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In This Edition

Norman Solomon concludes, "Bernie's Pivot For Biden Isn't Pleasant. But Trump Must Be Defeated."

Ralph Nader returns with, "Shouldn't Our Elected Representatives Be On The Job Providing Essential Services?"

Glen Ford examines, "Diseased System In Shut-Lockdown: Never A Better Time To Fight For Socialism."

Jim Hightower considers, "Coronavirus And Small Government Sociopathy."

William Rivers Pitt concludes, "Trump's Inaction On The COVID-19 Crisis Seems More Deliberate Each Day."

John Nichols demands, "Congress Desperately Needs To Call Out Trump's Authoritarianism."

James Donahue wonders, "Has A Synthetic Plaque Been Created?"

David Swanson returns with, "Now Do You See How Evil They Are?"

David Suzuki says, "Economics Should Reflect What Really Matters."

Charles P. Pierce finds, "The Keystone Pipeline Just Caught A Beating From A Fascinating Fish."

Juan Cole finds, "US Oil 'Technically Worthless,' And Coal Plants Shuttered, As A Tidal Wave of Bankruptcies Looms."

Rep. Trey Hollingsworth (R-Ind.) wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich explains, "Coronavirus And The Height Of Corporate Welfare."

Jane Stillwater reports, "Madam Jane Predicts."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports, 'It Was, For, Uh, Medical Reasons,' Says Doctor To Boris Johnson, Explaining Why They Had To Give Him Haircut, but first, Uncle Ernie sez, "Give Trump A Chance They Said..."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Bob Engelhart, Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, Chip Somodevilla, Tasos Katopodis, Screenshot, Alamy, Robert Reich, Radek Homola, Unsplash, Jane Stillwater, Jim Hightower, AFP, 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 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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Give Trump A Chance They Said...
By Ernest Stewart

"This is what it means to be a failed state." ~~~ Umair Haque

"How often the Arctic will lose its sea-ice cover in the future critically depends on future CO2 emissions." ~~~ Dirk Notz ~ University of Hamburg

"It is policymakers' decision to put on our big boy and big girl pants and say it is the lesser of these two evils. It is not zero evil, but it is the lesser of these two evils and we intend to move forward that direction. That is our responsibility and to abdicate that is to insult the Americans that voted us into office." ~~~ Trey Hollingsworth

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 letter published by the New England Journal of Medicine highlighted the extraordinary measures that had to be taken to secure the delivery into Massachusetts of equipment that had been bought and paid for. That's right, America, Lying Donald has siced the FBI and Fatherland Security on states and hospital trying to get their much needed PPAs. Covid-19 is Lying Donald's attempt to become an emperor-god like his hero Hitler became! Or as David Wallace-Wells put it...

Here's the correspondence, written by an executive running a small health system, to the New England Journal of Medicine:

Our supply-chain group has worked around the clock to secure gowns, gloves, face masks, goggles, face shields, and N95 respirators. These employees have adapted to a new normal, exploring every lead, no matter how unusual. Deals, some bizarre and convoluted, and many involving large sums of money, have dissolved at the last minute when we were outbid or outmuscled, sometimes by the federal government. Then we got lucky, but getting the supplies was not easy.

A lead came from an acquaintance of a friend of a team member. After several hours of vetting, we grew confident of the broker's professional pedigree and the potential to secure a large shipment of three-ply face masks and N95 respirators. The latter were KN95 respirators, N95s that were made in China. We received samples to confirm that they could be successfully fit-tested. Despite having cleared this hurdle, we remained concerned that the samples might not be representative of the bulk of the products that we would be buying. Having acquired the requisite funds - more than five times the amount we would normally pay for a similar shipment, but still less than what was being requested by other brokers - we set the plan in motion. Three members of the supply-chain team and a fit tester were flown to a small airport near an industrial warehouse in the mid-Atlantic region. I arrived by car to make the final call on whether to execute the deal. Two semi-trailer trucks, cleverly marked as food-service vehicles, met us at the warehouse. When fully loaded, the trucks would take two distinct routes back to Massachusetts to minimize the chances that their contents would be detained or redirected.

Hours before our planned departure, we were told to expect only a quarter of our original order. We went anyway, since we desperately needed any supplies we could get. Upon arrival, we were jubilant to see pallets of KN95 respirators and face masks being unloaded. We opened several boxes, examined their contents, and hoped that this random sample would be representative of the entire shipment. Before we could send the funds by wire transfer, two Federal Bureau of Investigation agents arrived, showed their badges, and started questioning me. No, this shipment was not headed for resale or the black market. The agents checked my credentials, and I tried to convince them that the shipment of PPE was bound for hospitals. After receiving my assurances and hearing about our health system's urgent needs, the agents let the boxes of equipment be released and loaded into the trucks. But I was soon shocked to learn that the Department of Homeland Security was still considering redirecting our PPE. Only some quick calls leading to intervention by our congressional representative prevented its seizure. I remained nervous and worried on the long drive back, feelings that did not abate until midnight, when I received the call that the PPE shipment was secured at our warehouse.

Yes, I know the feds were only following ze orders, jawohl? Lying Donalds orders, so that Lying Donalds could hold the PPE over the heads of states (who by the way were doing what Lying Donald said for them to do), because it's not the feds responsibility to have supplies and just give them away where their needed but to hold onto them for the power that Lying Donald perceives, which is there true value. Not to save lives, but to add to Lying Donald's power over all of us!

Like the meme said: "Give Trump a chance they said... 3 years later the whole country is unemployed, locked in the house, wiping their asses with coffee filters!" Your tax dollars at work, America

In Other News

I see where the Arctic Ocean will likely be ice-free during summers before 2050, researchers say. Remember, for the last 5 years you could have taken a cruise ship from Alaska to New York City every late summer via the Arctic.

Amid rapid global warming, with average Arctic temperatures already 2C above what they were in the pre-industrial era - the extent of the sea ice is diminishing ever faster.

As the climate crisis worsens, scientists say it is now only the efficacy of protection measures which will determine for how many more years our planet will continue to have a northern ice cap year round.

A major new piece of research involving 21 leading institutes and using 40 different climate models has found that whatever action is taken, we are on course to see ice-free summers in the coming decades.

The research is published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

The scientists considered the future of Arctic sea-ice cover in scenarios with high future CO2 emissions and little climate protection - as expected, Arctic sea ice disappeared quickly in summer in these simulations.

But the study also found the Arctic summer sea ice also disappears "occasionally" if CO2 emissions are rapidly reduced.

Dirk Notz, who leads the sea-ice research group at University of Hamburg, said: "If we reduce global emissions rapidly and substantially, and thus keep global warming below 2C relative to preindustrial levels, Arctic sea ice will nevertheless likely disappear occasionally in summer even before 2050. This really surprised us." Currently, the North Pole is covered by sea ice year round. Each summer, the area of the sea ice cover decreases, in winter it grows again.

In response to ongoing global warming, the overall area of the Arctic Ocean covered by sea ice has rapidly been reduced over the past few decades.

This substantially affects the Arctic ecosystem and climate. The sea-ice cover is a hunting ground and habitat for polar bears and seals, and keeps the Arctic cool by reflecting sunlight. And as we've seen the seal population is growing, but not so much for the polar bears, which are starving to death!

How often the Arctic will lose its sea-ice cover in the future critically depends on future CO2 emissions, the authors said.

If emissions are reduced rapidly, ice-free years will only occur occasionally. With higher emissions, the Arctic Ocean will become ice free most years, including winters.

And Finally

Indiana Rethuglican Con-gressman Trey Hollingsworth thinks it's a pretty good idea if you die to save his stock portfolio! The multi-millionaire Hollingsworth wants the Con-gress to "put on our big boy and big girl pants and say it is the lesser of these two evils." Which two evils I hear you ask? What Trey means is that letting more Americans die from the novel coronavirus is the "lesser of two evils" compared with the economy cratering due to social distancing measures. So if Grandpater and Grandmater have to bite the big one, or it's you or your children that have to die, for Trey's bank account, why c'est la vie, America!

