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In This Edition

Glenn Greenwald returns with an, "Excerpt From The Battle For Justice In Palestine."

Uri Avnery considers, "Words, Words, Words."

Glen Ford concludes, "USA: Bad Jobs Country."

Pepe Escobar reports, "US 'Pivots,' China Reaps Dividends."

Jim Hightower overlooks, "Rick Perry's Magic Glasses."

David Swanson wonders, "If War Was Funded Like College Tuition."

James Donahue is, "Dancing Around The Maypole."

John Nichols says, "Net Neutrality Will Be Saved Only If Citizens Raise An Outcry."

Chris Hedges explores, "The Crime Of Peaceful Protest."

David Sirota uncovers, "Wall Street's Secret Swindle."

Paul Krugman examines, "High Plains Moochers."

Joel S. Hirschhorn returns with, "American Democracy Now An Oligarchy."

Amy Goodman explains, "When Cruel And Unusual Punishment Becomes Usual."

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Ryan Gallagher finds, "British Spy Chiefs Secretly Begged To Play In NSA's Data Pools."

Ralph Nader is, "Unstoppable."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Will Durst has been, "Sawbucked To Death" but first Uncle Ernie sez Barry is, "Pivoting In Asia."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Jerry Holbert, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Ruben Bolling, Steve Sack, David Fitzsimmons, Emily Foxx Onnhoney, Bebeto Matthew, Dicky Neely, Federal Communications Commission, Euro Asia News.Com, Ziegler Wealth Management, Nation Books, Haymarket Books, Flickr, AP, The Intercept, Black Agenda Report, You Tube.Com and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

The Quotable Quote...
The Vidkun Quisling Award...
The Cartoon Corner...
To End On A Happy Note...
Have You Seen This...
Parting Shots...

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

President Obama addresses U.S. forces in South Korea during his recent trip to Asia.

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Pivoting In Asia
By Ernest Stewart

"China has to abide by certain norms. Our goal is not to counter China, our goal is not to contain China. Our goal is to make sure that international rules and norms are respected. And that includes in the area of maritime disputes." ~~~ Barack Obama

"Let me be clear to you, you ever do that to me again I'll throw you off this f*cking balcony.
You're not man enough, you're not man enough. I'll break you in half. Like a boy." ~~~ Michael Grimm to a reporter

"Our free and open Internet has made invaluable contributions to democracy both here in the United States and around the world. Whether you are rich, poor, young or old, the Internet allows all people to seek out information and communicate globally. We must not turn over our democracy to the highest bidder." ~~~ Senator Bernie Sanders

"We lose our ability to live fully if we neglect or ignore our responsibility to the other people who share this planet with us. We simply cannot reach our full potential without the insights and observations that other people--our teachers--have to give us. We cannot feel whole until we are helping other people to reach for their potential and to grow as strong as they can grow. We do need down time, and we do need time to ourselves, but we very much need to acknowledge our ties to our fellow human beings and act as if those people meant more to us than our jobs or pets or cars do. They are much more important than anything material that we ever can get our hands on or strive for." ~~~ Tom Walsh

Barry was off to Asia this week to accomplish a couple of things. One was to scare everyone over China, and the other was to scare everyone into signing on to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. His focus of the China scare was to take everyone's mind off of the Ukraine, and pivot them to focus on the Chinese threat.

The first he sort of accomplished -- but not so much the later.

He did manage to weasel us back into the Philippines -- where we were sent packing under Papa Smirk back in 1992, after a 94 year run controlling the islands and the people -- except, of course, when Japan threw us out from 1942 - 1945. We're back again controlling some naval/air force bases/staging areas to threaten China with. Like the ring of steel around Russia, Barry is building a similar one around China.

Barry stopped in four countries on this tour -- Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines -- to pedal his wares; but the TPP went over like a lead balloon -- even Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wasn't buying into this secret deal -- a deal so secret no one outside of government heads is allowed to know -- that's foreign government heads; American politicians, for the most part, are being kept in the dark as much as are the peoples of the TPP! Once signed, Congress can either vote it up or down; there will be no changes allowed!

Obama also played Consoler-in-chief' in his short stays in South Korea and Malaysia with both nations still reeling from major transportation disasters that have many questioning each government's response -- a response which Barry avoided like the plague; but he did talk about both disasters, expressing our heartfelt sorrow.

In conclusion, Barry got his pivot -- but not his TPP agreement, which means a loss-win for the people -- just the opposite of what Barry came away with, viz., a win-loss!

In Other News

I see where the House should pick up at least one Demoncratic member from a seat currently being held by a Rethuglican in November, that is, if residents of New York's Staten Island have "brain one?" Their Representative Michael Grimm got caught with his hand in the cookie jar and had a twenty-count federal indictment laid on him on Monday; yet Michael says he isn't giving up his House seat.

Politico reports on the indictment: "Allegations that he skimmed more than $1 million from a restaurant he owned before he came to Congress. The indictment lays out a long list of criminal charges against Grimm, including mail and wire fraud, filing false tax returns, health care fraud, hiring undocumented workers, perjury and obstruction!"

Grimm denied the charges, saying he was the victim of a "political witch hunt" and would not resign his seat in Congress. At a press conference after being released on bail, Grimm declared: "I know who I am, and I know what I've done for this country... I know I'm a moral man, a man of integrity." Michael sounds like Mickey Rourke in "Angel Heart!" "I know who I am. You're trying to frame me."

Grimm, who ran as a tea bagger in both 2010 & 2012, was already being investigated for fundraising irregularities with several members of his staff already indicted for his 2010 run.

Before being elected to Congress, Grimm worked as a FBI agent from 1991 to 2006. After the arrest, his former boss, FBI Assistant Director George Venizelos had this to say about Grimm: "As a former FBI agent, Representative Grimm should understand the motto: fidelity, bravery, and integrity. Yet he broke our credo at nearly every turn. In this twenty-count indictment, Representative Grimm lived by a new motto: fraud, perjury, and obstruction."

This should prove to be interesting come November, if the RNC doesn't make him step down!

And Finally

You may recall that back in February Tom Wheeler the FCC's new chairman, the former cable and wireless industry lobbyist and spokes-weasel, said he would comply, rather than appeal. "Preserving the Internet as an open platform for innovation and expression while providing certainty and predictability in the marketplace is an important responsibility of this agency." How soon they forget, huh?

Instead Tom came out with a bright idea to sell the internet to the highest bidder ending free speech on the internet! Under the proposed rules, internet providers will be able to charge companies for speedier access to consumers. A so-called internet "fast lane" will allegedly be permitted so long as ISPs charge "commercially reasonable" rates.

The big question is what the FCC considers to be "reasonable rates." So you know what I did, don't you. I wrote Tom a note...
Hey Tom, Boy did you just screw up, huh? Did the IP's give you the traditional 30 pieces of silver for your attempt to end free speech on the internet? Not to mention that you made a liar out of the President who said, "I have been a strong supporter of net neutrality. The new commissioner of the FCC, Tom Wheeler, whom I appointed, I know is a strong supporter of net neutrality." I'm guessing you're now on his sh*t list, and even, perhaps, his Tuesday hit list too. Just a word of advice Tom, if you get any more bright ideas about destroying the Internet, please, keep them to yourself!

Ernest Stewart
Managing Editor
Issues and Alibis Magazine
PS. Congratulations Tom you've just won this week's Vidkun Quisling Award, our weekly award for the biggest traitor in America!
If you'd like to share your thoughts on Net Neutrality before it's too late you may contact Tom here:

Oh, and tell him that Uncle Ernie sent you!

Keepin' On

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

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

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

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


05-06-1958 ~ 04-28-2014
Thanks for fighting the good fight!

10-26-1942 ~ 04-29-2014
Thanks for the film!

10-24-1925 ~ 04-29-2014
Thanks for the laughs!


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


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

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

Excerpt From The Battle For Justice In Palestine
By Glenn Greenwald

Like most of what he writes and says, Ali Abunimah's new book, "The Battle for Justice in Palestine", is provocative, erudite, impassioned, aggressive, and certain to make even some political allies uncomfortable with their tacitly held beliefs (beginning with the book's very first sentence: "The Palestinians are winning"). One need not agree with all of his views to find the book well worth reading. So much ink has been spilled on Israel and Palestine that at times it seems impossible to encounter anything new or stimulating, but the arguments Abunimah assembles here are so thoughtful and forceful, and placed within a comprehensive, long-cultivated coherent perspective, that it's almost impossible to read it without thinking about all sorts of old questions in new ways. That this outlook is so rarely heard in Western establishment media circles makes it all the more valuable.

Below is an excerpt regarding the coordinated campaign on American campuses to suppress pro-Palestinian advocacy and Israel critiques by equating them with hate speech. This, he argues, is part of a broader effort to render any fundamental critiques of Israel illegitimate in leading American opinion-making institutions. The excerpt has been adapted by Abunimah for publication here, with minor editing and the omission of the book's ample footnotes:


The War on Campus

American public support for Israel remains strong, but the "growing cracks" in that support are most evident on campus, according to the David Project, and universities across America form "the leading venue for anti-Israel activity and the spread of anti-Israelism." The case for working to stop this dangerous trend is clear: universities are not only "where the thinking of America's future political leadership is molded" but also "where the worldview of a large swath of influential people outside of the political class as well as the population at large is largely formed."

These warnings are contained in the David Project's 2012 white paper, A Burning Campus? Rethinking Israel Advocacy at America's Universities and Colleges. This document can be seen as the university-focused counterpart of the Reut Institute's 2010 blueprint for suppressing Palestine solidarity activism and criticism of Israel more broadly. The David Project, a four-million-dollar-per-year organization focusing on Zionist advocacy on campuses, was founded in 2002 and became notorious in the early 2000s for its witch hunt against Columbia University professor Joseph Massad as well as its aggressively Islamophobic rhetoric. Under new leadership, the group has entered the mainstream of Israel advocacy in the United States and now boasts partners including AIPAC, the Hasbara Fellowships, Hillel, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, the Jewish Federation of New York, and Taglit-Birthright Israel, the organization that sends thousands of young North American Jews on free trips to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

The white paper criticizes earlier approaches to suppressing Palestine solidarity activism and academic inquiry related to Israel on campus, and lays out a new framework. The old approach involved confronting and debating. The new strategy, directly inspired by the Reut Institute, emphasizes making friends and influencing people. Surprisingly, the paper demolishes the notion, long promoted by Zionist groups, that American college campuses are rife with anti-Semitism. "Most American campuses are not hostile environments for most Jewish students," the paper acknowledges."Racial antisemitism of the kind most associated with the Nazis is not likely a serious problem on any American college campus." Claiming otherwise "does not jive with the lived experience of many Jewish students, who know they can identify as Jews and largely not suffer repercussions."Consequently, "depicting campus as hostile to Jews has not to date proven to be an effective strategy for decreasing anti-Israelism."For anyone committed to the struggle against racism in any form, the lack of anti-Semitism on campus can only be good news. But for Zionist organizations it makes the campus environment a more challenging, though no less central, battleground. To solve the problem posed by the absence of anti-Semitism, the David Project has promoted a new term, "anti-Israelism," which it describes as "a specific form of bigotry targeted against the modern state of Israel."This redefinition-as we shall see-is a crucial element in the effort to restrict campus discussions of Israel's racist practices or its claim to have a right to exist as a Jewish state.

In the rest of the world, where Israel is generally unpopular, pro-Israel advocates are fighting to halt efforts to turn it into an "international pariah akin to apartheid South Africa."But in the United States, where support for Israel is much broader, the David Project argues, the "battle" is to "maintain long-term two-party support. It's not good enough that we stop the US from becoming anti-Israel. We have to make sure the US remains pro-Israel."Yet the analysis predicts "long-term bipartisan support for a strong relationship between Israel and the United States cannot be assured if the environments of key universities and colleges are largely negative toward the Jewish state." Simply put, allowing higher education to continue "in a milieu of pervasive negativity toward Israel by further generations of students may significantly weaken long-term American government support for the Jewish state." A related danger is that "anti-Israelism" would spread since the university "often serves as an incubator for social trends that go on to have a wide impact in society at large." These are high stakes.

