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In This Edition

Dahr Jamail examines, "The Alchemy Of Disarmament: Transforming Guns Into Shovels To Plant Trees."

Uri Avnery goes, "Eyeless In Gaza."

Glen Ford considers, "White Lies And Black Disbelief In A Fading Empire."

William Rivers Pitt reports, "As The Republican Roof Caves In, Paul Ryan Hits The Road."

Jim Hightower asks, "Guess Who's Serving The Student Loan Industry?"

John Nichols says, "Working Families Party Backs Cynthia Nixon Against Andrew Cuomo."

James Donahue warns, "Radiation In The U.S. Is Scary."

Norman Solomon concludes, "Missile Attack On Syria Is A Salute To 'Russiagate' Enthusiasts-Whether They Like It Or Not."

Heather Digby Parton watches, "Hannity's Stormy Monday."

David Suzuki returns with, "Reports Emphasize Urgent Need To Reverse Biodiversity Decline."

Charles P. Pierce ascertains, "Louisiana's Jury System Is A Monument To White Supremacy."

Jane Stillwater compares, "Sniper In Vegas, Snipers In Gaza."

David Swanson finds, "Syria All Wrong And Backwards."

Corporate lick-spittle Sean Hannity wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich explores, "While China Picks Winners, Trump Picks Losers."

Chris Hedges says, "The Cult Of Violence Always Kills The Left."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Will Durst finds, "It's Hard to Keep Track of the Clowns in Donald Trump's Circus" but first Uncle Ernie sez, "Trump Delenda Est!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of David Fitzsimmons, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, Kyle Lemle, Mr. Fish, James Wainscoat, Shannon Stapleton, Win McNamee, Ford Williams, LevHavryliv, PBS, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

The Quotable Quote...
The Vidkun Quisling Award...
The Cartoon Corner...
To End On A Happy Note...
Have You Seen This...
Parting Shots...

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

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Trump Delenda Est!
With apologies to Cato
By Ernest Stewart

"Ceterum autem censeo Carthaginem delendam esse" ~~~ Marcus Porcius Cato

"Climate change is no longer some far-off problem; it is happening here, it is happening now." ~~~ Barack Obama

"Comey's willingness to let such concerns influence these episodes reflects the success of a decades-long campaign by Republicans and GOP-aligned media to skew the political dialog by hyping fake scandals, which in this case led Comey to act to 'avoid charges of favoritism,' thus willingly handing bad-faith actors leverage over law enforcement. It's hard to read Comey's NPR interview as anything other than confirmation of this. Worse, Comey also revealed that not allowing this to happen would have been a perfectly appropriate outcome." ~~~ Jonathan Chait

We who are young, should now take a stand
Don't run from the burdens of women and men
Continue to give, continue to live
For what you know is right
Keep on Keeping On ~~~ Curtis Mayfield

You may, or may not, recall that the second century BCE Roman Senator 'Cato the elder,' who would end all of his speeches, in the run up to the Third Punic War, regardless of the topic with, "Carthago delenda est" or "Carthage must be destroyed."

So, let me borrow his theme, for a similar dream, by saying, "Trump Delenda Est!" Now I'm going to repeat that again for those of you on drugs!

Trump has got to GO!!! It's either him, or it's old folks, poor folks and sick folks!!!

Now that Trump has gotten rid of the adults surrounding him it can only go down hill from here. You may recall that last Tuesday Trump issued an order, titled "Reducing Poverty in America by Promoting Opportunity and Economic Mobility," which carries little weight by itself. It directs a broad range of federal agencies to review programs serving low-income people and make recommendations on how they can make the programs harder to access, all under the guise of "welfare reform." From Ray-guns, Clinton, both Bushes, Obama and Trump all six presidents have moved as one to eliminate the poor, sick and elderly from the federal programs so that they can pay for tax cuts for the uber wealthy and have more money for war!

Trump, the Rethuglicans, and all the corpo-rat Demoncrats have got to go come November. It really is us or them, America! Unless you get out and vote, 2018 maybe our last election for a while as Trump may declare in 2020 that he is dictator for life, like Hitler and Xi Jinping did. You may recall what Trump said about Xi? He said, "He's now president for life. President for life. And he's great. And look, he was able to do that. I think it's great. Maybe we'll give that a shot some day!" Right out of the horses mouth, America.

In Other News

Have you seen the new study that says global warming is screwing up nature's intricately timed dinner hour, often making hungry critters and those on the menu show up at much different times, a new study shows.

Timing is everything in your life and in nature too.

Bees have to be around and flowers have to bloom at the same time for pollination to work, and hawks need to migrate at the same time as their prey. In many cases, global warming is interfering with that timing, scientists say.

A first-of-its-kind global mega analysis on the biological timing of 88 species that rely on another life form shows that on average species are moving out of sync by about six days a decade, although some pairs are actually moving closer together.

While other studies have looked at individual pairs of species and how warming temperatures have changed their migration, breeding and other timing, the study in Monday's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences gives the first global look at a worsening timing problem.

These changes in species timing are considerably greater than they were before the 1980s, the study said.

"There isn't really any clear indication that it is going to slow down or stop in the near future," said study lead author Heather Kharouba, an ecologist at the University of Ottawa.

"It's most noticeable and crucial in Washington state's Lake Washington, where over the past 25 years, plant plankton are now blooming 34 days earlier than the zooplankton that eat them. That's crucial because that's messing with the bottom of the food chain," Kharouba said.

Another example would be in the Netherlands, the Eurasian sparrow hawk has been late for dinner because its prey, the blue tit, has - over 16 years - arrived almost six days earlier than the hawk.

Kharouba's team couldn't find a statistically significant link between temperature and changes in how species sync together. But what she saw, she said, "is consistent with climate change."

Global warming isn't just rising the ocean levels, or turning crop lands into deserts, it's changing everything, and like Trump, it must be stopped immediately, or we are doomed!

And Finally

Did you hear the second James Comey interview on NPR? You Hilary voters who thought James might have been trying to help elect Trump, you were right! Finally Comey admits it! Sure the reason that Hilary won by 3 million votes but lost to Trump was the electoral college, a device that has stolen all of it's elections from Democrats, even though in every case they won the popular vote. Never has it been a losing Democrat, over a Republican who won the popular vote, Never! You can thank James Hamilton for that bright idea!

In the interview Comey admits that his decision to sharply criticize Clinton at a July 2016 news conference - at which he closed the email probe - was not only a break with department protocol but also that it would have been "reasonable" under the circumstances to have said nothing.

Asked by NPR's Steve Inskeep what the FBI would have done to close the case if it had been an "ordinary investigation," Comey said:
"In the ordinary case, we would most likely in writing prepare some sort of summary of what our investigation had determined and then send it over to the Justice Department, and they would in the ordinary case either say nothing, which is the most common case, or at most issue a letter to the target saying, or the subject saying it's over, or some minimal statement about it."
Another key revelation from Comey, this one concerning his decision to announce 11 days before the election that "new" emails relevant to the Clinton probe had been discovered. In his book, Comey admits:
"It is entirely possible that, because I was making decisions in an environment where Hillary Clinton was sure to be the next president, my concern about making her an illegitimate president by concealing the restarted investigation bore greater weight than it would have if the election appeared closer."
Yada, yada, yada...

So, Comey went out of his way, above and beyond what he should have done to smear Clinton. And what's more, there is absolutely nothing that can be done about it. Nothing! Your tax dollars at work, America!

Keepin' On

As it stands now, we're a long way from paying off our bills for the year. That's the trouble of catering to the working poor and all those former middle class folks that are now the un-working poor. People as broke as that have little money to give even to a good cause! Believe me I know how they feel, as I'm in the same sinking boat!

I've often been told that I write pretty good sci-fi/fantasy, so why don't I turn Issues & Alibis into a right wing magazine. If I were to, I'd have no doubt that I'd be fully-funded for years to come by the second edition; and I could start paying our authors and cartoonists -- not to mention myself a nice salary. Wouldn't it be nice, except that I'm a dyed-in-the-wool radical, and wouldn't feel right wearing reactionary jackboots, no matter how nicely they fit. I've been a radical all of my life; and I'll be a radical when they put me into my pyramid -- well, the potter's field more like.

Ergo, if you appreciate the things that we do for you and yours, please visit our donations page and follow the instructions therein. Please help us keep on, keeping on, for ya'll!


02-18-1932 ~ 04-13-2018
Thanks for the film!

03-24-1944 ~ 04-15-2018
Thanks for the film!

10-14-1952 ~ 04-16-2018
Thanks for the laughs!

06-08-1925 ~ 04-17-2018
Only the good die young!


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

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

A volunteer with Lead to Life melts down a weapon to create a shovel with the gunmetal.

The Alchemy Of Disarmament: Transforming Guns Into Shovels To Plant Trees
By Dahr Jamail

It could be described as the alchemy of disarmament. Lead to Life: A People's Alchemy for Regeneration is the project, and its goal is peace, justice and regeneration.

"Intention in medicine is defined as the healing process of a wound," reads the website. "Our intention through Lead to Life is to transform that which ends life into that which sustains life -- to facilitate an alchemical healing process that can physically transform both our weapons and our imaginations."

Weapons are literally being melted down and turned into shovels, which are then used to plant trees. The disarmament process that the project uses collects weapons that are donated from the general public, as well as weapons housed in police departments that have been rendered dormant and disposable after investigations have been completed. Then, partnering with local artists and metalsmiths, the weapons are literally transformed into shovels and tools which are then used in ceremonial tree plantings. The project is based in Oakland but has just completed a tree-planting ceremony in Atlanta.

To see more stories like this, visit "Planet or Profit?" Bronte Velez, the creative director, and Kyle Lemle, the program director, co-founded the project in 2017.

Velez is a multimedia artist, life-long student and designer engaged with the praxis (theory + action, as she describes it) that lives at the intersections of critical geography, Black liberation ecologies and creative place-making.

"This project, Lead to Life, and my soul work, begin with the unnecessary and horrific murders that fall largely upon my own communities -- Black, Brown and Indigenous communities -- and especially the children of these communities," she told Truthout.

Lemle is a community forester, musician and organizer working at the intersections of environmental justice and cultural regeneration.

"I come to the story of our work haunted by another form of violence -- violence against the Earth," he said. "The election of the current president is calling us to look deeply at the cultures and cosmovisions that elected him -- the greed, fear and hatred -- both ancient and alive. For me, it is no coincidence that the administration deleted the White House web pages on civil rights and climate change in the same click, the day he took office."

Transforming Violence

Lead to Life: A People's Alchemy for Regeneration's Creative Director Bronte
Velez and Program Director Kyle Lemle, holding a RAWTools trowel made from a gun.

For Velez, the work began with her dear friend Harry sending her an image of the Van Gogh bike path located in the Netherlands -- a glow-in-the-dark path honoring Van Gogh's Starry Night painting.