Trey continued, "It is not zero evil, but it is the lesser of these two evils and we intend to move forward that direction. That is our responsibility and to abdicate that is to insult the Americans that voted us into office." It's not just Trey of course. Lying Donald keeps spewing this treason, screw the people and keep those ducats flowing to the 1%. The governors of these states see it in the same light, oh, and by-he-way, they're all Rethuglicans. The states are Florida, Georgia, Tennesse, Texas and South Carolina who have pretty much lifted the 6 foot distance requirements opening everything from the beaches to wrestling matches, tattoo shops, massage and beauty parlors, and movie theaters. Of course, the governors insist that the people will maintain a 6 foot perimeter, I wonder how that's going to work out while getting a tattoo, a massage or a hair style? I'd pay good money to see that!

So in all this insanity we award this week's Vidkun Quisling Award to Con-gressman Trey Hollingsworth!

Keepin' On

If you think that what we do is important and would like to see us keep on, keeping on, please send us whatever you can, whenever you can, and we'll keep telling you the truth!


08-08-1924 ~ 04-17-2020
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So how do you like Trump so far?
And more importantly, what are you planning on doing about it?

Until the next time, Peace!

(c) 2020 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.

Joe give the corporate salute.

Bernie's Pivot For Biden Isn't Pleasant. But Trump Must Be Defeated
By Norman Solomon

This week, soon after Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign, one of its most effective message-crafters summed up a vital challenge ahead. "The best hope to defeat Trump is to positively and constructively motivate a large Democratic turnout," David Sirota wrote. "The best way to do that is to show progressive voters they are actually valued, rather than taken for granted. And the best way to show them that they are valued is to actually embrace an agenda that they want."

Progressives should never stop fighting for policies that truly represent our values. And activists, unlike even the best politicians, can avoid the pitfalls of making diplomatic statements that aren't true.

While announcing the deactivation of his campaign on April 8, Bernie said that Joe Biden is "a very decent man." But decency is not a word that remotely applies to Biden's political record that spans several decades (as I've described in one article after another after another after another after another after another after another).

Ironically, at this historic juncture, Biden -- a longtime eager corporate tool -- is now the only electoral implement available to progressives for preventing the re-election of Trump. At this point, there's simply no other plausible way to prevent this monstrous president from winning a second term.

And so, in an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday, Bernie spelled out a choice: "Do we be as active as we can in electing Joe Biden and doing everything we can to move Joe and his campaign in a more progressive direction? Or do we choose to sit it out and allow the most dangerous president in modern American history to get re-elected?"

Bernie started this week by endorsing Biden in an awkward video duet with the presumptive nominee. Symbolically, if not intentionally, when the video went to full screen while Bernie spoke, one object was clearly visible behind him -- a chessboard.

There are reasons to criticize some of Bernie's recent tactical moves. (I wish he hadn't suspended his campaign before the end of primary voting.) But, looking ahead, he's being sensible about current political realities.

Crucially in swing states, Trump can only be defeated by votes for the Democratic presidential nominee, who's now virtually certain to be Biden, and there's no point in pretending otherwise. Magical thinking might be a wondrous literary device, but it's useless -- or worse -- in politics.

"We had a contentious campaign," Bernie told AP as he noted differences with Biden. "We disagree on issues. But my job now is to not only rally my supporters, but to do everything I can to bring the party together to see that (Trump) is not elected president."

(A bit paradoxically, Bernie said that he's hoping people will vote for him in the 20 or so states that have upcoming primaries -- so that there'll be more Sanders delegates for the Democratic National Convention in August. More of those delegates will increase progressive leverage when the convention adopts a platform and sets future party rules.)

If anyone thinks it doesn't matter much whether Trump is re-elected, they're living in some kind of bubble. To those outside of such a soundproof bubble, Bernie is now sending an unequivocal message: "I believe that it's irresponsible for anybody to say, 'Well, I disagree with Joe Biden -- I disagree with Joe Biden! -- and therefore I'm not going to be involved.'"

Bernie Sanders is saying that progressives have a profound responsibility to fight against -- and oust -- the extreme right-wing forces that have gained control of the U.S. government's executive branch and, increasingly, the federal judiciary. Of course, in political terms, progressives wish that we were in a very different place. But this is where we are.

(c) 2020 Norman Solomon is co-founder of and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death" and "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State."

"So far Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is on the job, is resisting remote voting. Republican Senate Leader
Mitch McConnell said he agrees, but he led the flight out of Congress back to Kentucky a month ago."

Shouldn't Our Elected Representatives Be On The Job Providing Essential Services?
Some lawmakers want a remote Congress so they can remain AWOL and pretend to deal with the many crises remotely.
By Ralph Nader

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic a careening, confused president is fibbing, flailing, breaking laws, and mishandling money. As the domino effect of this crisis mounts, the public is asking: "Where is the Congress?" Our senators and representatives have been home since March 20 and won't be back until May 4, not on the job inside the Capitol. Shameful!

Worse, some lawmakers want a remote Congress so they can remain AWOL and pretend to deal with the many crises remotely.

Why? Fear of the pandemic? Escaping rollcall responsibility? No matter that Congress can follow all the CDC guidelines and more for personal protection. No matter that millions of essential workers-some a few blocks from Congress, bravely go to work to perform their critical duties. Healthcare, transit, grocery, police, maintenance and sanitation workers, many executive branch civil servants, and others are faithfully on the job.

Congress should be working harder than ever-6 days a week, not its usual 2.5 days. Congress should be monitoring the spending of trillions of dollars it approved for recovery, and passing improved rescue legislation that puts the people first. Congress should also be anticipating and preventing the ugly greed of commercial lobbyists who will cravenly push for more giveaways for their fat-cat big-business clients. The devil is in the details and in the fine print of new and upcoming bills. Scams, gouging, waste, and corruption are exploding already in a corporate crimewave while the president pulls the federal cops off their beats.

Thirteen million people will lose their health insurance between March and July of this year. Over 25% unemployment is bringing untold fear, dread, and deprivations to millions of families. Where are the indispensable 535 lawmakers? Back at home ignoring their duties.

Small businesses and family farms, lacking the reserves and political privileges of big business, are suddenly experiencing a deadly freefall in sales with slow arrivals of temporary federal assistance. Many will face ruin and bankruptcy. Lifetimes of work smashed.

Trump has encouraged the EPA to stop enforcing violations of prohibited pollution laws. Trump's FDA announced that it was suspending inspections of foreign plant exporters of food and drugs to the U.S. The President is even threatening the existence of our post offices.

Where is the Congress? It's halls and committee rooms are empty!

With knowing criminal intent, the Trumpsters are running the life and health saving Federal agencies into the ground. Under Trump's puppet Andrew Wheeler, the EPA has become the environmental pollution agency. OSHA has been turned upside down. Trump is even weakening nursing home safety regulations in our pandemic. Scientists and other civil servants are being muzzled or pushed out.

Where is Congress? It is looking for how it can push button constitutional duties from perches back home. Can Congress truly believe that it can run our national legislature from home? There is no substitute for members of Congress convening in real time in the nation's capital. Article 1, Section 7 of the Constitution requires a quorum to conduct congressional lawmaking. The full Senate voted in person in March to pass the $2.2 trillion relief/bailout package.

Now, Congress agrees another large assistance law is needed. It has to be preceded by hard work, the best ideas, public hearings, tight drafting, and intense deliberation over long days.

So far Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is on the job, is resisting remote voting. Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell said he agrees, but he led the flight out of Congress back to Kentucky a month ago.

Many of these pampered politicians, comfortable at home in their safe gerrymandered districts, drawing their regular salaries and benefits while watching or reading the stories of courageous workers risking their lives daily for pittances, will go down in history as cowards. Historians will not treat them kindly.

Meanwhile these so-called guardians of our crucial constitutional separation of powers are having a mock video hearing to try to show Congress can go online. This is indefensible when we have a Constitution-breaking monarchical president who says: "I have an Article 2 where I have the right to do whatever I want as president."

