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In This Edition

Ted Rall returns with, "End Military Aid To Israel."

Ralph Nader wonders, "NPR At 50 - Straying From Its Civic Mission?"

Margaret Kimberley foresees, "The End Of Low Wage Work."

Jim Hightower asks, "How About An Award For Sleaziest Corporate Profiteering?"

William Rivers Pitt says, "CDC's Confusing Announcement On Masks Creates A Dangerous Honor."

John Nichols says, "Trump's Obsessive Attacks Won't Silence Ilhan Omar's Defense Of Palestinian Human Rights."

James Donahue concludes, "Home Gardening May Be A Key To Our Survival."

David Swanson returns with, "For Okinawa, Rahm Would Be A Knee On The Neck."

David Suzuki observes, "Reconciliation Means Rethinking Parks Governance."

Charles P. Pierce finds, "The Republican Assault On Voting Rights Now Includes Knuckling Poll Workers."

Juan Cole reports, "Shooting Fish In A Barrel: Israel Bombs Palestinian Refugees From Israel In Gaza, 50% Of Them Children."

Robert Reich explains, "The Secret Tax Loophole Making The Rich Even Richer."

Chris Hedges returns with a must read, "Israel Is Carrying Out Mass Murder, Aided And Abetted By The US."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Waterford Whispers News reports,"Biden Urges Israel To Only Use $3.8bn In US Military Aid For 'Nice Stuff,'" but first Uncle Ernie sez, "It's All Your Fault, America, NOT!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Steve Greenberg, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Fatima Shbair, Ahmed Zakot, Kent Nishimura, Spencer Platt, Drew Angerer, Ali Jadallah, Davi Costa, Robert Reich, Jim Hightower, Pexels, AFP, Unsplash, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, You Tube, Black Agenda Report, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments-

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

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

ExxonMobile plant on fire polluting the atmosphere!

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It's All Your Fault, America, NOT!
By Ernest Stewart

"Over the last two decades of climate misinformation, we've seen a transition from science denial to solutions misinformation and more subtle framing such as blaming individual consumers. This underscores the need for raising people's awareness of these kinds of rhetorical tricks in order to inoculate the public against the more subtle forms of misinformation." ~~~ John Cook ~ a researcher at the Climate Change Communication Research Hub at Monash University in Australia

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

I see how ExxonMobil cleverly blames you for global warming. Yes, America, it's your fault, not theirs! And if you buy that, I have this bridge in Brooklyn that you might want to buy too!

You may recall when the oil giant BP popularized the devious term "carbon footprint" to quietly shift blame for the warming planet onto individuals, like you. Yet BP wasn't the only petrochemical company using clever words to shape the public's thinking about climate change.

New research shows that, around the same time, ExxonMobil also started employing crafty, calculated PR techniques to steer the onus of global warming away from oil and gas corporations, and onto people living in a fossil fuel-dominated society. (Side note: It's currently impossible to escape fossil fuels: Even a homeless person today has a big carbon footprint.)

The research, published Thursday in the scientific journal One Earth, found ExxonMobil used advertorials (advertisements format like editorials) in the New York Times as well as other public documents (like company climate reports) to repeatedly promote the narrative that:

People's demand for energy is responsible for the planet's warming (as opposed to an energy system built on extracting, selling, and burning fossils fuels)

Climate change is a future risk (as opposed to an already worsening reality)

By the early 2000's, the oil giant could no longer perpetually deny or sow doubt about climate change. The evidence for significant human-caused warming, in the form of hundreds of peer-reviewed studies about global warming and global observations, was already clear, even to the company's own scientists. Instead, ExxonMobil shifted to more subtle messaging to influence how the public viewed climate change. The goal was to underscore that people need fossil fuels, and ExxonMobil fills that demand, the researchers conclude. Accordingly, this promotes the idea that fossil fuel companies are essential, which ultimately helps delay a transition to cleaner energy sources.

"We've gone from denialism to delayism," explained Geoffrey Supran, a research associate in the Department of the History of Science at Harvard University and one of the study's authors. Supran and his coauthor, Harvard science historian Naomi Oreskes, used computer programs to scan text in over 200 documents published between 1972 and 2019 (advertorials, published scientific papers, company documents, et cetera) to identify how often certain terms appear, and where they appear.

Take the word "risk." Prior to the merger of Exxon and Mobil in 1999, the companies used the term "risk" to explain or describe climate change (as in the "risk of climate change") once. But after 2000, the study found the oil giant used "risk" 46 times, employing it an average of one time in each advertorial.

The word "risk" creates a subtle, but powerful narrative.

"A risk is something that may or may not happen," said Supran. "But climate science had already demonstrated that climate change was underway and causing damage. It's incredibly insidious."

Indeed, decades earlier ExxonMobil's own climate scientists predicted (accurately) that burning fossil fuels would drive up CO2 levels in the atmosphere and stoke significant planetary warming.

Beyond emphasizing that climate change is only a risk, the study identified how ExxonMobil sought to pin climate change on individuals. Again, the fossil fuel giant subtly employed specific words; they certainly already understood the power of tactful phrases. The researchers note that Herb Schmertz, Mobil's vice president of public affairs between 1969 and 1988, had written: "Grab the good words - and the good concepts - for yourself." He also added: "[B]e sensitive to semantic infiltration, the process whereby language does the dirty work of politics - Be sensitive to these word choices, and be competitive in how you use them."

To emphasize individual responsibility for climate change - similar to how BP successfully infused the phrase "carbon footprint" into our everyday lexicon - ExxonMobil underscored consumers were demanding energy. Consumers, of course, didn't have much of a choice: We were all born into a world largely powered by burning fossil fuels. (Though that's now starting to change.)

The study cites poignant examples. In 2008, an ExxonMobil advertorial said: "By 2030, global energy demand will be about 30 percent higher than it is today - oil and natural gas will be called upon to meet - the world's energy requirements." Meanwhile, a 2007 advertorial recommended that consumers solve the problem of fossil fuel demand. The company offered "steps to consider," including "be smart about electricity use," "heat and cool your home efficiently, improve your gas mileage," and "check your home's greenhouse gas emissions" using an online calculator. (This would assume, somewhat presumptuously, people aren't already attempting to avoid paying higher monthly utilities for unnecessary energy waste).

Yet calculating how much energy your TV or blender potentially uses, or deciding not to take a much-needed family vacation, won't stop planetary warming. The worst pandemic in a century is vivid proof: CO2 levels in the atmosphere continued to rise even as individuals' "carbon footprint" shrank considerably during societal lockdowns, largely from lack of travel. But for ExxonMobil, the point is to frame fossil fuel companies as essential, to fulfill consumer needs and demand. Ultimately, this delays climate action.

"Blaming consumers for driving climate change has been a highly effective strategy by fossil fuel companies," said John Cook, a researcher at the Climate Change Communication Research Hub at Monash University in Australia who had no role in the new study. "In public and policy discussions about climate solutions, it shifts the focus from transitioning away from fossil fuels, and instead emphasizes how individuals should reduce their personal carbon footprints."

This won't achieve much, as far as global temperatures are concerned. "Improving individual efficiency can only achieve a tiny fraction of the emissions reductions required to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, so the strategy has been a convincing red herring," Cook added.

In sharp contrast to ExxonMobil's public advertisements, the company's internal and academic publications described human-caused climate change as a "problem caused by fossil fuel supply and burning." In 1978, Exxon scientist James Black told the Exxon Corporation Management Committee that "[F]ossil fuel combustion is the only readily identifiable source [of CO2 consistent with the rate and scale of] observed increases ..." Other documents noted the CO2 increase in the atmosphere is "due to fossil fuel burning" and "fossil fuel combustion."

The careful ways ExxonMobil chose to publicly promote its ideas about climate change, versus what its own scientists and executives discussed in private, are intentionally subtle. But with the help of computer algorithms, patterns are revealed, and so are ExonnMobil's efforts to frame the climate change narrative. "This important new study shows that ExxonMobil has emphasized a particular understanding of the climate crisis - one that blames the consumer and hides the company's own activities," said Benjamin Franta, who researches law and history of science as a J.D.-Ph.D. student at Stanford Law School and had no involvement in the research. "It's a classic strategy of industry propaganda, and while others have noticed this trend in the past, Supran and Oreskes have now demonstrated ExxonMobil's rhetorical sleight of hand using rigorous, quantitative, and reproducible methods."

"There are treasure troves of information if you can spot the patterns," noted Supran.


04-21-1935 ~ 05-18-2021
Thanks for the film!

08-04-1941 ~ 05-19-2021
Thanks for the film!

10-16-1945 ~ 05-20-2021
Thanks for the music!


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


Until the next time, Peace!

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

A Palestinian man mourns his children who were killed in a violent Israeli
attack in the central Gaza Strip on May 16, 2021 in Gaza City, Gaza.

