Please visit our sponsor!

Bookmark and Share
In This Edition

Greg Palast "My Apologies To The Family Of Mrs. Thatcher."

Uri Avnery sings, "'Around Us The Storm Is Raging....'"

Glen Ford returns with, "The Big Nausea: Waking Up With An Obama-Ache."

Glenn Greenwald finds, "The Boston Bombing Produces Familiar And Revealing Reactions."

Jim Hightower asks, "Where's The Cop On The Wall Street Beat?"

William Pfaff contemplates, "Time To Abandon The Euro?"

James Donahue talks about, "Death - That Forbidden Subject."

John Nichols reminds us of, "Boston And A History Borne On The Night Wind Of The Past."

Amy Goodman sees, "Peace Activists And Patriots At The Boston Marathon Bombing."

Robert Reich wonders, "Why This Is The Worst Recovery On Record?"

Paul Krugman studies, "The Antisocial Network."

David Sirota says, "Let's Hope The Boston Marathon Bomber Is A White American."

David Swanson orates for, "People And Peace Over Plutocracy."

Nestle's Chairman Peter Brabeck wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Chris Hedges considers, "Sweatshops On Wheels."

Norman Solomon examines, "The Orwellian Warfare State Of Carnage And Doublethink."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports, "Internet Comes Up With 8.5 Million Leads On Potential Boston Bombing Suspect" but first Uncle Ernie sez, "Have A Happy Earth Day Ya'll!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Jeff Koterba, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Brian McFadden, Walt Kelly, Mr. Fish, David Longstreath, Ed Stringer, David L Ryan, Tony Fischer, Flickr, Reuters, The Boston Globe, Warner Brothers, Black Agenda Report, You Tube.Com and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

The Quotable Quote...
The Dead Letter Office...
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."

Bookmark and Share
Have A Happy Earth Day, Ya'll!
By Ernest Stewart

"There is a great need for the introduction of new values in our society, where bigger is not necessarily better, where slower can be faster, and where less can be more." ~~~ Gaylord Nelson

"Who can it be now?" ~~~ Men at Work

"Access to water shouldn't be a public right." ~~~ Peter Brabeck

The cavalry ain't coming. You've got to do this yourself." ~~~ Christopher Gardner

How time flies when you're having fun, huh? It's been 43 years since the first "Earth Day," an idea that came to founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin. After witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill off of Santa Barbara, California, and being inspired by the student anti-war movement, he realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda. Nelson announced the idea for a "national teach-in on the environment" to the national media, persuaded Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Republican Congressman, to serve as his co-chair, and recruited Denis Hayes as national coordinator. Imagine that, a Republican who had the country's welfare at heart! Seems like fantasy, now-a-daze, huh?

As a result, on the 22nd of April 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. I went to several in Ann Arbor that day. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife, suddenly realized they shared common values, and began to work together. Imagine that! All those liberal causes coming together without constant arguments on this minor point or that minor point!

Strangely enough, some of the biggest polluters embraced Earth Day and became sponsors proudly showing their support. Support for the idea, but not for what that idea called for. Still, from their new seats at the tables supporting the environment, they were able to spin it to their advantage. Of course, behind the scenes they were fighting it tooth-and-nail as they continue to do -- to this very day!

While Earth Day has never been the success we wanted it to be (see global warming), it has made some vast improvements to the environment. Air, water, and land pollution has been cut to a small fraction of what it used to be; while some of it is, no doubt, from moving all our heavy industries overseas, most comes from environmental laws passed in the first few years, with even a Republican Congress -- but also Republican Presidents getting behind those laws. Do compare and contrast with our current Congress, who are big supporters of poisoning our ground water via fracking!

Smog, like LA smog on a bad day, was like that over all major and many minor American cities. As the Firesign Theatre once joked, "Gone are the days when you could tell an American city by the color of its smoke." Back in those days, you couldn't see but half a dozen stars at night over most cities, and the sun was behind man-made clouds that blocked out its direct light. You may recall in both Cleveland and Detroit, the rivers caught fire and burned for several hours before they could be put out. Folks, when your water catches fire, you know you are so screwed! Now, in that same Detroit river, you'll find trout, salmon, and a restored watershed. Of course, the corpo-rats are still trying to get rid of all those laws that they once pretended to support; and if it continues the way it's been going for the last 20 years, we'll soon return to those exciting days of yesteryear, when finding just a clean lung full of air is a major task. Happy Earth Day, ya'll -- enjoy it while you can!

In Other News

The only thing that I can see about Boston for sure was it was just another chicken coming home to roost. Who the chicken was, and what drove him to do it are yet to be seen, and may never be known; but that hasn't stopped the blogosphere. As Spiggy Agnew, muttering Bill Safire's words, once said about folks, which I find appropriate, and what has all but been thrust in my face, whenever I visit Facebook since the bombing, are those "nattering nabobs of negativism!"

Yesterday, while speaking on the phone, I was having 4 different conversations with friends on Facebook. Each and every one of whom was giving me their own beliefs about what happened, and each a different one; oh, and did I mention the person on the phone was giving me his theory too. And, unfortunately, that's just the tip of the iceberg!

I told those five who assured me it was done by some Muslims, by some Tea Baggers, by the government, another false flag, by the Jews, and my personal favorite, it's like the Apollo Moon landings; it never really happened, but was staged. Oh, there were more just as kookie; but, I'll tell you what I told them. Stop, this is conjecture. Wild rumors will no doubt get some innocents killed; so, unless you have evidence, real evidence, STFU, and listen! Let's not go bombing countries until the facts are in. We kill far more innocents everyday overseas than died in Boston; and, have no doubt, some righteous payback is coming to us -- and in spades.

Whether this is some government conspiracy to get us involved in our next oil war, or just some kid from Kansas who got thrown out of Harvard last semester, it is indeed an act of terror -- whether homegrown or imported. Whether committed by a terrorist or a freedom fighter, or just your friendly neighborhood psychopath next door who heard and believed an Internet rumor. Then there's that old adage, "Follow the money!" Hey, it worked for 911, did it not?

Still, I'll not be jumping to any conclusions soon, and neither should you. We all need to wallow around in the facts for a while, and see what develops. Don't go off half-cocked, wait a minute; find out what the real deal is; and then go off fully-cocked!

And Finally

If you are wondering where we are heading with this corpo-rat take over of everything, Nestle's Chairman, Peter Brabeck, said it all the other day. According to Peter, water is not a human right! I'm going to repeat that again for those of you on drugs.

Peter says all the water on the planet belongs to the corpo-rats.

That's right; if Peter had his way, you'd have to buy every drop of water from him. Of course, it's not like water is free. It's not, you have to buy it from the city, or you can put in a well and draw it from the ground. It may be "free" from that point; but you had to buy the well and the pump first; and now-a-daze, so much of the ground water has been poisoned by corpo-rats like Nestles -- not to mention all the fracking that's destroying ground water everywhere.

Of course, Peter wasn't talking about you buying water from the city at the cost of production, or digging your own well, but buying every drop from him, and not at reasonable prices, but prices that only the 1% can afford; but, no doubt, they'll give the fellow rich guy prices, too. Prices you'll never see.

So, there you have it; the only thing missing is some corpo-rat clown claiming to own the oxygen in the air. They control all the food; they'll control all the water. Still wondering how they get rid of 6 1/2 billion of us? Ergo, Peter wins this week's Vidkun Quisling Award. Congrats, Peter (Swiss) you are only the second non-American to win this award, the other you may recall was a Canadian!

Keepin' On

Oh, yippie, it's my least favorite time of the week. Time to come before you cap-in-hand to beg for alms to keep on keeping on, for you and yours. Yes, we did make our first goal; but it's no time to rest on our laurels. That was just one down and three to go; and what with all my moving expenses, I have absolutely nothing of my own to use to take care of business; so, as it has been for the last 7 years, whether we keep on working for you is totally up to you.

Yeah, I get it; most of our readership isn't doing all that well; and with this, that, and the other thing, it's hard enough to keep bread on the table and a roof over your head; but for the most part, that's where most of our funds come from -- the retired or the working poor. It seems we lost most of our middle class readership when I turned on the blessed one, just like I had on Dubya. Sure, one is a little worse than the other; but Dubya really tried, and as old George Wallace said in a rare moment of truth and candor, "There's not a dime's worth of difference between the Republicans and Democrats." Don't like that Democrat? Then try this one, "It makes no difference who you vote for - the two parties are really one party representing four percent of the people." ~~~ Gore Vidal. Point being, the cavalry isn't coming, and as Bob Seger once sang, "And when the war comes, the cops will be on their side!"

However, despite great expense in both time and effort, we've been on your side since we lost our Republic on 12-12-2000, fighting for our rights and helping you to prepare for what's coming. I'm pretty sure it'd be handy to know just before it hits the fan that's it's about to hit the fan. Being blindsided by it could spell doom for you and yours. Ergo, please send in what you can, as often as you can; and we keep fighting the good fight!


04-12-1942 ~ 04-13-2013
Thanks for the laughs!

06-16-1946 ~ 04-16-2013
Thanks for the films!


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


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

Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2013 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 12 years managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. Visit the Magazine's page on Facebook and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.

My Apologies To The Family Of Mrs. Thatcher
By Greg Palast

I strenuously object to the dissemination of this scurrilous doggerel, falsely attributed to me, on the passage of an iconic stateswoman:

Naggie Hatchet dead and gone
Ruled her Empire State like Queen Kong
Stomping on us little peeps
Just to sell our Jewels to creeps.
And lost the war that Winston won
By turning back the clocks to
England's meanest hour.
Yet worse to come: as trapped below her terror tower,
And forced to look up that Iron Skirt
At the beastly anus as it squirt
From the crack in the grizzly monkey hair:
Tony Blair.

My apologies to Lady Thatcher's family and sincere condolences. After all, large simians are people, too.

Pedicabo si iocum non potest.

As to the real provenance of the poem on the death of Naggie Hatchet, I have found similar couplets written in my own hand and that of my co-author, Mr. Jack Daniels.

As Lady Thatcher's comrade Ronald Reagan said when shown the cold evidence that, indeed, Reagan authorized the treasonous act of sending weapons to the Ayatollahs of Iran:

"My heart says I didn't, but the facts say otherwise."

The smoking couplet, undeniably covered with my fingerprints...

Satan roared, his roasting spit a-burning.
He cranked the crank on the trussed-up meat, and laughed,
"Who said, 'This Lady's not for turning'?"

Again, my deepest apologies for these most inappropriate rhymes.

"Ritz Cracker" - @MadamMiaow aka Anna Chen responded to my inexcusably rude rhymes on the death of Lady Thatcher with this box of zits....

Margaret Thatcher died at the Ritz.
It fits.
Her blitz on the poor,
national assets thrust in the mitts
of corporate bandits.
Wealth trickled-down like a horse shits
undigested grain for birds that flit
round what its rear end emits.
Compassion deficit, dried out tits,
the country in bits, run by greedy gits.
Her fans omit the human price
of crimes her class commit.
Her legacy is the pits.
And she closed them as well.

By the way, Palast poetry partisans, I want you to check out Anna Chen's brilliant, dangerous and fully-loaded assault poems, Reaching For My Gnu, out on Amazon.
(c) 2013 Greg Palast is author of the New York Times bestseller, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Armed Madhouse and the highly acclaimed Vultures' Picnic, named Book of the Year 2012 on BBC Newsnight Review.

'Around Us The Storm Is Raging...'
By Uri Avnery

"AROUND US the storm is raging / But our head will not be bowed..." we sang when we were young, before the State of Israel was born.

On the eve of Israel's 65th birthday, this coming Monday, we could sing this rousing song again. And not just out of nostalgia.

Around us, many storms are raging. In Syria, a terrible civil wear is tearing the country apart. In Egypt, after the victory of the Arab spring, the country is still in turmoil. The Lebanese state is still unable to impose its authority on the various armed sects, and the same is true for Iraq. Iran is busy advancing its nuclear program, all the while muttering dark threats.

Israel sees itself as an island in the stormy sea, threatened on all sides, ready for the tsunami to hit any minute.

THERE IS something ironic about all this.

The Zionist adventure started with the promise to create a safe haven for the Jews, after centuries of helplessness.

Indeed, stripped of all ideological decorations, that was the central theme of the endeavor. Everywhere, Jews were defenseless, dependent on the mercies of others. Here, in a state of our own, we would be able to defend ourselves, head unbowed.

In other words, for ages we were the object of history, now we were taking our destiny in our own hands, an actor on the stage of history, a nation among the nations.

Before that, Jews were some kind of ethnic-religious entity. With Zionism, the Jews - or a part of them - constituted themselves as a modern nation, able to defend itself against any enemy.

In this sense, Zionism was indeed a roaring success. Its creation, the State of Israel, is now strong and secure.

OR IS it? Listening to many of our leaders, the opposite seems to be true.

Years ago, Professor Yeshayahu Leibowitz, the caustic critic of the Zionist establishment, famously asserted that Israel was the only place in the world where the lives of Jews were in mortal danger. As it turned out, that was not entirely exact.

A few days ago, on Holocaust Day, our Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, declared that we are threatened by a Second Holocaust, perpetrated by a nuclear-armed Iran.

