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In This Edition

Ray McGovern says Forham's, "Honoring A 'Terror War' Architect."

Uri Avnery describes an, "Operetta In 5 Acts."

Tom Englehardt examines a, "Predator Nation: America As A Shining Drone Upon A Hill."

Matt Taibbi wails, "Jamie's Cryin'."

Jim Hightower orates, "Et Tu, England?"

Jessie Jackson with a, "Message To NATO."

James Donahue wonders, "Synthetic DNA? What's Next, Synthetic Life?"

Dave Swanson reports, "Judge Deliberates On Whether To Save Earth's Atmosphere."

David Sirota investigates, "Our Guns And Butter Economy."

Fidel Castro considers, "The Horrible Things That Empire Offers Us."

Paul Krugman explains, "Why We Regulate."

Paul Craig Roberts solves, "The Case Of The Missing Terrorists."

Robert Reich concludes, "Romney Has Public And Private Morality Upside Down."

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry F. McCarthy wins the coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

John Nichols asks, "Did Scott Walker Lie Under Oath To Congress?"

Ralph Nader explores, "Pompous Prevaricators Of Power."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz reads a letter from Mitt in, "My School Days" but first Uncle Ernie sings, "For The Help That We Can Bring."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Bruce Plante, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Derf City, Khalil Bendib, Micah Wright, Stuart Carlson, Kevin Siers, @NOW, Stock Photo, The Sun, AP, The CIA, You Tube.Com and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

The Quotable Quote...
The Dead Letter Office...
The Cartoon Corner...
To End On A Happy Note...
Have You Seen This...
Parting Shots...

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

September 2009 Pittsburgh G-20 conference just as the sonic cannon prepares to fire...

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For The Help That We Can Bring
By Ernest Stewart

Hands across the water. (Water)
Hands across the sky.
Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey ~~~ Paul McCartney & Wings

"The US is subject to customary international law and to the principles of the Nuremberg Charter and exceptional circumstances such as war, instability and public emergency cannot excuse torture." ~~~ War Crimes Tribunal president judge Tan Sri Lamin Mohd Yunus