Sovereign people-give your senators and representatives, who have fled Washington and are back home, a galvanizing piece of your mind. Just pick up the phone and dial your member or the Congressional switchboard (202-224-3141) and make your needs known. Remind them that if they don't get back to work, you'll remember in November.

(c) 2020 Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His latest book is The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for Our American Future. Other recent books include, The Seventeen Traditions: Lessons from an American Childhood, Getting Steamed to Overcome Corporatism: Build It Together to Win, and "Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us" (a novel).

Diseased System In Shut-Lockdown: Never A Better Time To Fight For Socialism
By Glen Ford

The current health and economic crisis will dramatically accelerate the processes of corporate monopolization, finance capital dictatorship, and working class precarity and immiseration. The only cure is socialism.

If growing misery among the masses is what made revolutions, the Lords of Capital would have been deposed from their ruling perches long ago. But human beings do not spend their lives tallying cumulative assaults on their well being and dignity, and ruling classes are expert at blaming despised Others, foreign and domestic, for the ills of society. History shows us that economic crises do not become political crises that seriously threaten the ruling order until a critical mass of people come to the realization that the system itself is rotten, unbearable and incapable of meaningful reform. They must not only hate the rulers, but also hate the rulers' system of governance more than they despise domestic Others and "threatening" foreigners. Otherwise, the Lords of Capital will simply find another face to represent their interests, defusing popular disconnect.

The world is now experiencing a unique combination of pandemic and economic meltdown that will directly kill hundreds of thousands in the imperial United States and Europe and further consolidate the wealth and power of the ruling oligarchy, while wiping out whole sectors of the pre-crisis economy and leaving the vast majority of working class people far more precarious and insecure. But Black America has for generations been twice as unemployed, five times more incarcerated, one-tenth as wealthy, and infinitely more insecure of their space/place in "the system" than whites, who are themselves suffering unprecedented mortality from "diseases of despair."

The current health and economic crisis will dramatically accelerate the processes of corporate monopolization, finance capital dictatorship, and working class precarity and immiseration. But that's the direction the Lords of Capital have been moving the U.S. political economy for at least forty years. It is already broadly understood that the oligarchy has been wildly successful in directing the great bulk of national and planetary wealth to their own pockets. So, what makes this crisis a potentially transformative moment - a chance to upend the dictatorship of capital -- rather than just another temporary disruption in the oligarchic order of things?

The people's level of consciousness determines whether an economic crisis becomes a political threat to the rule of the rich. As Frederick Douglass said, "The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress." There are tipping points in history, although correctly identifying them is easy only in hindsight. Economic collapse, famines, natural disasters and, especially, wars have most often served to tip the mass consciousness from solemn sufferance to rebellion, at least among the most volatile sectors of the oppressed.

World War One, in which the imperial powers were forced to deploy millions of colonized Africans, Asians, Caribbean people and US Blacks as soldiers in defense of Euro-American empires, produced a quantum leap in self-determinationist politics among the darker peoples of the planet. Catastrophic global war showed the weakness and stupidity of the colonial white capitalist powers who, despite their superiority in weaponry could no longer command respect and awe among the oppressed peoples.

The Russian revolutions of 1905 (a failure) and 1917 were sparked by the Czarist regime's catastrophic losses in wars with Japan and Germany, respectively. In 1917, the mutiny of whole units of the Russian land and naval forces provided the Bolsheviks with a Red Army and Navy to consolidate their October Revolution and beat back invasion by all the major capitalist powers of the world, including the United States. A generation later another, even more destructive war would make independence of the colonized peoples -- at least of the nominal kind -- inevitable, causing a rewriting of the rights of nations and peoples. In the interim between world wars, the wholesale collapse of capitalist economies laid bare the fragility of the capitalist order - especially when compared to a Soviet Union whose economy and military were growing by leaps and bounds.

Socialism became the dominant ideology of the oppressed, including the most active Black strugglers and intelligentsia in the United States. It was the revolutionary Black nationalist and socialist movements that made the Sixties a period of political change and profound danger to domestic racial capitalism and U.S. imperialism, causing the rulers to impose a counterinsurgency-type system of Black Mass Incarceration. At the same time, a Black Misleadership Class was cultivated -- bound to the Democratic Party -- to manage the increasingly Black cities and to limit Black politics to that which is acceptable to the Lords of Capital.

Capitalism, now headquartered in the United States, became increasingly a War Capitalism - which was no great leap, since European colonialism and Black chattel slavery were centuries-long forms of warfare on the rest of the planet. Of necessity, those peoples who in the modern era attempted to break free of War Capitalism had to organize themselves as War Socialist States, with all the contradictions and distortions that such a defensive strategy entailed.

After 70 years, the Soviet Union succumbed to its internal contradictions, leaving the United States as the world's sole superpower. The global capitalist elites celebrated having outlasted their most formidable state opponent, and some of their intellectuals proclaimed the end of history, itself - as if capitalism had frozen the planet in a political equilibrium. But capitalism is chaos, not equilibrium, and feeds on war. Increasingly, it hinders rather than expands the productive capacity of the planet, as it systematically funnels more and more wealth to the oligarchy and militarily suppresses those nations and populations that either resist the racist imperial order or that have become disposable - or both.

The fatal stage of capitalism, it appears, begins when the Lords of Capital achieve true hegemony - political dictatorship - in their home countries, having snuffed out effective dissent in the permissible realms of discourse and within those sectors of the governing parties that claim to be open to "reform." With no major organized forces to oppose them - that is, no sizeable electoral opposition party, control of both corporate-run parties, a compliant and cowed labor movement, and only marginalized opposition from the Black and Latino grassroots, in the case of the United States -- the Lords of Capital engage in systematic, wholesale privatization of the public sphere and shamelessly promote policies that grow billionaires like dandelions. Those parts of the public sector that cannot be wholly privatized are made incapable of their missions through methodical starvation, under the banner of "austerity" - a fiction of state poverty that is belied by ever-expanding bipartisan war budgets and trillion dollar subsidies and bailouts of banks and corporations.

The term "austerity" is not in common usage in the U.S. "Race to the Bottom" is more descriptive of actual late stage capitalist policy, a consensus among the ruling class and their duopoly parties that seeks to strip the working class of all social protections and supports so that workers will be compelled to accept any "job" they can get. Ultimately, the goal is to force U.S. workers to compete with super-exploited workers in the formerly colonized world. The Race to the Bottom is deliberate pauperization of those sections of the working class that are still useful to the rulers.

There is no consensus among the oligarchs on what to do with the excess workers and "undesirable" populations, beyond already existing mass incarceration.

The duopoly parties' refusal to establish a national health care system, beginning with Medicare for All, can only be understood in the context of the Race to the Bottom. Protecting corporate health care super-profits is an important part of the equation, but even more central is the role that privatized health care plays in the grand scheme of austerity. Workers are far more wiling to bargain with employers for better wages, benefits and conditions if their families' health care is guaranteed by the state as a right, not tied to the employer. That's no way to run a Race to the Bottom, which is why the U.S. ruling class and its corporate political vassals oppose Medicare for All and have been dismantling and underfunding what's left of the public health sector for two generations of austerity. Western Europe, whose governments established national health care systems back when socialist parties were still strong and the Soviet Union was an ideological competitor, has relentlessly cannibalized their life-saving systems for the sake of austerity. This is especially true of Britain, where last year it was reported that 200,000 nurses left the national health service under the Conservative Party's austerity offensive. Capitalists are killer pigs, worldwide.

Enter the coronavirus, societal lockdown and an economic shutdown like none ever before experienced. The U.S. was revealed as having no reserves of personnel, medical gear and equipment to fight, test or track the disease. The Centers for Disease Control is an agency, not a health care system. It can press no buttons to make a non-existent system work. The Orange Menace made things worse, as always, but catastrophe was guaranteed by lack of a public health care system worthy of the name.

