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In This Edition

Tom Engelhardt returns with, "The US Has Been At War My Entire Life. Will The Wars Ever End?"

Ralph Nader considers, "Tim Cook, Apple, And Runaway Limitless Corporate Greed."

Jesse Jackson returns with, "The Case For D.C. Statehood Is Clear."

Jim Hightower wonders, "Should Water Be A Wet Dream For Wall Street Speculators?"

William Rivers Pitt concludes, "India and Brazil's COVID Crises Show We Must End The Fiction Of Borders."

John Nichols wants to, "Expand The US House Of Representatives."

James Donahue is, "Tracking The Human 'God Gene.'"

David Swanson returns with, "Beef Scam Tease: The Best Positions In U.S. Politics Are Always The Fake One."

David Knowles joins us with, "Climate Change Will Be Disastrous Even After Latest World Pledges, Report Finds."

Charles P. Pierce finds, "The Republican Gains Among Hispanic Voters Are Real. But There Is, Inevitably, A Crazy Side."

Juan Cole says, "Biden Plans For US To Jump into Electric Vehicles With Both Feet, In A Hurry."

Robert Reich recalls, "Biden's First 100 Days and the GOP's First 100 Days Without Trump."

Thom Hartmann asks, "America Now On the Verge of Re-Fighting the American Revolution?"

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz reports,"Explosive Video Reveals Biden Plot To Use His Power To Improve Living Conditions," but first Uncle Ernie exclaims, "Global Warming Is Shifting The Axis Of The Earth!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Osama Hajjaj, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Tom Tomorrow, Discover Magazine, Wikipedia Creative Commons, Mandel Ngan, Justin Sullivan, Nur Photo, Paul Hennessy, Sarah Silbiger, Michael Dantas, Disaster Environment Society, Jim Watson, Matt Briney, Robert Reich, Jim Hightower, Pexels, AFP, Unsplash, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments-

The Quotable Quote-
The Cartoon Corner-
To End On A Happy Note-
Have You Seen This-
Parting Shots-

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Global Warming Is Shifting The Axis Of The Earth!
By Ernest Stewart

"This change in the pattern of flow has weakened the patch under Canada and ever so slightly increased the strength of the patch under Siberia. This is why the North Pole has left its historic position over the Canadian Arctic and crossed over the International Date Line. Northern Russia is winning the 'tug of war', if you like." ~~~ Dr Phil Livermore

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

I see where loss of water on land through ice melting and human-caused factors is changing the movement of the North and South poles. Yes, just when you thought the effects of global warming couldn't get any worse, eh?

Glacial melting due to global warming is likely the cause of a shift in the movement of the poles that occurred in the 1990s.

The locations of the North and South poles aren't static, unchanging spots on our planet. The axis Earth spins around-or more specifically the surface that invisible line emerges from-is always moving due to processes scientists don't completely understand. The way water is distributed on Earth's surface is one factor that drives the drift.

Melting glaciers redistributed enough water to cause the direction of polar wander to turn and accelerate eastward during the mid-1990s, according to a new study in Geophysical Research Letters, AGU's journal for high-impact, short-format reports with immediate implications spanning all Earth and space sciences.

"The faster ice melting under global warming was the most likely cause of the directional change of the polar drift in the 1990s," said Shanshan Deng, a researcher at the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and an author of the new study.

The Earth spins around an axis kind of like a top, explains Vincent Humphrey, a climate scientist at the University of Zurich who was not involved in this research. If the weight of a top is moved around, the spinning top would start to lean and wobble as its rotational axis changes. The same thing happens to the Earth as weight is shifted from one area to the other.

Melting of glaciers in Alaska, Greenland, the Southern Andes, Antarctica, the Caucasus and the Middle East accelerated in the mid-90s, becoming the main driver pushing Earth's poles into a sudden and rapid drift toward 26 degrees E at a rate of 3.28 millimeters (0.129 inches) per year.

Researchers have been able to determine the causes of polar drifts starting from 2002 based on data from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE), a joint mission by NASA and the German Aerospace Center, launched with twin satellites that year and a follow up mission in 2018. The mission gathered information on how mass is distributed around the planet by measuring uneven changes in gravity at different points.

Previous studies released on the GRACE mission data revealed some of the reasons for later changes in direction. For example, research has determined more recent movements of the North Pole away from Canada and toward Russia to be caused by factors like molten iron in the Earth's outer core. Other shifts were caused in part by what's called the terrestrial water storage change, the process by which all the water on land-including frozen water in glaciers and groundwater stored under our continents-is being lost through melting and groundwater pumping.

The authors of the new study believed that this water loss on land contributed to the shifts in the polar drift in the past two decades by changing the way mass is distributed around the world. In particular, they wanted to see if it could also explain changes that occurred in the mid-1990s.

In 1995, the direction of polar drift shifted from southward to eastward. The average speed of drift from 1995 to 2020 also increased about 17 times from the average speed recorded from 1981 to 1995.

Shifts in the geographic location of Earth's North and South poles is called polar drift, or true polar wander.

Now researchers have found a way to wind modern pole tracking analysis backward in time to learn why this drift occurred. The new research calculates the total land water loss in the 1990s before the GRACE mission started.

"The findings offer a clue for studying past climate-driven polar motion," said Suxia Liu, a hydrologist at the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the corresponding author of the new study. "The goal of this project, funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology of China is to explore the relationship between the water and polar motion."

Using data on glacier loss and estimations of ground water pumping, Liu and her colleagues calculated how the water stored on land changed. They found that the contributions of water loss from the polar regions is the main driver of polar drift, with contributions from water loss in nonpolar regions. Together, all this water loss explained the eastward change in polar drift.

Makes you wonder what new nightmares await us, due to global warming, does it not?


06-20-1931 ~ 05-01-2021
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Until the next time, Peace!

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

US 9th Air Force infantrymen sit on a disabled vehicle at Mödrath, Germany during World War II.

The US Has Been At War My Entire Life. Will The Wars Ever End?
Reflections from a lifetime at war.
By Tom Engelhardt

Here's the strange thing in an ever-stranger world: I was born in July 1944 in the midst of a devastating world war. That war ended in August 1945 with the atomic obliteration of two Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, by the most devastating bombs in history up to that moment, given the sweet code names "Little Boy" and "Fat Man."

I was the littlest of boys at the time. More than three-quarters of a century has passed since, on September 2, 1945, Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu and General Yoshijiro Umezu signed the Instrument of Surrender on the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, officially ending World War II. That was V-J (for Victory over Japan) Day, but in a sense for me, my whole generation, and this country, war never really ended.

The United States has been at war, or at least in armed conflicts of various sorts, often in distant lands, for more or less my entire life. Yes, for some of those years, that war was "cold" (which often meant that such carnage, regularly sponsored by the CIA, happened largely off-screen and out of sight), but war as a way of life never really ended, not to this very moment.

In fact, as the decades went by, it would become the "infrastructure" in which Americans increasingly invested their tax dollars via aircraft carriers, trillion-dollar jet fighters, drones armed with Hellfire missiles, and the creation and maintenance of hundreds of military garrisons around the globe, rather than roads, bridges, or rail lines (no less the high-speed version of the same) here at home. During those same years, the Pentagon budget would grab an ever-larger percentage of federal discretionary spending and the full-scale annual investment in what has come to be known as the national security state would rise to a staggering $1.2 trillion or more.

In a sense, future V-J Days became inconceivable. There were no longer moments, even as wars ended, when some version of peace might descend and America's vast military contingents could, as at the end of World War II, be significantly demobilized. The closest equivalent was undoubtedly the moment when the Soviet Union imploded in 1991, the Cold War officially ended, and the Washington establishment declared itself globally triumphant. But, of course, the promised "peace dividend" would never be paid out, as the first Gulf War with Iraq occurred that very year and the serious downsizing of the US military (and the CIA) never happened.