"They talk about the fact that I played a lot of pranks in high school and they describe some that you just say to yourself, back in high school I just did some dumb things and if anybody was hurt by that or offended by it, obviously I apologize."
~~~ Willard Romney ~~~

"I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver." ~~~ Maya Angelou

I see where the folks in Chicago may be in for a treat this weekend. Chicago joins a host of other cities from Pittsburgh to London who are ready to use the US Army/US Navy weapon that has been tried and true from Iraq to Afghanistan. Ask folks from Kandahar to Kabala about the weapon, and they'll all say, "What?" "What?" The "Long-Range Acoustic Device" commonly called (LRAD) is a sound cannon! The word to remember is CANNON!

Chicago police confirmed that they will have a LRAD available at the NATO protest, "as a means to ensure a consistent message is delivered to large crowds that can be heard over ambient noise."

Sure, and I'm also sure that they will limit their use just to tell the crowd how proud they are that the protesters are using their 1st Amendment rights to peacefully protest, and how happy they will be when the protesters oust NATO from the world; and if you buy that, folks, I have a bridge in Brooklyn that you might be interested in buying too... it's a big money maker!

Sure, the top cop may say, "Testing 1, 2, 3, 4, before he screams "fire," and the sound cannon is no longer a big megaphone, but used for what it was built for -- to disperse crowds and cause irreversible hearing loss. Unlike the Army's ray gun (another crowd control weapon) which hasn't been used on US citizens yet, the sound gun has been used before by the gestapo in Pittsburgh back in September 2009 at the G20 summit.

The device was first used against a peaceful protest at the G20 Pittsburgh summit. Ask the folks who got hit by it then -- for legally protesting -- how it worked out for them? For example, ask Karen Piper, a university lecturer, who claims she suffered irreversible hearing damage that day, and is currently bringing a legal case against the city of Pittsburgh. "This is a device that has the capability to inflict permanent hearing loss on people," Piper's lawyer, Vic Walczak, added that the device is, "more dangerous than a Taser." Imagine that, more dangerous than a device than can kill you! A device that will be used against those dirty, hippie bastards, those 99% pinko protesters and their moms and dads and children, as well -- as these protests are a family affair. All to protect the truly evil War Pigs that are gathering in Chicago this weekend.

"Your tax dollars at work, Mr. & Mrs America; oh, and for our partners in crime in Great Britain, don't worry, your chance is coming, too, at the Olympics. Your government has thoughtfully placed your sound cannons on landing barges in the Thames -- not to mention on trucks and the like. Here's what the BBC said:

The equipment was spotted fixed to a landing craft on the Thames at Westminster this week.

The manufacturer denies it is a weapon and the MoD said it would be used "'primarily' in the loud hailer mode."

A spokesman for the San Diego-based LRAD Corporation said the 1000Xi was "an effective long range communications system that broadcasts focused, highly intelligible, multi-language messages, instructions and warnings over distances up to 3,000 metres to peacefully resolve uncertain situations." Royal Marines operating in patrol craft from HMS Ocean are also heavily-armed with conventional firearms.

The piercing beam of sound emitted by the device is highly directional. Some versions of the LRAD are capable of producing deafening sound levels of 150 decibels at one metre."

So for you Londoners, "Hands across the water," stiff upper lip, carry on, and all that Jazz! For you folks in Chicago, you might want to ponder a couple of lines from Graham Nash's poem/song Chicago:

In a land that's known as freedom!
How can such a thing be fair?

To paraphrase Niemoller:

First they used a sound cannon; and I didn't protest because it wasn't used against me.

Then they used a heat cannon and...

Well, you can see where that was going, huh?

In Other News

I find it interesting, don't you, that here in the home of Democracy we allow many war criminals, who are guilty of War Crimes, Crimes Against Humanity, Crimes Against the Constitution, hundreds of acts of treason and acts of sedition to wander around free? Free to get on the Gravy Train in this country by writing books, appearing on TV, giving speeches for hundreds of thousands of dollars, while thumbing their noses at the "Justice" department. With a leader in the White House who will do nothing about these crimes except that we should forget about them; they're passed and we should look forward, unless you like to play poker, or smoke a joint -- then the full weight of the courts come down on you like a ton of bricks! That is, unless some soldiers come for you, in the dead of night and kidnap you and send you off to a black ops site to become disappeared! How do you like the 21st century, so far?

Of course, the United Snakes has never, ever, been a Democracy, planned that way from the very beginning to be a Roman-styled Empire -- with an elected Emperor instead of a ruling family.

However, that's not the case around the world; in fact, in tiny Malaysia a war crimes tribunal just found half of the Crime Family Bush's last cabal guilty of War Crimes!

"Victims of torture" told a panel of five judges in Kuala Lumpur of their suffering at the hands of US soldiers and contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Among the evidence, Briton Moazzam Begg, an ex-Guantanamo detainee, said he was beaten, put in a hood and left in solitary confinement. Iraqi woman Jameelah Abbas Hameedi said she was stripped and humiliated in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison.

Transcripts of the five-day trial will be sent to the chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, the United Nations and the Security Council."

Those charged and found guilty were, George W. Bush; former US Vice President Richard Cheney; former US Defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld; former Counsel to Bush, Alberto Gonzales; former General Counsel to the Vice President, David Addington; former General Counsel to the Defense Secretary, William Haynes II; former Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo.

A member of the prosecution team, Professor Francis Boyle of Illinois University's College of Law, said, "I am hopeful that Bush and his colleagues will soon find themselves facing similar trials elsewhere in the world."

While that's a good start, not to mention about time, they need to bring Kinda Sleazy, Colon, and the rest to justice. And they need to do it here in this country, in front of the whole world, and they need to do it now!

And Finally

The more you know about Willard -- both man and boy -- the more you hate him, huh? I know I do. Forget all the nightmares about having a religious fanatic who thinks some day he'll be a GOD in the White House! A man in his sixties that wears magic underwear overtop of his Depends.

No, look at Willard the boy -- a torturer, like Dubya who branded boys buttocks with a red hot coat hanger branding iron. Gee, didn't our last torturer, Dubya, work out dandy for us and the world? No problems there, huh? Dubya got away with it because dear old pater was the head of the CIA who ran the hit teams that killed JFK. A very scary individual. Willard's pater was the Governor of Michigan and was being brainwashed -- again a very scary individual -- when Willard was playing "pranks" against fellow students, well, gay kids, and those wimpy nerds! Do you see some similarities between Big W, Willard, and Little W, Walker?

Both managed to dodge the draft with Paters help. Willard went off to live in a mansion in France while George joined the Texas Air National Guard and went off to mansions and cotillions and cocaine busts south of the border!

Boys will be boys, and both continued getting in and out of trouble with the law, well, into adulthood and beyond. Smirky went on to become a war criminal and mass murderer after daddy got him into the Oval Office, while Willard dreams of attacking and killing millions in Iran and elsewhere if he can get in. Willard, like Dubya, had problems with the law before, during, and after he was Governor of Massachusetts!

Here's an example, this story first surfaced in Willards's 1994 attempt to unseat Ted Kennedy.

"In 1981, Romney was putting the family boat into Lake Cochituate, an hour outside of Boston, when a park officer told him he couldn't because the license looked painted over. If he launched, he'd face a $50 fine. "I was willing to pay the fine," Romney told The Boston Globe. But the officer returned as Romney put the boat in and, visibly angry at being ignored, handcuffed Mitt, who was "dripping wet in a bathing suit," and booked him for disorderly conduct. Romney contested the arrest in court, threatened to sue, and got the arrest dismissed and sealed. "He did not have the right to arrest me because I was not a disorderly person," Romney told The Boston Globe."

Yes, Willard sees himself above the law, which I believe is a prerequisite for anyone running for office in, America; is it not? It's your choice, America; vote for the devil that we know, or the devil we're getting to know! How do you like your choices?

Keepin' On

Thanks to one of our usual suspects, we're within $400 of making our first payment due at the end of June. Thanks once again to good old Ernie from Ontario, who is, as always, a life saver! Thanks, Ernie!

We need a few more of the usual suspects to step up and help me get the first of three major bills taken care of. You know who you are; and, yes, it's not fair for you to have to pay all the bills when you are just a tiny percentage of the magazine's readership. While I can understand why some of you don't contribute as it's because you can't afford to and if that's your case, I do understand and ask that you don't feel bad about it. You can only do what you can do, Zeus knows, I know all about that!

However, if you could help us out, but aren't because everything is free on the Internet, guess what, it ain't free; actually it's becoming expensive to bring you the truth about your government. Ergo, if you are still working, and regularly read Issues & Alibis, it's time to step up and be a man or a women and help us keep working for you. Compared to almost any other radical/liberal news site we're dirt cheap. What others take in for a three month fundraiser would keep us going for four or five years with some vast improvements to the magazine thrown in, and it certainly would keep me from bugging you every week just to do what is right! What a relief that would be! Please help us with whatever you can, whenever you can, by going to our donations page and following the instructions! You can then be proud of yourself for helping us to create a better world for all!


01-11-1923 ~ 05-10-2012
Thanks for my ride!

11-24-1941 ~ 05-13-2012
Thanks for the Blues, brother!

02-12-1964 ~ 05-14-2012
Thanks for the entertainment!


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


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

Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2012 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 11 years managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Face Book. Follow me on Twitter.

White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan

Honoring A 'Terror War' Architect
By Ray McGovern

Since even readers of the New York Times are aware of deputy national security adviser John Brennan's open identification with torture, secret prisons and other abuses of national and international law, Fordham University's invitation to him to give the commencement address on May 19 brought, well, shock and awe to many Fordham students, faculty and alumni.

It now turns out we didn't know the half of it. Piling outrage upon indignity, Fordham announced this week that Brennan will enjoy pride of place among the "eight notables" on whom it will confer honorary degrees at commencement. The others receiving a Doctorate in Humane Letters, honoris causa, include Timothy Cardinal Dolan (Archbishop of New York), and Brooklyn congressman Edolphus Towns.

Unlike his co-recipients, Brennan is widely known for his advocacy of kidnapping-for-torture (aka "extraordinary rendition") and killing "militants" (including U.S. citizens) with "Hellfire" missiles fired by "Predator" and "Reaper" drone aircraft.

These practices and "Special Forces" operations guarantee an indefinite supply of anti-U.S. militants for what is now known as the "new normal" in the kind of wars that former Gen. and now CIA Director David Petraeus has said our grandchildren will still be fighting.

The endless supply of "insurgents" engendered by the violent tactics so beloved of Brennan makes Americans less secure. But there is no sign that Brennan recognizes that - or cares. Not that some of Brennan's co-honorees are all that great, either.

Cardinal Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is best known for his outspokenness on pelvic issues, his stalwart defense of the first nine months of life, and his deafening silence on the taking of life in war. Since by all evidence he is far more interested in birth control than death control, it is impossible to know where Dolan or his fellow bishops stand on the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan. He abjures any attempt to offer moral guidance on issues like war, preferring to defer - as the Fordham Jesuits do - to a good Jesuit-trained Catholic like Brennan to make decisions on such issues.

Edolphus Towns's claim to distinction, in Fordham's pre-commencement publicity, relates to his bringing "millions of dollars" to his district. Unmentioned is Towns's membership in the Congressional Unmanned Systems (Drone) Caucus, which serves as a lobbying arm for drones - a new cash cow for the defense-industrial-congressional complex.

O Tempora, O Mores!

Since John Brennan has been accorded the dual honor of commencement speaker cum Doctorate of Humane Letters honoris causa, let's try to piece together why Fordham's Trustees decided to single him out for such glory. What, in other words, is the causa behind the honores? Why does George Orwell have a smirk on his face; and why are many past and present Jesuits holding their noses - Justice Jesuits like Rupert Mayer, Pedro Arupe, Dean Brackley and Dan Berrigan?

Could it be that Brennan is being honored for his role in serving up fraudulent intelligence to "justify" attacking Iraq in 2003? Or is it perhaps his open advocacy of kidnapping Muslim clerics off the streets of Milan (he calls it "extraordinary rendition") and rendering them to "friendly" intelligence services more practiced at torture techniques than the CIA?

Is it the secret prisons he favored for "enhanced" interrogation techniques; or maybe his role in promoting illegal eavesdropping on Americans? Or could it be his stalwart defense of the intentional drone killing of American citizens without charge or judicial process? Or is it the aggregate set of abuses. And could intelligent Jesuits actually believe these approaches are okay because they are "keeping us safe?"

This would mean the teaching of moral theology at Fordham has changed markedly. Five decades ago, torture was very clearly put in the same category as slavery and rape - always "intrinsically evil" - no gray areas. I wonder where Fordham's moral theologians now put remote-control drone killings of people on the hunch they are "militants."

The causa of the honores could have a simpler explanation, one that risks damage to the mystique of Jesuit sophistication - no, not sophistry. Maybe the Fordham Jesuits and Trustees get their news from Fox. Perhaps their thought process was simply this: Brennan is a Fordham alumnus; he works in the White House; isn't that enough?

Earlier Indignities

This is hardly the first time a Jesuit university has succumbed to the "prestige virus" and given a proven scoundrel high honors at a commencement. There are, sad to say, numerous examples, but one comes immediately to mind.

It is George W. Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, who, according to ABC News, chaired White House deliberations in 2002 and 2003 at which CIA torture techniques were "almost choreographed" by the most senior national security officials. The objective was to determine which particular technique, or combination, might be most effectively applied to which "high-value detainee."

Rice gave the commencement address at Boston College on May 22, 2006, and was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws (yes, George Orwell, that is ironic.).

