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In This Edition

Norman Solomon asserts, "Joe Biden Needs An Intervention."

Nick Turse returns with, "Exceptionally Dire."

Glen Ford asks, "Whose Crisis?"

Jim Hightower considers, "The Deadly Economic Disease Behind COVID-19."

William Rivers Pitt says, "Take Care Of Yourself And Your Family. Do Not Listen To The President."

John Nichols considers, "The Most Consequential Decision Of Biden's 2020 Campaign."

James Donahue explores, "The Insanity Of Destroying Our Fresh Water."

Jesse Jackson returns with, "We Must Protect The Right To Vote In The November Elections."

David Suzuki says, "Crisis Brings Out Our Best, But We Must Remain Vigilant."

Charles P. Pierce reminds us, "The Climate Crisis Has Not Stopped For The Pandemic."

Juan Cole returns with, "Right-Wing "Reopen" Fanatics Would Kill Nearly As Many Americans As Died In All US Wars."

Lying Donald's new spokes-weasel Kayleigh McEnany wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich concludes, "Corporations Will Not Save Us."

Jane Stillwater finds Covid-19, "Kinda Surreal."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Waterford Whispers News reports, "Surrounded By Guys In Masks; 'What Is This, My Birthday?' Asks Pence," but first, Uncle Ernie warns, "Peasants Beware!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of David Fitzsimmons, Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, Nicholas Kamm, Fredrik Lerneryd, Patrick Cashin, Alex Wong, Jonathan Bachman, RTPeat, Emercom, Jeff Kowalsky, Chuck Burton, Tass, Robert Reich, Jane Stillwater, Jim Hightower, AFP, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments-

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To End On A Happy Note-
Have You Seen This-
Parting Shots-

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Peasants Beware!
By Ernest Stewart

"Sending employees back to work with no mandatory protections in place to protect them from being exposed to Covid-19 and no recourse to address unsafe work environments threatens the lives of meat processing plant workers, as well as the long-term viability of the food supply chain." ~ Rep. Alma Adams, D-N.C. ~ chairwoman of the House subcommittee in charge of worker protections.

"Saving Greenland is both a metaphor and a precondition for saving civilization. If its ice sheet melts, sea levels will rise 23 feet. Hundreds of coastal cities will be abandoned. The rice growing river deltas of Asia will be under water. There will be hundreds of millions of rising-sea refuges. The word that comes to mind is chaos. If we cannot mobilize to save the Greenland ice sheet; we probably cannot save civilization as we know it." ~~~ Lester R. Brown ~ Environmentalist

"We will not see diseases like the coronavirus come here, we will not see terrorism come here, and isn't it refreshing when contrasting it with the awful presidency of President Obama?" ~~~ Kayleigh McEnany

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

As Lying Donald said on Tuesday "I see our great citizens of this country to a certain extent and to a large extent as warriors. They're warriors. We can't keep our country closed. We have to open our country... Will some people be affected? Yes. Will some people be affected badly? Yes. But we have to get our country open."

I guess that means that every man, woman and child just got drafted by Lying Donald to put their lives on the line so Lying Donalds bottom line looks good come November! As his billionaire buddies don't make any money themselves, it's the workers that make them rich, so get back to work for your corpo-rat masters even if it kills you and your family. Remember, you're not important, they are, or so says Lying Donald.

Oh and did I mention if the 1% kills you for lack of safety standards Lying Donald is pressing for measures which would provide legal immunity against lawsuits by workers exposed to dangerous conditions where they may contract COVID-19. Several governors whose states house meatpacking plants have threatened to deny unemployment benefits to workers who fear the disease and stay home from work.

So, it's damned if you do and damned if you don't, America. Of course, it's not just the workers who will suffer, it's their family and friends and complete strangers, all those infected people they come across that may die! Here in Michigan, the Rethuglican controlled legislature is suing Michigan's Democratic governor for trying to save lives. How dare she effect their bank books just to save a few peasant lives. Oh, and my US Con-gressman who isn't running again, another Rethuglican, filed a similar lawsuit.

In Other News

I see where NASA satellites have provided more data than ever before on what has been happening to Antarctica and Greenland's ice over the past 16 years with dire, if not entirely unexpected, findings. Both polar ice sheets are losing billions of tons of ice every year and adding to sea-level rise.

The results revealed that although there are small gains of ice in East Antarctica, they have been dwarfed by massive losses in West Antarctica, NASA reported. The net ice mass loss has led to almost half an inch of sea-level rise between 2003 and 2019 - just under a third of the total sea-level rise around the world in that time.

The findings were based on information from the space agency's ICESat and ICESat-2 satellite laser altimeters - devices that use laser pulses to measure the elevation and thickness of ice sheets and help better understand global climate change.

The researchers concluded that ice masses from both Greenland and Antarctica will continue to contribute to sea level rise increasing over the next few decades. Greenland's ice sheet lost an average of 200 gigatons of ice per year, and Antarctica's ice sheet lost an average of 118 gigatons of ice per year, NASA reported.

One gigaton of ice would cover New York's Central Park in ice more than 1,000 feet thick, to a height taller than the Chrysler Building, NASA said.

The study, published last Thursday in the journal Science, provided estimates of grounded and floating ice mass changes between 2003 and 2019.

Antarctic temperatures show how desperately we need a Green New Deal and with either president Trump or Biden we won't be getting one. So, once again, America, how long can you tread water?

And Finally

Lying Donald's new spokes-weasel Kayleigh McEnany said at her first news conference, "I will never lie to you. You have my word on that." You may recall that Kayleigh is known for telling a thousand whoppers on Fox Spews. Ergo, her statements about not telling lies, was a lie!

For example, "CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale also pointed out a few times McEnany strayed from the truth at Friday's briefing - after making the pledge. She falsely said Trump tweeted in support of the right to protest earlier that day, when he actually tweeted in support of the anti-shelter-in-place protesters. She also misquoted FBI notes regarding Michael Flynn, Trump's former National Security Advisor." Anyone surprised by Lying Donald's choice for his new spokes-weasel? I wasn't, as I expected nothing less from Lying Donald!

Ergo, Kayleigh McEnany wins this week's Vidkun Quisling Award. I bet yomama is Proud as Punch, Kayleigh!

Keepin' On

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09-25-1926 ~ 05-02-2020
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So how do you like Trump so far?
And more importantly, what are you planning on doing about it?

Until the next time, Peace!

(c) 2020 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.

Then US Vice President Joe Biden (L) smiles with former labor secretary Tom Perez, currently the chair of Democratic National Committee,
as he arrives to address the Apprenticeship Summit at the White House in Washington, DC, on September 8, 2015.

Joe Biden Needs An Intervention
An Open Letter to DNC Chair Tom Perez
By Norman Solomon

Whatever our political differences, vast numbers of Democrats and others agree that it's imperative to defeat Donald Trump. But with scarcely five months to go before the voting starts, Joe Biden is not helping to assemble a broad tactical alliance. Instead, he's ignoring the wisdom that Jesse Jackson offered at the Democratic National Convention in 1988: "It takes two wings to fly."

Right now, Biden is idling in the cockpit of a political aircraft with one wing.

As chair of the Democratic National Committee at a time when the party's presumptive nominee for president seems likely to crash and burn, you should be openly working to fix the problem rather than merely proclaiming that Biden is a great candidate.

Indications are profuse that Biden is proceeding with a business-as-usual campaign while elevating establishment figures. His rhetorical nods toward Bernie Sanders supporters have been notably superficial, while the nitty-gritty of policy is being placed in corporate hands.

On April 27, The Nation summed up one of the latest ominous signs: "Larry Summers is a dead albatross around Biden's neck. Why should we believe Biden's promises of progressive reforms, when he seeks out the advice of this plutocrat-loving economist?"

I have often heard you talk about the "north star" of party principles. Surely that must involve democracy. Yet the cancellation of the New York presidential primary is a flagrant Machiavellian maneuver by that state's Democratic Party leadership.

