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In This Edition

Chris Walker says, "Schumer Promises Vote On Codifying 'Roe' Without Workaround For Filibuster."

Ralph Nader reports, "'Public Justice' - Standing Forty Years Against Brutish Corporate Power."

Margaret Kimberley examines how, "Obama And Liberals Killed Abortion Rights."

Jim Hightower continues, "The Corporatization Of Pet Care: Animal Cruelty?"

William Rivers Pitt finds, "Democrats Had 50 Years To Save And Protect 'Roe.' They Failed."

John Nichols concludes, "Josh Kaul Is Legally And Morally Justified In Not Enforcing Archaic Abortion Ban."

James Donahue goes on, "The Quest For Silence."

David Swanson considers, "If Televisions Cared About This Planet."

David Suzuki concludes, "Suppressed Science Shows Fish Farms Endanger Wild Salmon."

Charles P. Pierce says, "If John Roberts Is A Shadow Puppet, It's A Tragedy For The Nation."

Juan Cole asks, "Jared Kushner To invest Saudi Funds In Israeli Tech: Is MBS Sidestepping His Father King Salman On Palestine?"

Robert Reich says, "We Must Fight Powerful Bullies, Whether They Are Putin, Trump, Or Tech Billionaires."

Thom Hartmann with a must read, "Abortion: Why Is The Court Using Religious Belief To Alter What Should Be Secular Law?"

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Waterford Whispers News reports "Biden's New Press Secretary To Serve For At Least Nine Scaramuccis," but first, Uncle Ernie wonders, "Is The Ocean Developing Amnesia?"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Joe Heller, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, C-Span, Zhihong Zhuo, Anna Moneymaker, Alex Wong, Jeffery Young, Amber Arnold, Saul Loeb, MSNBC, Brendan Smialowski, Win McNamee, Jim Hightower, Twitter, Pixabay, Pexels, AFP, Unsplash, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments -

The Quotable Quote -
The Cartoon Corner -
To End On A Happy Note -
Have You Seen This -
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Welcome one and all to "Uncle Ernie's Issues & Alibis."

Even the ocean has a 'memory,' but it is being eroded by global warming.

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Is The Ocean Developing Amnesia?
Global warming strikes again!
By Ernest Stewart

"I'm often askd whether I believe in global warming. I now just reply with the question: Do you believe in gravity." ~~~ Neil deGrasse Tyson

I see where using future projections from the latest generation of Earth System Models, a recent study published in Science Advances found that most of the world's ocean is steadily losing its year-to-year memory under global warming.

Compared with the fast weather fluctuations of the atmosphere, the slowly varying ocean exhibits strong persistence, or "memory," meaning the ocean temperature tomorrow is likely to look a lot like it does today, with only slight changes. As a result, ocean memory is often used for predicting ocean conditions.

Ocean memory decline is found as a collective response across the climate models to human-induced warming. As greenhouse-gas concentrations continue to rise, such memory decline will become increasingly evident.

"We discovered this phenomenon by examining the similarity in ocean surface temperature from one year to the next as a simple metric for ocean memory," said Hui Shi, lead author and researcher at the Farallon Institute in Petaluma, California. "It's almost as if the ocean is developing amnesia."

Ocean memory is found to be related to the thickness of the uppermost layer of the ocean, known as the mixed layer. Deeper mixed layers have greater heat content, which confers more thermal inertia that translates into memory. However, the mixed layer over most oceans will become shallower in response to continued anthropogenic warming, resulting in a decline in ocean memory.

"Other processes, such as changes in ocean currents and changes in the energy exchange between the atmosphere and ocean, also contribute to changes in ocean memory, but the shoaling of the mixed layer depth and resulting memory decline happens in all regions of the globe, and this makes it an important factor to consider for future climate predictions," said Robert Jnglin Wills, a research scientist at University of Washington in Seattle, Washington, and co-author of the research.

Along with ocean memory decline, the thinning mixed layer is also found to increase the random fluctuations of the sea surface temperature. As a result, although the ocean will not become much more variable from one year to the next in the future, the fraction of helpful signals for prediction largely reduces.

"Reduced ocean memory together with increased random fluctuations suggest intrinsic changes in the system and new challenges in prediction under warming," said Fei-Fei Jin, an atmospheric sciences professor at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, and co-author of the research.

Ocean memory loss doesn't just impact the prediction of physical variables, but could also influence the way we manage sensitive marine ecosystems.

"Reduced memory means less time in advance for a forecast to be made. This could hinder our ability to predict and prepare for ocean change including marine heatwaves, which are known to have caused sudden and pronounced changes in ocean ecosystems around the world," said Michael Jacox, a research scientist at NOAA Fisheries' Southwest Fisheries Science Center in Monterey, California, and co-author of the research.

In fisheries management, the biological parameters used for stock assessment are estimated assuming a stable environment represented by the recent past. Reduced ocean memory might render such estimation inaccurate and calls for new approaches in ecosystem-based fisheries management to include real-time ocean monitoring and other efforts alike. Ocean memory decline also likely exerts impacts on populations of biological resources. Depending on whether the species are adapted to constant or more variable environmental conditions, future changes in their population can be better estimated and predicted by taking ocean memory loss into consideration.

Besides ocean prediction, forecasting land-based impacts on temperature, precipitation as well as extreme events might also be affected by ocean memory decline due to their dependence on the persistence of sea surface temperature as a predictability source. As ocean memory continues to decline, researchers will likely be challenged to search for alternative predictors for skillful predictions.


03-09-1936 ~ 05-07-2022
Thanks for the music!

02-24-1948 ~ 05-08-2022
Thanks for the film!

10-11-1948 ~ 05-08-2022
Thanks for the direction!


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


Until the next time, Peace!

(c) 2022 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.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks at a news conference on the U.S. Senate's upcoming
procedural vote to codify Roe v. Wade at the U.S. Capitol Building on May 5, 2022, in Washington, D.C.

Schumer Promises Vote On Codifying 'Roe' Without Workaround For Filibuster
By Chris Walker

Democrats in the United States Senate say they plan to bring up a vote next this to pass legislation that would codify abortion protections recognized in the 1973 landmark Supreme Court ruling Roe v. Wade - but their action will likely be an exercise in futility, as they do not have the votes to get it past a 60-vote filibuster threshold.

The vote is in reaction to the leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court, written by conservative Justice Samuel Alito, that suggests the institution is set to overturn the half-century-old precedent protecting a person's right to access abortion services throughout the country.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) confirmed the vote would happen.

"I intend to file cloture on this vital legislation on Monday which will set up a vote for Wednesday," he said on the Senate floor on Thursday.

In a Twitter post, Schumer said the vote was necessary so that "Americans will see where every single Senator stands" on the issue.

That comment from the majority leader is perhaps a recognition of the fact that the bill is doomed to fail. Democrats are nowhere near the 60 votes needed to overcome the Senate filibuster, and the vote is being seen by many as a political gesture rather than a realistic means of addressing the potential end of abortion rights protections for millions of Americans.

"The plan is little more than an effort to send a political message before the midterm elections and a seismic ruling that could have major legal, cultural and electoral consequences, with deep significance for voters across the political spectrum," wrote The New York Times's Annie Karni in a report on the vote.

Even if Democrats eliminated the filibuster completely, however, it's unclear whether they'd be able to get every member of their own caucus on board with passing abortion protections.

The legislation that's up for a vote, the Women's Health and Protection Act, passed easily in the House last year but was blocked when it reached the Senate by Republicans and Sen. Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat from West Virginia. Manchin opposed the bill on the grounds that it provided too many protections for individuals when it came to abortion rights.

Since his vote to block the legislation in February, Manchin has not indicated any shift in his stance on the issue, nor has he said much about support for a watered-down version of the bill, offered by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), that would establish very limited protections for abortion across the country while still allowing states the ability to place harsh restrictions on access to the medical procedure.