End Military Aid To Israel
The United States government sometimes pretends to be an "honest broker" in the Middle East crisis. Truth is, we have our fat thumbs on the scale and everyone knows it.
By Ted Rall

Riding in the back of a truck into Afghanistan during the 2001 U.S. invasion, a journalist colleague from Russia who served in the Red Army during the 1980s asseverated that he was happy to be back in the country. "Because this time," he said, swinging his hands to indicate the swarms of refugees, bombed-out villages, and nearby artillery fire, "all this shit belongs to you." He pointed at me, the American. I looked around and immediately drew the obvious conclusion: we should get the hell out of Afghanistan.

That was 20 years ago. We were just getting in. But us being us-trying to win hearts and minds with corrupt proxies-and the Afghans being the Afghans-only able to agree on one thing, their intolerance of foreign domination-humiliating defeat and withdrawal were inevitable from the start.

It would be impossible to overstate the advantages of not doing something, of not playing any role, of standing aside and allowing a situation to evolve or devolve without any involvement on your part. Like in the movie "War Games," you win by doing nothing.

This is a lesson that American foreign policymakers need to internalize more than any other. So do American voters, constantly tricked into lesser-of-two-evils conundra. We don't have to vote for either lousy candidate. We don't have to get involved in other countries' politics or their wars. When all the options in a given situation stink to high heaven, the morally correct choice is to sit on your hands and let someone else wallow in the morass.

The latest ebullition of violence between Israel and Palestine makes the case for isolationism. Militant right-wing Jewish settlers encouraged and protected by the government of corrupt Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are trying to evict hundreds of Palestinian families from homes they have owned for decades in East Jerusalem, the Arab-dominated future capital of a Palestinian state if one is ever established. The settlers argue in court that the land in question was originally owned by a Jewish trust and should revert accordingly. However, as The New York Times notes, the apartheid regime treats people differently depending on their ethnicity: "Israeli law allows Jews to reclaim ownership of land they vacated in 1948, but denies Palestinians the right to reclaim the properties they fled from in the same war."

The Israelis are brutalizing protesters and bombing Gaza; the Hamas government of Gaza is firing rockets into Israel. As usual, Israel is deploying disproportionately more violence: 188 Gazans and 10 Israelis have died so far.

The United States government sometimes pretends to be an "honest broker" in the Middle East crisis. Truth is, we have our fat thumbs on the scale and everyone knows it. The abyss between our yay-peace-and-democracy rhetoric and the reality of our foreign policy is a steaming pile of hypocrisy.

The U.S. turns a blind eye to Israeli violence and theft of Arab land, rarely lifting a finger to move toward a two-state solution while loudly decrying Arab violence against Israelis. The U.S. sends $4 billion a year to Israel-enough to give free healthcare to 1.4 million Americans if we wanted to. Joe Biden recently restored $235 million in assistance to the Palestinian Authority that had been cut off by Trump-less than one-sixteenth of the package to Israel.

When the Israeli Air Force bombs apartment buildings full of civilians in densely-populated Gaza City, Palestinians get blown to bits using guided bombs and missiles fired from F-16s and F-35s made in Texas and California. The IDF targets street demonstrators in the West Bank with tear gas canisters and stun grenades fired from launchers manufactured by a company based in Pennsylvania.

Israel's mayhem is brought to you by America. Few Americans are aware of that. But Palestinians and Muslims around the world are.

Even if you support the existence of the Jewish state, and even if you think the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel goes too far, you should be able to view ending U.S. military aid to Israel (without boycotts or other sanctions) as a moral imperative. It would also be a smart foreign policy choice that would reduce global anti-Americanism as well as the chances of a future 9/11-type terrorist attack.

Contrary to Likud propaganda, cutting off military assistance would not create an imminent existential threat. Between the $85 billion of U.S. aid to Israel since 1949, its robust economy and closer ties to many of its Arab neighbors, there is little danger that this tiny, ferocious country would get pushed into the sea. And if that were to change, we could reevaluate the situation and resume funding-assuming Israel decided to try to make peace and were to cooperate with the establishment of a free and independent Palestine.

It is hardly surprising that Israel's right-wing government cashes the blank check to do whatever the hell they feel like that we send them every year. The only way we can hold Israel accountable for repeated escalations, land grabs and ongoing brutality is to stop sending the gravy train. Will cutting off the cash change their behavior? Maybe. Whatever Israel decides to do on its own, however, it will do without our blessing and without our funding.

Often the best thing to do is nothing at all.

(c) 2021 Ted Rall is the author of "Silk Road to Ruin: Is Central Asia the New Middle East?," and "The Anti-American Manifesto." His website is

NPR At 50 - Straying From Its Civic Mission?
By Ralph Nader

This month is the 50th anniversary of National Public Radio (NPR). Knowing about my work back then with other advocates, to persuade Congress to pass legislation creating NPR and PBS, (which was opposed by most of the commercial radio/TV industry), a friend asked what I think of NPR now.

A few observations, drawn from listening to NPR largely over the WAMC station in Albany, New York during a Covid-19 year, are in order.

1. I find the features and the collaboration with other investigative groups, such as Pro Publica, very enlightening. One piece about Amazon's warehouses was especially memorable. Moreover, Scott Simon and David Brancaccio are so capable as to be considered under-challenged.

2. NPR's top-of-the-hour news amounts to little more than three minutes. It is repetitious and basically a minor headline service. This mimicking of commercial network radio news is not what we envisioned 50 years ago. The prolonged 6:15 pm evening weather forecasts on WAMC are often longer than the evening news briefs at 6:00 pm.

3. There is just too much weather forecasting throughout the day. On WAMC, around mid-day, they'll tell you about the weather in California and the mountain states before you hear the forecast for the local listening region. They even promote the weather forecasts. So obsessed are they that they repeat the forecast over the four adjoining regions they service preceded by an overall forecast. Think of the additional local news that could be reported instead.

4. The public radio/TV legislation from Congress did not envision advertisements. Public funding, audience, and foundation donations were seen as the way to reduce commercial pressure over this public institution, inspired in part by the more extensive BBC and CBC in the UK and Canada.

5. What started as a "just a little bit of commercial sponsorship," when Congress got tight some years ago, has now gone wild. Do we really need to be reminded that "support for this station (or for NPR) comes from x, y, z contributors," about thirty times an hour? Mind-numbing, hour after hour! NPR makes sure to identify corporate sponsorship such as Facebook or Amazon when they are doing reports affecting these companies. But top NPR management defiantly refuses to monitor the corporate character or respect for the law of these and other companies before they give them NPR's credibility.

The Corporate Crime Reporter provided NPR management with a list of law violations, such as those by Raymond James, an NPR "sponsor" pursuant to asking about any of NPR's Ad monitoring. NPR boss, the usually incommunicado John Lansing, essentially blew off the inquiry, saying there is no need for a filter to protect the audience.

6. A key reason for Congress creating NPR was to have its affiliates fill local news gaps, largely neglected by the commercial stations. WAMC has spent good money hiring local reporters in upstate eastern New York, western Massachusetts, and Vermont who know and stay on the beat. But national NPR has spent far too much time on entertainment subjects and interviews and not enough time on civic events, reports, and movements, aside from issues of race, gender, and police violence being covered by the mainstream media. Even NPR's daily birthday announcement almost always features entertainment or professional sports figures. National civic, labor or educational leaders are scarcely noted.

7. More civic news suffers not for lack of time. NPR and affiliates offer plenty of hours for music. Forget about Saturday and Sunday evenings. At some NPR affiliates, 6:00 pm on weekends is sign-off time in favor of entertainment time.

8. NPR often describes the personal plight of people in poverty or suffering from other deprivations, but rarely probes the structural causes or the role of concentrated corporate power in creating the problems. Increasingly, corporate power is shaping an evermore dominant corporate state that allows mercantile values to seriously weaken the social fabric and moral norms of our society.

Not many NPR reporters use words like "corporate crime," "corporate welfare," or cover the corporate capturing of agencies, the vast unaudited military budget, or many other realms of American life controlled by "corporatism." But then what can one expect when they ignore credible civic groups, who have timely evidence of such domination, and keep on interviewing one another inserting four-second sound bites to academics and consulting firms?

NPR's practice during election periods of having the anchors interview its reporters, who are often youngish, inexperienced, and bland, instead of skilled, fact-reliable outsiders is disappointing. NPR's election postmortems too often are superficial and lack rigor.

Just recently, an NPR report on the most recent ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline continued its repeated omission of how victims of hackers actually pay in ransom or why such payments can't be traced. And NPR's reporting on why our secretive government seems helpless in protecting towns, cities, hospitals, and others who have been hit by ransomware attacks is anemic.