Never-Ending War

Consider it typical that when President Biden recently announced the official ending of the nearly 20-year-old American conflict in Afghanistan with the withdrawal of the last US troops from that country by 9/11/21, it would functionally be paired with the news that the Pentagon budget was about to rise yet again from its record heights in the Trump years. "Only in America," as retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and historian William Astore wrote recently, "do wars end and war budgets go up."

Of course, even the ending of that never-ending Afghan War may prove exaggerated. In fact, let's consider Afghanistan apart from the rest of this country's war-making history for a moment. After all, if I had told you in 1978 that of the 42 years to follow, the United States would be involved in war in a single country for 30 of them and asked you to identify it, I can guarantee that Afghanistan wouldn't have been your pick. And yet so it's been. From 1979 to 1989, there was the CIA-backed Islamist extremist war against the Soviet army there (to the tune of billions and billions of dollars). And yet the obvious lesson the Russians learned from that adventure, as their military limped home in defeat and the Soviet Union imploded not long after-that Afghanistan is indeed the "graveyard of empires"-clearly had no impact in Washington.

Or how do you explain the 19-plus years of warfare there that followed the 9/11 attacks, themselves committed by a small Islamist outfit, Al Qaeda, born as an American ally in that first Afghan War? Only recently, the invaluable Costs of War Project estimated that America's second Afghan War has cost this country almost $2.3 trillion (not including the price of lifetime care for its vets) and has left at least 241,000 people dead, including 2,442 American service members. In 1978, after the disaster of the Vietnam War, had I assured you that such a never-ending failure of a conflict was in our future, you would undoubtedly have laughed in my face.

And yet, three decades later, the US military high command still seems not faintly to have grasped the lesson that we "taught" the Russians and then experienced ourselves. As a result, according to recent reports, they have uniformly opposed President Biden's decision to withdraw all American troops from that country by the 20th anniversary of 9/11. In fact, it's not even clear that by September 11, 2021, if the president's proposal goes according to plan, that war will have truly ended. After all, the same military commanders and intelligence chiefs seem intent on organizing long-distance versions of that conflict or, as The New York Times put it, are determined to "fight from afar" there. They are evidently even considering establishing new bases in neighboring lands to do so.

America's "forever wars"-once known as the Global War on Terror and, when the administration of George W. Bush launched it, proudly aimed at 60 countries -do seem to be slowly winding down. Unfortunately, other kinds of potential wars, especially new cold wars with China and Russia (involving new kinds of high-tech weaponry) only seem to be gearing up.

War in Our Time

In these years, one key to so much of this is the fact that as the Vietnam War began winding down in 1973, the draft was ended and war itself became a "voluntary" activity for Americans. In other words, it became ever easier not only to not protest American war-making but also to pay no attention to it or to the changing military that went with it. And that military was indeed altering and growing in remarkable ways.

In the years that followed, for instance, the elite Green Berets of the Vietnam era would be incorporated into an ever more expansive set of Special Operations forces, up to 70,000 of them (larger, that is, than the armed forces of many countries). Those special operators would functionally become a second, more secretive American military embedded inside the larger force and largely freed from citizen oversight of any sort. In 2020, as Nick Turse reported, they would be stationed in a staggering 154 countries, often involved in semi-secret conflicts "in the shadows" that Americans would pay remarkably little attention to.

Since the Vietnam War, which roiled the politics of this nation and was protested in the streets of this country by an anti-war movement that came to include significant numbers of active-duty soldiers and veterans, war has played a remarkably recessive role in American life. Yes, there have been the endless thank-yous offered by citizens and corporations to "the troops." But that's where the attentiveness stops, while both political parties, year after endless year, remain remarkably supportive of a growing Pentagon budget and the industrial (that is, weapons-making) part of the military-industrial complex. War, American-style, may be forever, but-despite, for instance, the militarization of this country's police and the way in which those wars came home to the Capitol last January 6-it remains a remarkably distant reality for most Americans.

One explanation: Though the United States has, as I've said, been functionally at war since 1941, there were just two times when this country felt war directly-on December 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and on September 11, 2001, when 19 mostly Saudi hijackers in commercial jets struck New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

And yet, in another sense, war has been and remains us. Let's just consider some of that war-making for a moment. If you're of a certain age, you can certainly call to mind the big wars: Korea (1950-53), Vietnam (1954-75)-and don't forget the brutal bloodlettings in neighboring Laos and Cambodia as well-that first Gulf War of 1991, and the disastrous second one, the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Then, of course, there was that Global War on Terror that began soon after September 11, 2001, with the invasion of Afghanistan, only to spread to much of the rest of the Greater Middle East, and to significant parts of Africa. In March, for instance, the first 12 American special-ops trainers arrived in embattled Mozambique, just one more small extension of an already widespread American anti-Islamist terror role (now failing) across much of that continent.

And then, of course, there were the smaller conflicts (though not necessarily so to the people in the countries involved) that we've now generally forgotten about, the ones that I had to search my fading brain to recall. I mean, who today thinks much about President John F. Kennedy's April 1961 CIA disaster at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba; or President Lyndon Johnson's sending of 22,000 US troops to the Dominican Republic in 1965 to "restore order"; or President Ronald Reagan's version of "aggressive self-defense" by US Marines sent to Lebanon who, in October 1983, were attacked in their barracks by a suicide bomber, killing 241 of them; or the anti-Cuban invasion of the tiny Caribbean island of Grenada that same month in which 19 Americans were killed and 116 wounded?

And then, define and categorize them as you will, there were the CIA's endless militarized attempts (sometimes with the help of the US military) to intervene in the affairs of other countries, ranging from taking the nationalist side against Mao Zedong's communist forces in China from 1945 to 1949 to stoking a small ongoing conflict in Tibet in the 1950s and early 1960s, and overthrowing the governments of Guatemala and Iran, among other places. There were an estimated 72 such interventions from 1947 to 1989, many warlike in nature. There were, for instance, the proxy conflicts in Central America, first in Nicaragua against the Sandinistas and then in El Salvador, bloody events even if few US soldiers or CIA agents died in them. No, these were hardly "wars," as traditionally defined, not all of them, though they did sometimes involve military coups and the like, but they were generally carnage-producing in the countries they were in. And that only begins to suggest the range of this country's militarized interventions in the post-1945 era, as journalist William Blum's "A Brief History of Interventions" makes all too clear.

Whenever you look for the equivalent of a warless American moment, some reality trips you up. For instance, perhaps you had in mind the brief period between when the Red Army limped home in defeat from Afghanistan in 1989 and the implosion of the Soviet Union in 1991, that moment when Washington politicians, initially shocked that the Cold War had ended so unexpectedly, declared themselves triumphant on Planet Earth. That brief period might almost have passed for "peace," American-style, if the US military under President George H.W. Bush hadn't, in fact, invaded Panama ("Operation Just Cause") as 1989 ended to get rid of its autocratic leader Manuel Noriega (a former CIA asset, by the way). Up to 3,000 Panamanians (including many civilians) died along with 23 American troops in that episode.

And then, of course, in January 1991 the First Gulf War began. It would result in perhaps 8,000 to 10,000 Iraqi deaths and "only" a few hundred deaths among the US-led coalition of forces. Air strikes against Iraq would follow in the years to come. And let's not forget that even Europe wasn't exempt since, in 1999, during the presidency of Bill Clinton, the US Air Force launched a destructive 10-week bombing campaign against the Serbs in the former Yugoslavia.

And all of this remains a distinctly incomplete list, especially in this century when something like 200,000 US troops have regularly been stationed abroad and US Special Operations forces have deployed to staggering numbers of countries, while American drones regularly attacked "terrorists" in nation after nation and American presidents quite literally became assassins in chief. To this day, what scholar and former CIA consultant Chalmers Johnson called an American "empire of bases"-a historically unprecedented 800 or more of them-across much of the planet remains untouched and, at any moment, there could be more to come from the country whose military budget at least equals those of the next 10 (yes, that's 10!) countries combined, including China and Russia.

