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In This Edition

Bernie Sanders with an absolute must read, "Who Are The Koch Brothers And What Do They Want?"

Uri Avnery remembers, "An Oslo Criminal."

Glen Ford returns with, "Supreme Court: White Majorities Uber Alles."

Pepe Escobar follows, "Ukraine And The Grand Chessboard."

Jim Hightower discovers, "Spy Agents Turned Into Peeping Toms."

David Swanson reviews, "War Is Good For Us, Dumb New Book Claims."

James Donahue warns, "Yellowstone - Super Volcano In The Heartland."

John Nichols concludes, "If Rick Weiland Can Say "No" To Keystone, So Can Barack Obama."

Chris Hedges considers, "The Rhetoric Of Violence."

David Sirota wonders, "Will Government Use Its New Leverage Over The Financial Industry?"

Paul Krugman explains how, "Sweden Turns Japanese."

Vincent L. Guarisco tells a twisted tale, "The Sword Of Injustice: A Western Shoshone Tragedy Vs Nevada Millionaire Rancher Cliven Bundy."

Amy Goodman says, "Race Matters: Resegregation And The Rollback Of Affirmative Action."

Representative Mike Pompeo (R-KS) wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich with an idea on, "Raising Taxes On Corporations That Pay Their CEOs Royally And Treat Their Workers Like Serfs."

Frank Scott returns with some good advice, "Believe Only Half Of What You See And None Of What You Hear."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports, "Elite Congressman Trained To Kill Legislation In 24 Different Ways" but first Uncle Ernie sees, "Much Ado In The Ukraine."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Joe Heller, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Tom Tomorrow, Khalil Bendib, Tom Magliery, Chris Jackson, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Shutterstock, Getty Images, Create Space, Rueters, Flickr, The Onion, The Intercept, Black Agenda Report, You Tube.Com and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

The Quotable Quote...
The Dead Letter Office...
The Cartoon Corner...
To End On A Happy Note...
Have You Seen This...
Parting Shots...

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

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Much Ado In The Ukraine
By Ernest Stewart

"Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,
Men were deceivers ever,
One foot in sea and one on shore,
To one thing constant never."
Much Ado About Nothing ~~~ William Shakespeare

"This is not about keeping America safe by protecting sensitive information. Management at the top does not want the public hearing from lower-level employees because it might create 'misperceptions.' It is best to chill the news gathering process and leave the public less informed so Clapper and future James Clappers are not inconvenienced or accidentally held accountable. ~~~ Kevin Gosztola

"It's clear that Congressman Pompeo and the GMA are willing to do whatever they can to immediately prohibit states from enacting sensible legislation for consumers to have the right to know what they're buying and feeding their families." ~~~ Colin O'Neil ~ Center for Food Safety

Oh I get by with a little help from my friends
Mm going to try with a little help from my friends
Oh I get high with a little help from my friends
Yes I get by with a little help from my friends
With a little help from my friends
"With A Little Help From My Friends" ~~~ The Beatles

The traveling clown circus of Barack Obama and Joe Biden goes on and on! Thanks to Barry's little coup d'etat arranged by the US State Department and its assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nulands, we have this current situation. You'll recall with Nulands and the CIA's help we sponsored an overthrow of the elected government of the Ukraine, and replaced it with one just a little to the right of Darth Vader -- with desires of bringing the Ukraine into the EU, and hence into NATO.

The end result was to push Russia to seize the Crimea and its Black Seas fleet, sending in the same group of agents they used the last time we did a similar ploy in Georgia back in 2011. Instead of intimidating Russia, it had just the opposite effect. Unlike our lap dogs in NATO which are jumping up and down making little barking noises, the European Union isn't going to follow our lead as she knows which side the bread is buttered on.

Fallout ranges from losing Dick Cheney's pipeline pipe dream; you know, the reason we invaded Afghanistan -- and got mired down in a trillion dollar un-winnable war? To the strengthening of ties between Russia and China with a lot of EU-bound gas going not to the EU, but to China. With our brilliant mouthpiece, Nulands saying Fuck the EU, that certainly helps our standing with the EU, does it not?

Barry's response to the hornet's nest that he opened in the Ukraine is to send in 600 troops to the EU (that will certainly hold the Cossacks back) -- with a quarter each going to Poland and the Baltic countries and a few outdated fighter jets to protect Europe from the Russian "menace." Meanwhile, Russia will build a pipeline into Iran to help them export their gas and oil, avoiding our blockade; and most of the world has decided to exchange the petrodollar standard for other currency. This will, no doubt, cause a depression in this country that will make the "great depression" of the 1930s look like a "swiss picnic" by comparison! Good work, US State Department and all their "cold-war" warriors; well done, NOT!

In Other News

I see where the Clappster's is at it again (a man who should have been thrown out of office for repeatedly lying to Congress, and wrapped in chains for a few decades, sent down to Gitmo to be waterboarded daily and have broom handles shoved up his ass for his various acts of treason -- just like they do to innocent people in their care down there); he's written a new gag order against the press. Clapper has signed an order called "Directive One Nineteen" designed to further wall off the public's access to the work being done at the nation's various intelligence services by banning all "unauthorized" contact between agency officials and journalists, making violations of the new orders punishable by termination and prosecution.

Reuter's columnist Jack Shafer wrote:
Directive 119 increases the insularity of the national security state, making the public less safe, not more. Until this directive was issued, intelligence community employees could provide subtext and context for the stories produced by the national security press without breaking the law. Starting now, every news story about the national security establishment that rates disfavor with the national security establishment - no matter how innocuous - will rate a full-bore investigation of sources by authorities.

Directive 119 achieves through executive order much of what the spooks tried to accomplish legislatively in the summer of 2012, when the Senate Intelligence Committee approved a measure that would have banned background briefings between reporters and all intelligence officials except "press officers and agency directors or deputy directors," as Reuters correspondent Mark Hosenball reported. Such briefings have been routine during most recent presidential administrations, Hosenball wrote. An avalanche of protests smothered the measure, killing it until Clapper resurrected elements of it in Directive 119.
So from now on, we'll only hear what Clapper's official spokesweasels tell us; and the truth be damned! No dissent of any kind will be allowed in all the agencys under his thumb! Just another step in keeping us uninformed and prey to their lies!

And Finally

In this day and age after all that has gone down in the last few decade, I'm guessing that you have to be a very "special" kind of stupid to vote Rethuglican? This week's Vidkun Quisling Award winner is a good example of what I'm talking about. This week's winner is Representative Mike Pompeo (R-KS).

Mike just introduced his "Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act." Don't you just love Rethuglicans euphemisms? This bill would keep states from requiring the labeling of GMO poisons on food labels.

Of course, this legislation has received strong support from the Coalition for Safe and Affordable Food, a group of industry organizations including the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), which has been a major opponent of GMO-labeling efforts and wrote the bill for Mike.

As Mike says, "The scientific community has spoken with one voice," the Kansas Republican said in a teleconference with reporters to promote his bill. "Biotechnology is safe and there is not a single example of anyone getting sick after eating food made with GMOs. Requiring labels on foods that contain GMOs misleads consumers to believe that there is a health and safety risk, similar to warning labels on cigarettes."

So you know what I did don't you? I left this note on Mike's Facebook page.

Hey, Mike, congratulations! You've just won "The Vidkun Quisling Award" for being the biggest traitor in the country this week, for your sellout of food safety with your "Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act," which would keep us from knowing what type of GMO poisons are in our food! Did Big Agra pay you the regular fee of 30 pieces of silver for your betrayal? Oh, and thanks for helping me write this week's editorial! Just curious, where do you get your scientific facts from? I'm guessing Grocery Manufacturers Association who sell these poisons as the rest of the scientific community is 100% against these poisons and most countries around the world ban them as we should, too!
Do you have any thoughts on the subject that you would like to share with Mike?

Tell him Uncle Ernie sent you!

Keepin' On

I'm having a deja vu all over again, so until things change I'll just run this...

As far as fundraising goes, this year is turning out to be a disaster! Fundraising in the first quarter has always been slow going at best; but even more so this year. In a "normal" year we would've raised about 17% to 18% of our yearly operating costs; this year, it's barely 2%. Needless to say, if this trend continues, we'll be gone come June's first group of bills -- not to mention July's group and October's bills.

Thanks to our sponsorships, I'll be able to continue by writing weekly essays instead of editorials; but most of the rest of the magazine will be gone; and if my sponsors want more than just me, then I'll be gone, too -- except in various other magazines scattered throughout the blogosphere.

Ergo, if you enjoy your weekly Issues & Alibis, and would hate to see it disappear as so many other liberal sites have done, then please send us whatever you can, as often as you can; and we'll continue to fight the forces of darkness for you!


05-06-1937 ~ 04-20-2014
Thanks for the good fight!

03-06-1926 ~ 04-21-2014
Thanks for the film!


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


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

Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2014 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 13 years managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. Visit the Magazine's page on Facebook and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.

David Koch, pictured, along with his brother Charles, are two of the most powerful people in politics.

Who Are The Koch Brothers And What Do They Want?
By Sen. Bernie Sanders

As a result of the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, billionaires and large corporations can now spend an unlimited amount of money to influence the political process. The results of that decision are clear. In the coming months and years the Koch brothers and other extraordinarily wealthy families will spend billions of dollars to elect right-wing candidates to the Senate, the House, governors' mansions and the presidency of the United States. These billionaires already own much of our economy. That, apparently, is not enough. Now, they want to own the United States government as well. Four years ago, the Supreme Court handed down the 5-4 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. A few weeks ago, they announced another horrendous campaign finance decision in McCutcheon v. FEC giving even more political power to the rich. Now, many Republicans want to push this Supreme Court to go even further. In the name of "free speech," they want the Court to eliminate all restrictions on campaign spending - a position that Justice Thomas supported in McCutcheon - and a view supported by the Chairman of the Republican National Committee. Importantly, as a means of being able to exercise unprecedented power over the political process, this has been the position of the Koch brothers for at least the last 34 years.

The Koch brothers are the second wealthiest family in America, making most of their money in the fossil fuel industry. According to Forbes Magazine, they saw their wealth increase last year from $68 billion to $80 billion. In other words, under the "anti-business," "socialist" and "oppressive" Obama administration, their wealth went up by $12 billion in one year.

In their 2012 campaigns, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney each spent a little more than $1 billion. For the Koch brothers, spending more than Obama and Romney combined would be a drop in their bucket. They would hardly miss the few billion dollars.

Given the reality that the Koch brothers are now the most important and powerful players in American politics, it is important to know what they want and what their agenda is.