When she saw the image of the bike path, Velez was immediately flooded by memories of X'avier, her dear friend who was shot and killed five years ago by a 14-year-old on the Kirkwood bike path in Atlanta. The teenager, now 18, is serving three life-sentences with an additional 15 years. X'avier's mother told Velez she felt neither healing nor justice by way of this sentencing. A similar grief fills Velez now.

"I always and in all ways think about the design of things -- what things are made up of, what oppression is made up of, how evil arrives to itself," she said. "When I saw the glow-in-the-dark bike path, I wondered if the conditions of X'avier's murder would have been the same had the Kirkwood bike path been designed differently?"

Velez explained that she stared at the image and asked herself questions like: Could you kill someone with that much imagination and beauty around you? And then to further strengthen that question: What other environmental conditions are necessary for a community to support that kind of creative infrastructure? What other life is supporting the sustainability of imagination in this place?

Lemle feels similarly about the necessity of the project regarding Earth.

He believes that the care for our common home is being deleted, and what's being empowered instead is the glory of the individual money-maker, and a system that benefits the separate and fenced-in individual at the expense of all other beings -- especially people of color, Indigenous peoples, animals and future beings.

"I imagine a world where, as we walk, what trails behind us is not waste, is not desert, is not forgotten, but where our shadows grow as gifts," Lemle said. "Where our footsteps are not violence, our actions yield no shame, where we don't need earphones and medical masks to shield us from the mess we've made."

Lemle's dream job when he was a child was to literally be Johnny Appleseed. Today, his heroes continue to be the tree planters of the world -- like Wangari Maathai, the legendary Matriarch of Kenya who, through planting trees, helped bring down an oppressive political regime. What interests him now is how, through the process of healing the Earth, we can also heal our relationship to it.

"There are the weapons destroying the world, and the tools to repair our world," Lemle said. "And the technologies are as ancient as they are alive. They are not hiding deep in the forest. They are the forest. Trees stabilize our climate. Trees bring the rain. Trees, for many, are home to the gods. For me, it has always been about the trees."

Simultaneously, Velez's work in the project reminds us of how, as she explained, gun violence in the United States results in tens of thousands of deaths and injuries annually, from suicides to homicides to mass murders to police brutality.

"The reverberations of trauma must go somewhere, and as I have learned in my study of 'waste management,' there is no such thing as 'away'," she said. "Our bodies and lands are crowded with the histories of violence that daily affect us and inform the way we grow or do not grow."

"I am thinking of the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, lovers, friends -- of the air and soil and land, who must absorb the impact of these traumas," she said. "The question I am left with asks, 'Can we disrupt patterns of oppression by transforming the processes by which they are designed?' I believe that when we disrupt those patterns, there is more room to breathe, to feel, to heal, to rest."

Synthesis and Focus

Lead to Life is a labor of love for several people and groups.

One of them, Micky ScottBey Jones, describes herself as "the Justice Doula," and is a womanist contemplative activist, healer, nonviolent direct-action organizer and consultant who facilitates conferences, workshops, pilgrimages and online conversations. She is working as a supporting partner to the project, primarily by her work with The People's Supper, a project that aims to repair the breach in interpersonal relationships across the US which have been injured by political, ideological and identity differences.

Jones hopes that as the result of Lead to Life, people are able to spend a few hours being human with one another -- connecting to their own stories and the stories of others.

"We so often come to interactions with another person focused on the potential transaction: I need to check out of the grocery store, I need my child to listen to me, even, I need to catch up with this friend and find out the latest in their life," she said. "Rarely do we sit down with another person to just be human together, to breathe in their story without needing to give advice, share an answer or correct what they are saying."

Jones's hope is that her work with The People's Supper inspires those involved in the project to bring this mentality to their own dinner tables.

Sarah Thompson is Lead to Life's connector at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, in Atlanta, Georgia, (the King Center).

She told Truthout it was important for her to be part of Lead to Life because it brings the metaphors of swords into plowshares into physical reality.

"Lead to Life is a reminder that, as the minerals taken from Earth are healed and restored, we are healed," Thompson said. "We are healed when the alchemy of community comes together to melt down the barriers between us and [we] experience the flames of passion for life. It is also important to be a part of this project because it is an artful and soulful way to honor those impacted by gun violence."

Thompson hopes that the project results in more people becoming excited about discovering the ecological analysis of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. As she sees it, not only did Dr. King preach about the connections between humans -- precious connections that were being destroyed by racism and racist systems -- he spoke of the interrelated cosmos, too.

"By choosing to feature parts of MLK's sermons that focus on transformation of our relationships with one another and the Earth, it allows people to see and read King in a new way," Thompson said. "He was an important strategist, and his voice is as important now as it was a half century ago."

Thompson is grateful that the King Center partnered with Lead to Life for a week of events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., which was April 4. She reminded us how, as a victim of gun violence himself, during his life, Dr. King spoke out about gun violence on both the interpersonal and structural levels.

"He named militarism as one of the 'triple evils' that are incapable of being conquered when 'machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people'," she said. "We are invited to be led to life in a new way after experiencing the embodied transformation offered through the community rituals of eating, dreaming, storytelling, melting and singing that Kyle and Bronte created."

Michael Martin is also a partner of Lead to Life. Martin is the founder and executive director of RAWtools, a Colorado-based group which describes itself as "replacing narratives of violence with communities of creation."

RAWtools is actively looking to partner with organizations and projects that do work toward turning swords to plowshares.

"It's rare that we get to work with a project like Lead to Life that fits so well with our own mission and vision," Martin said. "The idea of swords turning into plowshares and guns into garden tools requires us to make changes to the systems of violence and restore these very systems into tools that bring life."

He believes Lead to Life does this and brings a much-needed aspect of ritual into the process.

"Our world is quick to move from one thing to the next without recognition of transition that often includes joy and pain, trauma and celebration," he said. "Ritual is a vital role in the alchemy of our communities, and Lead to Life does it beautifully."

Martin, a former youth and young adult pastor, wants to see whole neighborhoods making a transition to weapon-free environments.

"How better can we do that than to literally plant that environment with tools made out of guns?" He said. "And not just plant them, but recognize this transition as a paradigm shift in how we move from exploiting each other to giving life to each other."

While RAWtools' mission is to "disarm hearts and forge peace," Martin thinks Lead to Life has created a beautiful process to do exactly that.

"Gun violence speaks from a variety of issues that need to be addressed, like racial and environmental injustice that Kyle and Bronte are so wonderfully passionate about," he said. "It speaks from places of loneliness and marginalization, where violence seems like the only option."

Martin believes Lead to Life offers another way to help folks transition from these spaces of loneliness and hurt and into spaces of support and love.

Backstory and Moving Forward

Lemle and Velez met when they were both inaugural recipients of the Spiritual Ecology Fellowship. The concept of spiritual ecology creates the space for that necessary gap between reverence, stewardship and environmental justice to be sutured. On a bus ride together, they found themselves, as Lemle described it, "Discovering the intersections of our work, with ease, magic, whimsy and spontaneity, and a profound collaboration was birthed with the intention to bridge restorative and environmental justice through our project."

"Inside of that excitement, many beautiful questions arose that now guide our praxis through Lead to Life," he added.

Their work is aimed at designing answers to these questions, according to Lemle:

* What does a reconciliation process with the Earth look like? Who is invited into that process?

* What does a public, human-to-human reconciliation process look like? What does deep, sustainable community healing look like beyond fleeting actions? What does a #BlackLivesMatter tree planting look like?

* What are the physical technologies of the spiritual ecology movement? As the spiritual ecology liturgy does not itself sequester carbon or pull the toxins from our rivers, what are the tools that people can hold and the actions that people can do to remember our deepest roots and answer the prayers of our great-great-grandchildren?

Lead to Life was born in order to answer these very questions. Thus, the project intentionally chose the US to create their alchemy and cultural healing work due to the fact that Lemle calls it "the heart of imperialism and violence against people and planet."

Lemle and Velez's hope is that even within the current climate of pervasive environmental racism, gun violence and desecration of the land, Lead to Life will serve as an immediate enactment of values. In that way, it is participatory culture creation, and in the context of violence, their ceremonies can leave people with a dignified and honorable memorialization.

Lead to Life recently converged in Atlanta for a series of events around the 50th anniversary of Dr. King's assassination to hold a People's Supper, a Swords to Plowshares ceremony, a permaculture action day. The events culminated in a tree planting ceremony at the King Center.

Lead to Life will bring their work to cities across the US, starting in Oakland, California, later this fall. Furthermore, Lead to Life is launching a "National Call to Disarm & Transform" in partnership with RAWtools' Swords to Plows program.

For every gun they receive, Lead to Life will transform it into a garden tool and plant one tree. Leveraging their network of metal artists and civic partners across the US and the #OneLess campaign, Lead to Life will send a "Call To Action" to millions to join them.

Lead to Life sees pausing in an era dominated by urgency as an act of resistance in order to generate alternatives to violence.

The project's physical act of "turning swords into plowshares" creatively fulfills the prophecy Dr. King invoked throughout his speeches. According to Lemle and Velez, gun metal will be liberated from histories of murder, and the soil and air where violence took place will be remediated by the trees.

"Our goal is to release powerful content to inspire nationwide action on gun violence through creative nonviolent direct service and ecological restoration," Lemle said. "We believe that people will only stand up to take action when they feel resonance at the soul level."
(c) 2018 Dahr Jamail, a Truthout staff reporter, is the author of The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan (Haymarket Books, 2009), and Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq (Haymarket Books, 2007). Jamail reported from Iraq for more than a year, as well as from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Turkey over the last 10 years, and has won the Martha Gellhorn Award for Investigative Journalism, among other awards.

Eyeless In Gaza
By Uri Avnery

WRITE DOWN: I, Uri Avnery, soldier number 44410 of the Israel army, hereby dissociate myself from the army sharpshooters who murder unarmed demonstrators along the Gaza Strip, and from their commanders, who give them the orders, up to the commander in chief.

We don't belong to the same army, or to the same state. We hardly belong to the same human race.

IS MY government committing "war crimes" along the border of the Gaza Strip?

I don't know. I am not a jurist.

It seems that officials of the International Criminal Court believe that the acts of our soldiers do constitute war crimes. They demand an international investigation.

To prevent that, our army command proposes an Israeli military investigation. That is manifestly ridiculous - an army investigating itself about acts committed on direct orders of the Chief of Staff.

As was published in advance, sharpshooters were posted along the border fence and ordered to kill "ringleaders" of the unarmed protesters on the other side of the fence. The Gaza leadership had announced that these unarmed protests were to take place every week, after Friday prayers, until Naqba Day.

During the first two Fridays, 29 unarmed people were shot dead and more than a thousand wounded by sharpshooters.

For me this is not a judicial question. It is a crime, not only against the unarmed protesters. It is also a crime against the State of Israel, against the people of Israel and against the Israeli army.

Since I was a member of that army on the day of its foundation, I think that it is also a crime against my comrades and me.

THIS WEEK a short video, recorded by a soldier at the time of such an action, was widely seen in Israel.