The last three-quarters of this somewhat truncated post-World War II American Century have, in effect, been a timeline of carnage, though few in this country would notice or acknowledge that. After all, since 1945, Americans have only once been "at war" at home, when almost 3,000 civilians died in an attack meant to provoke-well, something like the War on Terror that also become a war of terror and a spreader of terror movements in our world.

As journalist William Arkin recently argued, the United States has created a permanent war state meant to facilitate "endless war." As he writes, our nation at this very moment "is killing or bombing in perhaps 10 different countries," possibly more, and there's nothing remarkably out of the ordinary about that in our recent past.

The question that Americans seldom even think to ask is this: What if the United States were to begin to dismantle its empire of bases, repurpose so many of those militarized taxpayer dollars to our domestic needs, abandon this country's focus on permanent war, and forsake the Pentagon as our holy church? What if, even briefly, the wars, conflicts, plots, killings, drone assassinations, all of it stopped?

What would our world actually be like if you simply declared peace and came home?

(c) 2021 Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project, runs the Nation Institute's His sixth and latest book, just published, is A Nation Unmade by War (Dispatch Books).Previous books include: Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World (with an introduction by Glenn Greenwald). Terminator Planet: The First History of Drone Warfare, 2001-2050 (co-authored with Nick Turse), The United States of Fear, The American Way of War: How Bush's Wars Became Obama's, The End of Victory Culture: a History of the Cold War and Beyond, as well as of a novel, The Last Days of Publishing. To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from here.

Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple, speaks during an Apple event at the
Steve Jobs Theater at Apple Park on September 12, 2018 in Cupertino, California.

Tim Cook, Apple, And Runaway Limitless Corporate Greed
People must push Congress to address this injustice.
By Ralph Nader

David Gelles, the New York Times reporter, likes to report about corporate plutocrats raking it in while stifling or endangering their workers. We've all seen those large advertisements by big companies praising the sacrifices of their brave workers during this Covid-19 pandemic. When workers ask for living wages, most of these bosses say "No" but take plenty of dough for themselves.

Gelles reports that Boeing, after its criminal negligence brought down two 737 MAX planes and killed 346 people, went into a corporate tailspin. The company laid off 30,000 workers and its sales and stocks plummeted as it reported a $12 billion loss. No matter, the new Boeing boss, David Calhoun, managed to pay himself about $10,500 an hour, forty hours a week, plus benefits and perks.

"Executives are minting fortunes, while laid-off workers line up at food banks," writes Gelles. Carefully chosen Boards of Directors rubberstamp lavish compensation packages, as they haul in big money themselves for attending a few Board meetings.

It gets worse. Hilton Hotel had many rooms empty due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But CEO Chris Nassetta made sure his pockets weren't empty. He was paid $55.9 million in compensation in 2020 or more than a million dollars a week!

Gelles goes on to report that with "the cruise industry at a standstill...," the Norwegian Cruise Line, "doubled the pay of Frank Del Rio, its chief executive, to $36.4 million." That is more than $700,000 per week. He must have worked overtime counting empty ships and red ink.

T-Mobile's merger with Sprint got government antitrust approval with the assurance that more jobs would be created with cost savings. Instead, they're starting layoffs while awarding CEO Mike Sievert over a million dollars a week. Sometimes, CEOs make more dollars from their company than the entire company itself makes in profits. Companies that lay off workers pay their top executives huge amounts, and still have the avarice to demand and get federal stimulus grants.

On March 22, the New York Times reported a new analysis by IRS researchers and academics about tax evasion by the richest 1% of U.S. households. Taken as a whole, these super-rich don't even report a fifth of their income, according to this study. The ultra-wealthy get away with this heist by offshoring to tax havens and pass-through businesses. Adding to this unlawful evasion is their upper-class power over Congress to rig the tax laws so they can avoid even more taxes.

The Republicans, by starving the IRS budget and audit staff over the past decade, have aided and abetted enormous tax evasions. Curiously, the cowardly Democrats have not made this an issue in their campaigns against the GOP. Hundreds of billions of dollars a year are at stake.

Trump, of course, made matters worse. ProPublica found the IRS audited the poor at around the same rate as the richest Americans.

Big Corporations make out like no mere individuals. Earlier this month, the New York Times told its readers that The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) study revealed: "55 of the nation's largest corporations paid no federal income tax on more than $40 billion in profits last year." These companies even received $3.5 billion in rebates from the Treasury Department, so zany are the fine-print tax bonanzas.

Twenty-six corporations paid no federal income taxes since 2017, according to the ITEP study. These included Nike and FedEx.

Corporations get lots of these tax breaks by arguing before Congress that they need them to invest and create jobs. Repeatedly, these promises turn out to be false. Some have called them lies, citing profits totaling over 7 trillion dollars in the past decade being shredded in buybacks of the companies' own stock.

Apple, whose quasi-monopoly reaps huge quarterly profits, just announced another $90 billion in stock buybacks. Apple doesn't know what to do with its cash from vastly overpriced computers and iPhones. Apple, not surprisingly, pays very little in federal income taxes to Uncle Sam - despite the U.S. being the land of its birth and source of ample R & D corporate welfare paid for by U.S. taxpayers.

CEO Tim Cook, arguably the most miserly CEO plutocrat in America, turns a deaf ear to health, labor, and environmental specialists pleading with him to address the solid waste of its junked electronic products and pay its serf-labor in China a living wage. These two expenditures would not consume 10 percent of Apple's enormous profits. To which Emperor Cook says no dice.

Testifying before the Senate Finance Committee, Kimberly A. Clausing, a U.S. Treasury official, said according to the Washington Post, that while other wealthy nations typically raise roughly 3 percent of GDP through corporate taxes, in the United States that share fell to just 1 percent following the 2017 Trump tax cut−all while corporate profits, as a share of U.S. GDP, were setting records.

The usual progressive members of Congress issue denunciations of this whole corporate, ultra-rich tax escape racket. Nearly 7 in 10 Americans believe corporations pay too little in taxes, according to Gallup polling. Unfortunately, nothing happens in Congress to address this injustice.

When are the American people going to move on to Congress and their Big Boy paymasters? When the plutocratic class evades taxes, either there are fewer public services, more public deficits, or higher taxes on the middle class. As Joe Biden says - they must pay "their fair share." People, use your civic muscle to make your members of Congress act and do it, now!

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

Activists hold signs as they take part in a rally in support of D.C. statehood near the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on March 22, 2021.

The Case For D.C. Statehood Is Clear
Making D.C. a state finally would end the denial of voting representation to more than 700,000 Americans, a majority of whom are Black or Brown.
By Jesse Jackson

Last week, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 51, a bill that would make Washington, D.C., the 51st state of the union. It finally would end the denial of voting representation to its more than 700,000 residents, the majority of whom are Black or Brown.

The bill was passed 216-208, with Democrats voting unanimously and Republicans offering not one vote. That led the media to declare the bill dead on arrival in the Senate, where it could be passed by a majority but derailed by a filibuster that would require 60 votes. Republicans have announced that they are prepared to filibuster the bill and block the majority from passing it.

Once more, legislation guaranteeing basic civil rights is threatened by a minority employing the filibuster, the favored instrument used to block civil rights legislation and sustain segregation for decades. Only this time Republicans, once the party of Lincoln, have taken up the mantle of the plantation Democrats of the Old South.

