And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Will Durst studies, "The Report From Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Investigation," but first Uncle Ernie warns of, "Sleepy Joe Versus Reality."
This week we spotlight the cartoons of Bob Engelhart, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Tom Tomorrow, Ruben Bolling, Mr. Fish, Sean Rayford, Carolyn Kaster, Nati Harnik, Scott Olson, Bastiaan Slabbers, Chesapeake Bay Program, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.
"My bill strikes at the heart of the injustice of court-ordered busing. It prohibits the federal courts from disrupting our educational system in the name of the constitution where there is no evidence that the governmental officials intended to discriminate." ~~~ Sen. Joe Biden ~ March 25, 1977
"All glaciers are retreating which is effecting sea level rises and glacier melt water can accelerate the retreat. It's virtually impossible to get inside one, therefore we have designed probes which were put into them and we were able to retrieve live date for the first time." ~~~ Jane Hart ~ Professor in Geography at the University of Southampton
"Given the situation and considering the mission and values of U Prep, we have accepted Munno's retirement. It is the Board's responsibility to put the best interests of the school and its students at the forefront." ~~~ UPrep Board of Trustees President Edward Yansen
"True patriotism isn't cheap. It's about taking on a fair share of the burden of keeping America going." ~~~ Robert Reich
Lying Donald calls Biden, "Sleepy Joe" and if it were so and not the opposite I wouldn't be writing this column. I first turned on to "Sleepy Joe" back in the seventies when he and Rethuglican segregationists fought tooth and nail to keep from busing black children into white neighborhoods and white children into black neighborhoods. Joe doesn't like black folks. Don't take my word for it just ask Anita Hill.
You may recall what "Sleepy Joe" did in the Clarence Thomas case. Remember how Joe kept moving Clarence along while treating Anita like scum and keeping all her witnesses from testifying? Joe now says he's sorry, but Anita's not buying it, neither am I.
Let's not forget Joe's support for the bankruptcy bills that the Banksters tried again and again to pass. The first two times with Joe's support the bills failed but when "Smirky the Wonder Chimp took power in a judicial coup d'etat the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act sailed through with Joe's help. "The bill made it nearly impossible for average families to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection, also known as "clean slate" bankruptcies intended to discharge nearly all debts, a matter of a few years before they'd need it the most. The bill instituted an all new means test to determine whether debtors with insurmountable financial hardships earned enough income to pay back all or part of their unsecured debts, specifically credit debt. If they earned too much, a clean slate bankruptcy became impossible, and they'd be forced to file Chapter 13, which would force debtors to pay back their debt over a five-year timeline, thus legalizing neo-indentured-servitude to creditors." Thanks again, Joe.
Of course, Joe's from Delaware, and you may recall that during the Reagan '80s, a spate of new state laws were implemented to lure creditors from Manhattan to Wilmington by offering attractive tax incentives as well as defanging usury laws to allow companies such as Bank of America and Chase to charge significantly more onerous interest rates. Which, of course, Joe was all for.
Bernie Sanders is not a big fan of Joes, as Bernie has said:
"But I think when people take a look at my record versus Vice President Biden's record -- I helped lead the fight against (North American Free Trade Agreement); he voted for NAFTA.
"I helped lead the fight against (permanent normal trade relations) with China; he voted for it. I strongly opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership; he supported it. I voted against the war in Iraq; he voted for it."
Oh, and for all of you pot smokers out there "Sleepy Joe's" against legalization, Joe says, "I still believe it's a gateway drug. I've spent a lot of my life as chairman of the Judiciary Committee dealing with this. I think it would be a mistake to legalize."
In Other News
I see where the University of Southampton scientists are using innovative technology to monitor the behaviour of glaciers in real time, in a new bid to understand the link between their retreat, global warming and rising sea levels.
The Southampton researchers, who are part of the international Glacsweb project, have developed technology to monitor glacier behaviour. They have used unique sensor probes placed in, on and underneath the glacial ice. These sensor probes measure temperature, pressure, stress, weather and subglacial movement.
This study, published in Nature Communications, revealed how melt water produces a distinct seasonal style of glacier stick-slip motion and showed that relatively small events occur every day during the summer, and during the winter there are larger multi-day events related to warmer days. As a result, for the first time, the team have been able to relate these processes to till sedimentology.
Jane Hart, Professor in Geography at the University of Southampton says, "Glaciers all over the world are retreating, but the rate they do so is dependent on numerous factors. Those in Iceland are retreating at different rates and both have rapidly growing lakes, which threaten to cover the whole glacier front, and affect their stability.
"As part of this latest study we hope to determine what is controlling their velocity, the rate of lake growth and how this growth is affecting ice retreat as we continue to contribute fundamental research in glaciology and wireless sensor networks."
Everyday, we learn something new about global warming and the more we know the worse it seems to be. Meanwhile, Lying Donald, not content with doing nothing to stop Global Warming is doing his best to make it worse. Trouble is, most of the world governments are doing the same. Anything for a quick buck and damn the consequences! Lying Donald, like myself, is old and we won't live to see what's waiting for us a few decades down the road. But our children, and grand children will, and will have to deal with it the best they can while cursing our names. Will your children and grand children, curse your memory too?
Rochester New York's "University Preparatory Charter School for Young Men" (a charter school) is a rather racist institution. It's a for profit, so anyone can get in but if you're black that's as far as you can go, even if you're their valedictorian. Jaisaan Lovett won the honor of being the schools first black valedictorian but wasn't allowed to give a speech, someting all the other white valedictorians were granted. When Jaisaan asked the principal Joseph Munno he was told that he couldn't.
When she heard of this outrage Rochester's Mayor Lovey Warren invited Lovett, who works in her office as an intern, to deliver the speech at City Hall. She then posted it on her YouTube channel and Facebook page.
"Unfortunately, Jaisaan's school did not allow him to give his valedictorian speech," Warren said in the video. "For some reason, his school - in a country where freedom of speech is a constitution right, and the city of Frederick Douglass - turned his moment of triumph into a time of sorrow and pain.
"Jaisaan will never graduate from high school again. He will never get that moment back. This is not the time to punish a child because you may not like what he has to say."
So you know what I did, right? That's right, I wrote them the following note:
"I see your principal has no principals! So no black valedictorians allowed? I'm surprised you even let them "darkies" in. Oh, you're a for profit, and will let anyone in who has the money. just not let anyone who isn't white make a speech. Thanks for helping me write this week's editorial column! Perhaps if you fired Joseph Munno, through a large bore cannon, into a brick wall you might survive this little faux pas of bigotry? Have a nice day!"
Nothing's changed folks, the time has come and gone, and so some of our arthors and artists won't be available to us. We turned up $1160 short of paying our bills for this year. That's the first time in the magazines history since our beginning in 2000 that we failed to raise the "rent."
For once I'm at a loss for words, imagine that! That's the trouble with being a sooth sayer. When people ask me what is it that I do, I have been known to say, "I piss people off." You'd be amazed how mad you can make some people by just telling the truth, saying the sooth! The Matrix, I hear, is very warm and comfortable, and over the years while we did unplug this, or that person, we found ourselves, mainly, just preaching to the choir! C'est la guerre!"
We'll keep fighting the good fight until the rest of the money runs out. If you think that what we do is important and would like to see us keep on, keeping on, please send us whatever you can, whenever you can, and we'll keep saying the sooth!
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Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2019 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.
A polar bear walks on a melting ice floe in Baffin Bay, Nunavut, Canada. Recent research shows that Canada's Arctic is now the warmest it has been in 10,000 years, and the temperatures are continuing to climb.
The Last Time There Was This Much CO2, Trees Grew At The South Pole
By Dahr Jamail
It is palpable now. Even the most ardent deniers of human-caused climate disruption can feel the convulsions wracking the planet.
I truly believe this, given that, essentially, we are all of and from the Earth. Deep down inside all of us is the "fight or flight" instinct. Like any other animal, our very core knows when we are in danger, as the converging crises descend ever closer to home, wherever we may find ourselves on the globe.
This anxiety that increases by the day, this curious dread of what our climate-disrupted future will bring, is difficult to bear. Even those who have not already lost homes or loved ones to climate disruption-fueled extreme weather events have to live with the burden of this daily tension.
The signs of our overheated planet abound, and another collection of recent reports and studies shows things are only continuing to accelerate as human-caused climate disruption progresses.
A recently published study showed that Earth's glaciers are now melting five times more rapidly than they were in the 1960s.
"The glaciers shrinking fastest are in central Europe, the Caucasus region, western Canada, the U.S. Lower 48 states, New Zealand and near the tropics," lead author Michael Zemp, director of the World Glacier Monitoring Service at the University of Zurich told Time Magazine. Glaciers in those places are losing an average of more than 1 percent of their mass each year, according to the study. "In these regions, at the current glacier loss rate, the glaciers will not survive the century,"added Zemp.
Meanwhile, the World Meteorological Organization announced that extreme weather events impacted 62 million people across the world last year. In 2018, 35 million people were struck by flooding, and Hurricanes Florence and Michael were just two of 14 "billion-dollar disasters" in 2018 in the U.S. More than 1,600 deaths were linked to heat waves and wildfires in Europe, Japan and the U.S. The report also noted the last four years were the warmest on record.
As an example of this last statistic, another report revealed that Canada is warming at twice the global rate. "We are already seeing the effects of widespread warming in Canada," Elizabeth Bush, a climate science adviser at Environment Canada, told The Guardian. "It's clear, the science supports the fact that adapting to climate change is an imperative."
Another recent report showed that the last time there was this much CO2 in the atmosphere (412 ppm), in the Pliocene Epoch 5.3 to 2.6 million years ago, sea levels were 20 meters higher than they are right now, trees were growing at the South Pole, and average global temperatures were 3 to 4 degrees Centigrade (3-4 C) warmer, and even 10C warmer in some areas. NASA echoed the report's findings.
And if business as usual continues, emissions will only accelerate. The International Energy Agency announced that global carbon emissions set a record in 2018, rising 1.7 percent to a record 33.1 billion tons.
The impact of runaway emissions is already upon us. Several cities in the northern U.S., such as Buffalo, Cincinnati and Duluth, are already preparing to receive migrants from states like Florida, where residents are beset with increasing flooding, brutal heat waves, more severe and frequent hurricanes, sea level rise, and a worse allergy season. City planners in the aforementioned cities are already preparing by trying to figure out how to create jobs and housing for an influx of new residents.
Indications of the climate disruption refugee crisis are even more glaring in some other countries.
Large numbers of Guatemalan farmers already have to leave their land due to drought, flooding, and increasingly severe extreme weather events.
In low-lying Bangladesh, hundreds of thousands of people are already in the process of being displaced from coastal homes, and are moving into poverty-stricken areas of cities that are already unprepared to receive the influx of people. Given that 80 percent of the population of the country already lives in a flood plain, the crisis can only escalate with time as sea level rise continues to accelerate.
Meanwhile, diseases spread by mosquitoes are also set to worsen in our increasingly warm world. A recently published study on the issue shows that over the next three decades, half a billion more people could be at risk of mosquito-delivered diseases.
Other migrations are occurring as well. In Canada's Yukon, Indigenous elders told the CBC that caribou and moose are moving further north than ever before in order to escape the impacts of climate disruption like warmer summers, lakes and rivers that don't freeze, and adjusting their migrations to find more food. This has deep impacts on the survival and culture of the area's Indigenous residents.