It is not widely known that David Koch was the Libertarian Party vice-presidential candidate in 1980. He believed that Ronald Reagan was much too liberal. Despite Mr. Koch putting a substantial sum of money into the campaign, his ticket only received 1 percent of the vote. Most Americans thought the Libertarian Party platform of 1980 was extremist and way out of touch with what the American people wanted and needed.

Fast-forward 34 years and the most significant reality of modern politics is how successful David Koch and like-minded billionaires have been in moving the Republican Party to the extreme right. Amazingly, much of what was considered "extremist" and "kooky" in 1980 has become part of today's mainstream Republican thinking.

Let me give you just a few examples:

In 1980, Libertarian vice-presidential candidate David Koch ran on a platform that called for abolishing the minimum wage. Thirty-four years ago, that was an extreme view of a fringe party that had the support of 1 percent of the American people. Today, not only does virtually every Republican in Congress oppose raising the $7.25 an hour minimum wage, many of them, including Republican leaders like Mitch McConnell and John McCain, are on record for abolishing the concept of the federal minimum wage.

In 1980, the platform of David Koch's Libertarian Party favored "the abolition of Medicare and Medicaid programs." Thirty-four years ago, that was an extreme view of a fringe party that had the support of one percent of the American people. Today, the mainstream view of the Republican Party, as seen in the recently passed Ryan budget, is to end Medicare as we know it, cut Medicaid by more than $1.5 trillion over the next decade, and repeal the Affordable Care Act. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, "Under the Ryan plan, at least 40 million people - 1 in 8 Americans - would lose health insurance or fail to obtain insurance by 2024. Most of them would be people with low or moderate incomes."

In 1980, the platform of David Koch's Libertarian Party called for "the repeal of the fraudulent, virtually bankrupt, and increasingly oppressive Social Security system." Thirty-four years ago, that was an extreme view of a fringe party that had the support of 1 percent of the American people. Today, the mainstream view of the Republican Party is that "entitlement reform" is absolutely necessary. For some, this means major cuts in Social Security. For others who believe Social Security is unconstitutional or a Ponzi scheme this means the privatization of Social Security or abolishing this program completely for those who are under 60 years of age.

In 1980, David Koch's Libertarian Party platform stated "We oppose all personal and corporate income taxation, including capital gains taxes ... We support the eventual repeal of all taxation ... As an interim measure, all criminal and civil sanctions against tax evasion should be terminated immediately." Thirty-four years ago, that was an extreme view of a fringe party that had the support of 1 percent of the American people. Today, 75 Republicans in the House have co-sponsored a bill that Paul Ryan has said "would eliminate taxes on wages, corporations, self-employment, capital gains, and gift and death taxes in favor of a personal-consumption tax."

Here is what every American should be deeply concerned about. The Koch brothers, through the expenditure of billions of dollars and the creation and support of dozens of extreme right organizations, have taken fringe extremist ideas and made them mainstream within the Republican Party. And now with Citizens United (which is allowing them to pour unlimited sums of money into the political process) their power is greater than ever.

And let's be very clear. Their goal is not only to defund Obamacare, cut Social Security, oppose an increase in the minimum wage or cut federal funding for education. Their world view and eventual goal is much greater than all of that. They want to repeal every major piece of legislation that has been signed into law over the past 80 years that has protected the middle class, the elderly, the children, the sick and the most vulnerable in this country. Every piece of legislation!

The truth is that the agenda of the Koch brothers is to move this country from a democratic society with a strong middle class to an oligarchic form of society in which the economic and political life of the nation are controlled by a handful of billionaire families.

Our great nation must not be hijacked by right-wing billionaires like the Koch brothers.

For the sake of our children and our grandchildren, we must fight back.
(c) 2014 Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006 after serving 16 years in the House of Representatives. He is the longest serving independent member of Congress in American history. Elected Mayor of Burlington, Vt., by 10 votes in 1981, he served four terms. Before his 1990 election as Vermont's at-large member in Congress, Sanders lectured at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and at Hamilton College in upstate New York. Read more at his website.

An Oslo Criminal
By Uri Avnery

THE DEATH of Ron Pundak, one of the original Israeli architects of the 1993 Oslo agreement, brought that historic event back into the public eye.

Gideon Levy reminded us that the Rightist rabble-rousers, in their furious onslaught on the agreement, called the initiators "Oslo criminals" - a conscious echo of one of Adolf Hitler's main slogans on his way to power. Nazi propaganda applied the term "November criminals" to the German statesmen who signed the 1918 armistice agreement that put an end to World War I - by the way, at the request of the army General Staff who had lost the war.

In his book, Mein Kampf (which is about to lose its copyright, so that anyone can print it again) Hitler also revealed another insight: that a lie will be believed if it is big enough, and if it is repeated often enough.

That, too, applies to the Oslo agreement. For more than 20 years now the Israel right-wing has relentlessly repeated the lie that the Oslo agreement was not only an act of treason, but also a total failure.

Oslo is dead, we are told. It actually died at birth. And by extension, this will be the lot of every peace agreement in the future. A large part of the Israeli public has come to believe this.

THE MAIN achievement of the Oslo agreement, an act of history-changing dimensions, bears the date of September 10, 1993 - which happened to be my 70th birthday.

On that day, the Chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the Prime Minister of the State of Israel exchanged letters of mutual recognition. Yasser Arafat recognized Israel, Yitzhak Rabin recognized the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people.

Today's younger generation (on both sides) cannot realize the huge significance of these twin acts.

From its inception almost a hundred years earlier, the Zionist movement had denied the very existence of a Palestinian people. I myself have spent many hundreds of hours of my life in trying to convince Israeli audiences that a Palestinian nation really exists. Golda Meir famously declared: "There is no such thing as a Palestinian people." I am rather proud of my reply to her, in a Knesset debate: "Mrs. Prime Minister, perhaps you are right. Perhaps a Palestinian people really does not exist. But if millions of people mistakenly believe that they are a people and act like a people, they are a people!"

The Zionist denial was not an arbitrary quirk. The basic Zionist aim was to take hold of Palestine, all of it. This necessitated the displacement of the inhabitants of the country. But Zionism was an idealistic movement. Many of its East European activists were deeply imbued with the ideas of Lev Tolstoy and other utopian moralists. They could not face the fact that their utopia could only be realized on the ruins of another people. Therefore the denial was an absolute moral necessity.

Recognizing the existence of the Palestinian people was, therefore, a revolutionary act.

ON THE other side, recognition was even harder.

From the first day of the conflict, practically all Palestinians, and indeed almost all Arabs, looked upon the Zionists as an invading tribe that was out to rob them of their homeland, drive them out and build a robber-state on their ruins. The aim of the Palestinian national movement was therefore to demolish the Zionist state and throw the Jews into the sea, as their forefathers had thrown the last of the Crusaders quite literally from the quay of Acre.

And here came their revered leader, Yasser Arafat, and recognized the legality of Israel, reversing the ideology of a hundred years of struggle, in which the Palestinian people had lost most of their country and most of their homesteads.

In the Oslo agreement, signed three days later on the White House lawn, Arafat did something else, which has been completely ignored in Israel: he gave up 78% of historical Palestine. The man who actually signed the agreement was Mahmoud Abbas. I wonder if his hand shook when he signed this momentous concession, minutes before Rabin and Arafat shook hands.

Oslo did not die. In spite of the glaring faults of the agreement ("the best possible agreement in the worst possible situation," as Arafat put it), it changed the nature of the conflict, though it did not change the conflict itself. The Palestinian Authority, the basic structure of the Palestinian State-in-the-Making, is a reality. Palestine is recognized by most countries and, at least partly, by the UN. The Two-State Solution, once the idea of a crazy fringe group, is today a world consensus. A quiet but real cooperation between Israel and Palestine is going on in many fields.

But, of course, all this is far from the reality of peace which many of us, including Ron Pundak, envisioned on that happily optimistic day, September 13, 1993. Just over twenty years later, the flames of conflict are blazing, and most people don't dare to even utter the word "peace", as if it were a pornographic abomination.

WHAT WENT wrong? Many Palestinians believe that Arafat's historic concessions were premature, that he should not have made them before Israel had recognized the State of Palestine as the final aim.

Rabin changed his whole world-view at the age of 71 and took a historic decision, but he was not the man to follow through. He hesitated, wavered, and famously declared "there are no sacred dates."

This slogan became the umbrella for breaking our obligations. The final agreement should have been signed in 1999. Long before that, four "safe passages" should have been opened between the West Bank and Gaza. By violating this obligation, Israel laid the foundation for the break-away of Gaza.

Israel also violated the obligation to implement the "third stage" of the withdrawal from the West Bank. "Area C" has now become practically a part of Israel, waiting for official annexation, which is demanded by right-wing parties.

There was no obligation under Oslo to release prisoners. But wisdom dictated it. The return of ten thousand prisoners home would have electrified the atmosphere. Instead, successive Israeli governments, both left and right, built settlements on Arab land at a frantic pace and took more prisoners.

The initial violations of the agreement and the dysfunctionality of the entire process encouraged the extremists on both sides. The Israeli extremists assassinated Rabin, and the Palestinian extremists started a campaign of murderous attacks.

LAST WEEK I already commented on our government's habit of abstaining from fulfilling signed obligations, whenever it thought that the national interest demanded it.

As a soldier in the 1948 war, I took part in the great offensive to open the way to the Negev, which had been cut off by the Egyptian army. This was done in violation of the cease-fire arranged by the UN. We used a simple ruse for putting the blame on the enemy.

The same technique was later used by Ariel Sharon to break the armistice on the Syrian front and provoke incidents there, in order to annex the so-called "demilitarized zones". Still later, the memory of these incidents was used to annex the Golan Heights.

The start of Lebanon War I was a direct violation of the cease-fire arranged a year earlier by American diplomats. The pretext was flimsy as usual: an anti-PLO terrorist outfit had tried to assassinate the Israeli ambassador in London. When Prime Minister Menachem Begin was told by his Mossad chief that the assassins were enemies of the PLO, Begin famously answered: "For me, they are all PLO!"

As a matter of fact, Arafat had kept the cease-fire meticulously. Since he wanted to avoid an Israeli invasion, he had imposed his authority even on the opposition elements. For 11 months, not a single bullet was fired on that border. Yet when I spoke a few days ago with a former senior security official, he assured me seriously that "they shot at us every day. It was intolerable."

After six days of war, a cease-fire was agreed. However, at that time our troops had not yet succeeded in surrounding Beirut. So Sharon broke the cease-fire to cut the vital Beirut-Damascus highway.

The present crisis in the "peace process" was caused by the Israeli government's breaking its agreement to release Palestinian prisoners on a certain day. This violation was so blatant that it could not be hidden or explained away. It caused the famous "poof" of John Kerry.