"This means that our campaign will receive no delegates from New York, weakening our ability to fight for a progressive platform and progressive rules at the Democratic convention," the Sanders campaign pointed out in a statement on April 29. "It also means our voters are less likely to turn out, which will hurt progressive New York candidates who are still facing primaries." Using the pandemic as an excuse for the cancellation was clearly bogus, since the entire New York election on June 23 could be conducted by mail.

The corrosive ill will created by such machinations -- heightening progressives' distrust of the Democratic Party -- will weaken support for the Biden general-election campaign across the country. As the Sanders campaign put it, what Democratic Party power brokers did in New York "is an outrage, an assault on democracy."

But where is your voice to challenge this "assault on democracy"? The corporate cats seem to have your tongue. With silence, you're an enabler of this travesty. You should firmly declare that New York will be stripped of all its national-convention delegates unless this decision is reversed and the state's presidential primary is reinstated.

A related situation looms in California and some other states, threatening to deny Sanders his statewide allocation of delegates beyond congressional districts. The threat involves undemocratically depriving Sanders of delegates that he -- and millions of people who voted for him -- are entitled to. But again, your voice is silent.

You might think it's all well and good for you to claim a "hands off" approach of deferring to decisions by state party leaders. But in mid-March you didn't hesitate to flatly proclaim that Illinois, under a Democratic governor, should go ahead with an in-person presidential primary election, thereby aiding Biden's momentum to widen his delegate lead over Sanders. To the detriment of public health, you publicly and emphatically sought to influence a state decision about a Democratic primary.

But now, your enabling silence is conspicuous as hundreds of duly elected Sanders delegates are in jeopardy nationwide.

As in New York, the bogus pretext in various states is that Sanders is no longer a candidate -- even though, when he announced the suspension of his campaign three weeks ago, the senator explicitly stated that "I will stay on the ballot in all remaining states and continue to gather delegates." And, he added, "we must continue working to assemble as many delegates as possible at the Democratic convention, where we will be able to exert significant influence over the party platform and other functions." The committees and delegates of the national convention will make key decisions on crucial platform issues, such as healthcare as a human right, student debt, immigration reform, institutional racism, the climate emergency, economic justice and much more. Also on the line are major choices about whether the party will democratize or slam the door on internal reforms.

In a mass email that the DNC sent out last weekend, you declared with ample self-congratulation: "Today, the DNC looks massively different than it did in the wake of the 2016 election. That's a good thing. In early 2017, we were rudderless. . . . [I]t was obvious we had to rebuild our party from the ground up." You wrote of "rebuilding trust with Democrats across the country" -- and asserted "that is exactly what our new leadership did."

But whatever trust has been rebuilt over the last three years is now being damaged by your refusal, as DNC chair, to speak up for party democracy in the states where it is now under threat.

Biden is a weak candidate in grave danger of losing a decisive number of progressive votes in the fall. Consider the latest polling data that has just appeared under this USA Today headline: "Nearly 1 in 4 Sanders Supporters Not on Board Yet with Voting for Biden." That's what happens when a presidential campaign is all set to fly with one wing.

(c) 2020 Norman Solomon is co-founder of and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death" and "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State."

Rachael Mwikali of Coalition for grassroots human rights defenders Kenya waits on an alley during their food distribution
to vulnerable families that have lost their income in the menace of the COVID 19 coronavirus in Mathare slum, Nairobi, on April 25, 2020.

Exceptionally Dire
Secondary impacts Of Covid-19 could increase global poverty and hunger
By Nick Turse

MORE THAN 240,000 people worldwide have already died of Covid-19, and before the pandemic finishes, it could kill hundreds of thousands, even millions, more. But the final toll is destined to be far higher than just those who die of Covid-19. Experts warn that deaths from secondary impacts - poverty, hunger, diseases, and violence exacerbated by the pandemic - may dwarf the number of those who die of the coronavirus itself.

A new analysis by researchers from King's College London and Australian National University, under the aegis of the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research, for example, warns that the economic contraction caused by Covid-19 could push an additional 500 million people - about eight percent of the earth's population - into poverty, reversing 30 years of economic improvement. "We were surprised at the sheer scale of the potential poverty tsunami that could follow Covid-19 in developing countries," said Andy Sumner, one of the study's authors.

Not surprisingly, such financial fallout has grim knock-on effects. "I want to stress that we are not only facing a global health pandemic but also a global humanitarian catastrophe," warned David Beasley, the executive director of the United Nations World Food Program. "Millions of civilians living in conflict-scarred nations, including many women and children, face being pushed to the brink of starvation, with the specter of famine a very real and dangerous possibility." A new study by the WFP found that lockdowns and the economic recession caused by Covid-19 may exacerbate an already dire worldwide hunger crisis, almost doubling the number of people who could go hungry, pushing a total of 265 million people to the brink of starvation by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization notes that a diversion of resources could have especially devastating effects on the fight against malaria. Under a worst-case scenario, in which all insecticide-treated bed net campaigns are suspended and there is a 75% reduction in access to effective antimalarial medicines, fatalities from the mosquito-borne illness could reach 769,000 - double the number of deaths in 2018 - effectively wiping out 20 years of gains in suppressing malaria mortality. Similarly, a new analysis by researchers at Imperial College London found that in low- and middle-income countries, disruptions to health services could cause deaths from HIV, tuberculosis and malaria to increase by up to 10, 20, and 36 percent respectively over five years.

"As Covid-19 cases surge worldwide, the survival of pregnant women and children is at great risk due to strained healthcare systems, and the disruption of life-saving health services," said Dr. Stefan Peterson, associate director and global chief of health at the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund. In fact, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health warn, for example, that the impact of the pandemic to newborn, child and adolescent health and nutrition services might lead to the deaths of 1.2 million children - a 45 percent increase over existing child mortality levels.

The overall death toll among the young may actually be exponentially higher according to a recent report from the Christian aid organization, World Vision. An analysis of 24 countries with existing humanitarian crises - from Afghanistan to Yemen - found that as many as 30 million children's lives are at risk from other diseases, like diphtheria, whooping cough, and tetanus, if healthcare systems are swamped by the pandemic and resources are diverted from immunizations. "We are wrong if we think this is not a children's disease," said Andrew Morley, World Vision's president and chief executive. "Experience tells us that when epidemics overwhelm health systems, the impact on children is deadly."

Among youths, girls will suffer most according to a recent analysis by Plan International, an aid organization that advocates for children's rights and equality for girls. Since women and girls undertake more than three quarters of unpaid care and, in rural communities and low-income countries, spend up to 14 hours a day on such work, girls will likely be at greater risk of infection. But this is just one type of collateral damage. "Covid-19 shutdowns will disrupt early learning, formal education and livelihoods," according to the report. "Measures to curb the disease have worsened existing inequalities, forcing girls out of school and placing them at heightened risk of violence in their home."

UNHCR, the United Nations' refugee agency, notes that even before the Covid-19 pandemic, an estimated one in three women had experienced physical or sexual abuse. Confinement, lockdowns, and quarantines coupled with deteriorating socioeconomic conditions have now created a perfect storm. "These factors significantly increase the risks of intimate partner violence, with refugees, internally displaced and stateless persons among the most vulnerable," according to the agency. But the "shadow pandemic" of violence against girls and women extends far beyond refugees and displaced war victims, with reports of domestic violence having increased by 30% in France while calls to helplines have jumped 30% in Cyprus, and 33% in Singapore.

The United Nations study forecast that the greatest economic impact of Covid-19 will be in sub-Saharan Africa, where cases are rapidly increasing and, if projections prove accurate, "up to half of the new poor will live." There, the effects will be felt in infant and maternal mortality, undernutrition, malnourishment, and educational achievement, among other indicators.

Alexandra Lamarche, senior advocate for West and Central Africa at Refugees International, explained that preventative measures aimed at countering Covid-19 were also impediments to humanitarian aid, leaving poor people without access to food. "We're going to see significant impacts on malnutrition rates," she said. "And we're seeing all sorts of secondary impacts. For example, there's a polio outbreak in Niger because they stopped vaccinating." Between hunger and disease, poverty and violence, the follow-on effects of Covid-19 threaten to be as wide-ranging as they are lethal. "There are just so many different unexpected consequences," said Lamarche. "It's extremely disheartening. And it's going to be exceptionally dire."