9. Last month to the dismay of some NPR journalists, there was no national obituary on Ramsey Clark, former Attorney General and early civil rights and human rights leader. NPR did devote five minutes remembering a Rockstar.

10. NPR's blunders are well-known to local affiliates. WAMC, a mid-size station, pays NPR a million dollars a year. But on January 6, 2021, NPR Washington was AWOL - over an hour late in feeding its affiliates reports on the insurrection, which started getting reported by CNN around 2:00 pm. WAMC reporters were furious, and I was told this wasn't the first time NPR messed up.

There is an omnipresent air of smugness about NPR, such as their constant display of confident ignorance on Congress' constitutional authority, and Presidential/Executive Branch lawlessness. This shortcoming was especially troubling during Trump's impeachments. Where are you, Supreme Court reporter Nina Totenberg, to give tutorials to your younger colleagues who need to be more sensitive to these issues and to their in-house ageism over the years?

11. Then there are the daily irritations. The interlude music is often inappropriate and too long. Marketplace at night with hyper-Jumping Jack, Kai Ryssdal has music as noisy background while he is giving the brief stock market numbers.

Unlike its commercial competition, NPR and PBS's News Hour start their news programs with ads, something commercial NBC, CBS, and ABC do not do. NPR has puzzles during prime-time evening news time, this itself is a puzzling fillip.

NPR has long had a Public Editor on staff. They almost always respond to listeners' substantive complaints by saying these are not matters within their jurisdiction. The new Public Editor is Kelly McBride. She insisted on not being on staff but instead on contract from St. Petersburg, Florida. This is the link for the public editor: ( to protect her independence. After a few tries, she actually returned my calls and reassured me that she is looking out for the listener's best interest. We'll see.

It would be good if listener feedback to NPR was made easier and more regularly structured. WAMC has lots of listener feedback on issues chosen daily by its Roundtable and other interview shows. But as one might expect some questions, as about top management salaries and bad advertisers lunching off WAMC's credibility, seem out of bounds.

I have started a Reporter's Alert suggesting many kinds of stories that are not covered or only nibbled at by the media. You can see them aggregate at and of course, this resource is available for perusal by NPR's editors and reporters.

There is so much more to learn about NPR. Since NPR gives plenty of time to conservative politicians, an educational bipartisan Congressional hearing and report would be a good way to celebrate the 50th anniversary. It's just not productive to give NPR a pass simply by comparing it to the rancid competition spoiling our public airwaves for free.

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

The End Of Low Wage Work
By Margaret Kimberley,

The combination of unemployment and additional stimulus support has made staying home a better economic decision than working for peanuts under stressful conditions.

The latest popular lament in the United States is not about how the people suffer under a predatory system. In usual fashion, the people themselves are turned into villains when they refuse to acquiesce to their oppression.

Low wage workers have made the rational decision to take a break. Why shouldn't they? They have no safety net, no guarantee of housing or health care or child care or transportation. The combination of unemployment and additional stimulus support has made staying home a better economic decision than working for peanuts under stressful conditions.

One would think that employers in retail and restaurants are the victims. The corporate media repeat endlessly that they can't find workers but don't tell us why this situation has taken place. The opportunity to hear why workers make a logical choice is never heard. The result is more right wing propaganda masquerading as news.

Even worse, workers are now being punished because they refuse to knuckle under. Montana and South Carolina have chosen to forgo federal unemployment support in an effort to force people back into low wage jobs. Montana's governor said, "We need to incentivize Montanans to reenter the workforce." His brilliant plan is to give up the additional $300 per week and instead give $1,200 just once. South Carolina's governor is competing in the cruelty olympics, complaining about "dangerous federal entitlements" and cutting off money to people who need it the most.

These servants of corporate interests have reason to worry. There are signs that workers have had enough. Employees in a Maine Dollar General store walked out and explained that the low pay and business model of being overworked was no longer worth it to them.

It is a positive change to see workers take a little bit of advantage of the system. The system takes advantage of them often enough. Discount stores like Dollar General are the fastest growing retail outlets in the country. They hire as few workers as possible, wrongly classify workers as managers in order to exempt them from overtime protection, and regularly engage in wage theft. It is little wonder that the unemployed have decided to stand down.

They should be supported by everyone else and their efforts should be part of political demands made to the supposedly less evil democrats. These positions would be filled if wages were higher and working conditions were better, and no one should be confused about that fact. Any anger should be directed at the employers who bend the law to favor themselves and to the politicians who do their bidding. The workers who fight back as best they can should not be the targets of criticism.

Complaints and demands should be directed at the members of congress who claim to be progressives. Instead of joining the pro Joe Biden propaganda they should confront him and the rest of the neoliberals and make good on the image they have created for themselves. If Biden is truly "transformational" now is the time for him to prove it.

Real political transformation is needed but unlikely to happen at this juncture. The lesser evil crowd won't do more than they are doing now. Neither will the people who covered for them and spoke of "moving them left" and "holding feet to the fire." The catastrophe of low wage work is the end result of years of collaboration between the ruling classes and political leadership in both major parties.

Hopefully these jobs will remain unfilled when the unemployment runs out. The Dollar General workers in Maine put up a sign which read, "Google 'general strike' and learn how we can take our power back!" The refusal to go back to bad pay and unfair conditions is a kind of strike but it can't end when the money is cut off.

The restaurants allowed to pay less than the minimum wage to tipped workers and the wage stealing retailers should fear that these bad jobs will go unfilled. The moment is ripe for a general strike but that means organizing, political education, and resistance. The people stocking shelves and flipping burgers can't resist on their own. At the very least the rest of us should counter the vilification and fight efforts to kick them while they are down.

Everyone in this country is likely to end up in the same predicament of precarity and disposability. We may not know how to call a general strike, but we should know which side to choose in this struggle.

(c) 2021 Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-mail at Margaret.Kimberley@BlackAgendaReport.Com.

How About An Award For Sleaziest Corporate Profiteering?
By Jim Hightower

We've got the Academy Awards, the Emmy's, and GRAMMYs... but what should we call the award for the most extraordinary performance by a corporate profiteer? How about the "Sleazy," with winners getting a solid gold sculpture of a middle finger? There were so many worthy contenders, but one corporation exhibited uncommon callousness, so the 2021 Sleazy goes to ... Tyson Foods!

The meatpacking giant has regularly run roughshod over workers, farmers, communities, and the environment - not to mention the millions of animals it fattens and slaughters. But the coronavirus pulled out the worst in Tyson's corporate ethic. Last April, its billionaire chair, John Tyson, ranted that health officials who were closing-down several of his slaughterhouses that had become hotbeds of contagion were creating another crisis: A national meat shortage!

Responding instantly, our corporate-compassionate, burger-gobbling president decreed that meatpacking plants were crucial to America's national security and must be kept open at all cost. Trump's edict required workers to return to their jobs or be fired. Only there was no meat shortage. Not only did Americans have an excess of cheeseburgers, pork chops, and chicken nuggets, but Tyson and other giants actually increased their meat exports to China last year. Meanwhile, Covid rampaged through Tyson's factories. In its Waterloo, Iowa facility alone, a third of the processing workers - low wage, mostly people of color - were infected. At least six died.

Which brings us to the corporate play that cinched this year's Sleazy for Tyson. Waterloo slaughterhouse supervisors actually knew that the back-to-work order would sicken hundreds, but not exactly how many. So, managers organized a winner-take-all betting pool on the percent of employees who would test positive. "It was simply something fun," said one - "kind of a morale boost."

The virus infected more than a third of 2,800 workers in the plant. Some fun huh?

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

A sign asks visitors to wear a face mask inside of a shopping mall in Manhattan on May 13, 2021, in New York City.

CDC's Confusing Announcement On Masks Creates A Dangerous Honor System
By William Rivers Pitt

I found myself out and about with several vaccinated friends this weekend, just after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) abruptly blew up its mask guidance to the consternation of millions. The strange chaos of "mask rules" was on vivid display wherever we went - they were required at inside venues and crowded outdoor spaces, but once we were seated inside a restaurant, the mask could come off no matter how clustered we were - reminding me why I was more comfortable at home than anywhere else over these last 14 months.

The new CDC mask guidelines state that if you're fully vaccinated, you're pretty much free to hang that sucker on a hook and enjoy breathing air that does not smell like your face. (I never knew my face had a scent until COVID, another dollop of pandemic wisdom I could have done without.)

The announcement tried very hard to be the virus version of V-E Day, a moment of celebration to be shared by all. Instead, it had many eyeing each other, and especially the deliberately unvaccinated, with alarmed distrust. We're supposed to trust those guys? Combined with some deeply curious timing, and what we have here is the first bona fine both-feet bollocks of the Biden administration.