The people know they have been stripped structurally naked to a killer virus, and they are outraged and afraid. In these long lockdown hours of unrelieved anxiety, many have reached, or will soon come to, a grim epiphany: they are living in a country run by people that care only for money, and millions of those that survive the epidemic will see their jobs disappear.

Under late stage capitalism, the coronavirus brings with it precarity on a massive scale. The disaster was made inevitable by a capitalist ruling class, just as an economic meltdown was in the cards due to the nature of the system. The Lords of Capital work diligently to make the lives of working people precarious - that's what the Race to the Bottom is all about --and the fat cats can count on the government to bail them out of periodic meltdowns. But the Lords of Capital and their hirelings didn't anticipated that the epidemic and the economic collapse would arrive at the same time.

Across the abyss of race and class, the people are staring at the rulers and their shills, and growing a deep hatred of the system - deeper than hatred of Trump, who is too incompetent to cause, or defend against, a double catastrophe of the systemic kind. Bernie Sanders has proven, dramatically and beyond doubt, that there is no balm for such a disaster in the Democratic Party, which is a partner with the Republicans in the austerity regime that set the stage for the double-whammy. When the coronavirus was making an inarguable case for a national health care system, Sanders chose to surrender to the "nothing's gonna change" man. The Democrats - all of them - are simply rich men's toys, and of no use whatsoever in a fight.

In this time of incomparable economic and health crisis the real Left, small as it is, must make the case for socialism and the overthrow of rich man's rule. At the beginning of this article I wrote: "History shows us that economic crises do not become political crises that seriously threaten the ruling order until a critical mass of people come to the realization that the system itself is rotten, unbearable and incapable of meaningful reform."

I believe that such a critical mass exists, right now. Not enough to make a revolution, but more than enough to start the process.

(c) 2019 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

President Donald Trump speaks to reporters following a meeting of his coronavirus task force
in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on April 6, 2020 in Washington, D.C.

Coronavirus And Small Government Sociopathy
As the devastating impact of Trump's inaction becomes clear, Americans are discovering a hidden socialist streak.
By Jim Hightower

Amazingly, America has become a nation of socialists, asking in dismay: "Where's the government?"

These are not born-again Bernie Sanders activists, but people of all political stripes (including previously apolitical multitudes) who are now clamoring for big government intervention in their lives.

Nothing like a spreading coronavirus pandemic to bring home the need that all of us have-both as individuals and as a society-for an adequately funded, fully functioning, competent government capable of serving all.

Instead, in our moment of critical national need, Trump's government is a rickety medicine show run by a small-minded flimflammer peddling laissez-fairyland snake oil.

"We have it totally under control," Trump pompously declared after the first U.S. case was confirmed in January. For weeks, as the pandemic spread out of control, he did nothing. Meanwhile an increasingly anxious public found that they couldn't even get reliable test kits from Trump's hollowed-out government health agencies.

Still, he shrugged off all concern and responsibility: "By April, you know, in theory," he said, "when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away." Not exactly a can-do Rooseveltian response to a national crisis!

By March the inconvenient fact of a rising death toll exposed this imposter of a president as incompetent, uncaring... and silly.

That complete absence of White House leadership is why a deadly pathogen is now raging practically everywhere across our land, unknown millions of us are being infected, a "closed indefinitely" sign has literally been hung on the American economy, and even our people's social and civic interactions-the essence of community life-have been halted.

Right-wing politico Grover Norquist once said he wanted a government so small "I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub." Trump has shown us what such a small-minded government looks like. And what it costs us.

(c) 2020 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

President Trump takes questions at the daily COVID-19 briefing at the White House on April 19, 2020, in Washington, D.C.

Trump's Inaction On The COVID-19 Crisis Seems More Deliberate Each Day
By William Rivers Pitt

Within the heart of the problem is this ventricle: Donald Trump defines "sacrifice" as "what other people do to make me happy." Trump enjoys having his picture taken with evangelical ministers laying hands on him like he's the very Rock of Ages, but in truth, the man wouldn't know genuine sacrifice if it walked up and stuffed a live bat down his pants.

This is going to become a problem for Trump soon, because millions of Americans are making actual, often painful sacrifices every day to help him bring the COVID-19 pandemic to heel, and he doesn't seem to have done very much of a single damn thing with that dearly gifted time beyond promote himself and yell at reporters.

A great many of these sacrifices are not voluntary. Service industry and gig-economy workers didn't sign up to be martyrs for the cause of slaying the coronavirus dragon, but there they are at home, listening to Trump brag about robust testing in a country with no national testing plan to speak of. Health workers did not expect to run toward the pandemic with garbage bags as their armor, but there they are, every damn day.

Trump says he wants people to go back to work but is doing less than nothing to see that such a transition happens safely and without risking another flare-up. Meanwhile, parents balance work and homeschooling their kids in a world with harshly shortened horizons and few places to go beyond the four walls of home.

It puts me in mind of "The Waiting Place" in Dr. Seuss's classic Oh, The Places You'll Go!: "Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No, or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting."

Indeed. Most people will keep waiting, too, despite the rampant jackassery of the president, because they are taking this thing seriously and want to protect their families, their communities and themselves. A recent Quinnipiac poll has a full 70 percent of Republicans and 90 percent of Democrats - gotta have that Red/Blue thing - all supporting the stay-at-home orders issued by the governors. That is an astonishing plurality.

Here's the conundrum: The only way this country gets past the COVID-19 pandemic is testing, testing, testing. We can't even begin to fix it if we don't know how sick we are. The only way to know how sick we are is through the kind of mass-testing program perfected by countries like South Korea, which tests tens of thousands of its citizens daily, and with the data collected, has managed to wrestle the virus to the mat.

Trump wants no part of mass testing, because he doesn't want the country to know how sick it actually is. If the country knew how far this pandemic had reached, people would (gasp) refuse to work for fear of dying, and (gasp) the industrialists reaping wealth from that labor would lose money. Worse, they might (gasp, gasp) not vote for him in November because of how lethally he botched this crisis from the first day.

And then there are the larger concerns about how COVID-19 may change the country in a way that capitalism would find distasteful.

"If the electoral danger for the Republican Party is that voters will blame the president for high unemployment and mass death - a reasonable fear, given how Trump loudly denied the threat in the face of warnings from inside and outside his administration - then the ideological danger is that it undermines the ideological project that captured the state with President Ronald Reagan and is on the path to victory under Donald Trump," writes Jamelle Bouie for The New York Times.

In other words, the coronavirus pandemic has put the right-wing, trickle-down Reagan Revolution in deep peril just as its adherents stand on the cusp of accomplishing their long-sought goals. This cannot be allowed, and so the bannermen of conservatism are marshaling their forces in an effort to herd us back to work, back to feeding the machine, well before the nation is anywhere near ready for anything of the sort.

As has been his way with every other scandal and mess he has gotten us into, Trump has chosen to face the current dilemma with his usual double-barreled shotgun approach. First barrel: Lie at every opportunity, take credit for other people's work and point out nonexistent progress. Second barrel: Pander to his far-right, gun-waving base.

Like King Arthur freeing Excalibur from the stone, Trump pulled out a testing swab with a flourish during the Sunday "briefing," glibly claiming, "Swabs are so easy to get." This was so brazen a lie that an avalanche of governors - Ralph Northam of Virginia, Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan and even Larry Hogan of Maryland (a Republican) - called Trump out with such velocity and volume that the administration promised (again) to deploy the Defense Production Act to make more swabs as soon as possible.

Simultaneously, Trump has been egging on various anti-quarantine protests around the country. As stated in the Quinnipiac poll, some 70 percent of Republicans agree with the stay-at-home orders. Thanks to the organizational skills of a few gun-rights activists who think the NRA is too soft, a "movement" to defy the stay-at-home orders has been fomented online.

"A trio of far-right, pro-gun provocateurs is behind some of the largest Facebook groups calling for anti-quarantine protests around the country, offering the latest illustration that some seemingly organic demonstrations are being engineered by a network of conservative activists," reports The Washington Post. "The online activity ... helps cement the impression that opposition to the restrictions is more widespread than polling suggests."