In economic news, a researcher for the Federal Reserve Bank recently penned a letter urging central banks to note the financial risks, and possibly an impending financial crisis, brought about by climate disruption. "Without substantial and sustained global mitigation and regional adaptation efforts," read the letter, "climate change is expected to cause growing losses to American infrastructure and property and impede the rate of economic growth over this century."
Another report showed that climate disruption is already negatively impacting fruit breeders, and consumers will soon feel the pain of higher prices. "We are seeing industries that may not survive if we don't find a solution, and we are only just seeing the consequences of climate change,"Thomas Gradziel, of the University of California at Davis, told The Washington Post.
Underscoring all of this, the Global Seed Vault in Svalbard, Norway, known as the "Doomsday Vault," has already been altered by climate disruption impacts. The primary impacts thus far have been flooding around the vault, given how warm temperatures have become across the Arctic. The Doomsday Vault holds nearly one million seeds from around the globe, and functions as a backup in case climate disruption, war, famine, or disease wipes out certain crops. In other words, it's a backup plan to backup plans. A recent report showed that climate change's impacts on the seed vault could get worse as snow season shortens, heavier and more frequent rainfalls escalate, and avalanches and mudslides near the vault become more common.
Lastly in this section, researchers recently warned that the Arctic has now entered an "unprecedented state" that is literally threatening the stability of the entire global climate system. Their paper, "Key Indicators of Arctic Climate Change: 1971-2017," with both American and European climate scientists contributing, warned starkly that changes in the Arctic will continue to have massive and negative impacts around the globe.
"Because the Arctic atmosphere is warming faster than the rest of the world, weather patterns across Europe, North America, and Asia are becoming more persistent, leading to extreme weather conditions," Jason Box, the lead author of the paper said.
As usual, there continue to be ample examples of the impacts of climate disruption in the watery realms of the planet.
In oceans, most of the sea turtles now being born are female; a crisis in sea turtle sex that is borne from climate disruption. This is due to the dramatically warmer sand temperatures where the eggs are buried. At a current ratio of 116/1 female/male, clearly this trend cannot continue indefinitely if sea turtles are to survive.
An alarming study showed recently that the number of new corals on the Great Barrier Reef has crashed by 89 percent after the mass bleaching events of 2016 and 2017. With coral bleaching events happening nearly annually now across many of the world's reefs, such as the Great Barrier, we must remember that it takes an average of a decade for them to recover from a bleaching event. This is why some scientists in Australia believe the Great Barrier Reef to be in its "terminal stage."
The UN recently sounded the alarm that urgent action is needed if Arab states are to avoid a water emergency. Water scarcity and desertification are afflicting the Middle East and North Africa more than any other region on Earth, hence the need for countries there to improve water management. However, the per capita share of fresh water availability there is already just 10 percent of the global average, with agriculture consuming 85 percent of it.
Another recent study has linked shrinking Arctic sea ice to less rain in Central America, adding to the water woes in that region as well.
In Alaska, warming continues apace. The Nenana Ice Classic, a competition where people guess when a tripod atop the frozen Nenana River breaks through the ice each spring, has resulted in a record this year of the earliest river ice breakup. It broke the previous record by nearly one full week.
Meanwhile, the pace of warming and the ensuing change across the Bering Sea is startling scientists there. Phenomena like floods during the winter and record low sea ice are generating great concern among scientists as well as Indigenous populations living there. "The projections were saying we would've hit situations similar to what we saw last year, but not for another 40 or 50 years," Seth Danielson, a physical oceanographer at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, told The Associated Press of the diminishing sea ice.
In fact, people in the northernmost community of the Canadian Yukon, the village of Old Crow, are declaring a climate disruption State of Emergency. The chief of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation in the Yukon, Chief Dana Tizya-Tramm, has stated that his community's traditional way of life is at stake, including thawing permafrost and rivers and lakes that no longer freeze deeply enough to walk across in the winter, making hunting and fishing difficult and dangerous. He said that declaring the climate emergency is his community's responsibility to the rest of the planet.
Other signs of the dramatic warming across the Arctic abound. On Denali, North America's highest mountain (20,310 feet), more than 66 tons of frozen feces left by climbers on the mountain are expected to begin thawing out of the glaciers there as early as this coming summer.
Another study found that tall ice cliffs around Greenland and the Antarctic are beginning to "slump," behaving like soil and rock in sediment do before they break apart from the land and slide down a slope. Scientists believe the slumping ice cliffs may well be an ominous sign that could lead to more acceleration in global sea level rise, as far more ice is now poised to melt into the seas than previously believed.
In New Zealand, following the third hottest summer on record there, glaciers have been described by scientists as "sad and dirty," with many of them having disappeared forever. Snow on a glacier protects the ice underneath it from melting, so this is another way scientists measure how rapidly a glacier can melt - if the snow is gone and the blue ice underneath it is directly exposed to the sun, it's highly prone to melting. "Last year, the vast majority of glaciers had snowlines that were off the top of the mountain, and this year, we had some where we could see snowlines on, but they were very high," NIWA Environmental Science Institute climate scientist Drew Lorrey told the New Zealand Herald. "On the first day of our survey, we observed 28 of them, and only about six of them had what I would call a snowline."
Lastly in this section, another study warned that if emissions continue to increase at their current rate, ice will have all but vanished from European Alpine valleys by 2100. The study showed that half of the ice in the Alps' 4,000 glaciers will be gone by 2050 with only the warming that is already baked into the system from past emissions. The study warned that even if we ceased all emissions at this moment, two-thirds of the ice will still have melted by 2100.
Washington State, in the traditionally damp and moist Pacific Northwest, has already had 50 wildfires this year. The state normally doesn't see this number until the end of summer from late August through October, which is normally the peak of wildfire season.
Record-high temperatures continue to be set globally, especially in the Arctic.
High temperatures in March across the state of Alaska obliterated records. The statewide temperature for the entire month smashed the previous record by a whopping 4 F. Most rivers are melting out early, the town of Deadhorse in northern Alaska was 23 degrees above normal for the entire month of March, and for many days that month the industrial settlement near the Prudhoe Bay oil fields was 30 to 40 degrees above normal. Anchorage saw seven days with a record-high temperature for March, Juneau saw 10, Utquiagvik (formerly Barrow) saw six, as did Yakutat. Warmer temperature anomalies there have now become the norm.
Distressingly, another study revealed that melting permafrost across the Arctic could now be releasing 12 times as much nitrous oxide as previously thought. Nitrous oxide is an extremely powerful greenhouse gas, 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide, and can remain in the atmosphere for 114 years.
Recent research shows that Canada's Arctic is now the warmest it has been in 10,000 years, and the temperatures are continuing to climb. Duane Froese, a professor at the University of Alberta and a co-author of the recent study on the topic, told the CBC,
"I would guess we're getting back over 100,000 years since we've seen temperatures at least this warm."
Another study has warned that climate disruption is set to raise Pittsburgh temperatures to the level of those of the southern U.S. states by 2080 … meaning the city of Pennsylvania will feel more like Jonesboro, Arkansas. That means Pittsburgh will be 10 F warmer, with summers 18 percent drier, and winters 45 percent wetter.
Scientists have warned that extreme hemispheric heat waves like that which occurred during 2018 are becoming more common due to climate disruption. They warn that these massive heatwaves will cover wider areas, and with just 2C of warming (we are currently at 1.1 C) most summers will look like that of 2018. "From May to July, the heat waves affected 22 percent of the agricultural land and populated areas in the mid-latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, from Canada and the United States to Russia, Japan and South Korea, killing hundreds of people, devastating crops and curtailing power production," Inside Climate News wrote of the study. "On an average day during those heat waves, 5.2 million square kilometers (about 2 million square miles) were affected by extreme heat, [Martha Vogel, an extreme-temperature researcher with ETH Zurich Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science] said. At its peak extent in July, the affected area was twice as big."
Another report has warned that warming temperatures across the globe could release into the atmosphere long-frozen radiation - from atomic bombs, Chernobyl and Fukushima. Radioactive particles are very light, and therefore, were transported very long distances across the atmosphere after nuclear detonations or radiological accidents. When the radioactive particles fall as snow, they can be stored in ice fields and glaciers for decades. If climate disruption melts the ice, the radiation is washed downstream and spreads throughout ecosystems.
Caroline Clason, a lecturer in physical geography at the University of Plymouth affiliated with the study, said an example of how this is already playing out came from Sweden, when wild boar there were found to have 10 times the levels of normal radiation in 2017. The radiation is likely to have come from Chernobyl, although radiation from all of these nuclear accidents is capable of spreading globally.
Denial and Reality
While this certainly comes as no surprise, yet another report came out highlighting how oil and gas giants are spending millions of dollars in their ongoing effort to lobby their paid politicians to block policies aimed at addressing climate disruption. The giant fossil fuel companies are spending an average of $200 million annually to weaken and/or oppose legislation aimed at addressing climate disruption. BP led the way in spending with $53 million, followed by Shell ($49 million), ExxonMobil ($41 million), Chevron and Total ($29 million each).
Meanwhile, as per usual, President Donald Trump has signed executive orders to speed up oil and gas pipeline projects, making it harder for states to block construction projects due to environmental concerns.
Yet, as the White House is actively denying climate disruption and working as hard as it can to promote fossil fuel use, the U.S. military is planning and preparing for dealing with the vast impacts of ongoing climate disruption. "People are acting on climate not for political reasons, but [because] it really affects their mission," Jon Powers, an Iraq War veteran who served as the federal chief sustainability officer who is now president and chief executive of the investment firm CleanCapital, told The Washington Post. "With the military, it's now ingrained in the culture and mission there, which I think is the biggest change over the last 10 years."
Meanwhile, a federal climate disruption study panel and advisory group that was disbanded by the Trump administration due to it not having enough members "from industry," recently released a report warning that the muddled political response to very clear climate science is putting Americans at risk.
"We were concerned that the federal government is missing an opportunity to get better information into the hands of those who prepare for what we have already unleashed," Richard Moss, a visiting scientist at Columbia University, who previously chaired the federal panel and is a member of the group who released the report, told The Guardian. "We're only just starting to see the effects of climate change, it's only going to get much worse. But we haven't yet rearranged our daily affairs to adapt to science we have."
With each passing month, the impacts of runaway climate disruption continue to intensify. And as they do, so must our awareness of what is happening across the planet, and our resolve to take action to address it - especially since most governments around the world are failing to meet these challenges.
President Donald Trump and Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg shake hands at an event in South Carolina in February 2017.
Forfeit Your Pay And Resign: An Open Letter To Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg You are on the highest level of notice not to add to your already extraordinary record of criminally negligent decisions and inactions. Result - 346 innocent people lost their lives.
By Ralph Nader
Dennis A. Muilenburg
Chairman, President, and
Chief Executive Officer
The Boeing Company
100 North Riverside
Chicago, IL 60606
Dear Mr. Muilenburg:
On April 4, 2019 you somewhat belatedly released a statement that "We at Boeing are sorry for the lives lost in the recent 737 MAX accidents." You added that a preliminary investigation made it "apparent that in both flights" the MCAS "activated in response to erroneous angle of attack information."
Your acknowledgement of the problems with the 737 MAX somehow escaped inclusion in your messages to shareholders, the capital markets, and the Securities and Exchange Commission. It is now stunningly clear that your overly optimistic outlook on January 20, 2019 - after the Indonesian Lion Air crash - was misleading. Whatever the public learns, day after day about the troubles of your company, it is still far less than what Boeing knows will come out day by day, and not just about the deadly design of the 737 MAX.