In fact, Binyamin Netanyahu just did not dare to fulfill his obligation after he and his acolytes in the media had for weeks incited the public against the release of "murderers" with "blood on their hands". Even on the so-called "center-left", voices were mute.

Now another mendacious narrative is taking shape before our eyes. The large majority in Israel is already totally convinced that the Palestinians had brought about the crisis by joining 15 international conventions. After this flagrant violation of the agreement, the Israeli government was right in its refusal to release the prisoners. The media have repeated this falsification of the course of events so often, that it has by now acquired the status of fact.

BACK TO the Oslo Criminals. I did not belong to them, though I visited Arafat in Tunis while the talks in Oslo were going on (unbeknownst to me), and talked with him about the whole range of possible compromises.

May Ron Pundak rest in peace - even though the peace he was working for still seems far away.

But come It will.
(c) 2014 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Supreme Court: White Majorities Uber Alles
By Glen Ford

White majorities have the constitutional right to create laws that selectively lock racial minorities into inferior status. So decreed the United States Supreme Court, in a 6 to 2 vote upholding Michigan's prohibition against affirmative action in public higher education. Although race-conscious admissions polices remain legally permissible, voters may close the door to such remedies to historical discrimination, at will, as set forth in Justice Anthony M. Kennedy's controlling opinion: "There is no authority in the Constitution of the United States or in this court's precedents for the judiciary to set aside Michigan laws that commit this policy determination to the voters."

In plain English, Black folks have no rights that white majorities are bound to respect.

It's "a racist decision," the modern equivalent to the Supreme Court's 1896 Plessy v Ferguson ruling sanctifying racial segregation, said Shanta Driver, lawyer for Detroit-based By Any Means Necessary, the losing party in the case. The decision "makes clear that this Court intends to do nothing to defend the right to equality in politics, opportunity, rights, hopes and aspirations of its Latina/o, black, Native American and other minority citizens" said Driver. "At the very moment that America is becoming a majority minority nation this Court is declaring its intention to uphold white privilege and to create a new Jim Crow legal system."

The circling of black robes around the inviolability of the principle of one person-one vote is a supreme historical irony, given that the Constitution originally counted Black slaves as "three-fifths of all other Persons" for the purpose of apportioning the Congress. White majorities were slim or non-existent in the slave-intensive states, whose reconstruction to electoral "democracy" remains incomplete to the present. Yet, in the waning days of a national white majority, an era projected to end around the year 2043, majoritarian rule becomes a crude legal redoubt of white supremacy.

Back in 2003, the Supreme Court ruled that affirmative action at the University of Michigan served a compelling public interest in spreading "diversity" in the upper echelons of U.S. society. As I wrote in The Black Commentator at the time, the Court was not addressing Black historical grievances, which had already gone by the legal wayside. Rather, it ruled that the programmatic inclusion of non-whites at elite public universities created benefits for society as a whole. This week's ruling sweepingly proclaims the right of white majorities (58 percent of "the voters" in a 2006 Michigan referendum) to forgo such benefits, at their pleasure, as have California, Florida, Texas, and Washington.

Affirmative action, as understood by President Lyndon Johnson and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is long dead. It is "diversity" as public policy that was mortally wounded by the Roberts court, this week. Diversity is now an option that can be outlawed by white voter fiat - which will no doubt occur at a quickening pace given that majorities of whites believe they are the main objects of discrimination in American life. A 2011 study by researchers at Harvard and Tufts Universities, titled "Whites See Racism as a Zero-Sum Game That They Are Now Losing," showed whites "believe that anti-white bias is more prevalent than anti-Black bias" and that "Black progress is linked to a new inequality" - at white expense.

It is difficult to imagine a greater mass cognitive dissonance. The racism that has always been endemic to the U.S. drove whites crazy, and majorities of them remain nuts - dangerous people, capable of...anything. The High Court has given its benediction to the righteousness of their insanity.

The judicial system is, of course, even more consistent in building a body of legal precedent for the supremacy of money in electoral politics, than of the primacy of majorities - the two being antithetical in principle. In practice, however, the U.S. Supreme Court knows how to serve both majorities of whites and Big Capital, too. The post-Civil War Supreme Court elevated corporations to personhood, smoothing the way for the Gilded Age, and plunged Blacks into the depths of Constitutionally-sanctioned Jim Crow, simultaneously creating all-white electorates and one-party rule by the most backward elements of the bourgeoisie in Dixie.

In Michigan, where white majority opinions and prejudices are deemed sacred by the High Court and a racist referendum is dubbed a "Civil Rights Initiative," more than half of Black voters have been effectively disenfranchised under the dictatorship of state-imposed emergency financial managers. In jurisdictions like Detroit, Flint and Benton Harbor, where Blacks are the bulk of the population, majorities mean less than nothing; they are dangerous, and must be politically neutered for the general public good, while Wall Street picks Detroit's bones in a federal bankruptcy court.

Where racism is endemic, all kinds of things are possible - and constitutional.
(c) 2014 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

Ukraine And The Grand Chessboard
By Pepe Escobar

The US State Department, via spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki, said that reports of CIA Director John Brennan telling regime changers in Kiev to "conduct tactical operations" - or an "anti-terrorist" offensive - in eastern Ukraine are "completely false". This means Brennan did issue his marching orders. And by now the "anti-terrorist" campaign - with its nice little Dubya rhetorical touch - has degenerated into farce.

Now couple that with NATO secretary general, Danish retriever Anders Fogh Rasmussen, yapping about the strengthening of military footprint along NATO's eastern border: "We will have more planes in the air, mores ships on the water and more readiness on the land."

Welcome to the Two Stooges doctrine of post-modern warfare.

Pay up or freeze to death

Ukraine is for all practical purposes broke. The Kremlin's consistent position for the past three months has been to encourage the European Union to find a solution to Ukraine's dire economic mess. Brussels did nothing. It was betting on regime change to the benefit of Germany's heavyweight puppet Vladimir Klitschko, aka Klitsch The Boxer.

Regime change did happen, but orchestrated by the Khaganate of Nulands - a neo-con cell of the State Department and its assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nulands. And now the presidential option is between - what else - two US puppets, choco-billionaire Petro Poroshenko and "Saint Yulia" Timoshenko, Ukraine's former prime minister, ex-convict and prospective president. The EU is left to pick up the (unpayable) bill. Enter the International Monetary Fund - via a nasty, upcoming "structural adjustment" that will send Ukrainians to a hellhole even grimmer than the one they are already familiar with.

Once again, for all the hysteria propagated by the US Ministry of Truth and its franchises across the Western corporate media, the Kremlin does not need to "invade" anything. If Gazprom does not get paid all it needs to do is to shut down the Ukrainian stretch of Pipelineistan. Kiev will then have no option but to use part of the gas supply destined for some EU countries so Ukrainians won't run out of fuel to keep themselves and the country's industries alive. And the EU - whose "energy policy" overall is already a joke - will find itself with yet another self-inflicted problem.

The EU will be mired in a perennial lose-lose situation if Brussels does not talk seriously with Moscow. There's only one explanation for the refusal: hardcore Washington pressure, mounted via the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Again, to counterpunch the current hysteria - the EU remains Gazprom's top client, with 61% of its overall exports. It's a complex relationship based on interdependence. The capitalization of Nord Stream, Blue Stream and the to-be-completed South Stream includes German, Dutch, French and Italian companies.

So yes, Gazprom does need the EU market. But up to a point, considering the mega-deal of Siberian gas delivery to China which most probably will be signed next month in Beijing when Russian President Vladimir Putin visits President Xi Jinping.

The crucial spanner in the works

Last month, while the tortuous Ukraine sideshow was in progress, President Xi was in Europe clinching deals and promoting yet another branch of the New Silk Road all the way to Germany.

In a sane, non-Hobbesian environment, a neutral Ukraine would only have to gain by positioning itself as a privileged crossroads between the EU and the proposed Eurasian Union - as well as becoming a key node of the Chinese New Silk Road offensive. Instead, the Kiev regime changers are betting on acceptance into the EU (it simply won't happen) and becoming a NATO forward base (the key Pentagon aim).

As for the possibility of a common market from Lisbon to Vladivostok - which both Moscow and Beijing are aiming at, and would be also a boon for the EU - the Ukraine disaster is a real spanner in the works.

And a spanner in the works that, crucially, suits only one player: the US government.

The Obama administration may - and "may" is the operative word here - have realized the US government has lost the battle to control Pipelineistan from Asia to Europe, despite all the efforts of the Dick Cheney regime. What energy experts call the Asian Energy Security Grid is progressively evolving - as well as its myriad links to Europe.

So what's left for the Obama administration is this spanner in the works - still trying to scotch the full economic integration of Eurasia.

The Obama administration is predictably obsessed with the EU's increasing dependency on Russian gas. Thus its grandiose plan to position US shale gas for the EU as an alternative to Gazprom. Even assuming this might happen, it would take at least a decade - with no guarantee of success. In fact, the real alternative would be Iranian gas - after a comprehensive nuclear deal and the end of Western sanctions (the whole package, not surprisingly, being sabotaged en masse by various Beltway factions.)

Just to start with, the US cannot export shale gas to countries with which it has not signed a free trade agreement. That's a "problem" which might be solved to a great extent by the secretly negotiated Trans-Atlantic Partnership between Washington and Brussels (see Breaking bad in southern NATOstan, Asia Times Online, April 15, 2014.)

In parallel, the Obama administration keeps applying instances of "divide and rule" to scare minor players, as in spinning to the max the specter of an evil, militaristic China to reinforce the still crawling "pivoting to Asia". The whole game harks back to what Dr Zbig Brzezinski conceptualized way back in his 1997 opus The Grand Chessboard - and fine-tuned for his disciple Obama: the US ruling over Eurasia.

Still the Kremlin won't be dragged into a military quagmire. It's fair to argue Putin has identified the Big Picture in the whole chessboard, which spells out an increasing Russia-China strategic partnership as crucial as an energy-manufacturing synergy with Europe; and most of all the titanic fear of US financial elites of the inevitable, ongoing process centered on the BRICS-conducted (and spreading to key Group of 20 members) drive to bypass the petrodollar.

Ultimately, this all spells out the progressive demise of the petrodollar in parallel to the ascent of a basket to currencies as the reserve currency in the international system. The BRICS are already at work on their alternative to the IMF and the World Bank, investing in a currency reserve pool and the BRICS development bank. While a tentative new world order slouches towards all points Global South to be born, Robocop NATO dreams of war.
(c) 2014 Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times. His latest book is "Obama Does Globalistan." He may be reached at

Spy Agents Turned Into Peeping Toms

Medical science has long known that the optic nerve runs from the retina of our eyeballs to the visual cortex of our brains, letting us see what's going on around us.