Of course, the mainstream news media pounced on the story, making it seem like this small cohort of far-right citizens who seem bound and determined to catch COVID are actually some massive groundswell. Ten years ago, this was exactly how the Tea Party got started: A few corporate-backed "protesters" got themselves on TV, and we were off to the races.

Meanwhile, the rest of us sit here in The Waiting Place, marking time and hoping for some sort of coherent action from the federal government to organize a response that will end the siege. Practicing patience and kindness, maybe tending gardens or children or both, maybe staring at the walls worrying about dwindling funds, and maybe dying alone in a crowded hospital filled with nurses wearing used masks soaked in Lysol.

All patience wears out, and Trump's non-action to address this crisis appears more deliberate by the day. A fearful reckoning is coming to a head.

(c) 2020 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.

President Donald Trump at the daily coronavirus briefing on April 19, 2020.

Congress Desperately Needs To Call Out Trump's Authoritarianism
His claims of monarchical powers don't just politicize the Covid-19 fight. They also threaten our constitutional democracy.
By John Nichols

Donald Trump's disregard for the Constitution has been evident from the day he took office. Yet the coronavirus pandemic and the economic crisis that extends from it have seen Trump go to new and exponentially more troubling extremes. The president is twisting the founding document and the laws of the land to fit with a warped world view in which he imagines himself as precisely the sort of monarchical leader that the initiators of the American experiment sought to avoid.

It has come to the point where Congress must renounce and rebuke the president for his lawless words and deeds. Representative Tom Malinowski recognized the necessity last week when he introduced a bill resolving that "the House of Representatives affirms that when someone is the president of the United States, their authority is not total."

It is a measure of how far Trump has strayed from the norms of governance in a civil and democratic society that members of Congress are now called upon to affirm "the sense of the House of Representatives that the powers of the president remain limited by the Constitution and laws of the United States." But this is where we are. And this is why citizens must organize to demand not merely that Malinowski's resolution be approved but also that Congress push back, far more aggressively than it has to this point, against an increasingly imperial presidency.

Trump's approach is as dangerous as it is wrongheaded. To a greater extent than ever before, his over-the-top rhetoric about presidential authority is intersecting with his reckless exercise of that authority. He is not merely abusing his position; he is signaling to his supporters that these abuses are appropriate and should be defended with a politics that disregards the respect for the rule of law and the basic premises of constitutional order.

Trump brought the issue to a head Monday evening when, in a desperate attempt to change the narrative regarding his fundamentally flawed response to the pandemic, he tweeted: "In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!"

The president's aides were befuddled by the unplanned announcement and scrambled early Tuesday to put it in perspective. But Ali Noorani, the executive director of the National Immigration Forum, saw things clearly: "This is not about the policy. It is about the message the president wants to send. He wants people to turn against 'the other.' And, regardless of the valuable contributions immigrants are making to the response and recovery, he sees immigrants as the easiest to blame."

"The president is using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to dramatically advance his racist, anti-immigrant policy agenda," said Kristin Kumpf of the American Friends Service Committee. "Suspending all immigration will not keep us safe from the pandemic. What it will do is separate families and communities and distract from what we actually need-a public health response that helps keep everyone healthy and safe."

The president of the United States has a great deal of power, and that includes a measure of flexibility when making decisions regarding immigration. But Trump's panic move of the moment is not a legitimate exercise of that authority. Trump believes that the results of the 2016 election-which he lost by 2.9 million votes in the popular balloting-afforded him unchecked power. And he is flexing that power because he believes that monarchical words and deeds might somehow reverse a decline in trust that imperils his 2020 reelection bid.

The president has gone to such extremes in recent weeks that the Associated Press on April 18 headlined a "Fact Check" report: "Trump isn't a king but claims expansive power." The review began by observing, "Over the past week, President Donald Trump was pretender to a throne that doesn't exist as he claimed king-like powers over the coronavirus pandemic response and Congress."

But it's not just the past week. Trump's megalomania has been on display throughout his troubled tenure.

Last July, the president radically misstated the section of the Constitution that outlines presidential powers (and the limits upon them) when he announced, "Then I have an Article 2, where I have the right to do whatever I want as president."

That wasn't the first time the president asserted that he had unlimited authority. In an interview about the inquiry by special counsel Robert Mueller, Trump claimed, "Article 2 allows me to do whatever I want. Article 2 would have allowed me to fire [Mueller]."

Far from granting the president the expansive powers that he imagines, Article 2 details the most vital check and balance upon kingly abuses: the proviso that the chief executive may be removed "via impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors."

But Trump, a fully impeached president who avoided removal only because of hyper-partisan dereliction of duty by Republican senators, has in recent weeks indulged his kingly impulses with unsettling frequency. Last week, on April 13, as he wrangled with Democratic and Republican governors over how to reopen states that have been locked down to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, he tweeted, "For the purpose of creating conflict and confusion, some in the Fake News Media are saying that it is the Governors decision to open up the states, not that of the President of the United States & the Federal Government. Let it be fully understood that this is incorrect. It is the decision of the President, and for many good reasons."

"The president of the United States calls the shots," Trump announced the same day, in a press briefing on when states might reopen. "It's a decision for the president of the United States." While he said he would like to work with the states, Trump concluded, "They can't do anything without the approval of the president."

Again that same day, Trump proclaimed: "When somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total and that's the way it's got to be. It's total."

Amid an outcry from Republican allies, he walked back some of his most extreme language on April 14.

But on April 15, he was back at it, telling a White House briefing that he might adjourn Congress and unilaterally appoint his nominees to judicial and administrative positions. Trump justified his proposal to override the confirmation process by declaring, "I have a very strong power." The president was engaging in an abusive reading of a narrowly defined constitutional provision that allows for adjournments when there are disagreements between the leaders of the House and Senate. Even the law professor who defended Trump during the impeachment inquiry, Jonathan Turley, argued, "This is a dormant provision that should be left in well-earned slumber. Indeed, the recess appointments that Trump seeks to use have themselves been denounced as archaic and unnecessary."

But Trump keeps "going there."

Furious over the revelation of his total incompetence, and panicked about what that will mean for his reelection prospects, he claims "total power." He reimagines the Constitution as a royal decree rather than a decree against royalism. This is not going to stop until the president is checked and balanced with an overwhelming assertion of the truth. Congress and the American people must tell Donald Trump that he is absolutely and unequivocally wrong. As Representative Justin Amash, a cosponsor of Malinowski's resolution who was elected as a libertarian-leaning Republican but who now sits in the House as an independent, says, it is necessary to tell Donald Trump to "put down the authoritarianism and read the Constitution."

(c) 2020 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.

Has A Synthetic Plaque Been Created?
By James Donahue

A series of disturbing reports by Michael Edward on the web site World Vision Portal, linked chemicals and other compounds secretly used by British Petroleum in the oil dispersant called Corexit at the site of the company's disastrous oil spill and a strange "Blue Flu" that broke out among people living along the Gulf Coast.

Edwards, who lives on the coast, apparently did his research. In his articles he drew from several valuable sources, including articles published in Scientific American and reports from the U. S. Patent Office, showing strong evidence that PB was working in conjunction with Synthetic Genomics Inc. to use a newly developed synthetic bacteria at the site.

This bacterium, designed to feed on crude oil, was made public in Scientific American's May 25, 2015 edition. The story by David Biello was headlined: "Slick Solution: How Microbes Will Clean Up the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill."

In the story, Craig Venter, one of the founders of Synthetic Genomics Inc., announced the unveiling of "the world's first synthetic cell and one of the first patents on a genetically engineered organism (which) was a hydrocarbon-eating microbe." The article stated that scientists have long known that such microbes existed in nature, but they did not work fast enough or multiply quickly enough to deal with large oil spills on either land or in the sea. Thus the rush was on to use genetic engineering to manufacture a bacterium that might do the job.