An onlooker would be permitted the reasonable inference that one causa of the honores must be the promoting of torture that Rice and Brennan held in common. Maybe an objective history of the Inquisition, and the Jesuit role in it, was not included in the books available at Jesuit seminaries.

Or, worse still, maybe it is the case that ingrained habits - like jesuitically justifying torture - can apply for renewal after several centuries. Habits die slowly. Has torture and killing of innocents now entered some sort of gray area in moral theology because a Jesuit-trained, White House functionary now says these things are necessary to "keep us safe?"

O Tempora, O Morons!

It remains to be seen whether what happened when the hapless Jesuits of Boston College invited Rice turns out to be a harbinger of what is in store at Fordham next Saturday. Ten days before the commencement at BC, Steve Almond, adjunct professor of English, resigned in protest. Here are excerpts from his letter to BC's president, Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J.:

"I am writing to resign ... as a direct result of your decision to invite Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to be the commencement speaker at this year's graduation.

"Many members of the faculty and student body already have voiced their objection to the invitation, arguing that Rice's actions as secretary of state are inconsistent with the broader humanistic values of the university and the Catholic and Jesuit traditions from which those values derive.

"But I am not writing this letter simply because of an objection to the war against Iraq. My concern is more fundamental. Simply put, Rice is a liar. She has lied to the American people knowingly, repeatedly, often extravagantly over the past five years, in an effort to justify a pathologically misguided foreign policy. ...

"This is the woman to whom you will be bestowing an honorary degree, along with the privilege of addressing the graduating class of 2006. ... Honestly, Father Leahy, what lessons do you expect her to impart to impressionable seniors? ... that it is acceptable to lie to the American people for political gain? ...

"I cannot, in good conscience, exhort my students to pursue truth and knowledge, then collect a paycheck from an institution that displays such flagrant disregard for both. I would like to apologize to my students and prospective students. I would also urge them to investigate the words and actions of Rice, and to exercise their own First Amendment rights at her speech."

Professor Almond was hardly alone. About a third of Boston College's faculty members signed a letter objecting to Rice's appearance. And here is how the New York Times reported the commencement event:

"Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice delivered the commencement address on Monday at Boston College to an audience that included dozens of students and professors who stood, turned their backs and held up signs to protest the war in Iraq.

"A small plane flew overhead twice, pulling a sign that said, in red letters, 'Your War Brings Dishonor.' Outside Alumni Stadium, where 3,234 students received diplomas, protesters marched up Beacon Street holding signs reading 'No Blood For Oil' and 'We're Patriotic Too.'"

"Inside, however, Ms. Rice received a standing ovation when she was introduced, and she drew applause throughout her address."

Daniel Berrigan, S.J.'s Sad Prophecy

In his autobiography, To Dwell in Peace, Daniel Berrigan wrote of "the fall of a great enterprise" - the Jesuit university. He recorded his "hunch" that the university would end up "among those structures whose moral decline and political servitude signalize a larger falling away of the culture itself."

Berrigan lamented "highly placed" churchmen and their approval of war, "uttered ... with sublime confidence, from on high, from highly placed friendships, and White House connections."

"Thus compromised," warned Berrigan, "the Christian tradition of nonviolence, as well as the secular boast of disinterested pursuit of truth - these are reduced to bombast, hauled out for formal occasions, believed by no one, practiced by no one."

The good news is that, despite an out-of-touch president, Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., and his trustees, there remain people of strong conscience at Fordham - people immunized against the "prestige virus" infecting what some have come to call the Vichy Jesuits. There are students and alumni with a good sense of history; people aware not only of the Inquisition, but also of more recent history in Nazi Germany during the 1930s, when the Catholic and Lutheran churches could not find their voice.

Many Fordham people know they cannot in good conscience remain silent on such matters; they know that what is at stake is the very soul of our country. Justice-oriented students are now finalizing plans for specific actions at commencement. A new Facebook page briefly outlining the planning to date has already drawn intense interest - negative as well as positive. It appears that many students abhor the unpleasantness inevitably attached to witnessing to the abuses in which the main commencement speaker has had such a key role. One post read: "I just wanted to say that as a recent Fordham graduate studying Islam and American foreign policy concerning Islam in graduate school, I am so proud of the people ... who will stage this protest at commencement. I cannot overstate how much of an uphill battle it is to have kind, sensible and ethical voices like yours heard in this world, where monied and political interests stifle this kind of informed and humane dissent, in the public realm and in academia as well."

Another read: "For the people complaining about their graduation being 'ruined,' it is as much your right to have a graduation free from protest as it is our right to have a graduation free of one of the most despicable propagators of violence in our era. I do not condone torture, I do not condone the indiscriminate use of drones, why should MY graduation be tainted with political ideology I do not support."

In addition, many of the faculty are signing on to a letter to President McShane requesting a sit-down with Brennan before commencement. They want to ask him how he justifies his support for the kind of cruel, inhuman and degrading interrogation techniques (aka, torture) that are banned by domestic and international law.

Meanwhile, many supporters of justice-oriented students are also planning appropriate protest actions. One activity is "Stop the Drone Week at Fordham."

It may not be an exaggeration to suggest that, as Saturday goes, so goes Fordham.
(c) 2012 Ray McGovern served as a CIA analyst for 27 years --from the administration of John F. Kennedy to that of George H. W. Bush. During the early 1980s, he was one of the writers/editors of the President's Daily Brief and briefed it one-on-one to the president's most senior advisers. He also chaired National Intelligence Estimates. In January 2003, he and four former colleagues founded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

Operetta In 5 Acts
By Uri Avnery

THE MASTER magician has drawn another rabbit from his top hat. A real and very lively rabbit.

He has confounded everybody, including the leaders of all parties, the top political pundits and his own cabinet ministers.

He has also shown that in politics, everything can change - literally - overnight.

At 2 a.m. the Knesset was busy putting the finishing touches to a law to dissolve itself - condemning half of its members to political oblivion.

At 3 a.m. there was a huge new government coalition. No elections, thank you very much.

An operetta in 5 acts.

ACT ONE: Everything tranquil. Public opinion polls show Binyamin Netanyahu in absolute control. His popularity is approaching 50%; nobody else's even approaches 20%.

The largest party in the Knesset, Kadima, sinks in the polls from 28 seats to 11, with all indications that it will continue to fall. Its new leader, former Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz, gets even less points as candidate for Prime Minister.

Netanyahu could sun himself on the roof of his luxury villa and contemplate the future with equanimity. All is well in the best of all Jewish states.

ACT TWO: Sudden clouds darken the sky.

The Supreme Court, headed by a new president hand-picked by the settlers and the extreme right, hands down a decision: a new neighborhood in Bet-El settlement has to be demolished within two weeks. No ifs and buts, this is a final decision. Also, another settlement, Migron, has to be gone in two months.

Netanyahu is faced with several disastrous possibilities: carry out the court's order, which would break up his coalition, enact a new law that would circumvent the court and be unconstitutional, or ignore the court altogether, which would mark the end of democracy in the Only Democracy in the Middle East.

Like in the book of Job, disaster follows disaster. The term of the temporary law that excuses Orthodox yeshiva students from military service - about 7000 this year - has come to an end, and an overwhelming majority in the country demands its abolition altogether. That would inevitably break up the coalition.

And then something incredible happens. Netanyahu arrives at the inaugural meeting of the new Likud convention. This convention is traditionally a rough and tumultuous scene, resembling the Roman arena in ancient times. Netanyahu is a master of these assemblies. This time, too, he is warmly received and, on live TV, proclaims to the nation the fabulous achievements of his 3-year-old government. He then asks to be elected convention chairman, which would give him control over the candidates' list in the next elections.

Then the really unbelievable happens. Half the members in the hall jump up and start shouting at him. Like Nicolae Ceausescu on a memorable occasion, Netanyahu stares at his underlings uncomprehendingly.

It appears that in the recent Likud registration drive, the settlers made a concerted effort to stuff the party with their people. These have no intention of ever voting for the Likud (they vote for the more extreme Right) but want to blackmail Netanyahu. Coming early, they pack the much-too-small hall in which the convention takes place. Since they all wear a kippah, they are easily recognizable. They shout demands for the election of the chairman by secret ballot. Netanyahu surrenders and the convention is postponed.

Smarting from this public humiliation, Netanyahu swears revenge.

ACT THREE: Out of the blue, Netanyahu announces his decision to dissolve the Knesset and call a quick general election.

Everybody flabbergasted. It is still a year and a half before the end of the legislative term. In a comic reversal, it is the opposition leaders who object to the election, but Netanyahu is determined.

The outlook is bleak: a Netanyahu landslide is inevitable,. There is no credible candidate to compete for the prime minister's office. Kadima is about to disappear almost entirely. Expected small gains by Labor are unimportant. In the polls, Yair Lapid's new party (to be called "There is a Future") is hovering around 10%. In the next Knesset, there will be no effective opposition at all.

For the Left, it looks like an unmitigated disaster - four more years of the Rightist-Orthodox-settler coalition.

ACT FOUR: envied by all, assured of a landslide victory, Netanyahu is in a black mood.

He is obliged to remove the settlements in the middle of the election campaign. In his own party, the extreme right, led by the settlers, is gaining strength, jeopardizing his pretension of leading the party towards the center. The time bomb of the Orthodox army service shirkers can explode any moment.

And then in a flash comes the stunning idea - something that will pull the rug from under the feet of everybody else and form an entire new political landscape.

Somewhere around, there lie 28 unused Kadima Knesset members, headed by a hungry ex-general. All of them are faced with political oblivion. They can be bought for next to nothing - just giving them another year and a half of political life is quite enough.

Lo and behold, while one set of Likudniks are still laboring in a Knesset committee finalizing the law for the dispersal of the Knesset, another set of Likudniks are signing an agreement with Kadima. The enlarged coalition will encompass 75% of the Knesset. Nobody in the existing coalition is leaving, 28 new members are joining. That leaves the opposition with just 26 members (8 Labor, 3 Meretz, 7 Arab parties, 4 Communists, 4 National Front).

ACT FIVE: This changes the picture completely. The extreme right wing, outside and inside the Likud, have lost their veto power. So have the religious parties. Yair Lapid, the promising shining torch (that's what his name means) is being extinguished before he really ignited.

During the next year and a half, Netanyahu can do whatever he wants, play one against another, maneuver at will. The Leftist opposition is even more powerless than before, if that is possible. King Bibi rules supreme.

End (for the time being.)

AT THE first moment, some feared that the entire exercise was directed against Iran.

Governments of National Unity are generally set up in times of war. Britain in 1939, Israel in 1967. But, like almost all the generals and ex-generals, Mofaz has unequivocally rejected an attack on Iran. However, he changes his opinions more frequently than his socks.

As the argument goes, the opportunity is there. An overwhelming Knesset majority will support any decision of Netanyahu's. Barack Obama, in the middle of his crucial reelection campaign, will not dare to object. The Republicans will support Netanyahu through thick and thin.

(This is an established strategic assumption in Israel. Many risky Israeli initiatives have been timed for the eve of US elections. The state was founded in 1948 when Harry Truman was fighting for his political life. The 1956 Sinai war was started when Dwight D. Eisenhower was in the middle of his reelection campaign. This ploy, by the, way misfired - Eisenhower was furious and did not need Jewish votes and money. He drove Israel out of its newly acquired territories.)

However, it can be said with near certainty that Netanyahu's move had nothing to do with Iran - though its anti-hero is Iranian-born. Mofaz may not look much like a general, but he does look and move like a merchant in the bazaar.

American party politicians of either side may sound irresponsible, but when vital US security interests are at stake, their talk is not reflected in action. Even at the height of an election campaign, America will not allow Israel to push it into a world-wide disaster.

Netanyahu sounds more and more like a man resigned to this reality. No war in sight. During the whole operetta, Iran was hardly mentioned. No smoking gun in the first act.

MOST PUNDITS and politicians on the left condemned the Netanyahu-Mofaz pact as something odious. "Dirty trick" was one of the more moderate terms used.

I am not a partner to this outcry. Dirty tricks are the usual trade of politicians, and this one is no dirtier than many others.

On the whole, the extended government is more moderate and less exposed to the blackmail of the settlers and the Orthodox than the smaller one was. Fascist laws may have less chance of being passed. The position of the Supreme Court may be less endangered. As of November, a reelected Obama may exert real pressure for peace.

But the main thing is that the elections have been postponed. It is up to the partisans of peace and social justice to use the time gained to put together a real political force, ready for the test. After having peered into the face of near-certain electoral disaster, they must now get together and prepare themselves for the fight. There is a chance, it must not be squandered.

AND IF there is somebody out there who wants to set the libretto of the operetta to music - he or she is very welcome.
(c) 2012 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Predator Nation: America As A Shining Drone Upon A Hill
On Staring Death in the Face and Not Noticing
by Tom Engelhardt

Here's the essence of it: you can trust America's creme de la creme, the most elevated, responsible people, no matter what weapons, what powers, you put in their hands. No need to constantly look over their shoulders.

Placed in the hands of evildoers, those weapons and powers could create a living nightmare; controlled by the best of people, they lead to measured, thoughtful, precise decisions in which bad things are (with rare and understandable exceptions) done only to truly terrible types. In the process, you simply couldn't be better protected.

And in case you were wondering, there is no question who among us are the best, most lawful, moral, ethical, considerate, and judicious people: the officials of our national security state. Trust them implicitly. They will never give you a bum steer.