The David Project identifies four "primary trends" that must be tackled if the dire situation is to be turned around. These are "a long-standing campus predilection toward relativism, postmodernism, and the views of the global left"; "the promotion of anti-Israelism by professors"; "Jewish student apathy and ignorance"; and "the unwillingness of administrators to treat anti-Israelism in the same manner as they treat other forms of bigotry."

These supposed "trends" provide a useful framework to understand some of the tactics that have been used-some but not necessarily all practiced or advocated by the David Project itself-to cultivate and co-opt "influencers" and "campus celebrities" whom Israel lobby groups identify as key potential allies. These include witch hunts and attacks on individual professors; using criminal and civil legal proceedings to define protest and criticism of Israel as "bigotry" or hate speech; fostering Islamophobia and other forms of intimidation and bullying; and "positive" strategies-similar to pinkwashing and greenwashing. Yet despite all these tactics, which have at times taken a hard toll on individual students and faculty, campus Palestine solidarity movements continue to grow and forge promising new alliances.

The David Project sees the war on critics of Israel as a war on the left more broadly. It argues that campus has long been used by "a segment of ideologically committed faculty and graduate students to promote radical left politics, within which the Palestinian cause is increasingly popular." The university is also the "most likely mainstream venue in American society to reflect the trends of the global left, absorbing the ethos of the United Nations and related international organizations, as well as human-rights organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, all of which have long histories of undue focus" on Israel. This dangerous receptivity to the human-rights values developed in the wake of the horrors of the Second World War and the Holocaust is only made worse by the ideological flaws of university faculties: "By overwhelming percentages, professors self-identify on the left of the political spectrum," the David Project asserts. It also faults "a bias against Western views of history and social progress, seeking to empower voices perceived to be on the margins of history." This assertion echoes the critique University of Chicago professor Alan Bloom made in his influential 1987 book The Closing of the American Mind, which faulted the abandonment of canonical "Western" thought for opening the universities to 1960s radicalism and cultural relativism. Bloom's thesis became the rallying cry for the Reagan-era conservative attack on universities that has continued to the present. Because "Israel defines itself and is defined as a part of the West," the David Project claims, "this kind of thinking also lends itself to a bias against Israel and Israeli perspectives." In other words, universities that foster respect for human rights and international law, teach students to think critically, and encourage them to seek out marginalized voices and narratives, represent a grave danger to Israel. Although this threat might arise anywhere, the David Project singles out Columbia University and the University of California, Berkeley, as examples of universities that "can serve as the most important and influential node" in the "anti-Israel" network. These campuses have been targets of relentless attacks from various Zionist groups

Not all academic disciplines represent an equal threat to Israel in the eyes of the David Project. The most dangerous are the humanities and social sciences, alleged hotbeds of radicalism and leftism. The white paper predicts that a long-term decline in these disciplines and the rise of business and economics departments, whose faculty tend to be more politically "balanced," is likely to be beneficial to Israel. The popularity of business schools also provides an opportunity for Israel to be marketed as a high-tech "startup nation," and the David Project notes that some business schools "offer special-themed courses and trips to Israel, sometimes after students take a longer course focusing on Israel's business history and climate." The David Project also sees another promising development in the rise of for-profit colleges, which tend to offer majors focused on employment skills, especially among students of disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds. The fact that the for-profit education industry has offered poor education at high cost, often preying on financially vulnerable students, is not mentioned as a concern. These "emerging campus trends" offer Israel advocates a strategic opportunity since narrowly vocational or business- focused majors "are not generally concerned with political issues, making the introduction of anti-Israel narratives into course work less likely, whatever the proclivity of individual professors." If teaching critical thinking, fostering respect for human- rights values, and nurturing the humanities and social sciences are dangers to Israel, then dumbing down and privatizing education is good for the Jewish state.

Intimidating Institutions

There is no place at any university for professors to physically or verbally assault students, to use epithets against them, or to coerce them into adopting particular viewpoints, former Columbia University provost Jonathan Cole sensibly observes. Students and employees alike should be protected from discrimination based on race, ethnicity, religion, sex, or sexual orientation. These prohibitions properly give rise to codes of conduct at universities and other places of work that allow victims to make grievances and to seek protection and redress. But, Cole warns, "the codes that place limits on conduct must never be directed at the content of ideas-however offensive they may be to students, faculty, alumni, benefactors or politicians." Cole accuses the David Project of doing precisely that by trying to "blur the distinction between speech and action" and accusing "professors of inappropriate action and intimidation when they are actually trying to attack the content of their ideas." He also notes that most of the attacks have been leveled against social scientists and faculty in the humanities, the very disciplines singled out by the David Project's white paper as areas where most "anti-Israel" teaching allegedly takes place. The damage done by the assault on academic freedom will not be limited to those disciplines most targeted, he warns, but will harm everyone in the university community.

There are disturbing parallels between the kinds of witch hunts against individuals suspected of anti-Israel views and the campaigns to root out alleged Communists during the 1940s and 1950s. Most universities then, as now, did not show great courage in standing up to intimidation by government and other outside groups, while some were actually complicit.

One of the rare exceptions, a forceful defender of academic freedom and a public opponent of the anticommunist crusades, was Robert Maynard Hutchins, president of the University of Chicago from 1929 to 1951. "The question is not how many professors have been fired for their beliefs, but how many think they might be," Hutchins said in 1947. "The entire teaching profession is intimidated." This can be updated: the question now is not how many professors have faced the Israel lobby's vilification campaigns, legal threats, and attempts to interfere with their careers and in what they can and can't teach inside the classroom and say or do outside it, but how many think they might be targeted if they don't self-censor when it comes to the topic of Palestine and the Israelis.

As noted, the David Project is frank about the failure of Zionist groups' efforts to falsely portray US campuses as hotbeds of anti-Semitism and proposes the new term "anti-Israelism," which it defines in the following manner:

The key belief of anti-Israelism is that Israel is an illegitimate state with no moral claim to past, present, or continued existence under its own definition as a Jewish state. Anti-Israelism is usually, but not always, combined with longstanding anti- Jewish claims that the Jews are not a people, and therefore do not have the same rights (i.e. self-determination) as other peoples do. An "anti-Israelist" is a believer in anti-Israelism.
As also noted, the David Project defines "anti-Israelism" as "a specific form of bigotry targeted against the modern state of Israel." It follows, then, that any questioning of Zionism's political claims or the policies or practices of Israel necessary to maintain "its own definition as a Jewish state" is "bigotry." This would mean by extension that calling for full and equal rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel is bigotry; calling for Palestinian refugees to be allowed to exercise their right of return is bigotry; criticizing the Jewish National Fund's openly discriminatory land allocation policies is bigotry; and so on. "Jews are a people with a right to self-determination in their historic, ancestral homeland, a right expressed through the modern state of Israel," the white paper asserts. "Claims to the contrary, or that Israel cannot both define itself as a 'Jewish' state and a democracy that protects the rights of all of its citizens, are wrong and dangerous and therefore beyond the pale of reasonable debate." The significance of this attempt to redefine substantive arguments and support for the rights of the Palestinian people as a form of hate speech should not be underestimated. In the absence of anti-Semitism, the David Project's goal is nothing less than to censor such discussions on campus by bringing them within the purview of disciplinary procedures normally reserved for cases of harassment, abuse, and discrimination.

There might be some comfort in recognizing the David Project's as a concession that Zionist advocates cannot win arguments. But irrespective of the term used, the goal remains the same: to stifle and censor discussion of Israel. These tactics have been aggressive and costly for students and faculty alike.

The attacks on speech and academic inquiry related to Israel should be seen in the broader context of the assault on the independence of universities in the years following the September 11, 2001, attacks. Cole notes two significant shifts: first, in contrast to the McCarthy period, the attacks are now spearheaded by private groups, albeit with strong government support; second, the primary target is increasingly the university as an institution, rather than an obsession with rooting out individual faculty suspected of disloyalty or thought crimes. Outside advocacy groups, Cole observes, "have long had the resources to lobby government figures, and to organize alumni and students, with the goal of generating public outrage and eventual pressure on the university to abandon some of its basic commitments." But during the George W. Bush era, "they had a powerful voice in the White House and the ranks of their followers swelled, largely because of the 9/11 attacks and the fears of terrorism that came to the surface."

The most damaging attacks on universities centered on the question of Palestine and often involved the collusion of members of Congress from both the Democratic and Republican parties, as well as targeting both public and private sources of support for academic research.

What Cole dubs "the most troubling case" has had a lasting impact. In 2003, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency published a series of articles by Edwin Black alleging that grants made by the Ford Foundation to support Palestinian nongovernmental organizations had been "misused" to fund "terrorism" and the distribution of "anti- Semitic" and "anti-Zionist" material. Some of the Palestinian organizations that had received funds participated in the 2001 United Nations conference on racism in Durban, South Africa, which was boycotted by the United States and Israel. But, Cole notes, Black's articles "did not present any evidence that the Ford Foundation had violated American laws or that its funds for Palestinian groups were being misused for support of 'terrorist' activities." Indeed, there was "not one piece of direct evidence that suggests that the flow of Ford dollars went to support 'terrorists,' unless [one] considers all Palestinian groups 'terrorist' supporters." But the facts made no difference to the massive campaign that ensued as leaders of major Zionist organizations, including the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, denounced the Ford Foundation and demanded congressional investigations. This outcry triggered threats from Democratic congressman Jerrold Nadler, who circulated a petition signed by twenty colleagues demanding that the Ford Foundation stop funding "anti-Israel hate groups."

The foundation, which had been "one of the few willing to endure criticism and still fund Palestinian groups," crumbled under pressure. Ford admitted it had been wrong, even though the allegations were simply false, and "embraced 'advisors' from the Jewish organizations to help assess" its grants. The fallout of the attack had a direct impact on universities because the Ford Foundation is also a major funder of their research. Capitulating to the Israel lobby groups, the foundation imposed a condition that universities receiving funding had to sign a letter including this statement: "By countersigning this grant letter, you agree that your organization will not promote or engage in violence, terrorism, bigotry or the destruction of any state, nor will it make sub-grants to any entity that engages in these activities." The term "destruction of any state" is a clear indication that, even though it is not named, this policy is all about Israel. Zionist organizations routinely claim that any advocacy for Palestinian rights that calls for the implementation of international law on the right of return of refugees, or abolishing laws that privilege Jews at the expense of Pales- tinians, is tantamount to calling for the "destruction of Israel" or even, in the David Project's new definition, bigotry. Although nine universities objected and negotiated a separate deal with the Ford Foundation, Cole laments that the policy stood with little outcry overall. Because of the Ford Foundation's size and influence, its imposition of content-related limitations on its grants was emulated by other major donors to university research, including the Rockefeller Foundation.

In this and other instances, the freedom to engage in Palestine-related speech, research, and teaching came under direct, intense attack, but these attacks were also used as levers for a much broader assault on the independence of universities by individuals and organizations intent on curtailing dissent or critical inquiry related to US global power and hegemony. These incidents serve as warnings that any institution where uncensored speech about Palestine takes place may find itself at the center of a congressional and media storm accusing it of supporting anything ranging from "anti-Americanism" to "terrorism" and the "destruction of Israel."

(c) 2014 Glenn Greenwald. is a journalist, constitutional lawyer, commentator, author of three New York Times best-selling books on politics and law, and a staff writer and editor at First Look media. His fifth book, No Place to Hide, about the U.S. surveillance state and his experiences reporting on the Snowden documents around the world, will be released in April 2014. Prior to his collaboration with Pierre Omidyar, Glenn's column was featured at Guardian US and Salon. His most recent book is, With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book"How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy," examines the Bush legacy. He is the recipient of the first annual I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism.