The use of such large quantities of the oil dispersant was apparently done as an experiment by British Petroleum and U.S. government agents to stop a disaster that was out of control. As explained by microbial ecologist Kenneth Lee, director of the Center for Offshore Oil, Gas and Energy Research with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, "if the oil is in very small droplets, microbial degradation is much quicker. The dispersants can also stimulate microbial growth. Bacteria will chew on the dispersants as well as the oil."

At least that was how it was all supposed to work.

Other than the allegations by Edwards and the revelations by various scientific publications that such a synthetic bacterium was in existence and available for use in cleaning up the gulf oil spill, there has been no real evidence that British Petroleum actually used this agent at the scene. In fact, everything about the clean-up effort was kept so strictly under wraps that company-hired guards and even local police agencies were busy making sure reporters never got close to the Corexit at its storage facility, or anyone had a chance to analyze its content, Edwards wrote.

But he said there have been clues that strongly suggest that the bacterium was used, exactly as suggested in the Scientific American story. For example, strange natural mineral elements such as copper, iron, nickel, aluminum and manganese began turning up in rain water, where it did not belong. Edwards theorized that these "are natural elements and nutrients. Bacteria thrive in rich nutrient environments." These minerals were exposed because they evaporated with the water and fell back to earth as rain.

Edwards noted that prior to the May announcement by Synthetic Genome, a spin-off non-profit company known as the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI), had already applied for "numerous patents regarding synthetic bio-remediation, such as bacteria synthetic genomes which provide unique DNA information required for replication of a free-living organism."

Both Synthetic Genomics and JCVI are headquartered in Rockville, Maryland. According to Edwards, British Petroleum holds an undisclosed amount of stock ownership in Synthetic Genomics, and the latter company is financing research at JCVI. Thus all of this is directly linked to British Petroleum.

In the meantime, people hired by British Petroleum to help clean oil mixed with the chemical from beaches and the gulf waters began complaining of various forms of illness. The symptoms include headaches, confusion and drowsiness, plus a strange blue colorization of the lips and under the fingernails. This is why the natives dubbed it "blue flu."

Edwards notes that the symptoms are almost identical to that of arsenic poisoning. In fact, he said he has learned from certain unnamed medical sources that patients seeking medical treatment for these symptoms have been found to have elevated levels of arsenic in their blood.

There is yet another troublesome factor in this story. Edwards writes that in 2003 JCVI successfully synthesized a virus that infects bacteria. Apparently this viral addition to the genetically altered bacterium makes it resistant to antibiotics.

Edwards wrote: "This new life form has the ability to replicate itself and organically function in any cell into which it has been introduced. Its DNA is artificial and it's this synthetic DNA that takes control of the cell and is credited with being the building block of life."

He asks: "What happens if a human becomes infected with a life-threatening variant bacterial species? If you use Penicillin to fight the infection, it won't do any good. Any use of antibiotics would be a waste of time."

So has PB and its subsidiaries created a biological monster in the rush to clean up the gulf oil spill? And is that monster about to be unleashed on the world without any way to stop it?

Strangely, Synthetic Genomics Inc. was involved on October 7 in the formation of a fourth company, Synthetic Genomics Vaccines Inc. This is another privately held company that is working on a new generation of vaccines using the "genomic sequencing and synthetic genomic expertise" used in creating the microbial monsters already unleashed in the gulf. Edwards suggests that this was all a devious plan by British Petroleum to gain great wealth through patented immunizations for a disease created within its own laboratories.

We are wondering if company officials discovered, too late, what they had done and are now taking drastic steps to try to find a vaccine to head off a potential world pandemic by an antibiotic resistant manufactured bacterium/viral combination that has no equal.

And we have to wonder if all of this isn't in some way connected to the coronavirus epidemic now sweeping the planet. Researchers all over the world are struggling to find an anticdote while the public hides in their homes and behind masks.

Did British Petroleum create the ultimate doomsday bug? An entity that communicated via my late wife before her death in 2013 warned that a pandemic may soon change the way everybody lives for months until it is over. But it will not be a doomsday episode. This entity, whom she called The Abba Father, proved to be quite accurate in its predictions.

(c) 2020 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.

Now Do You See How Evil They Are?
By David Swanson

The Lieutenant Governor of Texas is happy to sacrifice the lives of old people for "the economy." A Congressman from Indiana doesn't discriminate; he's willing to let anybody lose their life to maintain what he calls their "way of life." How they can have a way of life without a life becomes clear when he explains that by "way of life" he means the economy. The President of the United States is afraid that the cure of isolating ourselves is worse than the disease, even though the latter is deadly for some who get it. Trump also tries claiming, though nobody believes him, that protecting ourselves from a deadly disease will result in more deaths, not fewer.

This is how U.S. politicians have talked from the very beginning of the United States and prior to it about human beings outside the United States, about Native Americans, about enslaved people, about minority groups and immigrants. Yet, many have been able to avoid recognizing the evil. Now do you get it?

Trump openly says he wants troops in Syria for oil, Bolton openly says he wants a coup in Venezuela for oil, Pompeo openly says he wants to conquer the arctic for oil (with which to melt more of the arctic into a conquerable state). But the general rule, prior to these fits of honesty, has been to claim that wars were meant to spread democracy and happiness. Pointing out that every war is based on lies runs into great resistance from people who know governments lie but who don't want to believe governments are quite that evil.

Believe it. When Pompeo talks about crushing Iran (or Venezuela or Syria or Cuba or North Korea, etc.) with sanctions, he's talking about imposing death on numerous people. When Obama and Trump target people around the world with drone murders, and then target some U.S. citizens too, they're valuing non-U.S. lives at their usual nonexistent level and devaluing U.S. lives to the same. When Trump and Biden compete for who can hate China the most, they're talking about a significant percentage of the world's population.

Locking immigrants up in cages is just as evil as locking U.S.-born children up in cages. People who will do the former are unlikely to draw the line at the latter. Don't you get it? Evil sadistic politicians will be cruel to the People Who Matter just as they've always been cruel to everyone else. Truth be told, they were never nice to the majority of U.S. workers, but their cruelty was often too slow to be recognized as murderous.

What we need is not a little tweaking. We need the revolution of values that many tried to find an approximation of in Bernie Sanders. We need a society that empowers and rewards kindness instead of viciousness, decency instead of outrageous evil.

Right now we have a sick parody. The U.S. is badgering Mexico to reopen factories, cramming workers in together to produce parts for U.S. weapons that can be sold to the world. Mexicans must die like U.S. "essential" weapons builders must die so that the weapons can be shipped off to the world's worst governments so that people everywhere can die. We're all in this together!

We could all be in something else together. We could all be in a world utterly transformed. We could quite easily end all human suffering with absolutely zero new scientific developments. But we have to want to do it. And we have to start by refusing to stop being outraged by evil.

(c) 2020 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.

We're witnessing the surfacing of tangible inspirations for the re-imaging of a Canadian economy -one explicitly designed
to deliver the well-being and resilience people need to flourish -and that nature can provide today and for generations to come.

Economics Should Reflect What Really Matters
By David Suzuki

When you pause to reflect on what's truly essential and meaningful for you to thrive, what comes to mind?

Is it about having more? Or having better? Is it about all the buying or the genuine caring? Is it about over-consuming or connecting and sharing? Is it about loving stuff and status or simply loving? As we experience disruption on a scale not seen since the Second World War, people in Canada are taking note of what's really important to them. That can lay the foundation for new ways of thinking about a better economy for tomorrow.

We often confound "economy" and "economics." Words matter. In this time of crisis, we're hearing rhetoric aimed at convincing us that caring for our personal health and that of our loved ones is locked in an antagonistic tension with protecting the economy's "health." Yet the word "economy" refers to all the interconnected social actions every person does daily. It's about the way you live your life and the way everyone around you lives theirs. It includes the stories we tell, the knowledge we share, the making, exchanging and trading. It describes how we experience and govern our collective lives on a shared planet.