Some may view any efforts to negotiate with Manchin as futile because of the inconsistency between Manchin's eventual vote and his private conversations with progressive Democrats on other pieces of legislation throughout the past year. In fact, one Democratic insider, speaking to Axios in January about these discussions with Manchin, said that working with him was like "negotiating via Etch A Sketch."

(c) 2022 Chris Walker is based out of Madison, Wisconsin. Focusing on both national and local topics since the early 2000s, he has produced thousands of articles analysing the issues of the day and their impact on the American people.

'Public Justice' - Standing Forty Years Against Brutish Corporate Power
By Ralph Nader

It is not often that one speech urging the creation of a national public interest law firm, driven by seasoned trial lawyers, would move from words to deeds, from oratory to action.

That is just what happened following my address in June 1980 to the Michigan Trial Lawyers Association. I spoke of a gap in trial practice which needed to be filled. There was a pressing need to bring cases against the many corporate abuses, which included non-enforcement of regulatory laws. Without the prospect of a contingent fee after a successful outcome, trial lawyers were unlikely to take on these uncertain cases or structural reform cases on behalf of tenants, farm workers, or cruel prison conditions.

I noted the assault of corporations on "the biosphere, personal injury law from trauma to toxics." The corporate lobby was blocking legislative proposals to strengthen consumer class action rights, digging deeper for unconscionable corporate welfare payments and funding corporatist politicians. To challenge these damaging corporate power plays, I suggested a full-time core of public interest attorneys supported by a sabbatical program for trial lawyers who wanted to take a year off from their regular practice and come to Washington, D.C. to advance justice and refresh themselves.

It turned out that there were some leading trial lawyers - Scottie Baldwin, J.D. Lee, Bill Colson and Dean Robb - who were dissatisfied with the slow pace of the American Trial Lawyers Association (ATLA), then controlled by a small clique of smug members. They took this proposal to the ATLA convention and convened a meeting of like-minded attorneys. With the determined assistance of Joan B. Claybrook, who was with Public Citizen, the nonprofit Trial Lawyers for Public Justice (TLPJ) was born.

In the ensuing forty years, TLPJ renamed Public Justice (PJ) in 2007 has shown that there are opportunities for widespread justice successes so long as the peoples' advocates are on the field of action.

Public Justice has taken on a wide range of cases from going up against mountain-top removal and the coal industry's poisoning of fresh water in West Virginia, to industrial agricultures' toxic contaminations, to making sure Title IX is enforced to open wide the doors for women participating in intercollegiate athletics.

Today, led by Paul Bland, Public Justice is celebrating its fortieth anniversary. The firm has a $7 million annual budget (which is about three and a half weeks' pay for the miserly Tim Cook, CEO of Apple), 23 staff on its legal team and a total staff size of 46.

Look at Public Justice's docket of lawsuits (See: They have challenged court secrecy, fought compulsory arbitration and federal pre-emption of good state laws and the weakening of class actions. Students subjected to harassment and discrimination have found a champion in Public Justice, as have consumers cheated in so many ways by devious commercial thieves.

Special is Public Justice's stand against what it calls the "Debtor's Prison Project." Here governments try to cash in by imposing fees on charged defendants trapping them in cycles of poverty, with PJ arguing that "no one should lose their freedom because they lack the means to pay a fine."

A large vacuum is filled by Public Justice in its Worker Justice Project. Giant agri-business, Public Justice asserts with abundant evidence, "has always capitalized on the exploitation of workers, since its origins in plantation agriculture that relied on the forced labor of enslaved Africans. Today, meatpacking workers are subject to some of the most brutal working conditions in the labor market."

When Covid-19 viruses came to America, Public Justice went to the defense of food-system workers who were not given protection and care and therefore their industry facilities "quickly became epicenters of outbreaks."

Paul Bland and his colleagues teamed up with other public interest groups on some cases, including Toward Justice and the Heartland Center for Jobs and Freedom.

Within today's right-wing, corporatist judicial system, Public Justice still wins cases, deters wrongdoing because companies know it is on watch, and even raises the visibility of issues when they lose.

Like any forty-year-old institution, it must remain alert to becoming too settled, too risk-averse and instead continue to be a pioneering organization and break new ground with bold causes of action as if there is no tomorrow. Hear that younger attorneys? Your burden is to keep your unique law firm as fresh as a cool mountain breeze caressing a gushing mountain brook. For more information visit the Public Justice website:

(c) 2022 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).

Barack Obama press conference April 29, 2009

Obama And Liberals Killed Abortion Rights
By Margaret Kimberley

The revelation that the Supreme Court is poised to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision has not motivated the left wing of the democratic party to effectively mobilize on an issue they claim to care about. They are made powerless by their dependence on liberalism and loyalty to people like Barack Obama who choose to ignore them.

On May 2, 2022, a memo written by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito was leaked to Alito made clear that the court with a 6 to 3 conservative majority intends to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision which made abortion legal in the United States.

Reaction to the news was swift and predictable. Liberals expressed outrage and marched on federal courthouses and even to the homes of Supreme Court justices. Barack Obama released a long winded 700 word statement declaring himself, and his wife, strongly opposed to the court's imminent decision. The statement is amusing because it gives the impression that Obama had nothing to do with the current state of affairs.

As a presidential candidate in 2008 Obama promised to sign the Freedom of Choice Act, which would have codified abortion rights into federal law. But once in office he never pushed congress to pass it. In typical Obamaesque fashion he would claim to believe that women had the right to choose abortion, but that he didn't want to demonize the opposition, and he wanted to find consensus on the issue. After his usual routine "on the one hand this, but on the other hand that" on April 29, 2009 he finally said out loud what was clear. "The Freedom of Choice Act is not my highest legislative priority." It wasn't even his lowest legislative priority. Obama never lifted a finger to get it passed, even in his two years in office when he had majorities in the House and the Senate.

Knowing full well that Roe v. Wade hinged on having a supportive Supreme Court in place, he dithered on doing what he had the power to do. In 2013 he knew that the democrats might lose control of the senate in the 2014 election. He asked Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, already 80-years old and a cancer patient, to step down. She declined and he didn't press the issue. In 2016 conservative Justice Antonin Scalia died and senate republicans refused to even hold hearings to confirm Obama's nominee Merrick Garland. Obama had the option of making a recess appointment that would have put Garland on the court but he didn't do that either. Such a move would have been controversial, and perhaps Garland's presence would have been short, but it would have made clear that democrats were as committed as they claimed to be on the issue of abortion rights.

Instead they play games with democratic voters. Any unhappiness with the democrats is met with the plea to protect the federal judiciary from conservatives. This ploy is nothing but a cynical effort to keep left leaning democrats in the fold and to discredit anyone who questions the party's continued failures to do what the people want them to do.

Now the liars and hypocrites like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who once claimed abortion was a "fading" issue are sending fundraising appeals to brain washed liberals who will again write checks and declare their devotion like Stockholm Syndrome hostages. Hillary Clinton's foolish appeals to conservatives included choosing anti-choice senator Tim Kaine as a running mate and at times saying she was "ambivalent" about abortion are now forgotten as the supposed left of the party remain lost.

They are lost because they don't know the most basic rules of political mobilizations. Instead of harassing SCOTUS justices at home, they should be harassing their democratic representatives. Why march to a courthouse instead of to the office of democratic member of congress and demand that they make abortion legal? In particular, senators have the ability to end the filibuster which would give the senate the ability to pass a Freedom of Choice Act with their small majority margin. Every democratic senator should be quaking in his or her boots for fear that they'll be turned out of office if they do not act to protect abortion rights.

Of course they know they have nothing to fear. They know their people have been brainwashed into ineffectiveness and are incapable of showing even minimal opposition to their inaction. After all, Joe Biden announced that $40 billion is going to Ukraine, or rather to the military industrial complex, with no pushback from people who always claim to be progressives. While MAGA hat wearing right wingers are said to be propagandized, liberals again show themselves to be even more happily captive to their leadership.

Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) members are no more useful than the rest of their colleagues. Congresswomen Barbara Lee and Cory Bush tell stories about the abortions they had as teenagers. The entire CBC weighed in with a statement claiming concern for "marginalized communities" and "women of color" while also bemoaning the actions of "the far right." But none of them have offered a strategy for doing what they and the rest of the democratic party have the ability to do, legislate abortion protection.

Personal stories are a poor substitute for action and so are the usual rhetorical fights with conservatives. But rhetoric is all we have as abortion rights will surely disappear across much of the country. Obama admitted the low priority for this and other issues of importance to democratic voters. Joe Biden is no different. As long as what passes for a left wing is in the hands of cynical politicians and deluded liberals, we can expect more of the same.

(c) 2022 Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e -mail at Margaret.Kimberley@BlackAgendaReport.Com.

The Corporatization Of Pet Care: Animal Cruelty?

By Jim Hightower

For many people, the animals they adopt and love become more like family members than pets. We have deep relationships, with cats, dogs, parrots, goats, horses, and other fellow critters - who at least pretend to love us back, providing comfort and joy all around.

Sadly though, life for all of us animals is a spin around the wheel of fortune, so illness and injuries happen. That's why one of the most valued members of every community are the staffers in our local veterinarian office. Practically all vets, nurses, technicians, and support staff are there chiefly because they love animals and get personal satisfaction from providing care for them.

When I say they are "there," I not only mean 9 to 5, but this group of independent health providers are committed to being there when needed - including off hours and days off, for animal misfortune and suffering don't go by clocks and calendars. Local practitioners also try to be there for low-income people, offering deferred payment plans and even discounted fees so their animals can get the treatment they need.

But wait - sound the ambulance sirens! Something is going horribly wrong! This venerable profession has recently been collapsing into a corporate model of Wall Street owned chains. They are monopolizing markets, reducing staff, gutting service, and prioritizing the love of money over the love of animals. It's not uncommon these days for franticly-worried customers to bring an ill or injured pet into their old reliable vet office only to find it has quietly come under chain ownership, is understaffed, and is unwilling to accept the patient, forcing a desperate scramble to find emergency care, often out of town.

This is Jim Hightower saying... The same profiteering corporate mentality that has proven disastrous for human health care is now rapidly locking down pet care - and that's an act of animal cruelty.

(c) 2022 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

House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, second left, talks to Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, left, next to House
Minority Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer, right, during a news conference on April 21, 2016, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Democrats Had 50 Years To Save And Protect 'Roe.' They Failed
By William Rivers Pitt

Early in the first year of Donald Trump's bedlam tour of Washington D.C., the Democratic Party spent a good deal of time yelling at itself. How in the name of tub-thumping Christ did we lose to this clown? Recriminations flew, but by springtime, blame for the defeat had lighted upon a truly strange perch.

"Nancy Pelosi Says Democrats' Focus on Abortion Access Is Hurting the Party," declared the New York Magazine headline on May 3, 2017. "Earlier this month," read the article,

Senator Bernie Sanders and DNC head Tom Perez gave a "unity tour," during which they suggested abortion rights were a disposable part of Democratic ideology - later, Sanders added that stumping for anti-choice candidates is the kind of thing Democrats need to do "if we're going to become a 50-state party." And on Tuesday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi added to that, telling the Washington Post that the party should be open to anti-choice candidates.
House Speaker Pelosi went further, arguing that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lost because of the Democrats' focus on "social issues" like abortion and marriage rights. "You know what?" she said. "That's why Donald Trump is president of the United States - the evangelicals and the Catholics, anti-marriage equality, anti-choice. That's how he got to be president. Everything was trumped, literally and figuratively by that."

Clinton lost because of abortion? That's the best explanation Pelosi could offer?

Five years later almost to the day, and the nation is still encompassing the looming demise of Roe v. Wade, the right to choose an abortion that has been on the books for 50 years. The leak of Justice Samuel Alito's harrowing draft decision in Dobbs. v. Jackson Women's Health Organization is the political version of a thermonuclear explosion, and Democratic officeholders today are blinking at the mushroom cloud as it screams into the sky, wondering how such a thing could have come to pass.

Not all Democrats, of course. A moment to take advantage of disaster is at hand, it seems. "But in what otherwise looks to be a difficult year for Democrats," reports The New York Times, "party strategists see the looming rollback of reproductive rights as an opportunity to galvanize key voting blocs, limit Republican gains and perhaps even pick up seats in certain states. 'We don't know exactly what the political environment will be,' said Jessica Post, the president of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, which helps Democratic candidates for state legislature. 'But abortion has the potential to be a game-changing issue.'"

Nice to see some excitement in a party that has been down in the doldrums since electing a center-right vanilla wafer whose version of soaring, motivational rhetoric involves multiple usages of "C'mon, man!" in his speeches. President Joe Biden's own track record on abortion rights is sketchy at best; until very recently, Biden stridently supported the Hyde Amendment's ban on using federal funds for abortions. That ban, in place since 1980, was only recently lifted in Biden's latest budget proposal, but it had his active support over all the years he served in the Senate.

Those years, and particularly the decade of the 1980s, was the span when opposition to abortion became part of the lifeblood of the GOP base. Once former President Ronald Reagan embraced televangelist Jerry Falwell and the evangelical Moral Majority's "holy" quest to obliterate Roe, there was no mistaking their intent. And all of a sudden the argument was everywhere. I vividly recall hearing fellow students argue over abortion in the halls of my high school during Reagan's second term.

The media - TV, newspapers and radio - was the main battlefield where this war was fought, but it was not the only battlefield. Out where the activists live, a new kind of campaign began to reveal itself in the very shadow of the facilities abortion seekers visited to avail themselves of their rights.


The Planned Parenthood on Commonwealth Avenue in Brookline, Massachusetts looks like something architect Frank Lloyd Wright might have constructed had he ever gotten into building fortresses. Large, windowless, with decorative touches swirling over the front façade, the dominant feature is the main door. The door is all business, steel reinforced and opened remotely from within by an armed security guard, and leads to a small box and another door, also opened from within. The door is there, and is how it is because a man named John Salvi passed through a lesser version of that door with a rifle in 1994 and murdered receptionist Shannon Lowney. After fleeing the scene, Salvi murdered receptionist Lee Ann Nichols at the offices of Preterm Health Services on Beacon Street. They put the door in afterward, and now, you're not getting in unless the guard clears you.

A dozen years after Salvi's rampage, I found myself at that Planned Parenthood (PP) as escort for a friend. My friend was not there for an abortion; like millions of low-income women lacking health insurance, she depended on PP for basic gynecological care. PP always came through, charging for services on a sliding scale to remain affordable. Despite what the shouters have to say, this is the core of the medical practice at PP, the majority of what they do.

Had my friend been going to an appointment at Massachusetts General Hospital or Brigham & Women's, no escort would have been necessary. To enter the Planned Parenthood in Brookline, however, required one to run one of the more disturbing gauntlets in modern society in the United States.

There at the big steel door, every day, rain hail or shine, like Salvi's own ghost, would be two or three people holding anti-choice signs and chanting, "Praise God... praise God... praise God..." While legally prohibited from barring entrance to the facility, these protesters nonetheless managed to make themselves menacing enough to drive some care seekers away.

When my friend got out of the car, the two protesters shuffled toward her, eyes like fish stuck in a bucket, and they were on her by the time I got around to her side of the car. Hands with spindled pamphlets reached out as the one on the left droned, "Praise God," while the one on the right launched into a spittle-flecked diatribe - "It's your baby, don't you want to save your baby? Don't kill your baby. It's a baby. Don't you want to save your baby?" - until I got between them and made for the door.

I actually tried to reason with the second one, if you can believe it. "She's here for a pelvic exam," I said, as if she needed an excuse to be there at all. Of course, if she'd been there for an abortion, she would have had just as much of a right to access care unfettered. It was a fumbled moment on my part, and made no dent whatsoever in the rant, which only cut off with the KA-CHUNK of the metal door slamming closed between us. We composed ourselves in the box as the guard looked us over, and when the second door opened, we joined a room filled with people who had endured the same bullshit to get inside. Very little eye contact was made; it was a facility under siege, and the tension fairly hummed.