(c) 2020 Nick Turse is the managing editor of TomDispatch and a fellow at the Nation Institute. An award-winning investigative journalist, he has written for The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and The Nation, and is a contributing writer for The Intercept. His latest book is Next Time They'll Come to Count the Dead: War and Survival in South Sudan. His website is

Whose Crisis?
When the People Lose, the Corporate Parties and the Rich Win
By Glen Ford

The Democratic Party is a servant of corporate capital and cannot possibly be converted to a people's party. The rise and demise of Bernie Sanders proves the point.

The crisis of late stage capitalism emerged full-blown in the first months of 2020, when the U.S. corporate state lost its legitimacy by proving both incapable and unwilling to protect the lives and livelihoods of the people it governs. For the first time in almost a century, the great bulk of the population has lost confidence in the US State's ability to provide for the public good, and a growing minority perceives the national government as a tool of oligarchy - a term that only came into general American usage in the tumultuous period since the previous presidential election cycle.

The delegitimization of the U.S. corporate order began as a self-inflicted wound, when the Democratic half of the electoral duopoly, backed by the bulk of the corporate media and ruling class, sought to politically invalidate Donald Trump's presidency. It was, however, impossible to nullify Trump without gravely tarnishing the institution of the presidency, itself, and staining all the organs of governance. The Democrats' non-stop campaign to invalidate a sitting president was more destructive to the legitimacy of the U.S. State than even the incompetent and purposely disruptive antics of Trump, himself. Half the politicians and most of the media were calling the occupant of the White House a kind of traitor - a "dupe" of Russian president Vladimir Putin. The world watched in wonder and disgust, and the U.S. public became accustomed to seeing their Head of State pilloried by late-night TV comedians and 24-hour cable news.

In any other country, four years of such non-stop internal political warfare - actually, a very public conflict within the ruling class over who was fit to govern - would be perceived as a sign of grave instability in the ruling order. The Democrats and their corporate masters, however, had no intention of fatally wounding the Trump regime, which was backed by another section of the ruling class. They sought only to give the Democrats an edge in the 2020 election. This was never about "regime-change," since the corporate rulers that control both parties would still be in charge whether a Republican or Democrat sat in the Oval Office. But the people were told daily that nothing less than "American Democracy" was at stake; that their national institutions were so weak and vulnerable that low-wage tricksters in a Russian social media boiler room could change the course of a national election by spending $100,000 on Facebook. Compared to the U.S., El Salvador seemed a pillar of stability.

Lots of Americans believed that the ship of state was, indeed, listing dangerously due to an illegitimate occupant in the White House whose presence had undermined all of the institutions of state and the security of the homeland at large, while the more overtly white supremacist section of the populace perceived themselves besieged by a wholly different set of darker-skinned demons and their allies in government. Meanwhile, Black America had been feeling politically naked and afraid ever since Donald Trump replaced the First Black President - a psycho-political whiplash of the highest order. Some feared the days of racist mob terror might return - a uniquely Black version of American political apocalypse.

And then The Virus slipped into the asylum, triggering a sudden economic collapse not seen since the Great Depression.

The Crisis was no longer a theatrical experience played out on warring media, that could be escaped by changing channels and abandoning newspapers. Suddenly, half the country was put on lockdown with nearly everyone's future in doubt. An economy that had been churning out low-wage jobs and ever higher-earning stocks collapsed almost overnight. And suddenly the people were force-fed the reality that the United States has no health care system capable of defending the public against invading viruses, and that the rulers have no intention of ever creating one.

To their horror, the people learned that the corporate state could not mount any effective defense of the public's jobs, small businesses or health. The people became instantly reliant on their own devices and the heroism of medical workers deprived of equipment, medicines and protective gear. They were imprisoned in their own homes - from which many might soon be evicted - or forced to risk their lives by returning to virus-infected workplaces. The State could manage only one economic response to the crisis: creating trillions of dollars out of thin air and funneling it to giant corporations, the only "citizens" that count. The State's emergency subsidies to working people and small enterprises were grossly inadequate in conception, and largely undeliverable in practice. Government agencies that had never properly served working people and the poor collapsed under the weight of a system in deep crisis.

If a Marxist had written this story, her own comrades would accuse her of creating a child's version of political economy, a caricature of capitalism in decline. The truth is that the U.S. ruling class and its army of minions do behave like cartoon versions of racist, capitalist, warmongering villains. They have created a stage, of a kind, on which they perform as God's gift to global humanity, the manifestly anointed ones whose wealth-producing genius is a light unto the world, so bright and powerful as to stop history in its tracks and make God say, "I truly have outdone myself" - and then take a long rest while "the market" and its handlers guide the universe. But, when the real crisis hits, the political class is revealed as clowns and buffoons serving the Lords of Capital, whose only mission is stay on top of the pyramid and to hell with those crushed at the base, locked in the dungeons below, or ejected from any productive role in the structure.

From the oligarchs' perspective, the unfolding crisis has no moral or ideological downside at all, since their prime mission over the past 40 years has been to force the planetary working class to compete for jobs with no benefits, no workplace protections and standards, ever-dwindling wages and zero employer obligations to the laborer. With the complicity of both corporate parties, periodic crises speed up this diabolical process, as in the aftermath of the 2008 meltdown, Austerity has nothing to do with containing the overall cost of government, but is solely designed to deprive working people of social supports so that, in desperation, they will accept any "gig" that is offered. The oligarchs conspire - that's the correct word -- to reduce the working class to permanent precarity. That's their American - and global - Dream.

The Lords of Capital delight in economic crisis, since they are best suited to ride it out and buy up the best of the broken corporate pieces, and to more deeply exploit a cowed and frightened workforce. Crisis is followed by deepening consolidation and monopoly, further empowering the surviving titans. In the absence of an effective fightback by workers, the Lords of Capital emerge from crises more hegemonic than before - as acknowledged when Obama's attorney general Eric Holder conferred "Too Big to Fail" status on the banking cartel that had wrecked the world economy.

The corporate class's belief in "creative destruction" puts them on an opposite moral plain from the rest of us. When weaker corporate players and the people lose, they win. Our famines are their feasts. They are the top predatory class, whose nature is concealed by narrative spinners in corporate political parties and media. The current crisis netted the super-rich $282 billion during just three weeks of mass death, fear and horror.

The Democratic Party is a servant of corporate capital, and cannot possibly be converted to a people's party. The rise and demise of Bernie Sanders proves the point. As we at BAR always maintained, the Democratic Party would split or scuttle itself rather than become a vehicle for an anti-austerity presidential candidate. Sanders was the Great Gray Hope of folks that imagine easy roads to victory over the most vicious and voracious ruling class in human history, but that was pure fantasy. In the end, Sanders chose to remain in the good graces of the party rather than use the presidential candidacy bully pulpit to agitate for the people. He punked out as a champion of the people's health and economic welfare at the very moment that Covid-19 emerged as a catastrophe.

The real resistance to the Lords of Capital must come from the streets and workplaces, Fighting parties are born in struggle. Only fools believe they can infiltrate the corporate duopoly and turn it to the people's purposes.

(c) 2019 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

The Deadly Economic Disease Behind COVID-19
By Jim Hightower

In this horrible time of economic collapse, it is truly touching to see so many corporate chieftains reaching out in solidarity with the hard-hit working class.

We know they're doing this because they keep telling us they are - practically every brand - name giant has been spending millions of dollars on PR campaigns in recent weeks asserting that they're standing with us, declaring over and over: "We're all in this together."

Except, of course, they're really not standing anywhere near us. While we're waiting in endless lines at food banks and unemployment offices, the elites are still getting fat paychecks and platinum-level health care. The severity and gross disparity of our country's present economic collapse is not simply caused by a sudden viral outbreak, but by a decades-long plutocratic policy of intentionally maximizing profits for the rich and minimizing everyone else's wellbeing. As the eminent economist Joseph Stiglitz rightly put it, "We built an economy with no shock absorbers."