Don't look now, but another "optic nerve" has evolved. Rather than running to our brains, however, this one goes outward, allowing others to see us and also hear us having what we assume to be private - even intimate - conversations. Those "others" are the out-of-control security agencies in England and the US that are secretly vacuuming up everyone's communications, even though we're not suspected of any illegalities.

The Brits took the lead in this latest visual intrusion, giving it the code name of Optic Nerve. They are tapping into the "retinas" of such internet applications as Yahoo webcam chats, Google Hangouts, and Microsoft Skype. Millions of us have these services in our homes and offices, enabling us to have private video talks with someone or some group across town, or even around the world.

Now we learn, though, that we're not alone - the spooks have hacked into the fiber optic networks of Yahoo (and probably others) to grab, view, listen to, and store millions of these personal communications. Creepy? Yes, Orwellian-level creepy! As Yahoo put it: "[This] represents a whole new level of violation of our users' privacy that is completely unacceptable."

Lest you think the spies are only gathering info about terrorist plots, the British agency concedes that up to 11 percent of the Yahoo webcam images it has purloined contained sexually-explicit content. One agent said of the mass window peeping, "a surprising number of people use webcam conversations to show intimate parts of their body to the other person."

How shocking! Not that they would do that, but that you would be sneaking peeks at them.
(c) 2014 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.

War Is Good For Us, Dumb New Book Claims
By David Swanson

Ian Morris has stuck his dog's ear in his mouth, snapped a selfie, and proclaimed "Man Bites Dog." His new book War: What Is It Good For? Conflict and Progress of Civilization from Primates to Robots is intended to prove that war is good for children and other living things. It actually proves that defenders of war are growing desperate for arguments.

Morris maintains that the only way to make peace is to make large societies, and the only way to make large societies is through war. Ultimately, he believes, the only way to protect peace is through a single global policeman. Once you've made peace, he believes, prosperity follows. And from that prosperity flows happiness. Therefore, war creates happiness. But the one thing you must never stop engaging in if you hope to have peace, prosperity, and joy is -- you guessed it -- war.

This thesis becomes an excuse for hundreds of pages of a sort of Monty Python history of the technologies of war, not to mention the evolution of chimpanzees, and various even less relevant excursions. These pages are packed with bad history and guesswork, and I'm greatly tempted to get caught up in the details. But none of it has much impact on the book's conclusions. All of Morris's history, accurate and otherwise, is put to mythological use. He's telling a simplistic story about where safety and happiness originated, and advocating highly destructive misery-inducing behavior as a result.

When small, medium, and large societies have been and are peaceful, Morris ignores them. There are lots of ways to define peaceful, but none of them put the leading war maker at the top, and none of them place at the top only nations that could be imagined to fall under a Pax Americana.

When societies have been enlarged peacefully, as in the formation of the European Union, Morris applauds (he thinks the E.U. earned its peace prize, and no doubt all the more so for its extensive war making as deputy globocop) but he just skips over the fact that war wasn't used in the E.U.'s formation. (He avoids the United Nations entirely.)

When the globocop brings death and destruction and disorder to Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, or Yemen, Morris sticks his fingers in his ears and hums. "Interstate wars" he informs us (like most of his other claims, without any footnotes) have "almost disappeared." Well isn't *that* great news?! (Morris grotesquely minimizes Iraqi deaths from the recent [nonexistent?], and of course supplies no footnote.)

In a culture that has long waged wars, it has been possible to say that wars bring courage, wars bring heroism, wars bring slaves, wars bring cultural exchange. One could have asserted at various points that wars were the only way to a great many ends, not just large societies that reduce small-scale murders. Barely a century ago William James was worried there was no way to build character without war, and defenders of war were advertising it as good for its participants in a much more direct way than Morris has been reduced to. Has war been the means of building empires and nations? Sure, but that neither means that empires are the only way to peace, nor that war was the only nation-building tool available, nor that we must keep waging wars in an age in which we aren't forming empires or nations any longer. That ancient pyramids may have been built by slaves hardly makes slavery the best or only way to preserve the pyramids.

Tying something good, such as ending slavery in the United States, to a war, such as the U.S. Civil War, doesn't make war the only way to end slavery. In fact, most nations that ended slavery did so without a war. Much less is continuing to wage wars the only possible way (or even a useful way at all) to hold off the restoration of slavery or to complete its eradication. And, by the way, a great many societies that Morris credits with making progress through war also had slavery, monarchy, women-as-property, environmental destruction, and worship of religions now defunct. Were those institutions also necessary for peace and prosperity, or are they irrelevant to it, or did we overcome some of them through peaceful means? Morris, at one point, acknowledges that slavery (not just war) generated European wealth, later crediting the industrial revolution as well -- the godfather of which, in his mind, was no doubt peace created by war. (What did you expect, the Spanish Inquisition?)

The tools of nonviolence that have achieved so much in the past century are never encountered in Morris' book, so no comparison with war is offered. Nonviolent revolutions have tended to dismember empires or alter the leadership of a nation that remains the same size, so Morris must not view them as useful tools, even when they produce more free and prosperous societies. But it's not clear Morris can recognize those when he sees them. Morris claims that in the past 30 years "we" (he seems to mean in the United States, but could mean the world, it's not totally clear) have become "safer and richer than ever."

Morris brags about U.S. murder rates falling, and yet dozens of nations from every continent have lower murder rates than the U.S. Nor do larger nations tend to have lower murder rates than smaller nations. Morris holds up Denmark as a model, but never looks at Denmark's society, its distribution of wealth, its social supports. Morris claims the whole world is growing more equal in wealth.

Back here in reality, historians of the Middle Ages say that our age has the greater disparities -- disparities that are growing within the United States in particular, but globally as well. Oxfam reports that the richest 85 people in the world have more money than the poorest 3.5 billion. That is the peace that Morris swears is not a wasteland. The United States ranks third in average wealth but 27th in median wealth. Yet, somehow Morris believes the United States can lead the way to "Denmark" and that Denmark itself can only be Denmark because of how many people the United States kills in "productive wars" (even though they have "almost disappeared"). Morris writes these scraps of wisdom from Silicon Valley, where he says he sees nothing but wealth, yet where people with nowhere to sleep but in a car may soon be banned from doing so.

We're also safer, Morris thinks, because he sees no climate emergency worth worrying about. He's quite openly in favor of wars for oil, yet never notices oil's effects until the end of the book when he takes a moment to brush such concerns aside.

We're also safer, Morris tells us, because there are no longer enough nukes in the world to kill us all. Has he never heard of nuclear famine? Does he not understand the growing risks of proliferating nuclear weapons and energy? Two nations have thousands of nukes ready to launch in an instant, every one of them many times more powerful than the two nuclear bombs dropped thus far; and one of those nations is prodding the other one with a stick in Ukraine, resulting in more, not less, violence in the beneficiary of such expansionism. Meanwhile the officials overseeing U.S. nukes keep getting caught cheating on tests or shipping nukes across the country unguarded, and generally view nuclear weapons oversight as the lowest most dead-end career track. This makes us safer?

Morris hypes lies about Iran pursuing nuclear weapons. He opens the book with a tale of a near nuclear holocaust (one of many he could have chosen). And yet, somehow disarmament isn't on the agenda, at least not with the priority given to maintaining or increasing war spending. Not to worry, he assures us, "missile defense" actually works, or might someday, so that'll protect us -- although he parenthetically admits it won't. The point is it's warlike, and war is good, because war spreads peace. That's the role the U.S. must play for the good of all: policeman of the world. Morris, while clearly a huge fan of Barack Obama, believes that all recent U.S. presidents should have a Nobel Peace Prize. Never does Morris comment on the fact that the rest of the world sees the United States as the greatest threat to world peace.

Morris admits that the United States is encircling China with weapons, but he describes in sinister tones China's response of building weaponry that will only serve a function near China's own shores, not as defensive or unimperialistic, but at "asymmetrical" -- and we all know what that means: unfair! China might make it hard for the globocop to wage war on and around China. This Morris sees as the looming danger. The solution, he thinks, is for the United States to keep its militaristic edge (never mind that its military makes China's look like a child's toy). More drone killing is not only good but also (and this sort of nonsense always makes you wonder why its advocate bothers advocating) inevitable. Of course, the United States won't start a war against China, says Morris, because launching wars hurts a nation's reputation so severely. (You can see how badly the U.S. reputation has suffered in Morris' eyes following its latest string of wars.)

And yet, what lies on the horizon, almost inevitably, Morris contends, is World War III.

There's nothing you can do about it. Don't bother working for peace, Morris says. But a solution may arrive nonetheless. If we can go on dumping our money into wars for just one more century, or maybe more, proliferating weapons, destroying the environment, losing our liberties in the model land of the free, then -- if we're really lucky -- the computer programmers of Silicon Valley will save us, or some of us, or something, by . . . wait for it . . . hooking us up to computers so that our minds all meld together.

Morris may be more confident than I that the result of this computerized rapture will be worldwide empathy rather than revulsion. But then, he's had longer to get used to living with the way he thinks.
(c) 2014 David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie."

Yellowstone - Super Volcano In The Heartland
By James Donahue

Many of us have had the privilege of visiting Yellowstone National Park, a vast wilderness in the mountains of Wyoming that offers lakes, rivers, geysers, hot bubbling springs, deep gorges, wild buffalo, moose, elk, bear and breathtaking scenery.

Of all the national parks in the United States, Yellowstone is probably the most popular. And if geologists and other scientists are right, it may be among the most dangerous. That is because it rests about 125 feet directly over a hot bubbling caldron of lava linked to what is believed to be one of the largest volcanos in the world.

Almost the entire park hides a huge magma chamber located just below the surface. The steam vents, the hot bubbling mud lakes, the steaming pools of clear water and the geysers, including Old Faithful, are all caused by a constant release of pressure from everything going on below.

Experts refer to Yellowstone as a "Super Volcano." They have determined that it erupts once every 700,000 years, and when it does, it sends enough molten lava, rock, steam, smoke and ash shooting for miles into the atmosphere to kill every living thing for hundreds of miles in every direction, block out sunlight all over the Northern Hemisphere, and affect not only the climate but all life, possibly all over the world, for months if not years.

Experts say the last major eruption occurred about 640,000 years ago. Diedtra Henderson of the Denver Post once wrote that geologic forces have been active at Yellowstone for millions of years. At least three different eruptions have created mountains and erased landscapes over time.