You may be paying a fortune to maintain their world -- the 30,000 people hired to listen in on conversations and other communications in this country, the 230,000 employees of the Department of Homeland Security, the 854,000 people with top-secret clearances, the 4.2 million with security clearances of one sort or another, the $2 billion, one-million-square-foot data center that the National Security Agency is constructing in Utah, the gigantic $1.8 billion headquarters the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency recently built for its 16,000 employees in the Washington area -- but there's a good reason. That's what's needed to make truly elevated, surgically precise decisions about life and death in the service of protecting American interests on this dangerous globe of ours.

And in case you wondered just how we know all this, we have it on the best authority: the people who are doing it -- the only ones, given the obvious need for secrecy, capable of judging just how moral, elevated, and remarkable their own work is. They deserve our congratulations, but if we're too distracted to give it to them, they are quite capable of high-fiving themselves.

We're talking, in particular, about the use by the Obama administration (and the Bush administration before it) of a growing armada of remotely piloted planes, a.k.a. drones, grimly labeled Predators and Reapers, to fight a nameless, almost planet-wide war (formerly known as the Global War on Terror). Its purpose: to destroy al-Qaeda-in-wherever and all its wannabes and look-alikes, the Taliban, and anyone affiliated or associated with any of the above, or just about anyone else we believe might imminently endanger our "interests."

In the service of this war, in the midst of a perpetual state of war and of wartime, every act committed by these leaders is, it turns out, absolutely, totally, and completely legal. We have their say-so for that, and they have the documents to prove it, largely because the best and most elevated legal minds among them have produced that documentation in secret. (Of course, they dare not show it to the rest of us, lest lives be endangered.)

By their own account, they have, in fact, been covertly exceptional, moral, and legal for more than a decade (minus, of course, the odd black site and torture chamber) -- so covertly exceptional, in fact, that they haven't quite gotten the credit they deserve. Now, they would like to make the latest version of their exceptional mission to the world known to the rest of us. It is finally in our interest, it seems, to be a good deal better informed about America's covert wars in a year in which the widely announced "covert" killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan is a major selling point in the president's reelection campaign.

No one should be surprised. There was always an "overt" lurking in the "covert" of what now passes for "covert war." The CIA's global drone assassination campaign has long been a bragging point in Washington, even if it couldn't officially be discussed directly before, say, Congress. The covertness of our drone wars in the Pakistani tribal borderlands, Somalia, Yemen, and elsewhere really turns out to have less to do with secrecy -- just about every covert drone strike is reported, sooner or later, in the media -- than assuring two administrations that they could pursue their drone wars without accountability to anyone.

A Classic of Self-Congratulation

Recently, top administration officials seem to be fanning out to offer rare peeks into what's truly on-target and exceptional about America's drone wars. In many ways, these days, American exceptionalism is about as unexceptional as apple pie. It has, for one thing, become the everyday language of the presidential campaign trail. And that shouldn't surprise us either. After all, great powers and their leaders tend to think well of themselves. The French had their "mission civilisatrice," the Chinese had the "mandate of heaven," and like all imperial powers they inevitably thought they were doing the best for themselves and others, sadly benighted, in this best of all possible worlds.

Sometimes, though, the American version of this does seem... I hate to use the word, but exceptional. If you want to get a taste of just what this means, consider as Exhibit One a recent speech by the president's counterterrorism "tsar," John Brennan, at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. According to his own account, he was dispatched to the center by President Obama to provide greater openness when it comes to the administration's secret drone wars, to respond to critics of the drones and their legality, and undoubtedly to put a smiley face on drone operations generally. Ever since the Puritan minister John Winthrop first used the phrase in a sermon on shipboard on the way to North America, "a city upon a hill" has caught something of at least one American-style dream -- a sense that this country's fate was to be a blessed paragon for the rest of the world, an exception to every norm. In the last century, it became "a shining city upon a hill" and was regularly cited in presidential addresses.

Whatever that "city," that dream, was once imagined to be, it has undergone a largely unnoticed metamorphosis in the twenty-first century. It has become -- even in our dreams -- an up-armored garrison encampment, just as Washington itself has become the heavily fortified bureaucratic heartland of a war state. So when Brennan spoke, what he offered was a new version of American exceptionalism: the first "shining drone upon a hill" speech, which also qualifies as an instant classic of self-congratulation.

Never, according to him, has a country with such an advanced weapon system as the drone used it quite so judiciously, quite so -- if not peacefully -- at least with the sagacity and skill usually reserved for the gods. American drone strikes, he assured his listeners, are "ethical and just," "wise," and "surgically precise" -- exactly what you'd expect from a country he refers to, quoting the president, as the preeminent "standard bearer in the conduct of war."

Those drone strikes, he assured his listeners, are based on staggeringly "rigorous standards" involving the individual identification of human targets. Even when visited on American citizens outside declared war zones, they are invariably "within the bounds of the law," as you would expect of the preeminent "nation of laws."

The strikes are never motivated by vengeance, always target someone known to us as the worst of the worst, and almost invariably avoid anyone who is even the most mediocre of the mediocre. (Forget the fact that, as Greg Miller of the Washington Post reported, the CIA has recently received permission from the president to launch drone strikes in Yemen based only on the observed "patterns of suspicious behavior" of groups of unidentified individuals, as was already true in the Pakistani tribal borderlands.)

Yes, in such circumstances innocents do unfortunately die, even if unbelievably rarely -- and for that we couldn't be more regretful. Such deaths, however, are in some sense salutary, since they lead to the most rigorous reviews and reassessments of, and so improvements in, our actions. "This too," Brennan assured his audience, "is a reflection of our values as Americans."

"I would note," he added, "that these standards, for identifying a target and avoiding... the loss of lives of innocent civilians, exceed what is required as a matter of international law on a typical battlefield. That's another example of the high standards to which we hold ourselves."

And that's just a taste of the tone and substance of the speech given by the president's leading counterterrorism expert, and in it he's no outlier. It catches something about an American sense of self at this moment. Yes, Americans may be ever more down on the Afghan war, but like their leaders, they are high on drones. In a February Washington Post/ABC News poll, 83% of respondents supported the administration's use of drones. Perhaps that's not surprising either, since the drones are generally presented here as the coolest of machines, as well as cheap alternatives (in money and lives) to sending more armies onto the Eurasian mainland.

Predator Nation

In these last years, this country has pioneered the development of the most advanced killing machines on the planet for which the national security state has plans decades into the future. Conceptually speaking, our leaders have also established their "right" to send these robot assassins into any airspace, no matter the local claims of national sovereignty, to take out those we define as evil or simply to protect American interests. On this, Brennan couldn't be clearer. In the process, we have turned much of the rest of the planet into what can only be considered an American free-fire zone.

We have, in short, established a remarkably expansive set of drone-war rules for the global future. Naturally, we trust ourselves with such rules, but there is a fly in the ointment, even as the droniacs see it. Others far less sagacious, kindly, lawful, and good than we are do exist on this planet and they may soon have their own fleets of drones. About 50 countries are today buying or developing such robotic aircraft, including Russia, China, and Iran, not to speak of Hezbollah in Lebanon. And who knows what terror groups are looking into suicide drones?

As the Washington Post's David Ignatius put it in a column about Brennan's speech: "What if the Chinese deployed drones to protect their workers in southern Sudan against rebels who have killed them in past attacks? What if Iran used them against Kurdish separatists they regard as terrorists? What if Russia used them over Chechnya? What position would the United States take, and wouldn't it be hypocritical if it opposed drone attacks by other nations that face 'imminent' or 'significant' threats?"

This is Washington's global drone conundrum as seen from inside the Beltway. These are the nightmarish scenarios even our leaders can imagine others producing with their own drones and our rules. A deeply embedded sense of American exceptionalism, a powerful belief in their own special, self-evident goodness, however, conveniently blinds them to what they are doing right now. Looking in the mirror, they are incapable of seeing a mask of death. And yet our proudest export at present, other than Hollywood superhero films, may be a stone-cold robotic killer with a name straight out of a horror movie.

Consider this as well: those "shining drones" launched on campaigns of assassination and slaughter are increasingly the "face" that we choose to present to the world. And yet it's beyond us why it might not shine for others.

In reality, it's not so hard to imagine what we increasingly look like to those others: a Predator nation. And not just to the parents and relatives of the more than 160 children the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has documented as having died in U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan. After all, war is now the only game in town. Peace? For the managers of our national security state, it's neither a word worth mentioning, nor an imaginable condition.

In truth, our leaders should be in mourning for whatever peaceful dreams we ever had. But mention drones and they light up. They're having a love affair with those machines. They just can't get enough of them or imagine their world or ours without them.

What they can't see in the haze of exceptional self-congratulation is this: they are transforming the promise of America into a promise of death. And death, visited from the skies, isn't precise. It isn't glorious. It isn't judicious. It certainly isn't a shining vision. It's hell. And it's a global future for which, someday, no one will thank us.
(c) 2012 Tom Engelhardt is co-founder of the American Empire Project. He is the author of The End of Victory Culture: a History of the Cold War and Beyond, as well as of a novel, The Last Days of Publishing. His most recent book is The American Way of War: How Bush's Wars Became Obama's (Haymarket Books).

Jamie's Cryin'
Dimon, J.P. Morgan Chase Lose $2 Billion
By Matt Taibbi

A quick note on the disastrous news emanating from J.P. Morgan Chase, whose unflappable (well, unflappable until yesterday) CEO Jamie Dimon yesterday disclosed that the bank suffered $2 billion in trading losses this quarter.

Here's the summation from the New York Times:

Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan, blamed "errors, sloppiness and bad judgment" for the loss, which stemmed from a hedging strategy that backfired.

The trading in that hedge roiled markets a month ago, when rumors started circulating of a JPMorgan trader in London whose bets were so big that he was nicknamed "the London Whale" and "Voldemort," after the Harry Potter villain.

I'm still not entirely clear on what the trades by Bruno Iksil, the so-called "London Whale," were exactly. According to the excellent Felix Salmon at Reuters, Iksil had taken a massive long position on corporate CDS, and when word of this leaked out, the market turned on him and beat his brains out. From Salmon's piece:

Whenever a trader has a large and known position, the market is almost certain to move violently against that trader - and that seems to be exactly what happened here. On the conference call, when asked what he should have been watching more closely, Dimon said "trading losses - and newspapers." It wasn't a joke. Once your positions become public knowledge, the market will smell blood.

If you're wondering why you should care if some idiot trader (who apparently has been making $100 million a year at Chase, a company that has been the recipient of at least $390 billion in emergency Fed loans) loses $2 billion for Jamie Dimon, here's why: because J.P. Morgan Chase is a federally-insured depository institution that has been and will continue to be the recipient of massive amounts of public assistance. If the bank fails, someone will reach into your pocket to pay for the cleanup. So when they gamble like drunken sailors, it's everyone's problem.

Activity like this is exactly what the Volcker rule, which effectively banned risky proprietary trading by federally insured institutions, was designed to prevent. It will be argued that this trade was a technically a hedge, and therefore exempt from the Volcker rule. Not only does that explanation sound fishy to me (as Salmon notes, it's unclear just exactly how Iksil's trade could be a hedge), but it's sort of immaterial anyway: whether or not this bet technically violated the Volcker rule, it definitely violated the spirit of the law. Hedge or no hedge, we don't want big, federally-insured, too-big-to-fail banks making giant nuclear-powered derivatives bets.

This incident is certain to reignite the debate about Dodd-Frank and may undermine the broad effort to roll back the bill, which we wrote about in the latest issue of the magazine. Staffers on the Hill started mobilizing the instant the Chase news hit the airwaves yesterday, and you can bet we'll hear more debate in the next few months about not only the Volcker Rule but the Lincoln Rule, which was designed to wall off risky swaps from the federally-insured side of these banks. I've heard from all sides today, with some thinking the Chase trade was Dodd-Frank compliant, and others saying it probably violated both the Volcker and the Lincoln rules.

Either way, the incident underscored the basic problem. If J.P. Morgan Chase wants to act like a crazed cowboy hedge fund and make wild exacta bets on the derivatives market, they should be welcome to do so. But they shouldn't get to do it with cheap cash from the Fed's discount window, and they shouldn't get to do it with money from the federally-insured bank accounts of teachers, firemen and other such real people. It's a simple concept: you either get to be a bank, or you get to be a casino. But you can't be both. If we don't have rules to enforce that concept, we ought to get some.

UPDATE: University of Maryland professor and former regulator Michael Greenberger, who worked with Brooksley Born at the CFTC in the Clinton years and was an early opponent of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act and the repeal of Glass-Steagall, wrote in yesterday with some observations on the Chase debacle. Michael was involved in the negotiations over the Volcker rule and understands the derivatives world better than anyone I know; I thought it might be useful to reprint his thoughts on this at length:

The JPM episode touches on all the major protections of D-F, which at the behest of Wall Street lobbying will not go into effect for months if not years and therefore did not apply to the JPM trades in question.

If the trades at issue were proprietary trading (as now appears to be the case), they would be banned by the Volcker Rule. Even if these trades were not proprietary, but, as they almost surely were, uncleared, they would have been banned by the Lincoln or push out rule. There is now a bi-partisan effort in the House to dump the Lincoln Rule.

