machinery such as the armored military vehicle deployed in Ferguson, Missouri, in response to protests over the police killing of a Black teenager, Michael Brown, in 2014. Young Black males have been hardest hit by this escalation in force. They are nine times more likely to be killed by police officers than other Americans."
This campaign also recognizes things that any organization devoted to one of the two big political parties is strictly incapable of recognizing, such as when something necessary is completely lacking:
"Unlike President Dwight Eisenhower, who warned against the 'military-industrial complex,' no contemporary political leader is putting the dangers of militarism and the war economy at the center of public debate."
I recommend reading the whole report, the militarism section of which discusses: the war economy and military expansion:
"The expansion of the U.S. military around the world causes serious problems, from assaults on local women to environmental destruction to distorting local economies."
who's benefitting from war and privatizing the military:
"Washington's wars of the last 50 years have little to do with protecting Americans. Rather, their goals are to consolidate U.S. corporations' control over oil, gas, other resources and pipelines; to supply the Pentagon with military bases and strategic territory to wage more wars; to maintain military dominance over any challenger(s); and to continue to provide justification for Washington's multi-billion dollar military industry. . . . A 2005 report by the Institute for Policy Studies showed that between 2001 and 2004, CEOs of large corporations averaged a 7 percent raise on their already lucrative salaries. Defense contractor CEOs, however, averaged a 200 percent increase. . . ."
the poverty draft:
"As reported in a 2008 study on race, class, immigration status, and military service, 'an important predictor to military service in the general population is family income. Those with lower family income are more likely to join the military than those with higher family income. . . ."
women in the military:
"[A]s women's participation in the military increased, so did the number of women victimized by their fellow soldiers. According to recent Veterans Administration (VA) data, one in every five women veterans has told their VA healthcare provider that they have experienced military sexual trauma, defined as sexual assault or repeated, threatening sexual harassment. . . . Just four years before 2001, when the extremist anti-women Taliban ruled Afghanistan, UNOCAL oil adviser Zalmay Khalilzad had welcomed the Taliban to the United States to discuss potential deals. Little or no concern was expressed about women's rights or women's lives. In December 2001 President George W. Bush appointed Khalilzad special representative, and later U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan. After the September 11 attacks, there was a sudden onslaught of expressed concern about the Taliban's treatment of Afghan women. . . . But the U.S.-installed government that replaced the Taliban included many warlords and others whose extreme antagonism to women's rights was hardly distinguishable from that of the Taliban."
the militarization of society:
"Much of the federal funding comes through things like the '1033 program,' which authorizes the Pentagon to transfer military equipment and resources to local police departments — from grenade launchers to armored personnel carriers — all at virtually no cost. . . . While guns have always played a major role in U.S. history and culture, dating back to the genocide of Native people inherent in the European conquest of the continent and the enslavement of Black Africans, guns are now more prevalent than ever before."
the human and moral costs:
"The streams of desperate people seeking refuge across the sea or around the world have become a flood. In the United States more than anywhere else, those people have been met with racist attack, xenophobic rejection, and three Muslim bans. . . . Meanwhile, poor people around the world continue to pay a huge price for U.S. wars. During U.S. military actions abroad cities, countries and whole populations suffer, while stoking greater anger and encouraging the recruitment of new generations of anti-U.S. fighters. Even in the earliest years of the Global War on Terror, U.S. military officials recognized that military invasion and occupation created more terrorism than it ended." Imagine a multi-issue comprehensive worldview nonviolent activism movement with this sort of understanding of the topic that usually shall not be named.
This is what we'll need come November 11th to replace Trump Weapons Day with Armistice Day.
(c) 2018 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.

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Trump,

Dear Fuhrer Anwalt Cohen,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your ability of covering up all the Fuhrer's acts of treason, Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

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

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

The Truth About An Untethered Trump
By Robert Reich

The petulant adolescent in the White House - who has replaced most of the adults around him with raging sycophants and has demoted his chief of staff, John Kelly, to lapdog - lacks adequate supervision.

Before, he was merely petty and vindictive. He'd tweet nasty things about people he wanted to humiliate, like former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Now his vindictiveness has turned cruel. After smearing FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe with unfounded allegations that he lied to investigators, the new Trump made sure McCabe was fired just days before he would have been eligible for a pension after more than twenty-one years of service.