The next day, a group of international hackers, animated by pro-Palestinian sentiments, declared a cyber-war on Israel. They promised to inactivate the main institutions of the country, both military and civilian, governmental and private. As it turned out, the attack failed miserably. No significant damage was caused. But before this became clear, former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman responded by comparing the campaign with the Nazi Holocaust.

What is this? Paranoia? Manipulation? Political gimmickry? All of these and more?

IN THE span of nine days, Israel is experiencing three national events. Each with sirens howling, official ceremonies, endless speeches. All TV, radio and print media totally devoted to the subject of the day.

Last Monday was Holocaust Day. The entire country turned to the memory of that awful chapter of history. At 10 o'clock, to the sound of the sirens, the whole country came to a standstill. Cars stopped in the middle of the road, men, women and children got out and stood at attention. Survivors still alive - mostly over 80 - told their horrible stories, listeners shed tears.

At Yad Vashem, Netanyahu made his standard speech - Never again... We shall not... the Iranian bomb... Second Holocaust...

Tomorrow evening will be Memorial Day. The country will mourn for the many thousands who fell in Israel's numerous wars. Bereaved parents will lay flowers on the graves of their beloved. Politicians will make speeches about the lives so nobly given up for the nation to prevent a Second Holocaust.

The next day will be a day of joy. Without an interruption, the sirens will announce the end of Memorial Day and the beginning of Independence Day. Speeches about the sacrifices of the fallen will be superseded by speeches about the glories and achievement of the state, which rose so miraculously from the ashes of the Holocaust. In the center of festivities stand Israel's armed forces, among the strongest and most efficient in the world.

The close proximity of these three dates is not accidental. It is a conscious attempt to imbue generations of Israelis with the idea that Israel is under constant threat, like the Jewish communities in Europe throughout the centuries, and that the IDF is the sole guarantor of our national and even individual security.

Many people consider this a manipulation, as indeed it is. Under Netanyahu, this has reached new heights (or depths). Jewish victimhood is bandied about as a totem that sanctifies all our policies: the occupation, the settlements, the oppression of the Palestinians, the rejection in practice of peace based on the two-state solution.

It is also a political ploy. The constant reminders of existential dangers - in Iran, in Syria, in Egypt and elsewhere - are designed to rally the population around the leadership. In the recent election campaign, Netanyahu presented himself as a "strong leader for a strong state". Never mind that he is actually a weakling, notorious for succumbing to foreign and internal pressures. Fear-mongering is his most effective instrument.

HOWEVER, it would be a great mistake to discount Israeli fears as artificial. They are quite real.

Foreigners are often amazed to hear Israelis asserting in the same sentence, literally in the same breath, that "Israel is a regional power", and that we shall not go "like lambs to the slaughter", as Jews were alleged (by Israelis) to have done in the Holocaust. Both halves of this sentence are real. They live side by side in the minds of most Israelis.

No one who has been in Israel on Holocaust Day can have the slightest doubt about the huge impact that the Holocaust continues to have on our minds. Most of us (myself included) have relatives who perished in the Shoah. The profound sense of victimhood, the fears and apprehensions are deeply ingrained in us. It would be almost impossible to eradicate them in a few years.

YET WE must overcome them, because they have no relation with current reality and prevent us from rational behavior.

The simple fact is that Israel is a strong state, and will remain so for a long time to come.

We have a very strong and efficient military, more than sufficient for meeting any foreseeable threat. The Arab spring has at least temporarily removed several military menaces. That is true also for the real or imagined nuclear threat from Iran. No Iranian leader would ever risk the total destruction of his country, with its thousands of years of civilization, in order to destroy poor us.

But a strong military is only one component of security. There are many others.

In 65 years we have built a solid and strong economy, more resilient than much bigger and stronger economies around the world. In several areas, such as high-tech, science, medicine, agriculture and the arts, we belong to the premier world league. Israel's intimate relations with the No. 1 world power seem safe for a long time to come and of huge advantage in many fields, even given the gradual decline of US power.

The revived Hebrew language is vibrant and firmly entrenched. Israeli democracy, though under constant threat, seems to be able to withstand the onslaught. We can surely be proud of what our society has achieved, practically from scratch.

The only real dangers facing Israel come from within. Mad policies, the continued occupation, the permanent war, the encroachment of fundamentalist religion - these are the real causes for worry.

I AM pointing this out not in order to inflame a sense of triumphalism, but on the contrary.

In Israel, it is the Right which thrives on fear and constantly invents new threats, in order to deny peace and promote a sense of "the whole world against us". They depict our state as just another beleaguered ghetto, facing a perpetual danger of annihilation.

The Israeli peace camp must resolutely stand up against this world view. Israel is strong, and because it is strong it can take risks, make peace with the Palestinian people and the entire Arab and Muslim world.

65 years ago, when we were a population of hardly 650 thousand people, my generation had this self-confidence. Our heads were unbowed. We must rediscover this now.
(c) 2013 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

The Big Nausea: Waking Up With An Obama-Ache
By Glen Ford

The Obama Hangover has begun. The drunken delirium that descended on Black America after the pale Democratic caucuses of Iowa endorsed a brown-skinned corporatist just after New Years Day, 2008 - conveying white "viability" on a Great Black Hope - is definitively over. It's the morning-after in Black America, a scene of economic and political ruin bathed in the searing daylight of Obama's second term and umpteenth betrayal.

It would be easy to say that the Great Nausea of 2013 was occasioned by Obama's blunt object assault on Social Security and the whole array of entitlements. However, the First Black President's obituary is not written in his budget. The onset of post-Obamaism has more to do with the calendar than anything else. Since Election Day, November 6, Black folks have been forced to come to grips with the finality of Obama's second term - the impending emergence from the dream. There is the sound of a finger snapping. "In a few moments, you will wake up."

The awakening will be uneven and, for many, dreadful: a dreamscape dissolving into the rubble-strewn nightmare left by the Great Recession, a catastrophe that set African Americans back as much as two generations, but which was not subjectively experienced as such by huge segments of the Black community. Instead, reality was subsumed by the mere presence of a Black person in the White House.

It was a narcotic effect so potent in Obama's first term, African Americans imagined themselves to be better off than five and ten years before - when the truth was exactly the opposite. Black imaginations took flight amid the desolation. Studies by the Pew Research Center - substantially confirmed by other reputable pollsters over the course of Obama's first term - showed that Blacks were the most optimistic constituency in the country regarding their personal and family prospects and those of African Americans as a group. Moreover, they believed that their condition was improved under the Obama presidency - coterminous with the debacle - when in fact Blacks had been hardest hit of all major U.S. populations. Meanwhile, every other ethnic constituency correctly understood that their economic situation had deteriorated.

Back in January of 2010, I wrote:

"ObamaL'aid is a mind-altering substance, a hallucinogen. It makes Black people see progress when they are actually facing disaster. Obama-on-the-brain also behaves like an opiate, blocking out pain. African Americans' ability to apprehend political and economic danger is compromised by Obama-induced delusion, while the opiate effect prevents Blacks from knowing where and how badly they have been hurt. That's a fatal combination."

Although African Americans contributed 19 out of every 20 of their votes to Obama's reelection, there was no escaping that this was the last act in the ritual. One cannot blame the people for having their Mardis Gras - even if it is a five-year bacchanal. However, it is unforgiveable for so-called "leaders" to allow the whole town to burn down during the festivities.

For the monumentally dysfunctional Black Misleadership Class, the winding down of the Age of Obama is cause for frantic repositioning, and for the revising of their own histories. Black politicians and "movement" personalities who, for four years, could not bring themselves to articulate a single "demand" of the administration in power, now claim to be working on a "Black Agenda" - having discarded the old and unfinished Black historical agenda on peace and social justice in deference to the First Black President. Now that Obama's days are numbered, these misleaders must hustle to readjust history to show that they have, indeed, been "on the case" since 2008, when the bottom fell out of the Black American economy. They must renew their peace and pan-Africanist credentials, having watched as Obama waged war against international order and deployed AFRICOM to militarily occupy the continent. There's a lot of historical re-writing to do, if the poseurs are to include themselves in a movement from which they have been effectively absent for four years.

Revisionism becomes the order of the day. Yesterday's cheerleaders for Obama are now scrambling to find harmless niches of simulated protest from which they can rebuild their resumes as defenders of the people's interests. Previously compliant members of the Congressional Black Caucus will decide that it's time to regurgitate, rather than swallow, Obama's "Satan Sandwiches."

But some of us have kept a record, and kept the faith. And we will not forget who did what in the Age of Obama.
(c) 2013 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

Runners continue to run towards the finish line of the Boston marathon as an explosion erupts near the finish line of the race

The Boston Bombing Produces Familiar And Revealing Reactions
As usual, the limits of selective empathy, the rush to blame Muslims, and the exploitation of fear all instantly emerge
By Glenn Greenwald

There's not much to say about Monday's Boston Marathon attack because there is virtually no known evidence regarding who did it or why. There are, however, several points to be made about some of the widespread reactions to this incident. Much of that reaction is all-too-familiar and quite revealing in important ways:

(1) The widespread compassion for yesterday's victims and the intense anger over the attacks was obviously authentic and thus good to witness. But it was really hard not to find oneself wishing that just a fraction of that compassion and anger be devoted to attacks that the US perpetrates rather than suffers. These are exactly the kinds of horrific, civilian-slaughtering attacks that the US has been bringing to countries in the Muslim world over and over and over again for the last decade, with very little attention paid. My Guardian colleague Gary Younge put this best on Twitter this morning:

Juan Cole this morning makes a similar point about violence elsewhere. Indeed, just yesterday in Iraq, at least 42 people were killed and more than 250 injured by a series of car bombs, the enduring result of the US invasion and destruction of that country. Somehow the deep compassion and anger felt in the US when it is attacked never translates to understanding the effects of our own aggression against others.

One particularly illustrative example I happened to see yesterday was a re-tweet from Washington Examiner columnist David Freddoso, proclaiming:

"Idea of secondary bombs designed to kill the first responders is just sick. How does anyone become that evil?"

I don't disagree with that sentiment. But I'd bet a good amount of money that the person saying it - and the vast majority of other Americans - have no clue that targeting rescuers with "double-tap" attacks is precisely what the US now does with its drone program and other forms of militarism. If most Americans knew their government and military were doing this, would they react the same way as they did to yesterday's Boston attack: "Idea of secondary bombs designed to kill the first responders is just sick. How does anyone become that evil?" That's highly doubtful, and that's the point.

There's nothing wrong per se with paying more attention to tragedy and violence that happens relatively nearby and in familiar places. Whether wrong or not, it's probably human nature, or at least human instinct, to do that, and that happens all over the world. I'm not criticizing that. But one wishes that the empathy for victims and outrage over the ending of innocent human life that instantly arises when the US is targeted by this sort of violence would at least translate into similar concern when the US is perpetrating it, as it so often does (far, far more often than it is targeted by such violence).

Regardless of your views of justification and intent: whatever rage you're feeling toward the perpetrator of this Boston attack, that's the rage in sustained form that people across the world feel toward the US for killing innocent people in their countries. Whatever sadness you feel for yesterday's victims, the same level of sadness is warranted for the innocent people whose lives are ended by American bombs. However profound a loss you recognize the parents and family members of these victims to have suffered, that's the same loss experienced by victims of US violence. It's natural that it won't be felt as intensely when the victims are far away and mostly invisible, but applying these reactions to those acts of US aggression would go a long way toward better understanding what they are and the outcomes they generate.

(2) The rush, one might say the eagerness, to conclude that the attackers were Muslim was palpable and unseemly, even without any real evidence. The New York Post quickly claimed that the prime suspect was a Saudi national (while also inaccurately reporting that 12 people had been confirmed dead). The Post's insinuation of responsibility was also suggested on CNN by Former Bush Homeland Security Adviser Fran Townsend ("We know that there is one Saudi national who was wounded in the leg who is being spoken to"). Former Democratic Rep. Jane Harman went on CNN to grossly speculate that Muslim groups were behind the attack. Anti-Muslim bigots like Pam Geller predictably announced that this was "Jihad in America". Expressions of hatred for Muslims, and a desire to do violence, were then spewing forth all over Twitter (some particularly unscrupulous partisan Democrat types were identically suggesting with zero evidence that the attackers were right-wing extremists).

Obviously, it's possible that the perpetrator(s) will turn out to be Muslim, just like it's possible they will turn out to be extremist right-wing activists, or left-wing agitators, or Muslim-fearing Anders-Breivik types, or lone individuals driven by apolitical mental illness. But the rush to proclaim the guilty party to be Muslim is seen in particular over and over with such events. Recall that on the day of the 2011 Oslo massacre by a right-wing, Muslim-hating extremist, the New York Times spent virtually the entire day strongly suggesting in its headlines that an Islamic extremist group was responsible, a claim other major news outlets (including the BBC and Washington Post) then repeated as fact. The same thing happened with the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, when most major US media outlets strongly suggested that the perpetrators were Muslims. As FAIR documented back then:

"In the wake of the explosion that destroyed the Murrah Federal Office Building, the media rushed - almost en masse - to the assumption that the bombing was the work of Muslim extremists. 'The betting here is on Middle East terrorists,' declared CBS News' Jim Stewart just hours after the blast (4/19/95). 'The fact that it was such a powerful bomb in Oklahoma City immediately drew investigators to consider deadly parallels that all have roots in the Middle East,' ABC's John McWethy proclaimed the same day.