All across the country, every single day, protesters of this ilk array themselves at the entrances of reproductive care clinics. My friend got her exam that day, and when we left, the pair of protesters were still there, yelling, "Praise God."

Not long after, PP called my friend. They had found, and removed, cancer cells from her cervix. This was something she would have to be on the watch for from now on because the cells could easily grow back, but for the time being, she was safe. That visit to the clinic saved her life.


If you had asked me about the standing of Roe 30 years ago, you'd have gotten a smug answer that tastes like ashes in my mouth today. Back then, the anti-Clinton mania had not overtaken the Republican Party, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was still two years away from pouring a barrel of poison into the well of public politics. The religious right was a force but only in certain sectors of the country, and the GOP had not devolved into an unruly mob that believes "pedophile" Democrats and "Hollywood elites" are running the country.

Indeed, it was a simpler time, and my answer on the safety of Roe was simplicity itself. Would the GOP ever actually allow that right to be overturned? Never in hell. Opposition to abortion had become the most important platform for the Republican base, and in particular the highly energized evangelical Christian wing of that base. Lose that, and the whole thing would unspool.

Abortion made them the most reliable voting bloc in the country; I used to say that if it were raining live jaguars on Election Day, the anti-choicers would head to the polls with cement umbrellas. A direct-mail flyer to the base with a picture of Hillary Clinton next to a fetus was good for $2 million in donations within 48 hours. They were the Energizer Bunny of constituencies and the establishment GOP knew it all too well. If the dog ever did manage to catch the car, what would become of the Republican Party? If that portion of the base declared victory and went home, the GOP wouldn't win another national election in 100 years. I could not envision them risking that, and for a while, I was right.

That, as they say, was then. A different sort of writing has been encroaching on the walls over the last two decades, and it appears the Democrats were the last ones to see it. My belief is that a sea change overtook the GOP base after eight years of George W. Bush failed to result in any meaningful damage done to Roe. I strongly suspect that base came to realize how they were being used, and that Roe wasn't going anywhere unless they took a more active hand in politics. They began taking over local Republican organizations and ran their own people.

It was Trump who gave them control of the party by taking it over and then letting them off the leash. This, in combination with the laser-like focus on the judiciary by elements of the anti-choice brigades and senators like Mitch McConnell, has brought us to this fraught crossroads.

None of the present crisis would be possible, however, without the intentional neglect exerted by the Democratic Party and its eternal blame game. Even today, you can hear Clinton people blaming Sen. Bernie Sanders for Justice Alito's draft, and Sanders people blaming Clinton because the Democratic base expects more from a candidate than Republican Lite.

It didn't take a weatherman to know Roe was in trouble, and yet the Democrats spent all these years staring at it like a deer pinned by oncoming headlights, relentlessly confident that five far right political hack Supreme Court justices wouldn't finally do what the Republican Party has been vowing to do since the year after I was born.

They thought Roe was another third rail. Now that the GOP has grabbed it and lived to tell the tale, how many other third rails will that newly emboldened court reach for? Marriage? Contraception? The very notion of privacy?

But hey, at least the Democrats have something to run on for November, right?

That would be true if voters trust them to fight for a right their elected officials have taken for granted and now pissed away.

Praise God...

(c) 2022 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.

Demonstrators last Tuesday outside the state Capitol in Madison protest a draft opinion suggesting
the U.S. Supreme Court intends to overturn the 1973 decision legalizing abortion nationwide.

Josh Kaul Is Legally And Morally Justified In Not Enforcing Archaic Abortion Ban
By John Nichols

Wisconsin, a historically pro-choice state, does not favor a ban on abortion. Sixty percent of Wisconsinites believe that abortion should be legal in most or all circumstances, according to the most recent Marquette Law School poll on the issue. Only 13% favor an across-the-board legal ban on the procedure.

There is no question that, if the issue were put to a referendum vote, Wisconsinites would vote overwhelmingly to maintain the right to choose. Nor is there any question that, even if anti-choice Republican members of the gerrymandered state Legislature were to try an implement a ban, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers would veto it.

So anti-choice politicians are trying an end run around the voters of Wisconsin. If the five right-wing judicial activists who form an anti-choice majority of the U.S. Supreme Court go ahead implement their scheme overturn the court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, their Wisconsin allies will claim that a 173-year-old ghost law that criminalizes most forms of abortion should be reimagined as a contemporary statute. Instead of taking the issue to the voters of Wisconsin - where their position would lose in anything akin to a fair fight - Republican statewide candidates and legislators want prosecutors to enforce an ancient statute that makes no exceptions for cases involving victims of rape and incest, and that would imprison medical personnel for as long as 15 years.

Luckily, Wisconsin has a state attorney general who respects the will of the people and the rational approaches to the law that should extend from it.

After the leaked draft of the Supreme Court's anticipated ruling was made public last week, Kaul announced, "As long as I am AG, DOJ will not be using its resources to investigate or prosecute alleged violations of the 170-plus-year-old abortion ban on the books."

Republicans were quick to claim that Kaul was rejecting his oath of office, which requires him to "support the constitution of the United States and the constitution of the state of Wisconsin, and faithfully to discharge the duties of their respective offices to the best of their ability." Republican attorney general candidate Eric Toney, the Fond du Lac County district attorney who hopes to challenge Kaul in November, complained after the incumbent made his announcement: "We have an attorney general that has effectively said he's going to abdicate his responsibility because he doesn't like the law. That makes him unfit to hold that office."

Another Republican candidate who hopes to take on Kaul, former state Rep. Adam Jarchow, claimed, "Josh Kaul's unwillingness to enforce the laws of Wisconsin should disqualify him from the job of attorney general."

Actually, Toney and Jarchow are the ones who are unfit to serve as attorney general. They fail to recognize the legal issues that will arise if there is an attempt to enforce a law that was enacted in 1849 - 71 years before women were allowed to vote, 72 years before Wisconsin enacted a statewide equal rights law that guaranteed "women shall have the same rights and privileges under the law as men" - and that has not been considered applicable in any sense since 1973.

Kaul understands the legal nuances that Toney and Jarchow have failed to consider.

For instance, the attorney general told Wisconsin Public Radio, "I expect that we're going to see several different legal disputes if Roe is overturned." Lawsuits seeking to prevent enforcement of the 1849 law could, he explained, raise any of a number of legal arguments against the legitimacy of moves to enforce the law.

"One will be whether the state ... has the authority to enforce a law that has been sitting idle and been understood to be unconstitutional for almost 50 years," said Kaul. "We'd be really in uncharted territory there, and there are some principles in the law that if laws haven't been used for a lengthy period of time that they're considered to be no longer effective."

In addition, the attorney general said, there is likely to be legal confusion about how Wisconsin laws regulating abortion that have been passed in recent decades - and that are in conflict with a ban on abortion - might be applied. A third question, Kaul told WPR, "would be what protection our state Constitution provides for people who are seeking to access safe and legal abortion." As an example, he pointed to the 2020 amendment to the state Constitution that codifies the rights of victims of crimes - including rape and incest.

If Toney and Jarchow and their amen corner in the right-wing media took the rule of law seriously, they would recognize the legal rational that underpins Kaul's caution with regard to the 1849 law. They would also recognize that, as Kaul explains, "prosecutors and investigators have discretion on how they use their enforcement authority, and we make judgments all the time, as do law enforcement agencies, about where our resources could most effectively be used. It is my view that our resources should be used to investigate and prosecute the most serious offenses."

(c) 2022 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.

The Quest For Silence
By James Donahue

Our world has become so heavily populated and its people so preoccupied with mechanical and electronic technology that we have destroyed the sound of silence.

As a person who has traveled much of the land, having hiked through deep forests and across the high desert of the Southwestern United States, I can attest to the fact that it is all but impossible to find true silence.

No matter where I went, the sound of aircraft passing overhead, motorcycle or all-terrain vehicles roaring across the open landscape, or the voices of other hikers always shattered my thoughts as I hiked the many trails left by those who walked before me.