It shows the action from the angle of a soldier who was obviously standing next to a sharpshooter. The sharpshooter sees the demonstrators from a distance of hundreds of yards. The hairs of his sights move at random, than settle on an individual. He shoots. The person drops on the spot. A joyous cry "Yesh" is heard all around from unseen soldiers who have been watching. "Yesh" means "got him", a jubilant yell, such as would accompany a hunter's success in killing a rabbit.

Many hundreds of thousands of Israelis have seen this film by now, since it was shown for the first time on TV. Except for a few articles and letters to the editor (in Haaretz), there has been no protest.

This did not happen overseas, in some remote colony. It happened right next to us, 45 minute's drive from my home.

The killer was not a hardened mercenary. He - and the joyous soldiers around him - were just ordinary youngsters, drafted at the age of 18 like most Jewish Israelis.

All of them were just "following orders". (Remember?) We have not heard of one single case of a soldier refusing orders.

UNTIL TWO weeks ago, I had the highest respect for our highest officer, the Chief of Staff, Gadi Eizenkot. Surrounded by officers who are mere military technicians, he seemed an officer who, in spite of his unmilitary appearance, was well capable of upholding the dignity of the army against the punk who serves as Minister of Defense.

No more. Eizenkot has given the murderous orders. Why, for heavens sake?

Like the British in India and the white racists in the US, the Israeli government does not know how to deal with unarmed protest. It has never encountered it. It does not exist in Arab tradition.

: By chance this week I saw the classic movie about Mahatma Gandhi. The British tried everything - they beat him and myriads of others into pulp, they shot thousands of others. When Gandhi and his followers suffered this torment and did not hit back, the British eventually admitted defeat and went away.

So did the white racist opponents of Martin Luther King in Alabama. A Palestinian follower of his came to this country at the beginning of the occupation and tried to convince his countrymen to try this method. The Israel army opened fire, and the Palestinians reverted to the armed struggle.

Not this time. The (violent) Islamic Hamas in the Gaza Strip calls on the population to try unarmed protest, tens of thousands follow. This can lead to unforeseen results. One of them is the sharpshooters' order to kill more or less at random.

WHEN I stated publicly that I am ashamed, a reader accused me of hypocrisy. He cited from my two books about our (1948) War of Independence, in which I had described atrocities to which I was a witness.

Sure, there were atrocities (as in every war). The perpetrators were soldiers of all ethnic and social groups. But they were denounced by some of their comrades (also of all ethnic and social groups). Most soldiers were in the middle, following the most persuasive.

Now the picture is different. Not only is the shooting of the unarmed protesters, far from the fence, done by order, but there seem to be no other voices. The military and political leadership is united. Even in civilian society, voices against the mass murder are very few.

HOW DO the Israeli media react? Well, they don't. This momentous event in Israel's history is almost ignored.

Fortunately for the perpetrators, there are plenty of events to take our minds off them and their actions. President Bashar al-Assad has apparently used chemical weapons against his rebels. The Israeli media are having a feast. How awful! How barbarous! How Arab!

Then there is the problem of the 36,000 "illegal" (meaning non-Jewish) African workers who have entered Israel. The government wants to throw them out. Decent Israelis very properly want to prevent this. That is a full-time job. No time for the Gaza Strip.

: And there is, of course, Holocaust Memorial Day, which happens conveniently this week. One can write endlessly about this awful chapter in our history. What is Gaza compared to this horrible event?

WHAT ABOUT our media?

The sorrowful fact is that the Israeli media have reverted to what they were in the early days of the state: an instrument of the government. It took my news magazine dozens of years to break that habit. For many years we had a decent press, with some wonderful journalists and broadcasters.

No more. A few are left, but the great majority of the press is now coordinated with the regime ("gleichgeschaltet" in German). Two minutes on Gaza. 20 minutes on what's happening in Syria. 10 minutes for the latest (imaginary) outbreak of anti-Semitism in the British Labor Party.

Most of the journalists and broadcasters, honest and well-meaning people all, are not even conscious of what they are doing (or not doing). They are innocent of any other thoughts.

WHERE IS the "Left"? Where is the so-called "Center"? They have not disappeared, as some lament. Far from it. A shift of some percent or a move of one of the small parties would suffice to topple Binyamin Netanyahu.

But they all seem to be paralyzed. Nobody dares to speak out against the killing, apart from some faint whispers. Even the many admirable groups of youngsters who fight against the occupation, each on some special sector, are silent about the Gaza killings.

No mass demonstrations. No huge protests. Nothing.

So we, too, are to blame. And perhaps more than others.

Please write down: I am guilty!
(c) 2018 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

White Lies And Black Disbelief In A Fading Empire
By Glen Ford

Having already violated every tenet of international law in its proxy jihadist war against Syria, including the seizure of one-third of the country, the United States invoked a Non-Law, a Law That Never Was, to justify its missile strikes against fictitious "chemical warfare" facilities. Syrian President Assad "kills his own people," said Trump, leader of the nation whose police kill more of its "own people" than any country except (fellow white settler state) Brazil, and whose prisons entomb one-quarter of all the world's inmates. (One out of every eight prisoners on the planet is an African American.)

On the Saturday morning after the bombs fell in Damascus and Homs, Omalii Yeshitela, chairman of the Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations, held a press conference in St. Louis to denounce Washington's aggression. "If you can use that justification," said Yeshitela, "that, somehow, the Syrian state is attacking its own people and, therefore, the U.S. can rain missiles, along with France and England, on Syria, then what would prevent Russia from attacking the United States because of all the people that the United States is killing in our communities, all of the starvation that is imposed on our communities, the fact that more than a million Africans are lumped up in prison?"

In his post-strike statement, President Trump called chemical weapons "uniquely dangerous" -- as if such uniqueness provided legal justification for Washington's act of war. But the United States has been poisoning "its own" Black people for generations. "They talk about chemical warfare, but books have even been written about how crack cocaine was introduced into the community through the CIA -- the same CIA that's involved in murdering people in Syria and other places around the world," said Yeshitela.

The United States began in smallpox-infected blankets and mountains of Native American scalps-for-bounty, and remains true to its genocidal imperatives. "We live in a country today where people are living in concentration camps that are euphemistically referred to as Indian reservations. What is it that would keep another country from attacking the United States based on that?" asked Yeshitela.

Imperial Shriek

The fading empire refuses to accept the humiliation of defeat of its jihadist proxies, the head-cutters Washington and Saudi Arabia have nurtured as a foreign terror legion since deploying them against a leftist government in Afghanistan and its Soviet ally almost 40 years ago.

The billions in cash and arms that flowed into jihadist structures in Syria and Iraq since 2011 equipped and financed an al Qaida army (al Nusra) mighty enough to absorb and dominate a menagerie of other murderous Islamic factions, and to finally birth ISIS, the death cult caliphate. But the Syrian Arab Army, with the help of Russia, Iran, and its Shia neighbors in Lebanon and Iraq, is now on the cusp of retaking the bulk of its national territory -- except for the vital region of its oil fields, upon which the U.S. military sits like flies on shit.

Aside from the remaining head-hunters, Washington's only indigenous ally in Syria is an army of Marxist Kurds who were among the prime victims -- and fiercest resisters -- of the American-sponsored jihadist onslaught. For years they were tacit allies of Syria's government -- whose secularism they share -- in the struggle against the U.S.-sponsored barbarians. But Don Uncle Sam made them an offer of protection-or-else that they believed could not be refused, and the Kurds are now pawns -- as is the whole planet, in a sense -- to Washington's quandary: How does the world's sole Superpower remain in a region where it is despised, after its proxy forces have been defeated? And if it cannot remain, is it any longer The Superpower?

Washington is answering this imperial existential question the only way it can, with its awesome war machine, oiled by lies that no one believes outside the western corporate information bubble. There was no chemical attack by Syria, this month or last April or in August of 2013. All lies, but derivative of the much bigger lies that sought to justify the U.S.-Saudi-Turkish-French-British (and, of course, Israeli) war against, first Libya, and all but simultaneously, Syria: that these were civil wars, rather than naked imperial aggression.

Huge lies require powerful megaphones to mold the minds of the host country population, the only people that can (theoretically) shut down the U.S war machine without firing a shot. The Iraq war so repulsed the U.S. public, it became politically impossible for George Bush to "stay the course," or for Pentagon planners to contemplate another large scale American invasion of the region. The only alternative was an enormously beefed-up al Qaida to wage holy terror wars that the corporate media would dutifully "report" as civil wars of an "Arab Spring."

Most white Americans bought into the lie because they wanted to: imperial-mindedness is white privilege on a global scale. Blacks have historically opposed U.S. militarism, but they acquiesced to Obama's aggressions and neutered their own peace politics because they wanted to -- in deference to the Black family in the White House.

But Obama-Time is over; the spell is broken. Donald Trump is the sum of all Black fears and loathings, an arch racist who is perceived as rendering the entire planet unsafe for people of color. Blacks are primed to oppose all of his policies, foreign and domestic. Black people are the only U.S. group that shares the general global distrust of U.S. foreign policy motives. Moreover, Black America is inherently skeptical of U.S. power structures, because Power in the U.S. has always lied about Black people -- and about people of color elsewhere in the world.

As Omali Yeshitela said of Trump's "flimsy excuse" for bombing Syria: "It's all fabrication, and we have been victims of such fabrications for 400 years in this country."
(c) 2018 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) leaves his weekly press conference
April 12, 2018 in Washington, DC. Ryan answered a range of questions related
primarily to his announcement yesterday that he will not run for office again in the 2018 midterm election.

As The Republican Roof Caves In, Paul Ryan Hits The Road
By William Rivers Pitt

The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms ...
The Hollow Men ~~~ TS Eliot

It began back in 2015 with a low rumble, like something buried deep in the Earth had rolled over in its sleep: GOP Rep. Jim Bridenstine, representing Oklahoma's first district, was retiring at the end of his term. Hardly anything about the announcement was newsworthy outside of Tulsa and Wagoner; maybe one person in ten thousand could pick Jim Bridenstine out of a line-up. As it turns out, he was the leading indicator of an explosive trend. Bridenstine was the first, but will certainly not be the last.

Two years after Bridenstine's announcement and 15 months into the presidency of Donald Trump, the floodgates have opened: The Republican House members who are either leaving the House after the 2018 midterms or have already left in disgrace include Sam Johnson, Lynn Jenkins, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, John J. Duncan Jr., Dave Reichert, Charlie Dent, Dave Trott, Jeb Hensarling, Lamar Smith, Frank LoBiondo, Ted Poe, Bob Goodlatte, Joe Barton, Bill Shuster, Gregg Harper, Ed Royce, Darrell Issa, Pat Meehan, Rodney Frelinghuysen, Trey Gowdy, Tom Rooney, Ryan Costello, Dennis Ross, Jason Chaffetz, Tim Murphy, Pat Tiberi, Trent Franks, Blake Farenthold, Kristi Noem, James Renacci, Raul Labrador, Steve Pearce, Diane Black, Evan Jenkins, Luke Messer, Todd Rokita, Lou Barletta, Marsha Blackburn, Ron DeSantis, Martha McSally and Kevin Cramer.