If Dodd-Frank had been in effect, these trades would almost certainly have been required to be cleared and transparently executed. So they would have been priced by objective clearing operations on at least a weekly basis for purposes of collecting margin against the losing nature of the trades. As the trades lost value, margin would have been called for on a regular and systematic basis. (The losses would never have reached $ 2B without much earlier and corresponding regular calls for margin.) The losing nature of the trades would have been transparent to market observers and regulators for quite some time and the losses would not have piled up opaquely. It is almost certain that, at the very least, the Fed (not wanting to exacerbate its reputation for throwing taxpayer money at TBTF problems), would have backed JPM off these trades long ago.

Even if the trades were not required to be cleared, they still would have had to be reported to the public and to the regulators.

The bottom line is that this episode underscores the need either for a strong, loophole-free Volcker rule, or an outright return to the Glass-Steagall Act.
(c) 2012 Matt Taibbi

Et Tu, England?
I guess we Americans could take some comfort from the fact that our own plutocrats on Wall Street and in Washington are not the only clueless, out-of-touch, bunch of narcissistic leaders in the world. But, I don't - it doesn't make me feel any better to see Britain under the same yoke of elitism that's weighing down our economy, democracy, and sense of national unity.

Welcome to "Pasty-gate." A pasty is a culinary icon to the British masses - a hot, savory pastry that is rich in flavor, yet inexpensive. So, facing a sizeable budget deficit, the ruling Conservative Party of corporate-hugging Prime Minister David Cameron has offered a cold plate of right-wing austerity that would make our own Republican leaders proud: cut taxes on mega-rich elites, while imposing a new 20-percent tax on pasties, the food of the commoners.

I say - whot rot, eh?

To add insult to injury, Cameron chose his close friend and Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, to push the pasty tax through Parliament. Osborne, who'll inherit both a fortune and the title of "baronet" from his father, hails from the stuffiest echelon of England's social elites.

Trying to explain the need to tax the simple grub of the working class - people who're already battered by high gasoline prices and a jobless job market - Osborne stiffly attempted a populist pose: "We are all in this together," he stammered. Unfortunately, for him, he was asked at a parliamentary hearing to say when he last sampled a pasty at a bakery chain specializing in the tasty edible. He was flummoxed, finally admitting he never goes there.

Such punishing of the majority on behalf of the precious few is why Cameron would lose by at least 10 points if the election were held today. After all, even a dog knows the difference between being stumbled over and being kicked. Ordinary Brits are getting kicked right in their pasties.
(c) 2012 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.

Message To NATO
We Need Smarter Kids, Not More Smart Bombs
By Jesse Jackson

Chicago is girding for the opening of the NATO Summit on May 20. The ministers and heads of state will be greeted by a rich array of protests, marches, events and counter-summits. Security is already tight near the conference center, and tensions are building.

Why protest a meeting of U.S. allies? One major reason is that after the Soviet Union collapsed and Europe united, NATO became an organization in search of a mission. It was created as a defensive alliance to bolster the West against the Soviet threat. Now that threat is no longer. And NATO has slowly turned from a mutual defensive alliance to a mutual offensive alliance. In the Balkans, Afghanistan and Libya, NATO has coordinated interventions into areas outside the alliance.

The summit will focus on Afghanistan. The allies will discuss how quickly to transfer authority over to the Afghans, and what kind of commitments will be sustained after the troop withdrawals, slated to be completed by 2014. After more than 10 years, Afghanistan is an unpopular war, opposed by the vast majority of Americans.

National Nurses United will organize one of the most visible demonstrations. They oppose the war in principle, but also because of its costs. The U.S. spends almost as much on our military as the nations of the world combined spend on theirs. President Barack Obama has helped bring the Iraq War to an end, but the administration's budget spends more on war in Afghanistan than it does on education here at home.

NATO is the symbol and the centerpiece of the U.S. commitment to global military intervention. The demonstrators are right to take their protests to its doorstep. Nonviolent protest will make their message clear. Violence or vandalism will only divert attention. Gandhi and King chose nonviolence because they were wise. Nonviolence works. Its moral witness is far more powerful than the fear and anger created by violence.

If the message is clear, Americans will stand with the demonstrators. The only country the U.S. should be focused on rebuilding is right here at home. We have the most powerful military in the world, but our students aren't keeping up, our roads and bridges and basic infrastructure are in decline, poverty is spreading. And abroad, we're increasingly known not for the aid we provide but for the bombs we drop.

Last week in Washington, Republicans in Congress passed a budget resolution that increased military spending while cutting funding for food stamps and child nutrition. Republican Mitt Romney has called for raising military spending - already above its Cold War levels in comparable dollars - even as he supports a budget that would require cutting Medicare and virtually eliminating domestic government investments in education, food safety, roads and bridges, new energy and more. Obama's budget is less unbalanced, but even he would sustain a military budget far higher than required for defense.

Instead of diplomacy and peaceful engagement, the U.S. increasingly employs drones and remote-controlled missiles to "speak" to our adversaries. Too many scorn diplomacy as weak, as "soft power." But in fact, Americans would be better served if we had fewer smart bombs and more educated kids. We'd do better if our military were smaller, our diplomats more active and our economy stronger.

If nonviolent, the protests at the NATO Summit will be compelling because their means fit their ends. Chicago and America would be far better off with more peaceful citizen organizing and less military mobilization.
(c) 2012 Jesse Louis Jackson, Sr. 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. Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr. is his eldest son.

Synthetic DNA? What's Next, Synthetic Life?
By James Donahue

If you have had an interest in science and especially the news of biological discoveries in the past decade or two, you must have stood in awe at the fact that researchers succeeded in mapping the genetic makeup of the human body.

Researchers for the Human Genome Project, as it was called, spent about 12 years determining the sequence of chemical base pairs that make up our DNA, and then identifying and mapping an estimated 25,000 genes that make up the human genome. Since the project was completed in 2003 the research has been centered on discovering ways to tinker with the DNA to find cures for inherited genetic impurities and illnesses that are passed down from parents to their children.

While all of the above was going on, Stanley Miller, a graduate student in biochemistry, was wondering if the mixture of chemicals available in the atmosphere at the time the Earth was being formed could generate life. As an experiment, he built an apparatus comprised of flasks, condensers, heat and electrical charges and then added water, methane, ammonia and hydrogen to see what happened.

Miller boiled the mixture of gasses and continued to pass them through the device that was designed to keep everything circulating. After a week of this, he used paper chromatography and discovered that the flask contained several amino acids and other organic molecules...everything needed to produce life.

Miller's experiment and the work of researchers at the Human Genome Project have since opened the door to an even more amazing discovery . . . the creation of synthetic molecules that function and even evolve just like natural DNA.

One report said the research teams believe these synthetic "building blocks," dubbed XNA, have been found to be capable of binding to both DNA and RNA The latter is part of a chain of molecules involved in encoding genetic information. A research team led by Vitor Pinheiro of the UK's Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology, found that the evolved enzymes that can make XNA from DNA and then can change XNA back into DNA. The enzymes can store and copy data and duplicate everything that DNA does to replicate life.

So what does all of this mean for humanity? To date the researchers are thinking in terms of using XNA as a new tool for medical research. But as it is with all great scientific inventions and discoveries, there can be both a good and dark side to what can be done with the information. That is because we humans have been given the gift of free choice, and some of those in the driver's seat of big corporations and the military industrial complex will surely develop the "God complex" the moment they get control of XNA research.

While the researchers assure us that all XNA research is "completely controlled by experimentalists," the question remains. Once the gene escapes from the bottle can it ever be kept under control?

As one observing biochemist, Gerald Joyce at the Scripps Research Institute noted, if researchers can find a way for XNA to replicate itself like DNA, the door will be open for alternative chemical platforms to synthesize "novel forms of life." He warned that the synthetic biologists should be very careful to "not tread into areas that have the potential to harm our biology."

So is science on the brink of creating dangerous new pathogens, creatures never before seen on Earth, or possibly even synthetic humanoids?
(c) 2012 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles. He currently produces daily articles for this web site

Judge Deliberates On Whether To Save Earth's Atmosphere
By David Swanson

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Wilkins heard the arguments on Friday in Washington, D.C., and is deliberating now on the question of whether young people can sue to compel their government to take serious measures to stop global warming.

Judge Robert Wilkins is familiar with discrimination, having been the plaintiff in a well-known driving-while-black case of racial profiling in Maryland. But few of us are familiar with the concept of discrimination against future generations. We grow easily indignant when living people are unfairly treated. We grow confused when considering the injustice of depriving our grandchildren of a habitable planet so that we can drive our SUVs and fight our wars. There's no living person or group of persons we can point to as being wronged, unless perhaps it is the young.

Judge Wilkins is familiar with, and appreciative of, the role federal courts played in the U.S. civil rights movement. But a case had been made that certain people's Constitutional rights were being violated. Whose Constitutional rights are violated by condemning young people to grow old on a damaged planet turning to desert and barren rock?

There may be an answer to that. The Constitution's purpose is to "insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity." Surely there is a violation of the Constitution in making the earth uninhabitable for our Posterity. But no court has ever arrived at that conclusion.

"Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person," says the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which under Article VI of the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family." How can we protect those rights for everyone, including the young and the not-yet-born, without putting everything we have into trying to preserve a climate in which humans can prosper? How can the U.S. government fulfill its obligations to Native American nations while finally completing the destruction of their land along with everyone else's?

Courageous young people filed suit a year ago against the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the United States Department of the Interior, the United States Department of Agriculture, the United States Department of Commerce, the United States Department of Energy, and the United States Department of Defense. One would think being sued for ruining the earth's atmosphere with greenhouse gases was not terribly desirable, but there was a mad rush by other parties to be added to the list of defendants. These additional defendants succeeded in getting themselves added: Delta Construction Company Inc., Dalton Trucking Inc., Southern California Contractors Association Inc., California Dump Truck Owners Association, Engineering & Utility Contractors Association, and The National Association Of Manufacturers.

The National Association of Manufacturers openly claims selfish interests for being involved:

"NAM moved to intervene in this litigation, because the law suit, if successful, would have a dramatic effect on manufacturing processes and investments, increasing production and transportation costs, decreasing global competitiveness and driving jobs and businesses abroad. The litigation, which seeks a minimum 6% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions every year, would be devastating to the entire U.S. economy."

NAM also says:

"The NAM's members include many of the major oil, coal and natural gas producers, petroleum refiners, and petrochemical producers, as well as manufacturing companies that make the tools and components critical to such industries. Id. Obviously, immediate reductions-and eventual elimination-of conventional fuel use is a central business concern for these members of the NAM."

So, this was the argument for joining the case: our profits would suffer. Well, of course, they would. The government would have to stop giving $11 billion a year or more to fossil fuel companies. Arguably, the government would have to stop putting over $1 trillion a year into preparation for wars fought largely to secure fossil fuels. Taxes would have to be imposed on carbon emissions. But there would also have to be massive public investment in green energy, investment that could help companies become profitable in new ways. Or it could not. What's guaranteed is that the current profit-making plans of these companies would suffer, while humanity would benefit. We're trained to think such conflicts don't exist, that what's good for Exxon-Mobil is good for all of us. It isn't true. The oil companies are arguing for the right to ruin the atmosphere.

In Friday's hearing, however, other arguments were advanced. Three men spoke for the defense, one from the government, one from NAM, and one from the California interveners. They did not dispute the reality and seriousness of global warming, which James Hansen called "apocalyptic" in Thursday's New York Times. They did not claim ownership of the sky. Instead they argued for democracy, the Constitution, the separation of powers, the right of the legislative branch to legislate, and the existence of the EPA as sufficient to answer the plaintiff's claims whether or not the EPA was doing any good.

It was curious to hear the government's defense of the rights of the legislative branch for a number of reasons. First, the executive branch in recent years has been rapidly eroding Congress's powers. Second, the Constitution has been discarded when it comes to Congressional war powers, or habeas corpus, or much of the Bill of Rights. Third, Congress almost never represents majority opinion in the country on any important issue, but is instead openly working for the legal bribes authorized by the Supreme Court as election spending -- for which the Supreme Court has argued to protect the human rights of corporations. To pretend that the legislative branch envisioned by the Constitution still exists is bizarre. Fourth, immediately after the government's lawyer rhetorically asked, "In a democracy whose job is it to take public actions of the first order?" he turned the floor over to the lawyer from NAM. Where in the Constitution does it assign corporate lobbyists the duty to defend the government against popular petitions for redress of grievances?

The NAM lawyer said not one word about his clients' profits. Instead he proposed, among other things, that "national security" might require current levels of C02 emissions. He was, of course, using a narrow conception of national security. How secure is a nation that is losing its farmland and coastlines? But, if the argument was to be made on behalf of the Pentagon, why not let the Pentagon do it? Why allow the oil barons' hired hand to substitute?