The case for D.C. statehood is clear. The nation was founded in protest against taxation without representation. D.C. residents are denied voting representation in the House and Senate. The nation is shamed by military service without representation. D.C. residents have fought in wars going back to the Revolutionary War and yet have no representatives to vote in favor or against those wars. America, which claims to lead democracies across the world, denies the foundation of democracy to more than 700,000 citizens in the nation's capital.

D.C. is not too small to be a state. It has more citizens than Vermont and Wyoming, and about as many as Alaska. Those states, of course, are overwhelmingly white. D.C. would have the largest proportion of African Americans of any state. There are no constitutional obstacles to making D.C. a state. The Constitution calls for Congress to control the seat of government. The new bill defines the seat of government as including Capitol Hill, the White House, the National Mall and connecting property, drawing the state from the remaining areas.

Historically, voting by D.C. residents-even for local officials-has been suppressed because of racism. In the 1870s, at the same time the South was beginning to suppress Black votes and construct what became the American version of apartheid, Southerners in Congress moved to strip District residents of the vote for fear of Blacks. This isn't disputed.

As segregationist Sen. John Tyler Morgan of Alabama explained in 1890, "In the face of this influx of Negro population from the surrounding States, [Congress] found it necessary to disenfranchise every man in the District of Columbia ... in order thereby to get rid of this load of Negro suffrage that was flooded in upon them. That is the true statement. History cannot be reversed. No man can misunderstand it."

And racism propels the opposition today. Across the country, Republicans are mobilizing in state after state to make it more difficult to vote in ways that disproportionately impact minority voters. Rather than seeking to win the votes of Black and Brown voters, they choose instead to find ways to impede their ability to vote. Filibustering against D.C. statehood is simply the most extreme expression of this campaign of voter suppression.

Republican legislators toss out all sorts of objections to D.C. statehood-it's too small, too urban, lacks manufacturing, doesn't have a landfill. But their real objection is that it is too Black and Brown and likely will elect two Democratic senators and a Democratic member to the House. D.C. residents tend to be more affluent and better educated. You would think that they would be prime targets for Republican appeals. And they would be, except that the residents are disproportionately Black and Brown, and the modern-day Republican Party has made itself into the party of racial division.

The opposition to D.C. is mirrored in the opposition to statehood for Puerto Rico. Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, but, as a territory, have no right to vote. They too pay taxes and serve in the military. Puerto Rico, with 3 million citizens, is even larger than the District. Most Americans support Puerto Rican statehood. But Republicans fear that, since Puerto Ricans are largely people of color, they will tend to elect Democrats. Once more racism stands in the way of democracy.

In 1988 when I ran for president, I called for statehood for the District and for Puerto Rico. I also called for the U.S. to end its support for apartheid in South Africa and demand that Nelson Mandela be freed. Since then, Nelson Mandela was freed and became the leader of his country, leading a peaceful transition from apartheid. Historic change is possible. Yet in the U.S., the citizens of the District and of Puerto Rico remain deprived of representation. And the right to vote is once more under siege across the country.

This summer, the Senate will convene a hearing on D.C. statehood. The White House has strongly issued its support. If Republicans continue to employ the filibuster to block the vote, it is time for Democrats to suspend the filibuster, just as Republicans did to drive confirmation of their Supreme Court nominees to lifetime appointments. The tricks and traps of our segregationist past should no longer stand in the way of simple democracy for the citizens of the District of Columbia.

(c) 2021 Jesse Jackson is an African-American civil rights activist and Baptist minister. He was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988 and served as shadow senator for the District of Columbia from 1991 to 1997. He was the founder of both entities that merged to form Rainbow/PUSH.

Should Water Be A Wet Dream For Wall Street Speculators
By Jim Hightower

Oh great - here comes a new stealth attack on the fragile, life-sustaining natural resources of Planet Earth. This assault is by Wall Street alchemists who're out to redefine one of our most basic resources: Water.

Everyone knows that water is "invaluable" - it's literally life, requiring a constant intake by each of us... or we quickly die. But the Wizards of Wall Street want to reduce potable H2O from its environmental, humanitarian, and spiritual essence to just another perishable economic good that they can market-price and sell to the highest bidder - literally turning our water into speculators' gold.

This contrivance has opened the door for financial manipulators who've quietly been devising razzle-dazzle schemes to allow rich global investors to play in water. They're now pushing water futures, automated split-second trading, "water grabbing" ventures, hedging schemes, and other financialization hustles to maneuver the monetary value of this essential resources.

To see this ethically-debased future, look to an outfit with the ominous acronym of WAM (Water Asset Management). It's buying up water rights in low-income farming communities in places like Arizona, then literally moving the "commodity" to rich suburban developments that will pay more. WAM profiteers call water peddling "the biggest emerging market on Earth... a trillion-dollar market opportunity." They even boast that the crises of "drought, flood, and fire" caused by climate change creates a market volatility that will provide "an unprecedented period of transformation and investment opportunity for the water industry," allowing investors to "thrive and prosper."

As we celebrate Earth Day, let's not only raise the issues of global pollution and sustainability, but let's also begin to force a public discussion about this crucial question of environmental and existential ethics: Is access to an affordable supply of clean water to be a human right for all - or will we let it become a wet dream for a cabal of rich speculators?

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

A gravedigger's shadow is seen as he walks through a fresh graveyard Aerial view
of a gravedigger walking among COVID-19 victims' graves at the Nossa Senhora Aparecida cemetery
in Manaus, Amazonas state, Brazil, on April 29, 2021.

India and Brazil's COVID Crises Show We Must End The Fiction Of Borders
By William Rivers Pitt

A new poll says that most of us are optimistic about the country's future (with a margin of error of plus or minus eleventy billion, of course). According to ABC News/Ipsos, a full 64 percent of the country believes we are on the right track. It makes sense: The president of the United States is no longer screaming 20 hours a day about whatever happens to pass his screen. New COVID-19 infections are down by almost a quarter, and the number of COVID deaths has also dropped. Close to half the country has been at least partially vaccinated. The weather is turning, and opportunities for outdoor activities are expanding.

Yet the home front news is far from all good, polls notwithstanding. Scientists and public health experts are rapidly concluding that achieving herd immunity in the U.S. is probably out of reach now, due in no small degree to vaccine hesitancy on the part of millions of Republicans and evangelical Christians, who somehow believe they are assisting Donald Trump's 2024 presidential campaign by shunning the needle.

Many of the people gumming up herd immunity are doing so out of ideological purity. The irony here is that Trump and members of his administration spent last winter arguing that we should let the virus run wild. Sure, it might kill millions, they said, but we'll nail herd immunity at the end of that road of bones. Once those wreckers were dispossessed of power, it was hoped the new administration might be able to convince a preponderance of the people that the vaccines are safe, effective and devoid of politics.

To date, that has not happened to a sufficient degree. "Instead," reports The New York Times, "[medical experts] are coming to the conclusion that rather than making a long-promised exit, the virus will most likely become a manageable threat that will continue to circulate in the United States for years to come, still causing hospitalizations and deaths but in much smaller numbers."

Not great, entirely galling, but better than where we were... yet there is an illusory element to all this new data and the happy feelings they bring. This hard-won moment is unbelievably fragile, and for one simple reason: Borders are a legal fiction that COVID-19 and its variants could not give less of a damn about, and COVID is still very much on the move.

India: "After a devastating week of soaring infections, India reported more than 400,000 new cases Saturday, a global record. Experts believe that number will climb even higher in the coming days, an unimaginable burden for a health system already under siege with hospitals issuing pleas for oxygen," reports The Washington Post. "The powerful resurgence of infections in India - a country where cases had ebbed just months earlier - is also a reminder that the coronavirus is far from controlled around the world, even with vaccination rates climbing in many countries."