A research team from the University of Utah recently reported to the American Geophysical Union during a meeting in San Francisco that the volcano's caldron is much larger than it was once believed. Professor Robert Smith said the caverns of molten lava stretches over 55 miles wide and contains from 200 to 600 cubic km of molten rock.

It is a giant monster lying quietly. No one knows when it might erupt. But research teams are keeping a constant vigil, recording temperature changes and other signs of possible activity.

Alarms were sounded about ten years ago when the water temperature at one hot pool rose about 20 degrees, and park officials discovered a bulge on the lake floor that rose 100 feet and stretched the length of six football fields. They said the floor of the lake was acting like a lid on a pressure cooker. The concern then was that a hydrothermal explosion could occur at any time.

Not only has the surface remained elevated, but there has been a sudden rise in the release of Helium-3, a rare type of Helium that is known to be present before a major eruption.

Yet another indicator that something is afoul at Yellowstone this spring . . . herds of bison have been seen running along public highways, all going in the same direction. We assume it is away from the core of the volcano.

The park area also has been the scene of many minor and a few major earthquakes in recent years. A 7.5 quake in 1959 killed over 28 people, caused $11 million in damage, and a landslide blocked the flow of the Madison River and created what is now called Quake Lake. Science writer Natalie Wolchover addressed the Yellowstone threat in a recent article. She says we don't need to worry because "a rough estimate based on geological records indicates there's a 1-in-10,000 chance of a 'supereruption' at Yellowstone during our lifetimes."

Wolchover calculates that if the volcano does blow and spews over 1,000 cubic kilometers of magma, it would be enough to cover most of North America in a blanket of ash. The damage would be worse in a 2,000 mile radius but beyond that the ash blanket would be a trace.

She quotes Stephen Self, director of the Volcano Dynamics Group of Open University in the UK. He said the worst problem would be the ash hanging in the air for days after the eruption, making it difficult for people and animals to breathe. "And that blanket of ash covering the country would smother vegetation and pollute the water supply, quickly leading to a nationwide food crisis. A lot of people would perish," Self said.

The ash cloud and sulfur gas would wrap around the entire world, casting the planet in shadow and altering the very chemical composition of the atmosphere for at least a decade. But if there is enough natural rainfall to clear the ash off the land, new vegetation will start to grow about 10 years after the eruption.

Yellowstone's super volcano probably can't wipe out all life on Earth. But if it blows, the impact will certainly mean a significant reduction in population everywhere. It would change our lives as we know them for a very long time.
(c) 2014 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles. He currently produces daily articles for this web site.

If Rick Weiland Can Say "No" To Keystone, So Can Barack Obama
By John Nichols

Phase IV of the Keystone XL Pipeline Project would, if approved and constructed, cut across the state of South Dakota, from its northwest corner through hundreds of miles of ranch land to the Nebraska border. If all the promises of jobs for workers and protection for the environment that have been made by Keystone proponents were well grounded, there's good reason to believe that Rick Weiland might be on the forefront of efforts to get the project up and running.

Weiland's a rural-state Democrat seeking to hold a Senate seat that has been in Democratic hands since 1997. It's a hard race, where the pressure is on to appeal across lines of partisanship and ideology in a state that has not backed a Democrat for president since Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

Political pundits would, no doubt, make excuses for Weiland if he finessed the Keystone debate with a politically-convenient bow to Nebraska legal deliberations and ongoing assessments of the potential impact by federal agencies - as the U.S. State Department did with its just-announced delay of a decision on whether to approve the $5.4 billion initiative.

But Weiland, a former congressional aide and regional director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has a long record of balancing economic and environmental concerns. And he is not prepared to avoid the issue.

The Democratic contender declares flatly that, "I'm opposed to it." Like the members of the Cowboy Indian Alliance of ranchers, farmers, and tribal communities from along the pipeline route, which this week is rallying in Washington to urge the administration to reject the Keystone XL proposal and protect the environment, Weiland has sorted the issue out in practical terms.

"[There are] huge environmental impacts," he said in a March interview during a visit with members of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe on the fourth-largest Indian reservation in land area in the United States. "You look at what it takes in terms of the extraction of the oil and the energy that is consumed to do that, the transportation - the fact they have to heat the tar sand up so it becomes almost liquefied -- through a pipeline that crosses over precious water resources like the Ogallala (the shallow water table aquifer that underlies portions of South Dakota and seven other states) and the potential for the damage that could occur, and the fact that we're not really getting anything for taking on that risk. I think that in and of itself is reason not to build it."

Weiland notes that, because the Keystone project is an export pipeline, "Very little if any of the oil, tar sand oil, that's going to be coming through South Dakota is going to stay in the United States. Most of it is going overseas."

At the same time, he expressed doubts about the suggestion that the project would create jobs. "The last report I read, which was put out by the Government Accounting Office (GAO) basically said we're talking about 35 full-time jobs, permanent jobs, and we don't even know how many of those are going to be in South Dakota. And the 2,000 that it's going to take to build the pipeline, those are temporary jobs," Weiland explained to Sustainable Dakota's Tasiyagnunpa Livermont

The Obama administration continues to wrestle with the Keystone issue. There are now suggestions that the wrestling could extend until after the November election. That's earned the president criticism from Republicans such as Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, the ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources, who called the delay "a stunning act of political cowardice." And from Democrats such as Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu, who chairs the committee and called the delay "irresponsible, unnecessary and unacceptable." At the same time, opponents of the pipeline are frustrated and concerned. "Keystone XL poses a grave risk to our land, water and climate, and breaks long held treaties, and President Obama still has an opportunity to do the right thing and reject the pipeline," argue activists with the Cowboy Indian Alliance's "Reject and Protect" campaign. "But he won't take it unless we commit ourselves to principled action and push him to step up."

The president and his aides and appointees undoubtedly feel pulled in many directions.

In the end, they must make a choice.

And in doing so they would be wise to consider the reasoned position of Rick Weiland, who says that "what you end up having at the end of the day is an awful lot of risk associated with the construction of this and the potential for impacts on the environment and very little reward, and that's why I'm opposed to it."
(c) 2014 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His new book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, has just been published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

The Rhetoric Of Violence
By Chris Hedges

At least nine people were killed and at least 35 others were wounded in shootings across Chicago on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. On Thursday police announced that a man had been arrested on charges of firing on a number of motorists recently, wounding three of them, on Kansas City-area highways. On April 13 three people, including a child, were murdered at two Jewish-affiliated facilities in Overland Park, Kan., leading to the arrest of a white supremacist. On April 12, armed militias in Nevada got the federal government to retreat, allowing rancher Cliven Bundy to continue to graze his cattle on public land. All this happened over a span of only nine days in the life of a country where more than 250 people are shot every day. In America, violence and the threat of lethal force are the ways we communicate. Violence-the preferred form of control by the state-is an expression of our hatred, self-loathing and lust for vengeance. And this bloodletting will increasingly mark a nation in terminal decline.

Violence, as H. Rap Brown said, is "as American as cherry pie." It has a long and coveted place in U.S. history. Vigilante groups including slave patrols, gunslingers, Pinkerton and Baldwin-Felts detectives, gangs of strikebreakers, gun thugs, company militias, the White Citizens' Council, the Knights of the White Camellia, and the Ku Klux Klan, which boasted more than 3 million members between 1915 and 1944 and took over the governance of some states, formed and shaped America. Heavily armed mercenary paramilitaries, armed militias such as the Oath Keepers and the anti-immigration extremist group Ranch Rescue, along with omnipotent and militarized police forces, are parts of a seamless continuation of America's gun culture and tradition of vigilantism. And roaming the landscape along with these vigilante groups are lone gunmen who kill for money or power or at the command of their personal demons.

Vigilante groups in America do not trade violence for violence. They murder anyone who defies the structures of capitalism, even if the victims are unarmed. The vigilantes, often working with the approval and sometimes with the collusion of state law enforcement agencies, are rarely held accountable. They are capitalism's shock troops, its ideological vanguard, used to break populist movements. Imagine that, if instead of right-wing militias, so-called "ecoterrorists"-who have never been found responsible for taking a single American life-had showed up armed in Nevada. How would the authorities have responded if those carrying guns had been from Earth First? Take a guess. Across U.S. history, hundreds of unarmed labor union members have been shot to death by vigilante groups working on behalf of coal, steel or mining concerns, and thousands more have been wounded. The United States has had the bloodiest labor wars in the industrialized world. Murderous rampages by vigilante groups, almost always in the pay of companies or oligarchs, have been unleashed on union members and agitators although no American labor union ever publicly called for an armed uprising. African-Americans, too, have endured a vigilante reign of terror, one that lasted for generations after the Civil War.

And all the while, vigilantes have been lionized by popular culture, winning mythic status in Hollywood movies that glorify lone avengers.

Vigilante bands have served and continue to serve the interests of state power or, as in the case involving the Nevada rancher, corporations that seek to eradicate public lands. They are used to make sure the dispossessed and marginalized remain dispossessed and marginalized. They revel in a demented hypermasculinity. They champion a racist nationalism that is fused with the iconography, language and rituals of the Christian religion. And they have huge megaphones on the airwaves, funded by the most retrograde forces in American capitalism, to spread their message. They are the bedrock of American fascism. The terror inflicted by street shootings in cities like Chicago conveniently gives these vigilante groups their right to existence.

The raison d'etre given by vigilante groups for the need to bear arms is that these weapons protect us from tyranny and keep us safe and secure in our homes. But history does not support this contention. The Communist Party during the rise of fascism in Nazi Germany did not lack for weapons. Throughout the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, citizens had assault weapons in their homes. In Yugoslavia during the war there, AK-47 assault rifles were almost as common in households as stoves. I watched in Iraq and Yugoslavia as heavily armed units encircled houses and those inside walked out with hands in the air, leaving their assault rifles inside. And neither will American families engage in shootouts should members of the U.S. Army or SWAT teams surround their homes. When roughly 10,000 armed miners at Blair Mountain in West Virginia rose up in 1921 for the right to form unions and held gun thugs and company militias at bay, the government called in the Army. The miners were not suicidal. When the Army arrived they disbanded. And faced with the full weight of the U.S. military, almost any armed group would disband, and that includes vigilantes. The militias in Nevada might have gotten the Bureau of Land Management to back down, but they would have scattered like frightened crows if the government had sent in the 101st Airborne.