"[T]he huge policy turnaround caught senior White House and administration officials, medical experts, elected officials and business leaders completely off guard," reported The Washington Post, "and prompted some physicians to criticize the move as premature. Some Democratic governors were angered by the White House's rollout, arguing the move effectively passed the buck to states and businesses to implement the new rules without any assistance. The abrupt timing of Walensky's decision also smacked of politics to Biden's antagonists, who noted that the president benefited from the announcement during a difficult week when many Americans queued up in gas lines, tensions in Israel flared and markets roiled amid inflation fears."

Even this, however, comes with its own muddied waters. According to Politico, the president was not informed about the new rules until scant hours before the announcement. This was an abrupt departure from procedure for Biden, who reportedly rolls like a dog in the details of an issue for a long time before making a decision. When his staff is slow or inept with the delivery of those details, Biden has been reportedly quick to anger. One wonders how he reacted to his own CDC pulling what amounted to a surprise announcement of the single most important policy decision of his presidency. I can see Biden doing a solid R. Lee Ermey imitation from Full Metal Jacket: "Can I be in charge for a little while? Well thank you very much." So much for Sleepy Joe.

The consternation over these new rules is palpable. Vaccinated folks can unmask, which is super, great, but who is vaccinated and who isn't? We're doing the honor system now? Will vaccinated people eventually have to wear a scarlet "V" to announce their status? Vax cards? Vaxxports? If unvaccinated people act in bad faith and go maskless, doesn't it invite the kind of scenario that just struck the New York Yankees, who had eight vaccinated players recently test positive? Also, India and Brazil are still on fire with virus variants reaving people by the thousands. How is this anything other than a dangerously unformed premature decision?

Parents with young children are also in search of some insight on the matter. There are nearly 50 million children under 12 in the U.S., all of them unvaccinated. Are they safe around unvaccinated people who are pretending to be vaccinated? Are we to expect small children wear their masks when their vaccinated parents or caregivers don't? Anyone with 12 seconds of toddler experience knows that's a non-starter from the jump.

Hundreds of epidemiologists had fully expected the prior mask mandates to remain in place for at least another year. "I think the CDC meant to say something really good, which is these vaccines are really protective," medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen told CNN on Sunday. "The thing is though, there were unintended consequences of their actions. We've seen governors and mayors and business owners drop mask mandates, and as a result of that we've now made life much less safe for people who are unvaccinated, for immuno-compromised individuals and for young children who cannot yet be vaccinated."

It is to be hoped that some clarity will be brought to this situation with haste. "I would imagine within a period of just a couple of weeks, you're going to start to see significant clarification of some of the actually understandable and reasonable questions that people are asking," Anthony Fauci told Face the Nation over the weekend.

Good. In the meantime, let your common sense be your guide. Get vaccinated if you can, as soon as you can, and tell your friends. Wear your mask until this confusion passes. Your face smells just fine.

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

Representative Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.).

Trump's Obsessive Attacks Won't Silence Ilhan Omar's Defense Of Palestinian Human Rights
Rather than address concerns about Israeli air strikes killing Palestinian children, Trump and his allies target a Muslim member of Congress.
By John Nichols

On Monday evening, Representative Mark Pocan, a Wisconsin Democrat who is the former cochair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, responded to news reports of surging violence in Israel and Palestine. Referencing the deaths of Palestinians following Israeli air strikes on targets in the Gaza Strip-including those of a number of young children-the representative declared, "We cannot just condemn rockets fired by Hamas and ignore Israel's state-sanctioned police violence against Palestinians-including unlawful evictions, violent attacks on protestors and the murder of Palestinian children. U.S. aid should not be funding this violence."

That blunt statement came at a point when the Middle East death toll was rapidly mounting-by mid-week it would pass 65 in Gaza, with as many as six reported dead in Israel-and media outlets were using words like "carnage."

At almost the same time that Pocan spoke up on Monday night, Representative Ilhan Omar, the Minnesota Democrat who four years ago became one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, made a statement similar to that of her colleague. She posted a video from a convoluted press briefing where a US State Department official criticized the Hamas "rocket fire that is clearly targeting innocent civilians in Israel" but failed, even after repeated and specific questioning on the matter, to condemn the killing of Palestinian children in Gaza by Israeli air strikes. "This unsurprising response is devoid of empathy and concern for human suffering," observed Omar. "He can't even condemn the killing of children."

The next day, former president Donald Trump chimed in, with a statement that attempted to blame his successor for the crisis. Despite the fact that the Biden administration has maintained many of Trump's policies regarding the region-to the deep frustration of the Palestinians-Trump said, "Biden's weakness and lack of support for Israel is leading to new attacks on our allies." The absurdity of that attack would be revealed Wednesday, when Biden, after speaking at length with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, issued a standard "Israel has a right to defend itself" statement that did not mention the Palestinians.

The harshest language in Trump's statement was reserved for the member of Congress he invariably goes out of his way to denigrate. "Unbelievably," complained the former president, "Democrats also continue to stand by crazed, anti-American Rep. Ilhan Omar, and others, who savagely attack Israel while they are under terrorist attack."

Noting that Trump was not the only Republican attacking Omar this week, Pocan tweeted, "I'm seeing a lot of right-wing extremists criticize my wonderful colleague, @IlhanMN, because she rightly condemned the murder of Palestinian children & Israel's violence against Palestinians in [East Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood and at the Al-Aqsa mosque]. I did the same, wonder why they're not criticizing me?"

Pocan was being ironic. He knew.

Trump has been obsessed with Omar from the time he was elected president and she was elected to the House in 2016. During his presidency, Trump raged against the representative, on Twitter, in media statements, and at rallies across the country.

Trump's animus toward Omar-who came to the United States as a teenage refugee from Somalia-can and should be seen in the context of his long history of targeting Muslims in general, and Muslim immigrants and refugees in particular, for abuse. During his 2020 reelection campaign, he made attacks on the representative central to his campaign, not just in Minnesota but across the country. Undaunted, Omar condemned Trump for "spreading fear" at "cult-like rallies," and carried on with her own reelection campaign. She won, while Trump lost-both Minnesota and the presidency.

There is no question that Omar has been outspoken on Israel-Palestine issues. This week she argued, "Israeli air strikes killing civilians in Gaza is an act of terrorism. Palestinians deserve protection. Unlike Israel, missile defense programs, such as Iron Dome, don't exist to protect Palestinian civilians. It's unconscionable to not condemn these attacks on the week of Eid." After as many as 300 Palestinians were wounded when Israeli police entered the Al-Aqsa mosque on Monday and fired rubber bullets, stun grenades, and tear gas, Omar explained that for "families who pray all night during Ramadan, the mosque is like home. Palestinians deserve to find refuge in a mosque and peace in Ramadan. Where is the media coverage?"

But Omar was certainly not the only member of Congress expressing outrage.

Michigan Representative Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian-American Muslim, said on MSNBC Monday, "This is an apartheid system.... Israeli's own prominent human rights organization B'Tselem has declared it, Human Rights Watch has declared it, and Palestinians on the ground have been telling us for decades that their homes have been demolished, that they have been targeted, that violence has been met by Israeli-led forces under Netanyahu's racist policies." Citing a United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights statement on Israeli moves to force Palestinian families from ancestral homes in the Sheikh Jarrar neighborhood-which sparked tensions last week-Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen said, "As this makes clear, evictions of families in East Jerusalem would violate international law. If the Biden Administration puts the rule of law and human rights at the heart of its foreign policy, this is not a moment for tepid statements." Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren condemned the evictions as "abhorrent and unacceptable," and said, "The Administration should make clear to the Israeli government that these evictions are illegal." Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders decried "the violence by government-allied Israeli extremists in East Jerusalem and the West Bank."

. The House member from the Minnesota district that borders the one Omar represents, Democrat Betsy McCollum, announced on the same day that Trump issued his statement: "The Israeli government's attacks on the basic human rights of Palestinians has led to this conflict. I want each Israeli child and Palestinian child to sleep in their own bed peacefully at night, not worrying about being attacked. The violence must stop.... The only way to bring peace forward is for the U.S. to stand up for everyone's human rights-and that includes Palestinian rights."

But Trump named only one member of Congress in his screed.

So I asked Pocan to answer his own question about why so much of the pushback from Trump and his allies targets Omar.

"The answer pretty clearly is there is a lot of xenophobia out there-a lot of people are hating on the Muslim woman of color," said the Wisconsin representative. "They think it will distract from the message. Rather than focusing on the simple message that the US needs to work for peace in the region, which we have both talked about, and which a lot of other people are now talking about, they are attacking the messenger who is a Muslim woman of color."

If the goal of Trump and his allies was to silence the Minnesota Democrat, it wasn't working.

In a blistering response to the former president, Omar declared, "It's no surprise that a white supremacist who incited an insurrection against our government, called Neo-Nazis very fine people, and separated kids from their mothers would support human rights abuses against innocent kids."