Julia Olson argued ably for the plaintiffs, citing numerous precedents for her claim that the atmosphere is a public trust and that public trusts must be protected. As in the on-going struggle over the Supreme Court's pro-bribery Citizens United ruling, the state of Montana is featured in this debate, as the Supreme Court once ruled that Montana had a right to protect its rivers as a public trust, a ruling based on a long legal tradition, but later reversed.

Judge Wilkins asked Olson numerous detailed questions in a lengthy exchange that reviewed many precedents and hypothetical arguments. Olson pointed to a case that had established a three-judge panel to direct the state of California to reduce its prison population. The judges had not handled the details of the changes made to California's penal system, but had enforced a level of reduction by a deadline, just as these plaintiffs want CO2 levels in the atmosphere reduced to 350 ppm by a set date.

Olson's co-counsel Philip Gregory brought to Friday's hearing something that was otherwise missing in hours of technical debate: honest passion. Gregory made a moral as much as a legal case on behalf of the rights of the plaintiffs, a row of several teenagers seated in the front row of the courtroom.

Judge Wilkins argued to Gregory that either he was being asked to tell six government agencies that they were not doing their jobs as required by statute -- in which case, the judge said, such matters could be handled one-at-a-time outside of this lawsuit, or he was being asked to instruct six agencies to act outside of their Congressional mandate. Gregory's response focused, rightly, on the magnitude and urgency of the crisis we face.

Trying to get courts to do Congress's job may, in fact, not be ideal. Trying to get state or foreign prosecutors to indict Bush for torture is not ideal. Pinochet's indictment in Spain was not ideal. Federal desegregation of Southern states was not ideal. Protecting voting rights state-by-state is not ideal. But in an emergency, shouldn't one try the tools that are available? And shouldn't one drop counterproductive pretenses, such as the pretense that a functioning Congress still exists?

What if the mythical humanized frogs in the pot of gradually warming water -- thousands and thousands of such frogs in a giant pot on a giant stove -- had a frog government? And what if the frog Congress had been bought off with piles of flies by a frog whose business it was to sell tiny, cold, bottled water to the frogs as they warmed? If the frog courts decided to leave the decision to hop out of the pot to the frog Congress, they would make the correct decision that would best allow representative frog government in the future. But would that do anything to guarantee that there would be any future for those frogs?

In case it isn't blatantly obvious, the above and everything else written here is my opinion, not the plaintiffs' legal arguments. The hearing ran for about three hours, and was all very formal and polite. Judge Wilkins generously thanked both sides for their "sincerity, diligence, and earnestness."

"But I would be remiss," he added, "if I did not say that it is a struggle for any judge to determine based on our Constitutional system how best to play the proper role in adjudicating a case like this one. I don't take the Constitution lightly. . . ."

"That said, it behooves all of us, regardless of the resolution of this case, to really think about what we can do to resolve this very serious problem."

Of course, we aren't all in the same position to do the same amount of good. By ruling that this case can proceed, Wilkins would open up a public forum on intergenerational justice and a ground-breaking earth-protecting suit that the plaintiffs would be very likely to win. Future generations would, quite likely, revere the name Robert Wilkins. His heroism would not be quickly forgotten.
(c) 2012 David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie."

Boeing's Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) bomb, which is sold to 26 countries.
Obama Administration officials say the boom in arms exports is simply the result of healthy demand

Our Guns And Butter Economy
Obama: Pitchman for Exporting US-Made Weapons
By David Sirota

With the economy still struggling and the debates over how to fix the problem more intense than ever, one word still evokes bipartisan consensus: exports. "I want us to sell stuff," said President Obama, summing up the bipartisan sentiment.

That nebulous word "stuff" is significant. It asks us to see all exports as the same and to refrain from making nuanced value judgments about what exactly we're shipping overseas. In this cold-blooded view, a job-creating export is a job-creating export, and that's as far as any conversation should go.

At first glance, such reductionism seems logical, rational, even boringly uncontroversial. But two recent news items highlight how in a globalized economy, there are troubling consequences that come from the particular kind of export economy we're building.

The first bit of news came from the Washington Post, which this week reported that "the Obama administration is crafting a proposal that could make it easier to export firearms and other weapons." Though the Homeland Security and Justice Departments say the new rules could make it easier for terrorist and drug cartels to further arm themselves, the White House is nonetheless citing the "stuff" theory of exports to ignore the objections.

This is part of a larger pattern since President Obama took office. During Obama's first year in the White House, he began to gut the Pentagon's approval process for arms exports, weakening controls on what could and could not be sold. Later, diplomatic cables uncovered by Wikileaks showed, as Fortune magazine put it, "American officials act(ing) as de facto pitchmen for U.S.-made weapons."

The result is that America has become the true "Lord of War," as the arms dealer motto goes. We are the leading arms supplier to the developing world and we are responsible for the majority of all weapons sales across the globe. Yes, we are so committed to selling instruments of death to the rest of the planet that military industries have almost tripled their share of the U.S. economy in just a decade.

The second bit of news came from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, whose new study shows that America is exporting our obesity crisis to Mexico. Coupling health statistics with U.S. export data since the North American Free Trade Agreement tore down Mexico's agriculture trade barriers, researchers found that the Mexican market was flooded by American agribusinesses' taxpayer subsidized commodities (corn, soybeans) and their processed derivatives. According to the report, that quickly wiped out Mexico's local food economy, leaving its food system exactly "like the industrialized food system of the United States - characterized by the overabundance of obesogenic foods." Not surprisingly, Mexican obesity rates have consequently skyrocketed.

Taken together, these export booms represent what could be called America's new Guns and Butter economy. We are so desperate to export any "stuff" we can, we are now fattening up the world and arming it for permanent bloodshed.

Seeking to short circuit any objections to this trend, President Obama has said simply that "we're at a moment where necessity has tempered the old debates" over exports and economic policy. In terms of history, he's not wrong - during the previous century, America witnessed fevered fights over what constitutes a moral farm policy, and in the 1930s the U.S. Senate's Nye Committee held almost 100 hearings into "greedy munitions interests that were unduly influencing public policy. Sadly, Obama is correct - those debates have been silenced.

But should they be? Should we simply say that any exports - no matter their moral, ethical, environmental or health implications - are inherently good? Does "necessity" really mean that "stuff" for stuff's sake must be the basis of our export economy?

Washington and profit-at-all-cost industries certainly say yes - but that doesn't mean it's the right answer.
(c) 2012 David Sirota is the author of the best-selling books "Hostile Takeover" and "The Uprising." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at E-mail him at David Sirota is a former spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee.

The Horrible Things That Empire Offers Us
By Fidel Castro

A piece of news released by AP, the most important US news agency, dated today in Monterrey, Mexico, explains it with irrefutable clarity. This is not the first, and certainly it won't be the last, about a reality that puts paid to the mountain of lies with which the United States intends to justify the inhuman destiny it reserves for the peoples of our America.

What does the news say?

"MONTERREY, Mexico (AP).- Forty-nine decapitated and mutilated corpses were found abandoned in a pool of blood in a highway connecting the Mexican metropolis of Monterrey to the US border in what seems to be the latest in an escalation war between drug cartels.

"The corpses of 43 men and 6 women were found at about 4 a.m. Sunday in the town of San Juan on a non-toll highway that leads to the border city of Reynosa. A white stone arch welcoming visitors was spray-painted with black letters: "100% Zeta."

"At a news conference in Nuevo Leon state security spokesman Jorge Domene stated that along with the decomposing bodies, a 'narcomanta' had been found at the scene, in which authorship is attributed to the group "Los Zetas."

"The victims could have been killed as long as two days ago, so authorities believe they were not murdered on the spot. 'Identifying them will be a difficult task because all of them were beheaded and hacked off their hands and feet', the official said.

"The state Attorney-General, Adrián de la Garza, said that no reports of local missing people had been received in recent days, so the victims could be persons from other Mexican states or even US-bound Central American immigrants."

"Mexican drug cartels have been waging and ever bloodier war seeking to take control over trafficking routes as well as the local drugs market and extortion, whose victims include US-bound immigrants."

"So far in May, 18 bodies were found in a tourist area near Guadalajara; 23 people were found decapitated or hung from a bridge in the border city of Nuevo Laredo, where violence among cartels has escalated. This year alone, cadavers have been found in the states of Veracruz, Guerrero, Morelos, Jalisco, Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon.

"He stated that there were no clues indicating that the new wave of violence is linked to the presidential elections to take place this July. 'It has the dynamic of a war between cartels', he said."

For its part, the Internet portal 'BBC World' reported as follows:

"The scene of decapitated and mutilated bodies in Nuevo León, where 49 bodies were dumped on the road this Sunday, shocked many for the extreme barbarity displayed by the killers. Even in Mexico, where after five years of intense war among drug cartels it seemed like they had seen it all."

Not a few countries of Our America have been affected by these problems.

In our homeland, the problems described here do not exist: would this be the reason why the empire is trying to make it surrender by starvation and hostility? Half a century has not been enough, and I very much doubt that the empire can wait for another half a century before it sinks deep in its own mire, sooner than later.
(c) 2012 Fidel Castro

Why We Regulate
By Paul Krugman

One of the characters in the classic 1939 film "Stagecoach" is a banker named Gatewood who lectures his captive audience on the evils of big government, especially bank regulation - "As if we bankers don't know how to run our own banks!" he exclaims. As the film progresses, we learn that Gatewood is in fact skipping town with a satchel full of embezzled cash.

As far as we know, Jamie Dimon, the chairman and C.E.O. of JPMorgan Chase, isn't planning anything similar. He has, however, been fond of giving Gatewood-like speeches about how he and his colleagues know what they're doing, and don't need the government looking over their shoulders. So there's a large heap of poetic justice - and a major policy lesson - in JPMorgan's shock announcement that it somehow managed to lose $2 billion in a failed bit of financial wheeling-dealing.

Just to be clear, businessmen are human - although the lords of finance have a tendency to forget that - and they make money-losing mistakes all the time. That in itself is no reason for the government to get involved. But banks are special, because the risks they take are borne, in large part, by taxpayers and the economy as a whole. And what JPMorgan has just demonstrated is that even supposedly smart bankers must be sharply limited in the kinds of risk they're allowed to take on.

Why, exactly, are banks special? Because history tells us that banking is and always has been subject to occasional destructive "panics," which can wreak havoc with the economy as a whole. Current right-wing mythology has it that bad banking is always the result of government intervention, whether from the Federal Reserve or meddling liberals in Congress. In fact, however, Gilded Age America - a land with minimal government and no Fed - was subject to panics roughly once every six years. And some of these panics inflicted major economic losses.

So what can be done? In the 1930s, after the mother of all banking panics, we arrived at a workable solution, involving both guarantees and oversight. On one side, the scope for panic was limited via government-backed deposit insurance; on the other, banks were subject to regulations intended to keep them from abusing the privileged status they derived from deposit insurance, which is in effect a government guarantee of their debts. Most notably, banks with government-guaranteed deposits weren't allowed to engage in the often risky speculation characteristic of investment banks like Lehman Brothers.

This system gave us half a century of relative financial stability. Eventually, however, the lessons of history were forgotten. New forms of banking without government guarantees proliferated, while both conventional and newfangled banks were allowed to take on ever-greater risks. Sure enough, we eventually suffered the 21st-century version of a Gilded Age banking panic, with terrible consequences.

It's clear, then, that we need to restore the sorts of safeguards that gave us a couple of generations without major banking panics. It's clear, that is, to everyone except bankers and the politicians they bankroll - for now that they have been bailed out, the bankers would of course like to go back to business as usual. Did I mention that Wall Street is giving vast sums to Mitt Romney, who has promised to repeal recent financial reforms?

Enter Mr. Dimon. JPMorgan, to its - and his - credit, managed to avoid many of the bad investments that brought other banks to their knees. This apparent demonstration of prudence has made Mr. Dimon the point man in Wall Street's fight to delay, water down and/or repeal financial reform. He has been particularly vocal in his opposition to the so-called Volcker Rule, which would prevent banks with government-guaranteed deposits from engaging in "proprietary trading," basically speculating with depositors' money. Just trust us, the JPMorgan chief has in effect been saying; everything's under control.

Apparently not.

What did JPMorgan actually do? As far as we can tell, it used the market for derivatives - complex financial instruments - to make a huge bet on the safety of corporate debt, something like the bets that the insurer A.I.G. made on housing debt a few years ago. The key point is not that the bet went bad; it is that institutions playing a key role in the financial system have no business making such bets, least of all when those institutions are backed by taxpayer guarantees.

For the moment Mr. Dimon seems chastened, even admitting that maybe the proponents of stronger regulation have a point. It probably won't last; I expect Wall Street to be back to its usual arrogance within weeks if not days.

But the truth is that we've just seen an object demonstration of why Wall Street does, in fact, need to be regulated. Thank you, Mr. Dimon.
(c) 2012 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"...So long as the people do not care to exercise their freedom, those who wish to tyrannize will do so; for tyrants are active and ardent, and will devote themselves in the name of any number of gods, religious and otherwise, to put shackles upon sleeping men."
~~~ Francois-Marie Arouet de Voltaire ~~~