"'It has every single earmark of the Islamic car-bombers of the Middle East,' wrote syndicated columnist Georgie Anne Geyer (Chicago Tribune, 4/21/95). 'Whatever we are doing to destroy Mideast terrorism, the chief terrorist threat against Americans, has not been working,' declared the New York Times' A.M. Rosenthal (4/21/95). The Geyer and Rosenthal columns were filed after the FBI released sketches of two suspects who looked more like Midwestern frat boys than mujahideen."

This lesson is never learned because, it seems, many people don't want to learn it. Even when it turns out not to have been Muslims who perpetrated the attack but rather right-wing, white Christians, the damage from this relentless and reflexive blame-pinning endures.

(3) One continually encountered yesterday expressions of dread and fear from Arabs and Muslims around the world that the attacker would be either or both. That's because they know that all members of their religious or ethnic group will be blamed, or worse, if that turns out to be the case. That's true even though leading Muslim-American groups such as CAIR harshly condemned the attack (as they always do) and urged support for the victims, including blood donations. One tweeter, referencing the earthquake that hit Iran this morning, satirized this collective mindset by writing: "Please don't be a Muslim plate tectonic activity."

As understandable as it is, that's just sad to witness. No other group reacts with that level of fear to these kinds of incidents, because no other group has similar cause to fear that they will all be hated or targeted for the acts of isolated, unrepresentative individuals. A similar dynamic has long prevailed in the domestic crime context: when the perpetrators of notorious crimes turned out to be African-American, the entire community usually paid a collective price. But the unique and well-grounded dread that hundreds of millions of law-abiding, peaceful Muslims and Arabs around the world have about the prospect that this attack in Boston was perpetrated by a Muslim highlights the climate of fear that has been created for and imposed on them over the last decade.

(4) The reaction to the Boston attack underscored, yet again, the utter meaninglessness of the word "terrorism". News outlets were seemingly scandalized that President Obama, in his initial remarks, did not use the words "terrorist attack" to describe the bombing. In response, the White House ran to the media to assure them that they considered it "terrorism". Fox News' Ed Henry quoted a "senior administration official" as saying this: "When multiple (explosive) devices go off that's an act of terrorism."

Is that what "terrorism" is? "When multiple (explosive) devices go off"? If so, that encompasses a great many things, including what the US does in the world on a very regular basis. Of course, the quest to know whether this was "terrorism" is really code for: "was this done by Muslims"? That's because, in US political discourse, "terrorism" has no real meaning other than: violence perpetrated by Muslims against the west. The reason there was such confusion and uncertainty about whether this was "terrorism" is because there is no clear and consistently applied definition of the term. At this point, it's little more than a term of emotionally manipulative propaganda. That's been proven over and over, and it was again yesterday.

(5) The history of these types of attacks over the last decade has been clear and consistent: they are exploited to obtain new government powers, increase state surveillance, and take away individual liberties. On NBC with Brian Williams last night, Tom Brokaw decreed that this will happen again and instructed us that we must meekly submit it to it:

"Everyone has to understand tonight that, beginning tomorrow morning early, there are going to be much tougher security considerations all across the country, and however exhausted we may be by that, we're going to have to learn to live with them, and get along and go forward, and not let them bring us to our knees. You'll remember last summer, how unhappy we were with the security at the Democratic and Republic conventions. Now I don't think we can raise those complaints after what happened in Boston."

Last night on Chris Hayes' MSNBC show, an FBI agent discussed the fact that the US government has the right to arrest terrorism suspects and not provide them with Miranda warnings before questioning them. After seeing numerous people express surprise at this claim on Twitter, I pointed out that this happened when the Obama administration exploited the attempted underwear bombing over Detroit to radically reduce Miranda rights over what they had been for decades. That's what the US government (aided by the sham "terrorism expert" industry) does in every single one of these cases: exploits the resulting fear to increase its own power and decrease everyone else's rights, including privacy.

At the Atlantic, security expert Bruce Schneier has a short but compelling article on how urgent it is that we not react to this Boston attack irrationally or with exaggerated fear, and that we particularly remain vigilant against government attempts to exploit fear to impose all new rights-reducing measures. He notes in particular how the more unusual an event is (such as this sort of attack on US soil), the more our brains naturally exaggerate its significance and frequency (John Cole makes a similar point).

In sum, even if the perpetrators of Monday's attack in Boston turn out to be politically motivated and subscribers to an anti-US ideology, it will still be a very rare event, one that poses far less danger to Americans than literally countless other threats. The most important lesson of the excesses arising from the 9/11 attacks should be this one: that the dangers of overreacting and succumbing to irrational fear are far, far greater than any other dangers posed by these type of events.
(c) 2013 Glenn Greenwald. was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. His most recent book is, With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book "How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy," examines the Bush legacy. He is the recipient of the first annual I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism.

Eric gives the corpo-rat salute.

Where's The Cop On The Wall Street Beat?

Let's tally the bank robberies:

JPMorgan Chase engaged in massive fraud to foreclose without cause or due process on innocent homeowners, tossing thousands of families into the streets. Goldman Sachs profited by marketing an investment package that was designed to fail, collecting millions from a side bet it made that, sure enough, its investors would lose money. HSBC has been butt deep in a swamp of illegal money-laundering schemes, willingly processing billions of dirty dollars for vicious drug cartels and peddlers of arms to terrorist forces at war with America.

Many more examples abound. These are not poor saps desperately robbing a branch bank for a few hundred dollars, but criminal enterprises run by multimillionaire Wall Streeters who run in the finest social circles and hobnob with the nation's political elite. Their corruption is complete, their crimes are documented. Yet, unlike sad sack bank robbers, not a single one of these Robber Barons has even been prosecuted much less jailed. In fact, frustrated prosecutors in the Justice Department's criminal division report that, "when it came to Wall Street, there were no investigations going on. There were no subpoenas, no document reviews, no wiretaps."

Where are the cops on the Wall Street beat?

Up in the suites, coddling the culprits. That's because Attorney General Eric Holder and the chief of his criminal division, Lanny Breuer, have previously enjoyed lucrative careers as lawyers defending the very barons they're now supposed to be prosecuting - they know many of them on a first-name basis. Holder and Breuer both hail from the same Washington law firm, Covington & Burling, that specializes in representing corporate clients with legal issues at the Justice Department.

See? When engaged in high crimes, it literally pays to have friends in the very highest of places.
(c) 2013 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.

Time To Abandon The Euro?
By William Pfaff

Paris, April 17, 2013 - When the proposal was initially made for a common European currency, it seemed to this writer a good idea with the flaw that it wouldn't work. Although inexpert in economics (being a product of the age of arithmetic), the idea struck me as a product of the false analogy with the United States common in Europe at that time.

If New York, Dallas and Dubuque could have a single dollar currency, why couldn't Paris, Frankfurt and Milan? Europe already had - or was completing - the single European market, free of tariff barriers. Why not a single currency for the single market? A great many enthusiastic supporters of European unification seemed to think that all that was needed was to give it a name and design, and print it up.

Thanks to the imaginative former French President, Valery Giscard d'Estaing, a fine history-redolent name already had been proposed for the mechanism that could lead to the single currency, the "Ecu," which meant European currency union, and happily was also a French proper name, given during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to a series of small gold or silver French coins.

When the time to create the currency itself finally arrived, the chauvinists of other European Union countries balked at the French name, and the currency was drearily named the euro (not even capitalized) and bore exceedingly boring drawings of bridges and viaducts. (Every Euro-zone country had a bridge or viaduct, so each could say that it was its own that was pictured.)

The complaint that I (among others) made from the beginning was that European countries were not American states. They were sovereign political entities. Each had its own characteristic economy, resources, products, markets - and its own national deficits and surpluses. Vitally important was the fact that each had its own currency, and these currencies were not interchangeable, and moreover, were not constant in value. You had to take them to a bank or exchange counter and buy their current equivalence in another currency.

But EU enthusiasts said Californians did not have to change their dollars when they drove to Nevada. It would be the same in Europe. At this point the American had to explain about the American Civil War, in which there was the largest number of war-related casualties of all American wars, and the purpose of the war was to terminate the sovereignty claim made until then by the slave-holding Southern states. The result was a single sovereign federal United States, with a single currency, and eventually a single budget that prevailed nationally.

The only reply to this that the American's European interlocutors could make was that Europe had already experienced more than its share of wars. The European Union was meant to put an end to that unfortunate European practice.

The practice in recent times was that chiefly of the Germans. The France of Bourbons, Napoleon, and the Third Republic ceded leadership in precipitating wars to Hohenzollern and then Nazi Germany.

During those same recent times, the United States interested itself in Europe and its wars, and as a result constituted for itself a new role as a European power - as THE European power, as the late American diplomat Richard Holbrooke made plain to the West Europeans when he was U.S. Ambassador to Germany in the 1990s, reinforcing the dominant role Americans had played ever since the European unification movement began in 1951. It is a role now ending.

The Wall Street crisis of 2008 produced the European credit crisis that quickly followed. This crisis now may be about to destroy the European currency union as it presently exists - and the euro. In the minds of Europeans it has already divided the Eurozone's north European members from the southern members, with France unsuccessfully straddling the two parts.

It has produced deep unemployment and repression in Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Spain, Italy, and - impending - Cyprus and Slovenia. Britain, despite remaining outside the Eurozone, depends on the zone for its export trade and is sliding into the same crisis, with much help from Prime Minister David Cameron's austerity policies.

Germany, with the northern members of the zone that are Germany's traditional dependencies, has imposed its own conservative monetarist policy on the entire euro bloc, at bitter cost to the southerners, now victims of extreme indebtedness.

The German public, only now being touched by the crisis, and having insisted upon the European Central Bank and EU governments' policy of pitiless austerity, to the vast misery and vocal ingratitude of the EU's southern members, finds now that this policy itself is failing to work -- and that Germany is blamed for that too. The result is a surge of German popular hostility towards its ungrateful fellow-Europeans, whose as yet unspoken reproach is that Germany having destroyed Europe's political and economic equilibrium in two hellishly destructive world wars, has now been at it again.

A new "Alternative for Germany" political movement has erupted as a backlash against the euro, and against Germany's fellow-members of the EU. Academic observers of the situation compare the political force behind it with that of the American Tea Party eruption. Chancellor Angela Merkel faces federal elections in September. Her Free Democrat coalition partners are in difficulty. What this will mean for German domestic politics is, of course, presently unforeseeable. But combined with a certain elite disillusionment with the Eurozone system and its economic consequences, there is now a serious possibility of German abandonment of the euro and return to the Deutschmark. The euro experiment seems failing. The EU can be saved in many other respects, but the single currency is proving to have been folly.

This is exactly what the financier George Soros has recently recommended to the Germans: to serve their own interests, and those of the EU, by abandoning the euro, thus freeing the other members of the bloc to pool their debt by issuing eurobonds and escape the constraints imposed by Germany.

What would happen? The states suffering unemployment and credit crisis will do what they have always done in the past: devalue their currencies and stimulate their economies. Keynesianism will find its vindication.
(c) 2013 Visit William Pfaff's website for more on his latest book, "The Irony of Manifest Destiny: The Tragedy of America's Foreign Policy."

Death - That Forbidden Subject
By James Donahue

Death is a subject that people shy away from talking about. Most people don't even want to think about it, except for those times when a friend or relative turns up dead and we are obligated to attend his or her funeral.

This is a mistake. All people must eventually die and they need to be prepared for what will happen to them.

I remember when my mother was dying and she knew it. There was fear in her eyes and a deep sadness. I felt a sense of helplessness when I saw her last because I realized that I did not know how to comfort her. She was experiencing something that I hadn't dealt with, knew nothing about, and could say nothing assuring.

My wife worked for years in a hospital setting and had already experienced the loss of her parents and two brothers, was more familiar with death than I. She took Mom's hands and told her it was going to be all right. She told her that she was free to let go and leave the body and that death would be a comfort. Mom seemed to be more relaxed after that. I think she just needed to know that someone cared and understood.

What she was experiencing was something that was privately her own. It was a mysterious part of life that all humans must deal with in their own way, because few ever come back to give us advice as to how to leave this world. Those who do return after a near-death experience, rarely have any advice because they are unprepared for what happens and don't understand it.

Our accepted way of preparing for death, if we have time, is entirely wrong. It is a deadly program created by world religious systems that feeds fear and consequently sets us up for eternal disaster.

It is ironic that people are totally unprepared for death when it comes to them, even though we live a lifetime knowing full well that part of the life experience is going to include death. It is as if we think that we are going to be immune to the thing that happens to everybody else around us.

In fact, other than the religious experience we are steered into, we choose not to talk much about dying. It is almost a forbidden subject in conversation. It even can be a forbidden thought when we are alone with ourselves.

The only thing we think we know about death is that we pass from this life into another existence. The church teaches that we are judged then for all of the things we did in this life. Thus we spend a lifetime being indoctrinated by a fear of the hereafter . . . of a judgment by a powerful god that can smite us for eternity if we are unworthy of his holy Paradise. Our punishment is an eternity of suffering in a place called hell.

Not a good prospect after a life of a few pleasures, many trials, and much suffering before we ever get there.