"It's ok," she concluded, "to be pro-humanity and pro-Palestinians."

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

Home Gardening May Be A Key To Our Survival
By James Donahue

Most humans feel naturally drawn to the soil. Even if entrapped as city dwellers, we sense a need each spring to want to work the soil and plant things. This is expressed in the way we grow house plants and potted plants, even vegetables in prepared pots on our porches, in window boxes and in our yards.

For years, because food at our local grocery stores has remained cheap and plentiful, our home gardens consisted mostly of flowers and decorative vines. But things are changing now. People are beginning to find creative ways to grow a variety of vegetables on those tiny home plots. Some people are even finding ways to put entire gardens on the flat roofs of commercial city buildings.

Why is there such an interest in home gardening? Could it be that the food we buy in the stores is no longer considered healthy or even safe? That it comes from large factory farms that raise genetically modified produce laced with insecticides and herbicides and is packaged and distributed via large processing warehouses where meats and vegetables are more and more frequently infected by dangerous bacteria appears to be a growing concern.

Now, with our changing weather patterns, brought on by a global unwillingness to stop polluting our environment, world agricultural systems appear to be unable to meet the demands of our overpopulated planet. Excessive heat, drought, floods and storms are promising a poor harvest of the essential food crops like corn, wheat, soybeans and fruit. The rising cost of energy with which to operate farm machinery, prepare the produce and deliver it to market also is forcing up the price of food at a time when humanity is reeling from a financial crisis. So what do we do?

Citizens are following their instincts to go back to the soil just as their parents and grandparents once did. Instead of maintaining those fine manicured lawns and flower gardens, they are spading over the grass and planting vegetable seeds wherever they can create the space. Some creative souls are building tiered gardens and open shelves to achieve maximum use from limited yard space. They are growing fine varieties of peas, beans, beets, corn, squash, cucumbers, lettuce, cabbage, onions, strawberries and all of the other wonderful foods that the soil can produce.

In some neighborhoods, people are turning vacant lots into community vegetable gardens. And they are discovering that the soil where many cities exist remains rich in natural nutrients and can produce magnificent crops. The soil here has not been broken down by the destructive practices of contemporary factory farm operations.

The key to this home gardening has been the availability of natural pollinating non-hybrid seeds that allow for replanting the following season. This seed is still available and is being carefully guarded by organic growers. It also can be purchased from specialized seed companies that can still be found on the Internet.

The positive thing about planting this natural seed in special plots in cities is that it is more likely to be located far enough away from the factory farms to prevent cross-pollination of the natural plants with the hybrids. Some pollen are known to travel for miles in the wind and invade organic crops.

We have outlined all of the positive reasons why city gardening is an attractive alternative for people interested in eating healthy and low-cost food, and for helping assure an adequate supply of produce to keep a community fed during hard times. But there is a dark side to this issue as well.

Many communities in their zeal to build utopian styled neighborhoods in the 1960s, 70s and 80s created elaborate building and zoning ordinances, based upon master plans for community development. The master planners came on the scene because of government grant programs that insisted that the master plans were drafted before money for redevelopment, public recreation and other programs were made available. And the zoning ordinances called for large, lovely manicured yards. In many cases they prohibited vegetable gardening, especially in the front yard.

Consider the case of Josee Landry and Michal Beauchamp of Quebec, Canada. The city has ordered this couple to destroy a beautiful front yard garden filled with cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchinis, beets, onions and brussels sprouts because the garden is in violation of city zoning laws. Fines of up to $300 a day were threatened if they failed to comply.

Fortunately, the Quebec issue gained national and international attention because neighbors came to the couple's defense. They petitioned the city for a change in the law because they argue "front yard kitchen gardens are not the problem, they are part of the solution to healthier and more sustainable communities."

Cities all over North America need to take stock during these rapidly changing times and get some of these restrictive ordinances erased from their books. Who is to judge whether a well-kept vegetable garden in the front yard is less attractive than a field of grass? The only things that can feed on the grass are farm animals, and they would be justifiably banned in any residential neighborhood.

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

For Okinawa, Rahm Would Be A Knee On The Neck
By David Swanson

If you don't know much about Japan (and neither does Rahm Emanuel, the reported nominee for U.S. ambassador) a few relevant facts are these:

1) It's right next to China which much of the U.S. government is eager for some sort of fight with.

2) Its Constitution (imposed by the U.S.) bans war, and the U.S. has been hard at work pressuring Japan to violate that bit since about 10 seconds after it was adopted.

3) It has colonized and abuses a separate set of islands, including Okinawa, where it sticks a lot of its U.S. bases, weapons, pollution, noise, destruction, and - of course - the lawless activities of drunken and abusive U.S. troops who operate - like Chicago police - without being subject to local laws.

For decades it hasn't mattered much what sort of ambassador the United States has sent to Japan. Every single one of them has opposed the will of the people and of the local government of Okinawa when it has come to maintaining and expanding bases. But that doesn't mean you won't get a worse result than ever by sending a guy who makes Douglas MacArthur look like Gandhi.

Rahm Emanuel covered up a racist police murder as mayor of Chicago. What do you think his view will be on the rights of U.S. troops to commit crimes without being subject to local laws? This is a guy who twice volunteered for the Israeli military now dominating the news with its horrific murder sprees, and he isn't even Israeli. This is a guy who in January 2007, after antiwar voters handed his Democratic Party the U.S. Congress to end the war on Iraq, made clear to a friendly Washington Post/CIA reporter that he hoped to keep that war going for two more years in order to "oppose" it in another election. This is a guy who's on video telling a young Asian-American woman that he'd like to adopt her, that she's probably quiet and does a lot of studying.

The U.S. media loves Rahm so much they approved of his nickname Rahmbo, gave him credit for a big victory when some obscure study trumpeted the benefits of screaming and cursing in the office, and are now singing his praises as just the man for a job in the field of diplomacy. Of course, the United States doesn't generally give ambassadorships to qualified diplomats the way some other countries do. It generally spits in the face of the world and hands ambassadorships out as payback for campaign bribes (er, "contributions") and other favors. But this nomination is playing with nuclear fire at a moment when three-quarters of the U.S. Congress is visibly shaken with horror at the prospect of China "winning the century" or some such nonsense.MO<> Rahm Emanuel corporatized the Democratic Party, and helped destroy welfare, create NAFTA, pass the 1994 Crime Bill, and restrict immigration (bragging about deportation records). He got rich on Wall Street through the revolving door to public disservice. There's not a war or a war-prone candidate he hasn't supported. He's blocked advocates for serious healthcare reform, calling them "fucking retarded." He's closed schools and cut services in Chicago, but stayed active on the national scene as a leading opponent of Medicare For All and a Green New Deal.

Emanuel is as bad a politician as any Republican, but he's a Democrat, and a mean and petty one. As with Neera Tanden's unsuccessful bid for higher office, Rahm Emanuel may face Republican opposition to confirming him as ambassador. Then the question will be whether one or two Democrats in the U.S. Senate give a damn. The people of Chicago do. They're filling the streets for Palestine. They have no desire to inflict Rahm on the people of Okinawa, much as they might be happy to put thousands of miles between him and Illinois. But is there a U.S. Senator who puts basic decency, self-respect, and an attention span beyond five minutes ahead of the party line? Rahm Emanuel's politics have cost the Democrats in the not-very-long run. It won't take long for him to become a global embarrassment in Japan. But who's got the nerve to say so now?

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

When Jasper Park Forest Reserve was created in 1907... Indigenous peoples were seen as obstacles to the enjoyment of nature.

Reconciliation Means Rethinking Parks Governance
By David Suzuki

Protection and restoration are two sides of the conservation coin - protection for spaces that haven't yet been damaged or destroyed by large-scale human impacts and restoration for ecologically critical places that have.

Although both might seem like relatively straightforward scientific tasks, they have been and continue to be significantly shaped by colonialism - globally and in Canada.

Landscape-level restoration initiatives are somewhat new. It's only recently that the scale of our activities has degraded entire ecosystems. Yet restoration initiatives are still subject to colonial approaches.

Consider one recent European-led, nature-based approach to climate change, part of an initiative to plant a billion trees. It included the Serengeti plains and Kruger National Park in Africa as potential reforestation areas. According to the Yale Journal of Forestry, "By not excluding conservation areas and traditional rangelands ... these maps promote the idea that Africa's natural heritage can be turned into industrial tree plantations to offset the rich world's carbon emissions."

Protected areas were established in Canada decades before Newfoundland and Labrador joined other provinces and territories to form the country we know today. Most are rooted in a colonial approach that defied Indigenous rights and fractured Indigenous Peoples' relations with land.