Words, Words, Words
By Uri Avnery

IMAGINE A war breaking out between Israel and Jordan. Within two or three days the Israeli army occupies the entire territory of the Hashemite Kingdom. What will be the first act of the occupation authority?

Establish a settlement in Petra? Expropriate land near Aqaba?

No. The very first thing will be to decree that the territory will henceforth be known as "Gilead and Moab."

All the media will be ordered to use the biblical name. All government and court documents will adopt it. Except for the radical Left, nobody will mention Jordan anymore. All applications by the inhabitants will be addressed to the Military Government of Gilead and Moab.

WHY? BECAUSE annexation starts with words.

Words convey ideas. Words implant concepts in the minds of their hearers and speakers. Once they are firmly established, everything else follows.

The writers of the Bible already knew this. They taught "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof." (Proverbs 18:21). For how many years now have we been eating the fruit of "Judea and Samaria"?

When Vladimir Putin last week restored the old name of "New Russia" to the territory of East Ukraine, it was not just a semantic change. It was a claim for annexation, more powerful than a salvo of cannon shots.

RECENTLY I listened to a speech by a left-wing politician, and was disturbed when she spoke at length about her struggle for a "political settlement" with the Palestinians.

When I remonstrated with her, she apologized. It was a slip of the tongue. She had not meant it that way.

In Israeli politics, the word "peace" has become poison. "Political settlement" is the vogue term. It is meant to say the same. But of course, it doesn't.

"Peace" means much more than the formal end of warfare. It contains elements of reconciliation, of something spiritual. In Hebrew and Arabic, Shalom/Salaam include wellbeing, safety and serve as greetings. "Political settlement" means nothing but a document formulated by lawyers and signed by politicians.

The "Peace of Westphalia" put an end to 30 years of war and changed the life of Europe. One may wonder whether a "Political settlement of Westphalia" would have had the same effect.

The Bible enjoins us: "Seek peace and pursue it!" (Psalms, 34:14) It does not say "Seek a political settlement and pursue it."

When the Israeli Left gives up the term Peace, this is not a tactical retreat. It is a rout. Peace is a vision, a political ideal, a religious commandment, an inspiring idea. Political Settlement is a subject for discussion.

PEACE IS not the only victim of semantic terrorism. Another is, of course, the West Bank.

All TV channels have long ago been ordered by the government not to use this term. Most journalists in the written media also march in step. They call it "Judea and Samaria."

"Judea and Samaria" means that the territory belongs to Israel, even if official annexation may be delayed for political reasons. "West Bank" means that this is occupied territory.

By itself, there is nothing sacred about the term "West Bank", which was adopted by the Jordanian ruler when he illegally incorporated the area in his newly extended kingdom. This was done in secret collusion with David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first Prime Minister, who wanted to erase the name "Palestine" from the map. The legal basis was a phony conference of Palestinian "notables" in Jericho.

King Abdallah of Jordan divided his fief into the East Bank (of the Jordan river) and the West Bank.

So why do we insist on using this term? Because it means that this is not a part of Israel, but Arab land that will belong - like the Gaza Strip - to the State of Palestine when peace (sorry, a Political Settlement) is achieved.

Until now, the semantic battle remains undecided. Most Israelis talk about the "West Bank". "Judea and Samaria" has remained, in common parlance, the realm of the settlers.

THE SETTLERS, of course, are the subject of a similar semantic battle.

In Hebrew, there are two terms: Mitnahalim and Mityashvim. They essentially mean the same. But in common usage, people use Mitnahalim when they mean the settlers in the occupied territories, and Mityashvim when they speak about settlers in Israel proper.

The battle between these two words goes on daily. It is a fight for or against the legitimacy of the settlement beyond the Green Line. Up to now, our side seems to have the upper hand. The distinction remains intact. If someone uses the term Mityashvim, they are automatically identified with the political Right.

The Green Line itself is, of course, the leftist concept. It makes a clear distinction between Israel proper and the occupied territories. The color comes from the fact that this border - actually the 1949 armistice line - was always marked on the maps in green.


Until the (left-wing) Minister of Labor, Yigal Alon, decreed that henceforth the Green Line would no longer be marked on any map. Under an old law dating back to the British Mandate, the government owns the copyright for all maps printed in the country, and the Minister of Labor was in charge.

This remained so until Gush Shalom sued the government in the Supreme Court. Our argument was that since on the two sides of this line different laws apply, the citizens must have a map that shows them what law they have to obey at a given place. The ministry gave in and promised the court that it would print maps with the Green Line marked.

For lack of an alternative, all Israelis use the term "Green Line". Since Rightists do not recognize this line at all, they have not invented an alternative word. For some time they tried the term "Seam-Line", but this did not catch on.

A LINE between what? At the beginni

ng of the occupation, the question arose what to call the areas just conquered. We of the peace camp called them, of course, "occupied territories". The Right called them "liberated territories" and floated the slogan "Liberated territories will not be returned", a catchy rhyme in Hebrew. The government called them "administered territories" and later "disputed territories".

The general public just settled for "the territories" - and that is the term used nowadays by everybody who has no interest in stressing his or her political conviction every time these areas are mentioned.

THIS RAISES the question about the Wall.

When the government decided to create a physical obstacle between Israel and the Occupied Territories - partly for expansion, partly for genuine security reasons - a name was needed. It is built mainly on occupied land, annexing in practice large areas. It is a fence in open areas, a wall in built-up ones. So we simply called it "the Wall" or "the Fence", and started weekly demonstrations.

The "Wall/Fence" became odious around the world. So the army looked around for a term that sounded non-ideological and chose "separation obstacle". However, this term now appears only in official documents.

WITH WHOM are we negotiating about the Political Settlement? Ah, there is the rub.

For generations, the Zionist movement and the State of Israel denied the very existence of a Palestinian people. In the 1993 Oslo Agreement, this idiotic pretense was dropped and we recognized the PLO as the "representative of the Palestinian people". But the Palestinian state was not mentioned, and until this very day our government abhors the terms "Palestinian state" or "State of Palestine."

Even today the term "Palestinians" evokes conscious or unconscious rejection. Most commentators speak about a political settlement with "our neighbors" - by which they do not mean the Egyptians, Jordanians, Syrians or Lebanese, but You Know Who.

In Oslo, the PLO negotiators strenuously insisted that their new state-in-the-making should be called the "Palestinian National Authority". The Israeli side vehemently objected to the word "National". So the agreement (actually a "Statement of Principles") calls it the "Palestinian Authority" and the Palestinians themselves call it the "Palestinian National Authority". Palestinians who need urgent medical treatment in Israeli hospitals are turned back if they bring financial documents signed by the "Palestinian National Authority".

SO THE fight goes on along the semantic front. For me, the really crucial part is the fight for the word Peace. We must reinstate it as the central word in our vocabulary. Clearly, loudly, proudly.

As the hymn of the peace movement (written by Yankele Rotblit as an appeal by the fallen soldiers to the living) says:

"Therefore, sing a song to peace / Don't whisper a prayer / Sing a song to peace / In a loud shout!"
(c) 2014 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

USA: Bad Jobs Country
By Glen Ford

A new study shows that the U.S. economy has finally produced more jobs than there were before the Great Recession of 2008. The problem is, they're mostly bad jobs in fast-food restaurants and low-wage retail. The National Employment Law Project found that there are almost two million fewer good paying jobs than there were back in 2008, but also close to two million more jobs in the low-wage sector of the economy - meaning, most of the new jobs have been bad jobs.

Actually, the change in the jobs picture during the Great Recession was just a speeded up version of what capitalism has been producing in the United States for more than 30 years. It is by design. Every time employers have turned the screws on labor, in terms of wages, benefits and jobs security, Wall Street has rewarded those companies. The Lords of Capital have also richly rewarded the politicians from both parties for removing the remaining obstacles to the direct rule of the rich.

Capital's global plan is to reduce all workers to a state of absolute insecurity, so that they will accept those bad jobs without complaint. That requires the destruction of what we used to call the social safety net - a term that sounds increasingly quaint in the dog-eat-dog environment engineered into the system by Wall Street.

Make no mistake about it: austerity is the common program of both the business parties. That's why you will hear no countervailing vision from the Democrats, whose message differs from Republicans only in tone, not in substance. Both answer to the Lords of Capital.

Barack Obama, the great actor and political chameleon, pretends to commiserate with his Democratic minority and working class constituents. Like his mentor, Bill Clinton, Obama claims to feel their pain. Yet, he is feverishly working to pass trade treaties that will further establish the legal structures of the global race to the bottom - treaties so blatantly biased towards corporations and against every principle of democracy and national sovereignty, that the language must be kept secret.

However, the main problem for American workers isn't that Wall Street's economic and social plans are secret - because, for the most part, they're not. Big Capital's intentions have been quite clear for decades. The NAFTA trade treaty has been savaging U.S. factory workers and Mexican peasants for 20 years. The Democrats were in power when the banks were set free to loot and plunder 15 years ago. Every employment study has tracked the steady decline of union membership, which the Democrats have done virtually nothing to reverse. That's quite understandable since finance capital has steadily increased its campaign contributions to Democrats. None of this has been a secret, and no one should be surprised that, as a result, most new jobs are bad jobs. As far as Wall Street is concerned, that's good news.

What makes the current era different from the past, is that neither of the business parties even bothers to pretend that it has a plan for a good jobs society. That means the people must put forward their own plan, through their own organizations - and learn to avoid the Democrats, whose job is to nip genuine people's movements in the bud, so as not to disturb the corporate order.
(c) 2014 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

US 'Pivots', China Reaps Dividends
By Pepe Escobar

Let's start with a flashback to February 1992 - only two months after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. First draft of the US government's Defense Planning Guidance. It was later toned down, but it still formed the basis for the exceptionalist dementia incarnated by the Project for the New American Century; and also reappeared in full glory in Dr Zbig "Let's Rule Eurasia" Brzezinski's 1997 magnum opus The Grand Chessboard.

It's all there, raw, rough and ready:

Our first objective is to prevent the reemergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed by the Soviet Union. This ... requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power. These regions include Western Europe, East Asia, the territory of the former Soviet Union, and Southwest Asia.
That's all one needs to know about the Obama administration's "pivoting to Asia", as well as the pivoting to Iran ("if we're not going to war", as US Secretary of State John Kerry let it slip) and the pivoting to Cold War 2.0, as in using Ukraine as a "new Vietnam" remix next door to Russia. And that's also the crucial context for Obama's Pax Americana Spring collection currently unrolling in selected Asian catwalks (Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and Philippines).

Obama's Asia tour started this week in full regalia at the famed Jiro restaurant in Ginza, Tokyo, ingesting hopefully non-Fukushima radiated nigiri sushi (disclosure: I was there way back in 1998, when sushi master Jiro Ono was far from a celebrity and the sushi was far from atomic). Obama's host, hardcore nationalist/militarist Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, obviously picked up the bill. But the real bill comes later, as in Japan bowing to strict US demands - on trade, investment, corporate law and intellectual property rights - embedded in the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is code for American Big Business finally cracking open the heavily protected Japanese market.

Abe is a tough customer. His rhetoric is heavy on "escaping the post-war regime", as in re-weaponizing Japan and not playing second fiddle militarily to Washington in Asia anymore. The Pentagon obviously has other ideas. Post-sushi at Jiro, what matters for Obama is to force Tokyo to bend over not only on TPP but also on keeping the weaponizing subordinated to the larger US agenda.

Beijing, predictably, sees all that for what it really is, as expressed in this Xinhua op-ed; the actions of an "anachronistic", "sclerotic" and "myopic" superpower that needs to "shake off its historical and philosophical shackles."

The Southeast Asia leg of the Spring collection tour is all about making sure to Malaysia and Philippines, not as strong militarily as Vietnam, that the US Navy will never be replaced as the hegemon in the South China Sea - or even allow China to reach parity with it. It's at the heart of the "pivoting to Asia" as containment of China, whose aim is preventing China from becoming a naval power simultaneously in the Indian Ocean and the Western Pacific.