CIA goon Jose Rodriguez

The Case Of The Missing Terrorists
By Paul Craig Roberts

If there were any real terrorists, Jose Rodriguez would be dead.

Who is Jose Rodriguez? He is the criminal who ran the CIA torture program. Most of his victims were not terrorists or even insurgents. Most were hapless individuals kidnapped by warlords and sold to the Americans as "terrorists" for the bounty paid.

If Rodriguez's identity was previously a secret, it is no more. He has been on CBS "60 Minutes" taking credit for torturing Muslims and using the information allegedly gained to kill leaders of al Qaeda. If terrorists were really the problem that Homeland Security, the FBI and CIA claim, Rodriguez's name would be a struck through item on the terrorists' hit list. He would be in his grave.

So, also, would be John Yoo, who wrote the Justice (sic) Department memos giving the green light to torture, despite US and International laws prohibiting torture. Apparently, Yoo, a professor at the Boalt School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, was ignorant of US and international law. And so was the US Department of Justice (sic).

Notice that Rodriguez, "The Torturer of the Muslims," doesn't have to hide. He can go on national television, reveal his identity, and revel in his success in torturing and murdering Muslims. Rodriguez has no Secret Service protection and would be an easy mark for assassination by terrorists so capable as to have, allegedly, pulled off 9/11.

Another easy mark for assassination would be former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who staffed up the Pentagon with neoconservative warmongers such as Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith, who in turn concocted the false information used to justify the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. Rumsfeld himself declared members of al Qaeda to be the most vicious and dangerous killers on earth. Yet Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Feith, Richard Perle, together with neoconservative media propagandists, such as William Kristol and Max Boot, have been walking around safe for years unmolested by terrorists seeking revenge or bringing retribution to those responsible for as many as 1,000,000 Muslim deaths.

Condi Rice, Colin Powell, who delivered the Speech of Lies to the UN inaugurating the invasion of Iraq, and Dick Cheney, whose minimal Secret Service protection could not withstand a determined assassination attempt, also enjoy lives unmolested by terrorists.

Remember the deck of cards that the Bush regime had with Iraqi faces? If terrorists had a similar deck, all of those named above would be "high value targets." Yet, there has not been a single attempt on any one of them.

Strange, isn't it, that none of the above are faced with a terrorist threat. Yet, the tough, macho Navy Seals who allegedly killed Osama bin Laden must have their identity kept hidden so that they don't become terrorist targets. These American supermen, highly trained killers themselves, don't dare show their faces, but Rodriguez, Rumsfeld, and Condi Rice can walk around unmolested. Indeed, the Seals' lives are so endangered that President Obama gave up the enormous public relations political benefit of a White House ceremony with the heroic Navy Seals. Very strange behavior for a politician. A couple of weeks after the alleged bin Laden killing, the Seals unit, or most of it, was wiped out in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan.

If you were a Muslim terrorist seeking retribution for Washington's crimes, would you try to smuggle aboard an airliner a bomb in your underwear or shoe in order to blow up people whose only responsibility for Washington's war against Muslims is that they fell for Washington's propaganda? If you wanted to blow up the innocent, wouldn't you instead place your bomb in the middle of the mass of humanity waiting to clear airport security and take out TSA personnel along with passengers? Terrorists could coordinate their attacks, hitting a number of large airports across the US at the same minute. This would be real terror. Moreover, it would present TSA with an insolvable problem: how can people be screened before they are screened?

Or coordinated attacks on shopping malls and sports events?

Why should terrorists, if they exist, bother to kill people when it is easy to cause mayhem by not killing them? There are a large number of unguarded electric power substations. Entire regions of the country could be shut down. The simplest disruptive act would be to release large quantities of roofing nails in the midst of rush hour traffic in Boston, New York, Washington DC, Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco. You get the picture: thousands and thousands of cars disabled with flat tires blocking the main arteries for days.

Before some reader accuses me of giving terrorists ideas, ask yourself if you really think people so clever as to have allegedly planned and carried out 9/11 couldn't think of such simple tactics, plots that could be carried out without having to defeat security or kill innocent people? My point isn't what terrorists, if they exist, should do. The point is that the absence of easy-to-do acts of terrorism suggests that the terrorist threat is more hype than reality. Yet, we have an expensive, intrusive security apparatus that seems to have no real function except to exercise power over American citizens.

In place of real terrorists carrying out easy plots, we have "terrorist" plots dreamed up by FBI and CIA agents, who then recruit some hapless or demented dupes, bribing them with money and heroic images of themselves, and supplying them with the plot and fake explosives. These are called "sting operations," but they are not. They are orchestrations by our own security agencies that produce fake terrorist plots that are then "foiled" by the security agencies that hatched the plots. Washington's announcement is always: "The public was never in danger." Some terrorist plot! We have never been endangered by one, but the airports have been on orange alert for 11.5 years.

The federal judiciary and brainwashed juries actually treat these concocted plots as real threats to American security despite the government's announcements that the public was never in danger.

The announcements of the "foiled" plots keep the brainwashed public docile and amenable to intrusive searches, warrantless spying, the growth of an unaccountable police state, and endless wars.

The "War on Terror" is a hoax, one that has been successfully used to destroy the US Constitution and to complete the transformation of law from a shield of the people into a weapon in the hands of the state. By destroying habeas corpus, due process, and the presumption of innocence, the "War on Terror" has destroyed our security.
(c) 2012 Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury and professor of economics in six universities. He is coauthor of "The Tyranny of Good Intentions," co-authored with Lawrence Stratton, a documented account of how Americans lost the protection of law, was published by Random House. He can be reached at:

Romney Has Public And Private Morality Upside Down
By Robert Reich

Mitt Romney's reaction to J.P. Morgan Chase's mounting losses from reckless trades is "the market will take care of it." His spokesman says "no taxpayer money was at risk" so we don't need more financial regulation. Romney has even promised to repeal Dodd-Frank if he's elected president.

Yet at the same time, Romney has come out strongly against same-sex marriage. He's also against abortion. He has no problem with government intruding on the most intimate of decisions a person makes.

He's got private and public morality upside down. He doesn't want to regulate where regulation is necessary - at the highest reaches of the economy, where public immorality has cost us dearly, and will cost even more unless boardroom behavior is constrained. Yet he wants to regulate where regulation is least appropriate - at the level of the individual, in bedrooms and other intimate spaces, where private morality should govern.

This is a dangerous confusion. It should be a matter of personal choice whom to marry and when to have children. But it is undoubtedly a matter of public choice whether big banks should be allowed to take the kind of risky bets that plunged the economy into the worst downturn since the Great Depression, and whether people with great wealth and should be able to buy our democracy with huge campaign contributions.
(c) 2012 Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written twelve books, including The Work of Nations, Locked in the Cabinet, and his most recent book, Supercapitalism. His "Marketplace" commentaries can be found on and iTunes.

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Obama,

Dear Polizeiprasident McCarthy,

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 Elena (Butch) Kagan.

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your war against lawful, peaceful protesters, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya 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 Iron Cross 1st class, presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 05-28-2012. We salute you Herr McCarthy, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

Did Scott Walker Lie Under Oath To Congress?
By John Nichols

When Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker met with a billionaire campaign donor a month before he launched his attack on the collective-bargaining rights of public-sector workers and public-school teachers, he engaged in a detailed discussion about undermining unions as part of a broader strategy of strengthening the position of his Republican party.