America's vigilante violence, rather than a protection from tyranny, is an expression of the fear by white people, especially white men, of the black underclass. This underclass has been enslaved, lynched, imprisoned and impoverished for centuries. The white vigilantes do not acknowledge the reality of this oppression, but at the same time they are deeply worried about retribution directed against whites. Guns, for this reason, are easily available to white people while gun ownership is largely criminalized for blacks. The hatred expressed by vigilante groups for people of color, along with Jews and Muslims, is matched by their hatred for the college-educated elite, who did not decry the steady impoverishment of the working class. People of color, along with those who espouse the liberal social values of the college-educated elites, including gun control, are seen by the vigilantes as contaminants to society that must be removed to restore the nation to health.

Richard Rorty in "Achieving Our Country: Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America" writes that when our breakdown begins, "the gains made in the past forty years by black and brown Americans, and by homosexuals, will be wiped out. Jocular contempt for women will come back into fashion. The words 'nigger' and 'kike' will once again be heard in the workplace. All the sadism which the academic Left tried to make unacceptable to its students will come flooding back. All the resentment which badly educated Americans feel about having their manners dictated to them by college graduates will find an outlet."

Our inability to formulate a coherent, militant revolutionary ideology, meanwhile, leaves us powerless in the face of mounting violence. We wander around in a daze. We lack the toughness and asceticism of the radicals who went before us-the Wobblies, the anarchists, the socialists and the communists. We preach a mishmash of tolerance and Oprah-like hope and exude a fuzzy faith in the power of the people. And because of this we are run over like frogs blindly hopping up and down on a road.

Our most cherished civil liberties have been taken from us. Our incomes are in free fall while obscene wealth is in the hands of a few oligarchs. We are watched and monitored by the most pervasive security and surveillance system in human history. We are hemmed in by archipelagos of prisons. And the ecosystem on which we depend for life is being destroyed. And, through it all, we are bombarded with propaganda, manipulated and mocked by our elites as we dance in their choreographed political charades.

We must begin to speak in the language of revolution, not accommodation. We must direct the rage that grips huge swaths of the population not against the oppressed but against the structures of corporate power that create oppression. We will have to begin from scratch, for America has no revolutionary intellectual tradition, with the exception of Thomas Paine. We have produced notable anarchists-Randolph Bourne, Alexander Berkman, Emma Goldman and Noam Chomsky. We have an array of great black radicals, including W.E.B. Du Bois, Malcolm X, James Cone and Cornel West, as astute about the evils of empire as white supremacy. We once had some fine socialists, Eugene V. Debs among them. But we lack genuine revolutionists such as Alexander Herzen, Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Vladimir Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg, Antonio Gramsci and Frantz Fanon, and because of this we are losing the class war.

As the historian Richard Hofstadter writes in "American Violence," his book with Michael Wallace, class conflict and income inequality in the United States, now at near historical levels, have traditionally been "overshadowed by ethnic-religious and racial conflict. Intermittent group warfare has been our substitute for, or alternative to, class war, and class war itself, when it has flared up, has seldom taken place in a clear atmosphere, unclouded by our racial-ethnic antagonisms and by our complex hierarchy of status based upon religious-ethnic-racial qualities." There have been a few forays into insurrectionary violence, including the 1786-87 Shays' Rebellion and the armed uprising by the Blair Mountain coal miners. But these insurrections have lacked, as Hofstadter wrote, "an ideological and a geographical center." Insurrectionary violence in America has, he observed, "been too various, diffuse, and spontaneous to be forged into a single, sustained, inveterate hatred shared by entire social classes." A revolutionary language and consciousness must replace the current murderous nihilism.

The government is banking on the fact that we are not hard-wired for revolution. The state, for this reason, permits the population to load itself up with weapons, including assault rifles, because it understands that they are almost never turned against centers of power. There are some 310 million firearms in the United States, including 114 million handguns, 110 million rifles and 86 million shotguns. There is no reliable data on the number of military-style assault weapons in private hands, but one estimate is 1.5 million. The United States has the highest rate of gun ownership in the world-an average of 90 per 100 people. We shoot each other or we shoot ourselves. Of the 282 people shot every day in the U.S., according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, 32 die in murders and 51 commit suicide.

As we build a revolutionary consciousness, we must never place our faith in violence, even as we understand that violence, especially by vigilantes, criminals and militarized police forces, will be used against us. Our strength is our truth. And this truth terrifies our power elites. Truth, not force, is the real power of revolutionaries. It was an understanding of the truth about the decadence of the czarist regime that led soldiers in the 1917 February Revolution in Russia to mutiny against their officers, leading to the abdication of Nicholas II. It was similar truths that, having finally penetrated the militaries, doomed Louis XVI, the Shah of Iran and the Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. Revolutions do not succeed because of violence, although violence is often a component of revolutions. The glorification of violence as the principal agent of change is a lie. Revolutions succeed because of revolutionary thinking. Such consciousness takes years to build. It slowly, invisibly burrows into the organs of power. It leads those on the inside to defect to the revolution. And once that happens, state power crumbles.

Muslims, undocumented workers, homosexuals, liberals, feminists, intellectuals and African-Americans will increasingly suffer the wrath of vigilante violence as the nation becomes more restive. Liberal institutions, their credibility shredded because of their myopic support for neoliberalism, will become irrelevant. Chauvinism, violent retribution, a perverted Christianity and the celebration of a mythic Anglo-Saxon history will sever sections of the population from reality, enticing them into an American fascism. This is what is coming. It cannot be fought with counterviolence. It can be fought only with ideas. We better prepare.
(c) 2014 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. He is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His latest book is, ""Death Of The Liberal Class."

Will Government Use Its New Leverage Over The Financial Industry?
By David Sirota

If you read one business book this year, make it "Flash Boys" by Michael Lewis. The journalist famous for "Moneyball" and "The Big Short" takes readers inside the parasitic world of high-frequency trading that is harming the broader economy.

The technical architecture of high-frequency trading is right out of a sci-fi movie - the schemes rely on algorithms that seem artificially intelligent, and the velocity of transaction signals approach light speed. As Lewis recounts, all that technological wizardry is marshaled to let insiders know information before everyone else, which consequently lets those insiders extract wealth from the market.

The good news is that a financial transaction tax can at once raise public resources and disincentivize the most predatory schemes. The even better news is that structural changes in the industry have made such a tax more economically viable than ever.

Before getting to that change, consider the basics of the tax proposal. The idea is that if a tiny fee is slapped on securities transactions - say, a cent - the tax will barely affect the average investor but will force high-frequency, high-volume traders to pay a lot. Consequently, those predators might see less of an upside from - or even abandon - their market-rigging schemes. And if they don't, then at least the government will generate new resources to enforce laws protecting average investors.

Of course, when this idea gained steam before, it was deflated by those arguing that the tax would prompt stock exchanges to move to jurisdictions that don't impose such a levy. In this tale, the city, state or country that creates a transaction tax won't stop high-frequency trading - it will only hurt itself by driving financial business to another locale.

On its face, it is a powerful argument - so powerful, in fact, that when Chicago's municipal government recently considered a financial transaction tax, the proposal was quickly dismissed.

The Illinois legislature then gave the Chicago Mercantile Exchange an $85 million tax cut when company executives threatened to move the company out of state.

No doubt, fear of such flight seems logical. Essentially, tax opponents ask us to assume that in the Internet era, stock exchanges - like many other information-sector enterprises - are no longer moored to specific geographies because they can supposedly conduct business through any digital conduit.

But that's where the aforementioned structural change has created a flaw in the logic. In a financial world where microseconds are now king, all conduits are not created equal and average Internet velocity is no longer enough. That reality potentially reduces some of the industry's geographic mobility. Why? Because while speculators themselves no longer need to physically be on specific trading room floors, they do need their computers to either be physically near those exchanges' computers or hooked up to them through special ultra-fast conduits. Additionally, the newly computerized exchanges need ever-more massive data centers and conduits to process the accelerating information flow.

All of that technology requires financial firms to make huge investments in lots of immobile digital infrastructure. That means it may now be prohibitively expensive and/or logistically difficult for those financial firms to simply pick up and move. Indeed, just like petroleum companies cannot realistically threaten to leave oil-rich locales if they don't like a tax, parts of the financial world are captive to the locales in which they've built their digital systems.

This is the silver lining of speed-driven finance. Simply put, the federal, state and local governments that host the financial industry have more leverage because, despite threats, they don't have to fear the industry leaving.

The only question, then, is political: Will those governments use this new leverage? Or will they do nothing to protect the average investor?
(c) 2014 David Sirota is a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist, magazine journalist, a staff writer at PandoDaily and the best-selling author of "Hostile Takeover" and "The Uprising." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at E-mail him at David Sirota is a former spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee. Follow him on Twitter @davidsirota.

Sweden Turns Japanese
By Paul Krugman

Three years ago Sweden was widely regarded as a role model in how to deal with a global crisis. The nation's exports were hit hard by slumping world trade but snapped back; its well-regulated banks rode out the financial storm; its strong social insurance programs supported consumer demand; and unlike much of Europe, it still had its own currency, giving it much-needed flexibility. By mid-2010 output was surging, and unemployment was falling fast. Sweden, declared The Washington Post, was "the rock star of the recovery."

Then the sadomonetarists moved in.

The story so far: In 2010 Sweden's economy was doing much better than those of most other advanced countries. But unemployment was still high, and inflation was low. Nonetheless, the Riksbank - Sweden's equivalent of the Federal Reserve - decided to start raising interest rates.

There was some dissent within the Riksbank over this decision. Lars Svensson, a deputy governor at the time - and a former Princeton colleague of mine - vociferously opposed the rate hikes. Mr. Svensson, one of the world's leading experts on Japanese-style deflationary traps, warned that raising interest rates in a still-depressed economy put Sweden at risk of a similar outcome. But he found himself isolated, and left the Riksbank in 2013.

Sure enough, Swedish unemployment stopped falling soon after the rate hikes began. Deflation took a little longer, but it eventually arrived. The rock star of the recovery has turned itself into Japan.

So why did the Riksbank make such a terrible mistake? That's a hard question to answer, because officials changed their story over time. At first the bank's governor declared that it was all about heading off inflation: "If the interest rate isn't raised now, we'll run the risk of too much inflation further ahead ... Our most important task is to ensure that we meet our inflation target of 2 percent." But as inflation slid toward zero, falling ever further below that supposedly crucial target, the Riksbank offered a new rationale: tight money was about curbing a housing bubble, to avert financial instability. That is, as the situation changed, officials invented new rationales for an unchanging policy.

In short, this was a classic case of sadomonetarism in action.

I'm using that term (coined by William Keegan of The Observer) advisedly, not just to be colorful. At least as I define it, sadomonetarism is an attitude, common among monetary officials and commentators, that involves a visceral dislike for low interest rates and easy money, even when unemployment is high and inflation is low. You find many sadomonetarists at international organizations; in the United States they tend to dwell on Wall Street or in right-leaning economics departments. They don't, I'm happy to say, exert much influence at the Federal Reserve - but they do constantly harass the Fed, demanding that it stop its efforts to boost employment.