The Pentagon is predictably paranoid, accusing China of waging not only one but "three warfares" against the US. The fact is Beijing is developing a state-of-the-art underground base for 20 nuclear submarines in Hainan island just as Malaysia boosts its own submarine base in Borneo and the Philippines keeps imploring Washington for more planes, ships, airstrips and cyber capabilities as protection for what it regards as its absolute priority: explore for oil and gas in the West Philippine Sea to boost the economy.

Radiate me with trade deals, baby

The Spring collection is far from derailing other pivoting - whose latest offering is the current "anti-terrorist" campaign in eastern Ukraine by the Kiev regime changers, which follows a most curious calendar. CIA's John Brennan hits Kiev, and the regime changers launch their first war on terra. Dismal failure ensues. Vice President Joe Biden visits Kiev and the regime changers, right on cue, relaunch their war on terra.

Thus the pivoting to Cold War 2.0 proceeds unabated, as in Washington working hard to build an iron curtain between Berlin and Moscow - preventing further trade integration across Eurasia - via instigation of a civil war in Ukraine. German Chancellor Angela Merkel remains on the spot: it's either Atlantic high-fidelity or her Ostpolitik - and that's exactly where Washington wants her.

As for the batshit crazy factions fully deployed across the Beltway revolving door, everything goes, from "warning" China not to pull a Crimea to advocating war in Syria and even the North Atlantic Treaty Organization entering a nuclear war, as shown here by the appropriately denominated Anne Marie Slaughter. This is what she's teaching her exceptionalist students at Princeton.

How's Beijing reacting to all this hysteria? Simple: by reaping dividends. Beijing wins with the US offensive trying to alienate Moscow from Western markets by getting a better pricing deal on the supply of Eastern Siberian gas. Beijing wins from the European Union's fear of losing trade with Russia by negotiating a free-trade agreement with its largest trading partner, which happens to the be the EU.

And then, the sterling example. Just compare Obama's Spring collection tour, as a pivoting appendix, to the current tour of Cuba, Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. It's a business bonanza, focused on bilateral financing and, what else, trade deals.

It's all in the mix: Peruvian and Chilean copper; Brazilian iron and soybeans; support for Venezuelan social programs and energy development; support for Cuba in its interest for greater Chinese involvement in Venezuela, which supplies Cuba with subsidized energy.

And all this against the background of a Beltway so excited that the Chinese economy is in deep trouble. It's not - it grew at 7.4% year-on-year for the first quarter of 2014. Demand for iron and copper won't significantly slow down - as the Beijing-driven urbanization drive has not even reached full speed. Same for soybeans - as millions of Chinese increasingly start eating meat on a regular basis (soybean products are a crucial feedstock). And, of course, Chinese companies will not losee their appetite for diversifying all across South America.

For the large, upcoming Chinese middle class - on their way to becoming full-fledged members of the number one economic power in the world by 2018 - this Spring collection is a non-starter. He or she would rather hit Hong Kong and queue up in Canton Road to buy loads of Hermes and Prada - and then strategically celebrate with Jiro quality, non-Fukushima-radiated, sushi.
(c) 2014 Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times. His latest book is "Obama Does Globalistan." He may be reached at

Rick Perry's Magic Glasses

He's back. And, this time, he has eyeglasses.

Yes, Rick "Oops" Perry, is back, pitching himself for another presidential run. What fun! Who can forget the Texas governor's nationally-televised pratfall during a 2011 presidential debate, when he couldn't remember the third federal agency he intended to ax? Well, he later sniffed, "If anybody's looking for... the smoothest debater, I readily admit I'm not that person."

But Rick, you weren't "debating," you were simply trying to recite your own three talking points. One, two... oops! And the issue isn't whether you're smooth, but whether you're stupid - way too stupid to be President of the United States of America. That's a role in which this Texan would need to match wits, not with such lamebrains as Rick Santorum or Michele Bachmann, but Vladimir Putin.

But wait - there's a new Rick! As mentioned, this go-round he's sporting black-framed, designer eyeglasses, which his makeover consultants insist make him look smarter. Actually, the bespectacled Perry looks like a guy squinting at the thermostat to see if he can get his IQ up to room temperature.

This is the governor who's been hunkered down for 14 years as the chief executive of the state with the highest percentage of people with no health coverage, the second-highest percentage of children with no health insurance, and numero uno in the nation for women without coverage. Then, when Obamacare was made available to provide insurance for millions of Texans, this mensa in eyeglasses said hell no, we don't want no government-provided health benefits.

"We?" For his entire 30 year career in political office, Perry & family have gladly accepted platinum-level health benefits from the government for themselves. I'm guessing that even those $500 glasses he's wearing were put on the taxpayers' tab.
(c) 2014 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition.

If War Was Funded Like College Tuition
By David Swanson

Are you as tired as I am of news stories about college tuition costs rising? I've been out of college for many years, and you'd have to pay me to go back, but this is ridiculous.

To see how ridiculous, try a little thought experiment. Imagine opening your newspaper and reading this:

"War and War Preparations Costs to U.S. Households Rose Again This Year

"Continuing a decades-long trend, the cost each U.S. resident pays for his or her wars and war preparations rose 5.3 percent this year.

"With all costs of the U.S. military, across numerous government departments, reaching $1.2 trillion annually, according to Chris Hellman of the National Priorities Project, and with a U.S. population of 314 million people, bills to those opting for war-making as their foreign policy choice this year came to $3,822 each -- not counting room, board, and books."

Of course, that bill is for anyone who supports the U.S. government's spending priorities and anyone who doesn't, and it's a bill for every person, from disabled senior citizen to new-born infant.

It's a bill that might strike some as a bit high. So, here's one way this imaginary news story might develop:

"In an expanding trend, thousands of Americans opted for a smaller military investment this year. Choosing to pay their share of a military the size of China's -- $188 billion, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute -- some war consumers bought the $599 war plan this year.

"Others opted for the Russian model at a cost of $280. But with polls showing that Americans believe Iran to be the greatest threat to peace, the Iranian-sized military has become this year's most rapid climber in the rankings; of course, the $20 price tag doesn't hurt.

"Buddy Beaverton of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, remarked at the post office as he mailed a check: 'If we could have Canada's annual supply of wars for $59 each, why should I have to pay $3,822? It's bad enough they've got cheaper prescription drugs that we're not allowed to buy!'"

Mr. Beaverton would have a point. Some other nations that don't invest in wars and war preparations the way the United States does also make college education free or affordable -- and still have plenty of money to spare for frivolous luxuries like healthcare or energy systems that don't render the planet unlivable.

What would our lives be like if college were as free and unquestionable as military spending is now, but military spending arrived as an optional bill?

Those who didn't want it could choose not to pay. Those who wanted a coast guard, a national guard, and some anti-aircraft weapons could chip in a few bucks. Those who wanted a bit more than that could pay a bit more.

And those who wanted troops in 175 nations, aircraft carriers in every sea, enough nuclear weapons to destroy life on several planets, and fleets of drones with which to traumatize and antagonize several nations at once -- well, they could pay their $3,822, plus of course another $3,822 for anybody opting out.

What a naive proposal! Left to individual choice, the commons would be destroyed, and our national defense would crumble!

Really? People in the United States give over $300 billion to charity each year. Nobody forces them to. If they believed weapons and wars were the most important cause to donate their dollars to, they'd do it. No nation on earth spends $300 billion or anywhere close to it on its military, other than the United States.

And with the government no longer funding the military in its socialistic manner, it might choose instead to fund many of the humanitarian causes to which private charity is now largely devoted. Private giving could take care of the Pentagon.

But if wisdom about the counter-productive results of militarism spread, if nonviolent alternatives were learned, if free college had a positive impact on our collective intellect, and if the fact that we could end global poverty or halt global warming for a fraction of current military spending leaked out, who knows? Maybe militarism would fail in the free market.
(c) 2014 David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie."

Dancing Around The Maypole

By James Donahue

Rituals welcoming the end of winter and the entrance of spring were common among the Celtics and Germanic people of ancient times. The celebration of May Day, another cross-quarter day marked among the pagans living in the Northern Hemisphere, has been pictured as children happily dancing around a Maypole, their hands clutching a bright colored ribbon attached to the pole.

Maypoles were popular throughout Europe. During the May Day celebration, people danced around the pole. Often a brass band was playing. The practice was abandoned and in some cases declared illegal after Christianity arrived.

The name May Day took on a new meaning during the Nineteenth Century when working class people engaged in a struggle to force employers to improve working conditions. Workers sought eight-hour work days, safer working conditions and better pay.

The Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions, during its national convention in Chicago in 1884, marked May 1, 1886, to be the date when a legal day of labor would be no more than eight hours. The next year, in 1885, various Knights of Labor locals backed up that proclamation and threatened to support the idea of an eight-hour work day by strikes and demonstrations.

When the big day arrived, more than 300,000 workers in 13,000 businesses in the United States walked off their jobs in what became the first May Day event in history. The epicenter for the union strikers was Chicago, where 40,000 workers struck their jobs. There were demonstrations and fiery speeches in the streets.

The protests grew. More and more workers walked off their jobs in the following days. Then on May 3, 1886, the police intervened at the McCormick Reaper Works where the Steelworkers Union workers were striking. Police used clubs, the strikers responded by throwing rocks, and finally the police began firing into the crowd. Two workers died and many others were injured in what is still remembered as the Haymarket Massacre.

The capitalists despised what became known as an anarchist movement. The media supported big business interests and anarchism became synonymous with socialism and un-American activity.

The unions in America and throughout Europe grew in power and helped create what has been called the Middle Class. May Day evolved into International Workers Day. But as we all know, big corporate powers have slowly eroded the power of the unions. With international trade agreements that have allowed large industrial corporations to move operations overseas in search of cheap non-union labor, shipments of goods into North America without paying tariffs, and with the invention of "right-to-work" states (where workers are not required to join unions to have jobs), unions are disappearing. And with them are going the Middle Class.

The significance of May Day has been all but lost.
(c) 2014 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles. He currently produces daily articles for this web site.

FCC Headquarters

Net Neutrality Will Be Saved Only If Citizens Raise An Outcry
By John Nichols

When Barack Obama was running for president in 2007, he earned a great deal of credibility with tech-savvy voters by expressing support for net neutrality that was rooted in an understanding that this issue raises essential questions about the future of open, free and democratic communications in America.

Obama "got" that net neutrality represented an Internet-age equivalent of the First Amendment-a guarantee of equal treatment for all content, as opposed to special rights to speed and quality of service for the powerful business and political elites that can buy an advantage.

Asked whether he thought the Federal Communications Commission and Congress needed to preserve the Internet as we know it, the senator from Illinois said, "The answer is 'yes.' I am a strong supporter of net neutrality."

"What you've been seeing is some lobbying that says that the servers and the various portals through which you're getting information over the Internet should be able to be gatekeepers and to charge different rates to different Web sites," explained Obama, who warned that with such a change in standards "you could get much better quality from the Fox News site and you'd be getting rotten service from the mom and pop sites."

Obama's bottom line: "That I think destroys one of the best things about the Internet-which is that there is this incredible equality there."

Candidate Obama was exactly right.

So was President Obama when, in 2010, the White House declared that "President Obama is strongly committed to net neutrality in order to keep an open Internet that fosters investment, innovation, consumer choice, and free speech."

And President Obama certainly sounded right in January 2014, when he said, "I have been a strong supporter of net neutrality. The new commissioner of the FCC, Tom Wheeler, whom I appointed, I know is a strong supporter of net neutrality."

The president expressed that confidence in Wheeler, even as concerns were raised about an appointee who had previously worked as a cable and wireless industry lobbyist.