Jobs, once the measure of a family's economic security, have steadily been shriveled to low-wage unreliable work, untethered to a fair share (or any share) of the new wealth that workers create. In a relentless push for exorbitant, short-term profits, today's executives have abandoned any pretense that a corporation is a community of interdependent interests striving to advance the common good. Instead, while the honchos are richly covered, they're washing their hands of any responsibility for the health, retirement, and other essential needs of their workforce. "Rely on food stamps, Obamacare, and other publicly-funded programs," they say, even as their lobbyists and for-sale lawmakers slash the public safety nets so rich shareholders and speculators can take evermore profit.

These forces of American greed have shoved millions of working families to the economic precipice - and all it takes is a virus to push them over.

(c) 2020 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

Former state senator and chairwoman of the Arizona Republican Party Kelli Ward
attends CPAC 2018 on February 22, 2018, in National Harbor, Maryland.

Take Care Of Yourself And Your Family. Do Not Listen To The President
By William Rivers Pitt

Kelli Ward, former state senator and chairwoman of the Arizona Republican Party, is messing with medical professionals in the middle of a global pandemic to get some ink for herself and maybe a fawning tweet from the president. I have personal reasons to have a serious problem with that.

Three years ago nearly to the day, I was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the local hospital here with pneumonia in both lungs and a larger infection running like wildfire through my body. I stopped breathing the first night I was there and was put on a ventilator for the next five days while they wrung the poison out of me like I was a dirty sponge.

I was in the ICU for a total of 11 days, and it was a wretched experience I would not wish upon my worst enemy. The damage my body absorbed remains with me, and to some yet-unknown extent always will. My lungs are lesser things now, scarred and limping through their duties. Staircases are my sworn foe. I will heave for breath if I run 10 steps, see spots and dead relatives if I run 30 steps, and I need another year of healing before I try for 40. I run a bit every day, though, for my little girl, who likes when I pretend to be a bear and chase her. I haven't caught her yet, but the day is coming.

That experience is my very personal reason for being terrified of COVID-19. COVID at bottom is pneumonia with fangs, and if I catch this thing with my lungs made of delicately spun glass, I'm done for.

That experience is also the reason why nurses, and specifically ICU nurses, are my heart. Nurses are the reason I am still here, mostly intact. It was the nurses who did the dirty work of putting Humpty back together every minute I was there, and I will never forget it.

The nurses who saved my life have been much on my mind as COVID-19 has turned hospitals all across the country into nightmare abattoirs of sorrow and solitary death. The pandemic has done its damage here in this little corner of New Hampshire, but we have been largely spared the harrowing calamity that has enveloped hospitals in New York, Boston and other large cities.

I wonder, today, where my ICU nurses are, what they have seen, and how they are holding up. I pray for them, even as prayer is uncomfortable to me, because they are special and they need all the spiritual support that can be summoned. They are the difference between the Devil and the deep blue sea for tens of thousands, right here and now. They have changed the face of heroism, because heroism - whether voluntary or coerced - is now masked and gowned, if it can find the scant personal protective equipment (PPE) in Trump's winning America.

This is why, when former Arizona state senator and current chairwoman of the Arizona Republican Party Kelli Ward told people to dress like health care workers when they attend anti-stay-at-home rallies, I wanted to put Public Enemy on a fused loop in my headphones until I got to Arizona to put things straight.

Several days ago, a number of health care professionals in Colorado wore their PPE gear to counterprotest against the strange death-seekers that have cropped up around Donald Trump like a groundburst of deadly nightshade. Those protesters think COVID-19 is a hoax, thanks to Trump, and are demanding that everyone else go back to work so they can get haircuts and sit-down restaurant service again. They don't care about how such behavior will cause a new spike in infections, because the president has enabled them to believe it is all a bunch of hooey.

So a clutch of Colorado medical professionals geared up in their PPE and stood before these nihilist protesters to show them what the real world looks like now. Kelli Ward didn't like it, and got to work undermining the very people who may save her life one day, or worse, hold her hand when she dies of COVID-19 hospitalized in quarantine like so many thousands of others have already.

"EVEN IF these 'spontaneously' appearing ppl at protests against govt overreach (sporting the same outfits, postures, & facial expressions) ARE involved in healthcare - when they appeared at rallies, they were actors playing parts #Propaganda #FakeOutrage," tweeted Ward after the Colorado protest.

Not to be outdone even by herself, Ward later wrote, "Planning protest to #ReOpenAmerica? EVERYONE wear scrubs & masks - the media doesn't care if you are really in healthcare or not - it's the 'message' that matters."

Most responses to this pestiferous act of medical sabotage leaned toward the idea that Ward was mocking the front-line medical workers who are keeping a lid on this thing with spit and baling wire, but there is a deeper dagger here.

Ward has been a staunch foe of abortion rights throughout her career, when she hasn't been peddling theories about how John McCain ended his cancer treatments to damage her Senate campaign in 2016. This trick with the medical gear is straight out of the radical anti-choice playbook.

One of the more notorious tactics deployed by the anti-choice movement is to set up sham "Crisis Pregnancy Centers" (CPCs) next to actual clinics that provide women's reproductive health services. They trick women into coming inside, where everything looks like a doctor's office should, and then slam them with Christian-bent propaganda to try and fool them out of exercising their rights over their own bodies.

"CPCs regularly attempt to legitimize their tactics by medicalizing their facilities," explains the National Abortion Federation. "CPCs without medical professionals often use ultrasound machines and dress their staff in hospital scrubs or white coats to cultivate an appearance that they are actual medical providers" (emphasis added).

This is a time of deep and confusing darkness. There will almost certainly be no sudden resolution to this crisis. There is no promise that a vaccine will ever be found, and the hardships we endure are very likely a permanent part of our daily lives in one form or another for the next several years. The wolf is loose. This is the long slog, and there is nothing left to do but accept it as best we can and rewire our lives accordingly.

Caricaturing health care professions at protests designed to lure people quite literally to their deaths is an act of such loathsome profundity under these grim circumstances that it beggars proper description. People like Kelli Ward and Donald Trump are so focused on what passes for winning in their lexicon, i.e. "owning the libs," that they are apparently ready to feed us into the maw of this beast if it affords them five more minutes of ink in the press.

Medical professionals saved my life three years ago. If I catch this deadly virus, they will be tasked to do it again, because people who have had pneumonia are wide open to getting it again if it decides to tap them on the shoulder, and recovering a second time is twice as hard.

The power people like Ward and Trump bring to the political table is their utter and abject lack of shame. They will say or do anything if it wins them a news cycle. These are the people who have brought this country to its knees. If they have their way, they will put us six feet under and walk away with a bag of money slung over their shoulder.

I stand with the nurses, the doctors, the EMTs and everyone who treated the act of saving my life three years ago as just another day at the office, because that's what it was for them. These are our extraordinary people, the iron heart of righteous service and selfless dedication. I've seen it with my own eyes and am still here to say it because of what I saw. They deserve better than Kelli Ward and Donald Trump.

We're in this together

(c) 2020 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.

Former vice president Joe Biden during a campaign event on March 8, 2020.

The Most Consequential Decision Of Biden's 2020 Campaign
Democrats really can't waste the VP slot this time.
By John Nichols

Joe Biden needs to define an unfocused and frequently listless presidential bid by selecting a dynamic running mate. The vice presidential pick, the most consequential decision of the presumed nominee's campaign, will do much to determine whether the Democratic ticket has the popular appeal to end the most dangerous presidency in American history. It will also determine the extent to which a Democratic surge can give the party the full control of Congress necessary to govern in a moment that could be as challenging as the one Franklin Delano Roosevelt faced in 1933. Let's hope Biden doesn't blow the choice-as Hillary Clinton did in 2016 and as too many other Democratic nominees have done in too many other races that could have been won.

Clinton was overconfident about her prospects against Donald Trump, a rival so jarringly unfit that she struggled to wrap her head around the fact that he was even in contention. She was, as Politico explained, "more concerned with finding a long-term governing partner than an electrifying campaigner on the road." Her VP pick, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, shared her centrist ideology, came from a state the Democrats were likely to win, and was, as even she acknowledged, boring. So why did she pick him? Because, she said, he "can help me govern." That's nice. But you can't govern if you don't win.

