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In This Edition

Glen Greenwald with a must read, "A Bernie Sanders Campaign Adviser Was a Russian. Now He's Speaking Out."

Uri Avnery asks, "Cui Bono?"

Glen Ford says, "Donald Trump Surrenders To The War Party."

Lee Fang reports, "Paul Ryan Raised $657,000 While Avoiding His Constituents During Recess."

Jim Hightower reports, "Nuns Take On Wells Fargo."

Bill McKibben warns, "Stop Swooning Over Canada's Justin Trudeau-The Man Is A Disaster For The Planet."

David Suzuki finds, "Citizen Science And Genetic Testing Yield Positive Results."

John Nichols concludes, "The Democratic Party Must Finally Abandon Centrism."

John Pilger foresees, "Australia Beckons A War With China."

Jane Stillwater exclaims, "Washington DC's Museums: Totally Awesome!"

Robert Parry examines, "What Russia-gate Has Wrought."

David Swanson orates about the, "Never-Ending War In The Time Of Trump And How To Stop It."

Michael Winship sees, "The Waters Of Trump's Washington Are Dark And Deep."

Con-gressman Paul Mitchell wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich explains, "The Trump Doctrine."

Chris Hedges orates, "The Price of Resistance."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion says, "Rookie Justice Gorsuch Assigned To Supreme Court Overnight Shift," but first Uncle Ernie sez, "Where Justice Is A Game."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Jeff Darcy, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Ruben Bollings, Tom Tomorrow, Mr. Fish, Walt Kelly, C. Dane, Gage Skidmore, Art Babych, University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment, Mike Mozart, Drew Angerer, Bernt Rostad, Shealah Craighead, John Locher, Erick Dau, The Intercept. AP, Flickr, 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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Where Justice Is A Game
By Ernest Stewart

To see him obviously framed,
Couldn't help but make me feel ashamed,
To live in a land where justice is a game.
Hurricane ~~~ Bob Dylan

"It is a curious situation that the sea, from which life first arose should now be threatened by the activities of one form of that life. But the sea, though changed in a sinister way, will continue to exist; the threat is rather to life itself." ~~~ Rachel Carson ~ The Sea Around Us

"The era of strategic patience is over." ~~~ Mike Pence

I'm still alive and well,
I'm still alive and well
Every now and then I know it's kind of hard to tell
But I'm still alive and well
Still Alive And Well ~~~ Johnny Winter

Have you heard that Exxon is applying for a waiver from the U.S. Treasury Department to bypass U.S. sanctions against Russia and resume offshore drilling in the Black Sea with the Russian oil company Rosneft; or so the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. If the ultra far right Wall Street Journal is reporting these shenanigans imagine what they're not reporting!

Among those charged with deciding to grant the permit is Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of Exxon who previously oversaw the company's Russia operations. Imagine that! So what do you think the chances are for their approval of the waiver? I'm guessing 100%!

That, of course, is just the tip of the iceberg where the Trump junta is concerned. In his first 100 daze Trump has committed so many impeachable offenses (that even I've lost count of them) without the slightest fear of being impeached. All of the Republicans and most of the Democrats have committed crimes that if you or I would have committed them we'd be waiting execution, or at the very least, life without parole!

The scary part of this is that they're doing it right out in the open and daring anyone to do anything to stop them. It used to be all criminal activities were done behind closed doors on Capital Hill with Mafia like secrecy in place. Those days ended when George Herbert Walker Bush put the hit on Reagan like he did before on Kennedy. Since then, they haven't even bothered to keep their actions secret. And have no doubt that it's only going to get worse unless we put a stop to it! And because America is, the land of the couch potato, there is no chance of that happening. No, we're screwed, and that's all there is to it!

In Other News

I see where the Arctic is undergoing an astonishingly rapid transition as global warning overwhelms the region. Have you gotten your tickets yet, for another Northwest Passage cruise? If not, do so right now! Of course, this isn't for the hoi polloi, but for your 1% masters!

New research sheds light on the latest example of the changes afoot, showing that parts of the Arctic Ocean are becoming more like the Atlantic. Warm waters are streaming into the ocean north of Scandinavia and Russia, altering ocean productivity and chemistry. That's making sea ice recede and kickstarting a feedback loop that could make summer ice a thing of the past. As they proved last summer sailing a cruise ship the size of the Battleship Bismarck from Anchorage to New York City.

"2015 was a really anomalous year when we had problems finding a suitable ice flow to launch our drifting buoys," Igor Polyakov, an oceanographer at the University of Alaska who led the new study, said. "(There was) nothing like that in the past, and it became a motivation to our analysis: why was ice in 2015 so rotten? What drives this huge change?"

The findings, published in Science show that while warming air has a role to play, processes are playing out in the ocean itself that are fundamentally altering the region.

Those changes will have impacts on the people, plants and animals that call the Arctic home. They could also create more geopolitical tension as resources previously locked under ice become available and shipping lanes open up. You may recall Putin's recent speech on that subject! In the east Arctic Ocean, the shift is manifesting itself in changing the layers of the ocean. There's a cap of cold, less salty water that covers the eastern portion of the Arctic Ocean. Underneath it sits a pool of warm, salty Atlantic water that until recently hasn't been able to find a way to surface. That stratification of layers has kept ice relatively safe from its warm grip.

The ocean has become gradually less stratified since the 1970s. Using data from buoys and satellites, Polyakov and his colleagues have found a more marked shift over the past decade and a half. Since 2002, the difference in water temperatures between the layers has dropped by about 2 degrees Fahrenheit.

In winter from 2013-2015, the cap separating the deep water and surface water disappeared completely in some locations, allowing the warm Atlantic waters to reach the surface and cut further into sea ice pack. At the same time, warm air has further reduced sea ice, which is allowing still more mixing of the ocean layers.

The result is a feedback loop that is essentially turning roughly a third of the eastern Arctic Ocean into something resembling the ice-free Atlantic Ocean.

Of course, the Trumpster says it not real, it's just a Chinese plot to destroy capitalism. So, who ya going to believe, Trumps global warming deniers, or your lying eyes, America?

And Finally

Meanwhile back at the ranch... North Korea's UN deputy representative, Kim In Ryong, on Monday unleashed at a hastily called UN press conference a torrent of threats, war scenarios and rhetoric aimed at the United States.

The press event was held hours after the President of Vice, Mike Pence, visited the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea and began jacking his jaws. Pence warned North Korea not to test the resolve of the United States "or the strength of our military forces."

In New York, North Korea returned verbal fire. North Korea's UN ambassador condemned the US naval buildup in the waters off the Korean Peninsula, plus the US missile attacks on Syria.

Trouble is, that all three of the stooges, i.e., Trump, Pence and Kim got it all wrong. The USS Carl Vincent's battle group was nowhere near Korea, and was, in fact, fast approaching Australia over 3,000 miles away to join in battle games with the Australians. It has since been ordered back to Korea, along with the USS Ronald Reagan, and USS Nimitz battle groups. So, if one fictitious battle group pissed North Korea off, imagine what three real ones will do!

Kim said, "It has created a dangerous situation in which thermonuclear war may break out at any moment on the peninsula and poses a serious threat to world peace and security.

"The US is disturbing the global peace and stability and insisting on the gangster-like logic that its invasion of a sovereign state is 'decisive, and just, and proportionate' and contributes to 'defending' the international order in its bid to apply it to the Korean Peninsula as well."

Kim said his country is ready to react to any "mode of war" from the United States. Any missile or nuclear strike by the United States would be responded to "in kind." It's obvious that both Kim and his master, the somewhat "devine?" Kim Jong-un have rather fragile grasps of reality. The Trumpster is ready, willing and able to stop his ratings freefall by showing off his presidential manhood by reducing North Korea to molten slag. After Seoul and Tokyo share a similar fate and the Russians and Chinese go absolutely, berserk.

Keepin' On

Thank almighty Zeus for our readership, and their generosity. Two of you stood up and got us about a third of the way to paying this years bills. Tom from Arizona, who sent us a nice contribution, his second, if memory serves, and Nancy from Delaware, her third, which places her in our "Usual Suspects" group. Congratulations, Nancy; I'll be sending you the location of the key to the honor bar and scheduling you for our harvest time celebrations on Maui! Seriously, thank you, Tom and Nancy!

Trouble is, there's this still leaves 2/3 of our bills remaining; and while Tom and Nancy gave us a good start on them, there's still a long, long, way to go. We need to raise about $12,000 a year to keep on keeping on, for you and yours. Our advertising pays about half of that; so we are forced to come to you, cap-in-hand for the rest!

Ergo, please send us whatever you can, as often as you can; and we'll keep fighting for your rights, and will do our very best to keep you informed with what's really happening, and what it means. If not for us, who ya gonna call, Fox Spews, Tush Limburger? If so, good luck with that; oh, and don't worry about being asked for money by them; they have billions in backing from their 1% masters, which you support whenever you buy some GMO foods, or practically anything that this country puts out!


05-29-1920 ~ 04-15-2017
Thanks for the film!

08-06-1946 ~ 04-15-2017
Thanks for the music!

04-27-1944 ~ 04-20-2017
Thanks for the music!


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

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For late breaking news and views visit The Forum. Find all the news you'll otherwise miss. We publish three times the amount of material there than what is in the magazine. Look for the latest Activist Alerts. Updated constantly, please feel free to post an article we may have missed.


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) 2017 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 Bernie Sanders Campaign Adviser Was a Russian. Now He's Speaking Out
By Glenn Greenwald

A high-level adviser and operative for the 2016 Sanders campaign was Vitali Shkliarov, a Soviet-born citizen of Belarus. Shkliarov, who had previously worked on the 2012 Obama re-election campaign and for several other successful Democratic Party campaigns, has also become increasingly in demand as a political adviser and campaign manager in Russia, working for liberal candidates in opposition to President Vladimir Putin.

Possessing a unique background and vantage point, Shkliarov, now that the 2016 election is over, has many interesting observations to express on the state of American politics, the Democratic Party, U.S.-Russian relations, and the impact of rising anti-Russian sentiment in the U.S.

To say that Shkliarov's background is unusual for U.S. political advisers is an understatement. The 40-year-old, for whom English is a fourth language, has a Ph.D in Political and Social Sciences from Universitat Vechta in Germany. Having spent the 1990s working with various German music industry start-ups, he was first infected with political passion as a volunteer youth organizer for Germany's Left Party. Shkliarov's wife is a U.S. State Department consular officer who, after serving years in Asia and Europe, is now based in Brazil, where they live with their five-year-old son.

Shkliarov's first significant position with U.S. political campaigns was his overseeing the get-out-the-vote operation in Wisconsin for Obama's 2012 re-election bid, as well as consulting work that year for Tammy Baldwin's successful Senate run in that state. In 2015, Shkliarov was recruited to work for the Sanders campaign by colleagues he knew from his prior work on behalf of Democratic candidates.

He began by working on the Sanders campaign's get-out-the-vote effort for Nevada. After Nevada, he became Sanders' Deputy State Director for Washington, and then moved to the national team, where he worked as a deputy to the Political Outreach Director through the end of the campaign.

His 2012 work with the Obama campaign, and his activism within the community of Russian liberals working in opposition to the Kremlin, has made him a highly sought-after campaign manager in Russia on behalf of anti-Putin candidates. In 2014, he managed the mayoral campaign of one of the leaders of the anti-Putin opposition, Ilya Ponomarev, the only member of the Russian Parliament to vote against the Russian annexation of Crimea, and who now lives in exile. Shkliarov also ran the re-election campaign of one of the Kremlin's most outspoken opponents in the Russian Parliament, Dmitry Gudkov, a campaign whose ads and messaging just won multiple top awards from the American Association of Political Consultants.

Shkliarov's anti-Putin bona fides, and his now-entrenched status in both the Russian and American community of liberal and leftist political consultants, makes him a unique voice on a wide range of issues of current prominence, particularly the state of US-Russia relations and the impact of anti-Russian discourse in the U.S. Last week in Rio de Janeiro, I spoke with him about his experiences with the Sanders campaign, his views on Trump's victory, the dangers posed by rising tensions between Moscow and Washington, and what it's like now to be a Russian who works in U.S. politics.

Of particular interest is Shkliarov's analysis of - and his warnings about - the dangers posed from escalating U.S.-Russia tensions (on Tuesday night, the U.S. scrambled jets in response to Russian warplanes flying 100 miles off the coast of Alaska for the first time since Trump became President).

Especially noteworthy are Shkliarov's concerns about how intensifying anti-Russian sentiment in U.S. discourse is alienating Russian liberals from the U.S. and uniting them behind their own government - as happens in most countries when people, even those who loathe their own government, perceive that their nation is being demonized and targeted by a foreign power.

The transcript of our discussion, edited for length and clarity is below, along with several video clips:

The 2016 primary battle

GLENN GREENWALD: Let's start by talking about the work that you did with the Sanders campaign. Specifically: how - as a Russian who comes from Belarus - did you end up working pretty high up at this campaign, and what you did as part of that?

VITALI SHKLIAROV: Well I started with the first or second, second caucus state, Nevada. We started, there was a huge Ground Operation, and as a director Get Out The Vote, we needed to hire 5000 people, precinct captains, as we called them. We ended up actually being four points down. Like we did a good job.

GG: How did you even end up in a position to work in the Sanders campaign? Did you know someone, and what was your entry into that?

VS: A couple of progressive consultants that worked for progressive campaigns that I used to work for, they knew me, they knew my skill set, and I got a call from a friend of mine who, who has been working for Bernie's campaign already and who has been really high up.

I knew them from the 2012 Obama campaign - I was actually working for two campaigns back then - for Tammy Baldwin, running for Senate in Wisconsin. And together for a big Get Out The Vote campaign operation in Milwaukee for President Obama.

GG: The Sanders campaign surprised pretty much everybody in terms of the challenge imposed and the excitement that it created, especially among young voters and its ability to sustain itself for so long, with almost no Establishment support. What was it like to work in a campaign like that? What was your experience? The feeling that it gave?

VS: It's amazing, because Bernie was, from beginning, an underdog, and he always had this startup state of mind fever, like, oh, working really hard, like, 15, 17 hours, we were like all excited, it was like no fatigue, whatever. And all of those progressively minded people were like totally excited about his agenda.

People came as families, they camped, they they had fun, they listened to messages, they listened to bands, to music, so we created as a huge like gathering of people, and, he had up to 35,000 people, 30,000 people events. Free events every day. So it was like just this excitement. Like, first of all the agenda was appealing to me, appealing to my background, to my view of the world, of life.

GG: What about the agenda was so appealing?

VS: Well his views of education, reform of political campaign finances. His ideas about or a vision about foreign policy in America, I liked a lot. And it hit me personally, when I moved to the U.S. and when my wife got pregnant with my first baby - that American women don't have paid maternity leave. That's, that's like so normal for someone who is from Europe, you can as a dad, have like up to a year, 70 percent paid maternity leave or paternity leave.

I wasn't even aware of that: the richest nation on Earth doesn't have this. And it was like, wow, I didn't know that actually. And I believe Bernie vocalized it for the first time, like, like in this manner that everybody heard it. And I believe it was so authentic, so true, and I believe people were thirsty for this type of voice, this type of truth. And I believe exactly that he gave them, and especially why so many people asks why he was so successful among young people, because I believe my theory is that young people have less tolerance for bullshit, that's exactly the age when the people, the whole social network, the whole life is based around social connections, and the key is if you're true or not, if you're legitimate or not, if you're telling the truth, if you're a credible or not person.

Trump's victory

GG: So you went from this really exciting, energizing political event, the Sanders campaign, to this shocking outcome for a lot of people - which is still very disorienting: the victory of Donald Trump.

There's a lot of debate about why Trump won, how could somebody like this, just kind of so retrograde and seemingly from another decade, and political culture, win, especially after two terms of President Obama. And there's a lot of debate about what the causes were, and why that happened.

GG: What is your view on that question?

VS: Well I believe there's a lot of arrogance on the side of the Democratic Party, first of all. I believe disengagement, the fact that the Democratic Party, regardless of analytical data, regardless all of perception, regardless all polls and excitement over Bernie, still chose to nominate Hillary, was one of the mistakes.

Moreover, actually even if they ran the Hillary campaign differently, better, she could have won, she actually won the popular vote. But I believe they were killing themselves by being a little bit arrogant and like just dismissing what the American people were looking for.

The Trump campaign used the rhetorical tactics of Sanders, which galvanized him, energized a lot of people. Trump used it on a different spectrum of the political aisle, but he used pretty much the same rhetoric as Sanders. He used, he told-

GG: About inequality, about trade?

VS: Inequality, jobs, and so on, about rich, about foreign policy and wars. So I believe they took Sanders' approach in a smart way.

The U.S. and Russia

GG: Let me ask you about what has happened after the election - particularly the constant focus in the United States on Russia and on Vladimir Putin and the relationship of both the US and the Trump campaign to Russia.

First of all, can you just talk a little bit about the work, the political work you've done in Russia. Was it on behalf of Putin? Was it against Putin? And what's your overall view of the political situation in Russia as it pertains to Putin's future role in the political process?

VS: Sure. So I was helping Russian candidates - all liberals to run campaigns in Russia. Even though we lost the campaign - have to mention that it's fairly difficult to win a campaign against the regime, against Putin, against Kremlin candidates, and against money - but still I don't think with winning one campaign you will change something. I see my approach and my mission in Russia and working in Russia, as being more educational.

No, we said, "look, where is the country right now." Look at the economic situation. And we explained, with infographics, with easy language, people on the street every day can understand, we have 251 events with, with pretty much like we did with Bernie, like, we did five events a day, reaching a broad audience, explaining what is the status quo of the country, of the the economy, of the rate of growth in the country, of the house budget. And so on.

And the second, as a second step of the campaign we tried to show that there's the tools, there are tools how to get out of this misery, like by reforming this and that, by, by setting foreign policy a different way, and so on, talking about politics in Russia, I'm not saying that the change is going to happen as soon as Putin's gone.

But the problem is also in hands of people, the people who has been ruled for 70 years, in a particular manner. So I believe you have to start, to, to talk about Russian politics with an educational approach towards all the Russian people. And I believe the future of activism in Russia lies in this approach, like teaching young people.

GG: As a Russian liberal or somebody in the circles of Russian liberalism, and somebody who has worked against the Kremlin and the Putin government, for their opposition, what is your view of, of what has happened in the United States as it concerns Russia? The way Russia has sort of taken center stage in American discourse, the focus on Putin and the Kremlin as kind of the cause or explanation behind many bad things, including the election of Trump?

As somebody who has been in the United States for awhile, has focused on US politics, what has this change been, and how do you view it?

VS: I believe it's really bad right now. It's the whole hysteria in the media. Partly it's the media's fault. I believe partly, media, just like, in order to get a lot of views, a lot of attention and audience, like trying to ride this horse and trying to play this card.

Partly I believe the Democratic establishment is a little bit at fault, has fault in all this rhetoric. I mean, it's true that probably - even though it's not, there's no like real facts on the table - but partly the media says that Russian intervention in the highest of American culture, in the American Elections, and that this is a bad thing. Sure.

But, for instance, America does the same. Every country does the same. Like, we all know from the latest from Snowden that everybody does the espionage and it's part of the job. So, so let's not go crazy about it. To use Russia as a justification for bad and misery in Election, from the Democratic side, I believe it's, it's really dangerous, because, what's happened if you're starting to shake this board, like, you can shake it like to a certain degree, and, and at some point it's going to turn around, and you're going to sink.

GG: What do you mean by that?

VS: I believe that - look, the situation with Russia is really dangerous, first of all. So we, kind of are like in the Cold War 2.0 or 3.0 right now, because neither of the sides trust each other, so we don't communicate. I mean like, Americans and Russians do not communicate anymore. So we cannot get rid of this 60, 70 years-old politics, of, like, that mutual deterrence, you know? That started actually with Truman, and it was probably really important back then, in 48 or like in 5os, but I will be living in the 21st century right now, and then so much has changed.

And I believe, instead of having, continuing trying to establish the politics of distrust, and this mutual deterrence, Russia and America should calm down and start to talk, because that's, those are two major nations in the world. Sure. America has 27 percent of world GDP, and Russia has just, fairly two percent. Sure, they're economically unequal but based on nuclear weapons, based on ego alone, politically like, those are two major countries, and I believe if this hysteria doesn't stop, it's going to lead to some bad events.

Partly because Russia is in the corner. Partly because Russia is economically, because of sanctions, because of political instability, in a country, on the knees, and in the corner, and Russia doesn't have much to lose, and that's what the American politicians underestimate: I believe the Russian mentality, when, when you look throughout the history, is, is shaped by all these losses, all these wars. And they are like more capable of taking a lot of pain, and a lot of like, sacrifice, and once, even as a little, teeny tiny cute dog, if you push them in the corner, you gonna start to bark and you gonna start to bite back, you know?

And I believe like, economically, in the media and in the perception, Russia is like, pushed in the corner right now.

GG: But are there opportunities that you see for the US and Russia to work more constructively, together-?

VS: In 1948 with the Marshall Plan, the U.S. saw the opportunities, the tourists, to restore Europe, easily, even though the distress with Hitler and then Germany was huge. They saw the opportunity, to put a lot of money in the economy [to rebuild German and Europe].

Sure, they tried to get their own products - they had all personal reasons for, like political reasons for it - but still, that helped, that made Germany, Germany. That helped England, that helped later Japan and so on.

Why doesn't same strategy apply to Russia? Why not helping, why not creating like a partner?

So what happens with Russia right now, it doesn't matter if you have five icebreakers in the pocket or just one. It's still dangerous. They, they have a lot of missiles. They have nothing to lose. And they could easily, easily, I believe, they could start the war just to cover up the misery, what's happening in the country. Just to cover up, just to shift the attention, like so many presidents do, also in America, throughout the history.

GG: I'm really interested in this dynamic in particular, which is that there is a fairly vibrant sector of the Russian intelligentsia that is opposed to Putin, Russian liberals. We've seen signs that it's getting increasingly vibrant, protests, the opposition's getting a little bit stronger. And yet: one of the things that happens in every country is when people in a country feel like they're being attacked from the outside, or vilified by an outside power-

VS: They unify.

GG: They unify. Like Iran, right? There was this growing movement against the conservative mullahs, and yet the idea was if the US gets too antagonistic to Iran, they're going to unite behind the government that they hate.

VS: Absolutely.

GG: Is that, do you think there's a danger of that happening with Russian liberals or is that already happening, that, this kind of hysteria, this very anti-Russian strain in US discourse, is starting to alienate Russian liberals, and drive them to move away from the US?

VS: Absolutely, I mean, we see it, like all the time. We see it in the media, we see it in everyday's life. We see it with the war in Ukraine, we see that Putin is hard, or like, he is trying hard, maybe now less than before, but he's been trying hard to get to find the love, the appreciation, the recognition invest. He wanted, I believe, deep down, something good for Russia. It didn't happen. I believe partly because of the misery of foreign policy of America. I believe it truly.

But partly because Russian corruption as well. And once you try, and try and try, and you get always portrayed as a dumb, idiot, and some conspiracy theories, tell us that he is getting paranoid, that the West is trying like to putsch him, like they did in Ukraine with Orange Revolution, so of course you are going to, you're going to try to do whatever it takes, whatever is possibly to protect yourself, and your country.

I believe the problem is partly, partly of course in Putin, because the President determines the course of the country. But even if Putin's gone tomorrow, nothing is going to change that quick, believe me, because the country is corrupt, the country is, the infrastructure is dead.

So that's why I'm saying, when we talk about Marshall Plan, that's how the Americans helped, first of all to establish, to recover the economy in Europe: that people became monied, that people-the middle class grew, and that people started to live a normal life, and that's how people change. And that's how systems change.

People don't change by getting beaten up. Getting to starve. People doesn't change by putting some labels on them. People do not change when they are being like pushed in a corner, so I believe - we know that America is, everybody knows that America is so strong economically. We know that America, if tomorrow is a war, nobody is going to survive. So why don't we just stop for a second, and be a little bit smarter with the first step?

Climate in the U.S. for Russians

GG: There was an article in the Washington Post, maybe two or three weeks ago, about how Russians who are either Americans, who became Americans, or who worked in America for a long time, are starting to become really worried about the climate, how they feel personally stigmatized and almost as though people are afraid to even interact with Russians, because of the perception that has been created.

Do you sense that? Have you had any kind of personal experiences with this changing climate, as a Russian?

VS: I totally sense that. I sense it everyday by watching the news and feeling sorry for Russians and for Americans as well, because so many companies suffer. I feel it pretty much everyday while talking to people.

I recently tried to open a bank account, for my company. I was denied because it's an Russian entity. If you talk to people, and try to talk about politics, it's so toxic. Russia became so toxic that nobody want to touch it.

So many colleagues of mine from DC, like really smart people, are looking for jobs, and having hard time to find a job because nobody all of a sudden needs any Russian experts, or like any Russian people.

GG: Or is almost afraid to interact with Russians?

VS: Afraid. Absolutely afraid. It's just, just crazy. Recently when I was receiving those prizes in LA, for the campaign, from the American Association of Political Consultants. I was talking to a couple of people and tried to help my colleagues from the European Association of Political Consultants to get speakers, to the conference in Moscow, and people from the Trump Administration said like, "No, we can't. We just, we going to be tomorrow on the news [if we do that]. Done!"

Like, instead of like learning from mistakes and move on. Come, the election is over, move on guys. Learn. Like, Russia, sure, maybe they did it. Who cares right now? It's done already. We have a different president, Trump is the president, the same because they push this president in a corner to be distanced from Russia.

So he cannot change. Everybody from both sides of the ocean, we are like hoping with a new Administration, it's going to be a new era of Russian-American relations. And it looked like, it looked like it's gonna happen. But now they push him so far in the media, so far to have distance to Russia and to any Russian topic that, it's getting actually worse. And I believe the media is partly responsible for that.

GG: What about this idea of being cornered, and, and what are the dangers of continuing to ratchet up tensions between these two countries. What are the real dangers?

VS: Well the big danger is to get-like, there's a couple of dangers. One is to get a new war that could happen because of isolating of this-

GG: Is that a cold war or a hot war?

VS: Hot war.

Second danger is: people make mistakes. We already have situations when they fly jets over navy ships or like, some, some bombs firing in Syria - maybe the next attack could hit a couple of Russian planes, hurt a couple of Russian citizens. Maybe not, but they're going to claim that, and bang you have a problem!

So I believe that's a really, really hot iron right now, so, so you cannot drop a lot of water on it.

And I mean, just imagine,: in 2002, there are interviews with Putin who was like, back then on the pinnacle of Russian development. He was like, giving speeches in the Bundestag, in Germany, and he was thinking, he was talking about maybe Russia becoming part of NATO.

So we were that far, and now we are where we are right now.

And I believe for Russia it's getting existentially dangerous. Not just because of Syria. Partly because of economical sanctions, partly because of infrastructural problems, partly because of the perception of Russia as a son that nobody wants. I believe Russia struggles and Putin personally struggles with that perception, and instead of fighting this, I believe the west should really approach and be wise, you know, like, if two parties, if a couple fights at home, someone has to be wise and stop first and say, "I'm sorry."

Even if it's not his or her fault. But that's the only way to solve the problem and to start the peace, otherwise you're gonna get the wars. And that's what we're doing right now, and the media unfortunately does the same, just keeping putting oil in the fire, instead of saying, like, "Come on. It's enough." Even if Russia did the election hacking: it's not about that. Like, nobody is sane. Both parties are hiding some skeletons. But the problem is actually the point, my point is, Glenn, not the problem of mistakes that characterize a state or a smart person or a smart government, it is the reaction to the mistakes.

And what I see is the reaction to mistakes made on both sides of the aisle that are just terrible, and that's how we should judge our politics.
(c) 2017 Glenn Greenwald. was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. His most recent book is, With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book "How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy," examines the Bush legacy. He is the recipient of the first annual I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism.

Cui Bono?
By Uri Avnery

CUI BONO - "who benefits" - is the first question an experienced detective asks when investigating a crime.

Since I was a detective myself for a short time in my youth, I know the meaning. Often, the first and obvious suspicion is false. You ask yourself "cui bono", and another suspect, who you did not think about, appears.

For two weeks now, this question has been troubling my mind. It does not leave me.

In Syria, a terrible war crime has been committed. The civilian population in a rebel-held town called Idlib was hit with poison gas. Dozens of civilians, including children, died a miserable death.

Who could do such a thing? The answer was obvious: that terrible dictator, Bashar al-Assad. Who else?

And so, within a few minutes (literally) the New York Times and a host of excellent newspapers throughout the West proclaimed without hesitation: Assad did it!

No need for proof. No investigation. It was just self-evident. Of course Assad. Within minutes, everybody knew it.

A storm of indignation swept the Western world. He must be punished! Poor Donald Trump, who does not have a clue, submitted to pressure and ordered a senseless missile strike on a Syrian airfield, after preaching for years that the US must under no circumstances get involved in Syria. Suddenly he reversed himself. Just to teach that bastard a lesson. And to show the world what a he-he-he-man he, Trump, really is.

The operation was an immense success. Overnight, the despised Trump became a national hero. Even liberals kissed his feet.

BUT THROUGHOUT, that question continued to nag my mind. Why did Assad do it? What did he have to gain?

The simple answer is: Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

("Assad" means "lion" in Arabic. Contrary to what Western experts and statesmen seem to believe, the emphasis is on the first syllable.)

With the help of Russia, Iran and Hizbullah, Assad is slowly winning the civil war that has been ravishing Syria for years, He already holds almost all the major cities that constitute the core of Syria. He has enough weapons to kill as many enemy civilians as his heart desires.

So why, for Allah's sake, should he use gas to kill a few dozen more? Why arouse the anger of the entire world, inviting American intervention?

There is no way to deny the conclusion: Assad had the least to gain from the dastardly deed. On the list of "cui bono", he is the very last.

Assad is a cynical dictator, perhaps cruel, but he is far from being a fool. He was raised by his father, Hafez al-Assad, who was a long-time dictator before him. Even if he were a fool, his advisors include some of the cleverest people on earth: Vladimir Putin of Russia, Hassan Rouhani of Iran, Hassan Nasrallah of Hizbullah.

So who had something to gain? Well, half a dozen Syrian sects and militias who are fighting against Assad and against each other in the crazy civil war. Also their Sunni Arab allies, the Saudi and other Gulf Sheikhs. And Israel, of course. They all have an interest in arousing the civilized world against the Syrian dictator.

Simple logic.

A MILITARY act must have a political aim. As Carl von Clausewitz famously said 200 years ago: war is the continuation of politics by other means.

The two main opponents in the Syrian civil war are the Assad regime and Daesh. So what is the aim of the US? It sounds like a joke: The US wants to destroy both sides. Another joke: First it wants to destroy Daesh, therefore it bombs Assad.

The destruction of Daesh is highly desirable. There are few more detestable groups in the world. But Daesh is an idea, rather than just an organization. The destruction of the Daesh state would disperse thousands of dedicated assassins all over the world.

(Interestingly enough, the original Assassins, some 900 years ago, were Muslim fanatics very similar to Daesh now.)

America's own clients in Syria are a sorry lot, almost beaten. They have no chance of winning.

Hurting Assad now just means prolonging a civil war which is now even more senseless than before.

FOR ME, a professional journalist most of my life, the most depressing aspect of this whole chapter is the influence of the American and Western media in general.

I read the New York Times and admire it. Yet it shredded all its professional standards by publishing an unproven assumption as gospel truth, with no need for verification. Perhaps Assad is to blame, after all. But where is the proof? Who investigated, and what were the results?

Worse, the "news" immediately became a world-wide truth. Many millions repeat it unthinkingly as self-evident, like sunrise in the east and sunset in the west.

No questions raised. No proof demanded or provided. Very depressing.

BACK TO the dictator. Why does Syria need a dictator? Why isn't it a beautiful US-style democracy? Why doesn't it gratefully accept US-devised "regime-change"?

The Syrian dictatorship is no accidental phenomenon. It has very concrete roots.

Syria was created by France after World War I. A part of it later split off and became Lebanon.

Both are artificial creations. I doubt whether there are even today real "Syrians" and real "Lebanese."

Lebanon is a mountainous country, ideally suited for small sects which need to defend themselves. Over the centuries, many small sects found refuge there. As a result, Lebanon is full of such sects, which distrust each other - Sunni Muslims, Shiite Muslims, Maronite Christians, many other Christian sects, Druze, Kurds.

Syria is much the same, with most of the same sects, and the addition of the Alawites. These, like the Shiites, are the followers of Ali Ibn Abi Talib, cousin and son-in-law of the prophet (hence the name). They occupy a patch of land in the North of Syria.

Both countries needed to invent a system that allowed such diverse and mutually-suspicious entities to live together. They found two different systems.

In Lebanon, with a past of many brutal civil wars, they invented a way of sharing. The President is always a Maronite, the Prime Minister a Sunni, the commander of the army a Druze, and the Speaker of Parliament a Shiite.

When Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, the Shiites in the south were the lowest on the ladder. They welcomed our soldiers with rice. But soon they realized that the Israelis had not come just to defeat their overbearing neighbors, but intended to stay. So the lowly Shiites started a very successful guerrilla campaign, in the course of which they became the most powerful community in Lebanon. They are led by Hizballah, the Party of Allah. But the system still holds.

The Syrians found another solution. They willingly submitted to a dictatorship, to hold the country together and assure internal peace.

The Bible tells us that when the Children of Israel decided that they needed a king, they chose a man called Saul who belonged to the smallest tribe, Binyamin. The modern Syrians did much the same: they submitted to a dictator from one of their smallest tribes: the Alawites.

The Assads are secular, anti-religious rulers - the very opposite of the fanatical, murderous Daesh. Many Muslims believe that the Alawites are not Muslims at all. Since Syria lost the Yom Kippur war against Israel, 44 years ago, the Assads have kept the peace on our border, though Israel has annexed the Syrian Golan Heights.

The civil war in Syria is still going on. Everybody is fighting against everybody. The diverse groups of "rebels", created, financed and armed by the US, are now in a bad shape. There are several competing groups of Jihadists, who all hate the Jihadist Daesh. There is a Kurdish enclave, which wants to secede. The Kurds are not Arabs, but are mainly Muslims. There are Kurdish enclaves in neighboring Turkey, Iraq and Iran, whose mutual hostility prevents them making common cause.

And there is poor, innocent Donald Trump, who has sworn not to get involved in all this mess, and who is doing just that.

A day before, Trump was despised by half the American people, including most of the media. Just by launching a few missiles, he has won general admiration as a forceful and wise leader.

What does that say about the American people, and about humanity in general?
(c) 2017 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

President Trump receives a briefing from his national security team last week on the U.S. military strike on Syria.

Donald Trump Surrenders To The War Party
By Glen Ford

It took less than three months for the War Party to force Donald Trump to abandon whatever notions he might have had about defusing tensions with Russia and disentangling the U.S. from its alliance with Islamic jihadist terror. Last week's bombing of a Syrian airbase has put back on track the general U.S. military offensive that was begun with President Obama's 2011 regime change operation against Libya, drastically increasing the odds that humanity will perish in nuclear winter rather than be roasted into extinction from global warming.

Measured another way, the clock has been turned back to September, 2016, when the U.S. bombed a Syrian base at Deir al-Zour, a city in eastern Syria that has been under siege by ISIS since 2013. The attack killed about 100 Syrian soldiers and allowed ISIS to overrun the base and capture a large part of the city. Washington lamely claimed the attack was a "mistake," but it seemed more like a mutiny. The bombing scuttled an agreement - fiercely resisted by Hillary Clinton's allies in the military and CIA-that the U.S. share intelligence and targeting information with the Russians.

In bombing Deir al-Zour, the U.S. was acting as close air support for ISIS. The U.S. wants the last Syrian government enclaves in the eastern part of the country eliminated, so that the region can be turned over to "moderate" rebels under the protection of Washington and its Arab allies, effectively partitioning Syria. Last week's U.S. attack on a Syrian airbase was in support of al-Qaida, the dominant "rebel" presence in Idlib province and the force in control of the town where civilians were killed by chemical agents. United Nations researchers have confirmed that al-Qaida has repeatedly used chemical weapons, likely including the August 2013 attack in suburban Damascus that the U.S. blamed on the Assad government. President Obama then threatened to launch a massive airstrike against the Syrians, but backed off a few weeks later in the face of popular resistance in France, Britain and even some elements of the U.S. Congress.

I believe, however, that Obama called off the bombing in fear of tipping the overall advantage in Syria to ISIS, the "rogue" jihadists that split from al-Qaida. Washington values ISIS's ability to kill Syrian government soldiers and destabilize the country, but cannot abide its stated intention to ultimately topple the royal regimes in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, staunch U.S. allies. U.S. military policy has been to contain ISIS, punish its leaders with drone attacks, but to sustain its core fighting force as an asset in the fight against Assad and his allies.

In a sense, last week's attack takes us back to the days before Obama "blinked" in 2013. His decision not to bomb Damascus brought into the open a split within both the administration and the U.S. military over how to pursue the proxy jihadist wars that have become the tools-of-choice of U.S. imperialism ever since the CIA and the Saudis created the international jihadists network, in Afghanistan, almost 40 years ago. Former Secretary of State Hillary ("We came, we saw, he died") Clinton made regime change the central foreign policy pillar of her presidential campaign. Under Clinton's "no fly zone" policy, the U.S. would act as an air force for jihadists in Syria, just as it had in Libya. When the upstart billionaire Donald Trump began gaining electoral traction with statements opposing regime change and eternal conflict with Russia, the U.S. War Party coalesced within the folds of Hillary's big tent. The military mutineers that bombed Deir al-Zour in September of last year were undoubtedly certain that a soon-to-be President Hillary Clinton would value their initiative. At any rate, what could a lame duck Obama do to discipline them?

When Clinton lost, the entire U.S. imperial structure, including its corporate media sector-which is the best definition of "Deep State"-went berserk, intent on putting the six-year-old general U.S. military offensive back in high gear, even if that meant savaging the legitimacy of the U.S. electoral system and the presidency, itself. Last Friday, Trump abjectly surrendered to the War Party, hoping they will have mercy on the rest of presidency.

Now that the not-as-warlike-as-Obama-and-Clinton Donald Trump is dead, let's do an autopsy. How did Trump, the most virulently white supremacist candidate of the White Man's Party, emerge as the least aggressively warlike of the presidential contenders? A Marxist would first examine his class position-his relationship to the international capitalist order that the imperial war machine defends. Despite the fact that he owns (or fronts for) hotels and resorts in countries around the world-luxury holdings that leave small footprints in the host nations' economies, not extractive or manufacturing enterprises-Trump's worldview is homegrown. As a second-generation real estate developer/speculator in the white supremacist U.S.A., Trump artificially enhances property values that are intimately connected to the race of residents and nearby populations. Race has everything to do with his bottom line, as was true of his father, an ethnic cleanser that Woodie Guthrie wrote a song about: "Old Man Trump," a landlord on whose properties "no black folks come to roam."

As a kingpin of New York City real estate, Trump helps shape a racialized property market that sees blacks as debits on the ledger. Segregation, black exclusion, racist hysteria, is his business. Paying $85,000 for newspaper ads calling for the Central Park 5 to be put to death for allegedly raping a white woman, is part of the cost of doing business for a professional land pirate and ethnic cleanser like Trump.

His foreign policy is reminiscent of southern Democratic politicians in the decades after the Civil War. Although these same southern Democrats had for generations agitated for the U.S. to seize Cuba as a slave state, many of them changed their tunes after Emancipation, cautioning against U.S. acquisition of territories full of "inferior peoples" such as Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. With chattel slavery defunct, these racist politicians feared that any extended contact with, or responsibility for, non-white peoples would inevitably lead to "race-mixing" and the "debasement" of United States society.

Trump's "America First" rhetoric is rooted in a racialist worldview. His previous rants against "nation building" in non-white regions are rejections of any extended intercourse with such populations-including military occupations or alliances. He does not (or did not) oppose regime change in the Muslim world because of respect for such people's right to self-determination, but to keep them at arms length. However, Trump has no moral qualms about bombing them-especially to avenge chemical attacks on blond-haired children, like the kids displayed by jihadists after last week's alleged Syrian attack. (Idlib province is home to large numbers of light-skinned Circassians, who were forced out of the Balkans by the Russian Tsar in the late 1800s.) Al-Qaida, and their western media handlers, knew the kinds of images that would put Trump on the warpath. He will pursue the imperial military offensive that Obama initiated, six years ago, with the mad energy of a racist psychopath. And to keep the Deep State from finishing him off.

There is only one possible bit of solace in these circumstances: If Hillary had been elected, we might all be dead by now.
(c) 2017 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

Paul Ryan Raised $657,000 While Avoiding His Constituents During Recess
By Lee Fang

House Speaker Paul Ryan snubbed his Wisconsin constituents during the President's Day congressional recess, refusing to hold even a single town hall. Local activists appeared at his office in Racine to demand a meeting. Others placed a tongue-in-cheek missing person advertisement on Craigslist, asking for the whereabouts of their elected representative. Ryan "fled sometime in and around January 20, 2017, and hasn't been seen since," the ad stated.

Newly filed campaign filings show what Ryan was doing instead: jetting around the country, raking in a whopping $657,400 in contributions in just nine days.

We already reported, based on fundraising brochures we obtained, that Ryan had scheduled a whirlwind of stops for his Team Ryan PAC - in Miami, Corpus Christi, Fort Worth, Dallas, Houston, and Menlo Park - rather than meet with constituents.

The massive fundraising haul during a relatively short period was enabled by the structure of Ryan's joint-fundraising committee.

The Supreme Court's 2014 McCutcheon v. FEC ruling eliminated the cap on the total amount any individual can contribute to federal candidates established after the Watergate scandal. Then Congress moved to increase party contribution limits, allowing joint fundraising accounts - which allow candidates to share their fundraising with their respective political party accounts - to take in even more money. The Team Ryan committee distributes part of the money it raises to the National Republican Campaign Committee, the campaign arm of House Republicans.

As a result, these joint committees can receive up to $244,200 per person. Several donors made five- and six-figure contributions during the recess to Team Ryan, including Paul Foster, the chairman of Western Refining, who gave $100,000. Jerome Falic, an executive who runs Duty Free Americas, and six members of his family each gave between $10,000 and $15,000.

In the first three months of the year, Ryan's joint fundraising committee brought in an astounding $17,272,248 in contributions. Ryan's affiliated Super PAC, the Congressional Leadership Fund, also raised $4,496,473 during that same period. The CLF account, which can accept unlimited contributions from virtually any source, was buoyed by large checks from major corporations. The Geo Group, the Florida-based private prison company, gave $100,000 and Chevron gave $250,000.

Ryan's pedigree as a fundraiser often goes overlooked given his carefully crafted image as a "policy wonk."

During the Kansas special election that was held last Tuesday, nearly all of the independent expenditures came from the Ryan-backed NRCC and CLF, which collectively spent $180,000 to boost Ron Estes, the GOP candidate. The Democratic candidate, James Thompson, a local civil rights attorney, did not receive any significant financial support from his party. Despite an unprecedented surge in voter support for the Democratic nominee in a traditionally Republican district, Thompson was defeated.
(c) 2017 Lee Fang is a journalist with a longstanding interest in how public policy is influenced by organized interest groups and money. He was the first to uncover and detail the role of the billionaire Koch brothers in financing the Tea Party movement. His interviews and research on the Koch brothers have been featured on HBO's "The Newsroom," the documentaries "Merchants of Doubt" and "Citizen Koch," as well as in multiple media outlets. He was an investigative blogger for ThinkProgress (2009-2011) and then a fellow at the Investigative Fund of the Nation Institute and contributing writer for The Nation.

In 2012, he co-founded, a blog to cover political corruption that syndicates content with, Salon, National Memo,, TruthOut, and other media outlets. His work has been published by VICE, The Baffler, The Boston Globe, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Progressive, NPR, In These Times, and The Huffington Post. His first book, "The Machine: A Field Guide to the Resurgent Right," published by The New Press, explores how the conservative right rebuilt the Republican Party and its political clout in the aftermath of President Obama's 2008 election victory. He is based in San Francisco.

Nuns Take On Wells Fargo
By Jim Hightower

In an insightful song about outlaws, Woody Guthrie wrote this verse: "As through this world I travel / I see lots of funny men / Some'll rob you with a 6-gun / Some with a fountain pen."

The fountain pens are doing the serious stealing these days.

For example, while you'd get hard time in prison for robbing a bank at gunpoint, bankers who rob customers with a flick of their fountain pens (or a click of their computer mouse) get multimillion-dollar payouts.

They usually escape their crimes unpunished - but not unscathed. After all, it's their constant, egregious, gluttonous thievery that's made "banker" a four-letter word in America, synonymous with immoral, self-serving behavior.

For example, Wells Fargo, our country's biggest consumer bank, has gotten away with paying some fines for stealing millions of dollars from customers in its notorious "fake accounts" scheme.

But it hasn't escaped the wrath of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia.

This feisty order of nuns, which holds a block of Wells Fargo stock, is infuriated by the rank immorality of its bank's executives. The sisters are pushing a shareholders' proposal demanding a full accounting of the "root causes" of the malicious fraud perpetuated on vulnerable depositors.

Unsurprisingly, the bank's aloof and arrogant board of directors, which had silently presided over the fraud for years, opposes any such meaningful probe. Such recalcitrance only intensifies the public's outrage and cynicism toward out-of-control banksters.

But the giant worries less about its public image than it does about the reality an in-depth investigation would expose - namely, that our nation's dominant banks have not only become too big to fail and too big to jail, but too big to manage and control.

To stop that thievery, they must be broken up.
(c) 2017 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.

Stop Swooning Over Canada's Justin Trudeau-The Man Is A Disaster For The Planet
Donald Trump is a creep and unpleasant to look at, but at least he's not a stunning hypocrite when it comes to climate change.
By Bill McKibben

Donald Trump is so spectacularly horrible that it's hard to look away (especially now that he's discovered bombs). But precisely because everyone's staring gape-mouthed in his direction, other world leaders are able to get away with almost anything. Don't believe me? Look one nation north, at Justin Trudeau.

Look all you want, in fact - he sure is cute, the planet's only sovereign leader who appears to have recently quit a boy band. And he's mastered so beautifully the politics of inclusion: compassionate to immigrants, insistent on including women at every level of government. Give him great credit where it's deserved: in lots of ways he's the anti-Trump, and it's no wonder Canadians swooned when he took over.

But when it comes to the defining issue of our day, climate change, he's a brother to the old orange guy in DC.

Not rhetorically: Trudeau says all the right things, over and over. He's got no Scott Pruitts in his cabinet: everyone who works for him says the right things. Indeed, they specialize in getting others to say them too - it was Canadian diplomats, and the country's environment minister Catherine McKenna, who pushed at the Paris climate talks for a tougher-than-expected goal: holding the planet's rise in temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

But those words are meaningless if you keep digging up more carbon and selling it to people to burn, and that's exactly what Trudeau is doing. He's hard at work pushing for new pipelines through Canada and the US to carry yet more oil out of Alberta's tarsands, which is one of the greatest climate disasters on the planet.

Last month, speaking at a Houston petroleum industry gathering, he got a standing ovation from the oilmen for saying "No country would find 173bn barrels of oil in the ground and just leave them there."

That is to say, Canada, which represents one-half of 1% of the planet's population, is claiming the right to sell the oil that will use up a third of the earth's remaining carbon budget. That is to say, Trump is a creep and a danger and unpleasant to look at, but at least he's not a stunning hypocrite. Yes, 173bn barrels is indeed the estimate for recoverable oil in the tar sands. So let's do some math. If Canada digs up that oil and sells it to people to burn, it will produce, according to the math whizzes at Oil Change International, 30% of the carbon necessary to take us past the 1.5 degree target that Canada helped set in Paris.

This having-your-cake-and-burning-it-too is central to Canada's self-image/energy policy. McKenna, confronted by Canada's veteran environmentalist David Suzuki, said tartly "we have an incredible climate change plan that includes putting a price on carbon pollution, also investing in clean innovation. But we also know we need to get our natural resources to market and we're doing both." Right.

But doing the second negates the first - in fact, it completely overwhelms it. If Canada is busy shipping carbon all over the world, it doesn't matter all that much if every Tim Horton's stopped selling donuts and started peddling solar panels instead.

Canada's got company in this scam. Australia's Malcolm Turnbull is supposed to be more sensitive than his predecessor, a Trump-like blowhard. When he signed on his nation to the Paris climate accords, he said, "it is clear the agreement was a watershed, a turning point and the adoption of a comprehensive strategy has galvanised the international community and spurred on global action."

Which is a fine thing to say, or would be, if your government wasn't backing plans for the largest coal mine on earth. That single mine, in a country of 20 million, will produce 362% of the annual carbon emissions that everyone in the Philippines produces in the course of a year. It is, obviously, mathematically and morally absurd.

Trump, of course, is working just as eagerly to please the fossil fuel industry - he's instructed the Bureau of Land Management to make permitting even easier for new oil and gas projects, for instance. And frackers won't even have to keep track of how much methane they're spewing under his new guidelines. And why should they? If you believe, as Trump apparently does, that global warming is a delusion, a hoax, a mirage, you might as well get out of the way.

Trump's insulting the planet, in other words. But at least he's not pretending otherwise.
(c) 2017 Bill McKibben is Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College, co-founder of His most recent book is Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet.

Citizen Science And Genetic Testing Yield Positive Results
By David Suzuki

Since I started working as a geneticist in the early 1960s, the field has changed considerably. James Watson, Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins won the 1962 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for their discovery of the double helix structure of DNA. Researchers then "cracked" the genetic code, which held promise for fields like health and medicine. It was an exciting time to be working in the lab.

More than 40 years later, in 2003, an international group of scientists sequenced the entire human genetic code. Researchers can now find a gene suspected to cause a disease in a matter of days, a process that took years before the Human Genome Project. As of 2013, more than 2,000 genetic tests were available for human conditions. Forty years ago, I never dreamed scientists would have the knowledge and manipulative capabilities that have become standard practice today.

In a couple of decades, genetics has allowed for systematic inventorying of the world's biodiversity. Canada's Centre for Biodiversity Genomics at the University of Guelph has the genomes of more than 265,000 named species identified with barcodes in its database. The cost to analyze a sample against this free public database is about $10. Cost reductions and digital communication allow citizen scientists to utilize an enormous storehouse of information.

Young citizen scientists in San Diego were recently able to help compile information about the area's biodiversity through their local libraries. Kids signed out genetic testing kits - which included sampling vials, tweezers and a return bag - through Catalog of Life @ the Library. They then uploaded photos and locations of their finds using a LifeScanner or website. It's part of an effort to collect 4,000 samples of local bug life. After returning kits to the library, the young scientists could go online to see and compare the genetic barcodes of their discoveries.

According to the library, "Only an estimated 20 percent of species on earth have been identified by their DNA barcode." The San Diego program is part of Barcode of Life, which has the ambitious goal of identifying all life on Earth to help researchers "understand the diversity of species, monitor the health of the environment and the impacts of climate change." Canada's Centre for Biodiversity Genomics is doing the genetic sequencing.

People in Canada can also help identify seafood fraud with the LifeScanner service. Genetic testing helps consumers identify the species and possibly origin of fish they buy - important for people who care about sustainability and health and nutrition.

Identifying and tracing seafood has long been a challenge, especially because about 40 per cent of wild-caught seafood is traded internationally - and labelling is often inadequate. Once fish are skinned, cleaned and packaged, it's not always easy to tell what they are. If you buy something labelled "rockfish" in Canada, it could be one of more than 100 species. Often, labels don't indicate whether the fish were caught or processed sustainably. Although the European Union and U.S. require more information on seafood labels than Canada, one study found 41 per cent of U.S. seafood is mislabelled.

A European study found stronger policies combined with public information led to less mislabelling. People in Canada have demanded better legislation to trace seafood products. More than 12,000 people recently sent letters to government asking for better labelling.

SeaChoice (the David Suzuki Foundation is a member) is working with LifeScanner to register 300 people in Canada to test seafood, in part to determine whether labels are accurate. Participants will get testing kits, buy seafood, collect data and images and return samples in a provided envelope. Samples will be analyzed and coded, with results posted online.

With the help of citizen scientists, genetic testing can offer a powerful approach to righting environmental wrongs. Combining crowd-sourced scientific data, public policy reform and consumer activism is already showing positive results. The same approach could work in areas such as testing for antibiotics, pesticide and mercury residues and more.

DNA Day is celebrated in Canada on April 21 and the U.S. on April 25, to commemorate completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003 and discovery of DNA's double helix in 1953. We've come a long way since then, but we still have much to learn. Citizen scientists are helping!
(c) 2017 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

Senator Bernie Sanders

The Democratic Party Must Finally Abandon Centrism
Bernie Sanders and Tom Perez are working together to build a party that puts economic populism at the top of the agenda.
By John Nichols

It is easy to dismiss the "Come Together and Fight Back" Tour that this week will take Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez to eight cities in eight states this week as mere political theater. But this tour has the potential to finally begin redefining a Democratic Party that is still struggling with its identity after the disastrous 2014 and 2016 election cycles. That's a big deal, not just for a party that lacks focus but for an American political process that will alter dramatically-for better or for worse-in the months and years to come.

Political parties change identities over time, as anyone who has watched the sorry trajectory of the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower can certainly attest. Sometimes, parties evolve. Sometimes, parties respond to moral and political demands that can no longer be denied. That was certainly the case for Democrats in the late 1940s and '50s, when wise members of the party began to recognize the necessity of a clean break with the Southern segregationists who had historically been central figures in the Democratic coalition.

Though many Democrats still do not fully recognize the fact, their party is again at a moment where it must change.

The party of Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman began veering in the 1970s toward more centrist economic approaches. By the 1990s, it was swamped by so-called "Third Way" thinking that embraced free-trade fabulism, deregulation of banking and Wall Street, and the cruel lie that there can be some sort of "win-win" compromise between crony capitalism and the common good. It was never true that all Democrats favored centrist economics, but too many leaders constrained the party's identity with a perceived need to keep on the right side of Wall Street.

Then came the 2016 primary race, which drew clear lines of distinction. The Sanders campaign, with its urgent advocacy for a $15-an-hour minimum wage, fair trade, single-payer health care, taxes on the rich, necessary regulation of big banks, and profound political reform, excited millions of voter-particularly frustrated Democrats, progressive independents, and, above all, the young voters who will decide whether the Democratic Party has a future. And although Sanders did not win the nomination, he won the debate. The party platform reflected his campaign's progressive values. And Hillary Clinton embraced much of his agenda in her fall campaign.

Although Tom Perez did not back Sanders in 2016, he has a long track record of positioning himself on the left on labor rights and a host of other issues. That helped him when he faced off against a key Sanders backer, Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota, in a closely contested race for DNC chair.

The Perez-Ellison race was often portrayed as a contest between the party establishment and the Sanders camp, but there was more to it than that. Many 2016 Clinton backers, including Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and the heads of several major unions, supported Ellison in 2017. And Perez went out of his way to emphasize his belief that the party needed to change.

The party does need to change. It must become dramatically more militant on economic issues. Democrats cannot simply say "no" to Donald Trump; they must provide a clear and coherent progressive populist alternative to the "billionaire populism" of a president who never was-and never will be-committed to advancing the interests of workers, farmers, small business owners, students, and retirees.

Democrats must also provide a clear and coherent alternative to the "Third Way" politics that weakens the message, and the appeal, of their party. The era of the so-called "New Democrats" and the old DLC (officially the Democratic Leadership Council but, in reality, as Jesse Jackson explained, "Democrats for the Leisure Class") must be finished-once and for all.

That is, however, easier said than done. Real change is hard. It must be conscious and it must take place in the open. That's where the Sanders-Perez tour comes in.

The senator and the party chair are working together to send a clear signal about where the Democratic Party stands. That signal will have to get even clearer; but having Sanders and Perez on the same page is important.

They're saying the right things, announcing that their tour will "speak out for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, pay equity for women, rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, combating climate change, making public colleges and universities tuition-free, criminal justice reform, comprehensive immigration reform and tax reform which demands that the wealthy and large corporations start paying their fair share of taxes."

And they're traveling to the right places-Maine, Kentucky, Florida, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona-acknowledging the need for a 50-state strategy. They're inviting the right people, including Ellison (who will appear midweek in Texas and Nebraska with Sanders) and Planned Parenthood Action Fund president Cecile Richards (who will close the week off with Sanders and Perez in Las Vegas).

No one should imagine that this is the end of a process, however. It is only a beginning. But it is the right beginning.

It matters that, in their joint statement announcing the tour, Sanders and Perez correctly assessed the challenging moment in which the party must define not just its agenda but its mission. "At a time of massive income and wealth inequality and a shrinking middle class, we need a government which represents all Americans, not just Wall Street, multinational corporations and the top 1 percent," they said. "Regardless of where they live or their political affiliations, most people understand that it is absurd for Republicans in Congress to support huge tax breaks for billionaires while pushing for cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. They understand that the recent Republican health-care proposal that would have thrown 24 million Americans off of their health insurance, substantially raised premiums for older workers, and defunded Planned Parenthood while, at the same time, providing almost $300 billion in tax breaks to the top two percent is a disgraceful idea."

Now Sanders and Perez and millions of grassroots Democrats must push forward. They must build a different Democratic Party. It cannot be a party that merely opposes Trump and Trumpism. What Sanders and Perez and Democratic activists must forge is a Democratic Party that, with its embrace of economic and social justice, can present itself as the absolute antithesis of Trump and Trumpism.
(c) 2017 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.

Australia Beckons A War With China
By John Pilger

Australia is sleep-walking into a confrontation with China. Wars can happen suddenly in an atmosphere of mistrust and provocation, especially if a minor power, like Australia, abandons its independence for an "alliance" with an unstable superpower.

The United States is at a critical moment. Having exported its all-powerful manufacturing base, run down its industry and reduced millions of its once-hopeful people to poverty, principal American power today is brute force. When Donald Trump launched his missile attack on Syria - following his bombing of a mosque and a school - he was having dinner in Florida with the President of China, Xi Jinping.

Trump's attack on Syria had little to do with chemical weapons. It was, above all, to show his detractors and doubters in Washington's war-making institutions - the Pentagon, the CIA, the Congress - how tough he was and prepared to risk a war with Russia. He had spilled blood in Syria, a Russian protectorate; he was surely now on the team. The attack was also meant to say directly to President Xi, his dinner guest: this is how we deal with those who challenge the top dog.

China has long received this message. In its rise as the world's biggest trader and manufacturer, China has been encircled by 400 US military bases - a provocation described by a former Pentagon strategist as "a perfect noose."

This is not Trump's doing. In 2011, President Barack Obama flew to Australia to declare, in an address to parliament, what became known as the "pivot to Asia": the biggest build-up of US air and naval forces in the Asia Pacific region since the Second World War. The target was China. America had a new and entirely unnecessary enemy. Today, low-draft US warships, missiles, bombers, drones operate on China's doorstep.

In July, one of the biggest US-led naval exercises ever staged, the biennial Operation Talisman Sabre, will rehearse a blockade of the sea lanes through which run China's commercial lifelines. Based on a Air-Sea Battle Plan for war with China, which prescribes a preemptive "blinding" attack, this "war game" will be played by Australia.

This is not urgent news. Rather, the news is the "threat" that China poses to "freedom of navigation" in the South China Sea by building airstrips on disputed reefs and islets. The reason why - the "noose" - is almost never mentioned.

Australia in the 21st century has no enemies. Not even a melancholy colonial imagination that conjured Asia falling down on us as if by the force of gravity can conjure a single contemporary enemy. No one wants to bomb or occupy Australia. Well, not yet.

As Australian political, military and intelligence establishments are integrated into the war plans of a growing American obsession - the shift of trading, banking and development power to the east - Australia is making an enemy it never bargained for. A frontline has already been marked at Pine Gap, the spy base the CIA set up near Alice Springs in the 1960s, which targets America's enemies, beckoning, of course, massive retaliation.

Last October, the opposition Labor Party's defence spokesman, Richard Marles, delighted the US admirals and generals at a conference in Hawaii by demanding that Australian naval commanders should have the authority to provoke nuclear-armed China in the disputed South China Sea. What is it about some Australian politicians whose obsequiousness takes charge of their senses?

While the coalition government of Malcolm Turnbull has resisted such a clear and present danger, at least for now, it is building a $195 billion war arsenal, one of the biggest on earth - including more than $15 billion to be spent on American F-35 fighters already distinguished as hi-tech turkeys. Clearly, this is aimed at China.

This view of Australia's region is shrouded by silence. Dissenters are few, or frightened. Anti-China witch hunts are not uncommon. Indeed, who, apart from former prime minister Paul Keating, speaks out with an unambiguous warning? Who tells Australians that, in response to the "noose" around it, China has almost certainly increased its nuclear weapons posture from low alert to high alert?

And who utters the heresy that Australians should not have to "choose" between America and China: that we should, for the first time in our history, be truly modern and independent of all great power: that we should play a thoughtful, imaginative, non-provocative, diplomatic role to help prevent a catastrophe and so protect "our interests", which are the lives of people.
(c) 2017 John Pilger was born and educated in Sydney, Australia. He has been a war correspondent, film"maker and playwright. Based in London, he has written from many countries and has twice won British journalism's highest award, that of "Journalist of the Year," for his work in Vietnam and Cambodia.

Washington DC's Museums: Totally Awesome!
By Jane Stillwater

Have you ever been to our nation's capital? Unlike the sorry mess we call Congress, the Presidency and the Supreme Court, the actual city of Washington DC itself is actually really awesomely impressive. Who knew.

Unlike our sell-out federal legislative, executive and judicial branches, the District of Columbia itself has not sold out to Wall Street and War Street for the usual 30 pieces of silver. Yet.

Much to my surprise and delight, I discovered that the whole entire city is just one big wonderful open-air museum. The Federal Triangle, the National Mall, Embassy Row? Far more impressive than the Louvre or even King Tut's tomb.

First I went on the White House tour. "Will I get to see Ivanka?" I asked. Probably not. "Will I be able to give the Prez a very stern talking-to after that shameful disaster he just created in Syria?" Nah, he's in Florida playing golf. But the White House itself was fabulous -- looked even better than it did on the set of Scandal. But I didn't get to see Kerry Washington either. Rats.

Next I went over to the new African-American museum. I laughed with Moms Mabley, I cried with Malcolm X. Put this one on your bucket list for sure. And because most of the museum's visitors were Black themselves, it gave us white guys a true feeling of what it is like to be in a minority -- only without having slave owners and cops always trying to beat us up or segregationists constantly trying to steal our vote.

Next came the United States Holocaust museum. There was a holocaust in the United States? Indeed there was -- somewhere between 13 million and 44 million Native Americans have been victims of genocide. So far. And someday I plan to open a Muslim Holocaust museum too. Already America has been directly or indirectly responsible for the brutal murder of seven million Muslims -- from Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Yugoslavia, etc. all the way across the world to Indonesia and East Timur. Wherever there is oil, Muslims have been slaughtered.

Finally, I took the Metro up to the Phillips Collection and saw original French painters like Monet, Pissarro and Toulouse-Lautrec. Priceless.

I wish that I had more time to see all the other DC museums such as the Smithsonian, the natural history museum and the Library of Congress, but I didn't. But there is always a next time, right? Or is there?

If you are an American, I highly recommend that you immediately get your booty on over to Washington DC -- before the K Street boys buy up the whole place and sell it to weapons contractors for target practice, to Monsanto so it can pour Roundup on the cherry blossoms, to developers who will tear down the monuments and replace them with condos, or to Big Pharma so it can drug all us tourists with Oxycontin and Abilify so that we won't even notice all the changes.

PS: Speaking of American presidents, how come Obama and Trump haven't noticed something very in-you-face obvious about President Assad of Syria?

In fact, what almost nobody in America seems to grasp is that President Assad has lasted SIX WHOLE YEARS as president of Syria -- while fighting the biggest bullies, baby-killers, despots and torturers on the planet (America, Britain, Saudi Arabia, Israel, etc.). HOW has he lasted this long (and, no, it's not just because of Russia who only just recently entered the fight)? Because he has the people of Syria behind him, watching his back. Duh.
(c) 2017 Jane Stillwater. Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world. And while you're at it, please buy my books!

Green Party leader Jill Stein and retired Lt. General Michael Flynn attending a dinner marking the
RT network's tenth anniversary in Moscow, December 2015, sitting at the same table as Russian President Vladimir Putin.

What Russia-gate Has Wrought
By Robert Parry

Democrats, liberals and some progressives might be feeling a little perplexed over what has happened to Russia-gate, the story that pounded Donald Trump every day since his election last November - until April 4, that is.

On April 4, Trump fully capitulated to the neoconservative bash-Russia narrative amid dubious claims about a chemical attack in Syria. On April 6, Trump fired off 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airbase; he also restored the neocon demand for "regime change" in Syria; and he alleged that Russia was possibly complicit in the supposed chemical attack.

Since Trump took those actions - in accordance with the neocon desires for more "regime change" in the Middle East and a costly New Cold War with Russia - Russia-gate has almost vanished from the news.

I did find a little story in the lower right-hand corner of page A12 of Saturday's New York Times about a still-eager Democratic congressman, Mike Quigley of Illinois, who spent a couple of days in Cyprus which attracted his interest because it is a known site for Russian money-laundering, but he seemed to leave more baffled than when he arrived.

"The more I learn, the more complex, layered and textured I see the Russia issue is - and that reinforces the need for professional full-time investigators," Quigley said, suggesting that the investigation's failure to strike oil is not that the holes are dry but that he needs better drill bits.

Yet, given all the hype and hullabaloo over Russia-gate, the folks who were led to believe that the vague and amorphous allegations were "bigger than Watergate" might now be feeling a little used. It appears they may have been sucked into a conspiracy frenzy in which the Establishment exploited their enthusiasm over the "scandal" in a clever maneuver to bludgeon an out-of-step new President back into line.

If that's indeed the case, perhaps the most significant success of the Russia-gate ploy was the ouster of Trump's original National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was seen as a key proponent of a New Detente with Russia, and his replacement by General H.R. McMaster, a protégé of neocon favorite, retired Gen. David Petraeus.

McMaster was viewed as the key player in arranging the April 6 missile strike on Syria and in preparing a questionable "intelligence assessment" on April 11 to justify the rush to judgment. Although McMaster's four-page white paper has been accepted as gospel by the mainstream U.S. news media, its many weaknesses have been noted by actual experts, such as MIT national security and technology professor Theodore Postol.

How Washington Works

But the way Official Washington works is that Trump was made to look weak when he argued for a more cooperative and peaceful relationship with Russia. Hillary Clinton dubbed him Vladimir Putin's "puppet" and "Saturday Night Live" portrayed Trump as in thrall to a bare-chested Putin. More significantly, front-page stories every morning and cable news segments every night created the impression of a compromised U.S. President in Putin's pocket.

Hillary Clinton speaking with supporters at a campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona, March 21, 2016.

Conversely, Trump was made to look strong when he fired off missiles against a Syrian airbase and talked tough about Russian guilt. Neocon commentator Charles Krauthammer praised Trump's shift as demonstrating that "America is back."

Trump further enhanced his image for toughness when his military dropped the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb (MOAB), nicknamed the "mother of all bombs," on some caves in Afghanistan. While the number of casualties inflicted by the blast was unclear, Trump benefited from the admiring TV and op-ed commentaries about him finally acting "presidential."

But the real test of political courage is to go against the grain on a policy that may be unpopular in the short term but is in the best interests of the United States and the world community in the longer term.

In that sense, Trump seeking peaceful cooperation with Russia - amid the intense anti-Russian propaganda of the past several years - required actual courage, while launching missiles and dropping bombs might win praise but actually make the U.S. position in the world weaker.

Trump, however, saw his fledgling presidency crumbling under the daily barrage of Russia-gate, even though there was no evidence that his campaign colluded with Russia to interfere with the U.S. election and there wasn't even clear evidence that Russia was behind the disclosure of Democratic emails, via WikiLeaks, during the campaign.

Still, the combined assault from the Democrats, the neocons and the mainstream media forced Trump to surrender his campaign goal of achieving a more positive relationship with Russia and greater big-power collaboration in the fight against terrorism.

For Trump, the incessant chatter about Russia-gate was like a dripping water torture. The thin-skinned Trump fumed at his staff and twittered messages aimed at changing the narrative, such as accusing President Obama of "wiretapping" Trump Tower. But nothing worked.

However, once Trump waved the white flag by placing his foreign policy under the preferred banner of the neoconservatives, the Russia-gate pressure stopped. The op-ed pages suddenly were hailing his "decisiveness." If you were a neocon, you might say about Russia-gate: Mission accomplished!

Russia-gate's Achievements

Besides whipping Trump into becoming a more compliant politician, Russia-gate could claim some other notable achievements: it spared the national Democrats from having to confront their own failures in Campaign 2016 by diverting responsibility for the calamity of Trump's election.

The photograph released by the White House of President Trump meeting with his advisers at his
estate in Mar-a-Lago on April 6, 2017, regarding his decision to launch missile strikes against Syria.

Instead of Democratic leaders taking responsibility for picking a dreadful candidate, ignoring the nation's anti-establishment mood, and failing to offer any kind of inspiring message, the national Democrats could palm off the blame on "Russia! Russia! Russia!"

Thus, rather than looking in the mirror and trying to figure out how to correct their deep-seated problems, the national Democrats could instead focus on a quixotic tilting at Trump's impeachment.

Many on the Left joined in this fantasy because they have been so long without a Movement that the huge post-inaugural "pussy hat" marches were a temptation that they couldn't resist. Russia-gate became the fuel to keep the "Movement" bandwagon rolling. #Resistance!

It didn't matter that the "scandal" - the belief that Russia somehow conspired with Trump to rig the U.S. presidential election - amounted to a bunch of informational dots that didn't connect.

Russia-gate also taught the American "left" to learn to love McCarthyism since "proof" of guilt pretty much amounted to having had contact with a Russian - and anyone who questioned the dubious factual basis of the "scandal" was dismissed as a "Russian propagandist" or a "Moscow stooge" or a purveyor of "fake news."

Another Russia-gate winner was the mainstream news media which got a lot of mileage - and loads of new subscription money - by pushing the convoluted conspiracy. The New York Times positioned itself as the great protector of "truth" and The Washington Post adopted a melodramatic new slogan: "Democracy Dies in Darkness."

On Thanksgiving Day, the Post ran a front-page article touting an anonymous Internet group called PropOrNot that identified some 200 Internet news sites, including and other major sources of independent journalism, as guilty of "Russian propaganda." Facts weren't needed; no chance for rebuttal; the accusers even got to hide in the shadows; the smear was the thing.

The Washington Post building in downtown Washington, D.C.

The Post and the Times also conflated complaints against news outlets that dared to express skepticism toward claims from the U.S. State Department and some entrepreneurial sites that trafficked in intentionally made-up stories or "fake news" to make money.

To the Post and Times, there appeared to be no difference between questioning the official U.S. narrative on, say, the Ukraine crisis and knowingly fabricating pretend news articles to get lots of clicks. Behind the smokescreen of Russia-gate, the mainstream U.S. news media took the position that there was only one side to a story, what Official Washington chose to believe.

While it's likely that there will be some revival of Russia-gate to avoid the appearance of a completely manufactured scandal, the conspiracy theory's more significant near-term consequence could be that it has taught Donald Trump a dangerous lesson.

If he finds himself in a tight spot, the way out is to start bombing some "enemy" halfway around the world. The next time, however, the target might not be so willing to turn the other cheek. If, say, Trump launches a preemptive strike against North Korea, the result could be a retaliatory nuclear attack against South Korea or Japan.

Or, if the neocons push ahead with their ultimate "regime change" strategy of staging a "color revolution" in Moscow to overthrow Putin, the outcome might be - not the pliable new leader that the neocons would want - but an unstable Russian nationalist who might see a nuclear attack on the U.S. as the only way to protect the honor of Mother Russia.

For all his faults, Trump did offer a more temperate approach toward U.S.-Russian relations, which also could have tamped down spending for nuclear and other strategic weapons and freed up some of that money for infrastructure and other needs at home. But that was before Russia-gate.
(c) 2017 Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America's Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and

The Quotable Quote...

"Always stand on principle, even if you stand alone."
~~~ John Quincy Adams

Never-Ending War In The Time Of Trump And How To Stop It

By David Swanson

Remarks in Cambridge, Mass., April 13, 2017

The Mother of All Lies is this: you can fix things by blowing them up. Alcoholics should not drink, and people who cannot watch TV and distinguish it from reality should not watch TV. Donald Trump watches a lot of TV and may very well believe what it teaches, namely that blowing things up solves problems. He certainly has figured out, as I knew he would, that the way to get love from the U.S. corporate media is to blow stuff up.

For many of us who are not believers in myths about good wars and just wars and defensive and humanitarian wars, war may have initially struck us as evil because it so directly does harm. Driving a gas-burning car helps render the earth uninhabitable, but only very slowly and only in combination with larger factors. Building a nuclear power plant risks horrible disaster, but it doesn't intentionally and immediately create it. War, on the other hand, when looked at clearly, consists of mass murder described with other words. It's direct and immediate and fatal and large-scale violence. What could be more evil?

It's ironic, then, that the bulk of the damage that war does, and the vast majority of the deaths it causes are caused indirectly. The United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees put out a statement this week that warned of mass starvation in Yemen without mentioning that there is a war there. The Washington Post yesterday published a shockingly honest article that described the famines in Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan, and Nigeria, and noted that they would be unimaginable without the wars in those countries. At least 20 million people are at risk of starving to death there, a number that dwarfs the number killed directly in wars in a given year - and that is true even using credible numbers, not the super low estimates of which the U.S. media is so fond.

People all over the United States will naturally be eager to help hungry men, women, and children at risk of starvation in the impoverished nation of Yemen, where the greatest number are at risk, and where the U.S. government has the greatest ability to quickly reverse destructive policies, if we can inform them that this catastrophe is happening. This is one of many possible paths to enlarging the peace movement. We can build a movement against starving people to death.

To reverse the policies responsible in Yemen will require admitting who is behind them, namely the governments of the United States and Saudi Arabia, and - perhaps even harder to admit - that chief among those policies is war making. While an estimated 10,000 people in Yemen have died directly from Saudi/U.S. bombing, estimates place the death toll from war-induced starvation already much higher. UN agencies estimate that 462,000 Yemeni children under five years of age are currently suffering severe acute malnutrition, meaning that they are at serious risk of dying. Many more are approaching that status.

Contributing to the crisis in Yemen have been:

S. drone murders in Yemen;
S. weapons sales to Saudi Arabia;
S. purchasing of fossil fuels from Saudi Arabia;
S. and European allies' defense of Saudi Arabia from sanctions by the United Nations;
S. identification of targets for Saudi bombing;
S. mid-air refueling of the bombers;
S./Saudi targeting of agricultural, health, and transportation infrastructure;
The bombing of August 17, 2015, that destroyed all of the cranes used to unload container ships at the main port of Hodeidah, as well as a World Food Program warehouse;
Newly escalated targeting of Hodeidah and the Red Sea coast;
S. "special forces" raids on Yemeni families;
S./Saudi propaganda falsely implicating Iran in the war in Yemen;
Saudi takeover of the Central Bank of Yemen.

Two nations helping to lead the destruction of the earth's climate, joined at the hip by fossil fuel and weapons sales, and both invested in supporting terrorists in Syria, have been collaborating for years on the creation of this other tragedy as well. It is time for us to put an end to it, to send in food and medicine rather than missiles and guns.

Bombing food supplies and roads and ports and hospitals is not the only indirect way in which war is causing deaths by starvation. Another is this. The droughts now devastating large swaths of the thus-far habitable land areas on earth have been exacerbated by climate change. The biggest contributor to climate change is war and military preparations for war. The U.S. military is the biggest consumer of petroleum we have, not to mention the first tool our government turns to in trying to control the production and transportation of more fossil fuels.

However, the largest way in which war indirectly causes deaths by starvation, as well as indirectly causing many other types of deaths, is something else entirely, something you may want to keep in mind as tax day approaches. The United Nations is trying to raise $4.4 billion for emergency hunger relief, and has raised a tiny fraction of it. The United States and Saudi Arabia are spending vastly higher sums inflicting starvation than are needed to alleviate it. The United States spends close to a trillion dollars a year, every year, on militarism, while $30 billion, or 3%, could end starvation on earth, $11 billion, or just over 1%, could end the lack of clean drinking water. And so on through countless massive projects that are not massive in comparison with military spending - are, in fact, literally too small to be noticed in the never-audited Pentagon budget, significantly smaller than sums the Pentagon often fails to account for.

The financial cost of war skyrockets if one considers the lost economic opportunities. It was of course economists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst who found that military spending produces fewer jobs than other spending or even than never taxing the money in the first place. While it strikes me as sociopathic to defend war spending as a jobs program, it is in fact a job destruction program. The unfathomable amount of money lost by investing in war balloons further when we consider that war literally destroys trillions of dollars worth of goods every year - primarily in the nations where the wars are fought.

The machinery of war extends its horrific destruction far beyond the damage created by one government, even the greatest purveyor of violence on earth, through weapons sales. The war-torn nations facing famines do not manufacture weapons of war. The vast majority of those weapons come from 6 wealthy nations, first among them the United States. The major wars now happening in Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Libya all have major involvement by the U.S. military. Other wars across Northeast Africa are being exacerbated by U.S. drone murders, special forces, and weapons sales. It is incumbent upon us in the United States to address this, as those best capable of addressing it. It doesn't change the fact that numerous other governments and groups also deserve infinite blame for their roles in these slaughters.

It does, however, mean that even those who are believers in good wars and just wars and so forth have to make an impossible argument. They have to claim that the chance of their fantasized just war occurring outweighs all the harm done by the investment in war preparations and by all the obviously unjust wars that this preparation produces.

And that's all before considering that war generates terrorism, that war is the justification for government secrecy and the erosion of our civil liberties, that war militarizes local police, that war is fueled by and fuels in its turn racism and sexism and violence, that those who survive war can suffer and cause others to suffer for the rest of their lives, and - perhaps most significantly - that the institution of war creates the nuclear weapons that will kill us all, sooner or later, unless they are abolished. Someone I do not know posted this comment on our website at World Beyond War:

"Dear United States of America,

"You are terrifying the rest of us. We had no say whatsoever in bringing your current political administration into power. And yet the actions of your leader, who some have called unstable, have the potential to annihilate all people, all life on the planet. It is horrifying to think that the person you have elected as your president could be goaded into pushing the nuclear button for the sake of proving himself or personally saving face. As you search for some way forward please remember all that is at stake and that the lives of over 7 billion who are essentially hapless bystanders to the choice you made in November now hang in the balance."

Over 130 nations, of course, are now working on creating a treaty that will ban nuclear weapons. That this process has been boycotted by those six big weapons dealers I mentioned earlier: the U.S., France, U.K., Germany, Russia, and China, has meant a far more open and democratic set of meetings at the UN than many can recall ever seeing before. The only nuclear nation to have voted in favor of a treaty banning nukes is . . . who can tell me? I'll give you a clue. Trump calls it a menace. The United States bombed it flat 60 years ago and dropped diseased insects on it in hopes of creating a plague. The United States and South Korea fly practice first-nuclear-strike missions over it every year just to ease tensions. You guessed it: North Korea. Here's another way to build the peace movement: support the nuclear weapons ban treaty. Pressure nations that are on the fence to join it. And then start pushing for divestment from nuclear weapons on the ground of illegality. There will be a women's march to ban the bomb in New York on June 17.

But I was going to say something about taxes. Next Tuesday and anytime before and after are good times to talk with people about what taxes go to. Raise your hand if you've ever met anyone who likes wars but hates taxes. I think the best approach to such people may be the approach that the signs tell you to take with bears in the mountains. Back away slowly, no fast movements. And if they show signs of attacking, make yourself look big and make a lot of noise. Specifically, hold up a giant pie chart of the federal budget and scream "Wars cost money! Wars cost money!" until they back down. You can get a variety of pie charts and graphs from the Global Day of Action on Military Spending, from the War Resisters League, from the National Priorities Project, etc. Did you know that Americans know less about the federal budget than they know about the metric system, soccer, or healthy eating? Did you know that the typical believer in a 5,000-year-old earth has even less idea where taxes came from?

Taxes were created for wars, the income tax was invented for the Civil War and went away again. The income tax on ordinary working people was created for World War II and never went away again, as that war has in a great many ways never ended. Few are aware of the origin of taxes, but many are aware that billionaires and corporations and presidents regularly cheat on their taxes, and most are aware that in return for your taxes you don't get much. In some countries you get fast clean trains, beautiful parks, top quality education preschool through college, healthcare, retirement, parental leave, vacation, etc. In the United States you get wars basically, with some prisons and highways on the side.

Raise your hand if you know why we call junk email spam. Right, in a Monty Python skit you could order for your meal only some combination of foods that included spam. I once rewrote the thing to illustrate what you could get from the U.S. government:

"Well, there's sanctions and prosecutions; sanctions drone strikes and prosecutions; sanctions and war; sanctions prosecutions and war; sanctions prosecutions drone strikes and war; war prosecutions drone strikes and war; war sanctions war war prosecutions and war; war drone strikes war war prosecutions war cyber war and war."
That's the menu you get for your taxes. The budget pie chart, by the way, will show the majority (or close to it, depending how it's defined) of your income tax dollar going to war, and the majority of discretionary spending (according to every calculation I've seen) going to war - a percentage that Trump wants to push up to over 60%. Another tool that I know people in Cambridge know how to use is the local resolution. While Cambridge has admirably passed a good resolution for Trump's impeachment, on the model that we've promoted at - and I'll talk about that in a minute - a number of cities and counties have passed resolutions against Trump's federal budget proposal. On the World Beyond War website we have a statement signed by an impressive list of people, and at you'll find a model resolution. I think it's here on flyers.

Some cities have, I think, done this right and others wrong. Some have passed resolutions that just list all the programs they don't want cut. This produces opposition from the small-government crowd who come out in support of all the supposed cuts. But I want a much smaller government and dramatic increases to all of those programs. How is that possible? It's explained by the better resolutions that make clear that Trump's budget proposal is the same size as last year's, only it moves $54 billion from virtually everything else to the military. It doesn't actually cut funding; it moves it. A poll that showed people the budget and asked how to change it found that on average they wanted to move over $41 billion out of the military - a $94 billion gap from what Trump wants.

The U.S. Congress, House and Senate, are out of session right now. Congress Members and Senators are in their districts and states until April 23rd. This is the time to challenge them to do better. It was this kind of in-person pressure that was key to preventing a massive bombing of Syria in 2013, and that has been central to improving policy on numerous issues.

Sign and print out the petition to Un-Trump the Budget. Search for that and you'll find it. Find events that your misrepresentatives have already scheduled, and attend them. There's a list at Create your own event, invite your rep and senators. Get from them commitments to de-fund the wars and to move the money out of militarism. If they are not responsive, do not shy away from sitting across the doorway to their office and phoning the media.

Do not fail to act like a United Airlines passenger in a video when an injustice is happening. If the other passengers had simply blocked the aisles, corporate thugs could not have dragged their fellow passenger away. If everyone on board had demanded that the airline offer higher compensation until someone volunteered to take a later flight, rather than being violently "reaccommodated," then it would have done so. The idea that United Airlines had no choice but to assault a man is as ludicrous as the idea that a government had no choice but to launch a war. In fact, United now claims to have a policy of never assaulting anyone again, just as the U.S. government should have a policy of never launching a war again.

Passivity in the face of injustice is the greatest danger we face. This fact does not mean I'm "blaming the victims." Of course United Airlines should be shamed, sued, boycotted, and compelled to reform or "reaccommodate" itself out of our lives entirely. So should the government that has deregulated the industry. So should every police department that has come to view the public as an enemy in a war.

But one should expect corporations and their thugs to behave barbarically. They are designed to do so. One should expect corrupt governments that lack popular influence or control to abuse power. The question is whether people will sit back and take it, resist with some nonviolent skills, or disastrously resort to violence themselves. (I've not searched yet for proposals to arm airline passengers, because I really don't look forward to reading them.)

The one nonviolent skill that seems to be advancing most encouragingly is videotaping and livestreaming. People have got that down. When police blatantly lie, such as by claiming to have carried a passenger who fell, rather than dragging a passenger whom they assaulted, video sets the record straight. But we often lack video of events far away that the U.S. military blatantly lies about, and events locked out of sight that prison guards blatantly lie about, and events that happen over long periods - such as the willful destruction of the earth's climate.

When it comes to those injustices that can't be videotaped or litigated, too often people fail to act entirely. This is extremely dangerous behavior. We're collectively being dragged down an airplane aisle, and we're failing to act. A U.S.-Saudi war is threatening millions with starvation in Yemen. In Syria, the U.S. is risking a nuclear confrontation with Russia. The Pentagon is considering attacking North Korea. Baby steps toward slowing down the destruction of the earth's climate are being reversed. Warrantless spying, lawless imprisonment, and presidential drone murder have been normalized. As the great Howard Zinn used to say, civil disobedience is not what we have to be afraid of. Rather, civil obedience is the danger.

Here's another reason that Cambridge should pass a resolution against the Trump military budget: the first city to do so was New Haven. You can't let those guys get away with that. Also, if we pass enough resolutions, we'll get the U.S. Conference of Mayors to pass one, an organization that, along with I believe nearly every employee of the corporate U.S. media, recently applauded Donald Trump for bombing Syria. "Donald Trump finally became president of the United States," pundits said, a status that is apparently determined by how much reckless violence you order at one time. Someone else remarked this week: "United Airlines finally just became president of the United States."

I've written a lot about war lies. Here are what I think are the top 10 lies about Syria at the moment, other than Hitler being above using chemical weapons. Have you noticed that Trump, like the government in general, is routinely denounced as an habitual liar, but unproven claims about war must be revered as gospel truth or you're an Assad lover or a Putin puppet? It's worse than four years ago when Obama made similar claims.

Of course I'm mentioning Syria, so an hour's worth of disclaimers should come first, but let me try to shorten that to this: Guilty of murder in Syria are: the United States, Russia, Syria, Al Qaeda, ISIS, and numerous other funders and suppliers of all sides. The crimes of these parties are not equal, but none of their crimes erase any of the crimes by the others. If one cannot criticize some of the crimes without being immediately labeled a cheerleader for other crimes, then one cannot say anything and we've simply censored ourselves into silence. Reasons to focus on U.S. crimes at the moment include: we can have the most influence on the U.S., if we do not resist we are complicit, the U.S. media focuses on everything else, a U.S.-Russian confrontation risks nuclear holocaust, and it is a recent U.S. bombing that has changed the conversation and the politics regarding Syria. So, here are the top 10 lies:

Chemical weapons are worse than other weapons.

This is not the case. Death and dismemberment are horrific regardless of the weapon. No weapon is being used legally, morally, humanely, or practically in Syria or Iraq. U.S. bombs are no less indiscriminate, no less immoral, and no less illegal than chemical weapons - or for that matter than the depleted uranium weapons with which the United States has been poisoning the area. The fact that a weapon has not been banned does not create a legal right to go into a country and kill people with it.

Chemical weapons use justifies the escalated use of other weapons.

Does shoplifting justify looting? If a Hatfield poisoned a McCoy, would another McCoy be justified in shooting a bunch of Hatfields? (Do yall Northerners know the names of those feuding families?) What barbarism is this? A crime does not sanction another crime. Whenever the U.S. government uses white phosphorus or cluster bombs, are other governments given the right to drop bombs on the United States?

Important people we should trust know who used chemical weapons.

No, they do not. At least they do not know that the Syrian government did it. If they knew this, they would offer evidence. As on every past occasion, they have not done so. You can read an analysis of what they have claimed by a professor nearby here at MIT named Theodore Postol.

The enemy is pure evil and will answer only to force.

The U.S. government and its proxies have sabotaged peace negotiations numerous times over the past several years, maintaining that Assad would have to step down or - preferably - be overthrown by violence before anything could be negotiated. This does not make the U.S. government pure inhuman evil, much less does it make the Syrian government that.

If you don't want to bomb Syria with one enemy's name on your lips, you hold the firm belief that said enemy is actually a saint.

This piece of stupidity gets people accused of loving and holding blameless the Syrian government, the Russian government, the U.S. government, ISIS, and various other parties. In fact, the reasonable thing to do is to hold all killers responsible for their killing because of the crime, not because of who commits it.

U.S. war-making in Syria is defensive.

This is the opposite of reality-based thinking as war-making endangers us rather than protects us. Someone should ask Donald Trump to remember the Maine. You may remember that Spain wanted the matter brought to a neutral arbiter, but the United States wanted war, regardless of any evidence. That's been the typical move over the centuries: careful maneuvering into war, not away from it. Trump, by the way, is already up to his bloody elbows in several wars inherited from Obama - wars no less immoral and illegal slaughters because of their connection to either of those presidents. The question of who blew up the Maine is, at this point a truly dumb one. The important point is that the U.S. didn't want to know, wanted instead to rush into a war before anyone could find out. Typically, the desire to avoid information, and not some other consideration, is the reason for the urgency in war-making.

Peace was tried in 2013, and it failed.

No. What happened was that Obama and his administration tried to pull off the same stunt that Trump is trying now, and the public rose up and refused to allow it. So, instead of a massive bombing campaign, Syria got more weapons, more trainers, more troops, and a medium sized bombing campaign. That's very different from actually shifting direction and offering Syria diplomacy, aid, and disarmament.

The U.S. government's goal is peace.

The long openly stated goal of powerful players in the U.S. government is to overthrow Assad.

Syria is as boring and unconcerning as numerous other ongoing U.S. wars.

In reality, Syria is a war that risks fighting between the United States and Russia, while each is armed with far more than enough nuclear weapons to destroy all life on earth. Creating a profitable conflict between the U.S. and Russia is a likely actual motivation of some hawks on Syria.

Making everything worse with yet more violence is the only option left.

That's not an option at all, and it's no more the only option left than beating up airline passengers is. But these are available options: aid, reparations, negotiations, disarmament, the rule of law, truth and reconciliation.

A lot of people fell for this package of lies who didn't fall for a similar package 4 years ago. Or perhaps they didn't. Perhaps what they did was cheer for a glorious bombing attack that was in the immediate past, that had already happened. The same people who told pollsters they were glad Trump bombed Syria also said they didn't want any more of it. Whether they had any idea that Obama and Trump had already done a lot of bombing in Syria we don't know. The point is that in 2013 the U.S. public was asked about a bombing campaign that hadn't happened yet. If it had then happened, millions would have discovered that they approved of it after all.

But one person who did fall for the lies, we are told, was Ivanka Trump. According to her brother, it was Ivanka who asked her daddy for a bunch of dead bodies. Or maybe he wanted to impress the president of China. Or maybe he does whatever the military wants. Or maybe his chocolate cake was too good. In any case, the U.S. Constitution was intended to prevent any individual from being able to do such things - which are now forbidden by international law.

This brings me, briefly, to the topic of impeachment. I'm a big fan of impeachment as a highly desirable alternative to a violent overthrow or waiting for another corrupt election. Naomi Klein says don't bother protesting, just do stuff to annoy Donald and damage his corporate brand, and that will make him likely to lose an election in 4 years. By all means, boycott his businesses. But we have neither 4 years to wait for environmental protection, peace, or justice, nor any reason to imagine that some unknown presidential candidate in 2020 wouldn't be even worse than Trump. The Democrats are all in a rage because with a bit of effort they could have just elected a gun nut who brags about participating in war to Congress in Kansas. A broken election system cannot be the main ingredient in any real solution. Neither can impeachment be the main solution. But it can be part of it if done right. That means: no imagining that the problem is really just one person, and on the other hand no obsessing over what an unpleasant person the vice president is, and no impeaching for false or unproven or non-serious or actually laudable actions. For impeachment to work - and an impeachment process can bring about reforms or resignations without even getting to impeachment - it has to be part of a popular movement that creates a climate of accountability such that whoever replaces a dethroned president is subject to the public will - a far more radical change than swapping out one personality for another.

Following the model of, Cambridge has urged impeachment for violation of the domestic and foreign emoluments clauses which forbid any appearance of financial interests benefitting from state, federal, or foreign governments. Trump has been blatantly violating these sections of the U.S. Constitution since day one as governments give him loans, permits, tax breaks, rent, etc. This is an unprecedented sort of corruption. But it's just scratching the surface of the indisputable outrages, if we include offenses that Trump's predecessors also committed at least in a lesser degree.

As of a 2015 disclosure to the Federal Elections Commission, Trump owns stock in the maker of the missiles he sent into Syria, Raytheon, as well as numerous other weapons makers, Canadian tar sands, etc.

Trump has continued, escalated, and threatened numerous illegal and immoral wars. That he may be personally profiting from them just adds to the crime.

Trump has unconstitutionally discriminated against refugees, been stopped by the judiciary, and immediately done it again.

Trump has pushed policies that will aggravate climate change, a crime against humanity that can be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court even against a non-member. On December 6, 2009, Trump signed a public letter to President Obama urging action to protect the earth from climate change. "If we fail to act now," the letter read, "it is scientifically irrefutable that there will be catastrophic and irreversible consequences for humanity and our planet."

Pre-presidency but still available grounds for impeachment, Trump violated, according to the list in Alan Lichtman's book on Trump impeachment, the Fair Housing Act, New York charity law, tax laws, the Cuban embargo, casino regulations, the RICO statute, laws against employing undocumented immigrants, and of course laws against sexual assault.

Of course there is one charge against Trump that has not been proven, risks confrontation with a nuclear armed government, and needlessly adds a xenophobic excuse to the dozens of solid reasons that last year's U.S. election was illegitimate. So of course this is the one everybody wants to focus on: blaming Russia for exposing the Democratic Party's slanting of its own primary against its strongest candidate. Just remember that the people choosing this approach are the same people who nominated the only candidate who could have lost to Donald Trump.

And remember that, while we need to remove the most egregious politicians from the highest offices, we also need to reform the whole system they are part of. At World Beyond War dot org you can sign up to help with campaigns on divestment from weapons makers, closing military bases, and supporting global justice - or propose something new.

You can also help us develop the next edition of our book A Global Security System: An Alternative to War which presents a vision of non-violent government and conflict resolution without war. You can also help us get such resources into schools. And you can work to get military tests and recruiters out of schools and to let parents opt out of sending their kids information to recruiters.

A few other things you may want to plan to take part in:

April 22nd is a march for science. I confess to having mixed feelings about this one. I'm delighted to see a new group of people beginning to act a little bit like responsible citizens. But science is used for good and ill. It's like a march for wrenches. Sure, it's great to reject the view that wrenches are a Chinese fraud. But if someone uses a wrench to hit you in the head, how good will that be? The U.S. government's biggest investments in science are through the military. Love of science leads to mad professors at Harvard trying to solve climate change through geo-engineering, and to space imperialism - dreams of finding other planets to destroy.

April 29th is the climate march. We pushed hard and got them to include peace in their agenda. And we will have a peace contingent and rally there in Washington, as others will at local events that day.

June 16-18 is the UNAC conference in Richmond, Va.

And World Beyond War will have big conferences in August in Minneapolis and October in Washington, DC. Details on the website.
(c) 2017 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 Trump White House and its congressional allies are doing their best to obscure
the truth, darkening the waters as black as they can to hide what's really going on.

The Waters Of Trump's Washington Are Dark And Deep
Behind the ostentatious displays of power, the White House tries to keep secret all that's destructive to the nation and democracy.
By Michael Winship

Years ago, I worked for a wealthy television executive in Washington, DC, who had a posh Georgetown townhouse with a courtyard.

In the center of his courtyard was a small fountain, and he became obsessed with getting hold of a certain dye for it that the National Park Service used in fountains and pools at various historic sites around the capital.

The dye turned the water an opaque black, so murky you couldn't see to the bottom. The park service claimed it was more aesthetically pleasing.

I think you can see this blunt instrument of a metaphor coming: the waters of Washington intentionally made shadowy and dark, secrets hidden. That's what is happening right now. The Trump White House and its congressional allies are doing their best to obscure the truth, darkening the waters as black as they can to hide what's really going on.

On Friday, the White House announced that it would no longer make public the logs of who visits the White House. The Obama administration had a policy, with a few exceptions, of keeping such records open and available. But Donald Trump and his gang don't want you to know with whom they're doing business.

They say it's because of "grave national security risks and privacy concerns." Bull. They might as well say it's more aesthetically pleasing. The names are hidden for the same reasons Trump's tax returns and other financial transactions are hidden. And for the same reasons that when he's signing legislation or executive orders that are unpopular or especially harmful to the public, he does it behind closed doors instead of at those big ceremonies where he signs with a flourish and holds his seismograph-like signature up for all to see.

He hid out this past Thursday when he signed one law that allows states to withhold federal family planning funding from clinics providing abortions and another eliminating a regulation that allowed the expansion of retirement savings accounts. He did the same with the "revised" travel ban, getting rid of federal guidelines for transgender students using school restrooms and the rule that would keep guns from the mentally disabled.

Nor does Trump want you to know what the military is doing until it's done and the spin is ready to be spun. He claims it's because he wants to be "unpredictable" - he doesn't want to tip his hand to the bad guys. It's more like this: if he goes ahead and drops something big and explosive without revealing the plan, there's less time for opposition or dissenting points of views. Or, perhaps more probable, he has no real idea what he's doing, and action, no matter how impulsive or wrong, feels better to him than stopping and thinking things through.

This has always been the Trump way: flashy, ostentatious displays of self-promotion and conspicuous consumption while behind the scenes, shady deals and connections are made. And it continues today as we watch the new administration and its hires trumpet the most minor accomplishments or take credit for those they did not accomplish or shout foul on someone else to distract the rest of us from whatever nefarious doings really are afoot.

The ongoing tale of Trump and Russia proves this well. He and his crew continue to scream that they have been unfairly besmirched, that they are the innocent parties targeted and tailed by an Obama administration committed to manufacturing dirt and leaking false information.

It's a three-card monte game designed to divert the eye, but for all their false shuffling of the deck, the evidence continues to build. The Guardian reported on April 13 that in the course of communications surveillance, British intelligence and several other European spy agencies discovered contacts between Russia and Trump campaign staff:

"The alleged conversations were picked up by chance as part of routine surveillance of Russian intelligence assets. Over several months, different agencies targeting the same people began to see a pattern of connections that were flagged to intelligence officials in the US."
A source told The Guardian:
"They [the European agencies] were saying: 'There are contacts going on between people close to Mr. Trump and people we believe are Russian intelligence agents. You should be wary of this.'

"The message was: 'Watch out. There's something not right here.'"

On April 6, Eric Lichtblau of The New York Times wrote that thanks in part to the European intercepts, the CIA had told congressional leaders as early as last summer, "that it had information indicating that Russia was working to help elect Donald J. Trump president, a finding that did not emerge publicly until after Mr. Trump's victory months later, former government officials say.
"The briefings indicate that intelligence officials had evidence of Russia's intentions to help Mr. Trump much earlier in the presidential campaign than previously thought. The briefings also reveal a critical split last summer between the CIA and counterparts at the FBI, where a number of senior officials continued to believe through last fall that Russia's cyberattacks were aimed primarily at disrupting America's political system, and not at getting Mr. Trump elected, according to interviews."
In addition to prior reporting that the Foreign Intelligence Secrecy Act (FISA) courts had issued secret orders to allow the monitoring of two banks thought to have connections to Russian intelligence, it now turns out that there also was a FISA warrant that gave the go-ahead to monitor Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page.

According to The Washington Post:

"This is the clearest evidence so far that the FBI had reason to believe during the 2016 presidential campaign that a Trump campaign adviser was in touch with Russian agents..."

"The government's application for the surveillance order targeting Page included a lengthy declaration that laid out investigators' basis for believing that Page was an agent of the Russian government and knowingly engaged in clandestine intelligence activities on behalf of Moscow, officials said."

When all is said and done, Page may be small potatoes indeed - even one of the Russian agents who first made contact with him said he was an "idiot" - but the FBI and congressional investigations still have a long way to go and much remains unanswered as to how deeply Trump staffers and friends may have been involved assisting in the interference with our election.

There are, too, the many outstanding questions surrounding the apparent financial legerdemain of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Millions that he was paid by a Russian oligarch and pro-Putin politicians in Ukraine allegedly moved through banks in Cyprus and elsewhere, as Manafort was busily creating shell companies and taking out mortgages on real estate properties in a way that experts say smells of money laundering.

And finally, there remain all the questions about Donald Trump's own connections with Russian oligarchs and in turn their ties to the Russian government and organized crime. Josh Marshall of Taking Points Memo has been vigilant in his pursuit of this side of the story and wonders how much the FBI and CIA knew about Trump and his Russia connections long before he ever considered running for president.

Even without the hacking scandal, Marshall writes, Trump's contacts with Russia's kleptocrats "would seem like an extraordinarily big deal. And indeed it is an extraordinarily big deal.

"What that means is that we - as reporters and as a concerned public - should probe these relationships on their own terms just as much as the most logical place to hunt looking for the evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow."
There is an irony here. Trump and his cohorts grumble, moan and shriek about the hidden "Deep State" of intelligence agencies and other government and corporate interests they claim have conspired to undermine and defeat the great Trump agenda. But over the years, they themselves have used the very same apparatus of networks and connections to help make fortunes and grease the way to power and influence.

No wonder they're so desperate to keep the waters of Washington dark and fathomless.
(c) 2017 Michael Winship is senior writing fellow at Demos, president of the Writers Guild of America, East, and was senior writer for Moyers & Company and Bill Moyers' Journal and is senior writer of

The Dead Letter Office...

Paul Ryan with his hand puppet Paul Mitchell

Heil Trump,

Dear Unterfuhrer Mitchell,

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 willingness to sell our private information to the highest bidder, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Republican whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Trump at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 05-27-2017. We salute you Herr Mitchell, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

The Trump Doctrine
By Robert Reich

What's the "Trump Doctrine" of foreign policy? At first glance, foreign policy under Trump seems inconsistent, arbitrary, and devoid of principle. A few weeks ago, even before the airstrike on Syria, Trump communications director Mike Dubke told Trump's assembled aides that international affairs presented a messaging challenge because the Trump administration lacks a coherent foreign policy. "There is no Trump doctrine," Dubke declared.

I think Dubke is being grossly unfair. Of course there's a Trump Doctrine. You just have to know where to look for it.

The Trump Doctrine began to emerge when Trump issued his travel bans (both the first and second) on predominantly Muslim countries.

But he notably excluded predominately Muslim countries where Trump has business interests.

So under what might be called the First Principle of the Trump Doctrine, people living in a predominantly Muslim country have a chance of entering the United States only if their country contains an edifice with Trump's name on it.

The Second Principle follows logically from the first. Countries that are potential markets for Trump's business - nominally run by his two sons, but still filling his pockets - may be eligible for special favors if they allow Trump to make money there.

For example, Trump's business currently has 157 trademark applications pending in 36 nations, according to the New York Times.

Registered trademarks are giant financial assets for a business like Trump's, which in recent years has made big money by selling his name rather than by building or making anything. Soon after he was sworn into office - but only after Trump backed off of his brief flirtation with a "two China" policy - the Chinese government granted Trump preliminary approval of 38 trademarks of his name.

"It was a gift," said Peter J. Riebling, a trademark lawyer in Washington, of China's decision. "Getting the exclusive right to use that brand in China against everyone else in the world? It's like waving a magic wand."

One potential obstacle for the Second Principle is the Constitution's "emoluments" clause, which bars U.S. government officials from receiving gifts from foreign powers.

No matter. Apparently the Trump Doctrine, well, trumps the Constitution.

A group called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) joined by several prominent law professors, is suing Trump over this.

But the United States - through the U.S. Department of Justice - argues in a legal brief, expected to be filed this month, that the framers of the Constitution meant only to rule out gifts that compensate presidents or other office holders for services they might do for a foreign power, not for public policies they advance that benefit a foreign power.

Interpretations of the U.S. Constitution by the Department of Justice aren't like the musings of any random defense attorney. They carry special weight. They represent the views and interests of the United States.

Which makes this one official U.S. government policy - and thereby, confirms it as the Second Principle of the Trump Doctrine.

The Third Principle comes down hard on countries that kill their own children with poison gas. They will be bombed.

You may recall Trump had long been opposed to bombing Syria. But, as he recently explained, Syrian dictator Basha al-Assad's "attack on children ... had a big impact on me," adding that "my attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much." The bombing ensued.

This doesn't mean endangered children will be given refuge in the United States, though. Recall the First Principle: Nobody gains entrance to the United States from a predominantly Muslim nations unless their country contains a Trump hotel, spa, or golf course.

Which brings us to the Fourth Principle.

Not long after the Syrian bombing, Trump authorized the Pentagon to drop a 22,000-pound GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb (MOAB) on people described as "Islamic State forces" in eastern Afghanistan near the Pakistani border.

It was the first time the bomb - nicknamed the "mother of all bombs," and one of the largest air-dropped munitions in the U.S. military's inventory - had ever been used in a combat.

Trump's rationale? The group was allegedly connected to ISIS.

So under the Fourth Principle of the Trump Doctrine, the United States reserves the right to drop a mother of a bomb on any group seemingly connected with ISIS.

This applies even if the group is not fighting to gain or hold territory claimed by the Islamic State. The group could be thousands of miles away from the Islamic State, anywhere around the world.

Could a mother of a bomb be dropped on such a group if it's located in a country containing a Trump hotel, or considering a Trump trademark application?

Frankly, I don't know. That pesky detail hasn't been worked out yet.

But this one uncertainty doesn't undermine the overall consistency or clarity of the Trump Doctrine of foreign policy. It's four major principles are firmly rooted either in making money for Trump, or stopping bad people from doing bad things.

If Mike Dubke had a clearer grasp of Donald Trump's worldview, he'd surely see this - as would everyone else.
(c) 2017 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 website is

The Price of Resistance

By Chris Hedges

This is a talk that Chris Hedges gave Monday at Princeton University in New Jersey.

In the conflicts I covered as a reporter in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and the Balkans, I encountered singular individuals of varying creeds, religions, races and nationalities who majestically rose up to defy the oppressor on behalf of the oppressed. Some of them are dead. Some of them are forgotten. Most of them are unknown.

These individuals, despite their vast cultural differences, had common traits-a profound commitment to the truth, incorruptibility, courage, a distrust of power, a hatred of violence and a deep empathy that was extended to people who were different from them, even to people defined by the dominant culture as the enemy. They are the most remarkable men and women I met in my 20 years as a foreign correspondent. And to this day I set my life by the standards they set.

You have heard of some, such as Vaclav Havel, whom I and other foreign reporters met most evenings, during the 1989 Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, in the Magic Lantern Theatre in Prague. Others, no less great, you probably do not know, such as the Jesuit priest Ignacio Ellacuria, who was assassinated in El Salvador in 1989. And then there are those "ordinary" people, although, as the writer V.S. Pritchett said, no people are ordinary, who risked their lives in wartime to shelter and protect those of an opposing religion or ethnicity being persecuted and hunted. And to some of these "ordinary" people I owe my own life.

To resist radical evil is to endure a life that by the standards of the wider society is a failure. It is to defy injustice at the cost of your career, your reputation, your financial solvency and at times your life. It is to be a lifelong heretic. And, perhaps this is the most important point, it is to accept that the dominant culture, even the liberal elites, will push you to the margins and attempt to discredit not only what you do, but your character. When I returned to the newsroom at The New York Times after being booed off a commencement stage in 2003 for denouncing the invasion of Iraq and being publicly reprimanded by the paper for my stance against the war, reporters and editors I had known and worked with for 15 years lowered their heads or turned away when I was nearby. They did not want to be contaminated by the same career-killing contagion.

Ruling institutions-the state, the press, the church, the courts, academia-mouth the language of morality, but they serve the structures of power, no matter how venal, which provide them with money, status and authority. In times of national distress-one has only to look at Nazi Germany-all of these institutions, including the academy, are complicit through their silence or their active collaboration with radical evil. And our own institutions, which have surrendered to corporate power and the utopian ideology of neoliberalism, are no different. The lonely individuals who defy tyrannical power within these institutions, as we saw with the thousands of academics who were fired from their jobs and blacklisted during the McCarthy era, are purged and turned into pariahs.

All institutions, including the church, Paul Tillich once wrote, are inherently demonic. And a life dedicated to resistance has to accept that a relationship with any institution is often temporary, because sooner or later that institution is going to demand acts of silence or obedience your conscience will not allow you to make. To be a rebel is to reject what it means to succeed in a capitalist, consumer culture, especially the idea that we should always come first.

The theologian James H. Cone in his book "The Cross and the Lynching Tree" writes that for oppressed blacks the cross was a "paradoxical religious symbol because it inverts the world's value system with the news that hope comes by way of defeat, that suffering and death do not have the last word, that the last shall be first and the first last."

Cone continues: "That God could 'make a way out of no way' in Jesus' cross was truly absurd to the intellect, yet profoundly real in the souls of black folk. Enslaved blacks who first heard the gospel message seized on the power of the cross. Christ crucified manifested God's loving and liberating presence in the contradictions of black life-that transcendent presence in the lives of black Christians that empowered them to believe that ultimately, in God's eschatological future, they would not be defeated by the 'troubles of this world,' no matter how great and painful their suffering. Believing this paradox, this absurd claim of faith, was only possible in humility and repentance. There was no place for the proud and the mighty, for people who think that God called them to rule over others. The cross was God's critique of power-white power-with powerless love, snatching victory out of defeat."

Reinhold Niebuhr labeled this capacity to defy the forces of repression "a sublime madness in the soul." Niebuhr wrote that "nothing but madness will do battle with malignant power and 'spiritual wickedness in high places.' " This sublime madness, as Niebuhr understood, is dangerous, but it is vital. Without it, "truth is obscured." And Niebuhr also knew that traditional liberalism was a useless force in moments of extremity. Liberalism, Niebuhr said, "lacks the spirit of enthusiasm, not to say fanaticism, which is so necessary to move the world out of its beaten tracks. It is too intellectual and too little emotional to be an efficient force in history." The prophets in the Hebrew Bible had this sublime madness. The words of the Hebrew prophets, as Abraham Heschel wrote, were "a scream in the night. While the world is at ease and asleep, the prophet feels the blast from heaven." The prophet, because he saw and faced an unpleasant reality, was, as Heschel wrote, "compelled to proclaim the very opposite of what his heart expected."

This sublime madness is the essential quality for a life of resistance. It is the acceptance that when you stand with the oppressed you get treated like the oppressed. It is the acceptance that, although empirically all that we struggled to achieve during our lifetime may be worse, our struggle validates itself.

Daniel Berrigan told me that faith is the belief that the good draws to it the good. The Buddhists call this karma. But he said for us as Christians we did not know where it went. We trusted that it went somewhere. But we did not know where. We are called to do the good, or at least the good so far as we can determinate it, and then let it go.

As Hannah Arendt wrote in "The Origins of Totalitarianism," the only morally reliable people are not those who say "this is wrong" or "this should not be done," but those who say "I can't." They know that as Immanuel Kant wrote: "If justice perishes, human life on earth has lost its meaning." And this means that, like Socrates, we must come to a place where it is better to suffer wrong than to do wrong. We must at once see and act, and given what it means to see, this will require the surmounting of despair, not by reason, but by faith.

I saw in the conflicts I covered the power of this faith, which lies outside any religious or philosophical creed. This faith is what Havel called in his great essay "The Power of the Powerless" living in truth. Living in truth exposes the corruption, lies and deceit of the state. It is a refusal to be a part of the charade.

"You do not become a 'dissident' just because you decide one day to take up this most unusual career," Havel wrote. "You are thrown into it by your personal sense of responsibility, combined with a complex set of external circumstances. You are cast out of the existing structures and placed in a position of conflict with them. It begins as an attempt to do your work well, and ends with being branded an enemy of society. ... The dissident does not operate in the realm of genuine power at all. He is not seeking power. He has no desire for office and does not gather votes. He does not attempt to charm the public. He offers nothing and promises nothing. He can offer, if anything, only his own skin-and he offers it solely because he has no other way of affirming the truth he stands for. His actions simply articulate his dignity as a citizen, regardless of the cost."

The long, long road of sacrifice and suffering that led to the collapse of the communist regimes stretched back decades. Those who made change possible were those who had discarded all notions of the practical. They did not try to reform the Communist Party. They did not attempt to work within the system. They did not even know what, if anything, their tiny protests, ignored by the state-controlled media, would accomplish. But through it all they held fast to moral imperatives. They did so because these values were right and just. They expected no reward for their virtue; indeed they got none. They were marginalized and persecuted. And yet these poets, playwrights, actors, singers and writers finally triumphed over state and military power. They drew the good to the good. They triumphed because, however cowed and broken the masses around them appeared, their message of defiance did not go unheard. It did not go unseen. The steady drumbeat of rebellion constantly exposed the dead hand of authority and the rot of the state.

I stood with hundreds of thousands of rebellious Czechoslovakians in 1989 on a cold winter night in Prague's Wenceslas Square as the singer Marta Kubisova approached the balcony of the Melantrich building. Kubisova had been banished from the airwaves in 1968 after the Soviet invasion for her anthem of defiance "Prayer for Marta." Her entire catalog, including more than 200 singles, had been confiscated and destroyed by the state. She had disappeared from public view. Her voice that night suddenly flooded the square. Pressing around me were throngs of students, most of whom had not been born when she vanished. They began to sing the words of the anthem. There were tears running down their faces. It was then that I understood the power of rebellion. It was then that I knew that no act of rebellion, however futile it appears in the moment, is wasted. It was then that I knew that the communist regime was finished.

"The people will once again decide their own fate," the crowd sang in unison with Kubisova. [Editor's note: To see YouTube photographs of the 1989 revolution and hear Kubisova sing the song in a studio recording, click here.] The walls of Prague were covered that chilly winter with posters depicting Jan Palach. Palach, a university student, set himself on fire in Wenceslas Square on Jan. 16, 1969, in the middle of the day to protest the crushing of the country's democracy movement. He died of his burns three days later. The state swiftly attempted to erase his act from national memory. There was no mention of it on state media. A funeral march by university students was broken up by police. Palach's gravesite, which became a shrine, saw the communist authorities exhume his body, cremate his remains and ship them to his mother with the provision that his ashes could not be placed in a cemetery. But it did not work. His defiance remained a rallying cry. His sacrifice spurred the students in the winter of 1989 to act. Prague's Red Army Square, shortly after I left for Bucharest to cover the uprising in Romania, was renamed Palach Square. Ten thousand people went to the dedication.

We, like those who opposed the long night of communism, no longer have any mechanisms within the formal structures of power that will protect or advance our rights. We too have undergone a coup d'etat carried out not by the stone-faced leaders of a monolithic Communist Party but by the corporate state.

We may feel, in the face of the ruthless corporate destruction of our nation, our culture and our ecosystem, powerless and weak. But we are not. We have a power that terrifies the corporate state. Any act of rebellion, no matter how few people show up or how heavily it is censored, chips away at corporate power. Any act of rebellion keeps alive the embers for larger movements that follow us. It passes on another narrative. It will, as the state consumes itself, attract wider and wider numbers. Perhaps this will not happen in our lifetimes. But if we persist, we will keep this possibility alive. If we do not, it will die.

Dr. Rieux in Albert Camus' novel "The Plague" is not driven by ideology. He is driven by empathy, the duty to minister to suffering, no matter the cost. Empathy, or what the Russian novelist Vasily Grossman called "simple human kindness," becomes in all despotisms a subversive act. To act on this empathy-the empathy for human beings locked in cages less than an hour from us [here in Princeton], the empathy for undocumented mothers and fathers being torn from their children on the streets of our cities, the empathy for Muslims who are demonized and banned from our shores, fleeing the wars we created, the empathy for poor people of color gunned down by police in our streets, the empathy for girls and women trafficked into prostitution, the empathy for all those who suffer at the hands of a state intent on militarization and imposing a harsh cruelty on the vulnerable, the empathy for the earth that gives us life and that is being contaminated and pillaged for profit-becomes political and even dangerous.

Evil is real. But so is love. And in war-especially when the heavy shells landed on crowds in Sarajevo, sights so gruesome that to this day I cannot eat a piece of meat-you could feel, as frantic family members desperately sought out loved ones among the wounded and dead, the concentric circles of death and love, death and love, like rings from the blast of a cosmic furnace.

Flannery O'Connor recognized that a life of faith is a life of confrontation: "St. Cyril of Jerusalem, in instructing catechumens, wrote: 'The dragon sits by the side of the road, watching those who pass. Beware lest he devour you. We go to the Father of Souls, but it is necessary to pass by the dragon.' No matter what form the dragon may take, it is of this mysterious passage past him, or into his jaws, that stories of any depth will always be concerned to tell, and this being the case, it requires considerable courage at any time, in any country, not to turn away from the storyteller."

Accept sorrow-for who cannot be profoundly sorrowful at the state of our nation, the world and our ecosystem-but know that in resistance there is a balm that leads to wisdom and, if not joy, a strange, transcendent happiness. Know that if we resist we keep hope alive.

"My faith has been tempered in Hell," wrote Vasily Grossman in his masterpiece "Life and Fate." "My faith has emerged from the flames of the crematoria, from the concrete of the gas chamber. I have seen that it is not man who is impotent in the struggle against evil, but the power of evil that is impotent in the struggle against man. The powerlessness of kindness, of senseless kindness, is the secret of its immortality. It can never be conquered. The more stupid, the more senseless, the more helpless it may seem, the vaster it is. Evil is impotent before it. The prophets, religious leaders, reformers, social and political leaders are impotent before it. This dumb, blind love is man's meaning. Human history is not the battle of good struggling to overcome evil. It is a battle fought by a great evil struggling to crush a small kernel of human kindness. But if what is human in human beings has not been destroyed even now, then evil will never conquer."
(c) 2017 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...

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~~~ Jeff Darcy ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Rookie Justice Gorsuch Assigned To Supreme Court Overnight Shift
By The Onion

WASHINGTON-Presiding over the dimly lit chamber during the small hours of the morning, newly sworn-in justice Neil Gorsuch was reportedly forced Tuesday to work the Supreme Court overnight shift.

"It's pretty boring, and it sucks that it's so late, but [Justice] Anthony [Kennedy] told me that doing the graveyard shift is just a rite of passage rookies like me have gone through since pretty much the beginning of the judicial branch," said Gorsuch, adding that so far things had been fairly uneventful except for a few "kind of weird" interstate commerce cases. "There's honestly not that much to do besides just keeping an eye on the place and dealing with whoever straggles in at 2 a.m. to file an amicus brief. Luckily, you can pretty much just read a book most of the time, and I've got a little portable radio to keep me company when things are really dead. Still, I'm hoping this is just for a few months before they transfer me to a normal shift."

At press time, Gorsuch was reportedly attempting to rouse a heavily intoxicated assistant solicitor general who had passed out in the back of the courtroom.
(c) 2017 The Onion

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Issues & Alibis Vol 17 # 14 (c) 04/21/2017

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