Your narrow-body passenger aircraft - namely, the long series of 737's that began in the nineteen sixties was past its prime. How long could Boeing avoid making the investment needed to produce a "clean-sheet" aircraft and, instead, in the words of Bloomberg Businessweek "push an aging design beyond its limits?" Answer: As long as Boeing could get away with it and keep necessary pilot training and other costs low for the airlines as a sales incentive.
To compete with the Airbus A320neo, Boeing equipped the 737 MAX with larger engines tilted more forward and upward on the wings than prior 737's. Thus began the trail of criminal negligence that will implicate the company and its executives. The larger engines changed the center of gravity and the plane's aerodynamics. Boeing management was on a fast track and ignored warnings by its own engineers, not to mention scores of other technical aerospace people outside the company.
The Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) software fix or patch with all its glitches and miscues is now a historic example of a grave failure of Boeing management. Yet, you insist the 737 MAX is still safe and some alteration of the MCAS and other pilot advisories will make the aircraft airworthy. Aircrafts should be stall-proof, not stall-prone. Trying to shift the burden onto the pilots for any vast numbers of failure modes beyond the software's predictability is scurrilous. The Boeing 737 MAX must never be permitted to fly again - it has an inherent aerodynamic design defect. Sell your Boeing 737NG instead.
No matter your previous safety record of the 737 series, Boeing doesn't get one, two, or more crashes that are preventable by adopting long-established aeronautical knowledge and practices. You are on the highest level of notice not to add to your already extraordinary record of criminally negligent decisions and inactions. Result - 346 innocent people lost their lives.
Boeing management's behavior must be seen in the context of Boeing's use of its earned capital. Did you use the $30 billion surplus from 2009 to 2017 to reinvest in R&D, in new narrow-body passenger aircraft? Or did you, instead, essentially burn this surplus with self-serving stock buybacks of $30 billion in that period? Boeing is one of the companies that MarketWatch labelled as "Five companies that spent lavishly on stock buybacks while pension funding lagged."
Incredibly, your buybacks of $9.24 billion in 2017 comprised 109% of annual earnings. As you know, stock buybacks do not create any jobs. They improve the metrics for the executive compensation packages of top Boeing bosses.
To make your management recklessly worse, in December 2018 you arranged for your rubberstamp Board of Directors to approve $20 billion more in buybacks now placed on pause.
Then, after the Indonesian crash, came the second software-bomb that took away control from the pilots and brought down Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 on March 10, taking the lives of 156 passengers and crew. At the time, you were way overdue with your new software allegedly addressing the avoidable risks associated with the notorious 737 MAX.
Don't you see some inverted priorities here? Don't you see how you should have invested in producing better aircraft? Instead, your top management was inebriated with the prospect of higher stock values, and higher profits by keeping your costs lower with that "aging design" of the Boeing 737s. You guessed wrong - big time for your passengers as well as for your company.
Boeing is in additional trouble that reflects poor management. On March 22, 2019, the Washington Post reported that NASA's Administrator, Jim Bridenstine said
"the agency is considering sidelining the massive rocket Boeing is building because of how far behind schedule it is."
And now, the agency is about to announce another major delay in the high-profile spacecraft Boeing is building to fly astronauts to the International Space Station.
Then on April 21, 2019, the New York Times in a lengthy front-page story, based on "internal emails, corporate documents and federal records, as well as interviews with more than a dozen current and former employees," reported that your South Carolina factory, which produces the 787 Dreamliner, "has been plagued by shoddy production and weak oversight that have threatened to compromise safety."
It is not as if you are receiving anything but top dollar payments for these military (the Air Force tanker) and government contracts. You overpay yourself at over $23 million in 2018, which comes to about $12,000 an hour!
In the midst of these accusations, whistleblower lawsuits, alleged retaliations by management, the Times reports your pace of production "has quickened" and that you are eliminating "about a hundred quality control positions in North Charleston [South Carolina]." Why?
Big corporations are run like top-down dictatorships where the hired hands determine their own pay and strip their shareholder owners of necessary powers of governance. Your Board of Directors should disclose what you told them about the 737 MAX and when they knew it.
Already, corporate crime specialists are making the case for you and other top Boeing managers, having refused to listen to the warnings of your conscientious engineers, regarding the redesign of the 737 MAX, to face criminal prosecution. Note BP pleading guilty in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, to eleven counts of manslaughter in 2013.
Glass Lewis urges removal of Boeing audit committee head Lawrence Kellner for "failing to foresee safety risks with the 737 MAX aircraft," reported the Financial Times, on April 16, 2019.
Consider, in addition, the statement of two Harvard scholars-Leonard J. Marcus and Eric J. McNulty, (authors of the forthcoming book, You're It: Crisis, Change, and How to Lead When it Matters Most).
"Of course, if Boeing did not act in good faith in deploying the 737 Max and the Justice Department's investigation discovers Boeing cut corners or attempted to avoid proper regulatory reviews of the modifications to the aircraft, Muilenburg and any other executives involved should resign immediately. Too many families, indeed communities, depend on the continued viability of Boeing."
These preconditions have already been disclosed and are evidentially based. Your mismanagement is replete with documentation. Management was criminally negligent, 346 lives of passengers and crew were lost. You and your team should forfeit your compensation and should resign forthwith.
All concerned with aviation safety should have your public response.
Stop Sanders: The Year Of The Corporate Long Knives
By Glen Ford
It is inconceivable that the Lords of Capital will tolerate a financial industry-slayer in the White House. They will thwart his campaign - by any means necessary.
In a compact and effective video that appeared in leftish publications last week, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez delivers an uplifting "Message from the Future" projecting a decade of sweeping social democratic legislation following a Democratic capture of the White House and both chambers of Congress in 2020. A succession of progressive-dominated Congresses passes Medicare for All; a federal jobs bill "guaranteeing dignified living wages" for all workers; a Universal Child Care Initiative "that started paying real money to teachers, domestic workers and home health aides"; and, of course, the Green New Deal, which AOC's voice from the future explained, "didn't just change the infrastructure" of the nation, but also showed that America could be "not only modern and wealthy but dignified and humane, too."
It's a well done, inspiring piece that actually touched my heart strings. While she was at it, AOC could have also painted a picture of a world that wasn't being bombed and regime-changed day and night by her homeland's military, but maybe that's a subject for her and Naomi Klein's next animated vignette.
Meanwhile, in the real world, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week told "60 Minutes" that "only five" members of Congress share Ocasio-Cortez's "socialist" vision. As soon as the votes were counted in last November's congressional elections Pelosi dispatched her minions to assure the health insurance industry they need not worry about Medicare for All passing the House under her watch.The bill that AOC-of-the-future calls "the most popular social program in American history" is to Pelosi an "unhelpful distraction." And the Speaker is downright contemptuous of the Green New Deal. "It will be one of several or maybe many suggestions that we receive,"she told Politico in February. "The green dream, or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they're for it, right?" Later that month, Pelosi remained dismissive of the Green New Deal. "We welcome all the enthusiasm that people want to put on the table, and the Green New Deal is one of them," she told a Howard University questioner, "but we have to operate in a way that's evidence-based, current in its data."
Ocasio-Cortez's "Message from the Future" is flawed from the start, because it fails to tell us how the "progressives" defeat the corporate wing of her own party, personified by Nancy Pelosi, who is about right in her estimation that there are only one or two handfuls of Ocasio-Cortez type leftists in Congress. The party's corporate leadership is determined to make AOC and her left-Democrat colleagues an endangered species on Capitol Hill. That's why the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee imposed a new rule, blacklisting political consultants that back challengers to Democratic incumbents. "Let's be clear,"" said Rep. Ro Khanna, a leftish Democrat from California. "If this policy remains in place, it will mean that we will not allow new Ayanna Pressleys or AOCs to emerge. It's simply wrong."
No, it's simply the job of corporate Democrats to defend corporate interests, especially when Medicare for All is supported by 85 percent of Democrats (and even 52 percent of Republicans), and an amazing 92 percent of Democrats (and 64 percent of Republicans) support a Green New Deal. The Democratic Party is the first line of defense of corporate America, the place where progressive legislation can be smothered in its crib and supermajorities are corralled and neutered. Nancy Pelosi is the Democratic leader precisely because corporate moneybags trust her to neutralize the party's base at every stage of the "money-soaked" (as Paul Street likes to say) process.
The Democratic Party is half of the governing duopoly of the United States, and indispensable to the ongoing rule of the rich. Indeed, after three years of Russiagate, with Trump delegitimized in the eyes of majorities of Americans and his Republican base shrunk to an overtly racist rump (although the GOP White Man's Party remains the largest organized ideological bloc in the country), the Democratic Party has become the ruling class's most important political instrument. If the core corporate imperial policies of austerity and endless war are to be preserved, the Democratic base must be kept in check -- supermajorities be damned!
Maybe Ocasio-Cortez and Naomi Klein don't want to scare the children, but they have painted a scenario in which the rich roll over and accept the wishes of the majority without shedding oceans of blood. The U.S. empire is now engaged in a desperate bid to restrain and contain the rising forces of global majorities determined to throw off the shackles of half a millennium of racist, Euro-American dictatorship. Since its rise to superpower after World War Two, the U.S. has caused the deaths of tens of millions and held the planet hostage to nuclear annihilation. The U.S. and European ruling classes have tried to exterminate every government and movement in the formerly colonized world that attempted to address the needs and aspirations of popular majorities. The same people that organized this carnage also bankroll and buttress Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and their Republican counterparts.
Ocasio-Cortez's favored candidate for president is unacceptable to the ruling class, and therefore to the leaders of the Democratic Party. Never in U.S. history has a candidate of a duopoly party run on a promise to wipe out a major sector of the ruling class. But that is what Sanders is pledging to do with Medicare for All, which would smash the trillion dollar health insurance industry. AOC's animation envisions one of her young Bronx proteges journeying to Louisiana to help restore wetlands, working alongside "former oil workers" transitioned out of that (apparently doomed) industry but earning the same salary and benefits in their new, eco-friendly jobs. Big Oil's resistance to the verdict of Green New Deal supporters is already being expressed, through the leadership of Ocasio-Cortez's own party. The looming battle to-the-death in that turf does not appear in AOC's video fairy tale. Does she think it can be avoided?
Bernie Sanders, in whose 2016 campaign AOC became an activist, is an austerity-buster, and therefore beyond the pale for the imperial ruling class. Austerity is the universal global policy of late stage capitalism. It is designed to cap any expectations the lower classes might have of a better standard of life in the future, and to squelch notions that society should be organized for the betterment of the masses of people. Under austerity, there is never any money to even think about that. Medicare for All would not only bust austerity wide open (even while lowering overall health costs), but would be a death sentence for a trillion dollar section of finance capital -- the holy sanctum of the ruling class. Therefore, as the Wall Street Journal should know, the Lords of Capital have decreed: Stop Bernie -- the corporate Democrats' assignment from on-high.
Although Sanders remains an imperialist pig who is incapable of solidarity with other socialists in the world unless they are Scandinavian, I don't think U.S. rulers and their military and national security state henchmen trust Bernie to protect the empire. They didn't trust Trump, and he's an oligarch, like them.