Now, barely three months after the president identified him as "a strong supporter of net neutrality," Wheeler has rolled out a proposal that our most digitally engaged newspaper, The Guardian, delicately suggests would "axe-murder Net Neutrality."

According to Los Angeles Times tech writer Jim Puzzanghera, the plan "would allow Internet service providers to charge companies for faster delivery of their content."

Gabe Rottman, an American Civil Liberties Union legislative counsel and policy advisor who focuses on First Amendment issues, correctly explains, "If the FCC embraces this reported reversal in its stance toward net neutrality, barriers to innovation will rise, the marketplace of ideas on the Internet will be constrained, and consumers will ultimately pay the price."

Wheeler tried to soften the blow by claiming that criticisms from public-interest groups, based on initial reports about his plan, were "flat-out wrong." "There is no 'turnaround in policy,'" Wheeler announced. "The same rules will apply to all Internet content. As with the original Open Internet rules, and consistent with the court's decision, behavior that harms consumers or competition will not be permitted."

But, after reviewing "the outlines of the proposal released by [Wheeler's] office on Wednesday," Puzzanghera's "Tech Now" report explained that:

Although the plan would reinstate the agency's prohibition against Internet providers from blocking any legal content, it would allow phone and cable companies to charge Netflix and other companies to put their content in a super-fast lane on the information superhighway.

The plan appears to violate a basic principle of net neutrality that all similar content should be treated equally.

Tim Karr, of the media reform group Free Press, says: "All evidence suggests that Wheeler's proposal is a betrayal of Obama and of the millions of people who have called on the FCC to put in place strong and enforceable net neutrality protections."

The Future of Music Coalition's Casey Rae argues that any FCC initiative that establishes a model for speeding up delivery of content for paying customers is "not 'net neutrality.'"

The risk, says Rae is that, "the Internet in America will now be carved into a fast lane for well-heeled corporations and a dirt road for everyone else."

"These proposed rules not only don't go far enough to safeguard consumers, they actively marginalize smaller and independent voices," explains Rae, who says, "Artists, developers, culture workers, media-makers, nonprofit organizations, community, civic and church groups must tell the FCC that this isn't good enough. We need real rules of the road for ISPs to guarantee that creative expression and entrepreneurship can thrive in the online ecosystem. FMC and our allies look forward to making this case in the upcoming rulemaking after May 15."

Rae's point is an important one. The process is just beginning. It can be influenced by content creators, consumers and citizen activists who understand that in this age of digital communications a broken Internet will lead to a broken democracy. It can even be influenced by the president and members of Congress, who ought to speak up, loudly, in favor of the right approach to net neutrality.

There are two simple steps to take:

1. Recognize that there is a right response to court rulings that have rejected the complex and ill-thought approaches that the FCC has up to now taken with regard to net neutrality. The right response is to reclassify broadband Internet access as a telecommunications service that can be regulated in the public interest.

When the FCC's clumsy previous attempt at establishing net neutrality protections was rejected in January by the US District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the court did not say that the commission lacked regulatory authority-simply that it needed a better approach. As David Sohn, general legal counsel at the Center for Democracy & Technology, notes, the court opinion laid out "exactly how the FCC essentially tied its own hands in the case, and makes it clear that the FCC has the power to fix the problem.",P. "The Court upheld the FCC's general authority to issue rules aimed at spurring broadband deployment, and accepted the basic policy rationale for Internet neutrality as articulated by the FCC," explains Sohn. "The arguments in favor of Internet neutrality are as strong as ever, but prior FCC decisions on how to treat broadband have painted the agency into a corner. Those decisions are not set in stone, however, and the ball is now back in the FCC's court. The FCC should reconsider its classification of broadband Internet access and reestablish its authority to enact necessary safeguards for Internet openness."

The approach that Wheeler is now proposing continues down the wrong course, and actually veers into even more dangerous territory with its outline for a pay-to-play "fast lane" on the Internet. But this proposal can be altered or rejected by the full commission. In other words, the reclassification option can still be pursued.

2. Recognize that this is the time to send a clear signal of support for genuine net neutrality. The FCC has listened in the past when a public outcry has been raised, on media ownership issues, diversity issues and Internet access issues. Wheeler is a new chairman. It's vital to communicate to him, and to the other members of the commission that President Obama was right when he said that establishing "fast lanes" on the Internet "destroys one of the best things about the Internet-which is that there is this incredible equality there."

Dozens of public interest groups, ranging from the American Civil Liberties Union to the Government Accountability Project to the PEN American Center to Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting and the National Hispanic Media Coalition have urged the FCC to do the right thing. The "Save the Internet" coalition has a track record of rapidly mobilizing Americans to thwart wrongheaded moves by the FCC.

They're already up and at it, with a petition urging Wheeler and the FCC to "scrap" approaches that won't work and "restore the principle of online nondiscrimination by reclassifying broadband as a telecommunications service."

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders says, "Our free and open Internet has made invaluable contributions to democracy both here in the United States and around the world. Whether you are rich, poor, young or old, the Internet allows all people to seek out information and communicate globally. We must not turn over our democracy to the highest bidder."

Sanders is right about that-especially when he recognizes the vital link between technology and democracy. A free and open Internet is essential to modern democracy. But that freedom and openness will be maintained only if Americans use their great democratic voice to demand it.

There is a way to save net neutrality. And if ever there was a time for citizens to urge the FCC to go the right way, this is it.
(c) 2014 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His new book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, has just been published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

Occupy Wall Street activists Eric Linkser, center left, and Cecily McMillan, far right,
take turns shouting information to fellow protesters preparing to return to Zuccotti Park

The Crime Of Peaceful Protest
by Chris Hedges

NEW YORK-Cecily McMillan, wearing a red dress and high heels, her dark, shoulder-length hair stylishly curled, sat behind a table with her two lawyers Friday morning facing Judge Ronald A. Zweibel in Room 1116 at the Manhattan Criminal Court. The judge seems to have alternated between boredom and rage throughout the trial, now three weeks old. He has repeatedly thrown caustic barbs at her lawyers and arbitrarily shut down many of the avenues of defense. Friday was no exception.

The silver-haired Zweibel curtly dismissed a request by defense lawyers Martin Stolar and Rebecca Heinegg for a motion to dismiss the case. The lawyers had attempted to argue that testimony from the officer who arrested McMillan violated Fifth Amendment restrictions against the use of comments made by a defendant at the time of arrest. But the judge, who has issued an unusual gag order that bars McMillan's lawyers from speaking to the press, was visibly impatient, snapping, "This debate is going to end." He then went on to uphold his earlier decision to heavily censor videos taken during the arrest, a decision Stolar said "is cutting the heart out of my ability to refute" the prosecution's charge that McMillan faked a medical seizure in an attempt to avoid being arrested. "I'm totally handicapped," Stolar lamented to Zweibel.

The trial of McMillan, 25, is one of the last criminal cases originating from the Occupy protest movement. It is also one of the most emblematic. The state, after the coordinated nationwide eradication of Occupy encampments, has relentlessly used the courts to harass and neutralize Occupy activists, often handing out long probation terms that come with activists' forced acceptance of felony charges. A felony charge makes it harder to find employment and bars those with such convictions from serving on juries or working for law enforcement. Most important, the long probation terms effectively prohibit further activism.

The Occupy Wall Street movement was not only about battling back against the rise of a corporate oligarchy that has sabotaged our democracy and made war on the poor and the working class. It was also about our right to peaceful protest. The police in cities across the country have been used to short-circuit this right. I watched New York City police during the Occupy protests yank people from sidewalks into the street, where they would be arrested. I saw police routinely shove protesters and beat them with batons. I saw activists slammed against police cars. I saw groups of protesters suddenly herded like sheep to be confined within police barricades. I saw, and was caught up in, mass arrests in which those around me were handcuffed and then thrown violently onto the sidewalk. The police often blasted pepper spray into faces from inches away, temporarily blinding the victims. This violence, carried out against nonviolent protesters, came amid draconian city ordinances that effectively outlawed protest and banned demonstrators from public spaces. It was buttressed by heavy police infiltration and surveillance of the movement. When the press or activists attempted to document the abuse by police they often were assaulted or otherwise blocked from taking photographs or videos. The message the state delivered is clear: Do not dissent. And the McMillan trial is part of the process.

McMillan, who spent part of her childhood living in a trailer park in rural Texas and who now is a graduate student at The New School for Social Research in New York, found herself with several hundred other activists at Zuccotti Park in Manhattan in March 2012 to mark the six-month anniversary of the start of Occupy Wall Street. The city, fearing the re-establishment of an encampment, deployed large numbers of police officers to clear the park just before midnight of that March 17. The police, heavily shielded, stormed into the gathering in fast-moving lines. Activists were shoved, hit, knocked to the ground. Some ran for safety. More than 100 people were arrested on the anniversary. After the violence, numerous activists would call the police aggression perhaps the worst experienced by the Occupy movement. In the mayhem McMillan-whose bruises were photographed and subsequently were displayed to Amy Goodman on the "Democracy Now!" radio, television and Internet program-was manhandled by a police officer later identified as Grantley Bovell. [Click here to see McMillan interviewed on "Democracy Now!" She appears in the last 10 minutes of the program.]

Bovell, who was in plainclothes and who, according to McMillan, did not identify himself as a policeman, allegedly came up from behind and grabbed McMillan's breast-a perverse form of assault by New York City police that other female activists, too, suffered during Occupy protests. McMillan's elbow made contact with his face, just below the eye, in what she says appeared to be a reaction to the grope; she says she has no memory of the incident. By the end of the confrontation she was lying on the ground bruised, beaten and convulsing. She was taken to a hospital emergency room, where police handcuffed her to a bed.

Had McMillan not been an Occupy activist, the trial that came out of this beating would have been about her receiving restitution from New York City for police abuse. Instead, she is charged with felony assault in the second degree and facing up to seven years in prison. She is expected to take the witness stand this week.

McMillan's journey from a rural Texas backwater to a courtroom in New York is a journey of political awakening. Her parents, divorced when she was small, had little money. At times she lived with her mother, who had jobs at a Dillard's department store, as an accountant for a pool hall and later, after earning a degree, as a registered nurse doing shifts of 60 to 70 hours in hospitals and nursing homes. There were also painful stretches of unemployment. Her mother, from Mexico, was circumspect about revealing her ethnicity in the deeply white conservative community, one in which blacks and other minorities were not welcome. She never taught her son and daughter Spanish. As a girl McMillan saw her mother struggle with severe depression and, in one terrifying instance, taken to a hospital after she passed out from an overdose of prescription pills. For periods, McMillan, her brother and her mother survived on welfare, and they moved often; she attended 13 schools, including five high schools. Her father worked at a Domino's Pizza shop, striving in vain to become a manager.

Racism was endemic in the area. There was a sign in the nearby town of Vidor, not far from the Louisiana state line, that read: "If you are dark get out before dark." It had replaced an earlier sign that said: "Don't let the sun set on your ass nigger."

The families around the McMillans struggled with all the problems that come with poverty-alcoholism, drug abuse, domestic and sexual violence and despair. Cecily's brother is serving a seven-year sentence for drug possession in Texas.

"I grew up around the violence of poverty," she told me as she lit another cigarette while I interviewed her Thursday night in an apartment in Harlem. She smoked nearly nonstop during our conversation. "It was normative."

Her parents worked hard to fit into the culture of rural Texas. She said she competed as a child in a beauty pageant called Tiny Miss Valentines of Texas. She was on a cheerleading team. She ran track.

"My parents tried," McMillan said. "They wanted to give us everything. They wanted us to have a lifestyle we could be proud of. My parents, because we were ... at times poor, were ashamed of who we were. I asked my mother to buy Tommy Hilfiger clothes at the Salvation Army and cut off the insignias and sew them onto my old clothes. I was afraid of being made fun of at school. My mother got up at 5 in the morning before work and made us pigs in a blanket, putting the little sausages into croissants. She wanted my brother and myself to be proud of her. She really did a lot with so very little."