Thus the church is a total failure when it comes to preparing humans for death. The teaching of the church puts folks in a state of a fear of dying. I heard a terrible story about my former landlady during my college years. Grace was a good old soul who operated that off-campus home with an iron fist. She was a worldly person who had little use for church. But they said when she died, she went out kicking and screaming. She had no fear of man, but she feared the unknown and I think she was sure that she was heading right for hell. She did not deserve that experience.

People who have been revived following death experiences on the operating table and other events have a much different version of what happens to us when we die. There is a brief moment of anxiety as we reach that state of death, but then once our spirit leaves the body, we enter a state of peace and tranquility that most people say is extremely pleasant.

One man we spoke to, who has not only had a near-death experience, but purposefully went through a death state of mind in a course offered at the Monroe Institute, says death is a very pleasant experience once it occurs.

After that we enter a total blackness that is wonderfully serene. It may be possible for some people to remain in this state without ever leaving it, or wishing to.

But there is a light. If we look up, it appears as a very tiny pin-prick of light. And if we stare at it, we find ourselves flying toward it and eventually entering it. There we find people we know, who passed on before us, who are there almost like a welcoming committee. This is a higher level of existence. It is a world like our own, filled with the beauty of our present world but lacking the pain and agony we suffer here.

There is no judgment by a powerful God. Everybody has the option of going into this new and lovely existence when they leave these worldly bodies. The trick is looking for the light once we enter the blackness. We are told it is a very tiny pin prick of a light at first so you must look for it. Once you find it, never take yours eyes of of it. Doing this sends you quickly down what appears like a dark tunnel until you pop out into the light.

This is the real experience of death that awaits us. It is not to be feared.
(c) 2013 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. He currently produces daily articles for this web site

Faneuil Hall, Boston.

Boston And A History Borne On The Night Wind Of The Past
By John Nichols

It happened that I was scheduled to do a Boston radio show Monday afternoon. We were going to talk about national politics. But the deadly bombing at the Marathon changed everything, not just in Boston, but nationally.

It was one of those days when we all had to pause and reflect on where our country is at, and where it might be headed.

But it was not the first such day. We've had a lot of them. Indeed, we have had a lot of them in mid-April.

We all know April 15 as Tax Day. But is also a day that has seen deep tragedy. One hundred forty-eight years ago, on April 15, 1865, Abraham Lincoln died.

Lincoln's assassination by John Wilkes Booth terrified a nation-not just Northerners but Southerners who had only days earlier concluded a brutal Civil War and who understood the importance of Lincoln to the reconciliation of the Republic.

One hundred thirty years after that agonizing period in American history, on April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh terrified the nation when he drove a truckload of explosives to the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City. Enraged by the siege two years earlier at the Branch Davidian complex in Waco, Texas, McVeigh committed what would be recognized as the most destructive act of terrorism on American soil until the September 11, 2001, attacks.

As I talked with my friend Jeff Santos on his Boston radio show, and as I participated in other interviews Monday, plenty of calendar connections were mentioned. It was on April 20, 1999, that the Columbine killings took place in Colorado, and on April 16, 2007, that the Virginia Tech massacre was carried out.

The calendar seems to have a dark spot in mid-April. But we should be careful about seeing it as much more than that.

In various interviews Monday, I was asked (as someone who wrote extensively about the Oklahoma City bombing and who was in Washington and wrote a great deal from that city on 9/11) whether there might be a connection that could tell us something about the Boston attack.

I kept coming back to a memory of 1995, when a number of "experts" suggested in the immediate aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing that it looked to be the work of terrorists with Middle East connections. The speculation was linked to recent history; the World Trade Center had been attacked in 1993 by conspirators, later identified as Muslim extremists with ties to terrorist cells, who had used a truck bomb. But the speculation with regard to Oklahoma City was off the mark.

Ultimately, on that day, it was another link to recent history that had meaning. McVeigh was furious with his government's actions in Waco, where a long standoff had come to a violent conclusion two years to the day before he attacked the Oklahoma federal building.

The memory of past mistakes and miscalculations provides at least a measure of instruction for moments such as these. People look for explanations. And sometimes for scapegoats abroad, and at home. They get excited, angry and maybe a little too certain that they have the answers; on social media, there was a lively debate about calendar connections. When I noted a few that were being discussed in broadcast reports Monday, people came back with more-including references to the sinking of the Titanic on April 15, 1912.

But I think most people recognized that the ironies of timing are usually just that.

Most people also recognized that we ought not lose sight of what is most important in this moment.

Boston is a city of great history.

But on Monday, the people of the city-and the runners who had come to join its great Marathon-wrote a new chapter. There was tragedy, yes. But there was, as well, epic courage. And we should note both.

This is a time to mourn the dead, to mend the wounded and to honor the heroism of Boston cops and firefighters who, as President Obama explained Monday, provided "a reminder that so many Americans serve and sacrifice on our behalf every single day, without regard to their own safety, in dangerous and difficult circumstances."

At the same time, it is necessary to identify those responsible for the bombing, to hold them to account and to assure that proper steps are taken to maintain public safety in a free society. There is nothing wrong with Americans expressing opinions about the inquiries, prosecutions and official responses-passionate opinions, political opinions. The freedom to engage in these debates is an American birthright won in struggles that can be traced to the Boston streets where Sam Adams and Paul Revere and Crispus Attucks forged an ideal of liberty. They also sought and established the rule of law. And it is valuable to recognize that we can and should place a good measure of trust in the able investigators who already are at work tracking down the killer or killers who committed a heinous crime in Boston Monday. As the president suggested in his statement to the nation, their reasoned conclusions-as opposed to speculation-are what should take us from the "investigation stage" to the accountability moment.

While we can be cautious about drawing conclusions from the calendar, however, there is one historic connection that is of consequence.

In Massachusetts, Monday was marked as Patriots' Day. It's a state holiday set aside to recall the first struggles of the American Revolution, which played out on late nights and early mornings in mid-April of 1775.

Patriots' Day is when we remember the events leading up to the battles at Concord and Lexington, when farmers and shopkeepers challenged soldiers of the mightiest military force on the planet.

The country forged by those rebels against the British Empire has experienced great trauma, misery and pain. But it has also known courage, in Middlesex villages and towns 238 years ago, and in Boston on Monday, where police officers and rescue personnel ran to aid the victims of the bombing before the smoke had cleared. Where Mayor Tom Menino, recovering from surgery, checked himself out of the hospital and took charge of the response. Where runners in the Marathon kept on running to a nearby hospital where they gave blood to aid the victims of the attack.

America is strong country that has taken blows and recovered at every stage of its history. At our best, we recognize that we do not have to trade liberty for safety. Nor do we have to let a moment of terror force us to live in unthinking fear of our neighbors, near or far. This is a country that traces its history to "a cry of defiance, and not of fear." That is the connection, Longfellow made, so well and wisely, "borne on the night-wind of the Past, through all our history, to the last..."

And, thanks in no small part to the poet, we all recall that the rebellious Paul Revere was a Bostonian who rode at the signal from his great city's Old North Church. The church remains, a touchstone of liberty that is strong in the present. The same can be said of the city. This is a history worth telling.
(c) 2013 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His new book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, has just been published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

Peace Activists And Patriots At The Boston Marathon Bombing
By Amy Goodman

Monday was Patriots' Day in Massachusetts, celebrating the day the American Revolutionary War began in 1775, at the Battles of Lexington and Concord. It is also the day of the annual Boston Marathon, which will now, sadly, go down in history as yet another episode of senseless mass violence.

Martin Richard's image has circled the globe since his murder that day. In it, the 8-year-old holds a sign he made that reads "No more hurting people. Peace."

The Richard family was watching the marathon when the bomb went off. His mother, Denise, and his sister, Jane, were seriously injured. His father, Bill, suffered shrapnel wounds. Martin's older brother, Henry, was not harmed-at least, not physically.

Across the street from the blast, Carlos Arredondo and his wife, Melida, were watching from the bleachers. They were waiting for a member of the National Guard who was running the race in memory of Carlos' son, Alex Arredondo, a U.S. Marine who was killed in the battle of Najaf, Iraq, in August 2004. Back then, immediately after he learned of his son's death, Carlos got into his van and set fire to it. He survived, with massive burns, then dedicated himself to peace activism, traveling the U.S. with a flag-draped coffin in memory of his son. Seven years after they lost Alex, in 2011, his younger son, Brian, who became depressed after Alex's death, committed suicide.

At the marathon, Carlos, who is originally from Costa Rica, was wearing a big cowboy hat, and images of his fearless race to rescue people after the explosions also have gone global.

Within seconds, the lives of these two individuals, Martin Richard and Carlos Arredondo, from neighborhoods of Boston not far from each other, were thrust onto the world stage. Martin, a child tragically killed by an IED, and Carlos, a father who lost two sons as a consequence of the war in Iraq. I asked Carlos to recount those minutes after the marathon blasts:

"Everybody was on the ground. There was broken limbs, people with no limbs, people totally passed out, so many injuries today. I never see in my life like this. You know, it was a very, very horrible moment in that particular moment there. People was running. And a lot of people was really doing a great job in handling the best we could at the time ... it took really few minutes to understand that this was a IED explosion. And my first reaction, being a volunteer for the Red Cross, and my first reaction was to just go, you know, and do my duty. So many people was doing the same thing-police officers, National Guards, people from the stands, veterans. You know, everybody just got together ... we didn't know if it was a third bomb waiting for anybody there, you know, but everybody removed the fence by their hands and pushed everything around."

Carlos focused on Jeff Bauman Jr., who had severe wounds to both legs: "I ripped up a T-shirt, and another gentleman helped me out, and we put this tourniquet on the legs. And then the first wheelchair that arrived, you know, I picked him up and put him in the wheelchair, and I dragged him out of there."

All the vast medical expertise in the many hospitals of Boston could not save Martin Richard. His 7-year-old sister, who loves to dance, lost a leg, and his mother, Denise, suffered severe trauma to the head. Denise is the librarian at the children's school, the Neighborhood House Charter School, as well as an active member of a community organization. Bill has long been a respected activist in the community, helping to revitalize the area.

Seven years ago, on another Patriots' Day, after the Boston Marathon, I was in Boston's historic Faneuil Hall with the late famed historian Howard Zinn. The night was cold and rainy. It was April 16, 2007. News was coming in about a massacre in Blacksburg, Va., on the campus of Virginia Tech. Thirty-two people were killed that day, plus the shooter, who took his own life. This week, as the final mile, mile 26, of the Boston Marathon was dedicated to the 26 people killed in Newtown, Conn., even the most basic compromise element of gun-control legislation, a watered-down amendment on background checks, has failed in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

The first blast in Boston occurred behind a line of fluttering flags from around the world, reflecting the international stature of the oldest annual marathon in the country-flags that reminded me once again of the words of Howard Zinn: "There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people."
(c) 2013 Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 750 stations in North America. She is the co-author of "Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times," recently released in paperback and "Breaking The Sound Barrier."

Why This Is The Worst Recovery On Record?
By Robert Reich

The biggest economic debate is between Keynesians (who want more government spending and lower interest rates in order to fuel demand) and supply-side "austerics" (who want lower taxes on the wealthy and on corporations to boost incentives to hire and invest, and who see government deficits crowding out private investment).

But both approaches have problems.

George W. Bush tried supply-side tax cuts but nothing trickled down. Jobs and wages declined. And austerity economics has been a disaster for Europe.

Unfortunately the U.S. is now adopting supply-side austerics by making the Bush tax cuts permanent for 98 percent of taxpayers, hiking Social Security taxes back up, and implementing the sequester.

I'm on the Keynesian side. Yet the biggest weakness of modern Keynesian economics is it doesn't have a clear answer for how much spending is necessary in an economy, like ours, in which wages keep dropping and government debt keeps growing. Simply arguing "more" won't cut it.

John Maynard Keynes urged that governments "prime the pump" to stimulate demand but pump priming has limited effect if the well is running dry.

Both sides of the modern debate have neglected the scourge of widening inequality.

We're now witnessing what happens when all of the economic gains go to the top, and the rest of the population doesn't have enough purchasing power to keep the economy going.

Four years into a so-called recovery and we're still below recession levels in every important respect except the stock market. A measly 88,000 jobs were created in March, and total employment remains some 3 million below its pre-recession level. Labor-force participation is it's lowest since 1979.

Businesses won't hire and expand unless they have more customers, but most Americans can't spend more. Last Friday's retail sales report showed sales down .4 percent in March. Consumer sentiment has fallen to its lowest level in nine months.

The underlying problem is the vast middle class is running out of money. They can't borrow more - and shouldn't, given what happened after the last borrowing binge.

Real annual median household income keeps falling. It's down to $45,018, from $51,144 in 2010. All the gains from the recovery continue to go to the top.

Widening inequality is not inevitable. If we wanted to reverse it and restore middle-class prosperity, we could.

We could award tax cuts to companies that link the pay of their hourly workers to profits and productivity, and that keep the total pay of their top 5 executives within 20 times the pay of their median worker. And impose higher taxes on companies that don't.

We could raise the minimum wage to half the average wage.

We could increase public investment in education, including early-childhood.

We could eliminate college loans and allow all students to repay the cost of their higher education with a 10 percent surcharge on the first 10 years of income from full-time employment.