Indeed, the Riksbank's evolving justifications for rate hikes were mirrored at international organizations like the Switzerland-based Bank for International Settlements, an influential bankers' bank that is a sadomonetarist stronghold. Just like the Riksbank, the bank changed its rationale for rate hikes - It's about inflation! It's about financial stability! - but never its policy demands.

Where does this gut dislike for low rates come from? At some level it has to reflect an instinctive identification with the interests of wealthy creditors as opposed to usually poorer debtors. But it's also driven, I believe, by the desire of many monetary officials to pose as serious, tough-minded people - and to demonstrate how tough they are by inflicting pain.

Whatever their motives, sadomonetarists have already done a lot of damage. In Sweden they have extracted defeat from the jaws of victory, turning an economic success story into a tale of stagnation and deflation as far as the eye can see.

And they could do much more damage in the future. Financial markets have been fairly calm lately - no big banking crises, no imminent threats of euro breakup. But it would be wrong and dangerous to assume that recovery is assured: bad policies could all too easily undermine our still-sluggish economic progress. So when serious-sounding men in dark suits tell you that it's time to stop all this easy money and raise rates, beware: Look at what such people have done to Sweden.
(c) 2014 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of."
~~~ Confucius

The Sword Of Injustice: A Western Shoshone Tragedy Vs Nevada Millionaire Rancher Cliven Bundy
By Vincent L. Guarisco

Wow, I am always puzzled at how lucky some people are as apposed to others. Presently, a lot of media fanfare and armed militia have come to the aid of rancher "Cliven Bundy." It seems that they have helped him win the day. Or, so it would seem at least for now.

Currently, his brothers in arms have successfully stopped the confiscation of his cattle by U.S. Federal Agents and the Bureau of land Management (BLM) authorities. Heck, he even got his cattle returned to him after they had him dead to rights grazing cattle for 20 years on land he did not own. Amazing! That's what I call one lucky SOB! Although, my intuition tells me the FED will soon get their money in full.

Call me Curious George. Now that Bundy got his cattle back, will the Koch Brothers quietly come to his aid and pay his fines for him? Or, perhaps some other filthy rich fat cat such as Sheldon Adelson? Will they both gallop in on their white horses with cash registers in their saddlebags? If so, expect a lot of future political posturing to be exploited out of this ordeal. Stay tuned for that GOP goodie. Hmmm, I would sure love to be a fly on the wall at the Bundy ranch when this all plays out.

Imagine that! A Federal hotplate was in the "on" position (with white rancher frog in pot) slowly simmering in the courts for 20 years. Then suddenly -- for no apparent reason -- Federal boots appeared on the ground in Nevada going after poor Mr. Bundy for repeatedly refusing to pay the Department of Interior money he owes to the tune of one million dollars for grazing his cattle on public land.

And, although I admit, I'm no fan of the BLM or the FED; something doesn't fit. To me, this whole Bundy affair seems more like a square peg being forced into a round hole for reasons not yet known. It almost seems staged... I do not know. Regardless, I feel a real sense of injustice when I compare the Bundy ordeal to a much worse incident that occurred 11 years ago to an honorable Western Shoshone family who fought a much worse battle and lost much, much more.

Indeed, such was the case with Western Shoshone Tribal members Carrie and Mary Dann. I admit, this is personal for me. I say this because my parents knew the Dunn family. And my father, Anthony Guarisco, was especially close to Clifford Dunn and many other Native Americans when he organized protest events at the Nevada Test Site (NTS) back in 1991.

Unfortunately, the Danns did not have the devil's luck, like Mr. Bundy. Nope, they had no merry band of gun toting militia to help them out. Nor did they have any politicians in their pocket on their side of the isle. Sadly, just like most other honorable Native American citizens throughout history trying to live their lives in peace on their ancestral land, they got screwed without a kiss.

And just why is that? How do some frogs beat the slow boiling pot scenario more than others? Is a white rancher frog somehow more heat resistant than those of color? Truth or consequence -- is this some weird "pot" high that reeks of unfairness? What gives?

FYI, back in 1973, and in direct violation of the Ruby Valley Treaty of 1863, U.S. Government goons relentlessly ordered the Dann sisters off their land near Crescent Valley, Nevada -- not far from where the Bundy ranch is located. Boldly, the brave Native American sisters stood their ground and, in 1979 (at a time when bucko corporate money filled bureaucratic pockets wanting to exploit the land for mining, etc.), the U.S. Government attempted to buy them-off, offering pennies on the dollar to abandon their claim to their sacred land. In fairness of Native American customs, it was even put to a vote.

And the verdict was crystal clear. Over 80% of the Western Shoshone refused to take the deal. Furthermore, the Western Shoshone rightfully demanded the treaty of 1863 be upheld and honored; and it was upheld by the United Nations and to this day, the United States (in direct violation) refuses to acknowledge it.

It begs many questions: Since when did Shoshone land become property of the U.S. Government in violation of the U.N.?

Why does the Government continue to falsely claim ownership of this ancestral Native American land, when it is not theirs?

What gives the U.S. Government the right to charge anyone anything when they do not own it?

This and many more questions need to be answered.

Perhaps this is a good time to note that Mr. Bundy said he believes the Federal Government does not own the land his cows have grazed on. I agree. He also asserts this land belongs to the State of Nevada. Well, since the U.N. agrees this land belongs to the Western Shoshone, perhaps rancher Bundy should pay his rent to the legal owner where his cows go moo -- to the "Western Shoshone."

Also, Mr. Bundy's son declared "this is how the west was won." Well, let's set the record straight here and now: I think most of us with half a brain already know the west was conquered by blood thirsty animals that brutally killed Indians and stole their land. And, it's also worth noting they enslaved many others with their barbaric human trafficking.

As I said before, the Dann sisters were NOT nearly as lucky as Mr. Bundy. In 2003, Federal agents conducted a series of raids on the Dann ranch. They came in full force with helicopters, ATVs, and men on horseback and these brutes confiscated/stole over 500 horses and many, many cattle without any legal authority to do so.

During the last raid, in a final act of desperation, Elder Clifford Dann poured gasoline on himself and lit the match thinking his self-emulsion might stop the thieving federal agents. Nope. Not on that day. Not ever. They barely skipped a beat. They quickly put the fire out, arrested him, and continued the raid unabated. In the end, the Federal government levied a hefty $3 million fine on the Dann sisters and kept their horses and cattle, never to be returned. Are you paying attention Mr. Bundy? This was a repeat lesson of how the west was won.

Don't take my word for it.

Simply ask any Native American Indian. And, if you really want to know the real scoop of over 200 years of constant injustice, have a chat with any member of the American Indian Movement (AIM). Be it Wounded knee, the Trail of Tears, or the massacres at Pine Ridge, et al ... take your pick, the evidence is overwhelming.

As a final note, then, of course we have Senator Harry Reid. He sure loves to insert his foot in his mouth. He recently gushed on the public airways that the militia that helped Bundy are "domestic terrorists..." Well, perhaps the good Senator should know the history of his own home state and discover who the REAL terrorists are? For if he did, he would already know who stole Western Shoshone land, who continually harasses them and others. Perhaps Harry should point his terrorist finger in a completely different direction at those more deserving. Or, perhaps he will keep spouting-off to witness himself igniting the second American revolution in the State of Nevada.
(c) 2014 Vincent L. Guarisco is a freelance writer from Arizona, a contributing writer for many web sites, and a lifetime founding member of the Alliance of Atomic Veterans. The 21st century, once so full of shining promise, now threatens to force countless millions of us at home and abroad into a dark abyss of languishing poverty and silent servitude; a lowly prodigy of painful struggle and suffering that could stream for generations to come. I'm wishing for a miracle, before it is too late, the masses will figure it out and will stand as one and roar. So, pass the word - its past time to take back what is ours -the American Dream where the pursuit of happiness, the ability to live in a free and peaceful nation is a reality. We bought it, and we paid for it. It's time to take it back. For replies, contact:

Race Matters: Resegregation And The Rollback Of Affirmative Action
By Amy Goodman

"I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever." So proclaimed Alabama Gov. George Wallace more than a half-century ago. His proudly racist rhetoric was matched by heinous actions: Murders, lynchings and systemic violence, often endorsed or organized by state and local governments, were inflicted on African-Americans and their allies struggling for civil rights. Despite that, those fighting for equality prevailed. Among the successes were the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, affirmative action and court-ordered integration of schools. But with this week's U.S. Supreme Court decision supporting Michigan's ban against affirmative action in state university admissions, and with the increasing resegregation of schools, it seems like Wallace's dream of "segregation forever" may be alive and all too well.

Nikole Hannah-Jones is an investigative journalist with the nonprofit news organization ProPublica, which has just published her yearlong, 9,000-word piece on the resegregation of public schools in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. This remarkable report, "Segregation Now," notes that "In Tuscaloosa today, nearly one in three black students attends a school that looks as if Brown v. Board of Education never happened." The Brown decision, issued in May of 1954, covered several pending court cases (all organized by the NAACP) challenging school segregation. U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren authored the unanimous decision, writing, "We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of 'separate but equal' has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal."

Hannah-Jones tells the history of school desegregation in Tuscaloosa through the lens of three generations of the Dent family. James Dent grew up in Jim Crow Alabama, never sharing a classroom with a white student. His daughter, Melissa, first went to an integrated middle school in 1980. It had taken decades for Tuscaloosa to implement desegregation, and then only by additional court orders. The city's two high schools were consolidated into one, Central High, which became a state powerhouse of excellence, both academic and athletic. Melissa went on to become the first in her family's history to graduate from college.

But this golden era of desegregation was short-lived. "Tuscaloosa has become one of the most rapidly resegregating school districts in the country," Hannah-Jones explained on our "Democracy Now!" news hour. "In 2000, when a federal judge released Tuscaloosa from its court order, the school board immediately voted to split up Central [High School]. Because of fears of white flight ... they created three high schools-two integrated and one that was entirely black." Here is her key finding: a new kind of segregation. While there are no "whites only" schools in Tuscaloosa, as there were up until 1979, there is now a struggling "blacks only" school-Central High. "The irony is that Central High School is actually located in an integrated neighborhood, but the white students right across the street from the school are gerrymandered into a district to go to an integrated school, and that Central was created as a black school by the intentional drawing of district lines."

The problem is not limited to the Deep South. UCLA's Civil Rights Project has been tracking national trends. Surprisingly, it found that "New York has the most segregated schools in the country. ... Heavily impacting these state rankings is New York City, home to the largest and one of the most segregated public school systems in the nation." The UCLA report repeatedly uses a term that is now common in academic circles studying resegregation: "apartheid schools"-those schools with less than 1 percent white student enrollment. The report continues, "Across New York City, 73 percent of charters were considered apartheid schools and 90 percent were intensely segregated (less than 10 percent white enrollment) schools in 2010."