The corporate Democrats will thwart Sanders' presidential bid -- by any means necessary. The national security state folks may kill him. It is inconceivable that finance capital -- which is to the Democratic Party what Big Oil is to the Republicans -- will tolerate a financial industry-slayer in the White House, or accept Sanders opening up the Pandora's Box of social spending on education and all the other "rights" he talks about. This is anathema to the ruling class in the 21st century, and they will not allow such agitation to triumph in either of their houses: Democratic or Republican. The Lords of Capital have paid the cost to be the boss of these institutions, and will not be defied. This season may be the final showdown between supermajorities of Democrats and the corporate party apparatus whose job is to betray them.
I don't know what tricks and travesties the corporate Democrats will employ against Sanders and his supermajority issues, but it will be the ugliest political fight since the crackers bum-rushed Reconstruction in Dixie. At the end of the carnage, we'll see if Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the millions that think like her still want to be Democrats.
Westminster Abbey To Give Thanks For Nuclear Weapons
By David Swanson
Last week I tweeted this: "The U.S. military wants to fly small nuclear power plants into wars in order to power the wars' weaponry. Because there was some chance we might not all die fast enough if nothing this stupid was tried."I linked to a report on this insane idea. Someone replied: "The Navy already does this."
True enough. Submarines and aircraft carriers engage in this lunacy, and we take it for granted. Submarines also haul nuclear weapons around the world's seas, ready to intentionally or accidentally destroy the world as needed.
But some people don't take anything for granted. Westminster Abbey, next door to Parliament, in London, is hosting a ceremony of thanksgiving to properly thank God for 50 years of nuclear weapons in the water. Oh, well, you might think, that makes sense to give thanks for having survived such behavior this long.
No, no, no. You misunderstand. They're thanking God for having created the nukes and subjected the world to the risk of apocalypse, not for the incredible luck of having thus far survived it.
Wouldn't Notre Dame in Paris be a more appropriate site for such a celebration, you might ask. Well, you'd have a point there.
Sane people in London are planning a protest, thank ______, well, thank whatever it is that sane people thank, Vasilli Arkhipov I guess. Thank you, Vasilli. (Look him up if you're suffering from AUSE [a U.S. education].) And this is England, not the United States, so the sane people may make an impressive showing - something I often envy.
But is sanity really called for here? Is it appropriate? WWYD? (What would Yippies do?) Why not go all in on the thank yous? Couldn't we thank God for cancer and starvation and Theresa May? What about cholera, Brexit, and Donald Trump? Napalm? White Phosphorus? Drones? Corporate news? Is there really a limit to what we can be properly thankful for?
It's the small things that count, here, I believe. When you find someone in the street in London stabbing somebody, run up and grab that person by the shirt, look them in the eye, and say, very sincerely: Thank you for your service. It's that sort of application of what we do on a large scale to the immediate human scale that can truly develop one's thankfulness, I believe.
Just thinking this way, I'm ready to thank God for the Royal Family (every royal family, but especially the Saudi one, I think - it's a close call) and for colds, headaches, the flu, Alzheimer's, and of course Joe Biden. And thank you most of all to Westminster Abbey for inspiring the world to be thankful!
(c) 2019 David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.
Joe Biden delivers the keynote speech at the First State Democratic Dinner at the Rollins Center in Dover, Delaware, on March 16, 2019.
History Shows Joe Biden 3.0 Is A Bad Idea
By William Rivers Pitt
"There is no present or future - only the past, happening over and over again - now." ~~~ Eugene O'Neill
So Joe's in now, and really, thank God. The corporate neoliberal "center" is dreadfully under-represented in the current tiny field of potential Democratic nominees. In the event candidates Buttigieg, Harris, O'Rourke, Booker, Klobuchar, Moulton, Inslee, Hickenlooper and Gillibrand fail to successfully advocate for continuing 30 years of failed conservative "centrist" Democratic policies, former Senator and Vice President Joe Biden (D-Delaware) will be there to shoot the gap.
"The third time's lucky," reads Alexander Hilsop's 1862 compendium of Scottish proverbs. I guess we're all going to find out how true that is over the course of the 79 weeks standing between this ragged little patch of time and the 2020 presidential election. Senator Biden's first run at the brass ring began on June 9, 1987, and ended in searing disgrace only 106 days later after his campaign was subsumed by plagiarism accusations and his questionable relationship with the facts of his own life.
Biden ran for president for the second time 20 years later, after dancing right up to the edge of declaring his candidacy before stepping back in 1992 and again in 2004. Biden managed to stay in the 2008 race for 11 months while never polling above single digits, finally withdrawing after placing 5th in the Iowa caucus. He did get noticed, however, and ultimately accepted the number two slot on what became a victorious Obama/Biden ticket.
Biden kicked off his third presidential run on Thursday with an ominous and somewhat cumbersome 6:00 am tweet - "[E]verything that has made America - America - is at stake." The announcement tweet failed to mention Biden's plans to attend a big-dollar fundraiser hosted by David Cohen, chief lobbyist for Comcast, the most despised company in the country. This, morosely, is par for a very long course.
Though he labels himself a friend to working people, Biden has a record of harming workers that spans decades. "His energetic work on behalf of the credit card companies has earned him the affection of the banking industry,"wrote Sen. Elizabeth Warren in 2002, "and protected him from any well-funded challengers for his Senate seat."
"State laws have made Delaware the domicile of choice for corporations, especially banks," writes Andrew Cockburn for Harpers, "and it competes for business with more notorious entrepots such as the Cayman Islands. Over half of all US public companies are legally headquartered there." Joe Biden spent 36 years as a Delaware senator until Obama raised him up in 2008, and during that time he served his core constituency with vigor.
Biden voted in favor of one of the most ruthlessly anti-worker bills in modern legislative history, the 2005 Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act, depriving millions of the protections provided by Chapter 7 bankruptcy. For this, and for his pro-corporate labors stretching all the way back to 1978, he has earned the financial devotion of the too-big-to-fail club many times over.
Millennial voters are touted as the sleeping giant of the 2020 election: Turn them out in large numbers, goes the thinking, and you can practically start measuring the drapes in the Oval Office today. If this is true, and I believe it is, candidate Biden began his campaign behind an eight-ball roughly the size of, well, Delaware.
"Student debt broke $1.5 trillion in the first quarter of 2018 according to the Federal Reserve,"writes Mark Provost for Truthout. "Twenty percent of student borrowers default on their loan payments. Delaware's own senator and former vice president of the United States, Joe Biden, is at the center of the decades-long campaign by lenders to eviscerate consumer debt protections."
Biden became chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1987, at a time when Republicans were running actively racist campaigns under the gossamer veil of being "tough on crime." Chairman Biden, who was about to spend 106 days failing to become president at the time, was not about to miss the boat. By 1994, he had become the Democratic champion for the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, a vicious piece of legislation which ushered in an age of mass incarceration that lawmakers today are still laboring to dismantle.
Biden's problems on the matter of race go far beyond his full-throated support for the 1994 crime bill. "I do not buy the concept, popular in the '60s, which said, 'We have suppressed the Black man for 300 years and the white man is now far ahead in the race for everything our society offers,'" he said in 1975 regarding school desegregation. "'In order to even the score, we must now give the Black man a head start, or even hold the white man back, to even the race.' I don't buy that."
You can expect to see that quote at least once a day for as long as his campaign remains active. One can try to shrug off a 44-year-old quote as the words of a man whose opinions on race have "evolved" - he shared the ticket with Obama! - but his record on the issue is unavoidably long and bleak. "Joe Biden's greatest strength is that he's been in the mainstream of American politics for the last 50 years,"writes the NBC politics blog, The Fix. "And that's his greatest weakness, too."
In this, Biden mirrors the history of the party whose nomination he seeks, a party that was firmly on the wrong side of racial justice until the middle of the 1960s. "My state was a slave state," he told Fox News in 2006. "My state is a border state. My state has the eighth-largest Black population in the country. My state is anything [but] a Northeast liberal state." Later that same year, before a mostly Republican crowd in South Carolina, Biden joked that Delaware only stayed in the Union during the Civil War "because we couldn't figure out how to get to the South."
Joe Biden voted in favor of George W. Bush's invasion and occupation of Iraq. I have spent the last 17 years of my life writing about that horrific war, and expect to still be writing about it right up until they wind me in my shroud. There is no lack of irony to be found in the fact that Biden ultimately decided not to run for president in 1992 because he voted against George H.W. Bush's Gulf War resolution, believing that vote irretrievably damaged his chances for victory. Some 26 years later, his vote in favor of a different Iraq war will be around his neck like a blood-soaked millstone, and justly so.
And then there is the matter of Anita Hill, which rolls many of the most pressing issues of the day - women's rights, the patriarchy, racism, the conservative balance of the Supreme Court, collusion with a Republican Party that thinks "bipartisanship" is hilarious - into a very hard ball.
"Joe Biden was the ringleader of the hostile and sexist hearing that put Anita Hill, not Clarence Thomas, on trial,"writes Shaunna Thomas, co-founder and executive director of the women's group, UltraViolet. "In doing so, Biden caused tremendous harm to all survivors, he set back the movement, and he helped put Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court. This is not a subject he can sweep under the rug. This is not something he can just get out of the way before announcing his candidacy. This is not something one line in a speech or interview will fix."
Prior to announcing his candidacy, Biden expressed regret for his treatment of Anita Hill, going so far as to say "I'm sorry" on the Today show in September 2018, which speaks volumes about how long he has been contemplating this campaign (Hill was not present in the studio to hear the apology). On the day he announced this third run, CNBC reported that Biden had spoken to Hill personally. "They had a private discussion,"said a campaign spokesperson, "where he shared with her directly his regret for what she endured and his admiration for everything she has done to change the culture around sexual harassment in this country."
According to The New York Times, however, Hill was having none of it. "Ms. Hill, in an interview Wednesday, said she left the conversation feeling deeply unsatisfied and declined to characterize his words to her as an apology,"reported the Times. "She said she is not convinced that Mr. Biden truly accepts the harm he caused her and other women who suffered sexual harassment and gender violence."
"I cannot be satisfied by simply saying I'm sorry for what happened to you," Hill is quoted as saying. "I will be satisfied when I know there is real change and real accountability and real purpose. The focus on apology, to me, is one thing. But he needs to give an apology to the other women and to the American public because we know now how deeply disappointed Americans around the country were about what they saw. And not just women. There are women and men now who have just really lost confidence in our government to respond to the problem of gender violence."
Joe Biden's first three public endorsements - from conservative Democratic Senators Chris Coons (Delaware), Bob Casey (Pennsylvania) and Doug Jones (Alabama) - tell you all you need to know about who is rooting for his candidacy. A significant number of the policies he has devoted his life to are simply terrible. He's a bannerman for a failed Democratic Party experiment, and the only people who don't seem capable of perceiving that failure are the "centrist" Democrats cheering him on.
Biden is planning to run on the same "But I can win!" platform that worked out so poorly in the last election. The politics blog Crystal Ball labels him as potentially "The Most Experienced New President Ever," which was also what some people were saying about Hillary Clinton in 2016. Even in the short time between now and then, a great many Democratic voters have demonstrably left him behind.
Three decades of watching conservative Democrats assist Republicans as they drove the country to the right is enough already. Alexander Hilsop's proverb, I strongly suspect, is dead wrong on this one. Joe Biden is leading in the polls at the moment, but if he's still in the race after Super Tuesday, I will be stunned. At least he'll know how to find the exit. He's done it before.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks at the Heartland Forum held on the campus of Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa, Saturday, March 30, 2019.
Warren Is Winning The Ideas Primary
By John Nichols
It is far too early to say who will win next spring's Democratic presidential primary in Wisconsin, let alone who the party will nominate when it convenes in Milwaukee the following summer.