We could expand the Earned Income Tax Credit.

And we could pay for all this by adding additional tax brackets at the top and increasing the top marginal tax rate to what it was before 1981 – at least 70 percent.

But none of this will happen until the public understands why widening inequality is so damaging. Even the rich would do better with a smaller share of a rapidly-growing economy than a large share of one that's barely growing at all.

Our political leaders in Washington have for now chosen supply-side austerity economics over Keynesian economics. That's bad enough. Their inability or unwillingness to do much of anything about widening inequality will prove a larger problem.
(c) 2013 Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written twelve books, including The Work of Nations, Locked in the Cabinet, and his most recent book, Supercapitalism. His "Marketplace" commentaries can be found on and iTunes.

The Antisocial Network
By Paul Krugman

Bitcoin's wild ride may not have been the biggest business story of the past few weeks, but it was surely the most entertaining. Over the course of less than two weeks the price of the "digital currency" more than tripled. Then it fell more than 50 percent in a few hours. Suddenly, it felt as if we were back in the dot-com era.

The economic significance of this roller coaster was basically nil. But the furor over bitcoin was a useful lesson in the ways people misunderstand money - and in particular how they are misled by the desire to divorce the value of money from the society it serves.

What is bitcoin? It's sometimes described as a way to make transactions online - but that in itself would be nothing new in a world of online credit-card and PayPal transactions. In fact, the Commerce Department estimates that by 2010 about 16 percent of total sales in America already took the form of e-commerce.

So how is bitcoin different? Unlike credit card transactions, which leave a digital trail, bitcoin transactions are designed to be anonymous and untraceable. When you transfer bitcoins to someone else, it's as if you handed over a paper bag filled with $100 bills in a dark alley. And sure enough, as best as anyone can tell the main use of bitcoin so far, other than as a target for speculation, has been for online versions of those dark-alley exchanges, with bitcoins traded for narcotics and other illegal items.

But bitcoin evangelists insist that it's about much more than greasing the path for illicit transactions. The biggest declared investors in bitcoins are the Winklevoss brothers, wealthy twins who successfully sued for a share of Facebook and were made famous by the movie "The Social Network" - and they make claims for the digital product similar to those made by goldbugs for their favorite metal. "We have elected," declared Tyler Winklevoss recently, "to put our money and faith in a mathematical framework that is free of politics and human error."

The similarity to goldbug rhetoric isn't a coincidence, since goldbugs and bitcoin enthusiasts - bitbugs? - tend to share both libertarian politics and the belief that governments are vastly abusing their power to print money. At the same time, it's very peculiar, since bitcoins are in a sense the ultimate fiat currency, with a value conjured out of thin air. Gold's value comes in part because it has nonmonetary uses, such as filling teeth and making jewelry; paper currencies have value because they're backed by the power of the state, which defines them as legal tender and accepts them as payment for taxes. Bitcoins, however, derive their value, if any, purely from self-fulfilling prophecy, the belief that other people will accept them as payment.

However, let's leave that strangeness on one side, along with the peculiar "mining" process - actually a process of complex calculation - used to add to the bitcoin stock. Instead, let's focus on the two huge misconceptions - one practical, one philosophical - that underlie both goldbugism and bitbugism.

The practical misconception here - and it's a big one - is the notion that we live in an era of wildly irresponsible money printing, with runaway inflation just around the corner. It's true that the Federal Reserve and other central banks have greatly expanded their balance sheets - but they've done that explicitly as a temporary measure in response to economic crisis. I know, government officials are not to be trusted and all that, but the truth is that Ben Bernanke's promises that his actions wouldn't be inflationary have been vindicated year after year, while goldbugs' dire warnings of inflation keep not coming true.

The philosophical misconception, however, seems to me to be even bigger. Goldbugs and bitbugs alike seem to long for a pristine monetary standard, untouched by human frailty. But that's an impossible dream. Money is, as Paul Samuelson once declared, a "social contrivance," not something that stands outside society. Even when people relied on gold and silver coins, what made those coins useful wasn't the precious metals they contained, it was the expectation that other people would accept them as payment.

Actually, you'd expect the Winklevosses, of all people, to get this, because in a way money is like a social network, which is useful only to the extent that other people use it. But I guess some people are just bothered by the notion that money is a human thing, and want the benefits of the monetary network without the social part. Sorry, it can't be done.