After he initiated those attacks, Governor Walker testified under oath to a Congressional committee. He was asked during the April 2011 hearing to specifically address the question of whether he set out to weaken unions-which traditionally back Democrats and which are expected to play a major role in President Obama's 2012 re-election campaign-for political purposes. Walker replied: "It's not about that for me."

During the same hearing, Walker was asked whether he "ever had a conversation with respect to your actions in Wisconsin and using them to punish members of the opposition party and their [union] donor base?"

Walker replied, not once but twice, that the answer was "no."

So, did the governor of Wisconsin lie, under oath, to Congress? The videotape of Walker talking with Diane Hendricks, the Beloit, Wisconsin, billionaire who would eventually give his campaign more than $500,000, surfaced late last week. Captured in January 2011 by a documentary filmmaker who was trailing Hendricks, the conversation provides rare insight into the governor's long-term strategy for dividing Wisconsin. And the focus of the conversation and the strategy is by all evidence a political one.

In the video, Walker is shown meeting with Hendricks before an economic development session at the headquarters of a firm Hendricks owns, ABC Supply Inc., in Beloit. After Walker kisses Henricks, she asks: "Any chance we'll ever get to be a completely red state and work on these unions?"

"Oh, yeah!" says Walker.

Henricks then asks: "And become a right-to-work [state]?"

Walker replies: "Well, we're going to start in a couple weeks with our budget adjustment bill. The first step is we're going to deal with collective bargaining for all public employee unions, because you use divide and conquer."

After describing the strategy, Walker tells the woman who asked him about making Wisconsin a "completely red state": "That opens the door once we do that."

In a transcript of raw footage from the conversation, Hendricks asks Walker if he has a role model. Walker replies that he has high regard for Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, who early in his term used an executive order to strip collective-bargaining rights away from public employees and who, more recently, signed right-to-work legislation. Walker described the use of the executive order to undermine union rights as a "beautiful thing" and bemoaned the fact that he would have to enact legislation to achieve the same end in Wisconsin.

Within weeks, the woman who asked Walker about his strategy to make Wisconsin "a completely red state" wrote a $10,000 check to support his campaign. (She would eventually up the donation to $510,000, making Hendricks the single largest donor in the history of Wisconsin politics.) Within a month, Walker had launched the anti-union initiative that the two had discussed as a part of that "red-state" strategy, provoking mass protests that would draw the attention of Congress.

Testifying under oath to the US House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Walker said in his formal statement and in response to questions from committee members that his efforts to restrict the collective-bargaining rights of unions - including moves to prevent them from collecting dues, maintaining ongoing representation of members and engaging effectively in political campaigns-had nothing to do with politics.

Walker was asked specifically about a Fox News interview with Wisconsin state Senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald, in which Fitzgerald said of the anti-union push: "If we win this battle, and the money is not there under the auspices of the unions, certainly what you're going to find is President Obama is going to have a much difficult, much more difficult time getting elected and winning the state of Wisconsin."

Congressman Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, asked Walker about Fitzgerald's statement. "I understand you can't speak for [Fitzgerald] but you can opine as to whether you agree with your state Senate leader when he says this is ultimately about trying to defeat President Obama in Wisconsin. Do you agree?"

"I can tell you what it is for me," Walker answered. "It's not about that. It's ultimately about balancing the budget now and in the future."

Under questioning from other members of the committee (especially Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich and Iowa Congressman Bruce Braley), however, Walker admitted that many of the moves he initiated had no real impact on the state budget.

They did have the impact of weakening unions in the workplace and in the politics of the state, however.

It was in that context that Congressman Gerry Connolly, D-Virginia, pressed Walker on the matter of political intentions.

"Have you ever had a conversation with respect to your actions in Wisconsin and using them to punish members of the opposition party and their [union] donor base?

"No," replied Walker.

"Never had such a conversation?" Connolly pressed.

"No," said Walker.

The videotape from several months earlier, in which Walker speaks at length with his most generous campaign donor, suggests a very different answer to the questions from Murphy and Connolly. Indeed, the videotape shows Walker having just such a conversation.
(c) 2012 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His new book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, has just been publshed by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

Pompous Prevaricators Of Power
By Ralph Nader

A friend who works in Congress and actually reads the Congressional Record suggested that a collection of excerpted falsehoods by Republicans on the floor of the House of Representatives and Senate would make compelling evidence for the truth of economist Albert Hirschman's book, The Rhetoric of Reaction (1991).

Professor Hirschman, a very original political economist, found throughout American history the following three propositions were commonly used to counter social justice efforts:

The Perversity Thesis states government action only serves to exacerbate the problem being addressed;
The Futility Thesis holds that attempts at social policy will simply fail to solve the problem;
The Jeopardy Thesis argues that the cost of the proposed change or reform is too high and will lead to disaster.

The only people who know more about this sequential rhetoric than Mr. Hirschman are corporate lawyers and their corporate clients' publicists. For over two hundred years they and their corporations have opposed virtually every advance for better and fairer lives of the American people using propaganda which fits into Hirschman's frameworks. Whether it was the abolition of slavery, child labor, and the 70 hour week, or women's right to vote, trade union rights, the progressive income tax, unemployment compensation, social security and, of course, the various regulatory standards protecting consumers, worker safety and the environment, the arguments against them have been pretty much the same.

As the fascinating "Cry Wolf Project" staff observed: "We've heard these all before. Perversity: if you raise the minimum wage, you'll increase unemployment. Futility: tobacco warning labels won't stop people from smoking. And Jeopardy: it's a 'job killer.'"

"Far more people have become rich and famous for telling lies and falsehoods than people who have a habit of telling the truth and reciting facts."

The "Cry Wolf Project" presents verbatim quotations from the corporate bosses from years past and then lets their words speak for themselves. Here is a sample:

Henry Ford II, in 1966, on long-overdue safety standards such as laminated windshields, dual-braking systems, collapsible steering wheels and seat belts: "Many of the temporary standards are unreasonable, arbitrary and technically unfeasible... If we can't meet them when they are published we'll have to close down." To his credit, ten years later on national television, Mr. Ford recognized that due to federal regulations, cars were safer, more efficient and less polluting.

His fiery vice-president, Lee Iacocca, said in 1970 that The Clean Air Act "could prevent continued production of automobiles... and is a threat to the entire American economy and to every person in America." Mr. Iacocca did recant his opposition to air bags as head of Chrysler in a full page ad headlined "Who Says You Can't Teach an Old Dog New Tricks?"

Other corporate barons were more intransigent. Reacting to a law that established the federal minimum wage and ended child labor, a spokesman for the manufacturing industry in 1938 unleashed this volley: "The Fair Labor Standards Act constitutes a step in the direction of communism, bolshevism, fascism and Nazism."

Social Security received a broadside from the Chairman of the Board of Chase National Bank. In 1936, top brass banker, Winthrop W. Aldrich, called it a "grave menace to the future security of the country as whole and to the security of the very people it is designed to protect."

His down the line executive successor, the haughty James Dimon has been spouting cataclysmic claims about the Dodd-Frank reforms that are modestly designed to avoid another multi-trillion dollar Wall Street bailout by Washington. Haughty, that is, until last week when Mr. Dimon, CEO of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. revealed at least a two billion dollar gambling bet that his company lost in the high-flying business of complex derivatives trading linked to corporate debt.

What a cruel irony. Mr. Dimon's bank and half a dozen other giant banks are now corporate welfare kings deemed "too big to fail" (as well as too big to be taxed fairly). Unfortunately, social security recipients and other tax payers are still the ones who will pay for any future bailouts. This is what America has been reduced to by the multinational casino capitalists who long ago abandoned any allegiance or patriotism toward the country that bred them into present day giants.

Outlandish assertions are not restricted to members of Congress or the corporate world. Ronald Reagan was a jovial-genius at nutty declarations. As when he told reporters that submarine launched nuclear missiles can be recalled or that approximately 80% of our air pollution stems from vegetation. So prolific was the former Hollywood actor that Mark Green collected Reagan's pronouncements in a classic 173 page paperback titled Reagan's Reign of Error (1987).

With the velocity of modern communications, media and the Internet, who can keep up with the separation of facts and truth from lies, propaganda and what is now called "magical thinking?" Far more people have become rich and famous for telling lies and falsehoods than people who have a habit of telling the truth and reciting facts. The former get promoted, host radio shows, get large advances on books and get elected to office.

In 2002, the ultra-corporatist Senator Saxby Chambliss defeated incumbent Georgia Senator Max Cleland, whose legs were amputated as a result of injuries he suffered in the Vietnam War, with ads showing a photo of Cleland along with photos of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, by way of questioning Cleland's patriotism. Fellow Republican, Senator John McCain, called Saxby's ads in 2002 "worse than disgraceful, reprehensible." In 2008, Saxby was re-elected.

The forces of accountability for what public personages exclaim have to come from a more demanding citizenry. People have to punish these charlatans, who think they can distract, degrade or fool the public. Don't buy their garbage or let the prevaricators garner your votes.

A handy question people can always ask is "What's your evidence?" That starts an entirely new dialogue, doesn't it?
(c) 2012 Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His most recent book - and first novel - is, Only The Super Wealthy Can Save Us. His most recent work of non-fiction is The Seventeen Traditions.

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My School Days
By Mitt Romney

NEW YORK - (The Borowitz Report) - Today, presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney released the following open letter to the American people:<>

Dear Friends:

This week, The Washington Post reported an incident from my high school days in which I bullied a gay classmate by pinning him to the ground and cutting his hair off. This story revealed a side of Mitt Romney that may have been surprising to many of you: the Mitt Romney with an irrepressible and hilarious sense of humor.

Some of you may say, "Hold on, Mitt - isn't holding a kid down and cutting off his hair going a little far?" Well, the merry prankster in me tells me you can never go too far when it comes to giving the greatest gift of all: the gift of laughter. And I certainly remember many of us laughing long and hard about what I did to that Nancy-boy. Was it cruel? Perhaps, but it's not like I tied him to the roof of a car or anything.

The Democrats have already tried to seize on this incident as evidence that I don't like gays. That is a lie. I have nothing against gays. Except for the poor ones, of course. And as any of my high school chums can tell you, I did not go out of my way to pick on gay kids. I was also a total douche to many heterosexuals.

The fact is, boys will be boys. Who among us hasn't shoved a crippled kid down a flight of stairs? That's something else I did in those mischievous days, but the mainstream media isn't reporting it because they want to turn this into an anti-gay thing. The fact is, when I was in high school I played pranks on everyone - blind kids, deaf kids, dwarves and Jews. Although come to think of it, I don't think our school accepted Jews.

Now that I've put my actions into better context, I hope you'll see this incident with the gay kid for what it was: innocent good fun. And I hope when you vote in November, you won't judge me as the teenager who bullied one gay boy, but rather as the adult who fired thousands of people.

Vote for me,
Mitt Romney

(c) 2012 Andy Borowitz

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Issues & Alibis Vol 12 # 20 (c) 05/18/2012

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