CNBC dubbed him "Clinton's safe choice." In fact, he wasn't safe at all. "Republicans will run hard against Democrats on trade this year," warned Stephanie Taylor of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. "Unfortunately, since Tim Kaine voted to fast-track the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Republicans now have a new opening to attack Democrats on this economic populist issue." Democrats in swing states grumbled that he did nothing to help excite voters. Just over three months after the ticket was announced, Clinton lost Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin-and with them the White House.

If Clinton had been an outlier, that would be one thing. But Democratic presidential nominees have made the same costly mistake time and time again-think Al Gore and Joe Lieberman, Michael Dukakis and Lloyd Bentsen-only to pay the price on Election Day. By now, the lesson should be clear: Instead of looking for a governing partner, Biden needs someone who can get him into a position to govern. Yes, as the oldest major party nominee in American history, he must choose someone that voters see as capable of stepping into the top job and of leading the 2024 ticket if Biden decides against seeking reelection. But beyond that baseline demand, his duty is to pick a candidate who energizes and expands the base, has the potential to tip swing states, and excites the progressives and economic populists who backed Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

Biden recalls Barack Obama telling him that in 2008, "I tried to find someone who had experiences or capacity that I didn't have." Obama proved his capacity to make himself electable. Biden's not there yet. Even as he consolidated his position as the party's presumptive nominee, he faced criticism for taking economic policy advice from former treasury secretary Larry Summers, complaints about an online ad's anti-China language, and allegations that he sexually assaulted an aide in 1993. Even if Biden addresses those issues-as he must-the Trump camp will amplify every vulnerability. Clearly, the pressure is on the former vice president to expand his electoral appeal by choosing a compelling running mate.

Biden says he'll pick a woman. But who? Swing-state obsessives point to Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer or Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar. Unfortunately, both women mirror Biden's corporate-friendly centrism. Progressives recommend Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren or Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin, a single-payer health care advocate who has a winning record in a frequent swing state. Other prospects include Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto and New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham; selecting one of them, former representative Luis Gutierrez argued, could strengthen Biden's appeal among the Latinx voters who backed Sanders.

The idea of making what's been described as a doubly historic VP selection has been energetically advanced by 2018 Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who has said, "Having a woman of color on the ticket will help promote not only diversity but trust." More than 200 African American women have signed an open letter urging Biden "to seize this historic opportunity to choose a Black woman running mate who will fight for the issues that matter most to the American people and help deliver a decisive victory and a successful Biden presidency." Abrams is a prospect, as is Senator Kamala Harris of California. So, too, is Representative Val Demings, a vital voice in the Trump impeachment hearings who hails from the swing state of Florida.

There is something profoundly healthy about this campaigning to influence Biden. It democratizes the process. Yes, of course that makes things harder for him. But he needs to be pushed beyond his comfort zone; that is the best way to get a sense of how he will handle the demands of the fall campaign and the presidency. It is not too much to ask, in the year 2020, that the Democratic nominee for president make an intersectional choice that breaks with political orthodoxy and seeks to inspire the turnout necessary for a transformational victory. Indeed, that is precisely what Democrats should demand of their expected nominee.

(c) 2020 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.

Eagle Nickle Copper Mine

The Insanity Of Destroying Our Fresh Water
By James Donahue

Some years back my late wife and I chose to buy what was to be our retirement home on Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula because it is surrounded by fresh water. The peninsula juts north out into Lake Superior. Not many miles to our south was Lake Michigan. And to the east was Lake Huron.

There was method in our madness. While we were ravaged by the winter storms that sweep our area, and we were dependent on the trucking of much of our food from warmer climates, we were enjoying some of the best and purist fresh water left anywhere in the world.

The lakes near us were but three of the five Great Lakes, which collectively hold the largest body of fresh water left on the planet. After living in Arizona where big corporations like the Peabody Coal Company are sucking dry the massive underlying reservoir of fresh water just to slide strip mined coal through long slushes to company power plants that supply most of the electricity used in Southern California, and reading horror stories about the industrial waste, huge droughts, floods and storms that are destroying most other natural water supplies, we chose the last good and abundant water supply to be found anywhere.

Our belief was backed by an agreement between the states bordering the Great Lakes and the Canadian government, known as the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact of 1985, and its annex of 2001 which gives states the power to manage how the water of the lakes can be used and protected. We believed the agreement would protect the Great Lakes from the ravages of big industry.

Or so we thought. But then we read a statement by James Weakley, president of the Lake Carrier's Association, who warned: "Lake Michigan water is being shipped by boat loads over to China. By using a little known loophole in the 2006 Great Lakes Compact, Obama minions are allowing Nestle Company to export precious fresh water out of Lake Michigan to the tune of an estimated $500,000 to $1.8 million per day profit."

Nestle, which sells various popular brands of drinking water in small plastic containers, found in gasoline stations, party stores and grocery stores everywhere, is selling Lake Michigan water under the brand name Ice Mountain.

How can anybody do this? It seems that there was an effort to stop Nestle from its operations on Lake Michigan and the case ended up in court, where a judge ordered the pumping of lake water to cease. But then an appellate court overturned the ruling and the company came to an agreement.

This agreement, dubbed the "bottled-water loophole," hinged on wording in the compact that bans removing water from the lakes in containers greater than 5.7 gallons. The authors of the compact were thinking of truck tankers or piping the water. The ban did not mention bottled water. Thus Nestle has continued sucking water from the lakes at its Mecosta facility and pouring it in bottles which are sold commercially around the world. And to date, they are getting away with it.

And there is more bad news.

Former Michigan Republican Governor Rick Snyder, who co-chaired the Council of Great Lakes Governors that exists to preserve the Great Lakes, approved a controversial plan by a Canadian company to open a sulfide mine near Marquette, near Lake Superior in 2012. In spite of protests by conservationists and the local Native American tribes, construction of the mine went ahead and it went into operation under the name Eagle Mine in 2014. It has become a primary source of nickle and copper in the U.S. Sulfide mines drain acid poisons into the local water system and this mine is now dumping poison into the most pristine of all the Great Lakes. But it is creating jobs and wealth so who can stop progress?

We remember British Petroleum (BP) because of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, which killed 11 workers and dumped 206 million gallons of crude oil that devastated the coastline, wrecked commercial fishing, and put thousands of workers out of their jobs.

While all of this was making headlines, British Petroleum spilled 1,600 gallons of oil into Lake Michigan from its refinery at Whiting, Indiana. To date the company has never paid for the cleanup of this mess even though it was a clear violation of the federal Clean Water Act.

These are among the worst of the various plants that are still dumping chemicals and other toxins into the lakes. While the Environmental Protection Agency has been using state and federal laws to contain much of the industrial waste, and launch clean-up efforts, there is still pesticide and fertilizer runoff from the farms.

In short, humans are recklessly and thoughtlessly destroying the last great reservoirs of clean drinking water on Earth. The human body is composed of about 65 percent water. We all need water to live. In fact, we can all go longer without food than we can water to stay alive. Yet we treat water like it is a natural commodity that we will always have flowing from our taps.

Big corporations are already buying up natural water rights to some of the best sources of fresh spring water in the world. The day is soon coming when bottled water will be our only source of fresh water. And you can be assured that we will pay dearly for every drop.

(c) 2020 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.

Voting is the fundamental basis of democracy. Particularly in times of crisis, it is vital that the people's voice
be heard. The president and the modern-day Republican Party are convinced that if everyone votes, they will not fare well.

We Must Protect The Right To Vote In The November Elections
The Republican Party is doing everything it can to suppress the vote in November. Why? They fear higher turnout, especially among people of color, will cost them the election.
By Jesse Jackson

The coronavirus does not discriminate, but people do. The coronavirus is not partisan, but politicians are. When we should be coming together to address a shared crisis, some are intent on driving us apart and exacting partisan advantage in the midst of the crisis.

Across the country, Republicans are intensifying their efforts to make it harder to vote, with particular focus on suppressing the votes of African Americans and other minorities.

With the pandemic making in-person voting dangerous, Congress should move rapidly to provide resources to help every state create systems for voting by mail. The first rescue package, the CARES Act, included some money for vote-by-mail programs, but far short of what is needed.