So do we need a new form of money? I guess you could make that case if the money we actually have were misbehaving. But it isn't. We have huge economic problems, but green pieces of paper are doing fine - and we should let them alone.
(c) 2013 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"I BELIEVE that God wants me to be president."
~~~ George W. Bush

"I would like to thank Providence and the Almighty for choosing me of all people to be allowed to wage this battle for Germany." ~~~ Adolf Hitler

Let's Hope The Boston Marathon Bomber Is A White American
There is a double standard: White terrorists are dealt with as lone wolves, Islamists are existential threats
By David Sirota

As we now move into the official Political Aftermath period of the Boston bombing - the period that will determine the long-term legislative fallout of the atrocity - the dynamics of privilege will undoubtedly influence the nation's collective reaction to the attacks. That's because privilege tends to determine: 1) which groups are - and are not - collectively denigrated or targeted for the unlawful actions of individuals; and 2) how big and politically game-changing the overall reaction ends up being.

This has been most obvious in the context of recent mass shootings. In those awful episodes, a religious or ethnic minority group lacking such privilege would likely be collectively slandered and/or targeted with surveillance or profiling (or worse) if some of its individuals comprised most of the mass shooters. However, white male privilege means white men are not collectively denigrated/targeted for those shootings - even though most come at the hands of white dudes.

Likewise, in the context of terrorist attacks, such privilege means white non-Islamic terrorists are typically portrayed not as representative of whole groups or ideologies, but as "lone wolf" threats to be dealt with as isolated law enforcement matters. Meanwhile, non-white or developing-world terrorism suspects are often reflexively portrayed as representative of larger conspiracies, ideologies and religions that must be dealt with as systemic threats - the kind potentially requiring everything from law enforcement action to military operations to civil liberties legislation to foreign policy shifts.

"White privilege is knowing that even if the bomber turns out to be white, no one will call for your group to be profiled as terrorists as a result, subjected to special screening or threatened with deportation," writes author Tim Wise. "White privilege is knowing that if this bomber turns out to be white, the United States government will not bomb whatever corn field or mountain town or stale suburb from which said bomber came, just to ensure that others like him or her don't get any ideas. And if he turns out to be a member of the Irish Republican Army we won't bomb Dublin. And if he's an Italian-American Catholic we won't bomb the Vatican."

Because of these undeniable and pervasive double standards, the specific identity of the Boston Marathon bomber (or bombers) is not some minor detail - it will almost certainly dictate what kind of governmental, political and societal response we see in the coming weeks. That means regardless of your particular party affiliation, if you care about everything from stopping war to reducing the defense budget to protecting civil liberties to passing immigration reform, you should hope the bomber was a white domestic terrorist. Why? Because only in that case will privilege work to prevent the Boston attack from potentially undermining progress on those other issues.

To know that's true is to simply consider how America reacts to different kinds of terrorism.

Though FBI data show fewer terrorist plots involving Muslims than terrorist plots involving non-Muslims, America has mobilized a full-on war effort exclusively against the prospect of Islamic terrorism. Indeed, the moniker "War on Terrorism" has come to specifically mean "War on Islamic Terrorism," involving everything from new laws like the Patriot Act, to a new torture regime, to new federal agencies like the Transportation Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security, to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to mass surveillance of Muslim communities.

By contrast, even though America has seen a consistent barrage of attacks from domestic non-Islamic terrorists, the privilege and double standards baked into our national security ideologies means those attacks have resulted in no systemic action of the scope marshaled against foreign terrorists. In fact, it has been quite the opposite - according to Darryl Johnson, the senior domestic terrorism analyst at the Department of Homeland Security, the conservative movement backlash to merely reporting the rising threat of such domestic terrorism resulted in DHS seriously curtailing its initiatives against that particular threat. (Irony alert: When it comes specifically to fighting white non-Muslim domestic terrorists, the right seems to now support the very doctrine it criticized Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry for articulating - the doctrine that sees fighting terrorism as primarily "an intelligence-gathering, law-enforcement, public-diplomacy effort" and not something more systemic.)

Enter the Boston bombing. Coming at the very moment the U.S. government is planning to withdraw from Afghanistan, considering cuts to the Pentagon budget, discussing civil liberties principles and debating landmark immigration legislation, the attack could easily become the fulcrum of all of those contentious policy debates - that is, depending on the demographic profile of the assailant.

If recent history is any guide, if the bomber ends up being a white anti-government extremist, white privilege will likely mean the attack is portrayed as just an isolated incident - one that has no bearing on any larger policy debates. Put another way, white privilege will work to not only insulate whites from collective blame, but also to insulate the political debate from any fallout from the attack.

It will probably be much different if the bomber ends up being a Muslim and/or a foreigner from the developing world. As we know from our own history, when those kind of individuals break laws in such a high-profile way, America often cites them as both proof that entire demographic groups must be targeted, and that therefore a more systemic response is warranted. At that point, it's easy to imagine conservatives citing Boston as a reason to block immigration reform defense spending cuts and the Afghan War withdrawal and to further expand surveillance and other encroachments on civil liberties.

If that sounds hard to believe, just look at yesterday's comments by right-wing radio host Laura Ingraham, whose talking points often become Republican Party doctrine. Though authorities haven't even identified a suspect in the Boston attack, she (like other conservatives) seems to already assume the assailant is foreign, and is consequently citing the attack as rationale to slam the immigration reform bill.

The same Laura Ingraham, of course, was one of the leading voices criticizing the Department of Homeland Security for daring to even report on right-wing domestic terrorism. In that sense, she perfectly embodies the double standard that, more than anything, will determine the long-term political impact of the Boston bombing.
(c) 2013 David Sirota is a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist, magazine journalist and the best-selling author of "Hostile Takeover" and "The Uprising." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at E-mail him at David Sirota is a former spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee. Follow him on Twitter @davidsirota .

People And Peace Over Plutocracy
Remarks for conference on Building Bridges and Creating the Beloved Community, April 13, 2013. Sponsored by Maryland United for Peace and Justice.
By David Swanson

Several years ago a bunch of peace activists were eating in a restaurant in Crawford, Texas, and we noticed George W. Bush. He was actually a cardboard version of George W. Bush like you might get your photo with in front of the White House, but he was almost as lifelike as the real thing. We picked him up and stood him in the corner of the restaurant, facing the corner. We asked him to stay there until he understood what he'd done wrong. For all I know he's still standing there.

Of course, a piece of cardboard wasn't going to really understand what it had done wrong, and the real president probably wouldn't have either. The benefit of standing him in the corner, if there was one, was for everybody else in the restaurant. And the benefit of impeaching or prosecuting Bush for his crimes and abuses would have been, and still would be, for the world -- not for him and not for those who are angry at him. We shouldn't imagine that vengeance would be very satisfying. Not when you punish a man. And not when that man destroys the nation of Iraq. Wishing others ill does ill to yourself. It cannot be truly satisfying.

Twelve days from now I'll be down in Dallas for the dedication of the Bush Library, or rather the Bush Lie Bury, a half-billion-dollar project aimed at burying lies. We'll be there to unearth what should not be forgotten.

Now, I'm not so simple-minded as to believe that Bush ran the entire country on his own. I know how Dick Cheney manipulated him. I know that if people wanted to protest Cheney's disastrous role they could find him living near here at 1126 Chain Bridge Road in McLean, Virginia, as well as 7879 Fuller Road in St. Michael's, Maryland. Not that I would ever, ever recommend holding massive noisy protests at either of those homes.

I also realize that there's a permanent military-industrial-corporate-bankster complex. I know the Democrats controlled the Senate that voted for the war on Iraq. I know the corporate media spoon-fed the war lies to my friends and neighbors. But we should be holding all of these parties accountable, not excusing the man who was seated in virtually a royal throne just because he had a lot of help and encountered a massive outpouring of obedience.

When we tried to impeach Bush, people accused us of being cruel and vengeful. I denied it. I said that I was concerned about precedents being set for the future. But the fact is that a lot of people in the movement enjoyed being cruel and vengeful, and at moments I did too. It's great fun to point to a leader as the embodiment of evil policies. It humanizes structural wrongs.

We are actually up against the very same interlocking evils that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said we were up against when he spoke at Riverside Church 46 years ago last week. We're facing militarism, racism, and extreme materialism. But how do you take those and stand them in the corner? How do you mock their funny accent or their bad grammar? How do you throw your shoes at them?

We had a lot of fun denouncing Bush as an idiot and a liar. We had so much fun that we forgot he was an idiot when we were calling him a liar. Don't get me wrong: he knew perfectly well that he was lying. That's been completely established. This is a man who told Tony Blair he'd like to paint an airplane with a U.N. logo, fly it low over Iraq, get it shot at, and thereby start a war. This is a man who moments later walked out, together with Tony Blair, to the White House Press Corpse and declared his intention to avoid war if at all possible. This is a man who was asked after the invasion why he'd made the claims he made about weapons, and who replied, "What's the difference?"

But here's what I do mean to say: every leader who launches or continues a war does so using lies. Always. Without exception. But some of them tell their lies better than an idiot. Some of them don't pick obvious lies or lies that can be swiftly exposed by events.

Not everyone caught onto this. Some opposed the war on Iraq without opposing the war machine that generates new wars. Some even started calling Iraq the bad war and Afghanistan the good war, as if there can be a good war. Some imagined that because Iraq was based on lies and launched against the will of the United Nations, Afghanistan must have been based on truth and launched with a U.N. authorization. That was not the case. The U.N. approved of the occupation of Afghanistan two-months into it. That's how conquest has worked for millennia. Treaties and courts had been in place to pursue the prosecution of alleged 9-11 terrorists, and the Afghan government was open to such arrangements. Attacking the people of Afghanistan was not self-defense or moral or legal in any way, not even under the U.N. Charter, much less some of the stronger laws that we generally choose to ignore.

The Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928, for example, bans all war. It is the product of a peace movement of our great grandparents that sought the elimination of war and has much to teach us.

We ought to have opposed the war on Iraq because it killed people. There's no better reason. But then we would have had to oppose all wars. They all kill people. It sounds so much more REASONABLE to oppose particular wars. Half of our neighbors work in the war industry. What about their jobs? North Korea may attack us at any moment. There are evil people in the world who want to kill us. Our government is pursuing economic and military policies that are sure to make them really, really want to kill us. Surely we can't oppose all war.

Well then, we needed to find a different reason to oppose the war on Iraq. And we found lots. And they were all bad ones. I'll give you four examples.

1. The war on Iraq was bad because Iraq had no weapons. What's wrong with that? Well, it implies that nations that do have weapons should be bombed. That would include our nation, by the way, above all others. But -- more immediately -- it would include Iran, which is being falsely accused of having weapons exactly as if that is grounds for bombing that country.

2. The war on Iraq was bad because Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11. This implies that if the government of Afghanistan had anything to do with even indirectly supporting anyone involved in 9-11, then the people of Afghanistan -- most of whom had never heard of 9-11 and still haven't -- should be bombed. The same logic is costing drone strike victims their lives by the thousands.

3. The war on Iraq was bad because it wasn't being won. This of course contributed to escalating the war in hopes of winning it, whatever that would have meant.

4. The war on Iraq was bad because it was a Republican Party war. This wasn't entirely true. It was also a position destined to create support for wars whenever a Democrat moved into the White House.

The argument for opposing little bits of militarism rather than the whole thing is that more people are likely to quickly join you. If you appeal to their patriotism or partisanship or religion or militarism but nudge them toward opposing one particular war for some tangential reason, well then maybe they'll be ever so slightly more likely to oppose the next war and the next war. I don't accept that argument.

For one thing, ill-informed as I think people are, I don't think they're stupid enough not to notice when I'm telling the truth and when I'm not -- when I'm actually making up excuses for a position that I hold for a different reason. I actually want wars ended because they kill people. If I claim to oppose just the Iraq War but not the Afghanistan War, what happens when the Iraq War ends and I shift to opposing the Afghanistan War? Who will take me seriously?

Also, if we don't tell the truth then people never find out how bad the wars are. But if they do find out how bad the wars are, then they oppose them along with us for all the right reasons, reasons that carry over to counter-recruitment and conversion -- that is, to keeping our kids from becoming cannon-fodder and converting our war industries to peace industries, which -- by the way -- produces more and better paying jobs for the same investment, not to mention greater happiness with one's career.

It's not easy to tell people how our wars really look while telling them that you support the troops and want to see wars waged with better strategies. Our wars are one-sided slaughters. U.S. deaths in Iraq were 0.3% of the deaths. Iraq lost a greater number of people and a greater percentage of its people than the U.S. lost in its civil war or World War II, or than Japan or France or England lost in World War II. Iraq lost millions of refugees, its education system, its health system, its entire society. The nation was destroyed. And a majority of Americans believe Iraq benefitted from the war while the United States suffered. We were happy year after year to see a majority of Americans say they wanted the war ended, but many of them were saying they wanted an act of generosity ended, not the war as it actually existed.

The trillions of dollars spent destroying Iraq and not rebuilding it could have been put to other uses. It could have eliminated world hunger. It could have saved many times the lives it was used to kill. But that would require real generosity, not just frustration that a war wasn't being managed well.

I was involved in working hard to make sure people knew Bush lied about Iraq. I'm pleased that a slim majority still says it knows that. I don't know how long that will last. But an overwhelming majority still believes some other war could be a good war.

Sitting on a train recently, I spoke to a young woman who told me she was studying dentistry and would be in the Air Force. Couldn't she be a dentist without the military, I asked? No, she answered, not without $200,000 in debt. Yes, I replied, but without the Air Force, we could have free colleges and no debts. No, she replied . . .

And, if you think for a moment, I know you'll know what she said next. It had nothing to do with the lies about Iraq, the financial cost of Iraq, the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq, or what war mongers the Republicans are. It had nothing to do with any of that. Think for a second, and you'll know.

Any guesses?

She replied: if we didn't have the Air Force, North Korea would kill us.

Now, if you have a little education you probably realize that North Korea spends less than 1% of what the United States does on war preparations, that North Korea couldn't attack the United States without being completely obliterated, and that any nation on earth would scream angry threats if we pretended to drop nuclear bombs on it after having destroyed all of its cities, killed millions of its people, and threatened and antagonized it for over half a century through control of the military belonging to its former other half.

But if you'd just learned that the war on Iraq was a dumb war that cost too much, that nothing is more heroic than militarism, that even the peace movement should be led by soldiers, and that waving flags and valuing a particular 5% of humanity to a special degree are admirable values, where would you be?

There will always, always, always be another North Korea that's supposedly about to kill us. We don't need rapid-response fact corrections. We need citizens with some understanding of history, with knowledge of the Other 95%, with the capacity to resist terrorism-by-television, and capable of independent thought. To get there, we need a peace movement that moves us, at whatever pace it can, toward peace -- toward the popular demand for the absolute abolition of all war. And to get there we need to stop behaving like politicians.

Legislators have to compromise, and would have to compromise even if our government weren't so corrupted by money. We don't. Our unions and activist groups didn't have to ban the words "single payer" from rallies for the so-called "public option," thus pre-compromising and predictably ending up with nothing. We can let Congress do the compromising, but it will do it from where we begin. If we begin with self-censorship, we lose.

When Bill McKibben picks Bernie Sanders as his model, he's picking one of our better legislators. He shouldn't be picking any of them as a model for activism. Instead he should be looking to leaders of our civil rights movement, women's rights movement, labor, peace, and justice movements. He should be looking to activist models in Tunisia, Egypt, Spain, South Africa, South America, and Eastern Europe.

Activists' work is to speak the truth and nonviolently move the nation. Loyalty to political parties and officials is misplaced. Elections are relatively unimportant. We need teach-ins, sit-ins, boycotts, protests, marches, and direct actions and artwork and education of every variety. We have so much to do that elections ought not to be sitting anywhere near the top of the list, much less distracting people with something bordering on obsession.