McMillan spent most of her summers with her paternal grandparents in Atlanta. They opened her to another world. She attended a Spanish-language camp. She went to blues and jazz festivals. She attended a theater summer camp called Seven Stages that focused on cultural and political perspectives. When she was a teenager she wrote collective theater pieces, including one in which she wore the American flag as a burka and sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" as a character dressed as Darth Vader walked onto the stage. "My father was horrified," she said. "He walked out of the theater."

As a 13-year-old she was in a play called "I Hate Anne Frank." "It was about American sensationalism," she said. "It asked how the entire experience of the Holocaust could be turned for many people into a girl's positive narrative, a disgusting false optimism. It was not well received."

Art, and especially theater, awakened her to the realities endured by others, from Muslims in the Middle East to the black underclass in the United States. And, unlike in the Texas towns where she grew up, she made black friends in Atlanta. She began to wonder about the lives of the African-Americans who lived near her in rural Texas. What was it like for them? How did they endure racism? Did black women suffer the way her mother suffered? She began to openly question and challenge the conventions and assumptions of the white community around her. She read extensively, falling in love with the work of Albert Camus.

"I would miss bus stops because I would be reading 'The Stranger' or 'The Plague,'" she said. "Existentialism to me was beautiful. It said the world is shit. It said this is the lot humanity is given. But human beings have to try their best. They swim and they swim and they swim against the waves until they can't swim any longer. You can choose to view these waves as personal attacks against you and give up, or you can swim. And Camus said you should not sell out for a lifeboat. These forces are impersonal. They are structural. I learned from Camus how to live and how to die with dignity."

She attended Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis., under a scholarship. After graduating, she worked as a student teacher in inner-city schools in Chicago. She joined the Young Democratic Socialists. She enrolled at The New School for Social Research in New York City in the fall of 2011 to write a master's thesis on Jane Addams, Hull House and the settlement movement. The Occupy Wall Street demonstrations began in the city six days after she arrived at the school. She said that at first she was disappointed with the Occupy encampment in Zuccotti Park. She felt it lacked political maturity. She had participated in the political protests in Madison, Wis., in early 2011, and the solidarity of government workers, including police, that she saw there deeply influenced her feelings about activism. She came away strongly committed to nonviolence.

"Police officers sat down to occupy with us," she said of the protests in Madison. "It was unprecedented. We were with teachers, the fire department, police and students. You walked around saying thank you to the police. You embraced police. [But then] I went to Occupy in New York and saw drum circles and people walking around naked. There was yoga. I thought, what is this? I thought for many protesters this was just some social experiment they would go back to their academic institutions and write about. Where I come from people are hungry. Women are getting raped. Fathers and stepfathers beat the shit out of children. People die. ... Some people would rather not live."

"At first I looked at the occupiers and thought they were so bourgeois," she went on. "I thought they were trying to dress down their class by wearing all black. I was disgusted. But in the end I was wrong. I wasn't meeting them where they were. These were kids, some of whom had been to Harvard, Yale or Princeton, [who] were the jewels of their family's legacy. They were doing something radical. They had never been given the opportunity to have their voices heard, to have their own agency. They weren't clowns like I first thought. They were really brave. We learned to have conversations. And that was beautiful. And these people are my friends today."

She joined Occupy Wall Street's Demands Working Group, which attempted to draw up a list of core demands that the movement could endorse. She continued with her academic work at The New School for Social Research. She worked part time. She was visiting her grandmother, who was terminally ill in Atlanta, in November 2011 when the police cleared out the Zuccotti Park encampment. When she returned to the New School she took part in the occupation of school buildings, but some occupiers trashed the property, leading to a bitter disagreement between her and other activists. Radical elements in the movement who supported the property destruction held a "shadow trial" and condemned her as a "bureaucratic provocateur."

"I started putting together an Affinity Group after the New School occupation," she said. "I realized there was a serious problem between anarchists and socialists and democratic socialists. I wanted, like Bayard Rustin, to bring everyone together. I wanted to repair the fractured left. I wanted to build coalitions."

McMillan knows that the judge in her trial-who in one comment on the lawyers' judge-rating website The Robing Room is called "a prosecutor with a robe"-has stacked the deck against her.

The British newspaper The Guardian reported that Bovell, the policeman who McMillan says beat her, has been investigated at least twice by the internal affairs department of the New York City Police Department. In one of these cases, Bovell and his partner were sued for allegedly using an unmarked police car to strike a 17-year-old fleeing on a dirt bike. The teenager said his nose was broken, two teeth were knocked out and his forehead was lacerated. The case was settled out of court for a substantial amount of money. The officer was also captured on a video that appeared to show him kicking a suspect on the floor of a Bronx grocery.

In addition, Bovell was involved in a ticket-fixing scandal in his Bronx precinct.

Austin Guest, 33, a graduate of Harvard University who was arrested at Zuccotti Park on the night McMillan was assaulted, is suing Bovell for allegedly intentionally banging his head on the internal stairs of an MTA bus that took him and other activists in for processing.

The judge has ruled that Bovell's involvement in the cases stemming from the chasing of the youth on the dirt bike and the Guest arrest cannot be presented as evidence in the McMillan case.

The corporate state, which has proved utterly incapable of addressing the grievances and injustices endured by the underclass, is extremely nervous about the mass movements that have swept the country in recent years. And if protests erupt again-as I think they will-the state hopes it will have neutralized much of the potential leadership. Being an activist in peaceful mass protest is the only real "crime" McMillan has committed.

"Everyone should come and sit through this trial to see the facade that we call democracy," she said. "The resources one needs to even remotely have a chance in this system are beyond most people. Thank God I went to college and graduate school. Thank God Marty and Rebecca are my lawyers. Thank God I am an organizer and have some agency. I wait in line every day to go to court. I read above my head the words that read something like 'Justice Is the Foundation of Democracy.' And I wonder if this is 'Alice in Wonderland.' People of color, people who are poor, the people where I come from, do not have a chance for justice. Those people have no choice but to plea out. They can never win in court. I can fight it. This makes me a very privileged person. It is disgusting to think that this is what our democracy has come to. I am heartbreakingly sad for our country."
(c) 2014 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. He is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His latest book is, ""Death Of The Liberal Class."

Wall Street's Secret Swindle
By David Sirota

In the national debate over what to do about public pension shortfalls, here's something you may not know: The texts of the agreements signed between those pension funds and financial firms are almost always secret. Yes, that's right. Although they are public pensions that taxpayers contribute to and that public officials oversee, the exact terms of the financial deals being engineered in the public's name and with public money are typically not available to you, the taxpayer.

To understand why that should be cause for concern, ponder some possibilities as they relate to pension deals with hedge funds, private equity partnerships and other so-called "alternative investments." For example, it is possible that the secret terms of such agreements could allow other private individuals in the same investments to negotiate preferential terms for themselves, meaning public employees' pension money enriches those private investors. It is also possible that the secret terms of the agreements create the heads-Wall-Street-wins, tails-pensions-lose effect - the one whereby retirees' money is subjected to huge risks, yet financial firms' profits are guaranteed regardless of returns.

North Carolina exemplifies the latter problem. In a new report for the union representing that state's public employees, former Securities and Exchange Commission investigator Ted Siedle documents how secrecy is allowing financial firms to bilk the Teachers' and State Employees' Retirement System, which is the seventh largest public pension fund in America.

The first part of Siedle's report evaluates the secrecy.

"Today, TSERS assets are directly invested in approximately 300 funds and indirectly in hundreds more underlying funds, the names, investment practices, portfolio holdings, investment performances, fees, expenses, regulation, trading and custodian banking arrangements of which are largely unknown to stakeholders, the State Auditor and, indeed, to even the (State) Treasurer and her staff," he reports.

"As a result of the lack of transparency and accountability at TSERS, it is virtually impossible for stakeholders to know the answers to questions as fundamental as who is managing the money, what is it invested in and where is it?"

Before you claim this is just a minor problem, consider some numbers. According to Siedle's report, this huge pension system now is authorized to invest up to 35 percent - or $30 billion - of its assets in alternatives. Consider, too, that Siedle's report shows that with such a large allocation in these risky alternatives, the fund "has underperformed the average public plan by $6.8 billion."

So what is happening to retirees' money? As Siedle documents, more and more of it is going to pay the exorbitant fees charged by the Wall Street firms managing the pension money.

"Fees have skyrocketed over 1,000 percent since 2000 and have almost doubled since (2008) from $217 million to $416 million," he writes, adding that "annual fees and expenses will amount to approximately $1 billion in the near future."

The details get worse from there, which makes Siedle's report a genuine must-read for anyone who wants to understand the larger story of public pensions. After all, North Carolina is not an isolated incident. In state after state, the financial industry is citing modest public pension shortfalls to justify pushing those pensions to invest more money in riskier and riskier high-fee investments - and to do so in secret.

It is a story that isn't some minor issue. On the contrary, the fight over that $3 trillion is fast becoming one of the most important economic, business and political stories of modern times. The only question is whether the story can even be told - or whether those profiting off secrecy can continue hiding their schemes from the public.
(c) 2014 David Sirota is a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist, magazine journalist, a staff writer at PandoDaily and the best-selling author of "Hostile Takeover" and "The Uprising." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at E-mail him at David Sirota is a former spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee. Follow him on Twitter @davidsirota.

High Plains Moochers
By Paul Krugman

It is, in a way, too bad that Cliven Bundy - the rancher who became a right-wing hero after refusing to pay fees for grazing his animals on federal land, and bringing in armed men to support his defiance - has turned out to be a crude racist. Why? Because his ranting has given conservatives an easy out, a way to dissociate themselves from his actions without facing up to the terrible wrong turn their movement has taken.

For at the heart of the standoff was a perversion of the concept of freedom, which for too much of the right has come to mean the freedom of the wealthy to do whatever they want, without regard to the consequences for others.

Start with the narrow issue of land use. For historical reasons, the federal government owns a lot of land in the West; some of that land is open to ranching, mining and so on. Like any landowner, the Bureau of Land Management charges fees for the use of its property. The only difference from private ownership is that by all accounts the government charges too little - that is, it doesn't collect as much money as it could, and in many cases doesn't even charge enough to cover the costs that these private activities impose. In effect, the government is using its ownership of land to subsidize ranchers and mining companies at taxpayers' expense.

It's true that some of the people profiting from implicit taxpayer subsidies manage, all the same, to convince themselves and others that they are rugged individualists. But they're actually welfare queens of the purple sage.

And this in turn means that treating Mr. Bundy as some kind of libertarian hero is, not to put too fine a point on it, crazy. Suppose he had been grazing his cattle on land belonging to one of his neighbors, and had refused to pay for the privilege. That would clearly have been theft - and brandishing guns when someone tried to stop the theft would have turned it into armed robbery. The fact that in this case the public owns the land shouldn't make any difference.

So what were people like Sean Hannity of Fox News, who went all in on Mr. Bundy's behalf, thinking? Partly, no doubt, it was the general demonization of government - if someone looks as if he is defying Washington, he's a hero, never mind the details. Partly, one suspects, it was also about race - not Mr. Bundy's blatant racism, but the general notion that government takes money from hard-working Americans and gives it to Those People. White people who wear cowboy hats while profiting from government subsidies just don't fit the stereotype.

Most of all, however - or at least that's how it seems to me - the Bundy fiasco was a byproduct of the dumbing down that seems ever more central to the way America's right operates.

American conservatism used to have room for fairly sophisticated views about the role of government. Its economic patron saint used to be Milton Friedman, who advocated aggressive money-printing, if necessary, to avoid depressions. It used to include environmentalists who took pollution seriously but advocated market-based solutions like cap-and-trade or emissions taxes rather than rigid rules.

But today's conservative leaders were raised on Ayn Rand's novels and Ronald Reagan's speeches (as opposed to his actual governance, which was a lot more flexible than the legend). They insist that the rights of private property are absolute, and that government is always the problem, never the solution.