Before, he was merely xenophobic. He'd call Mexicans murderers and rapists.

Now his xenophobia has turned belligerent. He's sending thousands of National Guard troops to the Mexican border, even though illegal border crossings are at a record low.

And he's starting a trade war against China.

China has been expropriating American intellectual property for years. But Trump isn't even trying to negotiate a way out of this jam or build a coalition of other trading partners to pressure China. He's just upping the ante - and, not incidentally, causing the stock market to go nuts.

But the most dangerous thing about the new Trump is his increased attacks on American democracy itself.

Start with a free press. Before, he just threw rhetorical bombshells at the Washington Post, CNN, and other outlets that criticized him.

Now he's trying to penalize them financially, while bestowing benefits on outlets that praise him.

Last week he demanded that Amazon, the corporation headed by the man who owns the Washington Post, pay higher postal rates and more taxes, and that the Post should register as Amazon's lobbyist. Amazon stock wilted under the attack.

They're absurd charges. Amazon collects and pays state sales taxes on its products, and the Postal Service is losing money because of the decline in first-class mail, not package deliveries. Presumably Amazon can take care of itself. Trump's attack was intended as a warning to other companies with media connections that they'd better not mess with him.

Trump is trying to hurt CNN, too. The day after the Justice Department moved to block AT&T's purchase of Time-Warner, parent of CNN, he said the deal wasn't "good for the country." Few missed the connection.

Meanwhile, he's praising Trump-adoring Sinclair Broadcasting, signaling to the FCC it should approve Sinclair's pending $3.9 billion purchase of Tribune Media's TV stations.

We're entering a new and more dangerous phase of Trump's "divide and conquer" strategy, splitting the nation into warring camps - with him as the most divisive issue.

Even Trump's tweets have become more brazenly divisive. Last week he called his predecessor "Cheatin' Obama." When was the last time you heard a president of the United States disparage another president?

He's more determined than ever to convince supporters that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is in cahoots with Democrats and the FBI to unseat him.

This might give him some protection if Trump decides to fire Mueller, or if Mueller's investigation turns up evidence that Trump collaborated with Russia to win the election, and Congress moves to impeach him.

"Try to impeach him, just try it," warned Roger Stone, Trump's former campaign adviser, last summer. "You will have a spasm of violence in this country, an insurrection like you've never seen."

But Trump's strategy might just as easily extend beyond Mueller. What happens if in 2020 a rival candidate accumulates more electoral votes, but Trump accuses him or her of cheating, and refuses to step down?

"He's now president for life," Trump recently said of Xi Jinping, adding "maybe we'll have to give that a shot someday." Some thought Trump was joking. I'm not so sure.

Democracies require leaders who understand that their primary responsibility is to protect the institutions and processes democracy depends on. The new Trump seems intent on maintaining his power, whatever it takes.

Democracies also require enough social trust that citizens regard those they disagree with as being worthy of an equal say, so they'll accept political outcomes they dislike. The new Trump is destroying that trust.

Trump untethered isn't just a more petty, vindictive, and belligerent version of his former self. He's also more willing to sacrifice American democracy to his own ends. Which makes him more dangerous than ever.
(c) 2018 Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His web site is

The Campaign To Exterminate Muslims
By Chris Hedges

The Israeli army's wanton slaughter of unarmed Palestinians trapped behind the security barriers in Gaza evokes little outrage and condemnation within the United States because we have been indoctrinated into dehumanizing Muslims. Islam is condemned as barbaric and equated with terrorism. The resistance struggle against foreign occupation, whether in Afghanistan, Iraq or Gaza, sees Muslims demonized as the enemy. Muslims are branded as irrational and inclined to violence and terrorism by their religious beliefs. We attack them not for what they do but because we see them as being different from us. We must eradicate them to save ourselves. And thus we perpetuate the very hatred and counterviolence, or terrorism, that we fear.