But to the extent that 20 contenders are engaged in an ideas primary, it can safely be said that Elizabeth Warren has taken the lead.
The senator from Massachusetts is not just coming up with bold proposals - like the ambitious plan she released last week for cancellation of student loan debt and universal free public college - she's also wrestling with the big questions raised by Donald Trump's lawless presidency.
Warren's response to the most serious of those questions has been a full embrace of the U.S. Constitution.
The senator read the redacted report from special counsel Robert Mueller, came to a conclusion grounded in her understanding of the system of checks and balances, and acted according to the dictates of the founding document.
"The Mueller report lays out facts showing that a hostile foreign government attacked our 2016 election to help Donald Trump and Donald Trump welcomed that help. Once elected, Donald Trump obstructed the investigation into that attack," she said in a recent statement. "Mueller put the next step in the hands of Congress: 'Congress has authority to prohibit a President's corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice.' The correct process for exercising that authority is impeachment."
This was not a jarring or radical statement for those who have actually read the Constitution. Rather, it was a savvy interpretation of how the document applies to the Mueller report by someone who is competing for the right to swear an oath, on Jan. 20, 2021, to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
Warren, a longtime professor at Harvard Law School and one of the great legal scholars of our time, did the due diligence. She read the report, and she concluded that she had a "responsibility to speak out."
"I took an oath to the Constitution of the United States," the senator explained, "and the Constitution makes clear that the accountability of the president is - lies through Congress, and that's the impeachment process."
Warren spoke in the direct, unequivocal language that Americans have a right to expect from the president who will have to clean up the mess made by Trump. While other contenders addressed the Mueller report - and some like Beto O'Rourke, Pete Buttigieg and Julian Castro addressed the prospect of impeachment - it was Warren who went to the heart of the matter.
Warren does not top the polls in the crowded Democratic field. She has not raised the most money. Yet, the seriousness with which she has approached the ideas primary merits consideration by Democrats, independents and frustrated Republicans who are desperate for a president who thinks long and hard about the direction in which this nation must head.
That is particularly true when it comes to the ideas outlined in our Constitution. When it comes to the clear-eyed embrace of the system of checks and balances that should be a prerequisite for presidential contenders, Elizabeth Warren has made herself the frontrunner.
(c) 2019 John Nichols John Nichols is associate editor of The Capital Times. Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.
Tracking The Origins Of Planets
By James Donahue
We live on a giant spinning collection of rock, dirt, heated lava and water that is one of the eight known planets in our solar system. We know this. What we do not know is how the planets formed the way they did, and why it happened.
The theories range from a magical creation of everything from nothing by a master Creator of All, to a Big Bang that split the heart of a super collection of matter and launched the process that created a universe.
For scientists that want to reject the magical creation of something from nothing and calculate ways in which things might have turned out the way they did, the detailed study of the planets, their moons and all of the other things flying around our Sun has raised more questions than it has produced answers.
How was it possible, for instance, that the four planets closest to the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. Plus the moons of Earth and Mars are composed of solid rock, while the larger plants farther out in space are gas giants?
From what we know, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune appear to all be giant balls of gas. Some researchers believe, however, that the core of at least Neptune may be a ball of rock. In addition, all of the gas planets are surrounded by many moons, all of them appearing to be made of solid material. Jupiter also hosts a ring of rocks that some researchers believe may be the remnants of a collision of two large astral bodies.
Then there is tiny Pluto and a long list of other ice dwarfs, like Ceres and Iris, that are considered too small to be planets but they also are in orbit around the Sun; and they are comprised of solid material.
In addition to all of the above, our solar system is filled with other flying objects that include comets, asteroids and meteors, many of which fly in orbits so wide that they only visit our solar system once in long historical cycles.
What we have is an amazingly active solar system and universe beyond that. Astronomers do not run out of new things to discover, new questions to ask, and new ideas about what they are looking at when they peer through those increasingly powerful telescopes or study the images being sent back to Earth from various research spacecraft sent to fly by virtually every planet.
In spite of all of this research, and even though we live on one of them, planets are among the more mysterious objects in the universe. No theory can fully explain how collections of dust and gas swirling around fiery Suns form planets and moons. That some of them create rocky formations like the Earth. We don't know what exists at the core of the planets, even in the Earth.
Astronomers recently used the Hubble Space Telescope and various ground-based observations to record what they believe was the formation of a new planet from debris swirling around Epsilon Eridam, a young sun-like star in the constellation Eridanus. The observation by a team led by Barbara McArthur at the University of Texas was reported in the November, 2010 issue of Astronomical Journal.
While the observation strongly suggests a way in which planets form, it leaves the lingering questions that include how it occurs and why some planets in our solar system came out as spinning balls of rock while others are gas giants. And why do the gas giants have so many rocky moons swirling around them?
An interesting paper, The Original Solar System, by Tom Van Flandern which appeared in Meta Research, suggests that there may have been more design to our solar system than astronomers ever realized.
Van Flandern, who proposes that solar fission, or a spin-off of debris from a rapidly spinning early Sun, sent the ingredients off into space that formed the planets, and that additional debris from those rapidly spinning solar fragments then formed the moons now revolving around the planets.
If Van Flandern's thesis is correct, it still fails to explain what caused the original spiraling and burning gas and matter cloud that launched the creation of the entire solar system.
Van Flandern writes that "In the inner solar system, Mercury is very likely to be an escaped moon of Venus, a thesis for which a great deal of evidence exists." He also projects a theory that Mars, in turn, may be another escaped moon.
"If we accept these tentative identifications, and exclude the three smallest planetary bodies from consideration, it is interesting to look at what is left by way of true, major planets in the original solar system," Van Flandern wrote.
"First we have Venus and Earth, both rather similar in mass, composition, solar distance and number of original significant moons. Following the asteroidal gap, we have the two largest gas giants, Jupiter and Saturn, likewise with similar composition and numerous moons, and with masses and solar distances more similar to one another than to any other planet. Next we have another pair of twins, Uranus and Neptune, with similar masses, composition and solar distances."
Van Flandern suggests that if Pluto and Charon are escaped moons from Neptune, these final two planets would have been created with a similar number of moons, each.
Thus, the author notes that the original planet arrangement in the solar system was marked by three sets of twin planets.
So how cool is that? Putting what we know in perspective, do we dare question the intelligent design of our universe?
(c) 2019 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.
President Donald Trump speaks during a rally at the IX Center, in Cleveland, Monday, Nov. 5, 2018.
Impeach His Sorry Ass Now
The GOP is the party of overlook; Democrats must be the party of oversight.
By Michael Winship
Over the course of my dusty television career, I have from time to time run into situations where a certain Hollywood celebrity type will make a threat-not to do interviews or make public appearances on behalf of a show, for example-unless some egregious demand of his or hers is met.
It's a trap. Even if you meet their demand, my experience has been that they still won't do what you request, nor did they ever intend to, no matter how much kowtowing you do. The mean ones get a noxious thrill from their ability to manipulate and diminish others.
So Congress, have you met Donald Trump? By now, you of all legislative bodies should know that nothing you do or say makes much difference to him, that whatever he will or won't do is based not on policy or philosophy or your stated preferences but on whim, ego and a feral sense of self-preservation.
Thus we have our own celebrity brat-in-chief, a thuggish tot whose response to very attempt to uphold the Constitution and to maintain the balance of power among the three equal branches of government is a childish but deeply dangerous, "I don't wanna."
Sent subpoenas for documents and witnesses, Trump replies, "We're fighting all the subpoenas" (I don't wanna). Ordered by law to release his tax returns, the president claims he's still under audit and by the way, no (I don't wanna). Letters requesting the congressional testimony of such administration officials as Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and immigration troll Stephen Miller, forget about it (I don't wanna).
That there should be checks and balances in government chafes Trump. He's a control freak who brooks no criticism and wants total dictatorial power. "Trump is not inventing executive intransigence out of whole cloth," Heidi Kitrosser, author of "Reclaiming Accountability: Transparency, Executive Power, and the U.S. Constitution" told Jonathan Allen at NBC News. "At the same time, this is not same-old, same-old. He is taking longstanding pathologies in terms of an increasingly imperial executive branch and ratcheting it up many times over."
What's more, his party is letting him move ever closer to such authoritarianism with barely a whisper of opposition. "Trump's brazenness is the natural result of his party's refusal to defend the rule of law," conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin writes at the Washington Post. "They indulge him, his conduct gets worse and the cycle repeats."
He has to go.
Impeachment by the House won't actually do it-unless convicted by the Senate, the president stays in place-but the impeachment process itself has much to recommend it, even more so than various, extended congressional investigations of his assorted frauds and betrayals of country.
I have thought about this a lot and weighed the pros and cons. For one thing, impeachment has a nice ring to it. I mean it. Impeachment is a solid concept, endowed to us by the Founders because they knew that there would come times between elections when the president had to be punished or even removed, and it creates a convenient umbrella for all the ongoing congressional inquiries coming together as one. The process dramatically will point a spotlight and provide a great public education on this administration's corruption and mendacity.
As we now know from the redacted Mueller report, there is more than enough evidence to impeach on obstruction of justice charges and even though the Mueller team did not find Trump and his team directly conspiring with Russia to meddle in our election they did absolutely nothing to discourage and indeed, welcomed what the report calls "sweeping and systematic" interference. Mueller has given Congress a 448-page roadmap to impeachment, and every action the Trump White House has taken since to stymie and vilify further inquiries is just further proof why impeachment's necessary.
Andrew Cohen, fellow at NYU's Brennan Center for Justice, says it well. Trump and his team, he writes, are "going to continue to act this way until they are forced legally and politically to back down. But we can't wait for the courts to sort it out, especially with the Supreme Court at its most conservative point in nearly a century. And it's no answer to say that the presidential election of 2020 is the fairest way to resolve this problem. There are 640 days left of the Trump presidency (even if he is not re-elected next November) and each day without a reckoning for what Trump has done is an insult to the Constitution as we have known it. If the Democrats don't at least hold impeachment hearings, they'll be derelict in their duty."
Yes, I read the new Washington Post/ABC News poll that indicates only 37% of the people favor starting impeachment proceedings. But go back to June 1973, a year after the Watergate break-in and a month or so into the now famous Senate Watergate hearings (just as John Dean was about to tell the committee that he advised Nixon there existed "a cancer growing on the presidency"). At that point, per a Gallup poll at the time, only 19 percent of Americans sought Nixon's impeachment; in other words, just half of those who favor it now. Within months, as hearings publicized Nixon's wrongdoings and the Saturday Night Massacre appalled the public, that number had doubled.
The journalist Elizabeth Drew, now 83, witnessed the events of Watergate. So did I, albeit as a mere wisp of a lad; Watergate was a key part of my first television job. She wrote perceptively about those events in her book, Washington Journal, republished just a few years ago.
In the New York Times she now notes the decision to impeach "is both more difficult and consequential than the discussion of it suggests... But even if the Republican-controlled Senate doesn't vote to remove Mr. Trump, a statement by the House that the president has abused his office is preferable to total silence from the Congress. The Republicans will have to face the charge that they protected someone they knew to be a dangerous man in the White House."
Further, comparisons with the boomeranging 1998 impeachment of Bill Clinton are odious; his behavior with an intern and cruel, buffoonish attempts to cover it up were indeed deeply shameful but hardly dangerous to freedom and nothing next to the current president's criminal subversion of democracy.