Jasper National Park's website provides this overview: "When Jasper Park Forest Reserve was created in 1907... Indigenous peoples were seen as obstacles to the enjoyment of nature. According to wilderness conservation policies at the time, Indigenous peoples were considered incompatible with nature and so couldn't live in, hunt, or harvest within park boundaries. First Nation and Metis peoples were physically removed from the landscape, blocked from accessing it and banned from harvesting plants and animals, holding gatherings and accessing cultural sites."

This is not unique to Jasper. Indigenous people were also forcibly removed to create Vancouver's Stanley Park and Quetico Park in Ontario, among others.

As Indigenous writer Robert Jago remarks in "National Parks Are Colonial Crime Scenes," "Canada's Parks Departments have treated Indigenous peoples like an infestation ever since the founding, in 1885, of what is now Banff National Park."

How can we, who find solace and communion in parks, help overcome these past injustices?

Indigenous Peoples are already leading on many fronts, including championing land repatriation and Indigenous land governance, and by asserting rights and responsibilities that provincial and federal governments have long denied. These initiatives deserve broad public support.

As one example, in Jasper, Simpcw First Nation Chief Nathan Matthew announced in 2017 that his tribe was going to resume hunting deer, sheep and elk within the park, after being banned from doing so when the park was established."We're determined to exercise our title and right within our territory," he said.

In "Return the National Parks to the Tribes," Indigenous American David Treuer writes, "For Native Americans, there can be no better remedy for the theft of land than land. And for us, no lands are as spiritually significant as the national parks. They should be returned to us. Indians should tend - and protect and preserve - these favored gardens again."

Canada too must explore new means of land governance. Indigenous Peoples have long histories of responsibly stewarding ecosystems, of living within them without causing their demise. Many national and provincial parks are not succeeding in their primary objective to maintain biodiversity. Jasper recently announced extirpation of a resident caribou herd, and conflict continues over management decisions that could affect the two remaining, highly imperilled, herds.

According to Treuer, "it's not clear that today's model of care and custodianship best meets the needs of the land, Native people, or the general public. Nor is it clear that the current system will adequately ensure the parks' future. That's something Indians are good at: pushing ahead while bringing the past along with us.... Placing these lands under collective Native control would be good not just for Natives, but for the parks as well."

It's our collective responsibility to engage in conversations about how new systems of land governance could look. Everything should be on the table, including ownership and governance of current protected areas. As Jago notes, "The places Canada has made into parks are filled with our stories - every mountain, every valley has a name and a history for Indigenous peoples."

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

The Republican Assault On Voting Rights Now Includes Knuckling Poll Workers
The campaign to cement minoritarian rule is succeeding all the way from the Supreme Court down to the nice lady in the grade-school gym.
By Charles P. Pierce

Virtually everyone I know who votes, which is everyone, because I'm old and, you know, civics, also knows at least one person who volunteers at the polls every election day. It's part of the charm, an essential part of the most basic fundamentals of democracy, and it also leads to delicious snacks from the elementary school bake sale. Naturally, then, as part of their general national ratfcking strategy, the Republicans have now turned to knuckling these good people, because the Republicans don't miss a trick. From the New York Times:

Those regulations are likely to grow stricter: Republican lawmakers in Texas, following in the footsteps of their counterparts across the country, are pressing forward with a voting bill that could impose harsh penalties on election officials or poll workers who are thought to have committed errors or violations. And the nationwide effort may be pushing people like Ms. Phillips to reconsider serving their communities.

"It's just so taxing," Ms. Phillips said. "And if me - I'm in my 40s, and I'm having this much stress - imagine every election worker and election judge that is 65 and over with severe health issues. This is supposed to be a way for them to give back. And it's supposed to be something that makes them feel good about what they're doing, but now they're starting to feel like, 'Are we going to be safe?'"

I would rather have one Ms. Phillips than some of our state legislatures. And, frankly, I'd rather have one Ms. Phillips than 101 Joe Manchins. The voting-rights measures currently before the Senate are more than a chance to claw back democracy from the ratfckers. They may very well be the last chance. If the campaign to pervert the franchise reaches down to the precinct volunteer level, then the poison already has gone down to bone level.
The infractions that could draw more severe punishment run the gamut from seemingly minor lapses in attention or innocent mistakes to more clearly willful actions in defiance of regulations. In Texas, taking any action that "would make observation not reasonably effective" for a poll watcher would carry new penalties. In Florida, failing to have an election worker continuously supervise a drop box would result in major fines. Willfully flouting new laws, like ones in states including Iowa and Texas that ban sending absentee ballots to voters who have not requested them, would also lead to tougher penalties...

...With the threat of felonies, jail time and fines as large as $25,000 hanging over their heads, election officials, as well as voting rights groups, are growing increasingly worried that the new penalties will not only limit the work of election administrators but also have a chilling effect on their willingness to do the job.

You think?

Meanwhile, late last week, relentless election-law gumshoe Ari Berman pried loose a video in which a ratfcker from Heritage Action explains to an audience of donors how the organization has helped craft voter-suppression laws all over the country, most notably the infamous one in Georgia. From Mother Jones:

Those included policies severely restricting mail ballot drop boxes, preventing election officials from sending absentee ballot request forms to voters, making it easier for partisan workers to monitor the polls, preventing the collection of mail ballots, and restricting the ability of counties to accept donations from nonprofit groups seeking to aid in election administration. All of these recommendations came straight from Heritage's list of "best practices" drafted in February. With Heritage's help, Anderson said, Georgia became "the example for the rest of the country."
In a thread on Thursday, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse turned on the high-beams on how the ratfcking ties in financially with climate denial, and with the long campaign to stack the federal judiciary with larval Scalias. The campaign to cement minoritarian rule is succeeding all the way from the Supreme Court down to the nice lady in the grade-school gym. Their eyes-to say nothing of their crosshairs-are on the sparrow.

