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In This Edition

Norman Solomon returns with, "Reporting From Around The World, Reese Erlich Was A Beacon Of Independent Journalism."

Ralph Nader returns with, "If Joe Biden Is Truly A 'Union Guy' He Must Strike Dead The Taft-Hartley Monster."

Margaret Kimberley returns with, "Gun Violence Starts At The Top."

Jim Hightower says, "To Bust Monopoly Powers, Start With Dinner."

William Rivers Pitt reports, "Biden Provides Vaccine Supplies To India But Hasn't Budged On Patent Waiver."

John Nichols explains, "How Ranked-Choice Voting Is Changing Progressive Politics In New York."

James Donahue wonders, "So Who Built The Sphinx And Why?"

Michael Winship returns with a must read, "An Ugly Picture As State-Level GOP Attempt To Strangle Dissent Nationwide."

David Suzuki asks, "Are We Too Hard On Newly Arrived Plants And Animals?"

Charles P. Pierce concludes, "Merrick Garland Is Not Playing Around When It Comes To Monitoring Local Police Departments."

Juan Cole reports, "Israel Is An Apartheid State Seeking Systemic Domination Of Palestinians: Human Rights Watch."

Robert Reich finds, "Jeff Bezos And Elon Musk: Uncaring Billionaires Lost In Space."

Thom Hartmann says, "It's Time To Destroy The Sick And Twisted Plans Of American Maskholes."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Waterford Whispers News reports, "'Well, That"s Racism Solved' Confirms White America," but first Uncle Ernie observes, "The Earth Day Summit."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Randall Enos, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, UMass Amherst, Kena Betancur, Jon Cherry, Brendan Smialowski, Mandel Ngan, Frederic J. Brown, Robert Reich, Jim Hightower, Pexels, AFP, Unsplash, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments-

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To End On A Happy Note-
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Parting Shots-

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The Earth Day Summit
New hope in the fight against global warming
By Ernest Stewart

"The Earth Day summit substantially improved the odds of a successful global climate summit in November. With new action by rich nations and new assistance for poor nations, the world should be able to make additional progress in 2021." ~~~ Nigel Purvis ~ a climate negotiator in the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.

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

I see where, according to the NY Times, "Avril Haines, the director of national intelligence, struck a note of urgency in telling world leaders that climate change must be 'fully integrated' with national security. President Biden committed the United States to cutting emissions by half by the end of the decade at a virtual Earth Day summit."

My first thought is, where is "Wall Street Joe Biden," and who is this guy? In less than 100 days "Sleepy Joe" has gone from a hair sniffing, black hating, corporate goon to a real person. As you know I'm a Bernie supporter and would have preferred him over Joe but since Joe took office things are beginning to look up, from Covid 19 to global warming. It's not that Joe's perfect, no he's far from it, but at least he seems to grasp the overwhelming problems of global warming which is the biggest problen facing all of mankind.

Joe opened the Earth Day conference by announcing a goal to cut up to 52% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 - double the target set by President Barack Obama in the 2015 Paris climate accord. The 2030 goal vaults the U.S. into the top tier of countries on climate ambition.

Bill Hare, director of Climate Analytics, a climate science think tank in Berlin, said his team's calculations showed the U.S. needs to reduce emissions 57% by 2030 to stay on a 1.5 degree Celsius pathway. He calls the new target "really a major improvement," but also "not quite enough."

Still, the U.S. goal is ambitious, and reflects lessons learned, not only by Biden - Obama's vice president - but by his team of battle-tested aides, including climate envoy John Kerry and White House adviser Gina McCarthy. Both served in the Obama administration.

With the world trying to prevent more than another half-degree of warming (0.3 degrees Celsius) or so to achieve the most stringent of goals set by the 2015 Paris climate accord, scientists and politicians alike say this decade is crucial for any chance of getting that done. And that means 2021 is a "make-or-break year for people and the planet," U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.

Everything culminates in November with heavyweight climate negotiations in Glasgow, Scotland. While these climate meetings happen annually, every five or so years there is a weightier session of the type that in the past has led to major deals or disappointments. It's that time again. and mighty Zeus knows, we need an agreement badly.

For his part, John Kerry concluded the climate summit by saying that countries representing more than half of the world's economic output have committed to a path that would achieve the Paris goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times. Beyond that level, environmental problems get substantially worse, with possible dangerous tipping points, scientists say. The world has already warmed 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.2 degrees Fahrenheit)!

Of course, talk is cheap, as Lying Donald aptly proved, and I hope this Biden clone means what he says. Even if he does, he'll have to get his programs by the Rethuglicans in Congress, and good luck with that!



08-07-1944 ~ 04-25-2021
Thanks for the music!

10-31-1930 ~ 04-28-2021
Thanks for the adventure!

03-26-1946 ~ 04-29-2021
Thanks for the film!


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


Until the next time, Peace!

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

War correspondent, journalist, author, and activist Reese Erlich (1947-2021) was a longtime contributor to numerous outlets, including Common Dreams.

Reporting From Around The World, Reese Erlich Was A Beacon Of Independent Journalism
The longtime war correspondent, who died earlier this month, embodied the honesty and deep humanity that makes for the very best journalists.
By Norman Solomon

When Reese Erlich died in early April, we lost a global reporter who led by example. During five decades as a progressive journalist, Reese created and traveled an independent path while avoiding the comfortable ruts dug by corporate media. When people in the United States read or heard his reporting from more than 50 countries, he offered windows on the world that were not tinted red-white-and-blue. Often, he illuminated grim consequences of U.S. foreign policy.

The first memorable conversation I had with Reese was somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean on the way to Iraq in September 2002-as it turned out, six months before the U.S. invasion. He was one of the few journalists covering a small delegation, including Congressman Nick Rahall and former Senator James Abourezk, which the Institute for Public Accuracy sponsored in an attempt to establish U.S.-Iraqi dialogue and avert the looming invasion.

Reese critiqued the basic flaws in U.S. media coverage then beating the war drums, and he also wrote about the "professional" atmosphere that led U.S. journalists to conform.

As the organizer of the trip, I was on edge, and I asked Reese for his assessment. Drawing on his extensive knowledge of the Middle East, he provided cogent insights and talked about what was at stake.

After filing stories from various parts of Iraq, Reese returned home to California and we worked together to write alternating chapters of a book that came out two months before the invasion-"Target Iraq: What the News Media Didn't Tell You." (The book is posted online.) Reese's eyewitness reporting and analysis were crucial to the book.

Reese critiqued the basic flaws in U.S. media coverage then beating the war drums, and he also wrote about the "professional" atmosphere that led U.S. journalists to conform.

As President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair methodically lied the U.S. and Britain into a war on Iraq, Reese pointed out: "The Bush and Blair administrations are fighting a two-front war: one against Iraq, another for public opinion at home. The major media are as much a battleground as the fortifications in Baghdad. And, for the most part, Bush and Blair have stalwart media soldiers manning the barricades at home."

In a chapter titled "Media Coverage: A View from the Ground," Reese wrote:

The U.S. is supposed to have the best and freest media in the world, but in my experience, having reported from dozens of countries, the higher up you go in the journalistic feeding chain, the less free the reporting. . . . The journalist's best education is on the job. In addition to journalistic skills, young reporters also learn about acceptable parameters of reporting. There's little formal censorship in the U.S. media. But you learn who are acceptable or unacceptable sources. Most corporate officials and politicians are acceptable, the higher up the better.
Reese summed up: "Money, prestige, career options, ideological predilections-combined with the down sides of filing stories unpopular with the government-all cast their influence on foreign correspondents. You don't win a Pulitzer for challenging the basic assumptions of empire."

While Reese won prizes, including a Peabody Award, he did something far more important-skillfully and consistently challenging "the basic assumptions of empire."

Reese did so with balance and accuracy as a freelancer reporting for such outlets as the Christian Science Monitor, San Francisco Chronicle, New York Times Syndicate, Dallas Morning News and Chicago Tribune.

I saw Reese at work in Iran in 2005 and Afghanistan in 2009. He was meticulous and good-natured even when the journey became exhausting and stressful. Unusual stories were usual for him. It was all in a day's work when Reese lined up an interview with a grandson of the Islamic Republic's founder Ayatollah Khomeini or got us to a women's rights protest at Tehran University, or when he located an out-of-the-way refugee camp in Kabul where we could interview victims of the war.

Along with his radio reports and articles, Reese went in-depth as the author of "Inside Syria," "The Iran Agenda Today," "Dateline Havana," and "Conversations with Terrorists." Reese's firsthand reporting, multilayered knowledge and wry humor enrich those books. Meanwhile, he reached many people via interviews and public appearances, even when he was fighting cancer in his last months (as when he spoke about U.S.-Iranian relations and the Iran nuclear deal in February).