South America: "At least 100,000 Brazilians have died in the last 36 days and 100,000 more are expected to lose their lives before July," reports the Guardian. "Last week South America, home to 5.5% of the world's population, suffered nearly 32 percent of all reported Covid deaths. 'What's happening is a catastrophe,' Argentina's health minister, Carla Vizzotti, admitted as her country's Covid restrictions were extended until late May." The U.S. is rushing aid to India, and the Biden administration claims that it is doing everything it can to help that nation weather the storm, though clearly more could be done. Brazil's pleas for help, by contrast, are being generally ignored by the world at present. Jair Bolsonaro is not the one being punished here; the people of Brazil are suffering.

Moreover, if COVID's history is any guide, what is happening in those countries will not stay in those countries. When it arrives here - when, not if - this new wave of COVID and its variants will find a half-vaccinated nation in a pretty good mood, and that good mood will sour like milk left out in the sun. A country still fighting over masks, a country that prioritizes capitalism's profits over its own people, is not ready to confront any number of the worst-case scenarios that lurk at the business end of this threat. That must change, immediately.

"There is no such thing as the State," notes poet W.H. Auden in September 1, 1939, "and no one exists alone."

The fiction of borders, of "rugged individualism," must be dismissed out of hand, for we are all in this together. If the COVID crisis is not immediately treated by the U.S. and the world as a global crisis, if a global solution is not collectively achieved, we will eventually arrive at a global calamity so bleak, even the poets will be wordstruck.

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

US Capitol.

Expand The US House Of Representatives
Rigidly sticking with a membership of 435 diminishes representation, decreases diversity, and undermines democracy.
By John Nichols

With every decennial Census for the past century, the United States has become less of a representative democracy. And, if we don't intervene quickly, it will happen again.

Upon the release last week of the first population counts for the 2020 Census, officials and activists across the country were preparing for the ugly process of fighting over the scarce number of seats that are up for grabs. New Yorkers were threatening legal moves to try to avoid losing a US House seat because the Census showed the state was 89 people short-out of 20.2 million-of the number needed to maintain its current level of representation. Voting rights activists were complaining of undercounts of Latinx voters in Arizona, Texas, and Florida. There will be lawsuits, legislative battles, and protests. But the bitter end result of all this wrangling will, if the pattern holds, be a circumstance in which the vast majority of Americans will be less well represented than when the process began.

That's because the system, like so many of the power structures in the United States, is weighted against robust democracy. Indeed, of all the things that Americans don't even know they should be angry about, this particular democracy deficit is the most frustrating. Why? First, because it extends from a century-old scheme to thwart change and diversity. Second, because there is no constitutional requirement that this inequity, and all the state-versus-state machinations that extend from it, should continue. A simple act of Congress could address the crude calculus that, with each new census, makes the House a less representative chamber.

The numbers tell the story

The 2010 Census counted 309,183,463 Americans for purposes of apportioning 435 seats in Congress. That meant that the average member of the House represented 710,767 people.

The 2020 Census has counted 331,108,434 Americans for purposes of apportioning the same 435 seats in Congress. However, because the overall population has increased by more than 7 percent, the average member of the House is now expected to represent 761,169 people-an increase of 50,402 constituents.

Unless something changes, when all the redistricting and gerrymandering fights of 2021 and 2022 are done, the same number of House members will be called upon to provide representation and services to a significantly higher number of people. Practically, what that means is that representatives will be more distant from the constituents they are supposed to represent, that it will be more difficult for those constituents to advocate effectively on the issues, that it will be less likely that district offices can quickly respond to queries and meet requests for help. It also means that campaigns for competitive House seats, which will need to reach many more voters, will be more costly-a shift that, if history is any indicator, is likely to increase the influence of billionaire campaign donors and corporate political action committees.

What a lousy state of affairs. But that's our fate, right? Like presidential elections that are made more complicated and less democratic by the Electoral College-which allows losers of the popular vote to assume the most powerful position in the world, and which focuses campaigns and media attention on a handful of "battleground" states-the reapportionment of congressional districts is destined to diminish representation and grassroots democracy.

Um, no.

Reactionary Politics Set House Membership at 435

There is nothing in the Constitution that requires the number of House states to remain static. In fact, for the first 120 years of the American experiment, the size of the House generally grew after each new Census-from 65 members in the first Congress that served with President George Washington to more than 400 members in the Congress that served with President William Howard Taft. The boosts were often quite substantial, especially during the period of mass immigration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. For instance, after the 1900 Census, membership in the House jumped from 356 to 386. After the 1910 Census, the boost was even bigger, from 386 to 433-an increase of 47 seats.

"The expansion generally was managed in such a way that, even as the representation ratio steadily rose, states seldom lost seats from one apportionment to the next," explained a 2018 Pew Research Center study of apportionment.

Unfortunately, as the Pew study noted, "that process ran aground in the 1920s. The 1920 census revealed a 'major and continuing shift' of the U.S. population from rural to urban areas; when the time came to reapportion the House, as a Census Bureau summary puts it, rural representatives 'worked to derail the process, fearful of losing political power to the cities.'"

The 1920 Census revealed that the United States was no longer a primarily agrarian nation. It showed that the majority of Americans lived in urban (or at least relatively urban) centers, as opposed to farm country. Urban members proposed after the next apportionment increased the number of House members to 483 members, a move that would have assured that each state retained its current level of representation. But they were blocked by the rural members, who were resistant to changes in the chamber's makeup at a time when immigrants were crowding into the nation's large cities, Blacks were moving from the segregated South to Northern states where they were allowed to vote, and women were newly enfranchised. Before the 1930 Census, legislation was hastily enacted to formally cap the number of seats at 435.

And there it remains, more than a century after the last democracy-friendly apportionment of House seats.

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

Tracking The Human "God Gene"
By James Donahue

Dean Hamer's book,"The God Gene; How Faith is Hardwired Into Our Genes," has created a stir among theologians. He argues that humans are genetically programmed to worship God.

Hamer suggests that faith is reduced to chemical reactions in the brain. And this angers Christians who want us to believe that faith is a personal decision in life that marks a new path from judgment into that of eternal reward.

Anyone who has ever attended an evangelical church service knows that the leader almost always includes a call for salvation. Hard line Bible thumpers want followers to make a outward decision to follow Christ, and mark it with a public proclamation of their faith.

For these believers, the argument that humans are genetically produced with a built-in understanding of God, is nothing less than blasphemy.

Strangely, Hamer's argument isn't that different from Christian theology. A behavioral geneticist, Hamer claims that his research shows that spirituality - or that feeling of transcendence - is part of our nature.

"We think that all human beings have an innate capacity for spirituality and that desire to reach out beyond oneself, which is at the heart of spirituality, is part of the human makeup," he told Washington Post reporter Bill Broadway.

Hamer says at least one gene, called VMAT2, controls the flow of chemicals to the brain that affect emotions and consciousness. This is what Hamer calls the "God gene."

He acknowledges that other genes, yet to be discovered, may also be involved in what appears to be a universal human propensity for transcendence.

The Broadway story notes that while the scientific linkage of a gene with chemicals that affect happiness or sadness fails to prove the existence of God, but only show why we believe in the existence of a God.

"Our genes can predispose us to believe. But they don't tell us what to believe in," explained Hamer.

Indeed, humans in every corner of the world seem to have always worshipped something, although the direction of this worship has passed from trees, to stones to so many different spiritual deities they are almost too numerous to count. Not until Communism came along was the worship of a deity halted by the law of the land. Whether the people living under Communism obeyed this law is known only to them.

Even Christians disagree among themselves just who and what God is, and how this deity is to be properly worshipped.

The irony of all this is that Hamer has struck upon something important, although he has failed to explain just what it means.

All humans appear to have embedded in their DNA a complete record of the human soul from the day it was first formed within the heart of the Mother Earth. Consequently, we all may know the truth. Because of sometimes fanatical or social intervention we are taught what our parents, teachers and pastors believe, which misdirects our spiritual path and leaves us confused.