The trouble is that such beliefs are fundamentally indefensible in the modern world, which is rife with what economists call externalities - costs that private actions impose on others, but which people have no financial incentive to avoid. You might want, for example, to declare that what a farmer does on his own land is entirely his own business; but what if he uses pesticides that contaminate the water supply, or antibiotics that speed the evolution of drug-resistant microbes? You might want to declare that government intervention never helps; but who else can deal with such problems?

Well, one answer is denial - insistence that such problems aren't real, that they're invented by elitists who want to take away our freedom. And along with this anti-intellectualism goes a general dumbing-down, an exaltation of supposedly ordinary folks who don't hold with this kind of stuff. Think of it as the right's duck-dynastic moment.,p> You can see how Mr. Bundy, who came across as a straight-talking Marlboro Man, fit right into that mind-set. Unfortunately, he turned out to be a bit more straight-talking than expected.

I'd like to think that the whole Bundy affair will cause at least some of the people who backed him to engage in self-reflection, and ask how they ended up lending support, even briefly, to someone like that. But I don't expect it to happen.
(c) 2014 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"If you tremble with indignation at every injustice then you are a comrade of mine."
~~~ Ernesto Guevara

American Democracy Now An Oligarchy
By Joel S. Hirschhorn

History has been made. But few Americans are aware of it or angry about it. I say: Wake up Americans. A war has been waged against US democracy, from the inside. Time to pick a side and fight back.

If you are not totally brain dead, distracted by pain or pleasure, or consumed by narcissistic obsessions, face the ugly, painful truth.

Republicans with political power in Congress and the states and, even more appallingly, on the Supreme Court have succeeded in turning their beloved republic into a-money-buys-power oligarchy. One person, one vote was the enemy and it is being defeated. One dollar, one vote is the new Republican political value. American democracy is more delusional than ever. To think otherwise is even more delusional.

I present three arguments supporting the conclusion that there has been a conversion of US democracy into something worse than a plutocracy. Political power is more dependent on money than ever before.

First, Republicans controlling the House of Representatives and many controlling state governments, together with their rich supporters, have steadily and successfully eroded voting and election laws. Their goal has been simple: Fight the demographic advantages of Democrats that give them more voters by making it more difficult for those citizens to actually vote. This has been documented in a New York Times top story and many other places. Republicans see the obvious. Namely that their older,-largely rural, white male shrinking proportion of the population is insufficient to win many elections and, even more significant, that many of their policy positions will never prevail with many demographic groups.

As Damon Linker observed about this statistical reality, this is a "tacit acknowledgement by the Republican Party that it's in dire demographic straits - and that one of the key pillars of its ideology over the last half-century is crumbling right before our eyes." Their solution, besides vicious gerrymandering of House districts, is to make it ever more difficult for groups likely to favor Democrats to vote in all elections. This direct assault on electoral democracy depends considerably on money coming from the wealthiest people to finance the actions to change election laws.

Second, the Supreme Court is now controlled by a Republican majority that has been successfully producing decisions to remove limits to money dumped into the political system by the richest Americans. For example, recently the McCutcheon decision continued the Roberts Court program of gutting campaign-finance laws. Hard to believe, but this decision came to the aid of just 1,219 people in the US-that's four in every 1,000,000 of our population, who ran up against a contribution limit. But this is consistent with the insanity that money is the same as free speech, which the Supreme Court has made the law of the land.

As Robert Reich correctly noted: "The court said such spending doesn't corrupt democracy. That's utter baloney, as anyone who has the faintest familiarity with contemporary American politics well knows." Political money is used to greatly impact lawmaking and elections. Political power obtained through political spending is, of course, essential for the richest Americans to maintain and perhaps intensify the economic inequality that now distinguishes American society. It is how an oligarchy is obtained and sustained.

I hope that Brent Budowsky is correct. Namely that "Roberts and his four conservative Republican brethren will ultimately be impeached by historians who will condemn, and future courts that will reverse, politically illegitimate and constitutionally deformed rulings that would turn America into a constitutional oligarchy." But change "would turn" into "have turned." Third, as still more proof of the profound historic change in the US, a recent study from Princeton University that analyzed considerable data concluded that the US has become an oligarchy. Here is what this important study said: "In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule -- at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes. When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the U.S. political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it."

Furthermore, "Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America's claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened." In other words, it is time for Americans to stop believing delusional truths and recognize that US democracy has become a myth, especially if there are ever to be serious actions by the majority to fix and restore democracy.

Americans, especially younger ones, need to understand the historical path from democracy to plutocracy to oligarchy. Most Americans are suffering because of economic inequality and they need to understand that the economic system is under the control of the perverted political system. Anyone who is not in the Upper Class or proverbial top one percent who votes for Republicans is living in some fantasy world. Such voters have been brainwashed and manipulated by, for example, FOX News and blowhards like Limbaugh.

Republicans want even more power. And if they get it, what would you expect from those working so hard to make US democracy a joke and replace millions of voters with one percent oligarchs? What Republicans have been doing is nothing less than domestic political terrorism. If Republicans and Tea Party loyalists were true patriots, they would rebel against the oligarchy created by Republicans.

Finally, make no mistake and think this condemnation of Republicans equates to advocacy for Democrats. The ultimate solution if a better, more democratic US system is to be obtained is not to rely on putting Democrats in control who also have some billionaires on their side. No, what is required is a number of constitutional amendments obtained through an Article V convention that are necessary to structurally reform the political system, especially getting rid of the power of political money. In recent months there has been a historic increase in support from important people for constitutional amendments and greater public support is desperately needed to finally use the constitutional option given by the Founders to the nation.
(c) 2014 Joel S. Hirschhorn observed our corrupt federal government firsthand as a senior official with the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the National Governors Association and is the author of Delusional Democracy - Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government. To discuss issues write the author. The author has a Ph.D. in Materials Engineering and was formerly a full professor of metallurgical engineering at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

When Cruel And Unusual Punishment Becomes Usual
By Amy Goodman

The state of Oklahoma tortured a man to death this week. On Tuesday, April 29, Clayton Lockett was strapped to a gurney in the state's execution chamber. At 6:23 p.m., before a room of witnesses that included 12 members of the media, the first of three drugs was injected into his veins. Ziva Branstetter, enterprise editor at Tulsa World, was among the reporters who watched. She later reported Lockett's ordeal, minute by minute:

"6:29 p.m. Lockett's eyes are closed and his mouth is open slightly.

"6:31 p.m. The doctor checks Lockett's pupils and places his hand on the inmate's chest, shaking him slightly. 'Mr. Lockett is not unconscious,' [Oklahoma State Penitentiary Warden Anita] Trammell states."

Branstetter's detailed eyewitness account goes on:
"6:38 p.m. Lockett is grimacing, grunting and lifting his head and shoulders entirely up from the gurney. ... He appears to be in pain."
Suddenly, the blinds were lowered, concealing the grim activity in the execution chamber. The reporters were told to exit. Lockett was pronounced dead at 7:06 pm. Branstetter said on the "Democracy Now!" news hour, "We were told by the Department of Corrections last night that they haven't even determined that this qualified as an execution, because he died of a heart attack 43 minutes later." Most Oklahoma executions last about six minutes. Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton later explained, "His vein exploded."

Oklahoma had never used this particular "lethal cocktail" before: midazolam, a sedative; vecuronium bromide, to stop respiration; and potassium chloride, to stop the heart. Charles Warner was scheduled to be killed on the same day as Lockett. After the horrifically botched execution of Lockett, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin issued a 14-day stay of execution for Warner. Announcing a review of lethal injections, Fallin said on Wednesday that "the state needs to be certain of its protocols and procedures for executions and that they work." While the review she has ordered will include an autopsy of Lockett by an independent pathologist, the overall review is being conducted by a member of her cabinet, so its independence is being questioned.,P> Lockett and Warner had sued Oklahoma, claiming that the secrecy surrounding the source of the drugs and the execution cocktail violated their constitutional rights. One Oklahoma judge agreed and issued a stay last month. Justices of the Oklahoma Supreme Court ultimately agreed and issued their own stay of execution on April 21. On April 22, Gov. Fallin, claiming the Supreme Court had no jurisdiction, ignored the stays and rescheduled the executions to April 29. The next day, the Supreme Court rescinded its stay, stating that the inmates do not, in fact, have the right to know the chemicals to be used in their execution.

"After weeks of Oklahoma refusing to disclose basic information about the drugs for tonight's lethal-injection procedures, tonight, Clayton Lockett was tortured to death," said Madeline Cohen, attorney for the other condemned man, Charles Warner. "The state must disclose complete information about the drugs, including their purity, efficacy, source and the results of any testing. Until much more is known about tonight's failed experiment of an execution, no execution can be permitted in Oklahoma."

Lockett's botched execution follows on the heels of a similar debacle in Ohio. On Jan. 16, Dennis McGuire was subjected to a two-drug cocktail. His son, also Dennis, witnessed the ordeal: "My dad began gasping and struggling to breathe. I watched his stomach heave. I watched him try to sit up against the straps on the gurney. I watched him repeatedly clench his fists. It appeared to me he was fighting for his life, but suffocating. The agony and terror of watching my dad suffocate to death lasted more than 19 minutes."

There are many more such stories. States are desperate for the execution drugs, as pharmaceutical companies in Europe refuse to sell to state governments in the U.S. any chemical that might be used in an execution. The Colorado Independent obtained email documents showing the assistant Oklahoma attorney general joking with a Texas colleague that he might be able to help Texas get the drugs in exchange for 50-yard line tickets for a top college football game.,p> The Death Penalty Information Center lists 144 people who have been exonerated from death row since 1973. These are innocent people who might have been executed. An article published in the respected Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, released just a day before Lockett's execution, suggests that more than 4 percent of all death-row prisoners would be exonerated, given enough time to properly review their cases. Even in cases where guilt is not in question, an argument can be made on a purely financial basis. It costs three to four times more to execute a prisoner than it does to incarcerate for life with no chance of parole.,P> Most developed nations have banned capital punishment. The United States stands shoulder to shoulder in continuing this barbaric practice with countries like China, Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia. As states commit atrocious experiments on prisoners like Lockett, it is vital to remember that the Constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. Sadly, cruel and unusual is becoming more and more usual.
(c) 2014 Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now,!" a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 750 stations in North America. She is the co-author of "Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times," recently released in paperback and "Breaking The Sound Barrier."

The Dead Letter Office...

Tom gives the corpo-rat salute

Heil Obama,

Dear FCC Vorstandsvorsitzender Wheeler,

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

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

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

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

British Spy Chiefs Secretly Begged to Play in NSA’s Data Pools A secret memo
suggests GCHQ's Sir Iain Lobban (pictured) wanted more access to the NSA's PRISM data.

British Spy Chiefs Secretly Begged To Play In NSA's Data Pools
By Ryan Gallagher

Britain's electronic surveillance agency, Government Communications Headquarters, has long presented its collaboration with the National Security Agency's massive electronic spying efforts as proportionate, carefully monitored, and well within the bounds of privacy laws. But according to a top-secret document in the archive of material provided to The Intercept by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, GCHQ secretly coveted the NSA's vast troves of private communications and sought "unsupervised access" to its data as recently as last year - essentially begging to feast at the NSA's table while insisting that it only nibbles on the occasional crumb.

The document, dated April 2013, reveals that GCHQ requested broad new authority to tap into data collected under a law that authorizes a variety of controversial NSA surveillance initiatives, including the PRISM program.