During recent years, Reese's "Foreign Correspondent" column for The Progressive magazine appeared in kindred online outlets like Common Dreams and the San Francisco-based 48 Hills. His last article-"This May Be This Foreign Correspondent's Final Column"-embodies the honesty and deep humanity that made Reese such a wonderful journalist. Reese Erlich's work and spirit live on.

(c) 2021 Norman Solomon is co-founder of and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death" and "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State."

A Democratic presidential hopeful at the time, Joe Biden speaks during the SEIU Unions for All Summit in Los Angeles, California on October 4, 2019.

If Joe Biden Is Truly A 'Union Guy' He Must Strike Dead The Taft-Hartley Monster
The PRO Act alone is simply not going to get the job done for U.S. workers.
By Ralph Nader

President Joe Biden likes to say, "I'm a union guy." Unfortunately, as Vice President from 2009 to 2017, his boss, Barack Obama wouldn't let him be a "union guy." Even with large Democratic majorities in Congress and control of the White House, worker needs went unmet.

Setting records for raising Wall Street campaign cash, Obama reneged on his 2008 promise to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.50 per hour by 2011. He reneged on a promise to the AFL-CIO to push for "card check" to facilitate workers wanting to form a union. He did nothing to preserve traditional earned worker pensions provided by corporations while bailing out Wall Street crooks whom he refused to prosecute.

Obama stubbornly blocked an eager Biden from going to speak at a massive workers' rally in Madison, Wisconsin at the critical time when Democrats were challenging corporatist Governor Scott Walker's anti-union "budget repair bill."

One would think after eight years of biding his time, a liberated Joe Biden would be the most pro-union labor president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He probably is by default, due to the cowardliness of his predecessors who would have lost some of their own elections without union support.

The question now is: Given the entrenched deprivations of workers and abandonment of labor to serf-labor countries abroad, is President Biden pro-union-labor enough, apart from the temporary Covid-19 relief? The answer has to be a qualified, NO.

He has dropped into limbo the long-overdue $15 federal minimum wage from his legislative priorities. He did give strong verbal support to the Amazon workers union-organizing drive at a warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama. However, when the workers lost, Biden did not assail the extreme union busting tactics by Amazon that exploited weak labor protection laws. He has finally nominated the new head of OSHA - the under-funded, Trump-wrecked job safety agency that is in shambles.

What he has done is come out strongly for the Congressional Democrat's latest version of labor law reform-the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act) that passed the House on March 9, 2021, with a 225-206 vote.

The problem with the PRO Act, like its legislative predecessors over the past 60 years, is its faint-hearted attempt to chip away at the unmentioned, gigantic, anti-union TAFT-HARTLEY ACT OF 1947-a devastating anti-organizing and union representation law.

The Taft-Hartley law was so extreme that its principal author, Senator Robert Taft (R-OH), offered to amend some of its sharpest claws in the late 1940s. His offer was rejected by outraged unions who wanted a more significant repeal. That, astonishingly, was the last major bellow by the large unions and the AFL-CIO against this stifling chokehold over the union movement. Union membership in the corporate sector is at 6.3 percent. Overall union membership regularly hits new lows.

Even mentioning the repeal of Taft-Hartley by unions and Democratic candidates has become taboo. When campaigning for president in Detroit at a labor hall in 2004, a retired UAW worker came up to me with tears in his eyes. He said, "I never thought I would hear getting rid of Taft-Hartley from a presidential candidate."

On the 50th and 60th anniversaries of Taft-Hartley's passage by a Republican Congress - that is 1997 and 2007 - I strenuously urged the AFL-CIO and the largest unions to hold public demonstrations of protest. (Does anybody think big business would have allowed such handcuffs without battling year after year for repeal?)

The union leaders wouldn't inform the public of this pernicious law with a national event against this tragic curtailing of worker's freedoms to band together and bargain together in major workplaces such as Amazon, Walmart, and McDonald's. No other western country allows such draconian anti-labor restrictions.

Unions are waiting on the Democratic Party to lead while the Democrats are waiting upon big business. Biden should make ending the anti-worker, anti-union, and pro-employer union-busting, Taft-Hartley Act the battle cry for the Republic. The PRO Act doesn't come close to this objective.

Taft-Hartley is a wide-ranging, intricate paradise for union-busting law firms, corporatist legislators, and atavistic judges. It authorized states to enact so-called "right to work" laws or more properly named "right to shirk" laws, allowing workers to keep benefits of union contracts but not pay union dues. This provision vastly decreases union membership and increases employer leverage to resist union organizing.

Taft-Hartley gives employers all kinds of ways to block union certification elections, harass workers with demands for obstructionist hearings on what is an "appropriate bargaining unit," permits aggressive anti-union organizing, and outlaws the "closed shop" for union solidarity.

One of the most damaging provisions defines "employees" so as to exclude supervisors and independent contractors. This greatly diminished the pool of workers eligible to be unionized. For example, years ago AT&T widely expanded the number of "supervisors" to both deplete the union membership numbers and use their "supervisors" as management control tools.

Taft-Hartley has other pro-management provisions, including controls over pensions, disclosure of information, and workplace time for union purposes.

Once Taft-Hartley was on the books, its restrictions were strengthened by the courts and the National Labor Relations Board (whose last pro-corporate general counsel was just fired by Biden). With the expansion of the "gig economy," by Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, and other companies whose business model is built on having no employees, the challenge for American workers is nothing less than displacing anti-labor dictates with a comprehensive worker's human rights law.

The PRO Act is decidedly not anywhere near Biden's recent recognition that "Nearly 60 million Americans would join a union if they get a chance .... They know that without unions, they can run the table on workers - union and non-union alike."

(c) 2021 Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His latest book is The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for Our American Future. Other recent books include, The Seventeen Traditions: Lessons from an American Childhood, Getting Steamed to Overcome Corporatism: Build It Together to Win, and "Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us" (a novel).

Gun Violence Starts At The Top
By Margaret Kimberley

If the state reserves the right to commit mass murder no one should be surprised that the people follow suit.

Mass shootings happen with appalling regularity in the United States. It is bad enough that recent shootings took place in Atlanta, Boulder, and Indianapolis, but the horror is always followed by the same useless faux debates. Half the population wants to limit gun ownership, the other half doesn't and continues a gun buying spree to prove their point. Politicians pretend to take action, victims are mourned, thoughts and prayers are uttered, and the cycle repeats itself with the next awful event.

What very few people dare to discuss is how these acts are connected with U.S. history and with the state in its current form. This country exists as a result of genocides and terrorism. The indigenous inhabitants were attacked with wars and disease and the survivors were driven from their ancestral lands. Africans were enslaved and treated like chattel, all Black people were deprived of their legal rights, and Jim Crow lasted for 100 years. Lynch law prevailed and the torture and killing of black people was a spectator sport across the land. The fits and starts of anything resembling justice have been far outweighed by institutional resistance which maintains the status quo.

The police continue to kill three people every day, more than 1,000 people every year. While George Floyd's police murderer was on trial, young Daunte Wright was killed in a nearby community. Video footage revealed that 13-year old Adam Toledo was unarmed with his hands raised when he was shot and killed by Chicago police. Lest anyone forget, Chicago is the city which holds hundreds of people at Homan Square, a city jail that operates like a CIA black-ops site. Chicago should forever be known as the city where black men were tortured by police for years.

When this nation wasn't practicing state sanctioned terror within its boundaries, it committed atrocities internationally. Wars, interventions and coups have been committed from Chile to Haiti to Guatemala to Iraq to Ukraine. There are U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and more than 800 bases under U.S. or other NATO nation control around the world.

Joe Biden has undone the Trump administration agreement to leave Afghanistan by May 1. He cynically uses the date of September 11 to forestall what should have happened years ago. The occupation of Afghanistan has gone on so long that people born after it began are now old enough to join the military themselves. But no one should be fooled. Biden is privatizing war with contractors and intelligence operatives and moving troops to create havoc elsewhere in the world.

If the state reserves the right to commit mass murder no one should be surprised that the people follow suit. They are taught that their violent country is exceptionally good, fair, benevolent and democratic. The U.S. leads the world in military spending and brings wars home by militarizing local police. Of course, the bloodletting doesn't end. It would be shocking if it did.

The phony concern must come to an end. Foolish and false platitudes such as, "This is not who we are," should disappear from discourse and be replaced with honesty. Biden has proposed increasing defense spending to $753 billion and after the rhetorical dust settles, there will be a bipartisan congressional consensus to approve what he wants. Military spending takes up 60% of the discretionary budget and is the reason why people in this country cannot have nice things.

State violence is like background music that seeps into the collective consciousness. The same people who express shock when an individual goes on a killing spree in this country are silent when their government is responsible for killings around the world. They may support the mass incarceration state, which makes the U.S. the world's number one jailer.