Muslims in this age of racialized authoritarianism have been stripped of due process in our courts and are subject-as Abid Naseer and Haroon Aswat were in Britain before being extradited to the United States-to pretrial incarceration for years. They endure police brutality and secret trials, are convicted on secret evidence they cannot see and suffer long-term detention in solitary confinement, often in clandestine prisons known as black sites. They are kidnapped anywhere in the world and taken, hooded, drugged and shackled, to the secret sites. They are tortured through savage methods such as beatings, "walling," sexual humiliation, close confinement, prolonged isolation, water dousing, electric shocks, waterboarding and so-called rectal rehydration. Their citizenships are revoked. Their communities and mosques are harassed, infiltrated and monitored by law enforcement. Muslim children are viewed as future terrorists. Muslim women as breeders of terrorists. Muslim men as dangerous. We are the maniacal Kurtz in Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness," keeping the heads of "savages" on stakes outside our fortress and crying out "Exterminate all the brutes!"

We have declared a worldwide war on Muslims. Muslims, who read us better than we read ourselves, are rising up to resist. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims in the Middle East have been butchered since our invasion of Afghanistan. Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Libya have been destroyed as viable states. Millions of Muslims have been displaced or are refugees. And when desperate Muslim families attempt to flee to Europe or the United States from the hell we created in the Middle East, they are thrown into displacement camps or turned back and branded as disease carriers, thieves, rapists, barbarians and terrorists. Islamic culture and religion in our Manichean narrative have been shorn of all nuance, humanity, complexity and depth. Islam has been replaced by a xenophobic cartoon version, an image that, to use the words of Frantz Fanon, is the "quintessence of evil." We respond to the crisis we created out of ignorance, self-exaltation and racism.

As the imprisoned poet Syed Talha Ahsan writes:

to kill
is to erase an image
off a mirror:
no body
just a gaping hole
upon an indifferent world

Israel's slow-motion genocide of the Palestinian people, justified by the racism and Islamophobia that are central to Israeli identity, has entered a new, deadlier phase. No longer constrained by any pretense of respecting human rights or a peace process, Israeli soldiers, although they are not threatened, fire indiscriminately into crowds of unarmed Palestinians, killing or wounding men, women, children, the elderly and journalists. The sheer number of the dead and wounded-nine or more Palestinians killed by Israeli fire and hundreds injured on Friday alone-testifies to raking the crowd with gunfire. In a civilized world, Israel would be immediately slapped with sanctions, boycotts and divestment-the only mechanism left to protect the Palestinian people from extermination-but we do not live in a civilized world. We live in a world where murder and racism are state policy, where the oppressed are dehumanized and unworthy of life and where our mutant demagogues and despots revel in the rivers of blood they create.

This racialized authoritarianism, one that defines Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has ominous consequences for the oppressed. It is fed by a willful refusal to accept our responsibility for the social and political disintegration as well as the violence in the Middle East and, increasingly, at home. Most academics, trapped in the meaningless silo of Islamic writings on apocalyptic terrorism, contribute nothing to the debate. The press, which has turned journalism into nonstop entertainment and the celebration of nonexistent American virtues, is complicit in this perpetuation of anti-knowledge, which Tennessee Williams once called our voluntary matriculation into a school for the blind. It dehistoricizes these movements. It certifies radical jihadists, and by extension Islam, as incomprehensible. Since terrorism is incomprehensible, and since it is an intrinsic part of Islam, Muslims are worthy not of investigation but annihilation. But facts don't speak for themselves, as Edward Said noted. They require context to be understood, and all context is absent.

"You could hardly begin (in the public sphere provided by international discourse) to analyze political conflicts involving Sunnis and Shi'is, Kurds and Iraqis, or Tamils and Sinhalese, or Sikhs and Hindus-the list is long-without eventually having to resort to the categories and images of 'terrorism' and 'fundamentalism,' which derived entirely from the concerns and intellectual factories in metropolitan centers like Washington or London," Said wrote in "Culture and Imperialism." "They are fearful images that lack discriminant contents, or definition, but they signify moral power and approval for whoever uses them, moral defensiveness and criminalization for whomever."

The pattern of persistent decontextualization traps us in an endless cycle of violence for violence. Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou in his book "A Theory of ISIS: Political Violence and the Transformation of the Global Order" writes of the now-standard response following a terrorist attack:

For every time a new radical Islamism-related attack takes place in New York, Washington, London, Paris, Brussels or Berlin, a ritual of denial of the deeper political issues plays out in an increasingly familiar fashion. The sequence is performed thus: shock gives way to fear followed by anger; security experts step up hurriedly in television studios and on social media to denounce the lack of preparation by the authorities; specialists in radical Islamism (or simply Islam) follow, declaring that IS (previously Al Qaeda) has been weakened, is on its way to be defeated and is merely lashing out with desperate attacks; Muslim communities in Western countries are called out and racist and violent attacks against them sometimes take place (hours after the March 2016 attacks in Brussels a #stopislam movement started trending, revealing the depth of bias that had come to overtake sectors of the Western world, readily associating Islam and terrorism); sympathy movements for the victims of city where the attack took place are set up (Je suis Charlie, I am Brussels, etc.); calls for tougher legislation (surveillance mechanisms, detention conditions, nationality measures, immigration procedures, travel regulations, dress codes, access to pools, prayer sites, etc.) are spoken urgently; arrests are made in neighborhoods where Muslim migrants are known to reside and bombing is redoubled in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen or Libya.
The Obama administration under counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, now a national security and intelligence analyst for NBC and MSNBC, set up a database, Disposition Matrix, of terrorism suspects across the globe. It is known informally as the kill list. Those on the list are targeted by clandestine CIA extradition units, special forces, militarized drones and airstrikes. These techniques for racialized control of Muslims are drawn from the blueprint of colonialism, although the state now uses the coded language of ideology to mask its racist assault. As in colonialism, those who defy the "liberal democratic" state have forfeited all rights and deserve to be treated as beasts because they are beasts. This stance of collective criminalization of a group or race will have ominous consequences as the corporate state, beset by the growing unrest from deindustrialization and global warming, begins to view larger and larger segments of the population as hostile.

"In some sense, the figure of the terror suspect forms the testing ground upon which Western versions of 'democracy' and 'human rights' are deliberated," writes Nisha Kapoor in "Deport, Deprive, Extradite: 21st Century State Extremism." "It is via the representation of these individuals that cases are made in support of summary killings, bigger bombs, drone strikes, ever more grotesque forms of torture, and clandestine and indefinite detention. It is also through the policing of such individuals that mechanisms have been put in place in Britain [and the United States] for the growing use of secret justice, the retraction of the provisions of citizenship and the move away from human rights protections."

Policies have consequences. The decision to hunt down Muslims around the globe, giving to the so-called war on terror a transnational dimension, means also that those who oppose us are not restricted by national boundaries. The terrorists who carry out these attacks are mirror images of ourselves, consumed by the same narcissism and cult of the self that define celebrity culture. They post self-indulgent videos of rants against the West and of their beheadings of captives clad in orange jumpsuits. They replicate the cultural effort to film "Life the Movie." The images we use to communicate with the world, as well as each other, infect all of their messages to us. They are not from a medieval era. They are creations of modernity. They feed to us their own versions of the pornographic violence that fascinates and deforms our culture. They know this is how you communicate with the West. And we communicate back in the same manner.

The Israeli massacre of Palestinians is a prelude to a dystopian, neocolonial world where global elites, hoarding wealth and controlling the mechanisms of power, increasingly resort to widespread bloodshed to keep the oppressed at bay. What Israel is doing to Palestinians-impoverished and trapped without adequate food, water and medicine in the open-air prison that is Gaza, a strip of land subject to repeated murderous assaults by the Israeli war machine-will be done to desperate climate refugees and citizens who rise up to protest the pillage by global oligarchs. Those who resist will be as dehumanized as Muslims. They too will be branded as terrorists. The global elites have a plan for the future. It is visible in the killing fields of Gaza.
(c) 2018 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. Keep up with Chris Hedges' latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Mr. Fish ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Mexico Agrees To Pay For Trump's Psychiatric Care
Andy Borowitz

MEXICO CITY (The Borowitz Report)-Hoping to resolve the seemingly intractable conflict over immigration, Mexico surprised the world on Thursday by agreeing to pay for Donald J. Trump's psychiatric care.

Speaking to reporters, the Mexican President, Enrique Pena Nieto, said that he had authorized funding for the psychiatry and proclaimed, "Work on Donald Trump could begin tomorrow."

Pena Nieto displayed several photographs showing prototypes of therapists, including a bearded Freudian analyst who he said came highly recommended.

While some Mexican taxpayers argued that a full course of psychiatric treatment could prove more costly than a border wall, Pena Nieto warned against skimping on such a necessary expense.

"When the safety and security of the world is at stake, eight hundred dollars an hour is a bargain," he said, but added that Mexico would try to find a therapist who takes insurance.
(c) 2018 Andy Borowitz

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