People clutter their neighborhoods with noisy machines ranging from powered lawnmowers, snow blowers, leaf blowers and rototillers to powered tools, portable telephones, computers, radios and recorded music players. Trucks and other heavy construction equipment, equipped with those incessant back-up beepers, jar the senses everywhere.

A recent Newsweek story by Julie Baird, which addressed this issue, quoted Gordon Hempton, an audio ecologist, said silence is not the complete silence one might find in a dark cave deep in the bowels of the Earth. Rather, he said, it is "the complete absence of all audible mechanical vibrations, leaving only the sounds of nature at her most natural. Silence is the presence of everything, undisturbed."

And that is a profound thought. It also is a state that humanity has almost completely destroyed. There is almost no place left on the planet, except perhaps on the top of a mountain or at some cold point in Antarctica, where one might find that state of true silence.

And even there, the vibrations of satellite radio, television, telephone and other frequency bombardments, while not audible to our ears, are bombarding our bodies and having an effect on our nervous system.

Indeed, Hempton has traveled the world in search of quiet places. In a book co-authored with John Grossman, titled One Square Inch of Silence: One Man's Search for Natural Silence in a Noisy World, he argues that silence is almost extinct. In his efforts to record true silence, he said it was rare when the sound of a waterfall, or the birds sounding their natural calls, weren't interrupted by an airliner passing overhead, a vehicle passing on a nearby roadway or some other man-made noise.

Hempton said he trekked into remote landscapes, measuring decibels and rude interruptions to the noises of nature. In 1983 he said he found 21 places in Washington State with noise-free intervals of 15 minutes or longer. By 2007 there were only three. That is how serious this problem has become.

There is a spiritual connection between ourselves and nature that perhaps can only be truly achieved by sitting in silence and hearing the sounds of the Earth and all of her creatures speaking to us . . . without interruption.

The Baird article included the following, which seems to put this thought into perspective: "To be in a naturally silent place is as essential today as it was to our distant ancestors. Besides spending time away from the damaging noise impacts present at our workplace, neighborhoods, and homes, we are given the opportunity not only to heal but discover something incredible - - the presence of live, interwoven!"

The writer asks: "Do you know what it sounds like to listen for 20 miles in every direction? That is more than 1,000 square miles. When I listen to a naturally silent place and hear nature at its most natural, it is no longer merely sound; it is music. And like all music, good or bad, it affects us deeply."

I remember that music. As a young man growing up on my parent's Michigan farm, I spent many hours tramping the woodlands, rolling hills and open terrain that still existed before civilization closed in upon us.

I remember how completely exhilarating it was to sit quietly on a log or in a thicket of moss along a flowing stream and just absorb the sounds of nature all around me. The trees, the birds, and crickets, the frogs and all of the scurrying creatures under my feet joined in the great symphony that overwhelmed my senses.

At those wonderful moments I knew I was privileged to be in the very presence of the Creator. They are moments that I vividly recall even to this day. How sad to think that I can no longer return to that place again.

(c) 2022 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.

If Televisions Cared About This Planet
By David Swanson

When we doubt that swift and dramatic change is possible, what we really mean is that we haven't seen much swift and dramatic change for the better lately. There's actually no disputing that massive and almost instant change is perfectly possible. For example, in a matter of days, the unified voices of virtually every television network, newspaper, news website, and entertainment outlet in the United States took millions of people without a thought about foreign policy in their heads or any idea even where on the Earth Ukraine is located, and gave them all passionate opinions about Ukraine right at the very top of their awareness - the first thing they would mention, bumping the weather down to second place in the rankings as a topic for random conversations. You may think that was a very good thing - in fact, I can almost guarantee that you do. That's sort of the point. But you can't deny that it was fast or significant.

Now just imagine - understanding that it's crazy, hence the need to imagine - that every infotainment corporation in the United States suddenly began treating as the enemy to be urgently defeated the worldview, government policies, and corporate conduct that damage the habitability of the Earth. Imagine endless powerfully moving personal stories of the victims of climate collapse - both human victims and other charismatic megafauna. Imagine exposés on the corruption, destruction, extraction, and degradation. Imagine environmental protection as the moral imperative for which cost is no matter, and for which the public dollars must flow like a mighty stream. Imagine that views questioning the need to put everything into urgent Earth-salvation are shut out as thoroughly and vigorously as views questioning the non-provocative humanitarian goodness of NATO. Imagine that supporting the maintenance or possible use of nuclear weapons, rather than expressing hesitation about weapons shipments to Europe, could get you banned from social media and PayPal.

This perfectly possible but entirely unlikely scenario is brought to mind for me by the opening pages of a wonderful new book by Dahr Jamail and Stan Rushworth called We Are the Middle of Forever: Indigenous Voices From Turtle Island on the Changing Earth. The authors recount examples of Native Americans struggling to warn the world about environmental collapse over the past half century, of individuals who dedicated their lives to that effort, who traveled and spoke constantly, who in some cases spent years attempting to be permitted to speak at the United Nations and then finally did so to a nearly empty chamber.

The book is based on recent interviews with numerous Indigenous people in North America, discussing the way of life in which the planet is not so viciously damaged, in which identity is understood as bound up with countless generations of ancestors and descendants, in which those lives play out in the same location, treasuring the same mountains, the same trees, the same fish, the same plants, and in which more care is taken to preserve and appreciate than to improve or destroy. Some make an analogy to infants, with those who have been on this land only a very short time behaving with the wisdom of a toddler throwing a fit, rather than that of a society that has accumulated understanding over centuries or millennia.

Of course this wisdom is all jumbled up with "spirituality." Those who have held gatherings to discuss protecting the planet also claim that the planet provided them good weather on a certain day as a magical message. When asked how to maintain courage while aware of the collapse of life on Earth, some interviewees propose belief in reincarnation. This stuff is no drawback at all to many people - or shouldn't be, given the nonsense that they themselves believe in and the commitment they have to respecting everyone's right to believe their own nonsense. But none of this should be a big stumbling block even for skeptical sticklers for the truth of things. The same interviewees also give other answers to the same questions. They also advise doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do, and enjoying and living within that work without obsessing over knowing its consequences.

Some recommend long, slow work, however. They recommend starting with children who will later fix things, or starting with oneself alone, or by reaching tiny numbers of people. This, of course, will not save us unless multiplied by millions, as if this book were read aloud to people on TV. But who would get filthy rich from something like that happening?

(c) 2022 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.

Helping wild salmon survive and thrive means reducing threats against them
- from climate change and pollution to hatchery fish and fish farms.

Suppressed Science Shows Fish Farms Endanger Wild Salmon
By David Suzuki

The wild Pacific salmon story is a compelling illustration of nature's interconnectedness.

For more than seven million years, the fish have been following a cycle from lakes, streams and rivers, through estuaries and into the Pacific Ocean, where they swim great distances over years, feeding and growing - and facing numerous obstacles to survival.

Once they've matured, surviving salmon make the arduous journey upstream, returning to spawning grounds and carrying nitrogen they've accumulated in the ocean. Along the way, they feed whales, people, bears, birds and more. Their nitrogen-rich remnants, dragged from the waters by bears and eagles, or pooped out, fertilize the magnificent coastal rainforests.

One significant connection is between Chinook salmon and the beloved but threatened resident Salish Sea orcas, of which only 74 remain. These whales feed exclusively on Chinook. Like sockeye, pink and other salmon, Chinook populations are struggling under a barrage of threats, including climate change, habitat destruction, fishing, pollution and fish farms.

Parasites, disease and potential escapes from open net-pen fish farms put all wild Pacific salmon at risk, including Chinook. Shockingly, this evidence isn't new - but some has been suppressed for a decade. In 2012, Fisheries and Oceans Canada biologists studied the presence of the highly contagious Piscine orthoreovirus, or PRV, in wild and farmed salmon.