It is all connected. State sanctioned violence tells the people that individual violence is just fine. The hand wringing over the latest shooting doesn't mean anything if the wars and law enforcement brutality continue. The hypocrisy is obvious and no one should be surprised when a well-armed population makes use of their personal arsenals.

The United States of America is and will remain violent without some revolutionary change. The carnage is both official and personal. If this country is honest the next mass shooting should be ignored by the media, politicians, and by the people too. Any consternation is temporary because it is dishonest. For now the most that can be expected is that Americans will finally end the pretense of concern and treat the inevitable results of their history and politics with nonchalance. It is the only honest thing they can do.

(c) 2021 Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-mail at Margaret.Kimberley@BlackAgendaReport.Com.

To Bust Monopoly Powers, Start With Dinner
By Jim Hightower

What if we took monopoly out of our daily diets?

Busting the power of abusive and arrogant food monopolists would be of such immediate benefit to the bottom lines of farmers, consumers, and workers that even middle-of-the-road congressional Democrats and a few Republicans are turning into Rooseveltian trustbusters. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, for example, usually a reliable defender of corporate interests, sees the connection between inner-city food deprivation and the consolidation of power by industrial farm and food profiteers, which he says, "are contrary to our very idea of farming in our country."

Working with progressive grassroots groups like Food & Water Action and Family Farm Action, Booker is sponsoring "The Farm System Reform Act," a comprehensive proposal to overhaul major parts of the broken food structure. Included in his bill are strong, overdue provisions to phase out the monstrous system of CAFOs (confined Animal Feeding Operations) that are torturous hellholes for thousands of chickens, hogs, and other animals caged in each of these huge factories, which are also polluters of water, air, and rural communities. Rather than conventional liberal programs to treat the symptoms of monopoly, such progressive populist approaches begin to dismantle monopoly - and they represent our best chance of actually making life fairer for the majority of people.

The good news is that much of the power to do this already exists. As investigative reporter Amy Swan writes in the January Washington Monthly, we don't have to wait on recalcitrant Republicans and weak-kneed Dems in Congress to make progress. A tool shed of laws that were put in place during the past 100 years to counter monopoly power are still on the books. They're stored in the Ag Department, FTC, FCC, SEC, Treasury, Justice, Federal Reserve, and so many other drawers of public power.

Let's put them to work!

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

Vice President Kamala Harris and White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients
listen while President Joe Biden speaks about the administration's COVID-19 response and
the state of vaccinations in the White House South Court Auditorium on April 21, 2021,
in Washington, D.C.

Biden Provides Vaccine Supplies To India But Hasn't Budged On Patent Waiver
By William Rivers Pitt

Images and video coming out of India today verge on the apocalyptic. Nearly 350,000 new COVID-19 infections are being recorded daily, and the number of those who have died has rocketed into the thousands. Overwhelmed and exhausted medical professionals claim the true death toll from this new wave in India is far higher than the official count. Other experts argue the death toll could actually be 10 times higher than what is being reported.

Pyres for the dead burn in open lots, parks and even on sidewalks across the capital city of New Delhi, themselves a leading indicator of the crisis: Like oxygen, protective gear and effective anti-COVID medicine, wood for funeral fires is running low in India.

India is subsumed today in a chaos that has nearly overtaken a number of nations as COVID has made its long burn into its second year. Italy was pounded at the outset of the pandemic, and Brazil is currently #3 in the world for total infections. France, Russia, Great Britain, Turkey, Spain and Germany have endured more than 3 million infections each. At the top of the list stands the United States, followed by India.

As with the U.K., Brazil and now the U.S., it is a variant of COVID-19 that is tearing through the Indian population. "This variant - officially known as B.1.617 - was first detected in India in October," reports the BBC.

This variant has teeth; when it went bad in India, it went bad damned fast. "India was reporting fewer than 15,000 daily infections as recently as early March" reports Forbes. "However, loosened restrictions that led to the resumption of large, unmasked gatherings contributed to a rapid rise in cases, as has a devastating new variant of the coronavirus. Many experts believe the B.1.617 variant, or the 'double mutant,' has inflamed the country's catastrophic second wave."

India is home to some 1.4 billion people. The U.S., by comparison, is populated by slightly more than 331 million people. Despite having roughly a quarter of India's population, the U.S. has endured more than double the number of infections, though India may catch up, with more than 300,000 new infections per day.

Why have these countries taken such a terrible beating during this pandemic? It is the oldest, and most thoroughly predictable, story of this pandemic: "loosened restrictions that led to..." etc. We've seen authoritarian rulers - Narendra Modi in India, Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, and until recently Donald Trump in the U.S. - steadfastly refuse to accept the realities of COVID, promote loosened restrictions at the worst possible moments, and inevitably oversee massive spikes in infections caused by entirely predicted variants. Lather rinse repeat.

With President Biden in office since January, there can be no denying that the situation in the U.S. has changed dramatically for the better. Vaccines are flying into the arms of those willing to get them, though more than five million people have thus far skipped the second shot required by the Pfizer and Moderna protocols, and millions more are balking for right-leaning political reasons. Hospitals that reeled on the verge of collapse have stabilized, many people are taking the mask/social distancing recommendations seriously, and while daily infections still soar past 60,000, the number of deaths from COVID in the U.S. has significantly diminished. We are close to having more vaccine than we actually need.

We are, in other words, in a strong position to help nations like India. Over the weekend, reports began erupting about the pressure being put on the Biden administration to help this long-time ally and strategic partner. "Biden administration officials are coming under increasing pressure to lift restrictions on exports of supplies that vaccine makers in India say they need to expand production amid a devastating surge in Covid-19 deaths there," reported the New York Times.

On Thursday, during President Biden's global environmental summit, the administration was pressed on its failure to act in regards to India. State Department spokesman Ned Price replied by stating the nation's top priority is vaccinating itself first, a hollow echo of the prior administration's priorities. "It's of course not only in our interest to see Americans vaccinated," Mr. Price said. "It's in the interests of the rest of the world to see Americans vaccinated."

Sen. Bernie Sanders profoundly disagrees with what he and others have come to call the U.S.'s vaccine apartheid. "We must do everything humanly possible to crush this global pandemic and save millions of people who are in danger of needlessly dying," Sanders said at a virtual event hosted by Public Citizen on Friday. "Ending this pandemic requires collaboration, solidarity, and empathy. It requires a different mindset... the mindset that tells the pharmaceutical industry that saving perhaps millions of lives is more important than protecting their already excessive profits. To me, this is not a huge debate, this is common human morality."

"On Friday," reports Mike Ludwig for Truthout, "Sanders and other leading Democrats joined more than a dozen public health, labor and faith organizations in delivering a petition with two million signatures to Biden demanding the U.S. drop its opposition to the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights or TRIPS waiver at the World Trade Organization. Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Tammie Baldwin and seven other Democratic senators sent a letter urging Biden to support the TRIPS waiver earlier this month."

The foot-dragging was not relegated to the Biden administration. Tech billionaire and self-styled COVID expert Bill Gates, whose vast fortune relies largely on intellectual property rights, thinks helping poor countries by lifting intellectual property protections on vaccines and other COVID-related medications is a bad idea. Try to contain your shock, friends.

Fury in the face of this reluctance to assist India and other nations because of pharmaceutical industry financial considerations has been swift and severe. Will Bunch, writing for The Philadelphia Inquirer, gave voice to that rage in a Sunday column: "No one can deny there has been an urgent need to inoculate America - an epicenter of the world pandemic for more than a year - but at this moment where vaccine hesitancy in Trump-y red states and counties is becoming a bigger U.S. problem than vaccine supply, Team Biden has been painfully slow to switch to a ... humanitarian mode. In [State Dept. spokesman] Price's words, it's hard not to hear a phrase that has dragged down our nation since Donald Trump's 2016 victory. America First."

The pushback finally motivated the Biden administration to act, though not nearly to the degree advocates like Sen. Sanders were hoping for. According to NBC News, the administration will "immediately provide raw materials for Covid-19 vaccines, medical equipment and protective gear to help India respond to a massive surge in coronavirus infections.... The United States was also is pursuing options to provide India with oxygen generation and related supplies."

On Tuesday, in response to the outcry, the Biden administration announced that it would "begin sharing its entire pipeline of vaccines from AstraZeneca once the COVID-19 vaccine clear federal safety reviews, with as many as 60 million doses expected to be available for export in the coming month," according to the Associated Press.

While the decision to share the AstraZeneca vaccine is welcome news, the TRIPS waiver was not included in the administration's list of actions.

It is difficult to overstate the tragedy of all this. Once again, capitalism is served before the people... or, put another way, the people are being served up to capitalism.

Mr. Biden has exceeded expectations among most progressives in his first 100 days, but this debacle is a stark reminder of the capitalist neoliberal heart still beating away at the ideological core of his administration. Mr. Biden is wrong to delay sending all the help that is possible to the world, as is Gates.