I must have received emails from a dozen large organizations this week on the topic of Social Security with the message "This isn't what we voted for." They meant to say "This isn't what we want." They may have even meant to say "This isn't something we'll stand for." But they did vote for it in voting for President Barack Obama. We knew he would try to cut Social Security and now he's trying to. You may believe that backing some other candidate wouldn't have stopped him or would have been worse. But we have to recognize a certain incompleteness in a strategy that says, "We will vote for you no matter what, and please end the war and don't build the pipeline and don't pursue NAFTA on steroids in the Pacific and don't cut Social Security and don't prosecute whistleblowers and don't go through a list of men, women, and children every Tuesday and pick which ones to have murdered." Even when that strategy shifts to saying, "We voted for you and now we would really like you to end that war and stop building that pipeline and break off the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations and take back your proposal on Social Security and Medicare and free Bradley Manning and abandon the kill list and ground the drones," there's still something notably incomplete, at the very least, in such an approach.

President Obama has not killed the same number of people President Bush did. And President Bush gets some of the blame for having expanded the powers that Obama now abuses. But Obama has expanded those powers further still, and he too must take some of the blame for what all future president do now.

I helped draft about 70 articles of impeachment against Bush, from which Congressman Dennis Kucinich selected 35 and introduced them. I later looked through those 35 and found 27 that applied to President Obama, even though his own innovations in abusive behavior weren't on the list. Bush's lying Congress into war (not that Congress wasn't eager to play along) is actually a standard to aspire to now. When Obama went to war in Libya, against the will of Congress, he avoided even bothering to involve the first branch of our government.

When Bush locked people up or tortured them to death, he kept it as secret as he could. Obama -- despite radically expanding secrecy powers and persecuting whistleblowers -- does most of his wrongdoing wide out in the open. Warrantless spying is openly acknowledged policy. Imprisonment without trial is so-called law. Torture is a policy choice, and the choice these days is to outsource it. Murder is, however, the new torture. The CIA calls it "cleaner." And Americans tell pollsters that they oppose killing U.S. citizens but support killing non-U.S. citizens. And activists begin to focus on the danger to U.S. citizens, as if that were the strategic way to generate opposition.

President Obama runs through a list of men, women, and children to murder on Tuesdays, picks some, and has them murdered. We don't know this because of a whistleblower or a journalist. We know this because the White House wanted us to know it, and to know it before the election. Think about that. We moved from the pre-insanity state we were in circa 1999 to an age in which presidents want us to know they murder people. That was primarily the work of George W. Bush, and every single person who yawned, who looked away, who cheered, who was too busy, who said "it's more important to elect a new president than to keep presidential powers in check," or who said "impeachment would be traumatic" -- as if this isn't.

The war in Afghanistan is twice the size it was when Obama arrived, and we talk about it as if it's ending, even though they tell us it will continue for longer than most wars have taken from beginning to end. Military spending has risen in the Obama years. Foreign bases have expanded. The CIA has been given war making powers (and is being regularly protested just next door to Dick Cheney's house mentioned earlier). Special forces are operating in more countries. A new form of war, waged with drones, has been taken into new nations without any say from Congress or the U.N. or we the people. The Pentagon is moving into Africa in a major way.

And when we spend a trillion dollars a year on war preparations through various government departments, it's a banker bailout we never get back. Inequality of wealth in this country has been growing under Obama even faster than under Bush. The super-profitable, super-corrupt, and super-unaccountable war industry is part of the reason why. Any one of the 10 richest people in this country could set aside his income for one year and buy housing for every person who doesn't have housing. The poorest 47% of Americans own less than nothing. The poorest 62% of Americans own less than the richest 400 people. Only three nations on earth are more unequal than the land of the free and home of the suckered. The Wall Street crash reduced median wealth 66% for Latinos and 53% for African Americans. Dr. King said if we continued to spend more on war than on programs of social uplift we would approach spiritual death. The question now, these many years and wars later, is whether we can manage spiritual resurrection.

To do so, we'll need unity. We can't lack understanding for the student who goes into the military in order to become a dentist. We must appreciate the economic bind that we've all been put in. But that doesn't mean its wise to oppose cuts to Social Security by hyping the supposed "service" that veterans have done for us in wars. For one thing, just stop and consider where all the money is going that could lower the retirement age rather than increasing it. It's going to billionaires and the war machine. Glorifying the war machine is not a smart way to change that.

President Kennedy once wrote that war would continue until the conscientious objector had the prestige and honor that the soldier has now. Of course, soldiers would have to lose prestige as conscientious objectors and other resisters gain. The two cannot be honorable together. But opposing participation in the military is not the same thing as condemning any person who has done it. Most do it for economic, among other, reasons. I'm proud to be an associate (non-veteran) member of Veterans For Peace.

We also must separate the sin from the sinner when we consider employment in the weapons industry. When Congress funds a war machine that builds momentum for war, and does so for the stated reason of creating jobs, that's sociopathic. When someone with a family to feed takes one of those jobs, that's often a matter of survival. When the state of Maryland, even while banning the death penalty, forces Montgomery County to give millions of dollars to Lockheed Martin, that's pure corruption. But Lockheed's employees can't be expected to all just quit without alternative employment.

Our goal should be economic conversion from making weapons to making windmills and every other useful product. Bills to begin coordinating this at the national level made progress in Congress from the 60s through the 80s but haven't been heard of in recent years. One opportunity to begin this at the local level is anywhere that war jobs are actually lost during the much exaggerated current cuts, if any. Localities and states are starting to create commissions to lobby for more war money. Instead they should be studying the advantages of conversion.

The advantages include: more and better paying jobs, significantly so according to a study from the University of Massachusetts. The labor movement, which has been rather weak on opposing wars for many years in this country, should be opposing war spending even for purely economic reasons. Even tax cuts for working people produces more jobs than military spending. The only way you can cut military spending and get fewer jobs is if you give the money to that crowd we call the Job Creators.

Another advantage is, of course, safety. The Department of Defense endangers us. De-funding it is in fact in the interests of what they call national security. But there are many more advantages.

Civil liberties groups have done heroic work in this country in recent years opposing warrantless spying, lawless imprisonment, torture, assassination, and other atrocities generated by military spending. These groups ought to heed President Eisenhower's warning and oppose the root of the problem. Some of them are not just refraining from opposing war spending. They're actually supporting wars, even while opposing various evils that wars involve. We need to work on this with people concerned about civil liberties. When we recently passed a resolution against drones in Charlottesville, Va., it opened up a discussion about drone use abroad as well. I recommend that. I'll be glad to talk with you about how to do it. Also please be at the U.S. Senate hearing on drones a week from Tuesday morning if you can.

The School of the Americas Watch has not shut down the school, but has persuaded various nations to stop sending students to be trained in torture and murder at Fort Benning, Georgia. Sometimes our best allies are abroad. Powerful movements against U.S. military bases in the Philippines, Puerto Rico, South Korea, Italy, and elsewhere need our help, as we need theirs.

The torture techniques used by our death squads and proxies abroad are also developed in U.S. prisons. We lead the world in weapons sales, war spending, and incarceration. And these are connected. Taking on the prison industrial complex and the military industrial complex together is the most likely way for us to take on militarism, racism, and extreme materialism without dividing our strength.

Gun control should be holistic and international. While the NRA and the White House debate local gun restrictions, they join hands to oppose international ones. But selling weapons to the world, against some of which U.S. soldiers will certainly later fight, spreads the idea of righteous violence. Peace activists should work for gun control at home, but should take the opportunity to make people more aware of U.S. weapons sales abroad, and the kinds of governments those weapons are sold to.

Fox News' Sean Hannity says it's OK for basketball coaches to hit players because, "My father hit me with a belt and I turned out OK." I suppose we can each judge for ourselves how he turned out. Violence in any aspect of our lives can help to legitimate it in others. Hannity has not distinguished himself as an opponent of wars.

Environmental groups have largely, but not entirely, shied away from opposing our greatest consumer of oil, a machine that fights wars for oil and uses the oil to fight wars, poisoning our nation and others with chemicals and radiation to an extent that would rank such abuses above 9/11 or Pearl Harbor if foreigners were responsible. The anti-bases movement is slowly making connections, as in Jeju Island, South Korea, between environmental activism and peace activism. Such alliances can only make us stronger.

Immigrants rights can sometimes be thought of as "refugee rights." Little produces immigration the way wars do. And denying rights to people whose country your own military has ravaged is beyond the rudeness of most people, once made aware of it. Immigrants rights and peace are causes that must unite.

Education and housing and green energy infrastructure advocates, advocates for all good programs, have two possible sources of funding. We can tax the plutocrats. Or we can scale back a war machine currently as large as the rest of the world's combined. Practically speaking, we'll have to do both. The war machine generates plutocrats, and vice versa. About half of our tax dollars on Monday will go to war funding. There are funds that you can put that money into instead, an approach that some of you might want to investigate.

The Pentagon just announced that it went $10 billion over budget on killing children in Afghanistan. Oops. Meanwhile, Congress has manufactured the pretense that the U.S. Postal Service is billions of dollars in the hole. We are a nation that can afford services we don't dare imagine, and our government still hopes to privatize the post office. Instead of having no mail on Saturdays, I, for one, would prefer to wars on Saturdays.

The Military Industrial Complex is everything Eisenhower feared, and then some. But if every interest group and individual for whom it is a major stumbling block were to unite against it, and in favor of conversion to a peace economy, the Pentagon's walls would come crumbling down. Opposing militarism is not a separate little campaign, but ought to be part of a comprehensive plan for justice. Instead of shouting "Jobs Not Cuts," we should be demanding cuts to the military and to highways and to banks and to corporate welfare, and expanded investment in all the things we want and the things we don't dare dream of but can easily afford.

By direct democracy, Americans would reduce military spending right now. No persuasion is needed. But a movement of dedicated activists intent on enacting a major conversion program will require stronger and deeper public opinion than now exists.

We're up against belief in the possibility of a good war, and myths about past wars being good and just. We have to correct those myths and point out the altered state of the world that makes them unhelpful anyway. Weaponry, communications, and understanding of the tools of nonviolence have changed. War is no longer useful, even if you imagine it ever was. What we need is a movement for the abolition of war, and one place to look for inspiration might be to the original abolitionists, to Thomas Clarkson and Olaudah Equiano, and those who launched a movement that built pressure to end the British slave trade and slavery -- a movement that gained, of course, from rebellions by those enslaved in Jamaica and what we now call Haiti.

If you're like me, there are some things you would like to abolish. My list includes weapons, fossil fuel use, plutocracy, corporate personhood, corporate nationhood, health insurance corporations, poverty wages, poverty, homelessness, factory farming, prisons, the drug war, the death penalty, nuclear energy, the U.S. Senate, the electoral college, gerrymandering, electronic voting machines, murder, rape, child abuse, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, and the Washington Post. I could go on. I bet you can think of at least one institution you believe we'd be better off without. I put war around the top of the list.

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries in England, activists invented committees with chapters and newsletters, posters, speaking tours, book tours, petitioning, boycotts, theatrical props, and investigative journalism. Most people couldn't vote, and voting had nothing to do with it. Slavery was the norm across the world, and activists faced defeat after defeat for many years. They didn't quit. They demanded rights -- and not for themselves, but for others unlike them and for the most part unseen by them. Britons were familiar with having their sons kidnapped and enslaved by the British navy, but they applied that understanding to others in other circumstances. We can do the same. We see disasters in New Orleans or New York. We can begin to see them in Baghdad and Kabul.

Frederick Douglass went to England to meet with Clarkson. Douglass worked for the abolition of slavery here, but later remarked, "When I ran away from slavery, it was for myself; when I advocated emancipation, it was for my people; but when I stood up for the rights of woman, self was out of the question, and I found a little nobility in the act." Perhaps we too can act on behalf of others. Perhaps we can expand concern for U.S. citizens killed by drones to human beings killed by drones.

Douglass also said this: "War is among the greatest calamities incident to the lives of nations. They arrest the progress of civilization, corrupt the sources of morality, destroy all proper sense of the sacredness of human life, perpetuate the national hate, and weigh down the necks of after coming generations with the burdens of debt."

When Britain and France went to war, the anti-slavery movement stalled. When the global war on the globe started, progressive movements in the United States stalled. The idea that North Korea will kill us all aids the idea that we should cut Social Security and get started on killing ourselves. Permanent war means a permanent impediment to progress. We have the power to abolish war and to put a trillion dollars a year to better use.

"And these words shall then become," wrote Percy Bysshe Shelley,
"Like Oppression's thundered doom
"Ringing through each heart and brain,
"Heard again - again - again -
"Rise like Lions after slumber "In unvanquishable number -
"Shake your chains to earth like dew
"Which in sleep had fallen on you -
"Ye are many - they are few."

(c) 2013 David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie."

The Dead Letter Office...

Peter enjoys a glass of corpo-rat water

Heil Obama,

Dear Vorsitzender Barbeck,

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 declaration that there is no human right to water, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Corpo-rat 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 Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 05-25-2013. We salute you Herr Barbeck, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

Sweatshops On Wheels
By Chris Hedges

WASHINGTON, D.C.-The deterioration of the nation's public transportation, like the deterioration of health care, education, social services, public utilities, bridges and roads, is part of the relentless seizing and harvesting of public resources and programs by corporations. These corporations are steadily stripping the American infrastructure. Public-sector unions are being broken. Wages and benefits are being slashed. Workers are forced to put in longer hours in unsafe workplaces, often jeopardizing public safety. The communities that need public services most are losing them, and where public service is continued it is reduced or substandard and costlier. Only the security and surveillance network and the military are permitted to function with efficiency in their role as the guardians of corporate power. We now resemble the developing world: We have small pockets of obscene wealth, ailing infrastructure and public service, huge swaths of grinding poverty, and militarized police and internal security.

The assault on public transportation, which has devastating consequences for the poor who cannot get to work or the doctor's office without it, is not new. General Motors, Standard Oil, Firestone Tire and Rubber, B.F. Phillips Petroleum and Mack Manufacturing set up companies in the 1930s-first United Cities Motor Transit and later National City Lines-in order to rip up city trolley tracks and replace them with bus and car routes. These corporations, joined by companies such as Greyhound, pushed through the national highway grid. City bus companies, as riders turned to cars, began to go bankrupt. The federal government in 1964 approved the Urban Mass Transit Act, which provided capital and operating funds for mass transit to keep it on life support. The corporations, meanwhile, pushed through huge urban renewal plans, all funded by the taxpayer, which focused exclusively on highways, tunnels and bridges and further sidelined public transportation. Jane Jacobs, who wrote the 1961 book "The Death and Life of Great American Cities," presciently understood and fought these corporate forces, led in New York City by Robert Moses, who forcibly displaced hundreds of thousands of residents and demolished neighborhoods to cater to the demands of the car and fossil fuel industries. Robert A. Caro in his biography of Moses, "The Power Broker," exposed this relentless process in depressing detail.

This process of destroying our public transportation system is largely complete. Our bus and rail system, compared to Europe's or Japan's, is a joke. But an even more insidious process has begun. Multinational corporations, many of them foreign, are slowly consolidating transportation systems into a few private hands. Of the top three multinationals that control transport in the U.S. only one, MV Transportation, is based here. FirstGroup, a multibillion-dollar corporation headquartered in the United Kingdom and a product of Margaret Thatcher's privatization of British mass transit, now owns First Student, which operates 54,000 school buses in 38 states and nine Canadian provinces and has 6 million student riders. FirstGroup also has a controlling stake in Greyhound. Veolia Transportation, a subsidiary of Transdev, a conglomerate headquartered in France, has 150 contracts to run mass transit systems in the United States. It was Veolia, after Hurricane Katrina, that took over the New Orleans bus system. And Veolia did what it has done elsewhere. It stripped bus workers of their pensions. New York's Nassau County bus service, once part of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), was turned over to Veolia after the French corporation hired former three-term Sen. Al D'Amato of New York as its lobbyist. Veolia-which when it takes over a U.S. property, as in New Orleans or Nassau County, refuses to give workers a defined-benefit plan-is partly owned by a pension fund that covers one-third of French citizens. U.S. workers are losing their benefit plans to a company created to provide benefit plans for the French. Veolia is currently lobbying Rhode Island and Atlanta to privatize their bus services.

"Our money is meaningless in politics," Larry Hanley, the international president of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), lamented when we met in his office here in Washington. "It is still sought after, but it really has no weight in determining anything."