Leading the charge toward the exits is none other than Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who confirmed on Wednesday that he is stepping down and leaving office after 2018.

That is 43 departures, compared to the Democrats' 19, and the roof has not finished caving in quite yet. As Republican dysfunction and Trumpian mayhem continue to command the day, more departures are certain. Democrats need to pick up 24 seats in order to wrest back control of the House. The Cook Political Report scores 86 seats as being competitive, with 66 of those currently held by Republicans.

For remaining Republicans who still have to row their way to safety in an increasingly perilous election season, Ryan's sudden departure was a knife thrust under the fifth rib. "It's just another illustration of the harbinger of things to come," Terry Sullivan, former campaign strategist for Marco Rubio, told The Hill. "There's no Republican who's optimistic about the November elections. If the leader of Republicans in Congress doesn't want to be there, what is the reason they should be?"

What began two Novembers ago as an all-encompassing Republican victory, a takeover of two branches with a stranglehold on the third, has devolved into a chaotic stampede to avoid the looming and seemingly insurmountable "Blue Wave" to come. "This is the Watergate pattern writ large," writes Rick Wilson for The Daily Beast. "In 1973, Republicans were screaming that the investigation was nothing but a Fake News Witch Hunt. They lost 49 House seats and eight Senate seats in 1974, two months after Nixon resigned."

Take a bow, soon-to-be-former-Speaker Ryan. The representatives who believed you to be the party's economics whiz kid, who elevated you to the Speakership after Boehner bolted, who even went so far as to nominate you to be vice president in 2012, have finally come face to face with the real man behind that aw-shucks smile. The view is not pleasant. Rather than act as the leader of an equal branch of government, Paul Ryan played the part of amiable doormat to the most ridiculous president since Andrew Johnson, and the whole caucus is about to pay a gruesome price for it.

Yes, Ryan helped see the recent massive tax cut into fruition, but this was not some herculean endeavor. Getting Republicans and Democrats in Congress to agree that rich people deserve more money is about as difficult as squeezing toothpaste out of a tube. Ryan's lifetime quest to shatter the social safety net he once depended upon may not have been fully realized yet, but he helped put enough of a beating on Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security that millions will feel the pain of it for many years to come.

That was always the truly insidious part of this man with the boyish face and a pocketful of debunked economic theories. If you asked him, Ryan's seeming goodwill would pour out of his doe eyes as he explained that all he wanted was to help people. Trouble is, he never made clear which people those were until the largest transfer of wealth in modern history was completed. Then he left. Mission accomplished.

The GOP is Trump's party now. Mitch McConnell still rules the Senate, but with an ill electoral wind blowing even in that august chamber, he has little choice but to staple himself to a wildly oscillating wrecker who is so twisted that his own lawyer now exists only as a stack of captured boxes deep inside FBI headquarters. Every GOP election campaign is going to come down to a bunch of petrified Republicans trying to out-Trump each other with the base while hoping Fearless Leader isn't caught building a dacha on the Volga River.

If you think I exaggerate the circumstances for congressional Republicans, consider this: The current GOP front-runner for Ryan's seat is an avowed white supremacist named Paul Nehlan. After a peaceful counter-demonstration in Charlottesville was attacked by fascists and Nazis, resulting in the murder of one protester, Nehlan tweeted, "Incredible moment for white people who've had it up to here & aren't going to take it anymore." This, along with a barrage of racist and anti-Semitic garbage, got Nehlan bounced from Twitter, but despite cries of outrage from the Wisconsin Republican Party, he's at the top of the list to replace Ryan. Also, Donald Trump likes him. In Republican-world these days, that's all that seems to count.

One could call this the end of an era, except that Paul Ryan has only been Speaker for about as long as it takes to boil an egg. His years in office stand as a towering example of how far one can go in Republican politics if you cling relentlessly to the trickle-down theory while gnawing at the base of Medicare like a beaver felling an oak. A part of me will always wonder if things could have been different for Ryan had Joe Biden not laughed in his face on national television way back in 2012.

The fact that Paul Ryan is fleeing the very disaster he helped manufacture is just and fitting, an appropriate demonstration of the modern Republican ethos. He made rich people richer and served as a turnstile for the most dangerous president in living memory. History will remember him as yet another hollow man whose passage was marked only by the sound of the wind moaning through his empty spaces. Paul Ryan will not be missed.
(c) 2018 William Rivers Pitt is a senior editor and lead columnist at Truthout. He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know, The Greatest Sedition Is Silence and House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation. His fourth book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co-written with Dahr Jamail, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in New Hampshire.

Guess Who's Serving The Student Loan Industry?
By Jim Hightower

Question: What do you get when you combine ignorance, imperiousness, and incompetence?
Answer: Betsy DeVos.

She's Donald Trump's multi-billionaire Education Secretary who hates public education and loves the plutocratic idea of corporate rule over democracy. DeVos is so bad that she's winning the contest for worst member of Donald Trump's cabinet (a little like winning the title of ugliest toad in the swamp). She has been a shameless shill for one of the ugliest parts of the financial services industry - the Wall Street-backed network of for-profit colleges, rip-off lenders, and ruthless collection agencies.

Some 5 million students - largely single moms, veterans, and other low-income people - have been forced to default on their student loan debt and have had their credit ratings and job improvement prospects destroyed by this profiteering private education system that DeVos carelessly promotes. Her latest favor for the industry was to assert unilaterally that her agency can pre-empt any state laws designed to stop the blatant lies and abuses of this predatory network of corporate education. Her bureaucratic claim is that state efforts to protect student borrowers undermines "uniform administration" of student loans. In her shriveled world of laissez-fairyland values, you see, the uniform gouging of students trumps such basic human values as economic fairness and social justice.

This is Jim Hightower saying... Heavens to Betsy, what's wrong with this lady? Our nation's student loan debt has ballooned to $1.4 trillion, threatening to blow another big hole in our economy, yet she's stupidly conspiring in her department's back rooms with Wall Street's fast-buck educational exploiters to enrich them at the expense of students, taxpayers, and the public interest. DeVos is the one who needs an education - both in economics and ethics.
(c) 2018 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition. Jim writes The Hightower Lowdown, a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America's ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at

Cynthia Nixon announces that she is running for Governor at a campaign stop in Brooklyn.

Working Families Party Backs Cynthia Nixon Against Andrew Cuomo
The advocate and actress won over 91 percent of the WFP committee vote
By John Nichols

In a bold declaration of independence from status-quo politics, the New York Working Families Party on Saturday endorsed Cynthia Nixon's progressive challenge to Governor Andrew Cuomo.

The WFP, which was founded two decades ago as a unique political grouping that applies inside-outside pressure on the Democratic Party, has its own ballot line in New York. It usually gives that line to Democrats. In 2010 and 2014, for instance, it backed Cuomo, despite the fact that his policies were more centrist than those favored by many WFP activists.

This year, however, the WFP has abandoned Cuomo in favor of Nixon, the actress and education activist who is mounting a fiercely progressive Democratic primary challenge to a governor she says is too corporate and too compromised. Nixon accepted the endorsement in the language and the spirit of her grassroots campaign, announcing that: "With the [New York Working Families Party] by our side, we will fight for equitable schools, good jobs, single-payer health care, subways that actually work, environmental justice, and an end to mass incarceration. It's time for a New York that belongs to all of us-for the many, not the few."

Support for Nixon was so overwhelming that Cuomo chose not to compete for the WFP endorsement, which Nixon secured 91.5 percent of the vote at Saturday's state committee meeting in Albany.

Despite the fact that he did not formally seek the WFP endorsement, Cuomo tried to manipulate the process-by pressuring major unions that have long been associated with the party to exit its fold. Two unions, Communications Workers of America District 1 and Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ, quit the WFP on the eve of the endorsement vote.

But frustration with the Cuomo administration's corporate ties and compromises on a host of public education, housing, rural poverty and criminal justice issues was so great that the WFP endorsed not only Nixon's run against the governor but also the progressive challenge being mounted by New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams to Democratic Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul.

The WFP's decision strengthens Nixon's hand in what remains an uphill primary run against Cuomo. Were she to win the Democratic nod, she could bid in November on both the Democratic and WFP lines-as New York allows parties to "cross endorse" candidates and merge the votes in the general election.

That means that the WFP endorsement has major implications for New York politics in 2018. But it is also a big deal nationally. Appearing is one of many insurgent candidates challenging centrist and corporate-tied Democrats this year, with messages that frequently parallel those of framed by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in his 2016 presidential run.

Appearing in Washington earlier in the week, at a gathering of progressive candidates organized by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Nixon grouped herself with the left-leaning contenders who "the Democratic establishment didn't want... to run." Noting Cuomo's campaign bankroll, and those of other corporate-tied Democrats, Nixon explained that: "It's hard for some Democrats to do right when they're getting millions and millions to do wrong."

Announcing that "the time is up for corporate Democrats, for politicians who campaign as Democrats but govern as Republicans," Nixon told the crowd that: "If we're going to get at the root problem of inequity, we have to turn the system upside down. It's not just about getting more Democrats in office but about getting better democrats-ones accountable to voters, not corporate donors."

Nixon drew cheers as she declared: "If we want change, we have to do what we've always done - we have to go out ourselves and we have to seize it."

On Saturday, she seized a coveted endorsement for a high-profile governorship- and in so doing sent a signal that the fight for the future of the Democratic Party, and the country, is on.

"Let's get out there. Let's knock on some doors," Nixon told the WFP gathering in Albany on Saturday. "Let's organize. And let's win this thing!"
(c) 2018 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

Radiation In The U.S. Is Scary
By James Donahue

After watching a review of John Oliver's warning about the effects of accumulated nuclear waste during a recent Sunday night television show, I decided to take a new look at Bob Nichol's website Your Radiation This Week. Nichols report is technical but if you study it, it is scary as hell. He not only backs what Oliver had to say, he suggests that our situation is so bad we may have unwittingly allowed for our own looming extinction.

Oliver believes "one out of three Americans live within 50 miles of high-level nuclear waste, some of which like Plutonium, is lethally dangerous and will be around for an incredible long time." If there is a nuclear powered electric generating plant serving your community you are probably among those unfortunate Americans. There currently are 104 operating plants in the United States. Others have been shut down but the waste from them may still be hanging around.

Oliver quoted the Nuclear Energy Institute, saying there is more than 71,000 tons of nuclear waste "stranded" at 104 reactors all over the United States. "It was a problem we should have solved in the 1980s, much like a Rubik's Cube," he said.

Even though we have been using nuclear energy since the end of World War II, the county has never established a permanent place to dispose of that growing accumulation of "hot" nuclear waste which offers deadly radiation that hangs around for hundreds if not thousands of years. So the stuff has just been piling up.

Nichols warns that the operating nuclear power plants are spewing deadly radiation into the air and water around them on a regular basis. He said the reactors "are venting radioactive gases and steam at nights and on weekends" and he warns that during these times "all residents must stay inside at nights and on weekends." Of course we all know that isn't what people do. They love the nightlife and don't realize they are playing in a silent and deadly environment.

Nichols, a former government worker who has access to some of the major government devices used to measure radiation in local environments, publishes his readings regularly on his website. While normal radiation is from 5 to 20 counts per minute, Nichols is finding that radiation assaults in places near these power plants and a few other peculiar areas is measuring well over 1,000 counts, or CPM. This means that people living in these areas are being exposed regularly to Sieverts of Gamma radiation.

A Sievert is a means of measuring radiation. A single Sievert is considered to be enough radiation to make a person very sick. Five Sieverts is enough to kill a person within a month. A single exposure to 10 Sieverts will kill within weeks.

Out of 97 cities where measurements were found to be dangerously high, Nichols said the worst numbers were found in Colorado Springs, Idaho Falls, Raleigh, Kansas City, Little Rock, Mason City, Navajo Lake, Spokane, Portland and Louisville, Ky. They were all at or above 10,000 CPM. Colorado Springs read the highest at 18,149 CPM in the most recent reading, Nichols said.

"These annual totals are really big radiation numbers," he wrote. "The numbers are your annual exposure to the Rad. How much you already absorbed is really hard to find out."

Describing just how serious these findings are, Nichols noted that the readings for Kearney, Nebraska are 5.58 times more radioactive than Tokyo, Japan, which sits under the daily nuclear spray of the Fukushima disaster. The Kearney radiation was recently measured at 301 times the Tokyo Equivalent Rads (TER) per hour on a Sievert monitor, he explained.

An examination of the EPA's RAD net data website for Kearney shows that hourly exposure has averaged just over a .01 dose rate in the international units of nanoSieverts per hour. This may seem small but consider that this is only a one-hour exposure for people exposed to whatever is flying at them while they are out of protective cover.

"The amount of Rad in the air now dooms humanity to a relatively quick extinction," Nichols wrote. The irony here is that "we have been done in by our own war toys and electric utilities . . . How moronic is that?"
(c) 2018 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Syria's civil war.

Missile Attack On Syria Is A Salute To 'Russiagate' Enthusiasts-Whether They Like It Or Not
The latest U.S. air attack on Russia's close ally Syria was as much politically aimed at Moscow as at Damascus.
By Norman Solomon

Politicians, pundits and activists who've routinely denounced President Trump as a tool of Vladimir Putin can now mull over a major indicator of their cumulative impacts. The U.S.-led missile attack on Syria before dawn Saturday is the latest benchmark for gauging the effects of continually baiting Trump as a puppet of Russia's president.

Heavyweights of U.S. media-whether outlets such as CNN and MSNBC or key newspapers like the New York Times and the Washington Post-spent most of the last week clamoring for Trump to order air strikes on Syria. Powerful news organizations have led the way in goading Trump to prove that he's not a Putin lackey after all.

One of the clearest ways that Trump can offer such proof is to recklessly show he's willing to risk a catastrophic military confrontation with Russia.

In recent months, the profusion of "war hawks, spies and liars" on national television has been part of a media atmosphere that barely acknowledges what's at stake with games of chicken between the world's two nuclear superpowers. Meanwhile, the dominant U.S. news media imbue their reporting with a nationalistic sense of impunity.

On Saturday morning, the top headline on the New York Times website was "U.S. Attacks Syria in Retaliatory Strike," while the subhead declared that "Western resolve" was at work. The story led off by reporting that Trump "sought to punish President Bashar al-Assad for a suspected chemical attack near Damascus last weekend that killed more than 40 people."

Try putting the shoe on the other foot for a moment. Imagine that Russia, with a similar rationale, fired missiles at U.S. ally Saudi Arabia because the Kremlin "sought to punish King Salman for his country's war crimes in Yemen" -- with such reportage appearing under a headline that described the Russian attack as a "retaliatory strike."

The latest U.S. air attack on Russia's close ally Syria was as much politically aimed at Moscow as at Damascus. And afterwards, the televised adrenalin-pumped glee was as much an expression of pleasure about striking a blow at Putin as at Assad. After all, ever since Trump took office, the U.S. media and political elites have been exerting enormous pressures on him to polarize with Russia.

But let's be clear: The pressures have not only been generated by corporate media and the political establishment. Across the United States, a wide range of people including self-described liberals and progressives -- as individuals and organizations -- have enthusiastically participated in the baiting, cajoling and denouncing of Trump as a Putin tool. That participation has stoked bellicose rhetoric by congressional Democrats, fueling the overall pressure on Trump to escalate tensions with Russia.

What's really at issue here is not the merits of the Russian government in 2018, any more than the issue was the merits of the Soviet government in 1967 -- when President Lyndon Johnson hosted an extensive summit meeting in Glassboro, New Jersey, with Soviet Premier Alexi Kosygin, reducing the chances of nuclear war in the process.

If you keep heading toward a destination, you're likely to get there. In 2018, by any realistic measure, the escalating conflicts between the United States and Russia -- now ominously reaching new heights in Syria -- are moving us closer to World War III. It's time to fully recognize the real dangers and turn around.
(c) 2018 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."

Hannity's Stormy Monday
By Heather Digby Parton

I think everyone knew the Michael Cohen hearing on Monday would make news. It was anticipated that Judge Kimba Wood would decide whether or not the president would be granted a restraining order against his own Department of Justice, preventing them from searching the documents and other items seized from his attorney's office and homes last week. And we knew that Stormy Daniels and her attorney, Michael Avenatti, would attend, so there was sure to be a ton of press and wall-to-wall coverage.

Wood had said on Friday that she wanted to know how many clients Cohen represented, and who they were, before making a determination as to whether or not the search was improper. When Cohen's attorneys said they didn't have that information, she told them to make sure their client was in court on Monday, prepared to answer the question. Everyone was eager to hear the answer.

But nothing prepared us for the news that Cohen only represents three clients: President Trump, deputy Republican National Committee Finance chair Elliott Broidy -- and Fox News host Sean Hannity. Nobody saw that one coming.

Since all the lawyers had been told Friday that this question was on the agenda for Monday's hearing, there was no reason for those who actually knew the answer to be surprised that it was asked. In fact, Cohen's lawyers argued that they were prepared to immediately appeal any decision to reveal the third client's name, since he was adamant about not wanting to be publicly identified. The judge was unmoved and demanded the name. They gave it. There was no appeal.

Since Sean Hannity had clearly told Cohen that he didn't want his name to be public, it seemed odd that he didn't have a prepared statement ready just in case. He had to know there was at least a 50-50 chance he'd be revealed. Instead, Hannity dribbled out explanations on his radio show, on Twitter and through statements over the course of the day, asserting that he had never paid Cohen or put him on retainer and that there was no third party involved. Likely Hannity was trying to reassure his wife that he didn't have a "Stormy" issue.

The Fox host is now claiming that he saw Cohen as a pal he consulted on a casual basis about some innocuous real estate matters. Nonetheless, he definitely considered it to be an attorney-client relationship, demanding that the appropriate privilege be recognized and all communications be off-limits to government agents.

Hannity seems to want it both ways, but that's not really going to work. He can probably claim that his communications with Cohen are privileged, but he also needs to explain why, if their consultations were so trivial, he hasn't simply admitted it and waived the privilege. He's within his legal rights to assert that privilege, of course, but making a federal case involving the president out of an apparent trifle doesn't seem too smart.

Moreover, this is a man who is worth more than $80 million. Hannity owns a private jet, which he lent to his old friend Newt Gingrich during the 2016 campaign so the former speaker could go meet with Trump in Indiana to be vetted for the vice presidency. It seems unlikely that a man of such means would consult a thuggish fixer such as Cohen for routine legal advice when he can clearly afford any top-drawer attorney he wants.

No, it's obvious that Hannity is claiming attorney-client privilege over something he doesn't want people to know about. Whatever it is, if government prosecutors weren't suspicious before, you can bet this amateurish legal move ensures they are now.

None of this would even have come up, if Trump's lawyers had not objected to the Department of Justice's "taint team" process, which is used routinely in cases where there are issues of attorney-client privilege. If Hannity isn't implicated in any crime, the taint team would have looked at his communications and realized there was nothing there that the FBI and prosecutors working on Cohen's case even needed to know about.

But Trump and his people believe the FBI and the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York are all part of a "deep state" conspiracy and cannot be trusted. Indeed, the president's lawyers demanded that the president be allowed to personally review all the documents, prompting the judge to ask if he really had the time for such a project. (He actually does, but it might mean forgoing some golf, tweeting and "executive time," so that's probably out.) As Salon's Matthew Rozsa pointed out, that gambit didn't work for Richard Nixon and it's unlikely to work for Trump either.

Judge Wood did not accede to the request to review the documents, but despite her stated "faith in the Southern District U.S. Attorney's Office that their integrity is unimpeachable," she is considering appointing a "special master" to play some role in the process, perhaps to show that she understands the president's concerns. (Personally, I think every government legal official involved in these Trump cases should learn from James Comey's mistakes and just play it by the book.)

This part of the story will likely end up being another sideshow, as far as the Trump presidency is concerned. But if anyone thought that Sean Hannity had any integrity, this ended it. Even Alan Dershowitz came down on him on his own show on Monday night:

Sean Hannity has always struck me as a Trump true believer. But he takes it to extremes at times, which makes you wonder. All of Trump's supporters in the media, even those on Fox News, have had occasion to criticize him from time to time. Hannity has never shown even the slightest annoyance with the president, much less any substantive disagreement. Knowing that Hannity is involved with Trump's notorious fixer, regarding something he doesn't want the public to learn about, could certainly lead one to suspect that Hannity is unwilling to criticize Trump for approximately the same reason Trump is unwilling to criticize Vladimir Putin. Maybe that's just how all these people operate.
(c) 2018 Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

Swarm of birds and insects

Reports Emphasize Urgent Need To Reverse Biodiversity Decline
By David Suzuki

Our health, well-being, food security, energy and economic progress depend on healthy, diverse nature. Clean water and air are essential to human life and health. Nutrient-rich soils are necessary to grow food. Diversity makes the ecosystems on which human life depends resilient.

But, as more than 550 experts from over 100 countries recently warned, "Biodiversity - the essential variety of life forms on Earth - continues to decline in every region of the world, significantly reducing nature's capacity to contribute to people's well-being."

On March 22 in Medellin, Colombia, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services' 129 member states approved the experts' four extensively peer-reviewed regional reports. Researchers examined more than 10,000 studies over three years to assess the state of biodiversity and to determine the causes and solutions for declines in Africa, the Americas, Asia-Pacific, and Europe and Central Asia.

IPBES chair Sir Robert Watson said, "The best available evidence, gathered by the world's leading experts, points us now to a single conclusion: we must act to halt and reverse the unsustainable use of nature - or risk not only the future we want, but even the lives we currently lead. Fortunately, the evidence also shows that we know how to protect and partially restore our vital natural assets."

The reports conclude that "biodiversity and nature's capacity to contribute to people are being degraded, reduced and lost due to a number of common pressures - habitat stress; overexploitation and unsustainable use of natural resources; air, land and water pollution; increasing numbers and impact of invasive alien species and climate change, among others."

According to the University College London's Tim Newbold, lead researcher for a 2016 study the reports reference, "For 58.1% of the world's land surface, which is home to 71.4% of the global population, the level of biodiversity loss is substantial enough to question the ability of ecosystems to support human societies."

Biodiversity of plants, animals, fungi and other organisms is important. Each species plays a unique ecosystem role. Diverse nature offers numerous ecosystem services, including ensuring we have access to a variety of foods and medicines. It also creates resilience - a variety of species ensures that some will continue to function if others fail.

In the Americas, species populations are on average 31 per cent lower than when European settlement began. With increasing climate change impacts, that's expected to rise to at least 40 per cent by 2050. The report notes that Indigenous Peoples and local communities have slowed or reversed declines in some areas through "a diversity of polyculture and agroforestry systems," but warns that Indigenous local knowledge and languages, and the cultures associated them, are also threatened or dying.

The economic consequences alone are staggering. Researchers estimate that land-based natural systems contribute services worth about $24.3 trillion a year to people in the Americas - equivalent to the region's gross domestic product - and about $3.6 trillion in Canada. As one example of the costs of addressing the problems, the report shows the "annual cost of managing the impacts of invasive alien zebra mussels on infrastructure for power, water supply and transportation in the Great Lakes" is more than $500 million.

Although many solutions lie in government policy, individuals can also help. Watson told National Geographic that eating less meat, wasting less food, using water more efficiently, reducing toxic chemical use and shifting from fossil fuels are all necessary. He also said Indigenous and local knowledge are invaluable to helping us learn how to live better with nature, and that cross-border collaboration is essential because nature doesn't recognize human boundaries.

Emma Archer, co-chair of the African assessment, said citizen engagement is also needed: "As citizens, we need to vote and lobby for political leaders and policies that support these choices."

As a Desmog Blog article points out, "Many of the solutions for stemming the loss of species would have simultaneous benefits for the climate, such as protecting and restoring ecosystems (which can store more carbon), cleaning up energy sources (fewer greenhouse gas emissions), and practicing more sustainable and diverse agriculture (lowering emissions, storing carbon)."

As with climate change, we have ample evidence that we're facing a biodiversity crisis, we know what's causing it and we have numerous solutions. It's time to act.
(c) 2018 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

Louisiana's Jury System Is A Monument To White Supremacy
It should be torn down like the Confederate monuments.
By Charles P. Pierce

When somebody starts complaining about the removal of the monuments to armed sedition from the public spaces in the South, you can remind them that they are merely the outward expressions of a commitment to a system of American apartheid, to the habits of bigotry and white supremacy that persist to this day. And then, when this person insists that those habits are parts of a dead past, you can tell them about Louisiana. From The New York Times:

Louisiana is one of only two states in the country allowing a non-unanimous jury to convict a defendant of a felony, and a Louisiana lawmaker says it is time for the practice to end. Sen. J.P. Morrell says the unusual rule is a remnant of the Jim Crow era, stemming from a constitutional convention in 1898 and longstanding efforts to maintain white supremacy after the Civil War. And he wants a change. "This is something that is wholly unnecessary that was born of this fusion of racism and disenfranchisement," he said. "It's a self-defeating, illogical position to have two jurors say 'we don't think he did it,' then prosecutors to say we met our reasonable doubt standard." The New Orleans Democrat has proposed a constitutional amendment to require all 12 jurors in felony cases to agree on a verdict. The measure is gaining steam in the state Capitol.
"Gaining steam." In 2018. Dr. King's dream certainly has come true.
Sen. Mack "Bodi" White, a Republican who voted against the bill in committee and in the Senate, said that requiring unanimous juries may lead to more hung juries and costly retrials. Judges often force jurors to continue deliberations for days, making them hash the issues out until holdouts fall in line or a deadlock ends the case with a hung jury. "I know it's different in a jury trial but it's hard to get 12 out of 12 people in these times to just about agree on anything," White said.
Apparently, like decent public schools and national parks, due process is just another thing we can no longer afford.

The current system goes back to a loathsome event called The Convention of 1898. The purpose of that convention was to re-establish white supremacy and an apartheid political system now that Reconstruction had run its sadly truncated course. Of course, Louisiana had been in a state of open rebellion and white-supremacist terror almost since the day Robert E. Lee rode away from the farmhouse at Appomattox. In 1866, a racist mob attacked a Republican political parade in New Orleans and 150 African-Americans were killed. (Among the rioters were New Orleans policemen and firefighters, as well as a slew of Confederate veterans.) In 1873, 150 black citizens were killed by a white mob in Colfax.


A year later, a domestic terrorist group called the White League, also largely composed of CSA veterans, many of whom had seen "action" in Colfax, attacked Republican officeholders in a place called Coushatta and overthrew the legitimate government of that parish. They forced white Republican officials to sign promises to leave the state and then killed some of them when they tried. (One man had his arms and legs broken and then was set on fire.) Not long afterwards, the White League launched an unsuccessful coup against the Reconstruction government of New Orleans that culminated in the so-called "Battle For Liberty Place," in which white-supremacist guerrillas for a time routed a militia force headed by former Confederate general James Longstreet. Chickens roosting and all that. In fact, one of the monuments to sedition removed by the administration of Mayor Mitch Landrieu was a memorial to the "heroes" of Liberty Place. This did not refer to Longstreet and his men.

There were naturally political elements to all this turmoil. Much of the violence of the 1870s was prompted by the election in 1872 of William Pitt Kellogg, a Republican, to be the state's governor. The Confederate extremists refused to recognize Kellogg's legitimacy and the state didn't settle down until President Ulysses S. Grant sent in federal troops to maintain order. And the Colfax massacre resulted in one of the more heinous Supreme Court decisions at the time: the 1876 decision in Cruikshank v. U.S., in which the Court ruled that the participants in the massacre could not be tried under the anti-Klan Enforcement Act of 1870 because the 14th Amendment's rights of due process and equal protection applied only to state actions, and not to the actions of individuals. This case was central to the rise of white-supremacist terror in Louisiana and elsewhere. In 1883, the Court ruled that the Civil Rights Act of 1875 was unconstitutional.


With all these ducks in a row, and with Plessy v. Ferguson having established the constitutionality of "separate but equal" two years earlier, the Convention of 1898 was called with the express purpose of disenfranchising African-American voters and establishing the legitimacy of Jim Crow government. The state constitution produced by the convention included a poll tax as well as the notorious provisions allowing local registrars to disqualify black voters for not knowing how many beans were in a jar, or being unable to recite a specific passage from the state and federal constitutions. These barriers persisted until the early 1960s.

Also included in the 1898 constitution was the provision calling for non-unanimous verdicts in felony jury trials. A proposal to get rid of that is "gaining steam" here in 20-bloody-18. The statues are gone now, but not all the monuments to a bloody and seditious past are as easily removed.
(c) 2018 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.

The Quotable Quote...

"Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like the evil spirits at the dawn of day."
~~~ Thomas Jefferson ~ letter to Pierre S. du Pont de Nemours, 24 April 1816

Sniper In Vegas, Snipers In Gaza
By Jane Stllwater

A truly terrible thing happened recently in Las Vegas when some locked-and-loaded, armed and dangerous psychotic homicidal sniper mercilessly fired 540 rounds of live ammunition a minute into a crowd of helpless and defenseless people in Vegas.

Within minutes after this heartless massacre by a crazed gunman happened, American media went crazy and provided us with 24-hour coverage of this horror -- coverage that lasted for weeks. Sheldon Adelson, billionaire owner of the Bellagio casino, publicly deplored that something as horrendous as this could even happen and immediately started planning ways to help the survivors. Our entire nation was shocked and in mourning.

Now let's compare this horrendous sniper attack in Vegas with the recent horrendous sniper attack by uber-locked-and-loaded, armed and dangerous Israeli neo-cons who mercilessly fired 540 live rounds of ammunition a second into a crowd of helpless and defenseless people in Gaza.

"What sniper attack in Gaza?" you might ask. "Never heard of it." And yet even though 18 people were slaughtered and almost a thousand more were wounded by psychotic homicidal snipers firing into a helpless and defenseless crowd in Gaza, American mainstream media said almost nothing about it. And Sheldon Adelson not only made no public protest against this heinous and merciless act in Gaza, he totally applauded it -- and probably even helped finance it as well.

I'll never patronize the Bellagio again.

There is, however, one major difference between these two horrendous sniper attacks. On the one hand, I can always go off to Vegas at a moment's notice -- whereas, on the other hand, Gaza is the world's largest concentration camp. No one goes in. No one goes out. Except in a body bag. Plus, of course, they don't have any casinos in Gaza. Hell, thanks to Israeli neo-cons like Adelson and Bibi Netanyahu, trapped citizens of Gaza don't even have electricity. They barely even have food.

Why is it that a vile sniper in Vegas who randomly fired on helpless and defenseless people is considered to be psychotic -- while vile snipers who randomly fired on helpless and defenseless people in Gaza have now become national heroes in Israel and DC, and are supported by American taxpayers' money to the tune of ten million dollars a day? What am I missing?
(c) 2018 Jane Stillwater. Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world. And while you're at it, please buy my books!

Syria All Wrong And Backwards
By David Swanson

In the park today I saw a teenager watching two little kids, one of whom apparently stole a piece of candy from the other. The teenager rushed up to the two of them, reprimanded one of them, and stole both of their bicycles. I felt like it was my turn to step in at that point, and I confronted the bicycle thief. "Excuse me," I said, "what makes you think you can commit a larger crime just because you witnessed a smaller one? Who do you think you are?" He stared at me for a while, and replied: "the U.S. military."

There is no crime larger than war. There is no way to legalize it. The Kellogg-Briand Pact bans it, and the United Nations Charter bans it with narrow exceptions that have not remotely been met by any of the U.S. wars of the past 17 years. A small crime cannot justify a larger one. In 2002-2003 Iraq could have had all the weapons the warmongers were lying about. Or it could have not had them. It didn't make the slightest difference legally, morally, or otherwise in justifying a war.

Now, Syria could have used chemical weapons. Or it could not have. The question is not uninteresting or amoral or unimportant or boring, but it is completely and utterly irrelevant to the question of war.

So, yes, it's fun to point out how often they've lied and how they lack any proof of their claims and so forth. But do so with the understanding that you're being played, you're being manipulated into conceding that if they ever can make a case that some crime has been committed, that will justify them in killing large numbers of people and risking global apocalypse.

It won't. The problem is not that Trump wants to start a war before the inspectors can determine whether a war is merited. War cannot be merited. There is no such thing as mass murder getting justified by someone else committing murder with the wrong type of murder weapon. This is ludicrous nonsense.

What if Iraqis really had taken babies out of incubators in Kuwait? What if the Vietnamese really had shot back at the invaders in the Gulf of Tonkin? What if the Spanish really had strip-searched a woman or blown up the U.S.S. Maine? Once the media has got you debating some such question as if it's an application for a license to kill and kill and kill and kill, you've failed at the task of spotting the war lie. The lie is not the answer. The lie is the question.

Imagine if whenever 12 people were killed with a bomb or guns the "International Community" had to kill the nearest 20,000 people with poison gas. Why is the reverse so acceptable? It shouldn't be. It isn't legal or moral or decent or popular enough for the warmongers to let us have a public vote before they do it.

Trump's threat of war - the threat itself - is a violation of the UN Charter, which Congress pretends does not exist, but which the U.S. Constitution makes the Supreme Law of the Land along with every other treaty that the United States is party to.

But those Congress members telling Trump he cannot commit the crime of continuing and escalating one of his many wars without Congress, are obliged to act - and not by "authorizing" the crime. Rather, they are obliged to prevent it - and not to wait and punish it after the fact. The tool available to them is impeachment and removal from office. The list of impeachable offenses is not exactly lacking.

There are some people I know of who have not been falling for the media manipulation. They are people who've read War Is A Lie.
(c) 2018 David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

The Dead Letter Office...

Sean sporting a new Trump hat

Heil Trump,

Dear propaganda ansager Hannity,

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

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

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

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

Rick gives the corporate salute!

While China Picks Winners, Trump Picks Losers
By Robert Reich

"It's nonsense that there's a beautiful free market in the power industry," Energy Secretary Rick Perry said last week as he pushed for a government bailout of coal-fired power plants.

Republicans who for years have voted against subsidies for solar and wind power - arguing that the "free market" should decide our energy future - are now eager to have government subsidize coal.

Trump's Environmental Protection Agency is also scrapping rules for disposing coal ash, giving coal producers another big helping hand. As if this weren't enough, a former coal lobbyist has just become Number Two at the EPA. If Scott Pruitt leaves (a growing possibility), the coal lobbyist will be in charge.

Meanwhile, Trump is imposing a 30 percent tariff on solar panels from China, thereby boosting their cost to American homeowners and utilities. The Trumpsters say this is because China is subsidizing solar.

To Trump and his merry band of climate-change deniers, boosting coal is fine. Helping solar is an unwarranted interference in the free market.

As with so much else, Trump is determined to Take America Backwards Again.

Until about a decade ago, the United States was the world leader in solar energy. Federal tax credits along with state renewable electricity standards helped fuel the boom.

Then China decided to boost its own solar industry. State-controlled banks lent Chinese solar companies tens of billions of dollars at low interest rates.

Chinese firms now produce three-quarters of the world's solar panels.

China's success in solar has inspired China's new high-tech industrial policy - a $300 billion plan to boost China's position in other cutting-edge industries, called "Made in China 2025."

Besides subsidizing these industries, China is also telling foreign (usually American) companies seeking to sell in China that they must make their gadgets in China. As a practical matter this often means American firms must disclose and share their technology with Chinese firms.

"We have a tremendous intellectual property theft situation going on," said Trump, just before upping the ante and threatening China with $100 billion of tariffs.

China's theft of intellectual property is troublesome, but the larger issue of China's industrial policy is not. The United States has an industrial policy, too. We just don't do it well - and Trump is intent on doing it far worse.

The United States government used to incubate new technologies through the Defense Department, allocating billions of dollars to R&D that spilled over into commercial uses.

Out of this came the Internet, new materials technologies, and solar cells that helped propel the United States into space - and, not incidentally, seeded the commercial solar industry.

America's high-tech companies have continued to depend on government indirectly - feeding off breakthroughs from America's research universities, along with the engineers and scientists those universities train (think of Stanford and Silicon Valley). Much of this research and training is financed by the U.S. government.

Trump's original budget would have slashed funding of the National Science Foundation and related research by nearly 30 percent. Fortunately, Congress didn't go along.

Meanwhile, federal, state, and local governments in the United States spend over $2 trillion a year on goods and services, making them together the biggest purchasers in the world. Due to "buy American" laws, about 60 percent of the content they purchase must be made in America.

As Steven Greenhouse points out in April's American Prospect, a few state and local governments are taking a page out of China's book - luring foreign firms to the United States to make high-tech products that are good for the environment and good for American workers.

As one example, Los Angeles has contracted with BYD, a Chinese company that's the world's leading producer of zero-emissions electric buses, to make its buses in California.

BYD's huge factory north of Los Angeles has already created six hundred well-paid unionized jobs and two hundred white collar jobs.<>P America has always had an industrial policy. The real question is whether it's forward-looking (the Internet, solar, zero-emissions buses) or backwards (coal).

Trump wants a backwards industrial policy. That's not surprising, given that everything else he and his administration are doing is designed to take us backwards.
(c) 2018 Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His web site is

The Cult Of Violence Always Kills The Left
By Chris Hedges

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.-The Weather Underground, a clandestine revolutionary organization that advocated violence, was seen by my father and other clergy members who were involved in Vietnam anti-war protests as one of the most self-destructive forces on the left. These members of the clergy, many of whom, including my father, were World War II veterans, had often became ministers because of their experiences in the war. They understood the poison of violence. One of the most prominent leaders of Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam (CALCAV), to which my father belonged, was the Catholic priest Philip Berrigan, who as an Army second lieutenant fought in the Battle of the Bulge.

The young radicals of the Vietnam era, including Mark Rudd-who in 1968 as a leader of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) led the occupation of five buildings at Columbia University and later helped form the Weather Underground-did not turn to those on the religious left whose personal experiences with violence might have saved SDS, the Weather Underground and the student anti-war movement from self-immolation. Blinded by hubris and infected with moral purity, the members of the Weather Underground saw themselves as the only real revolutionaries. And they embarked, as have those in today's black bloc and antifa, on a campaign that was counterproductive to the social justice goals they said they advocated.

Rudd, 50 years later, plays the role once played by the priests Phil and Daniel Berrigan and Rabbi Abraham Heschel. His book "Underground: My Life With SDS and the Weathermen" is a brutally honest deconstruction of the dangerous myths that captivated him as a young man. I suspect that many of those in the black bloc and antifa will no more listen to his wisdom than did the young radicals five decades ago who dismissed the warnings from those on the religious left for whom violence was not an abstraction. Rudd sees his old self in the masked faces of the black bloc and antifa, groups that advocate violence and property destruction in the name of anti-fascism. These faces, he said, ignite his deep embers of "shame and guilt."

"It's word for word the same thing," Rudd said of antifa and the black bloc when we spoke for several hours recently in Albuquerque. "You look on a YouTube channel like Acting Out. It's identical. How can we as white people stand by while the nonwhite people of the world are suffering under imperialism? I think the shame of being white in this society is so great [that] people want to show that they're aware of how terrible the disparities are, and how privilege and oppression distort everything. The urge to talk about violence and commit violence in response is a way of cleansing yourself of that privilege, of the guilt of privilege. It taps into this strain that I've identified as self-expression rather than strategy. That, to me, is the biggest problem."

"The anarchist Andy Cornell makes a distinction between activism and organizing," he said. "Activism is about self-expression. It often is a substitute for strategy. Strategic organizing is about results. These acts of self-expression, which is what antifa does and what we did in the Weather Underground, are exactly what the cops want."

"The slogan 'diversity of tactics' used by the black bloc and antifa is ridiculous," he said. "Even the term 'tactic' is ridiculous. What we need is a strategy. And let's be clear, even when you adopt a nonviolent strategy it will be portrayed by the state as violent. This is what the Israelis are doing at the Gaza fence. I often tell the antifa kids here-there are about four antifa kids in Albuquerque and they hate my guts-this story. There was a spontaneous anti-war demonstration in 2003 by a thousand people in Albuquerque the night the [Iraq] war began. The cops, who support the military, were angry. They attacked the crowd with tear gas and clubs. There were a lot of arrests. The victims brought a civil suit against the police. It did not come to trial until 2011. The police and the city of Albuquerque were the defendants. They were charged with violating the rights of the protesters. It was a jury trial. The jury found for the cops. Why? It turned out the police attorneys brought in a photograph. There were about 200 or 300 people in the photograph. In the front were two people wearing bandannas [as masks]. Just wearing bandannas. They zoomed in on the people wearing the bandannas. They told the jury, 'See these people wearing these bandannas? They're wearing bandannas because they're terrorists. And we knew they were about to attack us. So, we had to attack them.' The jury went for it. We had not yet convinced our fellow citizens of the value of the right to protest. My conclusion: Don't wear bandannas! Every time I see a kid wearing a bandanna, I say, 'You're so beautiful, why cover your face?' They say, 'Well, I have to, I'm a Zapatista.' I say that's nice but this is what happened in 2003 and 2011. It would probably be better for you to not wear the bandanna so they won't think we're violent. And they say, 'You're a stupid piece of shit' or they walk away."

Rudd said that the occupation of Columbia University in April 1968, an occupation that caused him to be expelled from the university, was an example of the kind of strategy that the left has to adopt. This strategy had its roots in the organizing techniques of the labor and civil rights movement.

"The means of transmission were red diaper babies,' he said, referring to the sons and daughters of members of the United States Communist Party. "The red diaper babies at Columbia SDS kept saying, 'Build the base. Build the base. Build the base.' It became a mantra for years. It was all we could think about. This meant education, confrontation and talking, talking, talking. It meant building relationships and alliances. It meant don't get too far out in front. In the spring of 1968 it all came to a head. It was the perfect storm. A few of us knew, now is the time to strike."

"Columbia was a success," he said. "The deed attracted attention. And because of the alliance with the black students, which has never gotten enough media attention in the story of Columbia, we closed down the university. We accomplished our strategic aim, which was to politicize more people and to build the movement. Our goal was not to end the university's involvement with military research. That was a symbolic goal. The real goal was to build the movement. I got into a lot of trouble for saying the issue is not the issue."

But Rudd and other radicals in the SDS soon became, he said, "enamored with the propaganda of the deed." Self-expression replaced strategy. The organizing, which had made the occupation of the university successful, was replaced by revolutionary posturing. The radicals believed that more radical tactics, including violence, would accelerate political and social change. It did the opposite.

"After Columbia, it was failure after failure after failure in SDS for the next year and a half," he said. "Then we doubled down on the failures."

The SDS radicals came under the spell of revolutionary theories propagated by those supporting armed liberation movements in the developing world. They wanted to transplant Frantz Fanon's call for revolutionary violence, Lin Biao's idea of "people's war" and Ernesto "Che" Guevara foco, or insurrectionary center, to the struggle in the United States. The radicals would go underground and carry out acts of violence that would ignite a national war of liberation. This call to arms was seductive and exhilarating, but it was based on a distorted and highly selective account of revolutionary struggle, especially in Cuba.

"Che put forward a phony analysis of how the Cuban revolution was won," Rudd said. "According to him it was won solely by Fidel and Che going into the Sierra Maestra [mountain range]. Armed struggle was the only thing that was important to the Cuban revolution. All other aspects of the revolution, including 20,000 people who were murdered by [dictator Fulgencio] Batista in the cities, the national strikes by the unions, the street protests by women, university students and the Cuban Communist Party were wiped out of history. There was only one thing to do, pick up the gun."

The cult of the gun was disastrous. It distorted reality. It elevated violence as the only real tool for revolution. Vijay Prashad in his book "The Darker Nations" spells out the incalculable damage caused by this cult, including the doomed attempt in 1967 by Che Guevara to form a foco in Bolivia, an effort that would cost him his life. The cult of the gun saw most third-world liberation movements, such as the National Liberation Front (FLN) in Algeria, devolve into squalid military dictatorships when they took power.

"My little segment of the left worshipped Che," Rudd said. "We believed in the propaganda of the deed. We were so sure of our strategy, of leading the armed struggle, that we decided to destroy SDS and build the Weather Underground, a revolutionary fighting force. We decided on a tactic, which was to bring thousands of people to Chicago in 1969 for the conspiracy trial [of radicals such as Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin and Tom Hayden, charged with instigating riots during the 1968 Democratic Convention]. Very few people showed up. We got creamed with beatings, arrests, and even shootings by the cops."

"After that we went from bad organizing to no organizing," Rudd said. "It was purely about self-expression. That self-expression would take the form of bombs. The first thing we did was kill three of our own people."

The premature explosion of a bomb in a New York City townhouse on March 6, 1970, that killed three of Rudd's comrades sobered the radical group. The bomb was to have been placed at an officers' dance at Fort Dix, in New Jersey. It surely would have killed and wounded dozens of people had it exploded at the Army base. The Weather Underground decided to bomb buildings that symbolized centers of power, including the Pentagon, the U.S. Capitol, the California attorney general's office and a New York City police station, but to call in warnings beforehand so the buildings could be evacuated. The group was responsible for 25 bombings and in 1970 organized the prison escape of Timothy Leary, the famous advocate of psychedelic drugs, for which the group was paid $25,000 by the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, a collection of drug dealers.

"A lot of Americans can accept their government's violence, but they can't conceive of political violence as anything other than criminal and mentally ill," Rudd said. "And who has all the power, in terms of violence? Our means of violence is very little. The government's means, the right wing's means, are very great. So, we've got to adopt nonviolence. The research of Erica Chenoweth and others has shown that nonviolence is much more efficacious than violence. Gene Sharp approaches nonviolence from a practical rather than a moral point of view. It is the difference between moral pacifism and practical pacifism. The antifa kids are not moral pacifists. They believe in a cleansing moral violence. At its base is a desire to absolve themselves of white guilt."

Rudd cautioned against the danger of intellectualizing the struggle against oppressive forces. He said all resistance had to remain rooted in practical realities and the hard, often anonymous and time-consuming work of organizing.

"As intellectuals, we can talk ourselves into anything," Rudd said. "If we think it's necessary we can probably figure out how to do it. David Gilbert is one of the gentlest people I have ever met. Yet he somehow talked himself into driving a getaway van with a bunch of black guys armed with automatic weapons. Gilbert left his kid at a daycare center, thinking he was going back at the end of the day to pick the kid up. Nobody picked up the kid. This is ludicrous. And that's the point; you can talk yourself into anything. I have a bumper sticker on the back of my car that says don't believe everything that you think."

Rudd is acutely aware of the failure by most liberals to fight for the values they purport to defend. However, the repeated betrayal of the oppressed by the liberal class as it mouths the language of justice should not push radicals to acts of violence. Rather, radicals must make strategic alliances with liberals while being fully aware of their propensity to flee from struggle when it becomes difficult.

"The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee [SNCC] was a sister organization of SDS," Rudd said. "They decided to go to the absolute worst place in the United States, Mississippi, to organize for voting rights. And they did. They lost a lot of people. A lot of people got arrested and beaten. A lot of stuff happened over a three-year period. But they won the right to vote. They organized a non-segregationist democratic delegation called the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. The real Democratic Party delegation was all-white. The Democratic Party worked out a deal with their allies in the North including the United Auto Workers and other liberals. They would seat the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party at the Democratic Party Convention. They would exclude the segregationists. Busloads of mostly black people went to Atlantic City [site of the convention]. Lyndon Johnson had a change of heart. He feared if he seated the black delegates he would lose re-election. They didn't get seated. That was an ultimate betrayal. Out of this betrayal came the impetus for black power. Black power was supposedly a strategy. But it was no more a strategy than the Weather Underground. It was another form of self-expression."

"I was 18," Rudd said. "I saw heroic SNCC people advocating for black power. The liberals betrayed them. Which side would you be on? Black power rejected the nonviolence of Martin Luther King. It rejected integration. Malcolm X used the slogan 'By any means necessary.' This was seized upon to justify revolutionary violence. It was the same fantasy of revolution. Black power was no more embraced by the black masses than the violence and rhetoric of the Weather Underground were embraced by the white masses. In the end, the white left became the base of the Black Panther Party. The Panther 21 was set up on charges of a bombing in April 1969. SDS in New York, which I was a part of, protested to defend them. Our demonstrations became more and more white. The black base was not behind them. I thought the reason was our presence. I was so steeped in black power ideology I thought the mere presence of white people would keep black people away. That wasn't it. Black power made no sense to most black people. It was suicidal. Huey P. Newton's autobiography, "Revolutionary Suicide," captured it. What kind of a strategy is that? The black power movement was a cultural uprising. But it was not strategic. We fell for this bullshit."

"White radicals felt personally challenged by black power," he said. "Would we be liberals or would we be radicals? Would we go to the base, to the origin of the problem, which is capitalism and imperialism? Would we embrace 'by any means necessary'? Would we overthrow the system? Or would we be liberal reformists? When you're 18 or 20 that's not much of a question. This is why David Gilbert is in prison for the rest of his life."

"What we did was a historical crime," he said of the destruction of the SDS. "At the height of the war in 1969 we decided to close down the national and regional offices and the newspaper of the largest student radical organization in the country. SDS had chapters in 400 campuses. We probably had 100,000 active members. It was crazy. Three of our people died immediately. We inspired copycat actions. One of them happened in the University of Wisconsin in the summer of 1970. An anti-war graduate student died. Eventually, it led to the Brink's robbery in 1981. The worst thing of all, of all the things we did, was we split the anti-war movement over the bogus issue of armed struggle, our right to an armed struggle. This is the same thing as the call by antifa for diversity of tactics, which is a code word for violence."

"The thing about nonviolence is that it works," he said. "But it only works if it's total. The cops put the burden of violence on protesters. Our job is to do the opposite. Our job is to make it crystal clear it's the government and the system that engages violence. We muddy the water when we use violence."

"The left has not hit on a strategy analogous to the far-right strategy, which is to unite ideological conservatives with a base, especially the Christian fundamentalist base," he said. "A base means people show up. They vote. They go where they're told. That was the old union model for the Democratic Party. But with unions depleted we have no institutional or structural base. This is a huge problem. We have to rebuild structures. It's going to take a long time, maybe 20 or 40 years. I'll be 110."

"Antifa claims to be anarchist," he said. "But is not the same anarchism as, say, the Wobblies. Antifa's version of anarchism is you can't tell me what to do. It's self-expression. I fell into the trap of self-expression. Self-expression is narcissistic. It's saying my feelings are so important that I can do anything I want. It's saying once other people see how important my feelings are they will join me. It never works. There's only two kinds of people who advocate for violence-very stupid people, of which I was one, and cops. Which are you? Are you very stupid or are you a cop?"

"I can't communicate with antifa because my own PTSD forbids me to say you are so morally right, so courageous and so morally pure," Rudd said. "You understand how violent the system is. You understand what it's like to be nonwhite. I understand your motives. I applaud you for it. This is the only thing they hear, words that feed their self-adulation."

"I'm a veteran of all of this shit," he lamented. "But that doesn't count for anything. It's all expired."
(c) 2018 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. Keep up with Chris Hedges' latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ David Fitzsimmons ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

It's Hard to Keep Track of the Clowns in Donald Trump's Circus
Will Durst

Like Cirque du Soleil, the Donald Trump Circus has many touring productions. The Oval Office. The White House. The Cabinet. Both Republican-held houses of Congress.

It's a wacky, zany five-ring spectacle chock-full of tightrope walkers, ethical contortionists, trained animals, morally challenged acrobats and logic jugglers. And don't forget the clowns. Lots and lots of clowns.

The U.S. Marine Band is playing "Hail to the Chief" on a calliope.

Wherever POTUS 45 goes or threatens to go, or even mentions that going might be a possibility, the cameras are there so they don't miss any upcoming lunacy. All action choreographed by the Golden Canopy in his role as Ringmaster Deluxe. He is a world-class expert in prestidigitation and knows his part well.

Which may be why the cast changes faster than free beer disappears at a frat party celebrating a homecoming win over Alabama.

The Trump Circus performers are replaced at a rate that would shock an assistant manager on the graveyard shift at McDonald's. John Bolton has stomped into the Big Top as our new strongman. The man with the scariest mustache in the world. Due to be our third national security adviser. Maybe. Nobody's quite sure. The second one might not quit. The first one is still under indictment.

Bolton's credentials consist mostly of sucking up to his new boss like a turbo vacuum cleaner on pharmaceutical strength steroids. When appointed ambassador to the United Nations by President George W Bush, Bolton described his approach as one of Tough Love. With the emphasis on the adjective. Others call it Rabid Foaming at the Mouth With an Unattached Ear Hanging Out of Your Teeth Love. Geek Love.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was fired for many reasons: arguing with the boss, disagreeing with the boss and calling the boss a moron. Which goes down in a relationship as well as a foot-long fish bone.

And Veterans Affairs Secretary Daniel Shulkin says he was fired for resisting the privatization of his administration's care but the White House claims he resigned. Sounds like someone doesn't want to pony up for unemployment.

Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III and Environmental Protection Agency director Scott Pruitt are not just skating but performing triple axels on thin ice. Sessions in deep elephant doo-doo for recusing himself in the Russia Matter and Pruitt for renting an apartment from a lobbyist who had multiple clients with business in front of his department.

Pretty much the definition of conflict of interest. Seriously, look it up.

In the first 15 months of this current production, we've lost three White House communications directors. The secretaries of State, Veterans Affairs, Health & Human Services, two national security advisers. One deputy national security adviser. An attorney general. An FBI director. Deputy FBI director. Director of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Director of the Office of Government Ethics. Director of NASA. Director of the National Economic Council. Chief of staff. Chief strategist. Chief aide to the chief strategist. Chief usher. The surgeon general. Umpteen personal aides, two turtle doves and an Omarosa.

Some worry that the Ringmaster will run out of lackeys, minions and stooges. But no matter how many quit, resign or slink off quietly in the night, never fear. There's plenty more replacement toadies that can be called up from that junior league circus known as ... Fox News.
(c) 2018 Will Durst is an award-winning, nationally acclaimed columnist, comedian and former Pizza Hut assistant manager. For a calendar of personal appearances, including his new one-man show, "Durst Case Scenario," please visit:

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Issues & Alibis Vol 18 # 15 (c) 04/20/2018

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