This is a global calamity that requires a global response, not hiding behind the fiction of borders and the profit dreams of avarice.

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

Fearless Girl, by Kristen Visbalth, in front of the New York Stock Exchange.

How Ranked-Choice Voting Is Changing Progressive Politics In New York
A new voting system can transform NYC politics, if progressives make effective endorsements and educate voters on how to maximize democracy.
By John Nichols

Go to the Working Families Party list of favored candidates in New York City's June 22 Democratic primary election and you will find something unprecedented: an endorsement that ranks three contenders for the top job in the nation's biggest city. In the race for mayor of New York, the WFP declares for City Comptroller Scott Stringer as the party's first choice, former public school teacher and nonprofit CEO Dianne Morales as the second choice, and civil rights attorney and former MSNBC analyst Maya Wiley as the third choice.

The WFP, which for two decades has been a pivotal player in municipal politics and is run by some of the city's savviest electoral strategists, isn't sending mixed signals. It's engaging exactly as it should to have the maximum influence on a new kind of election. This year, for the first time ever, New York City Democrats will nominate their candidates for mayor and other local posts using a ranked-choice system, where voters can choose as many as five candidates for the same office in a process that transfers votes from losing contenders to those who just might win.

What that means for the 2021 mayoral race is that voters no longer have to make "lesser-of-two-evils" choices between front-running candidates whom pollsters and pundits claim are the only "viable" prospects. They can cast ballots based on values and ideals, supporting candidates they are attracted to based on ideologies and track records. If a favored candidate falls short, the vote for that candidate isn't "wasted." It is transferred in a way that can still influence the final result. For instance, a voter who is excited by the progressive grassroots campaign Morales is waging, but who worries that she is not currently polling in the top tier of a crowded field, can confidently rank her first on their ballot. If Morales does not make the cut, the voter's next ranked candidate gets a boost.

Ranked-choice voting is "more majoritarian" and it promotes "collaborative campaigning" as opposed to the desperate maneuvering of the past-with its negative campaigning, compromises, and pressure to avoid "wasting" votes-argues New York City Council member Brad Lander, a longtime RCV advocate who this year is bidding for city comptroller. "It's a great thing for democracy," says Lander. And it could be great for progressives running in crowded contests up and down the ballot. But that will only happen if voters know how the system works-and if progressive groups, officials, and candidates recognize the role that lots of education, serious strategy, and smart tactics will play in generating results on June 22.

With this in mind, here's a primer on how to think about this RCV system in the Democratic primary where New York's voters will nominate candidates for mayor, comptroller, public advocate, borough president, and all City Council seats:

What Progressives Need to Know About How Ranked-Choice Voting Works

Under the RCV system approved by New Yorkers with 74 percent support in a 2019 referendum, Democratic primary voters will receive ballots listing 12 mayoral candidates-Aaron Foldenauer, Dianne Morales, Scott Stringer, Ray McGuire, Maya Wiley, Paperboy Love Prince, Art Chang, Kathryn Garcia, Eric Adams, Isaac Wright Jr., Shaun Donovan, and Andrew Yang.

On that ballot, voters can rank up to five candidates. It's OK to choose fewer, but ranking two, three, or more genuine progressives gives you a better chance to influence the ultimate result. That's especially true if voters rank choices based on issue priorities-and recommendations from progressive groups, publications, and elected officials. This approach counters the influence of name recognition-which so far has benefited the front-running campaign of former presidential candidate Andrew Yang-and potentially of corporate-aligned outside money.

Voting in an RCV system is not complicated. But it is new for New Yorkers and, as Morales says, it's important to "demystify the process" before voters start casting early and absentee ballots. Education is vital, including the use of scenarios that help explain how the system works on practical terms.

Here's an example of how voting might go: Let's say a voter favors Stringer, Morales, Wiley, Garcia, and Adams, in that order. That voter will fill in the first-choice bubble after Stringer's name, the second-choice oval after Morales, and so on until five different bubbles have been filled after the names of five different candidates.

When all the ballots are cast, if any candidate has attracted over 50 percent of first-choice votes, then the race is done and they're the nominee. But if in this crowded contest no candidate passes the 50 percent mark, the candidate with the least first-choice votes is eliminated and the votes of that candidate's supporters are distributed to their next highest-ranked candidate. In the case of the voter who ranked Stringer first and Morales second, if Stringer falls short, Morales is bolstered.

The counting process continues with a candidate being eliminated in each round and their voters redistributed. For our voter who started as a Stringer backer and then gave Morales an assist, if Morales is eliminated in a later round, that vote goes to our voter's third choice, Wiley. This process continues until one candidate gets over 50 percent. Practically, what this means is that our voter who liked Stringer best-but still gave high rankings to Morales and Wiley-could end up playing a pivotal role in nominating Wiley.

How Does Ranked-Choice Voting Change the Political Dynamic?

Under the RCV system, voters no longer have to be pundits, fretting about who is up or down in the polls. They don't have to sacrifice the ideal candidate in order to side with a less-impressive contender they are told has a better chance to win. For progressives who are looking at a race that includes a lot of progressive prospects, what matters is that they rank their choices-one, two, three, four, five-with an eye toward electing a mayor who is clearly committed to economic, social, and racial justice.

In effect, ranked-choice voting allows for a nuanced politics of ideas and ideology to prevail over a simple politics of personalities.

"We can have win-win-win conversations around policies, which is an amazing kind of feeling in New York politics. We're so used to the winner-take-all approach of cut-throat politics in New York," says Ron Kim, a New York State Assemblymember from Queens who says that the old winner-take-all system encouraged negative campaigning that depressed turnout and made it harder to get marginalized communities engaged with elections. "Ranked-choice voting completely disrupts the toxic cycle from the inside out. The candidates themselves are much more collaborative because they recognize that they need to be ranked [two, three, or four among their opponents] to have a chance at winning."

An RCV system necessarily changes the strategies of candidates and their endorsing supporters. That change opens up new options, and some new tactical challenges, for groups that hope to influence the 2021 races for mayor and other posts in a city where the Democratic primary is likely to be definitional.

The Working Families Party isn't the only organization that has recognized the new dynamic and incorporated it into its thinking about how to make endorsements-and about the broader work of voter education and voter mobilization. The Stonewall Democratic Club of New York, a citywide LGBTQ+ organization, just endorsed Stringer as its first choice, Morales as its second, and former Citigroup executive Ray McGuire as its third.

The New York Political Action Network co-endorsed Wiley and Morales last month, with NYPAN cochair George Albro explaining, "We just saw this as a historic opportunity, two progressive women of color. Normally we would just make one endorsement. But because of ranked-choice voting and the role that it plays, we did both." Around the same time, the Freelancers Union tapped Wiley and Yang. And on Earth Day, the Sunrise Movement's New York chapter announced a joint endorsement of Stringer and Morales at an event where the two candidates appeared together and spoke amiably about shared values and goals-a sight rarely seen in past mayoral contests. (Morales said in January that Stringer is her second choice, just as Yang recently said Kathryn Garcia is his second choice. More mayoral candidates are likely to offer their rankings before the primary.)

The shift in approach by endorsers-and the response by candidates-is the most notable manifestation of the changing political dynamic ushered in by the adoption of the ranked-choice system, which eliminates the fear of "wasting" a vote on a candidate who isn't leading in the polls or piling up corporate cash.

What Are Best Resources for Educating Voters About Ranked-Choice Voting?

RCV is new to New York City, but it's been utilized successfully around the world and across the United States for decades. "Once you have a good ballot design, ranked choice voting is easy for voters. Sensible poll worker training and timely voter education work will make it all the better for voters," explains Rob Richie, the president of FairVote, a national group that supports RCV and has offered advice to New York on how to implement it. "In the last three years dating back to November 2016, ranked choice voting has been used: (1) In the state of Maine for all of its congressional primary and general elections; (2) In 17 cities around the country; and (3) in five Democratic presidential primaries and caucuses in 2020. In every single one of these RCV elections, voter turnout and voter success in casting RCV ballots exceeded expectations. New York City can expect similar positive results as well if implementation steps occur as they should."

Here's FairVote's RCV explainer. And here's an NBC video explanation, which FairVote encourages voters to view.

Here's the resource-rich Rank The Vote NYC page.

The New York Campaign Finance Board explains RCV voting here. The page translates easily into 15 languages, including Albanian and Yiddish.

The New York Board of Elections has a fine explanation of the system and a terrific FAQ here. View a page on how everything looks on the AutoMark ballot marking device here.

A Board of Elections video explaining the process can be watched here.

"Ranked-choice voting has solved specific problems," says Richie. "It has allowed voters to handle the kind of crowded fields that New York City can anticipate next year. Voters don't need to see polls to know how to cast an effective vote-they simply need to indicate their honest preferences. Candidates don't need any special tricks-they just need to engage with voters effectively."