The current federal government has pledged to phase out open net-pen salmon farms in Pacific waters by 2025, but it and previous governments kept this study under wraps until March, when it was finally released after a multi-year access-to-information challenge from Wild First.

PRV causes anemia and jaundice in farmed salmon and can spread to wild salmon. The study found it's uniquely damaging to Chinook, causing their blood cells to rupture, leading to kidney and liver damage. The virus is not native to B.C. waters, but has been found in Atlantic salmon - the kind farmed in B.C.

A 2021 University of British Columbia study confirmed that farmed fish are transferring PRV to wild salmon, and found that proximity to fish farms increases the likelihood of wild Chinook being infected. One of the original DFO study's authors, federal biologist Kristi Miller-Saunders, called the delay a "travesty" that has contributed to ongoing doubt about viral impacts of fish farms on wild salmon.

That doubt has led to concerted effort by the aquaculture industry and its supporters to push back against the government's plans to phase out the farms. They argue it will mean killing millions of farmed salmon and cause numerous job losses.

But, as independent biologist Alexandra Morton - who has studied the fish for 30 years - told the Guardian, "Industry should have known this was coming and seen the writing on the walls. They should have started transitioning to different kinds of enclosures. Instead, they relied for years on the government - on the department of fisheries and oceans - to hide their sins." Morton and other biologists have argued that farmed salmon can also transfer potentially lethal sea lice and mouth rot to wild salmon.

The department said it based its decision to withhold the report on disagreement among groups participating in the study, which it funded with the Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program and salmon producer Creative Salmon. But in ordering the department to release it, the federal information commissioner said Wild First's challenge was "well-founded" and suppressing the report wasn't justified.

It's a problem when the federal department charged with looking out for wild salmon is also supporting the aquaculture industry's interests. As is often the case, short-term economic arguments win out over immediate and long-term environmental protection. But wild salmon - and the orcas, bears, eagles, rainforests and people they support - are too important to sacrifice to profits for a damaging industry that should clean up its act.

Despite some setbacks, the federal government now appears to be taking salmon (and orca) conservation seriously, and is sticking to its plan to phase out the farms - something the public should support. If salmon are farmed, they should be raised in closed-containment operations, preferably on land, with attention paid to reducing or eliminating any other environmental impacts.

Helping wild salmon survive and thrive means reducing threats against them - from climate change and pollution to hatchery fish and fish farms.

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

If John Roberts Is A Shadow Puppet, It's A Tragedy For The Nation
Meanwhile, we've got new evidence the leaks are coming from inside the (conservative) house.
By Charles P. Pierce

Over the weekend, some of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's neighbors invited some friends over to explain to His Honor that they were not pleased with him. I thought they might've gathered to ask him how those debts got paid off. But no, the crowd wanted to comment upon the leaked opinion overturning reproductive freedom authored by Justice Samuel Alito, in which Kavanaugh reportedly has joined. This has given the vapors to elements of the courtier press. And sadly, among some Democrats, a five-alarm Civility Emergency was declared quite quickly.

Some other folks decided to exercise their First Amendment freedoms outside the home of Chief Justice John Roberts. And, judging by Carol Leonnig's story in the Washington Post, Roberts may well be tempted to chant along quietly with them. We have been talking here in the shebeen for a while now about how Roberts has lost control of the carefully engineered conservative majority on the Court, especially on issues to which he might incline minutely toward a facsimile of moderation. Leonnig's reporting fleshes this out quite robustly. As the country awaits a final decision, the intense deliberations inside a court closed to the public and shaken by revelations of its private negotiations appears to be not between the court's right and left, but among the six conservative justices, including Roberts, in the court's supermajority. The mere existence of the draft indicated that five justices had voted at least tentatively to reject the incremental approach of Roberts to restricting abortion rights. Instead, they would reverse Roe after nearly 50 years of guaranteeing a right to abortion that could not be outlawed by the states.

The fact that Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. authored the draft is a sign Justice Clarence Thomas, the longest-serving member of the court and the only one to write that he would overturn Roe, asserted his seniority to choose who would get the job. In Alito's more than 16 years on the Supreme Court, he has supported every government restriction on abortion that has come before him. More than a few people have drawn the conclusion that Leonnig's reporting is further evidence the report was leaked by someone in the conservative apparatus of the Supreme Court in order to keep any justice in line who might be tempted to wander incrementally out of Gilead.

Roberts has sometimes sided with the liberals in some of those disputes, particularly when he thought the authority or reputation of the court was at stake. His incremental approach was evident when the court held oral arguments in December in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization. It concerns the Mississippi law, which has never gone into effect, banning almost all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Roberts seemed to get no takers for a compromise that would erase the clear rule that Roe and Casey share, which is that states may not forbid abortions before viability, the point at which a fetus would survive outside the womb, usually 22 to 24 weeks.
If some overeducated drone feels empowered enough to take such a drastic and unprecedented step for the purpose of keeping people in the boat, then it's clear that Roberts' putative authority is that of a shadow puppet. Which would be tragic for the nation, because his colleagues really have let their freak flags fly. In his draft opinion, for example, Alito borrows an argument from Justice Amy Coney Barrett that not only was empirically bizarre on its face, but also is phrased in the draft opinion in a way barely recognizable as human thought.
Nearly 1 million women were seeking to adopt children in 2002 (i.e., they were in demand for a child), whereas the domestic supply of infants relinquished at birth or within the first month of life and available to be adopted had become virtually nonexistent.
"The domestic supply of infants" is the kind of phrase that stays with a fella. Not that I'm a professional strategist, but, were I working for a Democratic candidate this fall, I'd spend a big chunk of my ad revenue tattooing "domestic supply of infants" to the forehead of every Republican candidate running. Not that we're saying there's a Soylent Green scenario playing out here in the GOP, but it would be irresponsible not to speculate. Jesus, these really are the mole people.