Primitive man always knew where God was, and who God is. She is the Mother Earth. And her essence, the soul, lives within each of us. Ask any aboriginal person still living with his tribe and in his natural environment today, and this is what he will tell you.

It also is possible that our DNA was altered so that we have the potential of evolving to a collective godlike state. There is evidence, even in the Bible, and certainly in other ancient writings and art works, that the planet was once visited by aliens from other worlds who somehow interfered with our genetic makeup.

Whether it was a gift from the alien visitors or was always implanted in us, the god gene plays a role in our wanting to believe in a deity. The deity, if we want to call it that, may lie within ourselves when our brains are working in harmony. When activated the gene triggers right brain functioning that leads us into spiritual and mental evolution. Our drive for spiritual knowledge, and our mental ability to understand it, works hand-in-hand toward the final stage of human evolution. Only in this way can we fully discover ourselves, our relationship to each other and our destiny in this living universe.

All of this information is contained within the genetic structure of our personal DNA. If and when Hamer and his fellow genetic researchers dig deep enough, they may find the truth in this.

The world religions are living on borrowed time. As scientific research goes on, the proof of the great "savior" hoax becomes closer and closer to being exposed.

This may be why the radical religious groups are rushing the world to an apocalyptic end. They believe they have very little time left before they get raptured up into the clouds. It is a dangerous myth that is driving them and perhaps the entire human race toward extinction.

Consequently, the race is on between science and religion. If we aren't careful, the religious segment will win. Humans need to stand up and be counted on this issue rather than submit to the demands of robed religious fanatics claiming to represent a "grandfather" spirit that maintains a master control of our world and our lives.

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

Beef Scam Tease: The Best Positions In U.S. Politics Are Always The Fake Ones
By David Swanson

The only positions I ever get excited about in U.S. politics are the ones that Republicans pretend Democrats hold.

The beef one is no exception.

Lately, Republicans have been pretending not just that Democrats want the usual array of things I wish someone would actually act to institute (a guaranteed income, a decent minimum wage, single-payer healthcare, a Green New Deal, a major shift to progressive taxation, defunding militarism, making college free, etc.) - THE HORROR OF IT! - but also that Biden is going to somehow forbid the consumption of more than a tiny bit of beef.

I didn't suspect for an instant that there was a grain of truth to this story. In fact, I think I first heard about it as a debunking of a false story. Yet I do wish it were true. And twisting Biden's actual promise to reduce greenhouse gas emissions into a ban on gorging on hamburgers makes more sense than might at first be evident to all McDonald's customers.

Converting energy and transportation systems to green energy is critically important, in some combination with scaling back consumption. But it takes a great deal of time and investment, and then only gives you part of what you needed by yesterday.

Ceasing to consume animals (or dairy products, or sea life) - if the will existed to do it - could be done swiftly, and - according to some studies - the harm done by methane and nitrous oxide is worse than that of CO2, and the benefits of reducing them more rapid.

Some significant percentage of greenhouse gas emissions comes from animal agriculture - perhaps a quarter. But that seems like only a part of the story. Animal agriculture uses the vast majority of all U.S. water consumption and nearly half of the land in the 48 contiguous states. Its waste is killing off the oceans. Its growth is deforesting the Amazon.

But even that seems like only a tiny, almost irrelevant piece of the story. The fact is that the crops raised to feed animals to feed people could feed many more people if the animals were removed from the equation. People are starving to death so that the food that could have fed them ten times over can be fed to cows to make hamburgers that can be advertised on media outlets that can report as a terrible joke that someone would restrict meat consumption.

And even that seems like only a part of the problem. The other part is the brutal abuse and killing of all the millions of animals. (And the fact that treating them slightly less brutally would mean using more land and more time to feed even fewer people.)

Sometimes the pretense by Republicans that Democrats favor something is an early good omen, and decades later one can find actual live Democrats who do support the thing. Other times, the Republican propaganda serves to more permanently marginalize good ideas. What we need is a mechanism for widely communicating that what we want - in fact, what we urgently need - is what the Republicans are screaming their opposition to.

Sadly, what the actual Joe Biden values far above the future of the planet is the friendship and good will of Republicans - substances as fictional as the Biden beef ban.

Sadly, as well, agriculture is almost as taboo a topic even for environmentalist groups as the environmental destruction done by militaries.

There is nothing right now to stop Democrats from making a regular part of their stump speeches a passionate promise never to ban beef, alongside their denials of charges that they want to ban guns.

We don't have much time left to change this.

(c) 2021 David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

A wildfire ravages Contra Costa County, Calif.

Climate Change Will Be Disastrous Even After Latest World Pledges, Report Finds
By David Knowles

The recent pledges made by world governments to limit carbon emissions will not be sufficient to meet the goal of keeping global temperatures from rising above 1.5 degrees Celsius, a new report concluded. Instead, those nonbinding commitments will result in a rise in the average global temperature to a potentially catastrophic 2.4 degrees Celsius.

The Climate Action Tracker, an independent network of scientists that tracks the commitments made on cutting emissions, released its findings Monday, just weeks after President Biden convened a climate summit with world leaders. The report notes that more robust targets made at the summit "have improved the Climate Action Tracker's warming estimate by 0.2 degrees C," but that the net result would still mean the world is poised to blow past the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold set in 2018 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

"While all of these developments are welcome, warming based on the targets and pledges, even under the most optimistic assumptions, is still well above the Paris Agreement's 1.5 degrees C temperature limit," the report states.

Buildings emitting smoke along the Songhua River in Jilin, China.

Despite the initial commitments made by world leaders in the Paris climate accord, temperatures have already risen by more than 1.2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, according to a report released last month by the United Nations World Meteorological Organization, a finding that led U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to declare, "We are on the verge of the abyss."

While keeping the average rise of surface temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius is still possible, the Climate Action Tracker said doing so will require a massive, unified effort from world governments that would transform life as we know it.

"Of great concern are the persisting plans of some governments to build new infrastructure not compatible with Paris goals, such as new coal-fired power plants, increasing uptake of natural gas as a source of electricity and that there are large inefficient personal vehicles in some countries," the report states.

Rising temperatures have already had a profound impact on life on Earth, scientists say, increasing the severity of drought, weather events and wildfire destruction. With climate change continuing apace, the future looks even more bleak. A 2020 study conducted by the University of Arizona, for instance, found that at the current rate of temperature rise, one-third of all plants and animals on the planet will be at risk of mass extinction in the next 50 years.

In its 2018 report, the IPCC warned that global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius would result in drastic sea-level rise, threatening coastlines and island nations, and an increase in the number of deadly heat waves. At 2 degrees of Celsius warming, 99 percent of the world's coral reefs would die off, an estimated 13 percent of ecosystems on land would be imperiled and an ice-free Arctic would become a reality within two decades.

(c) 2021 David Knowles has worked as a reporter and editor for Bloomberg Politics, the New York Daily News, The Daily and AOL, and his writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Newsday, and the Hollywood Reporter. He has published two novels, The Secrets of the Camera Obscura (Chronicle Books) and The Third Eye (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday), and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The Republican Gains Among Hispanic Voters Are Real. But There Is, Inevitably, A Crazy Side.
"My father was really for unions, and I thought the Democrats defended the union," one voter said. "But then I started to research myself and found out the Democrats are supporting witchcraft and child trafficking and things like that."
By Charles P. Pierce

As a sort of companion piece to our earlier post, I was interested in this New York Times story about how Hispanic conservatives in Texas are trying to solidify the undeniable gains that Republicans made with Hispanic voters in the 2020 election. These gains were made in the face of a Republican administration* that made the country's Hispanic communities its primary scapegoats. This is a legitimate concern for Democrats going forward with their plans to purple Texas up.