How Can Progressives Groups, Officials, and Activists Most Effectively Engage with Voters?

The websites and videos are helpful. But politics remains a grassroots, neighborhood-focused project in cities such as New York. The most effective endorsements are often those delivered by groups and officials that voters-or potential voters-know. And the most effective of these are the ones that come with explanations of how the new system works and how best to rank candidates.

The best way to do this is by offering specific rankings and by working with favored candidates to educate and engage voters.

State Senator Gustavo Rivera, a Bronx Democrat, offered an example of how to do this early on. In January, he held an event at which he described ranked-choice voting and then announced his top two picks: Stringer and Morales, in that order. He invited both candidates to the event, talked them up, and encouraged them to speak about the process and their campaigns. Stringer hailed RCV's potential to promote "a civil discussion in this city on the issues that matter the most." Morales explained, "Candidates like me-political outsiders, first timers, women of color-are often overlooked during our races. Words like viability and electability, which often serve as code for those with wealthy networks or deep pockets, serve as gatekeepers, even though most of us would agree that elected office should be accessible to everyone. Ranked-choice voting has the potential to give voters real options and change the playing field for candidates like me."

Rivera has continued to appear with his endorsed candidates in his district, and he has used social media to spread the word about their stands on the issues.

As the election gets closer, savvy groups and candidates will use traditional slate cards and social media to promote ranked candidates. And they won't just do it for the mayoral race. Ron Kim recently endorsed two candidates running for a City Council seat in Queens, using a Zoom event to explain RCV and to introduce the candidates. Here's the conversation.

Kim's been an especially ardent champion of RCV, regularly appearing at events to educate voters in Queens and citywide, including a recent @RankTheVoteNYC event that featured an excellent discussion of down-ballot races.

Kim's enthusiasm is compelling. "This is the biggest one in the entire country that we're executing in the city, so all eyes are watching," he says of New York's first RCV vote. "If we do this right, I think we'll set an entire trend across the nation, and we'll see other municipalities adopting this model moving forward."

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

So Who Built The Sphinx And Why?
By James Donahue

The Great Sphinx of Giza is among the largest, and believed to be the oldest single-stone statues on the planet. Because it is within close proximity to the Great Pyramids of Giza, historians have long believed the Sphinx was built at about the same time, about 4,500 years ago, and is Egyptian art. But contemporary research gives evidence that it may be much older than even the pyramids.

Author Robert Bauval, in his book "The Age of the Sphinx," notes that there are no inscriptions carved on a wall, or a reference to the Sphinx carved on a stela or written on surviving throngs of papyri from that Egyptian period. This suggests that its construction was not part of the historical record of the Egyptian people.

And archaeologist John Anthony West has recorded water erosion and other heavy weathering on the base of the Phoenix, which he believes could only have been caused by long exposure to water. But the Sphinx stands in the midst of the desert. How could this have happened? Geologists who study such things say the area experienced heavy rains and flooding about 10,500 years ago, which suggests that the Sphinx may be much older than anybody ever imagined. It may have long predated the Egyptian civilization.

The artwork carved into the 241-foot-long and 65-feet high statue appears Egyptian. Many Egyptian historians believe it was built at the time of Pharaoh Chephren, who was said to have ordered the production of several large statues in the kingdom. Of all of the works carved from solid rock, however, none of them rival that of the size or mystery of the Sphynx.

The massive creature gazes with large and almost scary eyes eastward toward the equinox. While the face is intact, the nose is missing. A large gash across the face appears to have been caused by an explosive device, possibly a shell, that removed the nose. Was that an accidental strike, or was it done on purpose? :Louis Farrakhan once said he believed the damage had racial undertones, and that the nose was blown away by whites who were angry that the nose of the Sphinx was Negroid.

Napoleon has been blamed, as have British and German forces during the great wars, although there is no record of this being true. Historical record notes that both Arab conquerors and Sa'im al-dahr damaged the Sphinx. Writings of Sa'im al-dahr specifically mention the nose.

Yet another mystery surrounding the Sphinx has been the story that a secret chamber, or chambers, exist under this mighty rock. There are two sources of this story. One dates back to Pliny, who wrote in his ancient book Natural History, suggested that the Egyptians buried King Harmais inside the monument. While openings have been found in the rock, no evidence that a burial site has ever been discovered.

A more contemporary story came from the late Edgar Cayce, who declared that a "Hall of Records" of the lost people of Atlantis exists under the Sphinx, with an entrance to be found between the paws.

Cayce made his proclamation in 1933, touching off a wide range of speculations and new theories among "Egyptologists," but it was not until about 1973 that extensive research, with ground-penetrating radar and other high-tech remote sensing equipment was used to locate possible "anomalies" under the bedrock below the Sphinx. The research included resistivity measurements, magnetometry and thermal infrared image-enhancing photography. Certain cavities, suggesting chambers and tunnels, were located.

That the Sphinx depicts a human face on the body of a large cat, probably that of a lion, suggests that it was carved as the image of an ancient deity. That identification markings either were never placed in the rock, or they have eroded away over the centuries, and that the face has been severely damaged, allows us to only guess at the identity.

The concept of the Sphinx can be found in not only ancient Egyptian but Greek and Assyrian mythologies.

To the Egyptians, the lion with a head of a Pharaoh offered the role of a leader with wisdom and strength for the protection of the tribe. The Greek myth depicted the Sphinx as a woman-headed demon of bad luck and destruction, wearing eagle's wings and sometimes the tail of a serpent. The Assyrian Sphinx also was given various animal parts; the head of a man, a lion's forequarters, the hindquarters of a bull and the wings of an eagle.

That the Sphinx as it exists today along the Nile River may be much older than the Egyptian civilization, suggests that the Egyptian concept of a half-man and half lion may have been influenced by the art, if it was not the source.

Actually the Egyptians worshiped various deities that took the form of humans and cats. The earliest and most familiar of them was Bast, the protector goddess of Lower Egypt who defended the pharaoh and the sun-god Ra. Also there was the lion god Maahes, said to have been the son of Bast.

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

Pro-Trump protesters gather in front of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021 in
Washington, DC. A pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, breaking windows and clashing with
police officers. Trump supporters gathered in the nation's capital today to protest the
ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election.

An Ugly Picture As State-Level GOP Attempt To Strangle Dissent Nationwide
In 34 states, Republican lawmakers attempt destroying the right to protest.
By Michael Winship

As we passed the one-year mark of the pandemic lockdown, the media was flooded with assorted lookbacks, memorials for the dead and even quizzes designed to remind people of what the country and the world were like before the coronavirus descended.

One suggested that you look at the photos stored in your mobile phone and find the last picture taken before everything went to hell. For me, it was a shot of some anemone blossoms near the Georgia shore, that last trip before travel became untenable. (And the first photo after the lockdown began also was floral-the Callery pear trees that blossom every spring in my neighborhood, regardless of plague or politics.)

"Even as they resist a full-scale investigation of the extremists involved and the events leading up to January 6, Republicans are using that right-wing riot as a Trojan horse to go after Black Lives Matter and other protesting activists from the left."

Looking through my 2020 photos, I noticed something else. Seventh Avenue, the street that runs below my downtown Manhattan apartment, is a frequent thoroughfare for demonstrations (and during the pandemic, platoons of motorcycles, ATV's and the other day, a gaggle of black-outfitted ninja wannabes on electric skateboards. I am not making this up.).

On May 30, five days after George Floyd died, a small group of masked, socially distanced protesters marched by. I photographed them from my window. As the days went by, my pictures show their numbers growing and growing, as the frustration and outrage grew at what had happened to Floyd in Minneapolis and to others in cities around the nation. Law enforcement violence against Black, indigenous and people of color was exposed to the public as never before. We're seeing it again now with the police shooting of Andrew Brown, Jr., in North Carolina.

Despite the lockdowns, protest continues to flourish in the United States and at a record rate. Back in the pre-COVID days of 2018, The Washington Post's Mary Jordan and Scott Clement reported that "tens of millions of Americans" had joined protests and rallies; there was "a new activism," largely thanks to former guy Donald Trump:

One in five Americans have protested in the streets or participated in political rallies since the beginning of 2016. Of those, 19 percent said they had never before joined a march or a political gathering.

Similarly, activist LA Kauffman wrote in The Guardian, "never before have as many Americans taken to the streets for political causes as are marching and rallying now...

What's even more significant than the scare of these contemporary protests is their ubiquity. A few individual demonstrations under Trump have been very large, rivaling the biggest protests in American history. But the overall numbers are so high because protests have been happening everywhere: in all fifty states, and in many places where marches and rallies have rarely been seen before.
During the Trump presidency, the groups Count Love and the Crowd Counting Consortium (CCC) counted "nearly 60,000 protests and marches, with 21 million to 31 million participants...