"Economics," on the other hand, is about how we think about the economy and what its purpose should or could be. As we're witnessing at this extraordinary moment in history, often what we feel matters most in our times of need is not aligned with the purpose we gave our economy before this crisis.

It's also interesting that the words "economy" and "ecology" both come from the Greek "oikos," meaning "domain" or "household." Ecologists seek the principles, rules and laws that enable species to flourish sustainably. Economists are meant to "manage" our activity within the biosphere, our domain -ideally within the rules and strictures ecologists find.

Before the pandemic, we thought of our economy as an engine, the main purpose of which was to burn through natural resources quickly to produce as much money as possible using the cheapest, most abstract notion of labour. That equation omits human beings with all our complexities and the "pale blue dot" on which we all depend. It wasn't exactly intentional.

This equation was agreed to at the end of a war, under the assumption that more trade between nations would ensure global peace and prosperity. In 1944, representatives from 44 countries met in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, to create a more efficient foreign exchange system and to promote economic growth. Out of crisis, a new way of managing our economics emerged. Although the system was changed in the 1970s, it maintained its earlier purpose.

Now, many politicians are ascribing war language to the pandemic response. But what will we do when this "war" is over? Will we allow an old equation to continue to guide us, or could we choose to come together to define a new purpose?

People everywhere are in distress. Our health and livelihoods are threatened. The social fabric of togetherness is impeded by a need to stay physically distant from each other. The old systems haven't been able to respond to our needs in meaningful ways, so governments have had to use unusual interventions to ensure the collective good. The old way of thinking about the economy, the established economics, has been exposed as inadequate and flawed.

But through this distress and disruption, we're seeing glimmers of transformative potential. Over a few weeks, incredible acts of kindness and collective caring have become normal. People are applying novel means of digital creativity to support each other. Some businesses are pivoting from short-term, profit-first motives to purpose-driven actions in response to real needs.

We're witnessing the surfacing of tangible inspirations for the re-imaging of a Canadian economy -one explicitly designed to deliver the well-being and resilience people need to flourish -and that nature can provide today and for generations to come.

At the end of the Second World War, it took just three weeks for a small group of men to design what would become a new purpose driving the postwar global economy. As this crisis comes to an end, will we embrace the opportunity to do better?

Together, we can design an economics for what matters.

(c) 2020 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

The Keystone Pipeline Just Caught A Beating From A Fascinating Fish
Dozens of pallid sturgeons cheer.
By Charles P. Pierce

The Keystone XL pipeline, the continent-spanning death funnel and longtime conservative fetish object, took another beating in court this week. Before it ever gets to Nebraska, where resistance to it has been ferocious, it has to go through Montana, and a federal judge named Brian Morris took a two-by-four to that idea, and in defense of an endangered species called the pallid sturgeon.

Pallid sturgeons have a unique dinosaur-like appearance. They have a flattened snout, long slender tail and are armored with lengthwise rows of bony plates instead of scales. Their mouth is toothless and positioned under the snout for sucking small fishes and invertebrates from the river bottom. Pallid sturgeons can weigh up to 80 pounds and reach lengths of 6 feet, whereas the closely related shovelnose sturgeon rarely weights more than 8 pounds. The back and sides of pallid sturgeons are grayish-white versus the brown color of the shovelnose sturgeons.
A fish worth saving, especially relative to transporting the dirtiest fossil fuel ever discovered. From the Associated Press:
The Keystone authorization came under a so-called nationwide permit issued by the Corps in 2017, essentially giving blanket approval to pipeline or similar utility projects with minimal effects on waterways. The cancellation could have broader implications because it appears to invalidate dredging work for any project authorized under the 2017 permit, said attorney Jared Margolis with the Center for Biological Diversity, another plaintiff in the case. It's unclear what projects would be included.
There also is a pandemic facet to the controversy now. Native tribes, both here and in Canada, are wary of having hundreds of temporary work camps serving thousands of workers set up along the pipeline route and close to reservation land. TC Energy, the Canadian energy behemoth behind the prospect, has said that those camps will not be needed until later this summer, demonstrating that the company would rather not get tagged as a vector for epidemic disease. That's sort of a win, I guess. Dozens of pallid sturgeons cheer.