That conservative surge - and the liberal decline - has buoyed the Republican Party's hopes about its ability to draw Hispanic voters into what has long been an overwhelmingly white political coalition and to challenge Democrats in heavily Latino regions across the country. Now party officials, including Mr. Abbott, the governor, have flocked to the Rio Grande Valley in a kind of pilgrimage, eager to meet the people who helped Republicans rapidly gain ground in a longtime Democratic stronghold.
Republicans would be foolish not to see the opportunity here, but then again, the Republicans have been foolish about this opportunity since Karl Rove and George W. Bush were trumpeting it in 2000 and 2004. Then again, the GOP spent four years propping up a public bigot and his henchmen, who ramped up a camp system for migrants of all ages, and their approval rating went up, not down.
Ms. Pena-Garza said she was called a coconut - brown on the outside, white on the inside - and a self-hating Latino, labels that have begun to recede only in recent years as she meets more Hispanic Republicans who, like her, embrace policies that they view as helping small business owners and supporting their religious beliefs. Now, she says, the political choice is a point of pride.

"You can't shame me or bully me into voting for a party just because that's the way it's always been," she said.

So the story ably tracks a genuine political phenomenon, and certainly one that's worth watching going forward. But this is 2021, and these are Republicans, and sooner or later, there's a serious bustle in the hedgerow.
Elisa Rivera, 40, said she had voted for Mrs. Clinton in 2016, but did not understand the fierce reaction against Mr. Trump. "I was following along the family tradition, my dad is a hard-core Democrat, my father was really for unions, and I thought the Democrats defended the union," Ms. Rivera said, before adding: "But then I started to research myself and found out the Democrats are supporting witchcraft and child trafficking and things like that, things that get censored because they get labeled conspiracy theory."
If you think the Republicans won't weaponize this thinking, and if you think it won't work, I have a couple of first-term members of Congress I'd like you to meet. It's just so damned exhausting.