In 2020, Black Lives Matter protests spread across thousands of urban, suburban, and rural areas... In addition, these protesters were overwhelmingly nonviolent. In 97.7 percent of events, no injuries were reported among participants or police. When there were injuries, protesters were injured more often than police, suggesting the police response may have been disproportionate.

If you don't think these protests can make a difference, consider the words of Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who oversaw the successful prosecution for the murder of Floyd by Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin. In a recent report Ellison told NPR's Leila Fadel, "The governor probably would not have felt the need to appoint me to prosecute the case against Derek Chauvin unless people were protesting in the street. I'm hoping people don't break windows and burn stuff, but protesting, being out there strong, we absolutely needed, and in fact, I don't think you get anything done without it."

Which is why scared Republicans in state legislatures across the country are doing their damnedest to use legislation as a blunt tool, attempting to quash dissent and punish protesters. A week ago, Reid J. Epstein and Patricia Mazzei at The New York Times reported that, "while Democrats seized on Mr. Floyd's death last May to highlight racism in policing and other forms of social injustice, Republicans responded to a summer of protests by proposing a raft of punitive new measures governing the right to lawfully assemble."

G.O.P. lawmakers in 34 states have introduced 81 anti-protest bills during the 2021 legislative session-more than twice as many proposals as in any other year, according to Elly Page, a senior legal adviser at the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, which tracks legislation limiting the right to protest.

Some, like [Florida Governor Ron] DeSantis, are labeling them "anti-riot" bills, conflating the right to peaceful protest with the rioting and looting that sometimes resulted from such protests.

In Florida, DeSantis just signed a law that turns many protest-related misdemeanors into felonies, delays bail for those arrested, seeks to prevent communities from defunding police and makes pulling down monuments punishable by up to fifteen years in prison. But at the same time the law makes it easier for motorists to escape civil liability if they plow their car into a group of protesters.

So-called "aggravated rioting" and "mob intimidation" are now criminal acts in Florida-as few as three people can be defined by police as a riot.

"Make no mistake about it," attorney James Shaw, Jr., said, "the legislation was proposed in direct reaction to the Black Lives Matter movement, and to throw a bone to a certain voting bloc that was distressed by this movement and wanted to use violence against it."

A provision that would indemnify drivers who mow down protesters is also under consideration in Oklahoma, as is a rule that turns the blocking of a public street by demonstrators into a felony offense. In Kentucky, legislation is on hold that would make it a misdemeanor offense to taunt or make a gesture at police "that would have a direct tendency to provoke a violent response from the perspective of a reasonable and prudent person." Clearly unconstitutional, as seem almost all of these anti-protest provisions. And in Minnesota, a bill has been introduced that would withhold student financial help, food stamps and unemployment benefits to anyone convicted of a protest-related crime.

ACLU attorney Vera Edelman told the Times that these and other similar proposals are "consistent with the general trend of legislators' responding to powerful and persuasive protests by seeking to silence them rather than engaging with the message of the protests. If anything, the lesson from the last year, and decades, is not that we need to give more tools to police and prosecutors, it's that they abuse the tools they already have."

Hypocritically, many are pointing to the deadly, January 6 Trumpist insurrection at the Capitol as a newfound rationale for such actions, even though GOP lawmakers have been striving to criminalize protest from the left for a number of years now-starting with attempts to keep environmental activists from interfering with pipeline construction-and actively seek to clamp down on participatory democracy and free speech. Even as they resist a full-scale investigation of the extremists involved and the events leading up to January 6, Republicans are using that right-wing riot as a Trojan horse to go after Black Lives Matter and other protesting activists from the left.

Make no mistake-in many ways these proposals are as poisonous to the freedoms of speech and assembly as similar vile attempts across the nation to suppress and deny the right to vote. To say this is not a pretty picture would be an understatement. It's an ugly portrait of a political party steadily losing national support and willing to cheat, steal and put a knee to the throat of all things vital to a democracy-just to seize back power and persecute everyone they deem different or a threat to their nascent despotism.

(c) 2021 Michael Winship is the Schumann Senior Writing Fellow for Common Dreams. Previously, he was the Emmy Award-winning senior writer of Moyers & Company and, a past senior writing fellow at the policy and advocacy group Demos and former president of the Writers Guild of America East. Follow him on twitter:@MichaelWinship

In Australia, one program is aimed at helping the greater bilby, a threatened marsupial, learn to avoid
predation by interlopers in their ecoregion -feral cats and foxes introduced by British colonizers.

Are We Too Hard On Newly Arrived Plants And Animals?
By David Suzuki

As human activity continues to heat the planet and destroy wildlife habitat, plants and animals are responding based on their genetic makeup and ability to adapt to altered environments. Some are losing ground, landing on ever-growing species-at-risk lists or winking out altogether. Others are making gains, eking out their existence alongside us or even benefitting from habitat alteration we've caused -raccoons, for instance. Science writer Fred Pearce notes that "most of the losers are rare, endangered, and endemic species, while most of the winners are common, generalist, and invasive species -rats, mosquitoes, water hyacinth and the like."

"Assisted evolution" initiatives aim to help imperilled wildlife adapt more quickly to their changing environments than typically slow evolutionary processes would normally permit. In Australia, one program is aimed at helping the greater bilby, a threatened marsupial, learn to avoid predation by interlopers in their ecoregion -feral cats and foxes introduced by British colonizers.

The cats have adapted successfully to their new environment and aren't going anywhere. A team of researchers altered the standard conservation measure of building fences to keep the cats out, instead bringing cats into the fenced bilby refuges. This helps the bilbies learn avoidance, a skill they need for survival in the wild.

Invasive species have long been recognized as key threats to native plants and animals. WWF's "Living Planet Report Canada 2020" identifies them as a major cause of wildlife decline here. But as plant and animal species worldwide have started to shift ranges in response to warming climates and habitat destruction, narratives about invasives have also started to shift.

In the past, conservationists viewed them negatively. Various eradication initiatives were established depending on government landscape management capacity, the threat invasives posed to at-risk species or economic ventures, proliferation levels and ease of eradication. (Think zebra mussels and purple loosestrife.)

Now there's a strong chance that species entering new areas are moving from warming and degraded habitats, and would benefit from human stewardship. How should we respond? Should we differentiate between those "invading" ecosystems as climate or habitat exiles and those that human travellers have carried to new places?

Some scientists argue for such differentiation. University of Vienna conservation biologist Franz Essl and colleagues propose that species moving or expanding their ranges in response to human-caused environmental change be classified as "neo-native" species, rather than "invasive species," and that management directives reflect this distinction.

To some extent, science supports a distinction, as species that move of their own accord are more likely to move in step with their natural counterparts than a species that, say, arrives in a ship's hull.

Some scientists have proposed the most logical way to determine how to manage an invasive species is to assess whether its presence has an overall positive or negative impact on the ecosystem. As Macalester College professor Mark Davis writes, "Whether because of climate or because people move them, species need to be evaluated on their own effects and not on whether they are natives or new natives or non-natives or non-natives moved by humans."

Effects of species on ecosystems are not singular, however, and consensus on ecological impacts doesn't always exist. This can lead to ideological divergences in which some conservationists advance species eradication while others champion stewardship. As author Sonia Shah writes, "In California, wildlife officials attempted to exterminate Spartina cordgrass, introduced to the West from the salt marshes of the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts, despite the fact that it provided foraging and nesting sites for endangered California clapper rails."

Ultimately, human hubris has driven many plants and animals toward extinction. It's also hubris to attempt to "manage" species that have moved into new areas based on our somewhat subjective analyses of whether they're doing more harm or good.

It's clear that science alone can't dictate a path forward. We must incorporate other inputs, such as foresight, precaution and Indigenous knowledge when overseeing programs to limit or support wildlife populations on land and in water. If we don't take sufficient care to think these complex issues through, wildlife management will be driven only by the economic value that humans ascribe to some plant and animal species over others.

The species most in need of better management is our own.

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

Merrick Garland Is Not Playing Around When It Comes To Monitoring Local Police Departments
Still, he might struggle to keep up.
By Charles P. Pierce

Attorney General Merrick Garland, who should be sitting on the Supreme Court right now, is not playing. Last week, he announced a "patterns and practice" investigation into the activities of the police department in Minneapolis. On Monday, it was Louisville's turn, this investigation touched off by the police killing of Breonna Taylor, who was shot to death in bed by police serving a bungled warrant. Merrick Garland is not playing with this stuff.

The investigation will assess whether LMPD engages in a pattern or practice of using unreasonable force, including with respect to people involved in peaceful, expressive activities. It will determine whether LMPD engages in unconstitutional stops, searches, and seizures, as well as whether the department unlawfully executes search warrants on private homes.

It will also assess whether LMPD engages in discriminatory conduct on the basis of race or fails to provide public services that comply with the Americans With Disability Act. The investigation will include a comprehensive review of the Louisville police department's policies and training. It will also assess the effectiveness of LMPD supervision of officers and systems of accountability.