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

The Quotable Quote-

"In general I don't agree with that. ... The bottom line is the American people want results. And frankly, when people got a, you know, $1,400 check or $5,600 check for their family, they didn't say, 'Oh, I can't cash this check because it was done without any Republican votes."
~~~ Bernie Sanders

Smoke and flames rise from a tower building destroyed by Israeli air strikes amid a
flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian violence in Gaza City. Israel carried out hundreds of air
strikes in Gaza on Wednesday and Palestinian militants fired multiple rocket barrages at
Tel Aviv and the southern city of Beersheba in the regions most intense hostilities in years.

Shooting Fish In A Barrel: Israel Bombs Palestinian Refugees From Israel In Gaza, 50% Of Them Children
There is no equivalence between Israel and Gaza.
By Juan Cole

Steve Hendrix, Shira Rubin and Michael E. Miller at WaPo report that Israeli air strikes on the densely populated urban areas of the Gaza Strip had by Thursday evening killed 109 Palestinians, among them 28 children, and had wounded 621 persons.

The Israeli Air Force deliberately destroyed some of Gaza's taller buildings, alleging that the ruling Hamas party had offices in them. They gave advance warning so that families could leave their homes. But the huge bombs falling on a civilian city inevitably did damage also to nearby buildings and have left families homeless. Flying glass and debris injured noncombatants.

Gaza is not an independent state. Its people are stateless and at the mercy of the Israeli military.

Claire Parker and Adam Taylor at WaPo report that Hamas and other militant groups in the Palestinian Gaza strip have fired a thousand rockets into Israel since Monday. Almost all landed uselessly in the desert or were intercepted by Israeli Iron Dome interceptors. Despite being unguided, some landed on buildings or parked cars, apparently more or less by accident, and they killed seven Israelis, including a teenage boy and a young girl. These are war crimes on the part of Hamas and the other groups in Gaza, since indiscriminate fire into civilian areas is strictly forbidden in international law.

It has to be underlined, however, that the thousand rockets did not damage a thousand buildings. More like a handful. Most Gaza rockets only travel 3 to 6 miles, and at that range they just stir up desert sand. Hamas has deployed a few longer range rockets, and hit Tel Aviv. But the rockets are still primitive and there weren't many longer distance ones.

This is psychological warfare. The organization is letting Israelis know that it can strike relatively distant targets. The barrage was provoked by the Israeli attack on worshipers in the al-Aqsa Mosque. Hamas styles itself and Islamic party and could not let this defilement of Muslim sacred space go unanswered.

The rockets killed Israeli noncombatants, which is terrorism.

But there is also a principle of proportionality in the law of war and Israeli fighter jets have killed many times the number of Palestinians as Hamas rockets had Israeli civilians. That is state terrorism.

Since the situation in Gaza is not well understood in the outside world, it is worth reviewing it.

Nearly two million Palestinians live in the Gaza Strip, roughly the population of Houston inside city limits. It is one of the more densely populated places on earth.

Some 50% of the population consists of children. One in 10 children there are stunted, in part because of food insecurity imposed by the Israeli blockade.

Over 70 percent of the families in Gaza are refugees, having been ethnically cleansed from southern Israel.

Gaza is not an independent state. Its people are stateless and at the mercy of the Israeli military.

Here are the facts and figures given by the UN Relief and Works Agency:

1.46 million registered refugees out of 1.9 million total population (approximately 73 per cent)

8 refugee camps

22 health centres

16 relief and social services offices

11 food distribution centres for almost one million beneficiaries Figures as of 31 December 2019

Ashkelon, for instance, was the Palestinian town of Majdal, a town of some 9,000 in 1945, mostly Muslim but with some Christians. They were farmers or weavers and Majdal fabrics were famous. Some 8,000 were forced to flee advancing Zionist forces in 1948. Some slipped back in after the Israeli conquest, but in 1950 Israeli Prime Minister Ben Gurion ordered their expulsion. Some 2,300 were expelled to Gaza, joining townspeople who had already fled there two years before.

Other Palestinians in Gaza come from Beersheva, Ashdod, and other southern towns. Israelis now live in their homes and farm their land, while the Palestinians huddle in refugee camps. About a third of the Gaza population, 600,000, still live in eight refugee camps. Israel ruled Gaza directly 1967-2005 (doing nothing to improve their lives), and since 2005 has kept it as an open air concentration camp.

The Israeli Air Force destroyed the Gaza airport and port. Israel is considered in international law the Occupying power in Gaza, but often takes steps inconsistent with its responsibilities in this regard. At one point in the zeros the Israeli military made a plan to only allow enough food into Gaza to keep the population from becoming malnourished, but nothing more. No chocolate for the children. It was one of the creepiest moments in the history of colonialism.

The unemployment rate in Gaza is 50%, the highest in the world. Half the population depends on food aid. The aquifer is polluted and increasingly salty from rising seas owing to climate change, so truly clean water is available to only about 5 percent of the population. Israel has several water purification plants. The Palestinians of Gaza do not.

There is no equivalence between Israel and Gaza. Israel has the best-equipped military in the Middle East and has several hundred nuclear bombs, Its gross domestic product (nominal) per capita is on the order of $42,000 per year.

The nominal GDP per capita in Palestine is $3000, and those who live in Gaza earn less yet.

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

The Secret Tax Loophole Making The Rich Even Richer
By Robert Reich

How do we prevent America from becoming an aristocracy, while also funding the programs that Americans desperately need?

One way is to get rid of a tax loophole you've probably never heard of. It's known as the "stepped-up basis" rule.

Here's how the stepped-up-basis loophole now works. Take a man named Jeff. At his death, Jeff owns $30 million-worth of stocks he originally bought for a total of $10 million. Under existing law, neither Jeff nor his heirs would owe federal tax on the $20 million of gains because they're automatically "stepped up" to their value when he dies - $30 million.

Under Biden's proposal, Jeff's $20 million of gains would be taxed. And don't worry: Biden's proposal doesn't touch tax-favored retirement accounts, such as 401-Ks, and it only applies to the very richest Americans.

As it is now, the stepped-up basis loophole enables the super-rich, like Jeff, to avoid paying more than $40 billion in taxes each year. It has allowed them to skip taxes on the increased values of mansions and artworks as well as shares of stock.

In fact, it's one of the chief means by which dynastic wealth has grown and been passed from generation to generation, enabling subsequent generations to live off that growing wealth and never pay a dime of taxes on it.

Unless the stepped-up basis loophole is closed, we will soon have a large class of hugely rich people who have never worked a day in their lives.

Over the next decades, rich baby boomers will pass on an estimated $58 trillion of wealth to their millennial children - the largest intergenerational transfer of wealth in history.

Closing this giant tax loophole for the super-rich is how Biden intends to fund part of his American Families Plan, which would provide every child with 2 years of pre-school and every student with 2 years of free community college, as well as provide paid family and medical leave to every worker.

Close this stepped-up basis loophole, and we help finance the programs the vast majority of Americans desperately need and deserve. We also end the explosion of dynastic wealth. It should be a no-brainer.

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

A wounded Palestinian girl is being brought to Indonesian Hospital to receive medical treatment after Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip, on May 10, 2021 in Beit Lahia, Gaza.

Israel Is Carrying Out Mass Murder, Aided And Abetted By The US
Israel is not exercising "the right to defend itself" in the occupied Palestinian territories. It is carrying out mass murder. It is a war crime
By Chris Hedges

Nearly all the words and phrases used by the Democrats, Republicans and the talking heads on the media to describe the unrest inside Israel and the heaviest Israeli assault against the Palestinians since the 2014 attacks on Gaza, which lasted 51 days and killed more than 2,200 Palestinians, including 551 children, are a lie. Israel, by employing its military machine against an occupied population that does not have mechanized units, an air force, navy, missiles, heavy artillery and command-and-control, not to mention a U.S. commitment to provide a $38 billion defense aid package for Israel over the next decade, is not exercising "the right to defend itself." It is carrying out mass murder. It is a war crime.

Israel has made it clear it is ready to destroy and kill as wantonly now as it was in 2014. Israel's defense minister Benny Gantz, who was the chief of staff during the murderous assault on Gaza in 2014, has vowed that if Hamas "does not stop the violence, the strike of 2021 will be harder and more painful than that of 2014." The current attacks have already targeted several residential high rises including buildings that housed over a dozen local and international press agencies, government buildings, roads, public facilities, agricultural lands, two schools and a mosque.

I spent seven years in the Middle East as a correspondent, four of them as The New York Times Middle East Bureau Chief. I am an Arabic speaker. I lived for weeks at a time in Gaza, the world's largest open-air prison where over two million Palestinians exist on the edge of starvation, struggle to find clean water and endure constant Israeli terror. I have been in Gaza when it was pounded with Israeli artillery and air strikes. I have watched mothers and fathers, wailing in grief, cradling the bloodied bodies of their sons and daughters. I know the crimes of the occupation-the food shortages caused by the Israeli blockade, the stifling overcrowding, the contaminated water, the lack of health services, the near constant electrical outages due to the Israeli targeting of power plants, the crippling poverty, the endemic unemployment, the fear and the despair. I have witnessed the carnage.

I also have listened from Gaza to the lies emanating from Jerusalem and Washington. Israel's indiscriminate use of modern, industrial weapons to kill thousands of innocents, wound thousands more and make tens of thousands of families homeless is not a war: It is state-sponsored terror. And, while I oppose the indiscriminate firing of rockets by Palestinians into Israel, as I oppose suicide bombings, seeing them also as war crimes, I am acutely aware of a huge disparity between the industrial violence carried out by Israel against innocent Palestinians and the minimal acts of violence capable of being waged by groups such as Hamas.

The false equivalency between Israeli and Palestinian violence was echoed during the war I covered in Bosnia. Those of us in the besieged city of Sarajevo were pounded daily with hundreds of heavy shells and rockets from the surrounding Serbs. We were targeted by sniper fire. The city suffered a few dozen dead and wounded each day. The government forces inside the city fired back with light mortars and small arms fire. Supporters of the Serbs seized on any casualties caused by Bosnian government forces to play the same dirty game, although well over 90 percent of the killings in Bosnia were the fault of the Serbs, as is also true regarding Israel.

The second and perhaps most important parallel is that the Serbs, like the Israelis, were the principal violators of international law. Israel is in breach of more than 30 U.N. Security Council resolutions. It is in breach of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention that defines collective punishment of a civilian population as a war crime. It is in violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention for settling over half a million Jewish Israelis on occupied Palestinian land and for the ethnic cleansing of at least 750,000 Palestinians when the Israeli state was founded and another 300,000 after Gaza, East Jerusalem and the West Bank were occupied following the 1967 war. Its annexation of East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan Heights violates international law, as does its building of a security barrier in the West Bank that annexes Palestinian land into Israel. It is in violation of U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194 that states that Palestinian "refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date."