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

The Quotable Quote-

"Unemployment insurance, abolishing child labor, the 40-hour work week, collective bargaining, strong banking regulations, deposit insurance, and job programs that put millions of people to work were all described, in one way or another, as 'socialist.' Yet, these programs have become the fabric of our nation and the foundation of the middle class."
~~~ Bernie Sanders

Biden Plans For US To Jump into Electric Vehicles With Both Feet, In A Hurry
By Juan Cole

Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) - The White House issued a fact sheet Thursday on how President Biden intends to move the US vehicle fleet to electric in short order, using money already appropriated for his jobs plan.

Biden is ahead of world trends in his ambitions. The UN's International Energy Agency predicts that the current world total of electric vehicles of 11 million could increase some 21 times over the next decade to 230 million if governments promote EVs. Things could go even faster than that. It takes about 14 years to turn over the existing fleet, and if more states follow California in banning sales of new internal combustion cars after a certain date, the turn-over rate will ensure a greening of the national fleet.

Moreover, the automobile companies themselves are planning for the end of gasoline cars. Volkswagen and Audi have dumped any further R&D for internal combustion engines and expect 70% of new car sales to be electric by 2030.

Studies show that anxiety about charging electric cars is one of the impediments to their adoption. Personally, I think this is silly. The average automobile trip is like 5 miles and the newer models of electric cars mostly get above 200 miles on a charge. I had a Chevy Volt for a while, which had limited range, and never came close to using up the charge. Still, it is also true that Tesla owners are particularly satisfied when it comes to fast charging states, which Elon Musk has sited all over the country. So President Biden is going to give all American drivers the Tesla charging experience.

His American Jobs Plan includes $15 billion to build a national string of half a million charging stations. The federal government will partner with state and local government as well as the private sector to get charging stations into apartment buildings and public parking as well as in stations along the highways. Making sure that apartment dwellers can charge their electric vehicles on site is important to greater adoption. I used to just charge my Volt in the garage, but people in apartments don't have that opportunity. The White House points out that the installation and maintenance of charging stations will create jobs.

Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg is also busy, partnering with states and local government to designate alternative fuels transportation corridors. Some of these concern the use of biofuels or natural gas, which don't interest me much because the former are not really sustainable (we need to grow food not just auto fuel) and the latter is still a fossil fuel even if it burns more cleanly than the others. But, the Federal Highway Administration has designated purely electric-vehicle corridors on 59,000 miles of highways in 48 states plus Washington, DC. (The South Dakota and Mississippi state governments seem to be in the death grip of Big Oil, so have no such designations, but even they will get aboard in due time.) See the map above.

The government will also fund research and development on fast charging stations. Biden is offering $10 million for research to reduce the cost of the chargers. And $20 million is on offer to communities who can come up with new ways of deploying electric vehicles for community purposes.

The federal government itself owns some 700,000 vehicles, and Biden is going to switch this fleet to electric, striving for a "Zero Emission Vehicle" (ZEV) fleet. In a little over three months, the administration has acquired more electric vehicles than were bought in all of last year. Year on year, 2021 will see a tripling of such acquisitions. And those fast charging ports? They're going to be installed at federal facilities.

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

Biden's First 100 Days and the GOP's First 100 Days Without Trump
By Robert Reich

By almost any measure, Joe Biden's first 100 days have been hugely successful. Getting millions of Americans inoculated against COVID-19 and beginning to revive the economy are central to that success.

Two thirds of Americans support Biden's $1.9 stimulus plan, already enacted. His infrastructure and family plans, which he outlined last Wednesday night at a joint session of Congress, also have broad backing. The $6 trillion price tag for all this would make it the largest expansion of the federal government since Lyndon Johnson's Great Society. But for most Americans, it doesn't feel radical.

Rather than bet it all on a single large-scale program such as universal healthcare - which Clinton's failed to accomplish and which Obama turned into a target of Republican fearmongering - Biden has picked an array of popular initiatives, such as pre-school, public community c0llege, paid family and medical leave, home care, and infrastructure repairs, which are harder to vilify.

Economists talk about pent-up demand for private consumer goods, caused by the pandemic. Biden is responding to a pent-up demand for public goods. The demand has been there for years but the pandemic has starkly revealed it. Compared to workers in other developed nations, Americans enjoy few social benefits and safety nets. Biden is saying, in effect, it's time we caught up.

Besides, it's hard for Republicans to paint Biden as a radical. He doesn't feel scary. He's old, grandfatherly. He speaks haltingly. He's humble. When he talks about the needs of average working people, it's clear he knows them.

Biden has also been helped by the contrast to his immediate predecessor - the most divisive and authoritarian personality to occupy the Oval Office in modern memory. Had Biden been elected directly after Obama, regardless of the pandemic and economic crisis, it's unlikely he and his ambitious plans would seem so benign.

In his address to a joint session of Congress Wednesday night, Biden credited others for the achievements of his first hundred days. They had been accomplished "because of you," he said, even giving a nod to Republicans. His predecessor was incapable of crediting anyone else for anything.

Meanwhile, the Republican party, still captive to its Trumpian base, has no message or policies to counter Biden's proposals. Trump left it with little more than a list of baseless grievances irrelevant to the practical needs of most Americans - that Trump would have been reelected but for fraudulent votes and a "deep state" conspiracy, that Democrats are "socialists" and that the "left" is intent on taking away American freedoms.

Biden has a razor-thin majority in Congress and must keep every Democratic senator in line if he's to get his plans enacted. But the vacuum on the right has allowed him to dominate the public conversation about his initiatives, which makes passage more likely.

Trump is aiding Biden in other ways. Trump's yawning budget deficits help normalize Biden's. When Trump sent $1,200 stimulus checks to most Americans last year regardless of whether they had a job, he cleared the way for Biden to deliver generous jobless benefits.

Trump's giant $1.9 trillion tax cut for big corporations and the wealthy, none of which "trickled down," make Biden's proposals to increase taxes on corporations and the wealthy to pay for infrastructure and education seem even more reasonable.

Trump's fierce economic nationalism has made Biden's "buy American" initiative appear innocent by comparison. Trump's angry populism has allowed Biden to criticize Wall Street and support unions without causing a ripple.

At the same time, Trumpian lawmakers' refusal to concede the election and their efforts to suppress votes has alienated much of corporate America, pushing executives toward Biden by default.

Even on the fraught issue of race, the contrast with Trump has strengthened Biden's hand. Most Americans were so repulsed by Trump's overt racism and his overtures to white supremacists, especially after the police murder of George Floyd, that Biden's initiatives to end police brutality and "root out systemic racism," as he said on Wednesday night, seem appropriate correctives.

The first 100 days of the Biden presidency were also the first 100 days of America without Trump, and the two cannot be separated.

With any luck, Biden's plans might be the antidote to Trumpism - creating enough decent-paying working class jobs, along with benefits such as childcare and free community college, as to forestall some of the right-wing dyspepsia that Trump whipped into a fury.

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

America Now On the Verge of Re-Fighting the American Revolution?
Right-wing "Redcoat/Redhat" terrorists have openly proclaimed their goal of Americans fighting Americans in an ideological and racist war against democracy itself
By Thom Hartmann

Former Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney being booed in his own home state raise an urgent question: Are the Redcoats back?

The Republican party has now introduced over 300 pieces of legislation designed to make it more difficult for American citizens to participate in the process of selecting their representatives, the core function of a democratic republic.

They've also proposed or passed numerous laws criminalizing protest and dissent, primary American values written into the First Amendment, and given a "get out of jail free" card to people who kill protesters.

Today's Republican party does not believe in democracy or the core idea on which this nation was founded:

"That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights" and "that to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed..."
As we see with their support of Trump's Big Lie, they have a serious problem with that "consent of the governed" part of the Declaration of Independence. And they're pretty sketchy about that whole human "rights" thing.

If it seems like America is re-fighting the Revolutionary War or the Civil War, it's because there's a sizeable group of rightwing Americans who say that's what they think they're doing.

In both of those past wars, one group of Americans believed in the ideal of democracy and a republic deriving its authority from the will and consent of its people. On the other side, there were people who believed that democracy was a dangerous experiment and a grave mistake.

During the Revolutionary War the anti-democracy folks were called Tories or Loyalists, because they were loyal to the British king and believed that the best form of government was a kingdom, and that letting average people participate in democratic governance would lead to disaster.

That was solidly a third, perhaps even half, of the white people then living in North America: they were willing to fight and die to keep America part of the United Kingdom.

Those who opposed democracy on this continent had a lot of history on their side.

For most of the 7,000 years of recorded human history at that point, governments had been run either by kings who seized power through violence, or priestly theocrats who claimed that their authority to rule came from God. (In most cases, regardless of who ended up on top, there was an unholy alliance between the two.)

The British United Kingdom was just the latest, in 1776, in a long series of kingdoms that ruled every part of Europe; the Greek experiment with democracy was 3000 years old at that time, and the Roman experiment with a republican form of government had failed almost 2000 years earlier.

There were a lot of reasons back then to think that a democratic republic would be a terrible mistake.

The main one was that it hadn't worked in thousands of years, and the ancient Greek and Roman experiments were considered by many - most, actually - to have been failed experiments.

People believed so strongly either in the Loyalist necessity of a royal family, or the Founders' hope of a people engaged in self-rule, that families were literally torn apart, brother killing brother, neighbors turning firearms against each other.

By the time of the Civil War, 80 years later, there was still a debate about whether democracy was anything more than some kind of liberal, airy-fairy idea that really didn't work out all that well.

But this time, those Americans who took up arms against democracy were not fighting on behalf of a church or a king. They were fighting to support the rich, the oligarchs of the deep South.

As I lay out in detail in my new book The Hidden History of American Oligarchy, between 1820 and 1860 the South underwent a radical consolidation of wealth and property.

The invention of the Cotton Gin and its adoption in the early 1820s allowed the few plantations wealthy enough to buy one to effectively wipe out their smaller competitors and buy up their land.

As a result, by 1860 virtually all of the most productive land, wealth and political power of the South was consolidated in the hands of just a few thousand families.

They did not believe in democracy either; they declared war on America specifically to end democracy and establish a continent-wide oligarchy: rule by the rich in an oligarchic police state as the South had become.

The North won and democracy prevailed, but the idea of oligarchy survived and has been persistent throughout American history.

This is what the Republican party now represents: Oligarchy.

Rule by the rich and ignoring "the consent of the governed."

The suppression of dissent, the oppression of minorities, and replacing the ballot box with the iron fist of a police state run of, by and for the wealthy few.

And they're pushing us there really hard and really fast:

A political network run by a group of right-wing billionaires has a larger budget and more employees than the entire Republican party.

A family of billionaire oligarchs from Australia crank democracy-hating propaganda into the American political bloodstream nearly every day on cable television and in print.

Voices openly denigrating democracy and promoting hate and intolerance - the hallmarks of oligarchy - are on local radio and television in every American city every single day, and dominate the Internet.

The single largest source of threats and murders by terrorists in America are today committed by white-supremacist right-wingers who hate and fear the idea of a pluralistic, democratic society.

Tragically, for the third time in our history, Americans who believe in democracy find themselves again having to defend themselves against Americans who don't.

Several of these hard-right groups have openly declared their intention to start a second American Civil War.

They say they want to see Americans killing each other in the name of white supremacy and rule by the rich, and some have followed their suggestion.

They declare their loyalty to a white-supremacist real estate oligarch from New York, get their news from Australian and Ukrainian oligarchs, and have embraced an ideology championed by Germans in the 1930s.

They even adorn themselves in red and wear funny hats like the British loyalists did in revolutionary times.

The Biden presidency represents America's third, and perhaps final, chance to prove democracy is not merely an idealistic fantasy.

If his administration and the Democrats in Congress can succeed in conquering the coronavirus, putting the American economy back on track, and rebuilding the civil society that 40 years of Reaganism has so devastated, American democracy - and, indeed, democracy around the world - may well endure and even grow.

But Republicans are doing everything they can to keep that from happening, from discouraging vaccination and public health measures, to sabotaging our election systems, to amplifying their rhetoric of hate and terror across multiple media platforms.

When "moderate" voices within their ranks, like Mitt Romney and Liz Cheney, dare pop their heads up, the majority of the Republican Party viciously attacks them.

Dissent is no longer allowed in the GOP.

Authoritarianism has prevailed.

Oligarchy has completely seized the party.

These, as Thomas Paine (a fervent believer in democracy) said, "are the times that try men's souls."

Long before actual conflict broke out, Paine wrote: "The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered..."

We must not let the right-wing Redcoat/Redhat terrorists, who have openly proclaimed their goal of Americans killing Americans in an ideological and racial war, prevail.

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

The Cartoon Corner-

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Osama Hajjaj ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

Joe Biden speaking in front of Congress Explosive Video Reveals Biden Plot To Use His Power To Improve Living Conditions

By Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)-An explosive video that emerged last night appears to show President Joe Biden plotting to use his power to improve living conditions in the United States.

In the video, in which Biden is flanked by Vice-President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the President seemingly admits to having a radical scheme to use taxpayers' money for the benefit of taxpayers.

After the video was unearthed, the response from Republicans to Biden's controversial plot was swift and ferocious.

"Joe Biden works hard to project a 'nice guy' image, but this tape reveals the real Joe Biden," said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. "A man who, all along, has been scheming to expand education and child care."

Senator Rand Paul said that the video, if authentic, should prompt an immediate congressional investigation.

"Joe Biden promised the American people that, if elected, he would do nothing," he said. "Joe Biden has broken that promise."

(c) 2021 Andy Borowitz

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Issues & Alibis Vol 21 # 19 (c) 05/07/2021

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