"For 50 years we have been trained to negotiate, trained to litigate, trained to arbitrate, trained to legislate, all the things society requires of a good, well-trained, well-groomed union," Hanley said. "And then all of a sudden they said, guess what, we are going to pull the plug. You are no longer even going to have the right to negotiate. We are going to take away your bargaining rights. What good is it to have 500 well-trained officers in my union who know how to arbitrate a grievance when you haven't got a contract and you have no grievance procedure?"

The battles in towns and cities across the country usually pit 100 or 200 beleaguered union workers in a local bus system against a powerful multinational and its lobbyists in firms such as Patton Boggs. Former Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi and Rodney Slater, a secretary of transportation under Bill Clinton, work for these multinational transportation firms as Patton Boggs lobbyists. Armed with buckets of corporate cash, Lott and Slater lobbied the Senate last year to insert a call for privatization into a highway bill on behalf of the multinational corporations. The provision, which was inserted without hearings, public debate, documented evidence or prior approval by either the House or the Senate, mandates the federal government to undertake feasibility studies to privatize the nation's mass transit on behalf of French, British and American transportation corporations.

"This gives state and local governments political cover to privatize," Robert Molofsky, the general counsel for the ATU, said of the provision when we spoke at the union's headquarters. "This is the second time that the Congress and the MTA have tried to do this. In the late 1980s and early 1990s under Reagan and Bush they tried but these guidances were repealed in 1994. When you look at what was repealed in 1994 and what has been implemented again in this bill, it is the same thing. We now, in effect, have a mandate from Congress for the federal government to provide the resources, studies, reports and expertise to assist private corporations to take over public transit. The federal government has become the marketing arm for these corporations."

The $8.5 billion stimulus package for public transportation, largely because of Larry Summers' insistence, did not provide any money to fund operating costs for public transportation. This meant that city public bus services, which must operate on declining local tax revenue, could do little more with the stimulus money than work on infrastructure.

"I am watching as 80 percent of transit systems have had to raise fares or cut service since the recession and then this money is used to build the bosses new bathrooms or buy them new cars," Hanley said. "What it speaks to is a really stupid policy on national transit."

Engineering firms and the construction industry, including the construction trade unions, aggressively lobby for federal dollars in transit, but they make sure the money goes to real estate developers or corporations that build bridges and tunnels rather than to expand service, pay operating costs or cut fares. The nation's senior transit officials often leave office to lobby for these same real estate developers and construction firms. When Christopher Boylan, who was the deputy executive director of the NYS Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the nation's largest transit system, retired in 2010 he went to work as a lobbyist for the General Contractors Association of New York.

"These are the worst conditions for mass transit since the Depression," Hanley said. "The MTA is raising fares while it is cutting services in New York, including routes they have been running for 100 years."

The wreckage of the nation's public transportation system is staggering. Greyhound, before government deregulation in the 1980s, had 20,000 unionized members. It now has 2,500. The company, before deregulation, along with Trailways ran a national bus network that provided public transportation to towns and remote corners of the country. But once the bus industry was deregulated, companies such as Greyhound and Trailways were no longer required to serve remote or poor areas. Pensions and wages, especially as new nonunionized bus companies arose, were reduced. Greyhound bus drivers, once the highest paid in the country-in the 1970s their yearly pay was more than $100,000 adjusted for inflation-now make between $40,000 and $50,000 annually. And the company has eliminated perhaps as much as 80 percent of its former nationwide service.

Many bus drivers no longer work full time. And a loophole in federal law exempts intercity bus drivers from Fair Labor Standards Act overtime provisions, which, in essence, forces many of them to work second jobs during their "rest periods" to survive financially.

There were some 3,000 bus companies in the country four decades ago. Today there are 152,000. Most of these companies have only a few buses. Companies such as Fung Wah, with its $15 fares for trips between Boston and New York, often have no vehicle maintenance plans. They do not use central fuel depots, instead buying fuel on the highway so there is no record of their mileage. Fung Wah was pulled off the road in February after a series of crashes. Public transportation is increasingly part of the underground economy. Working conditions are punishing and often unsafe. When Fung Wah's fleet of 28 buses was finally grounded a few weeks ago, for example, it was revealed that three-quarters of the vehicles had cracks in the frames. Three times as many passengers and workers over the last five years were killed in bus accidents than plane crashes. The driver for one Canadian bus company, Mi Joo Tour & Travel, crashed in Oregon last Dec. 30 after falling asleep at the wheel, killing nine people and injuring 39. The driver, it was discovered, had driven 92 hours in the seven days before the crash. These fly-by-night bus companies, union officials say, are little more than "sweatshops on wheels."

"People now have to drive a bus 100 hours a week to make a living," Hanley said. "The limit is 70, but there are a number of ways the drivers are forced to break the law. The industry is producing more and more crashes. Greyhound has terminals all over the country that cost them money to support. In New York they have to go into the Port Authority with their buses. The Chinatown companies show up and they have no requirements to go into terminals and pay terminal fees. They have no ticket sales because they do it all online. They have no baggage handlers. And they pay people off the books in many cases. People have been caught driving these buses with no license. The buses have caught fire and turned over on the highway. We had an accident in the Bronx a year and a half ago that was so gruesome the first responders needed grief counseling. ... The driver fell asleep. Whenever you hear about one of these buses rolling off the highway I can tell you with 95 percent certainty that the driver fell asleep. And they are falling asleep because they are working long hours."

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, 36 percent of motorcoach crash fatalities over the past decade have been due to driver fatigue. It is the No. 1 cause of fatal accidents, far above road conditions, which account for only 2 percent, or inattention, 6 percent. Legislators, federal agencies and carriers, however, refuse to address the problem of driver fatigue. The ATU is working to push through the Driver Fatigue Prevention Act (S. 487), sponsored by Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, which would ensure that drivers would be paid fairly for the work they perform above 40 hours per week, making them less inclined to work other jobs or otherwise dangerously push themselves at the wheel. But the bill, like most that seek to stem the tide of corporate dominance, is headed into the buzz saw of corporate power.

The only hope, Hanley said, is the creation of rider groups in towns and cities to save public transportation, especially with bus industry deregulation occurring in Canada, where his union represents many thousands of drivers. The union, with 120,000 members, is not strong enough to do it alone, he said. Hanley maintains that communities have to save their public transportation systems because no politician, Republican or Democrat, is prepared to step in and do it for them; the government officials are too beholden to corporate money. But with 10 million riders a day on public buses, Hanley said, there is the potential for organizing, as riders' groups such as Americans for Transit are attempting to do.

Hanley pointed proudly to the union's outreach to community and church groups to save bus service last year in Weston, Wis., a town of 15,000. Weston's Village Council, as part of austerity cuts, had voted to eliminate local bus service. A broad coalition of groups organized to get an advisory vote put on the ballot to block the council's decision. It was the same ballot on which Gov. Scott Walker, a foe of organized labor and a proponent of the austerity cuts, faced recall. Walker won his fight in the state and in Weston to stay in office. But about 65 percent of those who went to the polls in Weston, many of whom voted not to recall Walker, voted to protect their bus service. "This was not a partisan issue," Hanley said. "It was not about Republican or Democrat, recall or don't recall. It was about the quality of life in our communities. And when we got that message across we won."
(c) 2013 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. He is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His latest book is, ""Death Of The Liberal Class."

Two explosions went off at the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the
course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts.

The Orwellian Warfare State Of Carnage And Doublethink
By Norman Solomon

After the bombings that killed and maimed so horribly at the Boston Marathon, our country's politics and mass media are awash in heartfelt compassion -- and reflexive "doublethink," which George Orwell described as willingness "to forget any fact that has become inconvenient."

In sync with media outlets across the country, the New York Times put a chilling headline on Wednesday's front page: "Boston Bombs Were Loaded to Maim, Officials Say." The story reported that nails and ball bearings were stuffed into pressure cookers, "rigged to shoot sharp bits of shrapnel into anyone within reach of their blast."

Much less crude and weighing in at 1,000 pounds, CBU-87/B warheads were in the category of "combined effects munitions" when put to use 14 years ago by a bomber named Uncle Sam. The U.S. media coverage was brief and fleeting.

One Friday, at noontime, U.S.-led NATO forces dropped cluster bombs on the city of Nis, in the vicinity of a vegetable market. "The bombs struck next to the hospital complex and near the market, bringing death and destruction, peppering the streets of Serbia's third-largest city with shrapnel," a dispatch in the San Francisco Chronicle reported on May 8, 1999.

And: "In a street leading from the market, dismembered bodies were strewn among carrots and other vegetables in pools of blood. A dead woman, her body covered with a sheet, was still clutching a shopping bag filled with carrots."

Pointing out that cluster bombs "explode in the air and hurl shards of shrapnel over a wide radius," BBC correspondent John Simpson wrote in the Sunday Telegraph: "Used against human beings, cluster bombs are some of the most savage weapons of modern warfare."

Savage did not preclude usage. As a matter of fact, to Commander in Chief Bill Clinton and the prevailing military minds in Washington, savage was bound up in the positive attributes of cluster bombs. Each one could send up to 60,000 pieces of jagged steel shrapnel into what the weapon's maker described as "soft targets."

An unusually diligent reporter, Paul Watson of the Los Angeles Times, reported from Pristina, Yugoslavia: "During five weeks of airstrikes, witnesses here say, NATO warplanes have dropped cluster bombs that scatter smaller munitions over wide areas. In military jargon, the smaller munitions are bomblets. Dr. Rade Grbic, a surgeon and director of Pristina's main hospital, sees proof every day that the almost benign term bomblet masks a tragic impact. Grbic, who saved the lives of two ethnic Albanian boys wounded while other boys played with a cluster bomb found Saturday, said he had never done so many amputations."

The LA Times article quoted Dr. Grbic: "I have been an orthopedist for 15 years now, working in a crisis region where we often have injuries, but neither I nor my colleagues have ever seen such horrific wounds as those caused by cluster bombs." He added: "They are wounds that lead to disabilities to a great extent. The limbs are so crushed that the only remaining option is amputation. It's awful, awful."

The newspaper account went on: "Pristina's hospital alone has treated 300 to 400 people wounded by cluster bombs since NATO's air war began March 24, Grbic said. Roughly half of those victims were civilians, he said. Because that number doesn't include those killed by cluster bombs and doesn't account for those wounded in other regions of Yugoslavia, the casualty toll probably is much higher, he said. 'Most people are victims of the time-activated cluster bombs that explode some time after they fall,' he said."

Later, during invasions and initial periods of occupation, the U.S. military dropped cluster bombs in Afghanistan and fired cluster munitions in Iraq.

Today, the U.S. State Department remains opposed to outlawing those weapons, declaring on its official website: "Cluster munitions have demonstrated military utility. Their elimination from U.S. stockpiles would put the lives of its soldiers and those of its coalition partners at risk."

The State Department position statement adds: "Moreover, cluster munitions can often result in much less collateral damage than unitary weapons, such as a larger bomb or larger artillery shell would cause, if used for the same mission." Perhaps the bomber(s) who stuffed nails and ball bearings into pressure cookers for use in Boston had a similarly twisted rationale.

But don't expect explorations of such matters from the USA's daily papers or commercial networks -- or from the likes of NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered," or the PBS "NewsHour." When the subject is killing and maiming, such news outlets take as a given the presumptive moral high ground of the U.S. government.

In his novel 1984, Orwell wrote about the conditioned reflex of "stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought . . . and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction."

The doublethink -- continually reinforced by mass media -- remains within an irony-free zone that would amount to mere self-satire if not so damaging to intellectual and moral coherence.

Every news report about the children killed and injured at the finish line in Boston, every account of the horrific loss of limbs, makes me think of a little girl named Guljumma. She was seven years old when I met her at an Afghan refugee camp one day in the summer of 2009.

At the time, I wrote: "Guljumma talked about what happened one morning last year when she was sleeping at home in southern Afghanistan's Helmand Valley. At about 5 a.m., bombs exploded. Some people in her family died. She lost an arm."

In the refugee camp on the outskirts of Kabul, where several hundred families were living in squalid conditions, the U.S. government was providing no help. The last time Guljumma and her father had meaningful contact with the U.S. government was when it bombed them.

War thrives on abstractions, but Guljumma was no abstraction. She was no more or less of an abstraction than the children whose lives have been forever wrecked by the bombing at the Boston finish line.

But the same U.S. news media that are conveying the preciousness of children so terribly harmed in Boston are scarcely interested in children like Guljumma.

I thought of her again when seeing news reports and a chilling photo on April 7, soon after 11 children in eastern Afghanistan were even more unlucky than she was. Those children died from a U.S./NATO air strike. For mainline American journalists, it wasn't much of a story; for American officials, it was no big deal.

"Circus dogs jump when the trainer cracks his whip," Orwell observed, "but the really well-trained dog is the one that turns his somersault when there is no whip."
(c) 2013 Norman Solomon is co-founder of and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death" and "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State."

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Jeff Koterba ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Internet Comes Up With 8.5 Million Leads On Potential Boston Bombing Suspect

WASHINGTON-In the wake of Monday's terrorist bombing at the Boston Marathon, sources reported today the internet had come up with approximately 8.5 million leads on who might have committed the deadly terrorist attack.

According to reports, in the hours and days since the bombing that killed 3 and injured countless others, internet users quickly took to social media sites, online news comment sections, and personal blogs to examine the evidence related to the crime and are, at press time, investigating over 8 million potential suspects.

"Photos taken at the scene clearly show a man on the roof in the background," Twitter user David Albrecht wrote on his feed Tuesday night in one of the millions of possible leads currently being pursued on the internet. "Still unclear if he's involved in the attack or just an eyewitness."

"Definitely suspicious though," a follow-up tweet concluded.

Among the 8.5 million leads that have been reported by internet users this week are the theory that the attack was carried out by a Saudi national currently in the hospital, along with suggestions that the Saudi national is actually aiding police with the investigation, and still other speculations that there is so Saudi national at all and that it was either an American right-wing extremist or an American left-wing extremist.

Additional investigations by internet users have found that the attack was committed by either a lone attacker, a right-wing militia, a single Islamic jihadist, a consortium of Islamic fundamentalist groups, the U.S. Federal Reserve, North Korea, the Boston Police Department, the anti-gun lobby, the pro-gun lobby, or the marathon's organizers.

Sources confirmed that all of the 8.5 million theories have yet to be verified.

"The pressure cooker was filled with ball bearings and nails and was clearly wired by a professional, so you have to assume ex-military, right?" wrote reader Jason Hogarth in a user comment, pursuing a lead first posited five comments earlier by fellow reader and investigator Michael567. "Also, the fact that he hid the bomb and ran away suggests that he is likely not in a group, but it could just be a bigger diversion from whoever is really behind all this."

"So, part of me wants to say an Iraqi vet or an American al-Qaeda," added Hogarth, identifying two potential suspects. "Maybe both."

Despite some contradictory findings, several internet users have also yet to fully rule out theories claiming the victims of the attack were merely actors hired to participate in an elaborate event staged by the government.

"If they planned Sandy Hook, which they did, then they planned this one, too," read a Facebook comment from Sarah Lochstein, elucidating a theory based on high-resolution photos from the scene, eyewitness testimony, short clips of FBI statements in news articles, and her own reporting from extensive video rants posted on her YouTube channel at 1 a.m. Tuesday. "This whole country is going to fucking shit and Obama's taking us down with it."

"It is time the people are exposed to who their leader really is," Lochstein said, in a separate report a half hour later.

While still early in the investigation, experts believe the internet is likely to uncover crucial evidence in the coming hours that will likely result in anywhere between 20 to 30 million more leads on potential bombing suspects.
(c) 2013 The Onion

The Gross National Debt

Iraq Deaths Estimator

The Animal Rescue Site

View my page on

Issues & Alibis Vol 13 # 16 (c) 04/19/2013

Issues & Alibis is published in America every Friday. We are not affiliated with, nor do we accept funds from any political party. We are a non-profit group that is dedicated to the restoration of the American Republic. All views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily the views of Issues & Alibis.Org.

In regards to copying anything from this site remember that everything here is copyrighted. Issues & Alibis has been given permission to publish everything on this site. When this isn't possible we rely on the "Fair Use" copyright law provisions. If you copy anything from this site to reprint make sure that you do too. We ask that you get our permission to reprint anything from this site and that you provide a link back to us. Here is the "Fair Use" provision.

"Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.

In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors."