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In This Edition

Thom Hartmann returns with, "The GOP Has Blood On Their Hands."

Lee Fang returns with, "CVS Health Quietly Made Massive Donation To Dark-Money Group Fighting Access To Care."

Leonard Pitts Jr. returns with, "An American Court Did Right By An African-American Man. For A Change."

Jim Hightower explains, "How The Corporate Plutocracy Works."

William Rivers Pitt warns, "Amid COVID Surge, NH Governor Lifts Mask Mandate And Orders Kids Back To School."

John Nichols interviews, "Representative Mark Pocan On Amazon And 'the Arrogance Of Corporations That Get Too Big.'"

James Donahue is, "Getting High On Honey."

David Swanson explains, "Hate Taxes But Love WWII? You Obviously Don't Know Where Taxes Came From."

David Suzuki says, "It's Time To Stop Logging Old-Growth Forests."

Charles P. Pierce says, "They Flew A Freaking Helicopter On Mars."

Juan Cole reports, "New Wind And Solar Up 50% Globally In 2020, As China Beats US By Over 4 To 1."

Robert Reich examines, "Biden's Industrial Policy."

Chris Hedges returns with, "The Collapse Of The American Empire."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports, "GOP Oppose Infrastructure Bill With Uplifting Reminder It's Okay To Be A Work In Progress," but first Uncle Ernie wonders, "How White Can White Be?"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Dave Granlund, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Jared Pike, Timothy A. Clary, Jose Luis Magana, Scott Eisen, Dan Meyers, Lloyd Wilson, Jim Watson, Carlina Teteris, Draft Kings, Purdue University, Sandia Labs, NASA, International Renewable Energy Agency, Robert Reich, Jim Hightower, Pexels, AFP, Unsplash, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments-

The Quotable Quote-
The Cartoon Corner-
To End On A Happy Note-
Have You Seen This-
Parting Shots-

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

Professor Xiulin Ruan with a sample of the whitest paint yet developed.

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How White Can White Be?
New hope in the fight against global warming
By Ernest Stewart

"Preservation of our environment is not a liberal or conservative challenge, it's common sense." ~~~ President Ronald Reagan

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won't you please, please help me
Help ~~~ The Beatles

I see where a new paint formulation could help buildings rely less on air conditioning, which could help curb global warming!

In an effort to curb global warming, Purdue University engineers have created the whitest paint yet. Coating buildings with this paint may one day cool them off enough to reduce the need for air conditioning, the researchers say.

Last October, the team created an ultra-white paint that pushed limits on how white paint can be. Now they've outdone that. The newer paint not only is whiter but also can keep surfaces cooler than the formulation that the researchers had previously demonstrated.

"If you were to use this paint to cover a roof area of about 1,000 square feet, we estimate that you could get a cooling power of 10 kilowatts. That's more powerful than the central air conditioners used by most houses," said Xiulin Ruan, a Purdue professor of mechanical engineering.

The researchers believe that "this white may be the closest equivalent of the blackest black, 'Vantablack,' which absorbs up to 99.9% of visible light. The new whitest paint formulation reflects up to 98.1% of sunlight - compared with the 95.5% of sunlight reflected by our previous ultra-white paint - and sends infrared heat away from a surface at the same time."

Typical commercial white paint gets warmer rather than cooler. Paints on the market that are designed to reject heat reflect only 80%-90% of sunlight and can't make surfaces cooler than their surroundings.

The team's research paper showing how the paint works was published on April 15, 2021, as the cover of the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

Two features give the paint its extreme whiteness. One is the paint's very high concentration of a chemical compound called barium sulfate which is also used to make photo paper and cosmetics white.

"We looked at various commercial products, basically anything that's white," said Xiangyu Li, a postdoctoral researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who worked on this project as a Purdue Ph.D. student in Ruan's lab. "We found that using barium sulfate, you can theoretically make things really, really reflective, which means that they're really, really white.

"The second feature is that the barium sulfate particles are all different sizes in the paint. How much each particle scatters light depends on its size, so a wider range of particle sizes allows the paint to scatter more of the light spectrum from the sun.

"A high concentration of particles that are also different sizes gives the paint the broadest spectral scattering, which contributes to the highest reflectance," said Joseph Peoples, a Purdue Ph.D. student in mechanical engineering.

There is a little bit of room to make the paint whiter, but not much without compromising the paint.

"Although a higher particle concentration is better for making something white, you can't increase the concentration too much. The higher the concentration, the easier it is for the paint to break or peel off," Li said.

The paint's whiteness also means that the paint is the coolest on record. Using high-accuracy temperature reading equipment called thermocouples, the researchers demonstrated outdoors that the paint can keep surfaces 19 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than their ambient surroundings at night. It can also cool surfaces 8 degrees Fahrenheit below their surroundings under strong sunlight during noon hours.

The paint's solar reflectance is so effective, it even worked in the middle of winter. During an outdoor test with an ambient temperature of 43 degrees Fahrenheit, the paint still managed to lower the sample temperature by 18 degrees Fahrenheit.

This white paint is the result of six years of research building on attempts going back to the 1970s to develop radiative cooling paint as a feasible alternative to traditional air conditioners.

Ruan's lab had considered over 100 different materials, narrowed them down to 10 and tested about 50 different formulations for each material. Their previous whitest paint was a formulation made of calcium carbonate, an earth-abundant compound commonly found in rocks and seashells.

Just one more step in the fight to save our Earth from global warming!



08-17-1968 ~ 04-17-2021
Thanks for the film!

01-05-1928 ~ 04-19-2021
Thanks for trying!

01-11-1947 ~ 04-19-2021
Thanks for the music!

07-13-1929 ~ 04-20-2021
Thanks for the film!

02-29-1928 ~ 04-20-2021
Thanks for the film!

09-05-1932 ~ 04-21-2021
Thanks for the music!


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


Until the next time, Peace!

(c) 2021 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, philosopher, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.

The GOP Has Blood On Their Hands
If America is to again be a "shining city on the hill" we must end our gun violence epidemic.
By Thom Hartmann

America, John F Kennedy said, was like John Winthrop's idealistic "city on a hill." Ronald Reagan added the word "shining" to that description when he plagiarized Kennedy. And now Republicans across the country want to change the word "city" to "armed encampment."

Republicans in the Texas House of Representatives just passed a so-called "Constitutional Carry" law that would allow pretty much anybody over 21 to carry a gun, concealed or not, permitted or not, experienced or not.

Democrats offered an amendment that would've forbidden "domestic terrorists and white supremacists" from the gun-carrying "right," but Republicans voted that down.

The whole "city on the hill" metaphor was meant to evoke a nation that others would want to emulate. Apparently we're now there: Brazilian fascist strongman Jair Bolsonaro has proclaimed that he wants every Brazilian to have a gun "just like in America."

After all, his country has nearly caught up with us having the second highest Covid death rate in the world; why not have the second highest gun death rate, too?

The mass shooter in Indianapolis last week had had his shotgun confiscated earlier in the month after his mother reported he was planning to commit "suicide by cop." He simply bought two more guns, this time high-powered assault rifles so he could more easily kill eight people in a few seconds.

We start by ending our epidemic of gun violence and calling out the GOP for what they have chosen to become: a death cult committed to violence, bigotry, and the destruction of our planet.

And those two weapons he bought weren't cheap: more money flowed into the blood-stained coffers of the NRA and their gun-manufacturing patrons.

As of last Friday, April 16, there have been 147 mass shootings in the US this year, a 73% increase over last year. Psychologists describe it as "a contagion," sort of like Covid. The more people do it, the more people will do it. We've known for decades that this is also how suicide works, which is why schools treat student suicide so differently from every other kind of death.

And, like with Covid, Republicans are doing everything they can to make sure that the contagious agent-in this case, a gun-is widely and freely available to anybody who may want it.

President Biden and the Democrats just proposed legislation that would limit gun magazines to no more than 10 rounds; Republicans are outraged.

After all, if you're going to wage war against your government because it's become "tyrannical" by offering things like free college, Medicare for All, and a wealth tax on billionaires to pay for it all, you're gonna need a hell of a lot more than just 10 rounds.

For most of the 18 years I've been doing my daily radio and TV show, I've been saying that, at the very least, we should regulate guns the same way we do cars. I lay out the details in my book The Hidden History of Guns and the Second Amendment.

The gun should be registered with the state and that registration should renew every year just like a car; the gun owner should be licensed and must demonstrate proficiency and pass a written exam just like a car driver; and there must be an insurance company writing a mandatory liability policy so when someone's hurt or killed with a gun they or their family get the same kind of financial cushion they would have had they been hit by a car.

Now, Stephen Colbert has picked up the banner of "license guns like cars," and it couldn't be a moment too soon. Hopefully more celebrities will get with the program; it's not anywhere near as extensive a form of gun control as rational countries like Australia and most of Europe have undertaken, but it's a start that every American can understand.

Our country was founded on a set of values and ideals; the first to do so in history. Or at least that was the concept, and with every passing century we get closer to realizing those ideals.

It's time to re-capture John F. Kennedy's idealism and actually make America a "city on the hill" we can be proud of and others will once again want to emulate.

We start by ending our epidemic of gun violence and calling out the GOP for what they have chosen to become: a death cult committed to violence, bigotry, and the destruction of our planet.

(c) 2021 Thom Hartmann is a talk-show host and the author of "The Hidden History of Monopolies: How Big Business Destroyed the American Dream" (2020); "The Hidden History of the Supreme Court and the Betrayal of America" (2019); and more than 25 other books in print.

CVS Health Quietly Made Massive Donation To Dark-Money Group Fighting Access To Care
The pharmacy and health insurance giant gave $5 million to Partnership for America's Health Care Future.
By Lee Fang

In a year marked by a coronavirus pandemic that has killed millions, CVS Health financed a wave of political advocacy against measures to control health care costs and increase access.

The health care giant, which owns Aetna health insurance and operates thousands of pharmacies and walk-in clinics around the country, provided $5 million to the Partnership for America's Health Care Future, or PAHCF.

The seven-figure donation from CVS is the largest known contribution to PAHCF, which was formed in 2018 to lobby and advocate against proposals such as Medicare for All, the public option, and similar reforms that have gained growing support in recent years. PAHCF is a 501(c)(4) and is not required to disclose donor information.

Last year, PAHCF swamped voters in Democratic primary states such as South Carolina with ads urging voters to oppose Medicare for All. In states considering the public option, the group hired local lobbyists and aired advertisements designed to discourage state legislators from voting for the plan. And just before the general election, the group again aired ads attacking the public option.

Neither CVS Health nor PAHCF responded to a request for comment. Despite CVS Health's donation, the company is not listed as a coalition member of PAHCF on the group's website.

In recent weeks, PAHCF appears to be reprising its role. The group has launched ads that have warned lawmakers against supporting President Joe Biden's national public option proposal and funneled resources into states to attack state-based proposals for public insurance plans.

Last week, CVS Health chief executive officer Karen S. Lynch co-signed a letter to Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, warning that the drive to enact a public health insurance option would drive health insurance businesses out of the state.

The letter, also signed by the chief executives of Anthem, Cigna, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, and UnitedHealth Group, charged that the effort to lower premiums and expand coverage through a public option "will only further deteriorate the state's fragile economy."

The disclosure of the $5 million donation comes as PAHCF has embarked on another round of advertising in the Colorado, Maine, Montana, Connecticut, and the Washington, D.C., markets. The organization also launched an offshoot in Nevada, another state in which legislators are considering a public option proposal.

Last year, PAHCF successfully lobbied to defeat a previous attempt to pass a so-called public option insurance plan in Colorado.

The Colorado program was designed to provide residents with an alternative health insurance plan with premiums that would cost an average of 20 percent less than private insurers. The proposal also contained a number of cost-saving measures, including a requirement that drug companies pass rebates directly to consumers, rather than third-party health care providers or insurers.

The PAHCF ads railed against the proposal, claiming that it would introduce "government-controlled health care" that would insert politicians into decisions that should be left to patients and doctors.

The group, working in concert with the Federation of American Hospitals and the Healthcare Leadership Council, has also lobbied lawmakers directly. Internal documents from the group, previously reported by The Intercept, show that PAHCF and its affiliates directly engaged ghostwriters to author opinion columns, briefed Democratic Party officials on the dangers of embracing health reform, and worked to pressure candidates in the presidential primaries.

But watchdogs such as the Center for Health and Democracy say the group is merely a lobbying front to preserve the profits and market share of private health providers and insurers.

"The story of healthcare in America is about profit-driven corporations versus Americans who need care," said Wendell Potter, the president of the Center for Health and Democracy.

While the pandemic ravaged the economy and claimed the employer-sponsored health coverage of some 15 million Americans, much of the health care industry thrived. CVS Health collected nearly $13.9 billion in operating income last year. HCA Healthcare, the for-profit hospital chain that also funds PAHCF, paid its chief executive Samuel Hazen $30.4 million last year.

CVS devotes large sums of money on political influence. Last year, the company spent $10.3 million on federal lobbying efforts. The voluntary disclosure that shows the $5 million donation to PAHCF also revealed other donations to political influence groups that do not reveal donor information.

The company donated $1,750,000 to Majority Forward, a group affiliated with Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., that supports Senate Democrats and $1,750,000 to One Nation, a group affiliated with Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., that supports Senate Republicans. CVS also made donations to a variety of political organizations, including Third Way, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, the American Enterprise Institute, Center Forward, and the American Action Forum.

"Make no mistake: As long as their billions in profits are threatened, the front group for the health insurance industry will spend whatever it takes to keep the status quo exactly the way it is," added Potter.

(c) 2021 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 from 2009 to 2011, and then a fellow at the Investigative Fund of the Nation Institute and contributing writer for The Nation.

An American Court Did Right By An African-American Man. For A Change
Derek Chauvin found guilty of murder in George Floyd killing Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted on all charges in the death of George Floyd. He was found guilty of unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
By Leonard Pitts Jr.

I sat there trying to remember how to breathe.

I suspect I had that in common with people - particularly African-American people - all over the country. Didn't we all hold our breath as we awaited the verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin?

Then that verdict was read. The former Minneapolis police officer was found guilty on all three counts in the death of George Floyd and was promptly handcuffed and led off to jail. On television, people shouted and prayed, cranking their fists toward heaven. I just sat there, trying to remember how lungs are supposed to work.

And thinking that justice - real justice - shouldn't be this difficult. In a nation that was not broken along seams of race, a nation where you could trust the police to actually protect and serve no matter the color of your skin, Chauvin's conviction would have been a foregone conclusion. But in this nation, it was anything but. That's why I forgot to breathe. And why, after the verdict, what I felt was less exultation than simply relief.

An American court did right by an African-American man. For a change.

You might, if you are innocent or ignorant of American history, wonder what the fuss is about. After all, the evidence of Chauvin's crime was compelling and overwhelming, cell phone video that showed him kneeling on the neck of a handcuffed and unresisting man for nine and a half minutes while Floyd pleaded and cried. Bystanders begged Chauvin to stop and he faced them with an expression of malevolent nonchalance as if to convey that he was in charge here - his badge gave him that authority - and he would do with this black body what he damn well pleased. As indeed, he did.

So you may, in innocence or ignorance, wonder how there could have been any doubt of this outcome. But see, they also had pictures in 1930 when Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith were killed in Marion, Indiana. They had pictures of Rubin Stacy in Fort Lauderdale in 1935. They had confessions of kidnapping when Emmett Till was murdered in 1955, had video when Rodney King was beaten to pieces in 1991. More video when Tamir Rice was shot in 2014. And Philando Castile in 2016. And Terence Crutcher, also in 2016. And no one was ever held accountable for any of those killings - or for literally thousands just like them.

Point being, there is nothing new about compelling, overwhelming evidence. But such evidence has seldom been a match for America's refusal to know or its stubborn disregard of Black lives.

So what was different this time?

Maybe it's that this video was particularly excruciating. Maybe it was recognition that the eyes of the world were upon us. Whatever it was, it led to a verdict for which we can only be grateful.

But did it lead to change? Did something heavy just shift in the psyche of a nation? Will African Americans henceforth know a new form of justice, one that is not spotty or hit-and-miss, but that, in the words of the prophet Amos, rolls down like waters?

It would be nice to believe that. But if one is not innocent or ignorant of America, one cannot help but recall all the times belief has gone begging, all the times promise has lied. One is tempered by memory of Trayvon, Breonna and so many others who never knew justice.

Maybe that sounds cynical to you. But these last years have been traumatizing and besides, I am a Black man in America.

So I'm also sitting here trying to remember how to hope.

(c) 2021 Leonard Pitts Jr. won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2004. He is the author of the novel, Before I Forget. His column runs every Sunday and Wednesday in the Miami Herald. Forward From This Moment, a collection of his columns, was published in 2009.

How The Corporate Plutocracy Works
By Jim Hightower

An old political truism notes that, "Where there's a will, there are 1,000 won'ts." And what a hurricane of won'ts swirled out of Washington's power centers in March to pummel Joe Biden! Corporate lobbyists and their congressional hirelings howled at him for declaring that he would seek a tax increase on corporations to pay for the essential, overdue job of repairing and expanding our nation's antiquated, dilapidated infrastructure. Blowhard Mitch McConnell, the GOP's senate leader, blustered that poor corporate America should not be singled out to bear this "burden."

But wait -Mitch singled out the corporate giants in 2017 to receive a massive cut in their tax rate, so even with a slight increase now they'll still pay much less than regular people.

Also, the giants wormed loopholes in the law to cut their taxes further. Indeed, 55 of the biggest, most profitable corporations paid zero in US income taxes last. As Bernie Sanders points out: "If you paid $120 for a pair of [Nike] shoes, you paid more to Nike than it paid in federal income taxes over the past 3 years, while it made $4.1 billion in profits."

Mitch and his fellow hypocrites cynically profess they support restoring America's infrastructure - but, he says, asking our corporate political funders to pay more "is not going to get support from our side."

So, who do they want to pay for it? You. Working people and the poor! Sen. Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican and a leader of Mitch's team, points to putting more user fees on drivers and adding taxes on consumers as the way to go.

To see a list of other major corporate scofflaws who've been pocketing billions in profits, yet paying zilch for the upkeep of America, go to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy:

(c) 2021 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates,"is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition. Jim writes The Hightower Lowdown, a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America's ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at

Gov. Chris Sununu delivers remarks at The Brook venue in Seabrook, New Hampshire, on October 23, 2020.

Amid COVID Surge, NH Governor Lifts Mask Mandate And Orders Kids Back To School
By William Rivers Pitt

This past Friday saw 78,932 official diagnoses of new COVID-19 cases nationally. On the same day, New Hampshire's Republican Gov. Chris Sununu officially lifted the state's mask mandate, while making it clear that he still thinks wearing masks is really important, you guys. This move came only days after Sununu ordered all children back into full-time on-site schooling, beginning today.

Boy, things must be clearing up nicely around here, yeah?

"New Hampshire's trends in managing the pandemic are as troubling as any point over the past several months, with several key measures of progress getting worse in recent weeks," reports New Hampshire Public Radio.

"We are seeing a real spike in COVID-19 cases," says New Hampshire Health Care Association President Brendan Williams, "and with new variants like B.1.1.7 circulating, we will be the only New England state without a mask requirement - including for visitors from states hot with the virus."

In other words, at a critical moment when vaccinations and safe behavior are in a headlong race to outrun the virus and its multiple and multiplying variants, Mr. Sununu has chosen to govern in the typical modern Republican way: Throw the parachute out of the plane, jump out after it, and hope you catch up to it before the ground catches up to you.

Is the mask requirement absolute at all moments? As the weather warms across the country, states could feel safe about lifting the outdoor mask mandate. "Governments need to give Americans an off-ramp to the post-pandemic world," argues Derek Thompson in The Atlantic. "Ending outdoor mask mandates - or at the very least telling people when they can expect outdoor mask mandates to lift - is a good place to start."

The risk of infection in an out-of-doors setting is comparatively low. Indoor spaces are the petri dishes where this thing thrives. Lapsing the mask mandate at the same time as you send the kids back into the building for full-time school seems tantamount to taunting the virus to its face. It puts teachers and administrators as well as children in the line of fire for these new variants, some of which don't seem to give much of a damn about how young or healthy you are.

The variants, you see, are the whole ballgame right now. Republican defenders of watering down our COVID precautions point to declining death rates and hospitalizations. They are correct that the mortality rate has dropped; battlefield surgeons know more about saving lives in the middle of a war than they did at the beginning. The vaccines are also doing their part keeping people from getting so sick that they require hospitalization. This is all to the good.

The overall infection rate, however, is terrifying: Nearly 80,000 in one day, and at a moment when more than 130 million people have been vaccinated. The variants like B.1.1.7 out of Britain and P1 out of Brazil come into being when there are sky-high infection rates (like we have right now), because every single infection provides the virus with a chance to mutate. Letting this thing burn the way it is while cutting back on basic protections like masks invites the rise and takeover of a variant that could look at our miraculous vaccines and see nothing more muscular than tap water.

Why, for the love of Jonas Salk, is this happening?

Jim Justice, the Republican governor of West Virginia, dropped a big clue in early March of this year when he whomped Greg Abbott, the Republican governor of Texas, for declaring his state to be clear of the virus. "I don't want to be critical," said Justice, "but some people want to just move because it's the most politically correct thing they can do. It becomes almost a macho thing and everything."

The penny drops. "Political correctness," the current right-wing bugaboo about the left, is about more than word choice and sensitivity. The concept brings with it the idea of a whole world view that looks down on all things disapproved of by the left. Preposterous in the main, the argument resonates strongest with the segment of the population that sees no problem with racist voting laws, hyper-violent cops and Confederate battle flags carried down the marbled halls of a sacked Capitol dome.

Jim Justice, in castigating Abbott for disdaining the science of COVID, revealed a very strict version of political correctness burning like a bonfire in the center of the Republican Party. Puddings like Abbott and Sununu feel compelled to dance around it with the rest, lest they be cast into the flames. The price for this furious fealty to a fiction: The damaged health of the body politic and the elongation of the pandemic. If a protracted pandemic harms the present administration, perhaps that is an end unto itself.

To be a Republican today usually requires, among a variety of things including the vocal belief that Trump won last November, a staunch anti-science worldview that equates masks with manacles and the very death of God. This is the "political correctness" of the right, and it comes with lethal baggage: The least vaccinated portions of the country are also the places where Trump performed well in the election.

The culture war has become one of the only reasons for the GOP to exist. As it happens, that war is also spectacular for GOP fundraising. The best way to raise money if you're a Republican today? Adhere to Republican political correctness: Trump yes, science no.

The fight over COVID is the beating heart of that lucrative phenomenon. Beyond that, anything that makes governing harder for President Biden increases GOP prospects for the '22 midterms, and if you think that's not part of the equation, I humbly suggest you have some more reading to do (see: Mitch McConnell).

New Hampshire, now the only New England state without a mask mandate whileon the verge of a fourth-wave surge of infections, has fallen victim to another Republican official's lemming-like need to dive off the cliff of GOP political correctness. Thanks to "leaders" like Chris Sununu, the end of this ordeal remains nowhere in sight, and more variants are just waiting to hatch.

(c) 2021 William Rivers Pitt is a senior editor and lead columnist at Truthout. He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know, The Greatest Sedition Is Silence and House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation. His fourth book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co_written with Dahr Jamail, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in New Hampshire.

US Congressman Mark Pocan

Representative Mark Pocan On Amazon And 'The Arrogance Of Corporations That Get Too Big'
The Wisconsin representative whom Amazon attacked talks about the company's self-serving apology, the Bessemer union vote, and the PRO Act.
By John Nichols

At the end of March, US Representative Mark Pocan got into a pissing match with Amazon about restroom breaks and availability for workers-a contentious issue in the Alabama union-organizing drive the corporation eventually thwarted. After Pocan criticized Amazon, the company attacked the former Congressional Progressive Caucus cochair, claiming his facts were wrong. Actually, it was Amazon that was wrong, and it had to apologize. Pocan immediately refocused attention on working conditions in Amazon's warehouses. That's typical of how the Wisconsin Democrat-a dues-paying member of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades who recently spearheaded an effort to form a House labor caucus-fights for worker rights. I interviewed Pocan about battling Amazon and working to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act of 2021.

JN: How does your union membership inform your service in Congress?

MP: About half of my colleagues in Congress are millionaires. I am not. And I think coming from a working-class background growing up, and being myself someone who did the work in my business and with my hands and did the printing and everything else, I appreciate and understand the actions that the federal government can take and how they affect workers.

JN: You often take on corporate power. Were you surprised that Amazon was so aggressive in attacking you-and the union cause?

MP: For them to argue about whether or not some of their workers have to urinate in bottles because of the schedules they're put on, to fight on a point like that-which could so easily be disproven-was really a huge miscalculation. It shows the arrogance of corporations that get too big.

After a week of them getting pummeled by both their workers in the warehouses as well as their drivers-showing pictures of bottles with their urine, talking about the fact that they can't take bathroom breaks, talking about the conditions-they finally had to cave. But rather than caving to their employees and admitting they have to improve the working conditions, they decided to apologize to the policy-maker, which again showed the tone-deafness of a giant megacorporation.

Really, in many ways, it's a sign of the future. If you're going to have a continued consolidation of industries, you're going to have continued Amazon-like behavior unless there's the appropriate pushback.

JN: You did push back, and they did apologize. But one of the things that struck me was that their apology to you was very self-serving.

MP: Oh, yeah, absolutely. It was like, "We tried to do a gotcha, but hey, here's all these other industries where people pee in their bottles, so we guess even though we lied, it wasn't that bad of a lie because apparently a lot of employers are crappy." I don't know if that is exactly going to go down as the apology of the century.

We tried to push back by saying, "Look, you acknowledge it. That's a positive step, but now do something about it. Don't apologize to me, the policy-maker. Apologize to your employees. Fix the conditions."

JN: The Amazon fight involved an effort to unionize a huge facility in a "right to work" state-a very tough setting. One of the things that you've focused a lot on is the PRO Act and the role that it might play in making it easier to organize all over the country.

MP: If you look at the 1950s, when you had the highest rates of unionization, you had one of the lowest rates of income inequality. Since then, union membership has decreased from around 33 percent of the workforce to around 10 percent. What's the impact? Over the past 40 years, according to the Economic Policy Institute, income growth for the top 1 percent has been five times as fast as for the bottom 90 percent of households. So clearly their efforts were successful in taking away workers' voices, which allowed them to shift more money to the very top and not to the average worker.

The PRO Act tries to address multiple attacks over the years that have made it harder for workers to have a voice. It addresses them all. So whether it be allowing workers to have the right to organize, holding employers accountable for violating workers' rights, and then making sure that you can have a free, fair, and safe union election, that's at the essential core of what the PRO Act is about.

(c) 2021 John Nichols writes about politics for The Capitol Times. His book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

Getting High On Honey
By James Donahue

That so-called "war on drugs" raging in the United States and a few other nations appears to be losing out to the force of Mother Earth. It seems that even the bees are creating a certain brew of honey that brings on euphoria and hallucinations.

But don't go out and raid the local grocery stores for honey now that you know this. The honey we are talking about is rare. It is known as deli bal, or "mad honey," and is produced by bees that feed on grayanotoxin, a poisonous nectar from a special breed of the rhododendron flower that grows in Turkey, along the Black Sea.

The locals have known about this "mad honey" for years. In fact, over the years the people of that region have traded it as a produce with Europe, where the honey is mixed with drinks to give patrons a special "high."

The people in the region consider this special honey as a form of medicine. They use it to treat hypertension, diabetes, mellitus and stomach problems. They also believe it improves their sexual experience.

It is said that the local armies used the honey as a weapon against enemy soldiers. They left combs of deli bal along the trails taken by enemy soldiers. The soldiers fed on the honey, then became so intoxicated they were easily defeated in battle.

There is a warning that goes with this kind of honey, however. It must be consumed in small doses. Too much will cause the blood pressure to drop, irregular heartbeat, nausea, numbness, blurred vision, seizures and sometimes even death. Mad honey poisoning sometimes occurs among travelers that don't know the dangers of an overdose.

While there are over 700 different species of rhododendron in the world, horticulturalists say they believe only two or three include the ingredient grayanotoxin in their nectar. This species apparently abounds along the humid mountainous slopes of Turkey, along the Black Sea. And it is here where the bees collect their nectars. The result is a potent form of deli bal.

The honey is legal in Turkey and can be purchased in shops that sell various varieties of honey. But deli bal is costly. At last count the price tag was $166 a pound. Local shopkeepers are generally leery about who they sell the honey to because they understand the danger of overconsumption. A teaspoon full is about as much as a person should consume at one time.

(c) 2021 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles.

Hate Taxes But Love WWII? You Obviously Don't Know Where Taxes Came From
By David Swanson

The United States excels at hating taxes, and for good reason. The U.S. government gives you damn near nothing in return for them. You pay them at a higher rate than do billionaires or corporations. Cheating is permitted only if at a sufficiently large scale. And once you've paid your taxes, you still have to rush out and pay for everything that your taxes buy you in other countries: healthcare, childcare, education, recreation, retirement, transportation, etc. Pretty soon you're broke, but all you hear from government spokespeople as they do soaring flips off high dives into swimming pools full of cash for weapons companies is "Sorry, we're out of funds. Maybe if you donate to our campaigns that'll help."

Who wouldn't be disgusted?

Well, lovers of World War II, that's who, if they had any clue where taxes came from. Ordinary people pay taxes in 2021 in the United states that were created to pay for WWII. And, like the military spending, foreign bases, occupations of Germany and Italy and Japan, and even the use of the Pentagon, they were supposed to end some day. Of course, choosing to love taxes when you find out that they're associated with the number one topic of U.S. propaganda and the very worst thing humanity has ever done to itself in any short period of time is only one option, and not the one I recommend.

Here's a little background.

Alexander Hamilton's argument for the power to tax in Federalist #30 was in case anybody wanted some wars. Turns out they did. Between 1789 and 1815, tariffs produced 90 percent of government revenue. But taxes were needed for wars, including wars against protests of the taxes - such as President Washington's quashing of the Whiskey Rebellion. A property tax was put in place in 1789 in order to build up a Navy (some people in what is now Libya allegedly needed killing for the good of humanity, oddly enough). More taxes were needed in 1798 because of the troublesome French. But taxation really got going with the War of 1812.

The War of 1812 was to be an easy cakewalk kind of war with Canadians welcoming invaders as liberators. But mistakes were made, as they say, and the bill grew hefty. Congress passed a tax program in 1812 that included a direct tax on land, and excise taxes on retailers, stills, auction sales, sugar, bank notes, and carriages. And in 1815, Congress added a new direct tax and restored that controversial whiskey tax as well, plus taxes on all kinds of items, luxurious and otherwise. The idea of an income tax was raised but rejected.

The income tax was brought to you courtesy of that famous act of mass stupidity that is somehow glorious despite most of the world ending slavery without it: the Civil War. The North began an income tax in 1862, and the Confederacy in 1863. This was after the routine promises of a cheap and easy war had worn out their welcome. Both sides were forcing men to leave their homes to kill and risk death, but effectively excusing the wealthy from that duty. Thus arose popular pressure to compel the rich to "sacrifice" financially. Both sides enacted progressive, graduated income taxes, and other taxes as well. The North taxed everything in sight, including inheritances and especially corporations. The financial cost of the Civil War was astronomical, and the veterans' pension program was the first major social welfare program in the United States.

But with the end of war came the end of support for taxes, and the income tax and the inheritance tax lapsed temporarily in 1872. Taxation returned to primarily regressive forms, taxing consumption rather than taxing incomes at various levels. Advocacy remained strong in the country, its newspapers, and in Congress in the following years to restore the income and inheritance taxes. Major change would not come, however, until World War I and its army of patriotic propagandists. This is from War and Taxes by Steven Bank, Kirk Stark, and Joseph Thorndike:

"The transition from an almost exclusive reliance on customs duties to a substantial reliance on internal revenues, such as the income tax, the estate tax, and excise taxes, could not have occurred without the demand for fiscal sacrifice that accompanied wartime politics."

What a bargain: you stop taxing foreign goods in order to tax yourself, in order to go kill the people who make the foreign goods - unless they kill you first.

"But this process did not flow naturally from the public mood in support of the war. Rather, for the first time, the notion of wartime fiscal sacrifice was cultivated, marketed, and sold to the American public."

New taxes were created in 1914, 1916, 1917, and 1918. The income tax was now back in a big way, along with the estate tax, a munitions tax, an excess profits tax, and other heavy taxes on corporations. The munitions and profits taxes were results of an ongoing debate through most of U.S. history over how to tax war profiteering. Until the current century, profiting financially from war was widely considered unacceptable. The draft again served as an argument for taxing the wealthy. Even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce claimed to be "undismayed at the prospect of great taxes," and pledged "its full and unqualified support in the prosecution of the war." The 1917 legislation drew 74% of its revenue from taxing the wealthy and another 13% from taxing luxuries.

Following World War I, various taxes were no longer needed. In 1921 and 1924 Congress repealed the excess profits tax but left the income tax in place, rather than adopting a sales tax favored by business groups. The top rate of taxation on income was reduced from 77% to 25%, but that was still more than double where it had been before the war. Meanwhile, the estate tax remained in place, and corporate taxes were actually increased during the 1920s. Taxation and progressive taxation survived the outbreak of peace.

Then came the most glorious war of all, and with it massive taxation for all. World War II spending, taxation, and - of course - the draft, were off and running long before Pearl Harbor. And by the end of this worst catastrophe in human history government funding had been transformed:

"The personal income tax, long confined to the upper strata of American society, became mainstream. Between 1939 and 1945, Congress lowered exemptions repeatedly, converting what had long been a 'class tax' into a full-fledged 'mass tax.' . . . [B]y 1945, more than 90 percent of American workers were filing income tax returns. At the same time, lawmakers significantly increased tax rates, with marginal tax rates peaking at 94%. . . . By the war's end, the tax was raising 40% of total federal revenue, making it the largest source of federal funds."
This required a new round of sweet smelling Donald Duck droppings, otherwise known as propaganda. Taxes were renamed "the Victory Tax." In a Disney cartoon, the narrator warned Donald Duck that "It takes taxes to beat the Axis!" An Irving Berlin song was titled "I Paid My Income Tax Today." Among the lyrics: "You see those bombers in the sky? Rockefeller helped to build them, So did I!"

In 1943 Congress overrode a presidential veto to shift the tax burden more heavily onto working people. Corporations would never again to this day shoulder the share of public funding that they had in the early years of World War II.

Taxes were reduced again after the war. But again, they were not returned to pre-war levels. The 1948 reduction was the only time taxes have been cut by overriding a presidential veto. President Truman was envisioning a permanent military state while millions of other Americans were hoping war had ended at least for a while.

But in 1950 and 1951, Congress passed new tax bills, including an excess profits tax, to pay for war in Korea, and to return the tax system to roughly what it had been during World War II. Truman won. You lost.

(c) 2021 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.

Forests provide habitat for numerous life forms, help regulate hydrologic and climate cycles, filter
water, prevent flooding, absorb climate-altering carbon and even provide hedges against pandemics

It's Time To Stop Logging Old-Growth Forests
By David Suzuki

It's Time To Stop Logging Old-Growth Forests By David Suzuki with contributions from Senior Editor and Writer Ian Hanington Anyone who's read the book I wrote with Wayne Grady, Tree: A Life Story, or Peter Wohlleben's The Hidden Life of Trees, knows there's a big difference between a healthy forest and a tree plantation. Primary forests, especially old-growth, are complex, interconnected communities, with a variety of trees of different ages and sizes that communicate and share nutrients through complex networks of fungal mycorrhizae.

Forests provide habitat for numerous life forms, help regulate hydrologic and climate cycles, filter water, prevent flooding, absorb climate-altering carbon and even provide hedges against pandemics. We should be doing everything possible to protect the world's remaining healthy forests.

Instead, we're clear cutting and burning them at an alarming rate -all for the sake of economic growth.

Tension between outdated extraction-based economics and the desire to protect that which makes the planet habitable for humans and other life is coming to loggerheads at Fairy Creek northwest of Victoria on Vancouver Island. A tributary of the San Juan River, it's one of the last unlogged watersheds on the island and one of the largest intact old-growth forests in the region outside of parkland.

Since August, opponents have set up camp to prevent Teal Cedar Products from logging the area. On April 1, the B.C. Supreme Court granted the company an injunction to have the blockade removed. The forest protectors refuse to leave.

Although Teal vice-president Gerrie Kotze says the company plans to log a small area "with the care and attention to the environment British Columbians expect," the standoff is indicative of a larger issue around how old-growth forests are treated in Canada, particularly in B.C.

In March, the Sierra Club, Ancient Forest Alliance and Wilderness Committee released a report card giving the B.C. government a failing grade for not adhering to short-term recommendations for protecting old growth outlined in an independent study from last year.

As part of a three-year timeline to improve practices, the study called for development in old forests with high risks of irreversible biodiversity loss to be deferred within six months. Although the province announced it would defer harvesting in nine areas, totalling 353,000 hectares, much of it's in high alpine areas or is second growth. Sierra Club senior forest and climate campaigner and science adviser Jens Wieting told the Times Colonist the deferral represents a small fraction of at-risk old-growth forests, and the government has yet to set a work plan or commit any funding.

At the current rate of logging, "many endangered old-growth ecosystems like those in Fairy Creek will be logged to the brink within three to five years," Wieting said.

The B.C. government says it's committed to implementing the study's 14 recommendations -which include "full involvement of Indigenous leaders and organizations" and support for "forest sector workers and communities as they adapt to changes resulting from a new forest management system." But Forests Minister Katrine Conroy also argued a moratorium "risks thousands of good family-supporting jobs." If "good jobs" depend on destroying the natural systems our health and lives depend on, it may be time to rethink our approach to work.

An interactive map released in February by Prince George-based Conservation North shows how dire the situation is for B.C.'s old forests. Very little of the province's primary forests remain and much of what does is in the high mountains. Primary forests encompass more than just old growth, as some have regrown after natural disturbances such as wildfires.

The differences between primary and second-growth forests are vast. In an unlogged forest where trees are able to go through a natural cycle, they eventually become snags (standing dead trees) that provide habitat. When they fall, they become nurse logs, which nurture seedlings. The root structures of trees nurtured by nurse logs provide dens for wildlife.

A primary forest is much more complex than a replanted forest, providing food and shelter to other life. This makes it an ecosystem rather than a tree farm. Old-growth forests also store far more carbon.

Old-growth and all primary forests are irreplaceable. We need to respect the interconnected natural systems that are so important to life. It's time to stop the logging at Fairy Creek and all old forests in Canada.

(c) 2021 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

They Flew A Freaking Helicopter On Mars
On an otherwise terrible weekend, a helicopter built by our fellow human beings flew above the surface of another world.
By Charles P. Pierce

So, I woke up on Monday, and they were flying a helicopter on Mars.


From the Washington Post:

At about 3:30 a.m., the twin, carbon-fiber rotor blades began spinning furiously, and the chopper, called Ingenuity, lifted off the surface of the Red Planet, reaching an altitude of about 10 feet, where it hovered, turned and landed softly in an autonomous flight that lasted just 30 seconds, the space agency said.
And this is so very cool.
As a tribute to the Wright brothers, Ingenuity has a postage-sized bit of fabric from the brothers' aircraft, known as the Flyer, attached to a cable under the solar panel.
It was an otherwise terrible weekend. We had unfortunate exercises in Second Amendment freedoms in Indianapolis, and Austin, and Kenosha, and Omaha, and we may have narrowly avoided one at Bowling Green State University. (Yes, Kellyanne, we might well have had an actual Bowling Green massacre.) As predicted, there will be no bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol. Vladimir Putin is going full Margaret Thatcher and is more than halfway to allowing Alexei Navalny to die in custody while on hunger strike. And cities all over the country were bunkering themselves against the possibility that Derek Chauvin could walk on charges he killed George Floyd.

But a helicopter built by our fellow human beings flew above the surface of another world while carrying a little bit of the first powered vehicle to fly over the surface of this one. I choose to begin this week being amazed and astonished by this simple fact.


Lived long enough for that.

(c) 2021 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.

The Quotable Quote-

"If what we've heard reported is indeed the administration's position, then the administration has broken with the logic of endless war."
~~~ Bernie Sanders

The DOE/Sandia Scaled Wind Farm Technology (SWiFT) facility at the Reese Technology Center
in Lubbock, Texas allows for rapid, cost-efficient testing and development of transformative
wind energy technology, with specific emphasis on improving wind plant performance.

New Wind And Solar Up 50% Globally In 2020, As China Beats US By Over 4 To 1
The United States was lying down on the job.
By Juan Cole

The new report on 2020 by the International Renewable Energy Agency reveals that the world's renewable energy generation capacity increased by an astonishing 10.3% in 2020 despite the global economic slowdown during the coronavirus pandemic. It beats the previous record for an annual increase in this sector by a healthy 50%.

The bad news for Americans is that most of this increase took place in Asia, especially China. In this strategic set of technologies, China is eating America's lunch.

Given that China beat the pandemic even before the vaccine with masks and social distancing, while the odious Trump left counties on their own and refused to mobilize the federal government, it is no surprise that the Chinese economy saw a growth spurt last fall and grew for the year. In the first quarter of 2021, China's economy grew an eye-popping 18.3%! Along with its rapid march to renewables, China is becoming more and more formidable. Unlike the Biden administration, I don't see this as a threat, but as a healthy challenge. If we want to compete, we have to swing into action.

In 2020, the global net increase in renewables was 261 gigawatts (GW). That is the nameplate capacity of some 300 nuclear power plants! There are actually only 440 nuclear power plants in the whole world, with a generation capacity of 390 gigawatts.

So let's just underline this point. The world put in two-thirds as much renewable energy in one year as is produced by all the existing nuclear plants!

Those who argue we absolutely must construct more nuclear plants to beat the climate emergency are clearly just wrong. Renewables can do it all, and they can be installed much more inexpensively and way faster than nuclear plants. Nuclear is a distraction and a diversion of resources at a time when we are racing to get the Earth down to producing no net carbon dioxide.

Asia was responsible for the lion's share of the new renewables capacity, at 61%.

In other words, the United States was lying down on the job. President Joe Biden wants to turn this lackluster performance around and put the U.S. back into the vanguard of this crucial emerging technology.

Almost all (91%) of the new renewables capacity consisted in wind and solar farms.

Asia has 1,286 gigawatts of renewables, and they put in 167.6 GWs just in 2020! North America, despite being industrially and technologically advanced, only has 422 gigawatts. For shame, America. Even Europe has 609 gigawatts.

Since I cover the Middle East a lot at this site, it is worth noting that this region only has a minor renewables capacity, of about 24 gigawatts, only 1% of the global production. It only put in 1.2 gigawatts last year. This result is because the region has so much natural gas. But note that renewables are nevertheless cheaper and more reliable in their pricing. In the region, only Morocco has made real strides toward renewables, though there are some big projects planned in Egypt.

The rate of new wind energy installation almost doubled in 2020 year on year, with an increase of of 111 gigawatts in 2020 against only 58 new gigawatts in 2019.

China was the world leader here, putting in 72.4 gigawatts of new wind all by itself. The U.S. only put in 14.2 gigawatts of wind.

This kind of statistic has made President Biden worried about American competitiveness in the new world that is taking shape. China is leaving us in the dust.

Offshore wind reached 5% of total wind capacity in 2020. It is still a small part of the sector but it is growing rapidly and has enormous potential.

In what is perhaps a sign of the future, solar energy, which was a poor cousin to wind a few years ago, has now caught up with it and its responsible for just about as much electricity production.

Asia was the leader here too, putting in 78 gigawatts of new solar in 2020 (up from 55 GW in 2019). China alone put in nearly 50 gigawatts of new solar. Vietnam put in 11.6 GW of new solar. Japan, despite being an advanced industrial country, only put in 5 GW of new solar.

India only put in 4 GW of solar in 2020, despite its big ambitions, about the same as South Korea.

The United States was down around the Vietnam level, with only 14.9 gigawatts of new solar.

I've been in places like Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, and Arizona in the summer, and I cannot understand why every single house doesn't have solar panels. In some Republican-ruled such states, the legislature has even put in fees to discourage solar and promote dirty fossil fuels, which are wrecking the planet with global heating.

As a result, China is making the breakthroughs in solar panel technology and is a major exporter of panels. The U.S.? Desperately breaking up underground rocks and polluting the environment chasing the last wisps of natural gas under there so as to add to the climate emergency.

I grew up in the age of the moon shot and I am not used to America being so backward.

Bonus Video: CGTN America: "China's efforts in fighting climate change"

(c) 2021 Juan R.I. Cole is the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. He has written extensively on modern Islamic movements in Egypt, the Persian Gulf and South Asia and has given numerous media interviews on the war on terrorism and the Iraq War. He lived in various parts of the Muslim world for nearly 10 years and continues to travel widely there. He speaks Arabic, Farsi and Urdu.

U.S. President Joe Biden laid out details of his infrastructure plan in Pittsburgh.

Biden's Industrial Policy
By Robert Reich

America is about to revive an idea that was left for dead decades ago. It's called industrial policy, and it's at the heart of Joe Biden's plans to restructure the U.S. economy.

When industrial policy was last debated in the 1980s, critics recoiled from government "picking winners." But times have changed. Devastating climate change, a deadly pandemic, and the rise of China as a technological powerhouse require an active government pushing the private sector to achieve public purposes.

The dirty little secret is that America already has an industrial policy, but one that's focused on pumping up profits with industry-specific subsidies, tax loopholes and credits, bailouts, and tariffs. The practical choice isn't whether to have an industrial policy but whether it meets society's needs or those of politically powerful industries.

Consider energy. The fossil fuel industry has accumulated "billions of dollars in subsidies, loopholes, and special foreign tax credits," in Biden's words. He intends to eliminate these and shift to non-carbon energy by strengthening the nation's electrical grid, creating a new "clean electricity standard" that will force utilities to end carbon emissions by 2035 and providing research support and tax credits for clean energy.

It's a sensible 180-degree shift of industrial policy.

The old industrial policy for the automobile industry consisted largely of bailouts - of Chrysler in 1979 and General Motors and Chrysler in 2008.

Biden intends to shift away from gas-powered cars entirely and invest $174 billion in companies making electric vehicles. He'll also create 500,000 new charging stations.

This also makes sense. Notwithstanding the success of Tesla, which received $2.44 billion in government subsidies before becoming profitable, the switch to electric vehicles still needs pump priming.

Internet service providers have been subsidized by the states and the federal government, and federal regulators have allowed them to consolidate into a few telecom giants. But they've dragged their feet on upgrading copper networks with fiber, some 30 million Americans still lack access to high-speed broadband, and America has among the world's highest prices for internet service.

Biden intends to invest $100 billion to extend high-speed broadband coverage. He also threatens to "hold providers accountable," for their sky-high prices - suggesting either price controls or antitrust enforcement.

I hope he follows through. A proper industrial policy requires that industries receiving public benefits act in the public interest.

The pharmaceutical industry exemplifies the old industrial policy at its worst. Big Pharma's basic research has been subsidized through the National Institutes of Health. Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act bankroll much of its production costs. The industry has barred Americans from buying drugs from abroad. Yet Americans pay among the highest drug prices in the world.

Biden intends to invest an additional $30 billion to reduce the risk of future pandemics - replenishing the national stockpile of vaccines and therapeutics, accelerating the timeline for drug development, and boosting domestic production of pharmaceutical ingredients currently made overseas.

That's a good start but he must insist on a more basic and long-overdue quid pro quo from big pharma: allow government to use its bargaining power to restrain drug prices.

A case in point: The U.S. government paid in advance for hundreds of millions of doses of multiple COVID-19 vaccines. The appropriate quid pro quo here is to temporarily waive patents so vaccine manufacturers around the world can quickly ramp up. Americans can't be safe until most of the rest of the world is inoculated.

Some of Biden's emerging industrial policy is coming in response to China. Last week's annual intelligence report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence warns that Beijing threatens American leadership in an array of emerging technologies.

Expect more subsidies for supercomputers, advanced semiconductors, artificial intelligence, and other technologies linked to national security. These are likely to be embedded in Biden's whopping $715 billion defense budget - larger even than Trump's last defense budget.

Here again, it's old industrial policy versus new. The new should focus on cutting-edge breakthroughs and not be frittered away on pointless projects like the F35 fighter jet. And it should meet human needs rather than add to an overstuffed defense arsenal.

Biden's restructuring of the American economy is necessary. America's old industrial policy was stifling innovation and gauging taxpayers and consumers. The challenges ahead demand a very different economy.

But Biden's new industrial policy must avoid capture by the industries that dominated the old. He needs to be clear about its aims and the expected response from the private sector, and to reframe the debate so it's not about whether government should "pick winners" but what kind industrial policy will help America and much of the world win.

(c) 2021 Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His web site is

Imperial ineptitude is matched by domestic ineptitude.

The Collapse Of The American Empire
U.S. leadership has stumbled from one military debacle to another, a trajectory mirroring the sad finales of other historical imperial powers.
By Chris Hedges

America's defeat in Afghanistan is one in a string of catastrophic military blunders that herald the death of the American empire. With the exception of the first Gulf War, fought largely by mechanized units in the open desert that did not-wisely-attempt to occupy Iraq, the United States political and military leadership has stumbled from one military debacle to another. Korea. Vietnam. Lebanon. Afghanistan. Iraq. Syria. Libya. The trajectory of military fiascos mirrors the sad finales of the Chinese, Ottoman, Hapsburg, Russian, French, British, Dutch, Portuguese and Soviet empires. While each of these empires decayed with their own peculiarities, they all exhibited patterns of dissolution that characterize the American experiment.

Imperial ineptitude is matched by domestic ineptitude. The collapse of good government at home, with legislative, executive and judicial systems all seized by corporate power, ensures that the incompetent and the corrupt, those dedicated not to the national interest but to swelling the profits of the oligarchic elite, lead the country into a cul-de-sac. Rulers and military leaders, driven by venal self-interest, are often buffoonish characters in a grand comic operetta. How else to think of Allen Dulles, Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, Donald Trump or the hapless Joe Biden? While their intellectual and moral vacuity is often darkly amusing, it is murderous and savage when directed towards their victims.

There is not a single case since 1941 when the coups, political assassinations, election fraud, black propaganda, blackmail, kidnapping, brutal counter-insurgency campaigns, U.S. sanctioned massacres, torture in global black sites, proxy wars or military interventions carried out by the United States resulted in the establishment of a democratic government. The two-decade-long wars in the Middle East, the greatest strategic blunder in American history, have only left in their wake one failed state after another. Yet, no one in the ruling class is held accountable.

War, when it is waged to serve utopian absurdities, such as implanting a client government in Baghdad that will flip the region, including Iran, into U.S. protectorates, or when, as in Afghanistan, there is no vision at all, descends into a quagmire. The massive allocation of money and resources to the U.S. military, which includes Biden's request for $715 billion for the Defense Department in fiscal year 2022, a $11.3 billion, or 1.6 percent increase, over 2021, is not in the end about national defense. The bloated military budget is designed, as Seymour Melman explained in his book, "The Permanent War Economy," primarily to keep the American economy from collapsing. All we really make anymore are weapons. Once this is understood, perpetual war makes sense, at least for those who profit from it.

The idea that America is a defender of democracy, liberty and human rights would come as a huge surprise to those who saw their democratically elected governments subverted and overthrown by the United States in Panama (1941), Syria (1949), Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Congo (1960), Brazil (1964), Chile (1973), Honduras (2009) and Egypt (2013). And this list does not include a host of other governments that, however despotic, as was the case in South Vietnam, Indonesia or Iraq, were viewed as inimical to American interests and destroyed, in each case making life for the inhabitants of these countries even more miserable.

I spent two decades on the outer reaches of empire as a foreign correspondent. The flowery rhetoric used to justify the subjugation of other nations so corporations can plunder natural resources and exploit cheap labor is solely for domestic consumption. The generals, intelligence operatives, diplomats, bankers and corporate executives that manage empire find this idealistic talk risible. They despise, with good reason, naïve liberals who call for "humanitarian intervention" and believe the ideals used to justify empire are real, that empire can be a force for good. These liberal interventionists, the useful idiots of imperialism, attempt to civilize a process that was created and designed to repress, intimidate, plunder and dominate.

The liberal interventionists, because they wrap themselves in high ideals, are responsible for numerous military and foreign policy debacles. The call by liberal interventionists such as Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Susan Rice and Samantha Power to fund jihadists in Syria and depose Muammar Gaddafi in Libya rent these countries-as in Afghanistan and Iraq-into warring fiefdoms. The liberal interventionists are also the tip of the spear in the campaign to rachet up tensions with China and Russia.

Russia is blamed for interfering in the last two presidential elections on behalf of Donald Trump. Russia, whose economy is roughly the size of Italy's, is also attacked for destabilizing the Ukraine, supporting Bashar al-Assad in Syria, funding France's National Front party and hacking into German computers. Biden has imposed sanctions on Russia-including limits on buying newly issued sovereign debt-in response to allegations that Moscow was behind a hack on SolarWinds Corp. and worked to thwart his candidacy.

At the same time, the liberal interventionists are orchestrating a new cold war with China, justifying this cold war because the Chinese government is carrying out genocide against its Uyghur minority, repressing the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong and stealing U.S. patents. As with Russia, sanctions have been imposed targeting the country's ruling elite. The U.S. is also carrying out provocative military maneuvers along the Russian border and in the South China Sea.

The core belief of imperialists, whether they come in the form of a Barack Obama or a George W. Bush, is racism and ethnic chauvinism, the notion that Americans are permitted, because of superior attributes, to impose their "values" on lesser races and peoples by force. This racism, carried out in the name of Western civilization and its corollary white supremacy, unites the rabid imperialists and liberal interventionists in the Republican and Democratic parties. It is the fatal disease of empire, captured in Graham Greene's novel "The Quiet American" and Michael Ondaatje's "The English Patient."

The crimes of empire always spawn counter-violence that is then used to justify harsher forms of imperial repression. For example, the United States routinely kidnapped Islamic jihadists fighting in the Balkans between 1995 and 1998. They were sent to Egypt-many were Egyptian-where they were savagely tortured and usually executed. In 1998, the International Islamic Front for Jihad said it would carry out a strike against the United States after jihadists were kidnapped and transferred to black sites from Albania. They made good on their threat igniting massive truck bombs at the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that left 224 dead. Of course, the "extraordinary renditions" by the CIA did not end and neither did the attacks by jihadists.

Our decades-long military fiascos, a feature of all late empires, are called "micro-militarism." The Athenians engaged in micro-militarism during the Peloponnesian War (431-404 B.C.) when they invaded Sicily, suffering the loss of 200 ships and thousands of soldiers. The defeat triggered successful revolts throughout the Athenian empire. The Roman empire, which at its height lasted for two centuries, created a military machine that, like the Pentagon, was a state within a state. Rome's military rulers, led by Augustus, snuffed out the remnants of Rome's anemic democracy and ushered in a period of despotism that saw the empire disintegrate under the weight of extravagant military expenditures and corruption. The British empire, after the suicidal military folly of World War I, was terminated in 1956 when it attacked Egypt in a dispute over the nationalization of the Suez Canal. Britain was forced to withdraw in humiliation, empowering Arab nationalist leaders such as Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser and dooming British rule over its few remaining colonies. None of these empires recovered.

"While rising empires are often judicious, even rational in their application of armed force for conquest and control of overseas dominions, fading empires are inclined to ill-considered displays of power, dreaming of bold military masterstrokes that would somehow recoup lost prestige and power," the historian Alfred W. McCoy writes in his book "In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power": "Often irrational even from an imperial point of view, these micromilitary operations can yield hemorrhaging expenditures or humiliating defeats that only accelerate the process already under way."

The worse it gets at home the more the empire needs to fabricate enemies within and without. This is the real reason for the increase in tensions with Russia and China. The poverty of half the nation and concentration of wealth in the hands of a tiny oligarchic cabal, the wanton murder of unarmed civilians by militarized police, the rage at the ruling elites, expressed with nearly half the electorate voting for a con artist and demagogue and a mob of his supporters storming the capital, are the internal signs of disintegration. The inability of the for-profit national health services to cope with the pandemic, the passage of a Covid relief bill and the proposal of an infrastructure bill that would hand the bulk of some $5 trillion dollars to corporations while tossing crumbs-one-time checks of $1,400 to a citizenry in deep financial distress-will only fuel the decline.

Because of the loss of unionized jobs, the real decline of wages, de-industrialization, chronic underemployment and unemployment, and punishing austerity programs, the country is plagued by a plethora of diseases of despair including opioid addictions, alcoholism, suicides, gambling, depression, morbid obesity and mass shootings -since March 16 the United States has had at least 45 mass shootings, including eight people killed in an Indiana FedEx facility on Friday, three dead and three injured in a shooting in Wisconsin on Sunday, and another three dead in a shooting in Austin on Sunday. These are the consequences of a deeply troubled society.

The facade of empire is able to mask the rot within its foundations, often for decades, until, as we saw with the Soviet Union, the empire appears to suddenly disintegrate. The loss of the dollar as the global reserve currency will probably mark the final chapter of the American empire. In 2015, the dollar accounted for 90 percent of bilateral transactions between China and Russia, a percentage that has since fallen to about 50 percent. The use of sanctions as a weapon against China and Russia pushes these countries to replace the dollar with their own national currencies. Russia, as part of this move away from the dollar, has begun accumulating yuan reserves.

The loss of the dollar as the world's reserve currency will instantly raise the cost of imports. It will result in unemployment of Depression-era levels. It will force the empire to dramatically contract. It will, as the economy worsens, fuel a hyper-nationalism that will most likely be expressed through a Christianized fascism. The mechanisms, already in place, for total social control, militarized police, a suspension of civil liberties, wholesale government surveillance, enhanced "terrorism" laws that railroad people into the world's largest prison system and censorship overseen by the digital media monopolies will seamlessly cement into place a police state. Nations that descend into crises these severe seek to deflect the rage of a betrayed population on foreign scapegoats. China and Russia will be used to fill these roles.

The defeat in Afghanistan is a familiar and sad story, one all those blinded by imperial hubris endure. The tragedy, however, is not the collapse of the American empire, but that, lacking the ability to engage in self-critique and self-correction, as it dies it will lash out in a blind, inchoate fury at innocents at home and abroad.

(c) 2021 Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He is the host of the Emmy Award-nominated RT America show On Contact.

The Cartoon Corner-

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Dave Granlund ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

GOP Oppose Infrastructure Bill With Uplifting Reminder It's Okay To Be A Work In Progress

By The Onion

WASHINGTON-Declaring that the new $2 trillion proposal was unrealistic, GOP leaders reportedly voiced their opposition Tuesday to President Joe Biden's infrastructure bill with an uplifting reminder that it is okay to be a work in progress.

"What this proposal calls for is nothing less than a set of completely unhelpful expectations that every single bridge, road, and sewage system needs to conform to some rigorous set of perfect standards," said Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), adding that lawmakers should instead be focusing on legislation that supported electrical grids and waste treatment facilities that were still figuring some stuff out.

"Infrastructure comes in all shapes and sizes, and in all different conditions and levels of functionality, and we Republicans think that's beautiful. It is irresponsible to compare one of our older trains or pothole-filled streets to a high-speed rail in Japan or utilities in Germany when it is perfectly fine to set your own benchmarks for success and work toward them at your own pace. This bill would put unnecessary pressure on our nation's infrastructure to live up to impossible goals."

GOP officials added that throwing money around would only cause dependence on Congress and that it would be much more meaningful if the nation's infrastructure was instead permitted to improve itself entirely on its own.

(c) 2021 The Onion

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Issues & Alibis Vol 21 # 17 (c) 04/23/2021

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