Why not provide it? Republicans are worried that voting by mail may increase turnout, particularly among low-income and minority voters. Donald Trump voiced the fear, saying "They had things, levels of voting, that if you'd ever agreed to it, you'd never have a Republican elected in this country again." Trump said this in March, dismissing Democratic efforts to expand mail-in voting, make registration easier, and extend voting days.

Republican voters in states that already have widespread vote by mail support the program overwhelmingly. Some sensibly argue that vote by mail might actually help Republicans this fall, because older voters - who tend to be more conservative - are more likely to be reluctant to expose themselves to the virus by going to crowded voting places. But Republican history, grounded in the Southern party base that has always sought to suppress the black vote, makes them fear efforts to make voting easier for all.

In Wisconsin, we saw the deadly effects of that. Wisconsin Republicans in control of the state legislature blocked the Democratic governor's effort to allow widespread vote by mail in the primary. When state election officials were swamped by a staggering demand for absentee ballots, they refused to extend the time for voting, ensuring that thousands never received a response to their request for a ballot.

At the same time, officials were slashing the number of voting precincts, worried they'd lack volunteers to staff them. In Milwaukee, the home of two-thirds of the black population in Wisconsin, the number of polling places was reduced from 180 to five. That guaranteed long lines that surely made it impossible for many still at work to vote and put those who did vote at risk. Dozens who went to vote have since contracted the coronavirus.

Simultaneously, conservatives in Wisconsin have joined with Republicans to push purging of voter lists. From 2016 to 2018, Wisconsin purged 14 percent of voters on its rolls (the national average is about 7.6 percent). In the most recent round, election officials sent letters to 232,000 voters who would be removed if they did not respond. One in eight voters in Milwaukee were at risk. Voters in black neighborhoods were nearly twice as likely to be flagged as those in white neighborhoods.

In Georgia in 2018, the Republican candidate for governor, Brian Kemp, was serving as the secretary of state. He sought to purge 300,000 voters, and 53,000 voter registrations were put on hold; 80 percent were people of color. Two hundred voting precincts were closed, most in areas with large black populations. The Democratic candidate, Stacy Abrams, lost the race by a margin far less than the votes that were suppressed.

As she noted, "Especially in states like Georgia, where diversifying demographics have us on the precipice of transformative political change, we are seeing Republicans employ voter suppression to limit who has access to the polls. Disproportionately, under GOP secretaries of state, this process affects Democrats, particularly in communities of color. The clear intention is to strip people of their right to vote."

In state after state, conservative groups are suing to force purges. The Trump Justice Department has piled on: a June 2017 letter went to 44 states saying it would review how the states were planning to "remove the names of ineligible voters."

Purging voters, blocking vote by mail, requiring official voter ID, closing precincts, limiting early voting, limiting the hours that voting booths are open, blocking same day or automatic voter registration, gerrymandering to segregate the minority vote - the list goes on.

Voting is the fundamental basis of democracy. Particularly in times of crisis, it is vital that the people's voice be heard. The president and the modern-day Republican Party are convinced that if everyone votes, they will not fare well. Think about that.

Our last presidential election was marred by foreign intervention and WikiLeaks. We couldn't stop that. But we should not steal from ourselves. We cannot allow the coming election to be scarred by homegrown intervention and TrickiLeaks.

(c) 2020 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.

The federal government has committed billions to cleaning up orphan oil and gas wells and reducing methane emissions.

Crisis Brings Out Our Best, But We Must Remain Vigilant
By David Suzuki

Most people just want to ensure that we and our families are safe and healthy during this crisis, and to do all we can to halt or slow the rapid spread of COVID-19.

We've seen the best in human nature over the past while. We care about each other. As difficult as the measures we must follow are for so many people, especially those on the front lines and those with few resources, humanity has been given an opportunity to slow down and better understand how we came to face several major crises at once.

Not everyone is easing off on the gas pedal, though. Under cover of the pandemic, the fossil fuel industry and its supporters are doing everything they can to ensure the world continues to dig up, transport and burn bitumen, oil, gas and coal at an accelerating rate - to the detriment of air, water, land, biodiversity and climate.

In late March, Environmental Defence obtained a memo from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers to federal Natural Resources Minister Seamus O'Regan, asking government for "a massive rollback in regulatory oversight, a full stop in the development of any new climate policy, and for the industry to be exempted from the requirement to report on lobbying activity." It also asked government to cancel "plans to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People" and to delay methane emission regulations, among other requests.

Fortunately, the federal government has so far resisted these demands. Instead, it has committed billions to cleaning up orphan oil and gas wells and reducing methane emissions - thanks in part to pressure from environmental organizations and the public. Ideally, industry should be on the hook for these cleanups and improvements, but if we are to subsidize them, this will at least create jobs and keep workers employed while restoring habitat and ecosystems.

The governments of Alberta and Ontario, however, are putting industry first by overturning some environmental regulations and, in Alberta's case, putting billions into pipeline development.

Supporting workers in hard-hit occupations such as oil and gas is necessary, but spending billions to prop up polluting industries that are no longer profitable and aren't likely to be anytime soon is wasteful and counterproductive.

Around the world, including in the U.S., authoritarian-leaning governments are overturning environmental laws and protections, rescinding basic rights and - as we saw during the 2008 recession - bailing out profitable companies that>haven't always demonstrated responsibility with the aid they receive.

Some no doubt realize people are distracted and hope they won't notice or will be too occupied to raise a fuss. Others have perhaps devoted so much to their financial interests that they're blind to the need for change.

Canada has already spent $4.5 billion on a pipeline project that industry didn't consider economically viable. And Alberta is sinking billions into bolstering an industry whose product has been selling for less than nothing.

Imagine what good those billions could do if put toward correcting course, in ways that would reduce the risks of everything from pandemics to pollution and climate disruption.

We could create good jobs, conserve energy, push Canada to the forefront of the clean tech revolution, enjoy cleaner air, water and land, and develop a more stable economy without the boom and bust of resource-based systems.

Governments have promised to phase out fossil fuel subsidies for years. If they're to be subsidized at all now, it should only be to help clean up the many abandoned and orphaned wells that continue to mar landscapes and pollute air and water - as Canada's government has promised - and facilitate a rapid, just transition to cleaner energy, with concrete plans on how to meet our global commitments to prevent the climate crisis from worsening.

We know that protecting nature and respecting our interdependence with it are key to reducing risks of everything from disease spread to pollution to climate catastrophe. The barriers aren't from a shortage of solutions but only from lack of political will.

In these times, our focus must remain on safety and health, for ourselves, our families and our communities. But in the long run, that will also depend on the safety and health of the natural systems on which we all rely.


(c) 2020 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

The Climate Crisis Has Not Stopped For The Pandemic
Turns out ignoring problems only makes them worse. Who knew?
By Charles P. Pierce

There is a category of news here in the shebeen that we like to call One More Damn Thing, in which we place stories about catastrophes that are obscured by larger ones. That category naturally was dominated over the weekend by the news about the invasion of the murder hornets. But it strikes me that some attention should be paid to the fact that Siberia is burning down. From Gizmodo:

Thomas Smith, a geographer at the London School of Economics, told Earther that there are roughly 5 million acres of forest and grassland ablaze in Russia. The largest fire clocks in around 1 million acres alone, or basically the size of Glacier National Park. Towns have been caught up in the fires with hundreds of structures wiped out and smoke clogging the air, making it hard to breathe. "Critical situation" might be an understatement.

Many of the blazes appear to be human caused, but extreme heat is fanning the flames. The winter warmth means that snowpack disappeared quickly, drying out vegetation and the soil. Conditions throughout April and into May have been freakishly warm as well. In recent days, temperatures have spiked as much as 36 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius) above normal for this time of year, and the heat is expected to hold for at least the next week.