The Taylor killing was a catastrophe. Her family already has won a $12 million settlement against the city. One police officer has been fired. None have been arrested, let alone indicted or put on trial, an open wound in the city that has not healed. Garland promised action that at least could function as a partial balm.
We will follow the facts and the law wherever they lead. If violations are found, the Justice Department will aim to work with the city and police department to arrive at a set of mutually agreeable steps that they can take to correct and prevent unlawful patterns or practices.
At their own press conference, the mayor and the chief of police both pledged their full cooperation. Which is what you do if you're a mayor and the G is coming to call. "The reality is what the DOJ is doing is bringing more resources, drilling down in greater detail and providing the guidance on what it is the feds want to see nationally," Chief Erika Shields said. "There needs to be clarity and uniform on that."

Almost at exactly the same time that Garland was making his announcement, the family of Andrew Brown, Jr., who was killed in a hail of police bullets while driving away in his car, was being allowed to view what the family and its lawyers called an unsatisfactorily redacted body cam video of the shooting. Merrick Garland may never be able to keep up.

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

The Quotable Quote-

"The jury's verdict delivers accountability for Derek Chauvin, but not justice for George Floyd. Real justice for him and too many others can only happen when we build a nation that fundamentally respects the human dignity of every person."
~~~ Bernie Sanders

Israel Is An Apartheid State Seeking Systemic Domination Of Palestinians: Human Rights Watch
By Juan Cole

Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) - Human Rights Watch has issued a 214-page report concluding that between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean there are 6.8 million Jews and 6.8 million Palestinians, and that the Israeli state systematically privileges the Jews, wherever they are, and disprivileges the Palestinians, an the basis of race.

HRW, like other human rights organizations, had avoided using this language about Israel-Palestine because its officials had considered the Israeli occupation to be temporary, and that the "peace process" would eventually lead to a Palestinian state. Over fifty years are not temporary, however, and there is no end in sight. Israeli officials are increasingly bold in insisting that no Palestinian state will ever be allowed and that the Israeli Occupation of Palestinian territories must remain permanent. It is the permanency of the situation that warrants the change in nomenclature, HRW says.

Israeli policies toward the Occupied Palestinians also resemble those of American whites toward African-Americans in the Jim Crow era, being based on systematic racism.

The Israeli human rights organization, B'tselem, came to the same conclusion about Israeli Apartheid this winter.

The argument for Israel being an Apartheid state rests primarily on its 50-year-long occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, the land, water and airspace of which Israel controls. Israel has determinedly sponsored Jewish colonies on West Bank land owned by Palestinians and has universally excluded Palestinians from living in these squatter settlements. In about 40% of the West Bank, Israel has a junior partner in the rump Palestine Authority, but the latter ultimately is under Israel's thumb.

Occupied Palestinians under Israeli military rule suffer from a deficit of civil rights: HRW: "Civil Rights for Palestinians"

Even within Israel proper, however, the Israeli parliament in 2018 passed a law investing sovereignty solely in Israeli Jews and excluding the 20 percent of the population that is of Palestinian heritage. Although there are a handful of Palestinian-Israelis in Parliament, they are systematically excluded from cabinet positions or playing any part in forming governments, a role reserved for Jewish Israelis. Some Palestinian-Israelis, locally called "Arab-Israelis" still live in unrecognized villages such that they are not permitted by the Israeli state to build or to repair or improve their buildings. They were, of course, living there before there was any Israel, but have been retrospectively demoted to people without basic rights.

Some observers have complained that Israel is not exactly like South Africa under Apartheid. This is true but it is beside the point. For one thing, the current South African government and media see a firm parallel:

SABC News: "Human Rights Watch report says Israel authorities are committing apartheid crimes"

For another, the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court adopted a universalized definition of Apartheid practices unconstrained by the South African historical model, which is intended to be applied to other societies in the world.

As HRW notes, the Rome Statute defines Apartheid as "inhumane acts... committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime."

That language clearly does describe Israeli activities in the West Bank and Gaza.

HRW continues:

"The crime of apartheid under the Apartheid Convention and Rome Statute consists of three primary elements: an intent to maintain a system of domination by one racial group over another; systematic oppression by one racial group over another; and one or more inhumane acts, as defined, carried out on a widespread or systematic basis pursuant to those policies.

Among the inhumane acts identified in either the Convention or the Rome Statute are "forcible transfer," "expropriation of landed property," "creation of separate reserves and ghettos," and denial of the "the right to leave and to return to their country, [and] the right to a nationality."

TRT World: "Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem face eviction"

The problem is now Israeli intentionality. The government means to do these things. HWR points out:

"The Knesset in 2018 passed a law with constitutional status affirming Israel as the "nation-state of the Jewish people," declaring that within that territory, the right to self-determination "is unique to the Jewish people," and establishing "Jewish settlement" as a national value."
It isn't just a matter of the rush of events any more Apartheid has been enshrined in Israeli law.

Moreover, it is not just a matter of privileging Israelis. There is a policy of keeping the Palestinians down:

"To sustain Jewish Israeli control, Israeli authorities have adopted policies aimed at mitigating what they have openly described as a demographic "threat" that Palestinians pose. Those policies include limiting the population and political power of Palestinians, granting the right to vote only to Palestinians who live within the borders of Israel as they existed from 1948 to June 1967, and limiting the ability of Palestinians to move to Israel from the OPT and from anywhere else to Israel or the OPT. Other steps are taken to ensure Jewish domination, including a state policy of "separation" of Palestinians between the West Bank and Gaza, which prevents the movement of people and goods within the OPT, and "Judaization" of areas with significant Palestinian populations, including Jerusalem as well as the Galilee and the Negev in Israel."
Nor it is only a matter of limiting the population and power of the Palestinians. There is the systemic cruelty and inhumanity of Israeli policy in the Occupied territories:
"Those include sweeping restrictions on the movement of 4.7 million Palestinians there; the confiscation of much of their land; the imposition of harsh conditions, including categorical denial of building permits in large parts of the West Bank, which has led thousands of Palestinians to leave their homes under conditions that amount to forcible transfer; the denial of residency rights to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and their relatives, largely for being abroad when the occupation began in 1967, or for long periods during the first few decades of the occupation, or as a result of the effective freeze on family reunification over the last two decades; and the suspension of basic civil rights, such as freedom of assembly and association, depriving Palestinians of the opportunity to have a voice in a wide range of affairs that most affect their daily lives and futures."
HRW dismisses Israeli special pleading that these inhumane measures are necessary for Israeli security. In many instances, this is demonstrably not the case. In others, absolute Israeli security would have to be measured against the harm inflicted on the Palestinians.

Al Jazeera English: "Why does Israel want to annex the West Bank? | Start Here"

The HRW report and its new categorization of Israeli policy as consisting in Apartheid and crimes against humanity has predictably drawn the ire of the Israeli officials who are committing Apartheid and crimes against humanity.

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

Elon Musk says SpaceX will land humans on Mars by 2026 and wants to establish a colony by 2050. Its purpose, he says, will be to ensure the continued survival of our species.

Jeff Bezos And Elon Musk: Uncaring Billionaires Lost In Space
As earthly hazards grow-not just environmental menaces but also social instability related to growing inequality-escaping to Mars is not option for humanity.
By Robert Reich

Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos want to colonize outer space to save humanity, but they couldn't care less about protecting the rights of workers here on earth.

Musk's SpaceX just won a $2.9 billion NASA contract to land astronauts on the moon, beating out Bezos.

The money isn't a big deal for either of them. Musk is worth $179.7 billion. Bezos, $197.8 billion. Together, that's almost as much as the bottom 40 percent of Americans combined.

And the moon is only their stepping-stone.

Musk says SpaceX will land humans on Mars by 2026 and wants to establish a colony by 2050. Its purpose, he says, will be to ensure the continued survival of our species.

"If we make life multiplanetary, there may come a day when some plants and animals die out on Earth but are still alive on Mars," he tweeted.

Bezos is also aiming to build extraterrestrial colonies, but in space rather than on Mars. He envisions "very large structures, miles on end" that will "hold a million people or more each."

But Musk and Bezos are treating their workers like, well, dirt.

Last spring, after calling government stay-at-home orders "fascist" and tweeting "FREE AMERICA NOW," Musk reopened his Tesla factory in Fremont, California before health officials said it safe to do so. Almost immediately, 10 Tesla workers came down with the virus. As cases mounted, Musk fired workers who took unpaid leave. Seven months later, at least 450 Tesla workers had been infected.

Musk's production assistants, as they're called, earn $19 an hour-hardly enough to afford rent and other costs of living in northern California. Musk is virulently anti-union. A few weeks ago, the National Labor Relations Board found that Tesla illegally interrogated workers over suspected efforts to form a union, fired one and disciplined another for union-related activities, threatened workers if they unionized and barred employees from communicating with the media.