(c) 2022 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 -

"For every $1 billion we invest in public transportation, we create 30,000 jobs, save thousands of dollars a year for each commuter, and dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions.."
~~~ Bernie Sanders

Jared Kushner To invest Saudi Funds In Israeli Tech: Is MBS Sidestepping His Father King Salman On Palestine?
By Juan Cole

Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) - Dion Nissenbaum and Rory Jones at the Wall Street Journal got the scoop that Affinity, Jared Kushner's investment firm, will invest some of the $2 billion it got from Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund in Israel.

Kushner told the WSJ that he sees building investment and business ties between the Muslim world and Israel as an extension of the Abraham Accords that he spearheaded, which resulted in formal peace between Israel and Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco. He had wanted the Saudis to join those accords, but it is said that King Salman Bin Abdelaziz, 86, put his foot down and refused. In a phone call in fall of 2020 with then President Donald Trump, King Salman stressed the "kingdom's keenness to reach a lasting and fair solution to the Palestinian cause to bring peace," signalling that normalization with Israel was dependent on that country implementing at long last the Oslo Accords it signed in 1993 to create Palestinian state. His son, the crown prince, Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS), was rumored to have been more willing.

King Salman remembers the 2003-2006 battle with al-Qaeda and the Wahhabi far, far Right in the Kingdom, and is aware that Muslim fundamentalists are very pro-Palestinian and deeply dislike Israel. He may also remember that Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat was assassinated by the Egyptian Islamic Jihad in 1981 for having signed a peace treaty with Israel. His son, MBS, is of a younger generation with perhaps less firm memories of such radicalization and perhaps with less principle or sense of caution than his elderly father. MBS is known for reckless moves like invading Yemen, kidnapping the prime minister of Lebanon, and imprisoning many of his cousins, shaking them down for billions of dollars in what he alleged was ill-gotten gains. Saudi Arabia is a closed society with an absolute monarchy and no free press, so it is not possible to know what the public opinion of MBS really is, though he is said to be wildly popular among the young.

In 2021, King Salman even stopped allowing all goods to come in duty free to Saudi Arabia from its close ally, the United Arab Emirates, for fear that some products made by Israeli squatters on the Palestinian West Bank might enter the kingdom that way, after the UAE established free trade with Israel. The Israeli attacks on worshipers at the sacred al-Aqsa Mosque compound, both in spring of 2021 and again this year, has embarrassed the signatories to the Abraham Accords, along with Egypt and Jordan, which have peace treaties with Israel. King Salman doesn't need that sort of association.

The son, Bin Salman, is in bad odor in Washington, D.C. because the CIA fingered him as involved in the assassination in 2018 of the Saudi Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. President Joe Biden initially ran on making MBS, and his country, pariahs.

MBS needs a "get out of jail free" card, and has now been presented with two of them. The first is that the Biden Administration's and the European Union's attempts to boycott Russian petroleum require other big players like Saudi Arabia to increase production if oil prices are not going to skyrocket. There was already growing demand in the market coming off the reopening after the pandemic, and keeping millions of barrels a day of Russian oil in the ground would lead to historically high prices if other petro-states don't step in.

Biden has asked King Salman (he won't talk to MBS) to up production, but the request has been refused. Some think MBS is holding out for some sort of administration pardon or pledge to stop bringing Khashoggi up.

The other boon that MBS has been granted is the Kushner investment opportunity. It may not be a wise move for the Kingdom, but it is excellent for the crown prince. By indirectly investing in Israel through Kushner, Mohammed Bin Salman may have a hope of getting the K Street Israel lobbies like AIPAC on his side, who may then pressure Biden to set aside the Khashoggi murder. Since the move is indirect, MBS can also sidestep King Salman's reluctance to get too close to Israel.

Kushner is said to be interested in investing in Israeli software start-ups. Israeli software, such as NSO, is notorious for having been used by authoritarian governments to spy on and shut down dissidents. Khashoggi himself may be one of its victims. Kushner is said to want to use Affinity to open the Indonesian market to Israeli products.

MBS's search for redemption is not quixotic. His investments in Turkiye have led Ankara to drop the case against him on charges of complicity in Khashoggi's murder.

About a month ago, the New York Times reported that the board of directors of the Saudi Public Investment Firm had balked at putting $2 billion into Affinity on the grounds that Kushner had no track record in investing large sums successfully. The NYT said that Mohammed Bin Salman personally overruled them to allow the deal to go forward.

Journalist Vicki Ward alleges that when he was in the White House, Kushner got wind of CIA reports of a possible coup against Mohammed Bin Salman by his cousin Mohammad Bin Nayef, the former Interior Minister. The CIA, she alleges, was all for the coup, but Kushner called up MBS and warned him. As a result, US intelligence never did give Kushner a high security clearance, since they were afraid that he would out all US assets in Saudi Arabia to the crown prince.

(c) 2022 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.

‘Putin must be stopped. Trump must be held accountable. Rightwing politicians who
encourage white Christian nationalism must be condemned and voted out of office.'

We Must Fight Powerful Bullies, Whether They Are Putin, Trump, Or Tech Billionaires
Throughout history, the central struggle of civilization has been against brutality by the powerful. Civil society doesn't let might make right
By Robert Reich

I keep running into people who feel overwhelmed by so many seemingly unrelated but terrifying things occurring all at once. "How can all this be happening?" they ask.

But these things are connected. They are reinforcing each other. As such, they pose a clear challenge to a decent society.

Putin invades Ukraine. Trump refuses to concede and promotes his big lie. Rightwing politicians in America and Europe inflame white Christian nationalism. Television pundits spur bigotry toward immigrants. Politicians target LGBTQ+ youth.

Powerful men sexually harass and abuse women. Abortion bans harm women unable to obtain safe abortions. Police kill innocent Black people with impunity.

CEOs rake in record profits and compensation but give workers meager wages and fire them for unionizing. The richest men in the world own the most influential media platforms. Billionaires make large campaign donations (read: legal bribes) so lawmakers won't raise their taxes.

What connects these? All are abuses of power. All are occurring at a time when power and wealth are concentrated in few hands.

It is important to see the overall pattern because each of these sorts of abuses encourages other abuses. Stopping them - standing up against all forms of bullying and brutality - is essential to preserving a civil society.

Throughout history, the central struggle of civilization has been against brutality by the powerful. The state of nature is a continuous war in which only the fittest survive - where lives are "nasty, brutish, and short," in the words of the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes.

Without norms, rules, and laws preventing the stronger from attacking or oppressing the weaker, none of us is safe. We all live in fear. Even the most powerful live in fear of being attacked or deposed.

Civilization is the opposite of a state of nature. A civil society doesn't allow the strong to brutalize the weak. The responsibility of all who seek a decent society is to move as far from a state of nature as possible.

Certain inequalities of power are expected, even in a civil society. Some people are bigger and stronger than others. Some are quicker of mind and body. Some have more forceful personalities. Some have fewer scruples.

Some inequalities of income and wealth may be necessary to encourage hard work and inventiveness, from which everyone benefits.

But when inequalities become too wide, they invite abuses. Such abuses invite further abuses until society degenerates into a Hobbesian survival of the most powerful. An entire society - even the world - can descend into chaos.

Every time the stronger bully the weaker, the social fabric is tested. If bullying is not contained, the fabric unwinds.

Some posit a moral equivalence between those who seek social justice and those who want to protect individual liberty, between "left" and "right."

But there is no moral equivalence between bullies and the bullied, between tyranny and democracy, between brutality and decency - no "balance" between social justice and individual liberty.

No individual can be free in a society devoid of justice. There can be no liberty where brutality reigns. The struggle for social justice is the most basic struggle of all because it defines how far a civilization has come from a Hobbesian survival of the most powerful.

A civil society stops brutality, holds the powerful accountable, and protects the vulnerable.

Putin must be stopped. Trump must be held accountable. Rightwing politicians who encourage white Christian nationalism must be condemned and voted out of office. Celebrity pundits who fuel racism and xenophobia must be denounced and defunded.

Powerful men who sexually harass or abuse women must be prosecuted. Women must have safe means of ending pregnancies they don't want. Police who kill innocent Black people must be brought to justice.

CEOs who treat their employees badly must be exposed and penalized. Billionaires who bribe lawmakers to cut their taxes or exempt them from regulations must be sanctioned, as should lawmakers who accept such bribes.

This is what civilization demands. This is what the struggle is all about. This is why that struggle is so critical.

(c) 2022 Robert B. Reich is the Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and a senior fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He 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

U.S. Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito (2nd L) meets with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME)
(L) 2005 on Capitol Hill November 8, 2005 in Washington, DC. During his confirmation
hearing, which took place in January 2006, Alito declined to say much directly about
Roe. He called it an "important precedent of the Supreme Court" but stopped short of
calling it settled law. "Roe v. Wade is an important precedent of the Supreme Court.
It was decided in 1973, so it has been on the books for a long time."

Abortion: Why Is The Court Using Religious Belief To Alter What Should Be Secular Law?
It's time to discuss religion, because it's no longer knocking on our door: Sam Alito just sent it into the house with a no-knock warrant and stun grenades that threaten to catch the place on fire