Democratic members of the House, don't be intimidated. With an impeachment vote, you make your Republican colleagues go on the record as to whether they support this venal president, whether their fear of him and concern for reelection, not to mention their access to wealthy donors and lavish perks, is greater than love of country and democracy. Hold them accountable. Right now, the GOP is the party of overlook; Democrats must be the party of oversight.
Remember, too, that while you investigate you can propose legislation as well; such was the case during Nixon's impeachment. Pursue Trump's wrongdoing while at the same time offering alternative programs for health, education, jobs, immigration and infrastructure. You can be certain that Republicans will not.
Do as Elizabeth Warren is doing: campaign on such proposals as you continue to hold Trump's feet to the fire. As Hillary Clinton and others have said we're reasonably sure Congress and candidates can walk and chew gum at the same time. In this way, Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute (although urging careful inquiries first and extreme caution) writes, "... impeachment would look powerfully more like a logical and necessary step, less like a vindictive, partisan move."
So stop dithering. Don't forfeit your advantage by letting Trump's bullying get into your head. Don't be afraid. This is no time to go wobbly, as a certain British PM once admonished an American president. If you think that by going down the impeachment route, Trump will jump up and down screaming and rattle his prized clamoring base at you, you're right, but trust me-like those Hollywood celebrity types I mentioned at the beginning, the ones who meanly make threats to manipulate and diminish-he's going to do that no matter what you do or say or ask.
Don't wobble. Time to stand up. Investigate. Illuminate. Impeach.
(c) 2019 Michael Winship is the Schumann Senior Writing Fellow for Common Dreams. Previously, he was the Emmy Award-winning senior writer of Moyers & Company and BillMoyers.com, a past senior writing fellow at the policy and advocacy group Demos and former president of the Writers Guild of America East. Follow him on twitter:@MichaelWinship
The WH Is Pushing The Democrats Closer To Impeachment Whether They Like It Or Not
By Heather Digby Parton
People in the media and politics bemoan the cynicism of our age, saying that people vote for a liar like Donald Trump because they believe all politicians lie and he's just more colorful about it. This era is producing men and women of such grandiose mendacity that it will be a miracle if the next generation believes that anyone in politics is even capable of acting in the national interest. It's possible that Robert Mueller may be the last of his kind in the GOP and I'm not all that sure about him either. We'll have to see how this plays out to know whether Mueller pulled too many punches but for the moment he's all we have left of a "just the facts ma'am" Republican straight arrow.
You certainly cannot say the same for his friend William Barr, the new attorney general. He has proved to be the most rank partisan in that role since John Mitchell, Richard Nixon's attorney general, who spent 19 months in jail for his part in the Watergate scandal. Even though I had my suspicions that Barr had spent too much time in the right-wing fever swamps, based upon the notorious unsolicited memo he sent to the White House and his comments to the news media, like most people I was hoping that he would be one of those old-school "institutionalist" types who would look at the evidence in the Mueller report and be as appalled by this norm-busting, law-breaking, power-abusing president as the entire world has been since it was released.
It turns out that we were not cynical enough. Not by a long shot. Rather than acting as an independent upholder of the law, serving the people, Barr is proving to be the most servile of all Trump's henchmen. He's not even as independent as the multiple yes-men in the administration who failed to follow Trump's orders but stayed on anyway. Barr seems to see himself as the president's trusted legal consigliere, helping him to avoid getting caught for his crimes. The president truly has found his new Roy Cohn, Trump's notorious mentor and personal lawyer who was eventually disbarred for egregious unethical conduct.
From the four-page "Barr letter" and its fatuous conclusion that Trump did not obstruct justice to the pre-release press conference in which Barr attempted to spin the report in the president's favor, the attorney general has been doing damage control. Over the last week, as Trump has said he will fight every request and every subpoena, Barr is now running interference between the Justice Department and the Congress. He is refusing to appear before the House Judiciary Committee unless chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., shelves his plan to have part of the session run by committee counsel and hold a part of the hearing in closed session. Apparently Barr does not like the idea that the legal staff could follow up closely with a line of inquiry. He prefers the disjointed five-minute questioning format that never gets anywhere, which is a sad statement coming from the attorney general of the United States.
If Barr can't face a committee lawyer, perhaps he's not really fit to be the top law enforcement officer in the federal government. The Judiciary Committee lawyers interviewed many of the other participants in the Russia investigation, including former FBI director James Comey, in closed session. The only difference with Barr is that this will be a public hearing, which one might expect the self-described most transparent government in history to be happy to accommodate.
Barr has been around long enough to remember all the times that congressional committees had counsel question witnesses, including cabinet members. It most famously happened during the Watergate hearings when lawyers like Sam Dash and Richard Ben-Veniste became national figures, holding the president's men's feet to the fire. Chief counsel to the Senate's Iran-Contra committee, Arthur Liman, led the questioning in that inquiry. And considering that just a few months ago, the Republicans hired an outside attorney to question Dr. Christine Blasey Ford in the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, it's entirely absurd that Barr is balking.
Nadler refused to change his plans, explaining patiently that witnesses aren't allowed to dictate procedure to congressional committees, nor is the attorney general allowed to dictate to the legislative branch. (The Trump administration remains very confused about the separation of powers in general.) Nadler says he'll issue a subpoena if Barr refuses to show up. There is some talk about holding the hearings with an empty chair which would be very silly and unproductive.
Robert Costa of the Washington Post reported on MSNBC on Monday that Republican sources tell him the Democrats are being "political" and have no right to hold hearings that are impeachment inquiries in all but name. I think we know how to solve that problem, don't we?
Barr's outrageous behavior and the White House attempts to stonewall all forms of oversight are pushing the Democrats toward impeachment, whether they want it or not. Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., a member of the House Democratic policy leadership team who sits on the Judiciary Committee, told the Washington Post's Greg Sargent, "If we can't fact-gather, we're going to have to use the other tools at our disposal and make sure our oversight responsibilities are respected."
Lieu added, "If it turns out we can't investigate because the White House is not complying with anything that Congress requests, then I think the caucus would support an article of impeachment on obstructing Congress in order to maximize our court position." As Sargent points out, Democrats have already said that fact-gathering and accountability is their mission for the moment, "but if Trump won't allow that, they can threaten an impeachment inquiry in response, and note quite correctly that Trump is forcing them into it."
The third article of impeachment against Richard Nixon was for defying congressional subpoenas and oversight. Trump may be leaving Congress no choice but to do that again, if only to defend its own constitutional prerogatives. For a president with an approval rating that's been hovering around 40% for his entire tenure, that's a risky strategy.
(c) 2019 Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.
Young people are calling on adults for real action to preserve their future.
What Do We Do When The Cathedral Burns?
By David Suzuki
When Paris's Notre Dame caught fire on April 15, the flames threatened more than eight centuries of culture and history. The fire evoked shock, horror and grief worldwide. While the cathedral burned, French President Emmanuel Macron expressed determination to rebuild what the French regard as a sacred site.
Beset by divisive "yellow vest" demonstrations, the French were united by the Notre Dame fire in grief and their resolve to rebuild. Within a day, wealthy donors and companies pledged a billion dollars for restoration. The first challenge will be to determine what caused the fire so a repeat can be avoided in the rebuilding.
I wouldn't wish to diminish in any way the profound emotional impact of the Notre Dame conflagration. I have visited the great cathedral a number of times, and each time has been a deep spiritual experience. But if we had a similar response of shock and horror at the death throes of the Great Barrier Reef, the toxic state of the Ganges River, the degradation of the Amazon rainforest or the rising levels of carbon in the atmosphere that gives us air, weather, climate and seasons, think of the responses we could develop.
What prevents us from action is the perceptual framework through which we encounter the world. We all share a common sensory system to inform us about what is happening around us. Humans have increased the range of our senses with telescopes, microscopes and technology to see, hear and smell far beyond the range of our organs.
However, factors like gender, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic position and personal experience shape the way we respond to the input from our senses. Ask a man and a woman about love, sex or family, a Bay Street financier and a Bay Street homeless person about money, the economy or welfare, a Palestinian and an Israeli about Gaza, water or Jerusalem, and chances are the responses will be radically different.
One of humankind's most important attributes for survival has been foresight - the ability to use observation, experience and imagination to look ahead and make decisions that minimize danger and take advantage of opportunity. Today, scientists and supercomputers provide powerful amplification of foresight by marshalling a vast array of information and projecting scenarios into the future. For decades, leading scientists and their organizations have warned about catastrophic changes in the chemistry of the atmosphere, depletion of oceans, spread of toxic pollutants throughout air, water and soil, acceleration of species extinction and so on.
As Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan governments vow to fight a carbon tax and pit jobs and the economy against action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we fail to unite in recognizing the threat of climate change to our health and survival.
Children are not yet blinded by the perceptual complications of adulthood or our verbal declarations. They see that our current trajectory is toward a radically uncertain future. Inspired in part by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, young people are calling on adults for real action to preserve their future. Surely that merits as profound and intense a response as the French have had to the Notre Dame fire.
We know the cause of the current ecological crisis. With our profligate use of fossil fuels and over-exploitation of renewable and non-renewable resources while putting our "wastes" into air, water and soil, we are destroying the natural systems on which we depend for health and survival. Having identified the cause, we could commit massive amounts to stop the practices that are creating the problems while searching for new ways to provide for our needs and to exploit what we call "waste."
This will call for a shift in the way we see ourselves in the world. By raising their future for consideration, children are trying to get politicians to move beyond their current priorities of re-election and party solidarity and to show businesspeople the folly inherent in the drive for ever-increasing profits and endless growth. There is no hidden agenda or ulterior motives behind their pleas. Ignoring their calls for action puts us on a road to extinction.
Repairing Notre Dame and preventing future damage is worthy, but we must also do the same with our precious natural systems and areas.
President Trump And Other Notable Leaders Address Annual NRA Meeting
The New York Times May Finally Be Running Out Of Euphemisms For 'Lie' The Paper of Record does not cover itself in glory calling Trump's baby execution line "an inaccurate refrain."
By Charles P. Pierce
On Saturday, El Caudillo del Mar-a-Lago had another one of his irregularly scheduled public episodes in front of people in Green Bay, Wisconsin. He bragged about his magnificent economic achievements to an audience in America's Dairyland, despite the fact that Wisconsin's dairy farms have begun to blow away in a strong breeze. Everybody cheered because MAGA. Also, according to an authoritative count by the Washington Post, he treated the assembled burghers to the 10,000th lie of his presidency*. He also went on another one of his familiar riffs about the tragic events surrounding the births of fatally disabled children.
The baby is born. The mother meets with the doctor. They take care of the baby. They wrap the baby beautifully. And then the doctor and the mother determine whether or not they will execute the baby.
This unmitigated bullshit is going to get someone killed, the anti-choice movement having already piled up an impressive body count. But what I did not expect was that The New York Times would take this opportunity to assault the English language with the intent to do grave bodily harm. To wit:
President Trump revived on Saturday night what is fast becoming a standard, and inaccurate, refrain about doctors "executing babies."" During a more than hourlong speech at a rally in Green Bay, Wis., Mr. Trump admonished the Democratic governor, Tony Evers, for vetoing a Republican bill that could send doctors to prison for life if they fail to give medical care to children born alive after a failed abortion attempt.
An "inaccurate refrain"?
Are these people serious?