(c) 2020 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-

"I will build a great wall--and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me--and I'll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words."
~~~ Donald Trump

The -$36.63 price for a barrel of oil is already probably overly optimistic.

US Oil "Technically Worthless," And Coal Plants Shuttered, As A Tidal Wave of Bankruptcies Looms
The oil companies are likely looking at multi-billion-dollar tort lawsuits because they hid the dangers of the climate emergency and even actively muddied the waters by funding denialism.
By Juan Cole

May contracts for West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil went as low as -$37.63 on Monday. So report Jillian Ambrose and Martin Farrer at The Guardian. The price, well below zero, was a first for the US oil market, and showed the conviction of traders that the economy would not in fact start back up in May. Millions of gallons of oil are being stored on giant supertankers around the world, which costs money, and the below-zero price for a barrel reflected that storage cost.

There was a bit more confidence about the June situation, with prices skyrocketing to all of $1.10 a barrel in Tuesday morning trading in East Asian markets, according to Reuters. That is about the price of water. Over-all, however, June oil is priced at $20 a barrel at the moment, which seems wishful thinking that the market will reevaluate. The price of a barrel of of WTI petroleum on January 1 of this year was about $60 a barrel.

Moreover, research and development is making wind and solar ever cheaper, and so when the economy roars back a year or a year and a half from now, new wind and solar projects will likely be even less expensive than they are now, and coal will be dead in the water. Since it costs at least $30 a barrel to produce oil in the US, and some fracked fields cost more like $40 or $50 a barrel, we could see a raft of bankruptcies among smaller producers that lack deep pockets or have already taken on a lot of debt. Companies specializing in hydraulic fracturing (breaking underground rocks with high-pressure water streams to release oil and gas deposits) are at special risk, since fracking is much more expensive than most simple drilling. So too are the firms that loaned money to the frackers. Fracking not only wrecks the earth through global heating but it produces blighted landscapes full of ponds of polluted and toxic water, and has been banned by civilized places like New York and France.

There will be knock-on effects of those bankruptcies on the private equity firms that loaned money to smaller oil producers and fracking firms. Investment in the petroleum industry has plummeted since 2017, with investors aware that fossil fuels are living on borrowed time. Their main product is actually global heating and vast environmental damage because they emit dangerous heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide. The oil companies are likely looking at multi-billion-dollar tort lawsuits because they hid the dangers of the climate emergency and even actively muddied the waters by funding denialism. Therefore, the -$36.63 price for a barrel of oil is already probably overly optimistic.

Private equity firms and others put $64 billion into the oil industry in 2019. It isn't that much in that sector, but it is $62 billion more than anyone in his right might should have risked on a toxic stranded asset. And right about now, the value of those investments looks as though it could go to zero.

In turn, smaller private equity firms with exposure to the oil sector are also facing a myriad of bankruptcies. Those who put money into petroleum were damn fools and also kind of dicks, since they didn't care about what they were doing to the planet.

Coal companies are also dropping like flies, partly because of the coronavirus lockdown, but partly because their finances were already stressed by consumer concerns about coal's deadly impact on the environment (it is the fossil fuel that produces the most carbon dioxide of all). Natural gas and ever cheaper solar and wind have also damaged coal's bottom line.

Both Iowa and Kansas now get 40 percent of their electricity from wind, which outstrips coal in both.

The pain the coronavirus lockdown is bringing is also hurting the renewables, but they are potentially far more resilient than coal. Farmers hurting because food demand has decreased will still pick up some revenue from the wind and solar farms on their property, since people will still need air conditioning this summer. Moreover, research and development is making wind and solar ever cheaper, and so when the economy roars back a year or a year and a half from now, new wind and solar projects will likely be even less expensive than they are now, and coal will be dead in the water.

(c) 2020 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.

The Dead Letter Office-

Trey and Paul give the corporate salute

Heil Trump,

Dear Unterfuhrer Hollingsworth,

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 Samuel (the con) Alito.

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your demand that letting more Americans die from the novel coronavirus is the "lesser of two evils," Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Trump at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 05-23-2020. We salute you herr Hollingsworth, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

Coronavirus And The Height Of Corporate Welfare
By Robert Reich

With the coronavirus pandemic wreaking havoc on the global economy, here's how massive corporations are shafting the rest of us in order to secure billions of dollars of taxpayer-funded bailouts.

The airline industry demanded a massive bailout of nearly $60 billion in taxpayer dollars, and ended up securing $50 billion - half in loans, half in direct grants that don't need to be paid back.

Airlines don't deserve a cent. The five biggest U.S. airlines spent 96 percent of their free cash flow over the last decade buying back shares of their own stock to boost executive bonuses and please wealthy investors.

United was so determined to get its windfall of taxpayer money that it threatened to fire workers if it didn't get its way. Before the Senate bill passed, CEO Oscar Munoz wrote that "if Congress doesn't act on sufficient government support by the end of March, our company will begin to...reduce our payroll...."

Airlines could have renegotiated their debts with their lenders outside court, or file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. They've reorganized under bankruptcy many times before. Either way, they'd keep flying.

The hotel industry says it needs $150 billion. The industry says as many as 4 million workers could lose their jobs in the coming weeks if they don't receive a bailout. Everyone from general managers to housekeepers will be affected. But don't worry - the layoffs won't reach the corporate level.

Hotel chains don't need a bailout. For years, they've been making record profits while underpaying their workers. Marriott, the largest hotel chain in the world, repurchased $2.3 billion of its own stock last year, while raking in nearly $4 billion in profits.

Thankfully, Trump's hotels and businesses, as well as any of his family members' businesses, are barred from receiving anything from the $500 billion corporate bailout money. But the bill is full of loopholes that Trump can exploit to benefit himself and his hotels.

Cruise ships also want to be bailed out, and Trump called them a "prime candidate" to receive a government handout. But they don't deserve it either. The three cruise ship corporations controlling 75 percent of the entire global market are incorporated outside of the United States to avoid paying taxes.

They're floating tax shelters, paying an average U.S. tax rate of just 0.8 percent. Democrats secured key provisions stipulating that companies are only eligible for bailout money if they are incorporated in the United States and have a majority of U.S. employees, so the cruise ship industry likely won't see a dime of relief funding. However, Trump has made it clear he still wants to help them.

The justification I've heard about why all these corporations need to be bailed out is they'll keep workers on their payrolls. But why should we believe big corporations will protect their workers right now?

The $500 billion slush fund included in the Senate's emergency relief package doesn't require corporations to keep paying their workers and has dismally weak restrictions on stock buybacks and executive pay.

Even if the bill did provide worker protections, what's going to happen to these corporations' subcontractors and gig workers? What about worker benefits, pensions and health care? How much of this bailout is going to end up in the pockets of executives and big investors?

The record of Big Business isn't comforting. Amazon, one of the richest corporations in the world, which paid almost no taxes last year, is only offering unpaid time off for workers who are sick and just two weeks paid leave for workers who test positive for the virus. Meanwhile, it demands its employees put in mandatory overtime.

Oh, and these corporations made sure they and other companies with more than 500 employees were exempt from the requirement in the first House coronavirus bill that employers provide paid sick leave.

And now, less than a month into statewide shelter-in-place orders and social distancing restrictions, Wall Streeters and corporate America's chief executives are calling for supposedly "low-risk" groups to be sent back to work to restart the economy.

They're so concerned about protecting their bottom line that they're willing to let people die to preserve their stock portfolios, all while they continue working from the safety and security of their own homes. It's the most repugnant class warfare you can imagine.

Here's the bottom line: no mega-corporation deserves a cent of bailout money. For decades these companies and their billionaire executives have been dodging taxes, getting tax cuts, shafting workers, and bending the rules to enrich themselves. There's no reason to trust them to do the right thing with billions of dollars in taxpayer money.

Every penny we have needs to go to average Americans who desperately need income support and health care, and to hospitals that need life-saving equipment. It's outrageous that the Senate bill gave corporations nearly four times as much money as hospitals on the front lines.

Corporate welfare is bad enough in normal times. Now, in a national emergency, it's morally repugnant. We must stop bailing out corporations. It's time we bail out people.

(c) 2020 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

Madam Jane Predicts
The exact date that our lock-down will end
By Jane Stillwater

Someone just banged on my front door. "Go away. I'm sheltering in place!" I yelled -- but Madam Jane wasn't buying it. Not at all.

"I can see the future," she yelled back. "I see that you are safe from COVID-19. You're good. Now open the damn door." What else could I do? Madam Jane is scary, far more scary than just a mere virus. I opened the door.

"Let's get right to the point," said M.J. "I have just predicted the very exact date when all this COVID-19 lock-down will finally end." Now she had my total attention. "You realize of course that the Federal Reserve has been giving away one trillion dollars a day to Big Business in the last few weeks, right? And also giving Big Business billions of dollars a day for months before that?" No, I hadn't heard.

"And yet the Fed's payments to small businesses have totally run out after only 13 days. Something is fishy here -- and I'm about to tell you what." So much for my nice leisurely morning of sheltering in place.

"Large corporations have taken over our American democracy. You don't need a crystal ball to see that." Yeah, sure, what else is new -- but what does this have to do with the date we get to end the lock-down? "Before I tell you my prediction, first you gotta understand that there is only so far that Big Business can go before it kills the goose that lays its golden eggs. And that would be us."

Yeah yeah yeah, I'm also aware that we've been goosed by the military-industrial complex for decades now. Get on with predicting the date.

"That's easy," replied Madam Jane. "When almost all competition from America's small businesses has been taken out of commission by the lock-down and Big Box stores reign supreme? When most of us are bankrupt, desperate and so unemployed that we'll eagerly slave away 12 hours a day for peanuts -- but are not quite yet zombies? When the Fed finally calculates that the Golden Goose is now on life support and there is not even one drop of money to be squeezed out of us? That will be the exact date when the lock-down will end."

"Then we should just forget about flattening the curve?" I asked incredulously. "Just forget about a vaccine? A cure? All those freaking ventilators? Social distancing? That this virus might be a truly deadly disease for people with serious preexisting conditions? None of that will factor in? Not even at all?"

"Yep. That's the plan. It's all about tweaking up the New World Order -- at our expense. And it has been that way from the start of this pandemic. Get us all afraid, broadcast the danger on TV night and day, keep us all isolated? Distract us and then rob us blind."

Okay. I'll shut up now. Why? Because nobody in their right mind ever argues with Madam Jane, especially not me. But still.... She actually just might be right.

(c) 2020 Jane Stillwater. Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world. And while you're at it, please buy my books!

The Cartoon Corner-

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Bob Engelhart ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

'It Was, For, Uh, Medical Reasons,' Says Doctor To Boris Johnson, Explaining Why They Had To Give Him Haircut
By The Onion

LONDON-Calling the procedure "a fast, er, effective way" to treat symptoms of the Covid-19 virus, doctors at St. Thomas' Hospital reportedly told British prime minister Boris Johnson that the haircut he'd received on Friday "was for, uh, medical reasons."

"Well, you see Prime Minister, because of your severe respiratory issues, we, um, actually needed to access that part of your head for thing, yes," said senior clinician Dr. Randal Jensen, taking long, awkward pauses as he looked between his medical charts and Johnson's new head of short, well-coiffed hair.

"Simply put, if we had kept your hairstyle the way it was, you could have risked death or something else, probably. We believe this is because the uh...keratin in your hair is related to your lungs, but don't worry too much about that right now. We actually do it to all our patients. Right, yes, we definitely do that."

At press time, the prime minister had reportedly informed his medical team that after his emergency lifesaving haircut, he'd never felt better.

(c) 2020 The Onion

The Animal Rescue Site

Issues & Alibis Vol 20 # 17 (c) 04/24/2020

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