By Thom Hartmann

Democrats are generally disinclined to discuss religion, much less debate it.

They like to point out that Thomas Paine and Benjamin Franklin were famously atheist, Jefferson and dozens of other high-profile people in the Founding generation were deists (a close cousin to atheists and certainly not Christians), and that in two different places the Constitution explicitly rejects religion interfering with government or vice-versa.

But it's time to discuss religion whether we like it or not, because it's no longer knocking on our door: Sam Alito just sent it into the house with a no-knock warrant and stun grenades that threaten to catch the place on fire.

Alito's Dobbs v Jackson draft opinion rests on two main premises.

The first is that the Supreme Court has no business recognizing a "right" that isn't rooted in the nation's "history and tradition."

This rightwing canard has been around for years, and has been used to argue against pretty much ever form of modernity from integrated public schools to, more recently, gay marriage. It's a convenient pole around which you can twist pretty much any argument you want, because American history and tradition have been all over the map during the past roughly 240 years.

For example, Alito could just as easily have pointed out that there were no federal or state laws regulating abortion at all at the founding of our republic, and they didn't really start showing up until the 1800s as physicians were clamoring for licensure to lock midwives out of birth-related medical practice (which included abortion).

The year Virginia got an abortion-regulating law, for example, was the same year - 1847 - that the American Medical Association was founded. Ben Franklin had been dead more than a half-century and not a single signer of the Declaration of Independence was still alive.

So much for Alito's "history and tradition" in the early republic and at the time the Constitution was written.

The first antiabortion law in Mississippi - the state whose lawsuit provoked this decision - was put on the books in 1839. George Washington had drawn his last breath a full 40 years earlier.

South Dakota got their law regulating abortion in 1899; Delaware, Tennessee, and South Carolina in 1883; North Carolina 1881; Kentucky 1879; North Dakota 1877; Utah and Georgia 1876; Oklahoma 1875.

The earliest state to get an antiabortion law was Massachusetts - the state so overwhelmed by Puritan religious fanatics that the Founders nearly rejected them for admission into the union - in 1812.

It was so bad though Ben Franklin fled Massachusetts for Philadelphia in 1723 when he was 17 years old specifically, as he noted at length in his autobiography, to get away from the religious fanatics who ran the state.

Which brings us to Alito's second position and the nub of the issue: religion.

Alito's main argument about "unborn human beings" (a phrase he repeats over and over in his decision) merely represents one point on a broad spectrum of religious belief.

He dressed it up as law, with a healthy dose of pseudoscience grumbling about fingernails and heartbeats thrown in, but it's really all about Alito's religious belief that "human life" begins at conception.

When should a zygote, embryo, or even a fetus be acknowledged as a human being? At fertilization? At quickening? At viability? At birth? All have been both legal and religious standards at various times and places throughout our history.

Science could suggest that humanity begins when a baby is born or delivered through C-section: in that moment it acquires independent agency, is its own "self." Prior to that, the nascent life is part of the mother; the fetus is an appendage to her body, after all, and is entirely dependent on her for its blood supply, oxygen, and nutrition. If she dies, it dies.

Morality could argue that human rights of sorts should appear around the time of viability, when a fetus can survive as a baby outside the womb if forced to do so; it was the basis of the original Roe v Wade decision. But morality, like religion, varies from era to era, country to country, culture to culture.

Some religious people argue, for example, that human life begins the moment their God decides a baby should be born, even before fertilization. God informs the couple of this moment by making them horny and ready for sex, so birth control devices that prevent the preordained outcome of pregnancy are verboten.

Other religions throughout history have recognized life as starting with the first breath, as implied in Genesis 2.7 and 7.21-22.

In between are a plethora of decision points that are really the question "when does a soul inhabit a human body" presented as law. Does "human" life begin at "intent" when a couple is preparing to have sex without birth control? At six weeks when a bundle of cells that will become a heart start twitching? When an actual heartbeat is detectable? At "quickening" when the fetus' movement is detectable? At birth?

As recently as the 1960s, theologians were hotly debating this very issue in the pages of Christianity Today and Christian Life magazines. There was no consensus, and (outside of single religions) never has been.

As Jennifer Rubin notes in this week's Washington Post:

"In assuming life begins at conception (thereby giving the states unfettered leeway to ban abortion), Alito and his right-wing colleagues would impose a faith-based regimen shredding a half-century of legal and social change."
The vast majority of politicians who loudly proclaim the "sanctity of human life" in the "pre-born" or "unborn" stage also argue against ensuring every child has adequate food, housing, education, and medical care.

Seriously, if these folks cared one whit for "the innocent children" they'd stop school shootings by getting guns under control in this country. But they don't. It's just a lot easier to "love" a fetus that doesn't talk back, doesn't need healthcare or education, and doesn't have a particular immigration status. Once it's born, all bets are off.

That simple reality pretty much proves the cynicism of Alito's charge that the state must be able to step in with the force of guns and prison bars to "protect" a zygote or fetus. This is all religious performance art, with women as its victims.

"There is ample evidence that the passage of [anti-abortion] laws was," Alito writes, "spurred by a sincere belief that abortion kills a human being."

Yes, it's a belief. Period.

Tragically, this isn't the first time this Court's fundamentalists have used its majority's religious beliefs to alter what should be secular law.

Last year in Tandon v Newsom, the same five justices again went too far even for John Roberts, ruling 5-4 that a person's religion was the basis for refusing to go along with Covid lockdowns. The year before that, they ruled in Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo that churches could ignore public health orders and subject their parishioners to a deadly disease because of the church leaders' personal beliefs.

The Court picked up steam down this long and dangerous road with Burwell v. Hobby Lobby which let employers violate federal employment law around insurance coverage because of their religious beliefs, even when those beliefs were not shared by the employees who were directly impacted by their decisions.

And with Masterpiece Cake, the Court even ruled that businesses can discriminate against their customers based on the business owners' religious belief that gay people are hated by God.

Now "religious people" are free to claim a wide variety of exceptions from American law, from conditions of employment, and even from common decency simply by shouting, "I believe!"

Under Roe v Wade, people who believed abortion was wrong were free to not get one. They didn't ever have to even pull into the parking lot of an abortion clinic.

Under this draft Dobbs decision, however, women's bodies have legally become the property of the state, arguably from the moment of intercourse.

If a woman uses or abuses drugs or alcohol, for example, even if she doesn't know she's pregnant, you can easily see where this logic could lead to her being charged with a crime and imprisoned. Exotic diets, fasting, experimenting with psychedelics, extreme exercise: all could lead zealous a prosecutor armed with this decision to a charge of child endangerment.

Will Mike Pence's menstrual period registry be revived so women can be tracked to identify abortions? Will the government mandate that women must collect and preserve the remains of miscarriages for burial with a licensed funeral home, as Pence tried to put into law when he was governor of Indiana?

Alito's decision is an open assault on the right of bodily autonomy, the right to make ones' own medical decisions, and the right to choose to have or not have children.

And it's all based on his personal religious belief - shared with four fundamentalist colleagues and now about to be imposed on the rest of us - that human life legally begins at the moment a sperm meets an egg.

Law in the United States should be based on a secular consensus and the most recent science; it should not become a flag that flutters in the winds of whichever religious perspective is majority-represented on the Supreme Court at any particular time.

Every single member of this Court who appears to have ruled to outlaw abortion was put on the Court by a president who did not win a majority of the vote, and was confirmed by a group of senators representing far fewer than half of Americans.

Their appearance on the Court was engineered by wealthy right-wingers who proudly proclaim their belief that America should be run along religious lines.

Only an informed and politically active majority in America can right this wrong and establish majority rule in the world's most important democracy.

This summer and fall the window for voter registration will close in some states: make sure your registration has not been purged and that everybody you know is prepared to show up at the polls this November.

(c) 2022 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
~~~ Joe Heller ~~~

To End On A Happy Note -

Have You Seen This -

Parting Shots -

Biden's New Press Secretary To Serve For At Least Nine Scaramuccis
By The Waterford Whispers News

US President Joe Biden has welcomed a new press secretary to his team in the form of Karine Jean-Pierre, a replacement for Jen Psaki who is leaving to work for someone who doesn't look like they're hours from death and doesn't shake hands with invisible people. Psaki, who has served as Biden's secretary for 16 months (or 80 Scaramuccis in Trump terms), has welcomed Jean-Pierre to the role and has wished her a career that lasts at least a Sanders, maybe even a Huckabee Sanders or two.

Details about Ms Jean-Pierre include:

- Jean-Pierre is the first openly gay person to serve as Press Secretary in the history of the presidency. She is also the first openly black person to do so too.

- It is unknown if Ms Jean-Pierre suffers from a disability or is a vegan, but if she does then she wins the Liberal sweepstakes.

- President Biden has met her for the first time, 17 times.

- Her announcement holds the record for creating the most furrowed Republican brows in a single sitting.

- If re-elected in 2024, former President Donald Trump pledges to build a wall around her.

(c) 2022 The Waterford Whispers News


Issues & Alibis Vol 22 # 17 (c) 05/13/2022

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