PRISM is a system used by the NSA and the FBI to obtain the content of personal emails, chats, photos, videos, and other data processed by nine of the world's largest internet companies, including Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, and Skype. The arrangement GCHQ proposed would also have provided the British agency with greater access to millions of international phone calls and emails that the NSA siphons directly from phone networks and the internet.

The Snowden files do not indicate whether NSA granted GCHQ's request, but they do show that the NSA was "supportive" of the idea, and that GCHQ was permitted extensive access to PRISM during the London Olympics in 2012. The request for the broad access was communicated at "leadership" level, according to the documents. Neither agency would comment on the proposed arrangement or whether it was approved.

Last June, in the wake of the Guardian's PRISM disclosures, British Foreign Secretary William Hague issued a lengthy statement declaring that "the arrangements for oversight and the general framework for exchanging information with the United States are the same as under previous governments." Warrants to intercept the communications of any individual in the United Kingdom, the statement read, must be personally signed by a cabinet secretary.

Likewise, the British Intelligence and Security Committee reported in July that, after reviewing "GCHQ's access to the content of communications, the legal framework which governs that access, and the arrangements GCHQ has with its overseas counterparts for sharing such information," the spy agency's collaboration with the NSA was within the bounds of British law.

But the broader access secretly sought by GCHQ only months earlier appears to have been unprecedented - and would have placed fewer restrictions on how the NSA's surveillance data is obtained and handled by British spies.

In response to the revelation, British member of Parliament Julian Huppert has accused government officials of issuing statements intended to "deliberately mislead" about GCHQ's surveillance programs and called for an overhaul of the current system of oversight.

Eric King, head of research at London-based human rights group Privacy International, said that the latest disclosure raised "serious concerns" about whether GCHQ has pushed for the ability to sift through data collected by the NSA in a bid to circumvent British laws restricting the scope of its surveillance.

"GCHQ's continued insistence that it is following the law becomes less credible with every revelation," King told The Intercept, adding that he believed the agency was "stretching its legal authorities with help from international partners."

GCHQ's request is outlined in an NSA memo marked "top secret" and "noforn" - agency jargon for "no foreigners."

It was prepared last year for Gen. Keith Alexander, then director of the NSA, in advance of a visit by Sir Iain Lobban, chief of GCHQ. Lobban was scheduled to attend a dinner at Alexander's home on April 30, 2013. The following day, the two spy chiefs were to have a "one-on-one discussion," and Lobban was to be given a tour of NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland, complete with demonstrations of the agency's operations.

The memo includes talking points for Alexander on issues related to Syria and Iran, and also warns that GCHQ is being "challenged with their activities and operations being subject to increased scrutiny and oversight from their government (and public)." Alexander was told that Lobban might ask about the safeguards in place to prevent any data that GCHQ shared with the NSA from being handed to others, such as Israel, who might use it in "lethal operations."

Under the heading "key topic areas," the document notes that gaining "unsupervised access" to data collected by the NSA under section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act "remains on GCHQ's wish list and is something its leadership still desires."

Section 702 of FISA grants the NSA wide latitude to collect the email and phone communications of "persons reasonably believed to be located outside the United States." It authorizes PRISM and several other programs - with codenames such as BLARNEY and STORMBREW - that covertly mine communications directly from phone lines and internet cables.

The memo adds: "NSA and SID [Signals Intelligence Directorate] leadership are well aware of GCHQ's request for this data, and the steps necessary for approval. NSA leadership could be asked whether we're still supportive of this initiative."

GCHQ was previously reported to have had some level of access to PRISM since at least June 2010, generating 197 intelligence reports from the data in 2012. However, the British agency appears to have been unsatisfied with limits placed on its use of the system.

While GCHQ's ultimate aim was to gain "unsupervised" access to the NSA's FISA databases, as of April 2013 it had already successfully lobbied for increased access to the trove "supervised" by the NSA. The newly disclosed Snowden document indicates that GCHQ was close to concluding a deal to gain the supervised access to communications collected under FISA as part of a program called "Triage 2.0." This deal, under unspecified conditions imposed by the NSA, was "awaiting signature" from the British agency in April 2013, according to the document.

In addition, the top-secret memo notes that the NSA had separately agreed with GCHQ to share data on a broader "unsupervised" basis as part of a program called Olympic Option.

Olympic Option was a surveillance program operated during the London Olympics in 2012, under which at least 100 GCHQ operatives were given access to the PRISM system "throughout the Olympic timeframe," ostensibly to identify potential terror threats. In a single six-day period in May 2012, according to a top-secret PowerPoint slide, GCHQ received 11,431 "cuts of traffic" from communications intercepted using PRISM. ("Cuts" is a term used by the NSA to describe extracts of conversations that it collects.) The memo prepared for Alexander describes the British request for unsupervised access to FISA 702 data as "in a manner similar to Olympics Option [sic]."

The data sharing between the agencies during the Olympics, though, was not isolated to PRISM. It also encompassed large volumes of metadata - such as the "to" and "from" details from an email but not the content of the message itself - as part of a more expansive Olympics surveillance effort. The NSA was funneling troves of intercepted data to GCHQ from a system called GHOSTMACHINE, a massive cloud database used by the NSA to analyze metadata and store, according to one document in the Snowden archive, "100s of billions of entries."

The NSA declined to answer a series of questions from The Intercept about its surveillance cooperation with GCHQ or comment on whether the arrangement has involved sharing information on Americans' communications.

In a statement, NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines said that the agency is legally barred from sharing intelligence collected under PRISM and similar programs "unless the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has first approved minimization procedures, which must comply with the Fourth Amendment and limit the collection, retention and dissemination of information about U.S. persons." Vines added that, in response to a "genuine threat of terrorist attack" surrounding the 2012 Olympics, the U.S.intelligence community "took steps authorized by law and consistent with the Constitution to protect Americans and citizens of other countries."

Similarly, GCHQ refused to answer any questions on the record about the documents. The agency issued its boilerplate response to inquiries, insisting that its work "is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework, which ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight."

Earlier this month, a report by the U.K. government's communications interception commissioner deemed GCHQ's arrangements with the NSA to have been within the law and said that the agency was not engaged in "indiscriminate random mass intrusion."

But the newly revealed documents raise questions about the full extent of the clandestine cooperation - key details about which appear to have been withheld from lawmakers.

Huppert, the member of Parliament, served on a committee that reviewed - and recommended against - a push from the British government for more powers to access private data before the Snowden materials became public last year.

At no point during that process, Huppert says, did GCHQ disclose the extent of its access to PRISM and other then-secret NSA programs. Nor did it indicate that it was seeking wider access to NSA data - even during closed sessions held to allow security officials to discuss sensitive information. Huppert says these facts were relevant to the review and could have had a bearing on its outcome.

"It is now obvious that they were trying to deliberately mislead the committee," Huppert told The Intercept. "They very clearly did not give us all the information that we needed." Decrying the process as a "good example of how governments should not behave," the Liberal Democrat parliamentarian is calling for significant reform of the U.K.'s current surveillance regime.

"I want to see much greater clarity on how we have oversight, because it is currently not fit for purpose," he says. "We need much more transparency about what is happening. And we need to revise our laws, because our laws clearly have too many loopholes in them."
(c) 2014 Ryan Gallagher is a Scottish journalist whose work at The Intercept is focused on government surveillance, technology, and civil liberties. His journalism has appeared in publications including Slate, the Guardian, Ars Technica, Huffington Post, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Financial Times, the Independent, and the New Statesman.

Twenty-Five Proposed Redirections and Reforms Through Convergent Action
By Ralph Nader

Require that the Department of Defense (DOD) budget be audited annually, and disclose all government budgets. Secrecy destroys accountability.
Establish rigorous procedures to evaluate the claims of businesses looking for a government handout which would end most corporate welfare and bailouts.
Promote efficiency in government contracting and government spending.
Adjust the minimum wage to inflation.
Introduce specific forms of taxation reform as well as push to regain uncollected taxes.
Break up the "Too Big to Fail" banks.
Expand contributions to charity, using them to increase jobs and drawing on available "dead money."
Allow taxpayers the standing to sue, especially immunized governments and corporations.
Further direct democracy-initiative, referendum, and recall, for starters.
Push community self-reliance.
Clear away the obstacles to a competitive electoral process.
Defend and extend civil liberties.
Enhance civic skills and experience for students.
End unconstitutional wars and enforce Article 1, section 8, of the Declaration of War Act.
Revise trade agreements to protect US sovereignty, and resume full congressional deliberations, ending fast track.
Protect children from commercialism and its physical and mental exploitation and harm.
Control more of the commons that we already own.
End corporate personhood.
Get tough on corporate crime, providing penalties and enforcement budgets.
Ramp up investor power by strengthening investor-protection laws and by creating a penny brigade to pay for an investor watchdog agency.
Oppose the patenting of life forms, including human genes.
End the ineffective war on drugs.
Push for environmentalism.
Reform health care.
Create convergent institutions

* List is excerpted from Chapter 4, Page 65 of Nader's latest book, "UNSTOPPABLE."
(c) 2014 Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His most recent book is Unstoppable.

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Jerry Holbert ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Sawbucked To Death
By Will Durst

These days, the only thing harder than making money is hanging onto it. Easier to protect dandelion fuzz in a tornado. Everywhere you go, everyone wants a taste. Their only job is to get a grip on your money. And some of these folks are pretty darn good at their jobs.

Solicitations. Donations. Hand-outs. Charges. Taxes. Commissions. Percentages. Invoices. Expenses. Billings. Licenses. Permits. Compensatory Remunerations. Honorariums. Balance due. Ante ups. Shipping fees. Handling fees. Entrance fees. Exit fees. The way we're getting nickel and dimed from every angle is like being nibbled to death by ducks.

You know that phrase: "The best things in life are free." Popularized by rich people to keep the rest of us from getting too curious. Besides, nothing's free anymore. Fast food condiments cost extra. Bags at stores are no longer gratis. Gas stations charge for air and water -- setting an ominous precedent.

Banks used to reward people for handling their money, not anymore. Now customers pay for everything. There's a charge for using a teller. There's a charge for not using a teller. There's a charge for telling the teller where to stick the charge.

Airlines have figured out how to make money off of food, blankets, legroom, checked bags, aisle seats, in-flight entertainment and it's only a matter of time before the bathrooms, seat belts and oxygen masks require prepaid activation codes. "Oxygenated air or non-oxygenated air?"

TV and radio used to be free. Now all the premium content is on cable or satellite. Then after purchasing comes the maintenance fees. Upgrade fees. Squeeze you like a turnip fees. Convenience fees. For whose convenience are these fees? Not mine.

Microsoft and Adobe have moved to a subscription model. Netflix is 10 bucks a month. Third world orphan rescues cost 10 bucks a month. Dating services, cheap gyms, music apps- 10 bucks a month. Everybody wants 10 bucks a month. You know what: ten bucks here, ten bucks there. That stuff adds up. We've moved beyond nickel and dimed to death: this is more like sawbucked to death.

There's a free trial period, but we need your credit card number for processing. And the expiration date. And the super secret code on the back. And your social security number. And your PIN number. And how many moles on your upper right thigh? And what time of the day is best for our Nigerian prince to contact you?

And yes, you're right. This column is written every generation. Our parents lamented the passing of full service gas stations. Our kids will probably bemoan the loss of free water in public rest rooms. "Used to be, you could let the water run right down the drain until it got to be the exact temperature you desired. No, I'm serious."

Even when you do buy something, you're immediately harassed into acquiring other useless stuff, no matter the location. Commercials at the checkout counter, gas station pump, in elevators, cabs, movies, ballgames. Ceiling screens at the dentist are next.

Eventually our refrigerators will be sponsored and make suggestions. Until finally people are convinced to sell naming rights to their children. "Did you hear? Clear Channel Schultz is going out with Enron Nelson. It's a match made in heaven. And Texas." Speaking of which, might as well prepare, there will be Geico commercials in Hell.
(c) 2014 Will Durst, is a nationally acclaimed, award- winning political comic. Go to to find about more about his new CD, "Elect to Laugh" and calendar of personal appearances, and info about the documentary film "3 Still Standing" in which he's one of the standing 3. Still.

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Issues & Alibis Vol 14 # 17 (c) 05/02/2014

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