Bezos isn't treating his earthling employees much better. His warehouses impose strict production quotas and subject workers to seemingly arbitrary firings, total surveillance and 10-hour workdays with only two half-hour breaks - often not enough time to get to a bathroom and back. Bezos boasts that his workers get $15 an hour, but that comes to about $31,000 a year for a full-time worker, less than half the U.S. median family income. And no paid sick leave.

Bezos has fired at least two employees who publicly complained about lack of protective equipment during the pandemic. To thwart the recent union drive in Bessemer, Alabama, Amazon required workers to attend anti-union meetings, warned they'd have to pay union dues (untrue - Alabama is a "right-to-work" state), and threatened them with lost pay and benefits.

Musk and Bezos are the richest people in America and their companies are among the country's fastest growing. They thereby exert huge influence on how other chief executives understand their obligations to employees.

The gap between the compensation of CEOs and average workers is already at a record high. They inhabit different worlds.

If Musk and Bezos achieve their extraterrestrial aims, these worlds could be literally different. Most workers won't be able to escape into outer space. A few billionaires are already lining up.

The super-rich have always found means of escaping the perils of everyday life. During the plagues of the 17th century, European aristocrats decamped to their country estates. During the 2020 pandemic, wealthy Americans headed to the Hamptons, their ranches in Wyoming or their yachts.

The rich have also found ways to protect themselves from the rest of humanity-in fortified castles, on hillsides safely above smoke and sewage, in grand mansions far from the madding crowds. Some of today's super rich have created doomsday bunkers in case of nuclear war or social strife.

But as earthly hazards grow-not just environmental menaces but also social instability related to growing inequality-escape will become more difficult. Bunkers won't suffice. Not even space colonies can be counted on.

I'm grateful to Musk for making electric cars and to Bezos for making it easy to order stuff online. But I wish they'd set better examples for protecting and lifting the people who do the work.

It's understandable that the super wealthy might wish to escape the gravitational pull of the rest of us. But there's really no escape. If they're serious about survival of the species, they need to act more responsibly toward working humans here on terra firma.

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

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) came under fire this week after saying he saw "no reason" to encourage Americans to get vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus.

It's Time To Destroy The Sick And Twisted Plans Of American Maskholes
The calculations by some Republicans is simple but brutal math, and they frankly don't care who it kills.
By Thom Hartmann

Well, it's started. The United States has reached the point, in many parts of the country, where there are more vaccines available then there are people willing to take them.

Most of this so-called "vaccine reluctance" is driven by pure politics.

Donald Trump's visceral hatred of Joe Biden, who beat him like a drum in the last election, and the Republican party's commitment to raw power over anything that may help Americans, have brought us this crisis.

If Trump, Fox and the GOP can convince the people who follow them that they shouldn't get vaccines, they can prevent President Biden from getting this pandemic under control.

If they can prevent Biden from getting the disease under control, they also prevent him from getting the economy back in shape.

And-Bingo!-if they prevent him from getting the economy back in shape, Republicans see victories in the 2022 midterm elections and might even take back the White House in 2024.

This is their simple but brutal math, and they frankly don't care who it kills. The more the better, in fact, because chaos hurts the (Democratic) party in power. After all, they've already shown us they're willing to kill a half-million Americans just to try to win the last election.

And, as village idiot and GQP Senator Ron Johnson said yesterday as he was discouraging general consideration of vaccine documentation, "Why is this big push to make sure everybody gets a vaccine, to the point when you better impose it, you're going to shame people, you're going to force them to carry a card to prove that they've been vaccinated so they can just stay in society? I'm getting highly suspicious of what's happening here."

Right. It's just a public health emergency that's killed a half-million Americans. No big deal for rich Republicans.

So it's up to us to blow up their plan. And if enough of us take one small, simple step we may be able to pull it off. Here's how:

I'm calling restaurants, bars, stores, and other places of business that I've patronized over the past couple of years. Taking it slow, just one or two a day. Casual.

My conversation goes something like this:

Me: "I see we're getting close to the point where the economy can open back up. I'm so excited about coming back to your (restaurant, store)! I love your (mention dish or product so they know I'm a real customer)! I just wanted to make sure, first, that you're requiring proof of vaccination before you let people in?"

Them: All of us who work here are vaccinated!"

Me: "Well, let me give you my name and phone number and you can call me if you decide to change your policy. For at least the next year, I'm only going to patronize businesses that require proof of vaccination to get in the door. Even though I'm vaccinated, I don't want to be exposed to someone who's not and who might be carrying around one of those weird variants."

Them: (usually sounding a bit rattled): "I'll be sure to tell the manager that you called..."

This can work.

The primary imperative of every business is something called "differentiation." When I taught marketing and ran an advertising agency in Atlanta, I'd always ask, "What makes you different from your competitors? What is it you're offering that they aren't or can't? Simply put, 'what is your unfair competitive advantage?'"

More often than not, the answer to that question became the focus of a great marketing campaign.

America is experiencing a mind-boggling amount of pent-up demand right now. People want to go out and eat, drink, celebrate, dance and buy things. But many, almost certainly a majority, want to do so safely.

So, if even a small but meaningful percentage of businesses decide it's good marketing to cater exclusively to people who've taken the time and trouble to get vaccinated, it'll create a social and economic pressure that will begin to wear down those folks Republican politicians and Fox News have convinced that the virus is no big deal.

But big deal or no, they still want to get into the restaurant! And that could get us to the 75%-85% vaccinated herd immunity threshold we need for a safe country regardless of Trump's or Johnson's inane sputtering or Tucker's smarmy "questions."

Back in the 1980s a dear friend of mine, Tom Larsen, owned one of the finest high-end restaurants in Boston, The Pillar House. Every restaurant in town at that time had both smoking and no-smoking sections, but Tom was committed to serving extraordinary food in a clean environment where you could actually smell and taste the flavors his chefs so meticulously curated.

So in 1986 he banned all smoking at The Pillar House, even in the bar and the bathrooms: his was the first consequential restaurant in Boston, and one of the first in the nation, to do so.

I remember when he made the decision. We discussed it quite a bit, in fact. I was fully expecting he would lose business, but instead, as word spread, his business continued to grow!

The restaurant got enormous publicity (it was picked up by the AP nationwide!), their non-smoking customers became fanatically loyal, and the few hard-core smokers they lost were insignificant to their business.

As an added bonus, restaurants around the country, reading about Tom's experience, started emulating him. Non-smoking restaurants became a thing in 1986, and within a few years became the norm. Even Boston's Newton-Wellesley Hospital went smoke-free, the first hospital to do so in the area, citing Tom's restaurant as an example.

There are a lot of us out here who don't want to be exposed to GOP- and Fox News-maskholes and the viruses they may be carrying.

They're this generation's version of the selfish smokers in the 1980s, and we're the health-concerned non-smokers. We would very much like safe spaces to enjoy shopping, dining or other activities without smoke or germs being blown on us by inconsiderate people.

For businesses looking for a competitive edge, this "let's all live" marketing prescription is the opportunity of the decade!

And with just a few simple phone calls, you can help make it happen.

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

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To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

'Well, That"s Racism Solved' Confirms White America

By The Waterford Whispers News

IN THE aftermath of Derek Chauvin being found guilty of the murder of George Floyd, white Americans were celebrating the triumphant end to racism and the long practice of dispatching the police to suppress and brutalise minorities.

"Oh was that today?" a smattering of white Americans said of the trial verdict, before sharing a knowing nod with the nearest minority which they hoped conveyed "we did it, we ALL did it guuuurlfriend."

"Wow, what a weight off. And we've got Joe and Kamala in there for you guys too, you must be overjoyed" confirmed one woman. "Thank Good we don't have to hear what the Orange One made of this," added the woman, who will continue her policy of tightly clutching her purse around people of colour.

White Americans announced that now racism was 'a past-tense thing' they would be going on a crash diet aimed at vastly reducing their appetite for conversations on race, allowing those unburdened by systemic biases within American institutions to happily high-five each other for a job well done.

"I'm just glad the legacy of Dr Martin Luther Vandross Jr has finally been irrevocably fulfilled. That was his thing, right? Justice? Sorry if I got it wrong, happy for you to explain it to me again," added one man to the nearest African American they could find and touch the hair of.

Elsewhere, contributors on Fox News labeled the verdict a disgrace, claiming Chauvin was treated during the trial like he was just some black man who was rightly arrested after being found three blocks away from a half smoked joint.

"How are you going to get people to join the police if they know they will be punished for murdering people?" said noted Fox News contributor, an incendiary ball of fiery rage.

Meanwhile, other countries have once again thanked America for being so staggeringly unequal as to take the focus off having to solve their own systemic issues.

(c) 2021 The Waterford Whispers News

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Issues & Alibis Vol 21 # 18 (c) 04/30/2021

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