Yes, the climate crisis is still out there, intensifying as the pandemic sweeps the world and the murder hornets come ashore here. And none of these situations is likely to abate any time soon.
What's happening in Siberia is a preview of what's to come in other parts of the world. The Amazon's dry season is about to get started and could be worse than last year's dangerous fire season. In western North America, wildfire season is also just around the corner. For California in particular, the challenges could be severe after the state received only half of its normal precipitation over the winter. Climate change is complicating wildfire season there, and coronavirus will only complicate it further.
It's not hard to see that, when California wildfire season ignites, it will stretch an already exhausted community of first-responders, especially those working in small, rural communities. Those smaller hospitals that are still operating will be stressed further. Evacuations and social distancing are not entirely compatible. Turns out that ignoring problems only makes them worse. Who knew?

(c) 2020 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-

"You can call it a germ, you can call it a flu, you can call it a virus, you know you can call it many different names. I'm not sure anybody even knows what it is."
~~~ Donald Trump

Protestors try to enter the Michigan House of Representative chamber and are being kept out by the Michigan State Police.

Right-Wing "Reopen" Fanatics Would Kill Nearly As Many Americans As Died In All US Wars
A new simulation by the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania offers a frightening scenario of what happens if the Neo Nazis, libertarians, and too many Trumpian governors have their way.
By Juan Cole

Roughly 1,264,000 US soldiers have died in all the wars this country has ever fought.

A new simulation by the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School predicts that if all the states completely reopened today and all Americans ceased all social distancing measures, a million people would die in this country by June 30. That is, almost as many would die in the next two months as soldiers died in all of US wars in all of US history.

That is the outcome being demanded by the "reopen" protesters who menaced Michigan's state capitol with confederate flags, Nazi paraphernalia, and assault weapons. They are a tiny group and should not be given too much attention, especially since some of the protests are astroturfed by the super wealthy, such as the DeVos's in Michigan. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer denounced the racism and Nazism.

What she should really have denounced is the willful ignorance.

Wharton says that even if we just keep things the way they are, with most states at lease partially closed and individuals practicing social distancing, we would still lose 116,000 by June 30.

The reason a complete and immediate reopening would kill so many is that Americans don't have immunity to the novel coronavirus and it is extremely contagious. At a transmission rate or Ro of 3, I figured everybody in the country could get it in a month if no mitigation was done.

If you just let it run wild you'd get 24 million cases in the next two months, and a million deaths. Note that the mortality rate would go way up if you let it run wild because there would be no intensive care units for many of those who needed them and they would just die at home or stacked up on gurneys at the hospital waiting for some oxygen.

Wharton also shows that if we let the one million grandmas and grandpas die (most deaths come in people over 60 like me), the hit to the economy would be much less than if we continued mitigation.

The Wharton model is right about some things. For instance, if we are already at 70,000 deaths (an undercount because of people who die at home undiagnosed or who are wrongly classed as having died of pneumonia) in early May, we are certainly going to have more than 116,000 dead by August, which a previous model had suggested.

Why the United States is the biggest coronavirus catastrophe in the world is a little bit of a mystery.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine rescinded a requirement that all Ohioans wear a face mask when they go out, after he got tremendous feedback from, he said, people who didn't want the government telling them what to do.

Ohioans are apparently not as smart as people in Hong Kong, who have a not very good government that was not very pro-active about the coronavirus threat, and who just volunteered as a population to wear face masks. Hong Kong was a potential pandemic hot spot, being relatively densely populated.

University of North Carolina social scientist Zeynep Tufekci points to universal mask-wearing in Hong Kong as one of the reasons for its low death rate:

The white supremacists and nut jobs who menaced elected state officials with their military-style assault weapons could have what they want, a substantially open economy, but with some conditions.

They'd have to be willing to wear face masks (and not the big white kind with the pointy top).

Then, we'd need to be testing on a very large scale across the country daily, and then we would need, nationally, 100,000 contact tracers. Once people positive for the virus or for antibodies against it have been identified, they would be interviewed about all the people they might have spread it to in the past couple of weeks, and those people would be contacted and asked to quarantine.

As Zeeshan Aleem at Vox writes, South Korea did it this way, with less than 300 deaths and little shutdown of the economy (it did close schools and some public facilities).

But guess what? The far right and just the ordinary right wing, and maybe a lot of the independents have been propagandized for decades that government is bad and can never do anything efficiently and should be starved of funds and reduced to a pitiful, tiny little thing so that big corporations and the super-wealthy don't have to pay their fair share of taxes for public services.

And to deal with the coronavirus successfully while keeping the economy open, you need one thing.

A bigger, better government.

And that is one of the things wrong with the Wharton School model- it doesn't have the third option, of large-scale testing and contact tracing. As it is, its model is a zero sum game where more shutdown and social distancing produces fewer deaths and more economic misery, whereas opening up immediately produces many more deaths but less of a hit to GDP.

There is another possibility that spares both lives and the economy.

Unfortunately, it would require a competent set of national leaders to implement it, and we instead have someone in the White House who is perfectly willing to sacrifice a million Americans at the altar of the supreme Dow Jones.

(c) 2020 Juan R.I. Cole is the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. He has written extensively on modern Islamic movements in Egypt, the Persian Gulf and South Asia and has given numerous media interviews on the war on terrorism and the Iraq War. He lived in various parts of the Muslim world for nearly 10 years and continues to travel widely there. He speaks Arabic, Farsi and Urdu.

The Dead Letter Office-

Kayleigh tells a lie

Heil Trump,

Dear propaganda ansager McEnany,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, you happily telling lies for Lying Donald, 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 05-23-2020. We salute you frau McEnany, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

Corporations Will Not Save Us
By Robert Reich

Last August, the Business Roundtable - an association of CEOs of America's biggest corporations - announced with great fanfare a "fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders" and not just their shareholders.

They said "investing in employees, delivering value to customers, and supporting outside communities" is now at the forefront of their business goals - not maximizing profits.

Baloney. Corporate social responsibility is a sham.

One Business Roundtable director is Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors. Just weeks after making the Roundtable commitment, and despite GM's hefty profits and large tax breaks, Barra rejected workers' demands that GM raise their wages and stop outsourcing their jobs. Earlier in the year GM shut its giant assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio.

Nearly 50,000 GM workers then staged the longest auto strike in 50 years. They won a few wage gains but didn't save any jobs. Barra was paid $22 million last year. How's that for corporate social responsibility?

Another prominent CEO who made the phony Business Roundtable commitment was AT&T's Randall Stephenson, who promised to use the billions in savings from the Trump tax cut to invest in the company's broadband network and create at least 7,000 new jobs.

Instead, even before the coronavirus pandemic, AT&T cut more than 23,000 jobs and demanded that employees train lower-wage foreign workers to replace them.

Let's not forget Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon and its Whole Foods subsidiary. Just weeks after Bezos made the Business Roundtable commitment, Whole Foods announced it would be cutting medical benefits for its entire part-time workforce.

The annual saving to Amazon from this cost-cutting move is roughly what Bezos - whose net worth is $117 billion - makes in a few hours. Bezos' wealth grows so quickly, this number has gone up since you started watching this video.

GE's CEO Larry Culp is also a member of the Business Roundtable. Two months after he made the commitment to all his stakeholders, General Electric froze the pensions of 20,000 workers in order to cut costs. So much for investing in employees.

Dennis Muilenburg, the former CEO of Boeing, also committed to the phony Business Roundtable pledge. Shortly after making the commitment to "deliver value to customers," Muilenburg was fired for failing to act to address the safety problems that caused the 737 Max crashes that killed 346 people. After the crashes, he didn't issue a meaningful apology or even express remorse to the victims' families and downplayed the severity of the fallout to investors, regulators, airlines, and the public. He was rewarded with a $62 million farewell gift from Boeing on his way out.