The only possible ray of hope in that paragraph is that "inaccurate refrain" is such a clumsy phrase that they may finally be running out of euphemisms for "arrant lying." Maybe they'll soon have no choice but to call a lie a lie. Here is a moving Twitter thread that describes what actually happens in these horrible situations. The president*'s bloodthirsty mendacity reminds me of the lies and slander aimed at the hospice workers while they were tending to Terri Schiavo. The hospice got regular bomb threats and so did the elementary school up the road.
But, seriously, NYT? An "inaccurate refrain"? I feel sick. Good thing, as John Fogerty warned us, there's a bathroom on the right.
(c) 2019 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.
A liberal education... frees a man from the prison-house of his class, race, time, place, background, family and even his nation."
~~~ Robert M. Hutchins
From Nazis To Netanyahu How did things go so terribly wrong?
By Jane Stillwater
"Love your hat!" I said to the grey-bearded Hasidic rabbi next to me as we stood in front of the White House the other day. We were both preparing to march up New York Avenue to the DC Convention Center where members of the American Israel Public Affairs Action Committee (AIPAC) were happily doing brunch and getting ready to listen to their hero Bibi Netanyahu spew out his favorite brand of nationalism and hate.
"My father died in a Nazi concentration camp," said the old rabbi, "and we Jews all vowed 'never again'. And yet here we are, 75 years later, and now it is Zionists instead of Nazis who are running concentration camps." The old rabbi sighed. "And what also gives me big problems today," he continued, "is that when people on the street see me in my traditional Hasidic garments, they frown and avoid me because they think that I myself support Zionist atrocities -- but the Zionists, the real troublemakers, are all wearing suits and trying to fit in. And the irony of this is that these Zionists don't even represent Judaism at all."
Yep, the old rabbi nailed it. Nowadays Zionists are rabidly claiming to be Jews -- but only after having disdainfully discarded Moses, the Ten Commandments and a goodly chunk of the Torah. That's totally absurd. And yet Hasidic Jews, not Zionists, are paying the price for haters like Netanyahu and Trump. And Jews from Poway to Pittsburgh are paying a terrible price too.
To paraphrase Tupac, "The hate that Zionists give screws up real Jews."
Netanyahu wears thousand-dollar designer suits while Gaza children wear rags. Netanyahu supports the Saudis, who are slowly turning Yemen into Auschwitz. Netanyahu supports American fascism which in turn supports all kinds of murder both at home and abroad. Ten Commandments? The Torah? Mere propaganda tools.
And America's so-called Christians aren't doing much better at representing Jesus either. "Sanctuary Cities." OMG, that's what America's current shamelessly un-Christian regime is now calling all those miserable concentration camps for kidnapped babies which now fester away at our southern border like open sores. That's just like, back in the day, when Nazis declared that Theresienstadt, their fake "Model Town" concentration camp for Jewish artists and musicians, was a "cultural center" -- just before sending these same talented Jews off to the ovens, playing their violins as they went.
Recently I joined some Palestinian genocide survivors, some actually-moral Americans and a bunch of Hasidic Jews as we met near the White House, marched up New York Avenue and picketed AIPAC's annual convention -- filled with Zionists who have been influencing our federal elections ever since before Eisenhower and Johnson.
And please don't try to accuse me of anti-Semitism either. As the old rabbi pointed out, real Jews try to obey the Ten Commandments. Real Jews try to seek justice. And real Jews don't run concentration camps like Gaza -- just like real Christians don't run concentration camps like the one in Tomillo, Texas.
"Over the centuries," the Hasidic rabbi said, "Anti-Semitism has caused much bloodshed and right-thinking people recognize how tragic it is. But the term is often used incorrectly today -- abused to promote people's agendas. Zionism isn't Judaism. It's nationalism." And the absolutely worst sort of nationalism too. Colonialism, power grabs, brutality, really bad stuff. Not religious at all.
"Encouraging the conflation of Zionism with Judaism also encourages hatred toward the innocent -- and the result is that real Jews end up being the target of anger over actions perpetrated by Zionists, supposedly in the name of Jews." That's so unjust. For 75 years now, Zionists have been violently stirring up hatred for Palestinian Christians and Muslims. The result? Zionist "settlers" feel free to murder and plunder at will. And after 75 years of Zionists trumpeting hate speech, the whole Middle East is now in flames -- and domestic terrorists also run wild in the United States. The hate that Zionists give screws up all of us.
"And this is why we are marching here today." Go, you! Justice is always a good thing.
"But, Jane, why are you being so especially hard on the Zionists," you might ask. No. It's not just them that I'm being hard on. I also resent all those un-Christians in Europe and America who pretend to worship Jesus and yet murder and torture others in Jesus' name. Or those un-Muslim Saudis who finance ISIS and fire-bomb babies in Yemen. Mohammad (PBUH) would never approve of that. So why should I give un-Jews a pass just because they brutally colonized Jerusalem? Obviously I don't.
How to fix this problem? The problem of false propaganda turning religions into tools to gain power and greed? Easy. Demagogues and power-hungry Calf-worshiping blasphemers need to reassess both their methods and their goals. When a group's goal is to dominate the world and make everyone else suffer, they really do need to stop calling themselves "religious."
The real goal of truly religious people is to be kind, loving, compassionate and helpful. But Zionists and un-Jews, just like their counterparts the un-Christians and un-Muslims, simply aren't any fun.
To quote Gloria Steinem, "Whenever one person stands up and says: 'Wait a minute. This is wrong,' it helps other people do the same." I stood up with the Hasidic Jews and the Palestinians on that march -- and had fun doing it too. Plus it's gonna be really hard to accuse these Hasidic Jews, marching in full regalia down New York Avenue, of being anti-Semitic or even self-hating -- but I imagine that Netanyahu and AIPAC will find some way to do it anyway. But the friendly grey-bearded Hasidic rabbi I marched next to sure didn't look like an anti-Semitic self-hating Jew to me.
PS: "Why do religions even have such strong laws to support ethics?" asks author Barbara Ehrenreich. "Because humans need some sort of ethics touchstone in order to survive." If only bullies, corporate shills, armed forces and corrupt regimes rule the world, then the human race is doomed. Hence guidelines like the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule are necessary -- unless of course you relish the idea of becoming toast. Which I don't.
So. If our leaders are liars, cheats, torturers and bullies, then it's time for us all to stand up and have our objections counted -- or else go down with their sinking ship.
Fats Domino sings: "I found my thrill, on Blueberry Hill." Maybe, but America's richest corporate powers know precisely where to find their thrill: On Capitol Hill!
They rushed there in 2017 with a passion hotter than high school love, spewing the pheromones of campaign cash into the Republican congressional caucus. Sure enough, the GOP Congress came through for the corporations, satisfying their lust to have their tax rate lowered from 35 percent to 21 percent - lower than a modest-income working stiff pays.
Actually, the corporate elites had not been paying anywhere near 35 percent, since they used dozens of loopholes to cut their average rate to about 13 percent. Yet, Republican lawmakers coddled these privileged giants with a rate cut - plus they kept intact most of those gaping loopholes. Thus, many corporate behemoths paid zero in federal taxes this year. Or less!
How is it possible to pay less than zero? By riddling the tax code with so many special deductions and gimmicks that the government owes you money! On tax day this year, a watchdog group called ITEP (Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy) issued a report documenting that 60 of America's biggest corporations used the GOP's tax cut and special breaks to avoid paying a dime in taxes on the $79 billion in profits they'd hauled in.
Indeed, they were given millions of dollars in rebates from our public treasury. For example, Amazon, which had $11 billion in profit last year, paid zero in federal income tax, instead plucking $126 million in rebates from us. Likewise, Chevron, John Deere, GM, and Prudential grabbed more than $100 million.
This plutocratic ripoff is so shameful and unAmerican that a group of embarrassed rich people are calling for its repeal. For information go to PatrioticMillionaires.org.
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, Donald J. Trump, 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 not allowing your schools valedictorian to give a speech because he was black, Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!
Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Trump at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 05-18-2019. We salute you Herr Munno, Sieg Heil!
Vice Fuhrer Pence
5 Responses To Climate Change Deniers
By Robert Reich
Have you ever found yourself in a conversation with someone who denies climate change? Here are 5 responses to climate change deniers:
1) The science is undeniable. Scientists have concluded that the Earth-s temperature has been steadily climbing since the late 19th century, just when humans started emitting large amounts of carbon pollution into the atmosphere. And it's intensifying. 18 of the 19 warmest years on record have occurred since 2001.
And, no. Just because it snows doesn't mean climate change isn't occurring.
You can see the consequences of extreme weather all around us. Wildfires. hurricanes. droughts.
2) Tackling climate change is good for the economy. Clean energy creates more jobs than natural gas or coal, with 3 times as many Americans already employed in clean energy as in fossil fuels. These jobs also tend to pay more. States like California that have invested heavily in clean energy have grown their economies, while reducing carbon pollution.
3) Other countries are charging ahead with clean energy, leaving America in the coal dust. Germany plans to close its remaining coal plants by 2038. China is moving ahead with clean energy and has pledged to invest hundreds of billions more, far outpacing the United States. Even Saudi Arabia is now investing in renewable energy.
4) We can't afford not to address climate change. The devastation brought on by climate change will cause the U.S. economy to shrink, according to scientific estimates. The losses are projected to be more than double those of the Great Recession.
5) Oil companies have known for decades that carbon pollution threatens the planet, but have sought to block action addressing the crisis. They have poured billions into political donations and misinformation campaigns to protect their profits and block clean air laws.
At this point, anyone who denies climate change is either willfully ignorant or complicit in protecting fossil fuel profits over the safety and security of our children and grandchildren.
The Last Battle
The media's focus on personality is designed to shift attention away from dangerous ideas
By Chris Hedges
THE BEAVER LAKE CREE NATION, Treaty No. 6 Area, Canada-I am driving down a rutted dirt road with Eric Lameman, a member of the Cree nation.
"Over there, he says, pointing out where he was born in a tent 61 years ago.
We stop the car and look toward a wooded grove.
"That's the mass grave," he says softly, indicating a clearing where dozens of Cree who died in a smallpox epidemic over a century ago are buried.
The Cree have been under relentless assault since the arrival of the European colonialists in the 1500s. Now the 500 inhabitants of the Cree reserve, where many live in small, boxy prefabricated houses, are victims of a new iteration of colonial exploitation, one centered on the extraction of oil from the vast Alberta tar sands. This atrocity presages the destruction of the ecosystem on which they depend for life. If the Cree do not stop the exploiters this time, they, along the exploiters, will die.
The reserve is surrounded by the tar sands, one of the largest concentrations of crude oil in the world. The sands produce 98% of Canada's oil and are the United States' largest source of imported oil. This oil, among the dirtiest fossil fuels on earth, is a leading cause of atmospheric pollution, releasing massive amounts of carbon dioxide. The production and consumption of one barrel of tar sands crude oil release 17% more carbon dioxide than production and consumption of a standard barrel of oil.
Tar sands oil is a thick, mucky, clay-like substance that is infused with a hydrocarbon called bitumen. The oil around Beaver Lake is extracted by a process known as steam-assisted gravity drainage, which occurs under the earth and is similar to fracking. Farther north, extraction is done by strip-mining the remote boreal forest of Alberta, 2 million acres of which have already been destroyed. The destruction of vast forests, sold to timber companies, and the scraping away of the topsoil have left behind poisoned wastelands. This industrial operation, perhaps the largest such project in the world, is rapidly accelerating the release of the carbon emissions that will, if left unchecked, soon render the planet uninhabitable for humans. The oil is transported thousands of miles to refineries as far away as Houston through pipelines and in tractor-trailer trucks or railroad cars. More than a hundred climate scientists have called for a moratorium on the extraction of tar sands oil. Former NASA scientist James Hansen has warned that if the tar sands oil is fully exploited, it will be "game over for the planet." He has also called for the CEOs of fossil fuel companies to be tried for high crimes against humanity.