This is the truth. Any other starting point for the discussion of what is taking place between Israel and the Palestinians is a lie.

Israel's once vibrant peace movement and political left, which condemned and protested against the Israeli occupation when I lived in Jerusalem, is moribund. The right-wing Netanyahu government, despite its rhetoric about fighting terrorism, has built an alliance with the repressive regime in Saudi Arabia, which also views Iran as an enemy. Saudi Arabia, a country that produced 15 of the 19 hijackers in the September 11 attacks, is reputed to be the most prolific sponsor of international Islamist terrorism, allegedly supporting Salafist jihadism, the basis of al-Qaeda, and groups such as the Afghanistan Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Al-Nusra Front.

Saudi Arabia and Israel worked closely together to back the 2013 military coup in Egypt, led by General Adbul Fattah el Sisi. Sisi overthrew a democratically elected government. He has imprisoned tens of thousands of government critics, including journalists and human rights defenders, on politically motivated charges. The Sisi regime collaborates with Israel by keeping its common border with Gaza closed to Palestinians, trapping them in the Gaza strip, one of the most densely populated places on earth. Israel's cynicism and hypocrisy, especially when it wraps itself in the mantle of protecting democracy and fighting terrorism, is of epic proportions.

Those who are not Jewish in Israel are either second class citizens or live under brutal military occupation. Israel is not, and never has been, the exclusive homeland of the Jewish people. From the 7th century until 1948, when Jewish colonial settlers used violence and ethnic cleansing to create the state of Israel, Palestine was overwhelmingly Muslim. It was never empty land. The Jews in Palestine were traditionally a tiny minority. The United States is not an honest broker for peace but has funded, enabled and defended Israel's crimes against the Palestinian people. Israel is not defending the rule of law. Israel is not a democracy. It is an apartheid state.

That the lie of Israel continues to be embraced by the ruling elites-there is no daylight between statements in defense of Israeli war crime by Nancy Pelosi and Ted Cruz-and used as a foundation for any discussion of Israel is a testament to the corrupting power of money, in this case that of the Israel lobby, and the bankruptcy of a political system of legalized bribery that has surrendered its autonomy and its principles to its major donors. It is also a stunning example of how colonial settler projects, and this is true in the United States, always carry out cultural genocide so they can exist in a suspended state of myth and historical amnesia to legitimize themselves.

The Israel lobby has shamelessly used its immense political clout to demand that Americans take de facto loyalty oaths to Israel. The passage by 35 state legislatures of Israel lobby-backed legislation requiring their workers and contractors, under threat of dismissal, to sign a pro-Israel oath and promise not to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is a mockery of our Constitutional right of free speech. Israel has lobbied the U.S. State Department to redefine anti-Semitism under a three-point test known as the Three Ds: the making of statements that "demonize" Israel; statements that apply "double standards" for Israel; statements that "delegitimize" the state of Israel. This definition of anti-Semitism is being pushed by the Israel lobby in state legislatures and on college campuses. The Israel lobby spies in the United States, often at the direction of Israel's Ministry of Strategic Affairs, on those who speak up for the rights of Palestinians. It wages public smear campaigns and blacklists defenders of Palestinian rights-including the Jewish historian Norman Finkelstein; U.N. Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Territories, Richard Falk, also Jewish; and university students, many of them Jewish, in organizations such as Students for Justice in Palestine.

The Israel lobby has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to manipulate U.S. elections, far beyond anything alleged to have been carried out by Russia, China or any other country. The heavy-handed interference by Israel in the American political system, which includes operatives and donors bundling together hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions in every U.S. congressional district to bankroll compliant candidates, is documented in the Al-Jazeera four-part series "The Lobby." Israel managed to block "The Lobby" from being broadcast. In the film, a pirated copy that is available on the website Electronic Intifada, the leaders of the Israel lobby are repeatedly captured on a reporter's hidden camera explaining how they, backed by the intelligence services within Israel, attack and silence American critics and use massive cash donations to buy politicians. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu secured the unconstitutional invitation by then-House Speaker John Boehner to address Congress in 2015 to denounce President Barack Obama's Iranian nuclear agreement. Netanyahu's open defiance of Obama and alliance with the Republican Party, however, did not stop Obama in 2014 from authorizing a 10-year $38 billion military aid package to Israel, a sad commentary on how captive American politics is to Israeli interests.

The investment by Israel and is backers is worth it, especially when you consider that the U.S. has also spent over $ 6 trillion during the last 20 years fighting futile wars that Israel and its lobby pushed for in the Middle East. These wars are the greatest strategic debacle in American history, accelerating the decline of the American empire, bankrupting the nation at a time of economic stagnation and mounting poverty, and turning huge parts of the globe against us. They serve Israel's interests, not ours.

The longer the mendacious Israeli narrative is embraced, the more empowered become the racists, bigots, conspiracy theorists and far-right hate groups inside and outside Israel. This steady shift to the far right in Israel has fostered an alliance between Israel and the Christian right, many of whom are anti-Semites. The more Israel and the Israel lobby level the charge of anti-Semitism against those who speak up for Palestinian rights, as they did against British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, the more they embolden the real anti-Semites.

Racism, including anti-Semitism, is dangerous. It is not only bad for the Jews. It is bad for everyone. It empowers the dark forces of ethnic and religious hatred on the extremes. Netanyahu's racist government has built alliances with far-right leaders in Hungary, India, and Brazil, and was closely allied with Donald Trump. Racists and ethnic chauvinists, as I saw in the wars in the former Yugoslavia, feed off of each other. They divide societies into polarized, antagonistic camps that only speak in the language of violence. The radical jihadists need Israel to justify their violence, just as Israel needs the radical jihadists to justify its violence. These extremists are ideological twins.

This polarization fosters a fearful, militarized society. It permits the ruling elites in Israel, as in the United States, to dismantle civil liberties in the name of national security. Israel runs training programs for militarized police, including from the United States. It is a global player in the multibillion-dollar drone industry, competing against China and the United States.

It oversees hundreds of cybersurveillance startups whose espionage innovations, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, have been utilized abroad "to locate and detain human rights activists, persecute members of the LGBT community, silence citizens critical of their governments, and even fabricate cases of blasphemy against Islam in Muslim countries that don't maintain formal relations with Israel."

Israel, like the United States, has been poisoned by the psychosis of permanent war. One million Israelis, many of them among the most enlightened and educated, have left the country. Its most courageous human rights campaigners, intellectuals and journalists-Israeli and Palestinian-endure constant government surveillance, arbitrary arrests and vicious government-run smear campaigns. Mobs and vigilantes, including thugs from right-wing youth groups such as Im Tirtzu, physically assault dissidents, Palestinians, Israeli Arabs and African immigrants in the slums of Tel Aviv. These Jewish extremists have targeted Palestinians in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, demanding their expulsion. They are supported by an array of anti-Arab groups including the Otzma Yehudit Party, the ideological descendant of the outlawed Kach party, the Lehava movement, which calls for all Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories to be expelled to surrounding Arab states, and La Familia, far-right soccer hooligans. Lehava in Hebrew means "flame" and is the acronym for "Prevention of Assimilation in the Holy Land." Mobs of these Jewish fanatics parade through Palestinian neighborhoods, including in occupied East Jerusalem, protected by Israeli police, shouting to the Palestinians who live there "Death to the Arabs," which is also a popular chant at Israeli soccer matches.

Israel has pushed through a series of discriminatory laws against non-Jews that echo the racist Nuremberg Laws that disenfranchised Jews in Nazi Germany. The Communities Acceptance Law, for example, permits "small, exclusively Jewish towns planted across Israel's Galilee region to formally reject applicants for residency on the grounds of 'suitability to the community's fundamental outlook." Israel's educational system, starting in primary school, uses the Holocaust to portray Jews as eternal victims. This victimhood is an indoctrination machine used to justify racism, Islamophobia, religious chauvinism and the deification of the Israeli military.

There are many parallels between the deformities that grip Israel and the deformities that grip the United States. The two countries are moving at warp speed towards a 21rst century fascism, cloaked in religious language, which will revoke what remains of our civil liberties and snuff out our anemic democracies. The failure of the United States to stand up for the rule of law, to demand that the Palestinians, powerless and friendless, even in the Arab world, be granted basic human rights mirrors the abandonment of the vulnerable within our own society. We are headed, I fear, down the road Israel is heading down. It will be devastating for the Palestinians. It will be devastating for us. And all resistance, as the Palestinians courageously show us, will only come from the street.

(c) 2021 Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He is the host of the Emmy Award-nominated RT America show On Contact.

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To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

Biden Urges Israel To Only Use $3.8bn In US Military Aid For 'Nice Stuff'

By The Waterford Whispers News

US PRESIDENT Joe Biden has condemned Israeli airstrikes on Palestinians civilians which has resulted in the deaths of children in the strongest possible terms by urging Israel to use its annual US military aid of $3.8bn for 'nice things' only.

"When we gave you that military aid with no strings attached and our implicit support for your human right abuses, illegal occupation and apartheid, we honestly thought you'd use that military aid for something nice like flowers for your soldiers," explained Biden, intent on continuing America's long treasured unconditional support of the indefensible.

With the vast majority of world leaders turning a blind eye to the Israeli government's policy of a thousand eyes for an eye, Israel is free to continue launching 9-hour missile bombardments every time a Palestinian farts, safe in the knowledge only Hamas is to blame, always.

Preempting the events yet to come as tensions and violence escalates White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed "whatever the Israeli military is about to be accused of, it didn't do it."

Elsewhere, wailing Palestinian women lost to grief and mourning their dead children have apologised for interrupting your mindless internet scrolling and TV watching but confirmed there is nothing to worry about as the media will lose interest and move on to something else almost instantly.

(c) 2021 The Waterford Whispers News

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