Oh, and the chairman of the Business Roundtable is Jamie Dimon, CEO of Wall Street's largest bank, JPMorgan Chase. Dimon lobbied Congress personally and intensively for the biggest corporate tax cut in history, and got the Business Roundtable to join him. JPMorgan raked in $3.7 billion from the tax cut. Dimon alone made $31 million in 2018.

That tax cut increased the federal debt by almost $2 trillion. This was before Congress spent almost $3 trillion fighting the pandemic - and delivering a hefty portion as bailouts to the biggest corporations, many of whom signed the Business Roundtable pledge.

As usual, almost nothing has trickled down to America's working class and poor.

The truth is, American corporations are sacrificing workers and communities as never before in order to further boost runaway profits and unprecedented CEO pay. And not even a tragic pandemic is changing that.

Americans know this. A record 76 percent of U.S. adults believe major corporations have too much power.

The only way to make corporations socially responsible is through laws requiring them to be - for example, giving workers a bigger voice in corporate decision making, requiring that corporations pay severance to communities they abandon, raising corporate taxes, busting up monopolies, and preventing dangerous products (including faulty airplanes) from ever reaching the light of day.

If the CEOs of the Business Roundtable and other corporations were truly socially responsible, they'd support such laws, not make phony promises they clearly have no intention of keeping. Don't hold your breath.

The only way to get such laws enacted is by reducing corporate power and getting big money out of our politics.

The first step is to see corporate social responsibility for the sham it is. The next step is to emerge from this pandemic and economic crisis more resolved than ever to rein in corporate power, and make the economy work for all.

(c) 2020 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

Kinda Surreal
My trip to the emergency room yesterday
By Jane Stillwater

Have you ever sleepwalked through a dream? One that made little or no sense? Salvador Dali comes to mind, especially that scene with the clock.

10:00 am: I'm feeling sort of fishy. My back hurts a little. I just got back from New York and Los Angeles. Paranoia sets in. Maybe I've got COVID?

12:00 noon: I walk over to the emergency room at the local hospital. They've moved the intake area outside to a tent. Someone takes my temperature, checks me for weapons and waves me through. I walk over to sit on a folding chair in the hospital's driveway. Only two other patients are there.

One patient had caught her index finger in a blender while making a smoothie. "You're probably gonna lose that nail -- but it will grow back," I say. She nods sheepishly.

The other patient has back trouble too. "Have you ever read Revelations?" he asks. "This here is The Rapture." Then he rambles on and on about his unhappy childhood in some podunk town in the Central Valley, how he drinks four Dr. Peppers each evening and then has trouble sleeping. "But never touch alcohol...." I try to politely change chairs.

1:30 pm: Finally a really nice doctor sees me inside another white tent. "We will need a blood panel and a urine sample. Here, take this cup...."

2:30 pm: I've just finished drinking four cups of water, each cup the size of a Starbucks latte grande. Still can't pee. Back to the folding chair. EMTs bring in an elderly man on a gurney. COVID? I'm afraid to ask.

4:00 pm: This is starting to get annoying. I had thought that I'd just be in and out with a quick diagnosis and some pills -- but no. I'm still stuck in the bathroom trying to come up with a urine sample.

5:15 pm: I did it! Two more grande-sized cups of water later, I come up with a few drops. But then I accidentally drop the freaking sample cup into the sink. Crap. Too much performance anxiety.

Now all I want to do is go home, take some vitamin C and call myself in the morning. This has gone on far too long. I've been here for over five hours. "Now we are going to have to admit you." Wha? Nothing's all that wrong with me -- but I'm now the only patient they've got. I start thinking about that old U. Utah Phillips song, "They will keep you and they'll never let you go...."

5:45 pm: Here I am, in a hospital bed, strapped to a machine that measures my oxygen levels. A warning beeper starts going off. Having nothing else to do, I count the beeps (finally giving up after the 948th beep) and go back to reading Lee Goldberg's latest murder mystery, Killer Thriller. I've read 103 pages here so far.

They've got me in a hospital gown by now. A really nice nurse comes in, accompanied by a student. "And this is where we draw the blood," she says, pointing to the vein in my left arm. "Now you try it...."

6:30 pm: Everyone has disappeared. I've finally managed to pee into the sample cup but no one seems interested in taking it away to the lab. Haven't eaten since breakfast.

6:45 pm: Finally another really nice nurse comes in. "I'm hungry," I say. "What if I starve to death!" I joke.

"It takes four days to starve to death," she replies. Good to know.

7:00 pm: I've finally had enough! Now I'm even starting to worry about catching some iatrogenic disease or even COVID itself and being stuck here forever, perpetually sick. I pull off the wires, get dressed and start to leave. "You can't do that!" says another nurse. Then she threatens to write the dread "AMA" in my chart! "Leaving against medical advice."

At this point I start to pass out. Has it been four days yet? They plop me into a wheelchair, put me back into the bed, wire me up again and hand me a stale turkey sandwich. I gulp it down without even washing my hands first.

7:15 pm: Finally the doctor comes in. "Have you seen a lot of COVID patients here," I ask him out of curiosity.

"Not that many." He shrugs. And then he finally tells me what is wrong with me. "You have low sodium levels." Oh. Okay.

7:30 pm: As I leave the hospital ER, I notice that there was another separate indoor waiting room where four or five sad-looking older men sit resignedly. Might this be a specially-designated COVID waiting room? I will never know -- because I'm too hungry to stop and find out.

7:55 pm: I stagger into the nearby Whole Foods minutes before it closes, grab the first food I see off the shelf and gulp that down too, ending a very surreal day.

PS: I have a friend who is an ER doctor. "I'm beginning to think that all this COVID thing is just a myth dreamed up so that the Federal Reserve can steal our economy," I told her this morning. "Just look at me. Since mid-March I've been to San Diego, Tijuana, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and spent seven hours a freaking emergency room -- and don't even have so much as a cough."

"Oh, no. It's real," she replied. "There are doctors and nurses who are dying of COVID." And I finally believe her because I trust her -- even though it's almost impossible to believe even a single word that the mainstream media tells us (remember Iraq's phony WMDs, the shockingly spuriously false charges that Syria used chemical weapons, the Gulf of Tonkin fabrications and all those Kuwait incubator baby lies?)

Anyway, here's my latest theory about COVID-19, combining both personal experience, that chat with my ER doctor friend and the latest scientific data: That there are two different strains of COVID. One is totally deadly, a microbial Freddie Kruger, lurking around to assassinate our doctors, nurses and most vulnerable. And then there are some milder strains of COVID that even Mary Poppins could cure.

Plus there is also the issue of how best to actually deal with the COVID epidemic. To paraphrase Hamlet, "To lock-down or not to lock-down?" And it's becoming increasingly clear that America's "lock 'em up" attitude is simply bad science.

By locking us up, we are apparently giving the deadly strains more chances to act like Jason in Friday the 13th around our doctors and nurses -- while giving the more benign strains less chance to give us herd immunity (and also giving the Federal Reserve mafia even more chances to steal all our money).

(c) 2020 Jane Stillwater. Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world. And while you're at it, please buy my books!

The Cartoon Corner-

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ David Fitzsimmons ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

Surrounded By Guys In Masks; 'What Is This, My Birthday?' Asks Pence
By Waterford Whispers News

US VICE-President Mike Pence needed urgent medical care following a tour of the Coronavirus clinic in the Mayo Medical Centre in Minnesota, after becoming weak at the sight of so many people wearing face masks and lying on beds.

"Is it just me, or is it hot in here?" swooned Pence, who didn't wear a mask because he has a note from Mother, and also a note from his mother.

"Jeez, give a guy some room, would ya? All these big strong men in masks, it reminds me of when I... well, never mind. A movie I watched once, yeah, that's right. Eyes Wide Shut. Terrible thing. All that adultery and sin; Godless."

Pence went on to defend his decision to not wear a face mask during the trip, stating that he gets tested for Covid-19 'all the time.'

"The big swab that goes all the way back to your brain, yeah I get that done all the time, it doesn't bother me at all" stated Pence, while saying his 3 pm rosary.

"Besides, I've got big G up there looking after me, the main man, the Holy Kahuna himself. God, you heathen. God is all you need to keep yourself free of these Chinese germs. In there I saw a lot of people wearing face masks; clearly they have no faith. Maybe that's why Muslims wear those Burkas, you ever think of that?"

Mr. Pence was informed that he probably should wear a mask to cut down on the risk of him transferring Covid-19 to President Donald Trump, as the loss of the president at this time would mean a shot at the presidency for Pence himself.

"Is that so?" asked Pence, rubbing his hands on a Coronavirus patient before heading off to an Oval Office meeting.

(c) 2020 Waterford Whispers News

The Animal Rescue Site

Issues & Alibis Vol 20 # 18 (c) 05/08/2020

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