It is hard, until you come here, to grasp the scale of the tar sands exploitation. Surrounding Beaver Lake are well over 35,000 oil and natural gas wells and thousands of miles of pipelines, access roads and seismic lines. (The region also contains the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range, which has appropriated huge tracts of traditional territory from the native inhabitants to test weapons.) Giant processing plants, along with gargantuan extraction machines, including bucket wheelers that are over half a mile long and draglines that are several stories high, ravage hundreds of thousands of acres. These stygian centers of death belch sulfurous fumes, nonstop, and send fiery flares into the murky sky. The air has a metallic taste. Outside the processing centers, there are vast toxic lakes known as tailings ponds, filled with billions of gallons of water and chemicals related to the oil extraction, including mercury and other heavy metals, carcinogenic hydrocarbons, arsenic and strychnine. The sludge from the tailings ponds is leaching into the Athabasca River, which flows into the Mackenzie, the largest river system in Canada. Nothing here, by the end, will support life. The migrating birds that alight at the tailings ponds die in huge numbers. So many birds have been killed that the Canadian government has ordered extraction companies to use noise cannons at some of the sites to scare away arriving flocks. Around these hellish lakes, there is a steady boom-boom-boom from the explosive devices.
The water in much of northern Alberta is no longer safe for human consumption. Drinking water has to be trucked in for the Beaver Lake reserve.
Streams of buses ferry workers, almost all of them men, up and down the roads, night and day. Tens of thousands from across Canada have come to work in the tar sands operations. Many live in Fort McMurray, about 180 miles from Beaver Lake, and work punishing 12-hour shifts for three weeks at a time before having a week off.
The Cree, the Dene and other tribes that live amid the environmental carnage and whose ancestral lands have been appropriated by the government to extract the tar sands oil suffer astronomical rates of respiratory and other illnesses. Cancer rates are 30% higher than in the rest of Alberta, according to the Alberta Cancer Board, which was disbanded soon after releasing this information in 2008.
When he was a child, Eric Lameman was taken from his parents by the government, a common practice a few decades ago, and sent to an Indian boarding school where beatings were routine, speaking Cree or any of the other indigenous languages was forbidden and native religious and cultural practices were outlawed. He says the forced severance from his family and his community, along with the banning of his traditions, was psychologically devastating. He remembers his father and other Cree elders on the reserve performing religious rituals in secret. He would sneak to the woods to watch them as, risking arrest, they clung to their beliefs and spiritual practices.
Lameman defied the efforts to wipe out his identity and his culture, which he nurtured in spite of the attempts to eradicate them. He remained a Cree. And he says it is only his Cree roots that keep him whole and make it possible for him to endure. He suffered extreme poverty. He also had periods of addiction and even episodes of violence. It is hard to avoid personal disintegration when the dominant culture seeks to eradicate your being. Canada's indigenous people represent 4 percent of the population, but they make up more than a quarter of the inmates in the nation's federal prisons. Lameman's wife left him and their young children. She died from alcoholism on the streets of Calgary. He worked as a heavy machine operator in the tar sands. He quit when he realized the land he was despoiling would never recover and he began to get sick. He survives now on welfare.
We are back in his small house, seated in the tiny kitchen. His daughter Crystal Lameman, an internationally known indigenous rights activist, heats juniper in an iron skillet until fumes of the pungent herb drift upward. We cup our hands and pull the smoke into our nostrils. The Cree and others say "smudging" cleanses negative energy, helps bring clarity and vision, and centers those exposed to the scent. We sit quietly.
The more the Cree recover their traditions to defy the capitalist mantra of hoarding, profit, exploitation, self-promotion and commodification of human beings and the earth, the more their life has an intrinsic value rather than a monetary value. This recovery is the antidote to despair. It grounds the Cree spiritually. It permits transcendence. It at once estranges them from reality and brings them closer to it. Resistance is not only about challenging the extraction companies in court, as the Cree have done in trying to block the tar sands industry and the pipelines from their traditional land; it is about holding fast to another orientation to reality, one that we all must adopt if we are to survive as a species. It is about the recovery of the sacred. The white exploiters seek not only to steal the land and natural resources and commit genocide against indigenous communities but to wipe out this competing ethic.
"I need my people," Eric Lameman says. "I need the ones that know our history, our language, our spiritual practices and our culture. I rely on them to pass it on to me so I can pass it on."
The exploiters have sought to corrupt the Cree and bastardize their traditions. Extraction companies have paid off some tribal leaders to support pipelines or surrender tribal territory to oil development. The companies use the quislings to mount propaganda campaigns in favor of extraction, to divide and weaken indigenous communities and to attempt to discredit leaders such as Crystal. The federal government last year staged a Cree religious ceremony, complete with honor songs and drums, to bless the Trans Mountain Expansion Project and Canada's $4.5 billion purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline, developments that mean death for the Cree people.
"This is what they call reconciliation," Eric says bitterly.
"It's cultural appropriation," Crystal says. "'Reconciliation' is a bullshit word. Reconciling with whom? Reconciling what? Reconciling us with the current colonial systems of exploitation? Until they dismantle the structures of exploitation there can be no reconciliation."
The man camps of tens of thousands of tar sands workers fuel the prostitution industry. Indigenous girls and women, living in squalor and poverty, are lured by the seemingly easy and fast money. Their sexual degradation soon leads to addictions to blunt the pain. This too is a legacy of colonialism. Canada began as a military and commercial outpost of Britain. The Hudson's Bay Company did not permit European women to immigrate to Canada. Brothels, populated by prostituted indigenous girls and women, were established alongside the military forts and trading posts. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police issued a report in 2015 that found that indigenous, or First Nations, women, who constitute 4.3% of Canada's female population, are four times more likely to go missing or be murdered than other Canadian women. They are 16% of female murder victims and are the objects of 11% of missing person's cases involving women.
"I was on a panel in Vancouver,"Crystal Lameman says. "I used the word 'prostitution.' A trans person got up and told me to use the term 'sex work,' saying it was a choice. Impoverished and vulnerable indigenous girls and women do not choose to be prostitutes. They are forced into that world. Girls are conditioned for this from familial disintegration and sexual abuse. ... Sexual abuse, a common experience for girls in residential schools and the foster care system, is another one of the legacies of colonialism."
The infusion of workers with disposable incomes has also seen an explosion in drugs in northern Alberta such as crack cocaine and crystal meth, and with the drugs has come a rash of suicides among the native population. Suicide and non-suicidal intentional self-injuries are the leading causes of death for First Nations people under the age of 44 in Canada. Young indigenous males are 10 times more likely to kill themselves than other Canadians. Young indigenous females are 21 times more likely to commit suicide. Beaver Lake has not been spared, losing seven people to suicide in a 12-month period in 2014 and 2015. All of them were under the age of 44, and all were drug addicts or alcoholics.
"There are two roads into Fort McMurray," Crystal says. "There's Highway 63 and Highway 881, which runs through here. This is one of the stops for the drugs. The traffickers say, 'Well, there's a little town, we'll stop there and drop drugs there too. A lot of the drug runners are from small towns, from these communities. It is a quick way to make money."
"Our community used to be safe," she says. "We left the doors unlocked, even when we slept. We would leave our vehicles running. Nobody worried."
"It's dangerous now," she goes on, speaking of the rash of robberies by addicts. She adds, "You can't get into altercations. It's the drugs. They affect people's mental health. People live in fear."
The resurrection of the old ceremonial practices such as the annual sun dance, along with the traditional medicine camp, harvesting camps and sweat lodges, is about another way of being, one that honors the interconnectedness of all living beings, including the earth on which we depend for life.
"We are seeing the effects," Crystal says. "Our cultural practices and language embody a belief system that is the opposite of capitalism and globalization, the lust for money and material wealth."
"I used to think globally," she says. "I was in D.C. on the front lines. I was in the climate march in New York. I was everywhere. I traveled internationally. I was at every rally. But I wasn't here, at home, doing the real work. It's easier being out there, instead of being in our community. Yes, there is this big black cloud, but there is also another, beautiful side. The women in the community are bringing the ceremonies back. The more we return to the land, the closer we are to achieving holistic wellness. My community is not in despair. We are doing our diligence to be well again. I think about my dad. My dad was one of those people he's talking about [when he says] 'I had friends that I can't trust now because they're not well because of the drugs.' My dad was one of those in despair. But he has come back to us and to himself."
(c) 2019 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. Keep up with Chris Hedges' latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at www.truthdig.com/chris_hedges.
The Report From Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Investigation
By Will Durst
The black bars in the report by the Special Counsel barely barred us from seeing what the bard of special counsels wanted bared.
The eagerly awaited Report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Investigation was finally released and cleared up the situation like a forty-pound dirtball dropped from the roof of a ten-story penthouse. Into a child's wading pool. With children in it. Imaginary children, of course.
The report was 448 pages long, only 52 short of a ream. Although both President Donald Trump and the Democratic Congress must be feeling like the full weight of a ream is banging them in the head. He, for what it said, and they, for what it didn't.
As surprising as a 420 run on ranch Doritos, the release turns out to be as different from Attorney General William Barr's four page summary of the Report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Investigation as baby salamanders are from nuclear powered submarine biological waste disposal canisters.
At least the parts that weren't redacted. Those little black bars covered about a tenth of the Report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Investigation. Barr's bars. Barr's barren bars. Which barely barred us from seeing what the bard of special counsels wanted bared.
Official Lapdog Barr's yapping misdirection before the public unveiling of the Report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Investigation was hard to hear due to the clicking of his toenails on the linoleum. The drool was also distracting. Records for gratuitous sycophancy have been shattered. This is what was expected from Jeff Sessions. Rudy Giuliani must be green with envy.
A less redacted version of the Report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Investigation will be available to a limited number of members of Congress. The apparent goal is to give each and every American citizen their own version of the Report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Investigation with individual redactions. Here's hoping there's a rainbow of stripes to go with the black bars.
The Attorney General said the Report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Investigation totally exonerated the president pretending the account didn't include "While this report cannot conclude that the President committed a crime, it also cannot exonerate him." Which is as far from exoneration as can be accomplished using the English language.
Barr went on to echo "no obstruction" approximately 7,000 times when actually the Report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Investigation says, and this is a direct quote: "If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state." But so state, they do not.
In other words, if they thought he didn't do it, they'd tell us. But they're not telling us. Which might lead a normal person to conclude that the Report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Investigation is saying the opposite. In it's own sly way.
The Report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Investigation described Moscow's attempts to undermine Hillary Clinton's candidacy as "sweeping and systemic." And as everyone knows, Russia only helps Russia.
The Report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Investigation also referenced the justice department's policy not to prosecute a sitting president but mentioned that Congress could, or just wait till he's not president anymore.
It's almost like the Report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Investigation proposed trying one or the other. Forcing democrats to ask themselves the tough question: "why not both?"
(c) 2019 Will Durst is an award-winning, nationally acclaimed comedian, columnist, and former sod farmer in New Berlin, Wisconsin. For past columns, commentaries and a calendar of personal appearances, please please visit: willdurst.com
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