This week's Supreme Court decision will surely continue the trend of resegregation from high schools into colleges. The 6-2 vote upheld the Michigan ban on race-based affirmative action in state university admissions. Chief Justice John Roberts expressed his feelings about race in 2007, when he controversially said, "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race." Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in her dissent from the majority this week, wrote, "My colleagues are of the view that we should leave race out of the picture entirely and let the voters sort it out. ... It is a sentiment out of touch with reality."

The reality is, racial discrimination and segregation go hand in hand. Racism may not boom from a governor's podium as it did in 1963 with George Wallace, but a racially divided America can never be equal.
(c) 2014 Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now,!" a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 750 stations in North America. She is the co-author of "Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times," recently released in paperback and "Breaking The Sound Barrier."

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Obama,

Dear Unter Fuhrer Pompeo,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your attempts to hide GMO poisons in our food, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglicans whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 05-24-2014. We salute you Herr Pompeo, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

Raising Taxes On Corporations That Pay Their CEOs Royally And Treat Their Workers Like Serfs
By Robert Reich

Until the 1980s, corporate CEOs were paid, on average, 30 times what their typical worker was paid. Since then, CEO pay has skyrocketed to 280 times the pay of a typical worker; in big companies, to 354 times.

Meanwhile, over the same thirty-year time span the median American worker has seen no pay increase at all, adjusted for inflation. Even though the pay of male workers continues to outpace that of females, the typical male worker between the ages of 25 and 44 peaked in 1973 and has been dropping ever since. Since 2000, wages of the median male worker across all age brackets has dropped 10 percent, after inflation.

This growing divergence between CEO pay and that of the typical American worker isn't just wildly unfair. It's also bad for the economy. It means most workers these days lack the purchasing power to buy what the economy is capable of producing - contributing to the slowest recovery on record. Meanwhile, CEOs and other top executives use their fortunes to fuel speculative booms followed by busts.

Anyone who believes CEOs deserve this astronomical pay hasn't been paying attention. The entire stock market has risen to record highs. Most CEOs have done little more than ride the wave.

There's no easy answer for reversing this trend, but this week I'll be testifying in favor of a bill introduced in the California legislature that at least creates the right incentives. Other states would do well to take a close look.

The proposed legislation, SB 1372, sets corporate taxes according to the ratio of CEO pay to the pay of the company's typical worker. Corporations with low pay ratios get a tax break. Those with high ratios get a tax increase.

For example, if the CEO makes 100 times the median worker in the company, the company's tax rate drops from the current 8.8 percent down to 8 percent. If the CEO makes 25 times the pay of the typical worker, the tax rate goes down to 7 percent.

On the other hand, corporations with big disparities face higher taxes. If the CEO makes 200 times the typical employee, the tax rate goes to 9.5 percent; 400 times, to 13 percent.,p. The California Chamber of Commerce has dubbed this bill a "job killer," but the reality is the opposite. CEOs don't create jobs.Their customers create jobs by buying more of what their companies have to sell - giving the companies cause to expand and hire.

So pushing companies to put less money into the hands of their CEOs and more into the hands of average employees creates more buying power among people who will buy, and therefore more jobs.

The other argument against the bill is it's too complicated. Wrong again. The Dodd-Frank Act already requires companies to publish the ratios of CEO pay to the pay of the company's median worker (the Securities and Exchange Commission is now weighing a proposal to implement this). So the California bill doesn't require companies to do anything more than they'll have to do under federal law. And the tax brackets in the bill are wide enough to make the computation easy.

What about CEO's gaming the system? Can't they simply eliminate low-paying jobs by subcontracting them to another company - thereby avoiding large pay disparities while keeping their own compensation in the stratosphere?

No. The proposed law controls for that. Corporations that begin subcontracting more of their low-paying jobs will have to pay a higher tax.

For the last thirty years, almost all the incentives operating on companies have been to lower the pay of their workers while increasing the pay of their CEOs and other top executives. It's about time some incentives were applied in the other direction.

The law isn't perfect, but it's a start. That the largest state in America is seriously considering it tells you something about how top heavy American business has become, and why it's time to do something serious about it.
(c) 2014 Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written twelve books, including The Work of Nations, Locked in the Cabinet, and his most recent book, "Beyond Outrage," is now out in paperback. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause. His new film, "Inequality for All," will be out September 27.

Believe Only Half Of What You See And None Of What You Hear
By Frank Scott

That advice in song (I Heard It Through The Grapevine) from a great Motown artist of the 1960s (Marvin Gaye) was never more meaningful than at present, especially concerning the alleged crisis in the Ukraine.

While it certainly is a crisis for the people who live there, any notion that the USA is experiencing some menacing threat to our freedom to buy drugs, guns, cosmetics and pet food is to make mountain ranges out of mouse droppings. If you believe what you are told by an administration and media that make the three stooges seem superior foreign policy analysts, then prepare for:

Today the Ukraine, tomorrow ... New Jersey?

Corporate functionaries posing as reporters have never been more subservient to their masters when cross examining a misinformed if not hopelessly ignorant president with harsh questions trying to lead him to answers about declaring war. This in a nation wallowing in unemployment, poverty and near bankruptcy while its government offers loan guarantees and armaments to a U.S./NATO financed anti-democratic opposition in a country on Russia's borders.

The hatchet job on public consciousness makes Gaye's quote sound like a benign reaction. Russian president Putin is made to seem a murderous fiend in much that Americans see and hear when in comparison to the witless crew here, he is a great statesman and leader of a country that must again be reckoned with as a global power after years of being treated as just another stall at the mall.

Putin has exercised state control of capitalism that certainly does not change that system's mindless pursuit of private profit at all costs, but reigns in the morally bankrupt accumulation of most of that profit by a tiny handful of individuals, as is the rule in the USA.

When Russia was turned over to the free market privateers a few grabbed what were once public assets and accumulated billions of dollars in a very short time. After Putin assumed the presidency he not only put a lid on that class of oligarchs, as they are called in Russia (here they are seen as saints, benefactors and holy people), but also locked up some of the worst thieves of what had been public wealth. Whatever his shortcomings may be, he is a giant by comparison to capital's bipartisan servants here who bail out financial speculating bankers with public money after they've robbed the nation blind, rather than throw them in prison.

And American politicians and media servants to corporate rule depict Putin as a monster. Of course. And George Bush was a genius. And Obama is the prince of peace.

As is too often the case, this would be hilarious if it wasn't so deadly serious. An idiotic western force of the USA and its NATO lapdogs, is bringing us all close to disaster by possibly bungling into a war more terrible than all those we have recently waged on weak nations. This time, the opponent would be capable of inflicting horrendous damage on the USA, which has not been the case since the fall of the old Soviet Union. Putin is much too smart to want such a military confrontation but he is also much too strong to back down from a real military threat on Russia's borders, however stupid the political cretins might be to make such a threat.

The NATO profiteers have been closing in on Russia since the fall of the Soviets, all the time making promises of non-interference and harmonious relations while treacherously setting up military bases on its borders. A nation that lost more lives than any other in the Second World War, Russia has very good reason to be extremely sensitive about what kind of regimes it is surrounded by, having been invaded and suffered millions of dead when those borders were open to invaders in the past. One has to only think for a moment of the incredible expenditure of hundreds of billions for an alleged defense of America, with most of that poured into fleets, bases and armaments thousands of miles from the USA, and wonder which nation is "hypocritical," "paranoid," and bordering on total "lunacy." American hustlers for mass murder from congress to Fox TV to the New York Times have used those words to describe Putin.

Are we a mental health crisis center posing as a nation?

Much of the rest of the world, if not most of the American people, are aware of U.S. involvement in not only backing the destruction of the Ukrainian government but working with and financing many of the people who overthrew a regime that had little support, but was at least democratically elected. You know, like Bush, Obama and other brilliant, peace loving and much beloved by all, American leaders? An american member of the feminist branch of neo-liberal murder inc. was heard on the phone discussing which western flunkies "we" should support and dealt with the choice favored by Europeans in an all american manner: she said - heard on the recording everywhere but in most places here, "fuck the E.U.," indicating our great respect for the lap dog we call the European Union.

There is common knowledge elsewhere of the millions if not billions the U.S. has spent to help destroy a regime it liked even less than most Ukrainians, in order to replace it with one they seem to despise even more. A recent visit to the un-elected government by a CIA luminary is just business as usual in our meddling in other nation's affairs, while Russian concern about its neighbor is treated as a sign of lust for global domination.

If we remain politically comatose under the barrage of propaganda and blatant lies we have had crammed into our heads these fools may lead us into a bigger and far more dangerous nuclear confrontation than imagined in years past.

Consider Marvin Gaye's warning even further than he and if it's what "they" show you, believe none of what you see either. And demand that the small group in our governing class who haven't yet succumbed to the mind numbing madness gripping the majority that you will not stand for it. An outpouring of opposition from the public did keep us out of Syria and while we have helped cause a national disaster in that besieged nation, it could have been even worse. A war in the Ukraine would top that blood bath by far and might very well come home to us. Don't let it happen.
(c) 2014 Frank Scott writes political commentary and satire which appears online at the blog Legalienate.

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Parting Shots...

Elite Congressman Trained To Kill Legislation In 24 Different Ways

WASHINGTON-Quietly informing reporters of his surgical precision and finely honed skills, sources confirmed Wednesday that highly trained tactical lawmaker John Barrasso (R-WY) is capable of killing legislation in at least 24 different ways. "I've seen Sen. Barrasso gut an entire bill using only a ballpoint pen," said a congressional staffer on condition of anonymity, who then described the emotionless efficiency characteristic of the hardened senator, adding that she once witnessed the cold-blooded 61-year-old deftly take out a bill conserving land in Colorado with just two parliamentary procedures. "He can swiftly put down an entire debate with a single, perfectly timed call for cloture, but he also knows how to operate with stealth. Sometimes he'll secretly slip a poison pill amendment into a piece of legislation that'll kill it instantly, and other times drafts are sent to his committee and you simply never hear from them again. Everyone knows what happened though." At press time, the elite congressman was readying a loaded question as he patiently waited to ambush an unsuspecting judicial nominee.
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Issues & Alibis Vol 14 # 16 (c) 04/25/2014

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