Trump: Importing Dangerous Medicines And Food And Keeping Consumers In The Dark
Messrs. Trump, Azar, and Perdue better wake up before innocent Americans lose their lives due to corporate indentured government officials failing to properly do their jobs
By Ralph Nader
Conservatives favor consumer choice. Consumer information is vital to make that choice meaningful. Corporatists, masquerading as conservatives, do not care about informed consumer choice. Donald Trump is a corporatist, as are the vast majority of Republicans in his Cabinet and in Congress. Corporatists do not even want you to know where products are made. Today, producers and retail sellers do not have to tell you the "country of origin" for meat and pork products. Before 2015, when Congress bowed to the dictates of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Congress had enacted a law that required country of origin labels on meat products.
People wanted to know whether the beef and pork sold in their local stores was from the U.S., or Canada, Brazil, China, Mexico, or South Africa, among other importers. But after the WTO judges in Geneva, Switzerland decided, bizarrely, that "country of origin" labeling was an impermissible non-tariff trade barrier, Congress meekly passed a bill that repealed the labeling law and President Obama signed this legislation into law.
While Donald Trump claims to reject "free trade" treaties, he has been silent on country of origin regulations. State Cattlemen's Associations want laws mandating country of origin labels, believing that consumers are more trusting of the U.S. meat industry than the meat industries in most other countries. These associations know that the U.S.D.A. Food Safety and Inspection Service has a much less rigorous inspection process for imported meats. Unfortunately, the rest of the meat industry likes to import meat, without labeling, and mix it up with the U.S. products. Trump - a prodigious meat eater has yet to tweet in favor of the American cattle industry, even though many people in this part of the U.S. meat industry voted for him in 2016.
Even worse, we cannot tell where our drugs are being manufactured. Rosemary Gibson, author of China Rx: Exposing the Risks of America's Dependence on China for Medicine thinks American patients are endangered by imported medicines. Gibson is about to testify before Congress on her very disturbing findings regarding importation of medicines from China. I've been trying to get the attention of Donald Trump, his Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, and the Secretary of Agriculture, Sunny Perdue, regarding risks with importation of food and drugs. Letters, emails, and calls have been met with silence. By not responding, they're telling us who they primarily support-corporate profiteering interests. That is one reason why Trump has broken his promise to the American people to bring down staggeringly high drug prices.
It will be harder for the Trump administration to ignore journalist Katherine Eban . Eban provides us with a terrifying glimpse of her new book, Bottle of Lies: The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom, in a New York Times article published on Sunday May 11, 2019. The article, "Americans Need Generic Drugs, But Can They Trust Them?" exposes the widespread unsafe conditions in many Indian and Chinese labs and plants that manufacture generic drugs for the U.S. market (generics amount to 90 percent of the U.S. supply of drugs). One of her sources was an intrepid Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspector, Peter Baker (he has since left the agency).
Baker was a bold and honest auditor. He refused to announce lab inspections in advance, as is FDA's lackadaisical practice. From 2012 to 2018, Baker discovered "fraud or deceptive practices in almost four-fifths of the drug plants he inspected" in India and China. Indian and Chinese manufacturers engaged in data manipulation that could prove deadly.
At one firm, the Wockhardt plant in India, Baker caught the company knowingly releasing insulin vials containing metallic fragments from a defective sterilizing machine into Indian and foreign markets. Eban reports that "[Baker] learned that the company had been using the same defective equipment to make a sterile injectable cardiac drug for the American market." Two months later, the FDA banned imports from that plant.
Eban continues, shockingly: In some instances, deceptions and other practices have contributed to generic drugs with toxic impurities, unapproved ingredients and dangerous particulates reaching American patients." This is nothing new. In 2008, at least 81 American patients died in hospitals after being given heparin, a blood thinner that contained a contaminated ingredient from China.
You'd think that the FDA would demand from Trump more inspectors abroad and the U.S. Department of Agriculture would ask the White House for more U.S.D.A. Food and Safety inspectors, along with tougher laws and penalties on unsafe imports to transmit to Congress. After all, the sheer scope of U.S. drug companies going to China and India to produce drugs cheaply, so as to swell their already swollen profits, is simply stunning.
Another chilling statistic from Eban is that "Nearly forty percent of all our generic drugs are made in India. Eighty percent of active ingredients for both our brand and generic drugs come from abroad, the majority from India and China... America makes almost none of its own antibiotics anymore" (My emphasis). The outsourcing of the production of drugs to foreign countries presents vast challenges for health and safety regulators.
One would think this surrender to imports, whose sole purpose is to fatten U.S. drug companies' profits, would be considered both a consumer safety threat and a national security matter. Why isn't Trump doing anything to keep Americans safe from dangerous foreign products, as he crows about tariffs?
Of course the FDA responds with their usual phony assurances about its reliable inspections, putting out a statement that reads: "The F.D.A. inspects all brand-name and generic manufacturing facilities around the world which manufacture product for the U.S. market."
Is that why the FDA, which has largely conducted unannounced inspections of U.S. plants, still allows pre-announcement of the vast majority of its foreign inspections? Eban reports, the FDA investigators are treated as "the company's guests and agree on an inspection date in advance...Plant officials have served as hosts and helped to arrange local travel."
Messrs. Trump, Azar, and Perdue better wake up before innocent Americans lose their lives due to corporate indentured government officials failing to properly do their jobs. Do they want a major disaster to land on their derelict desks?
They are on full public notice.
(c) 2019 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 U.S. Has Been Eclipsed in Every Sphere But War
By Glen Ford
US rulers promised that technology would bring the return of the millions of jobs that were outsourced to low-wage countries, but America has lost the hi-tech race and excels only in weapons of war.
If you can't pronounce Huawei (Wah-Way), then you won't be able to explain to your grandchildren how the United States definitively lost the race for planetary technological supremacy, the last non-military contest with China that American capitalism had any chance of winning. The inherent inferiority of the chaotic U.S.-led system is now manifest - even to the thick-skulled Donald Trump, who only three months ago held off on banning U.S. companies from doing business with Huawei, the China-based world leader in 5G technology. Back in February Trump tweeted that he wanted American companies to win the ultra-high speed mobile telecommunications race by competition and "not by blocking out currently more advanced technologies," meaning Huawei. "American companies must step up their efforts, or get left behind. There is no reason that we should be lagging behind." But Trump is expected to sign the Huawei banning order this week, having finally despaired of making U.S. hi-tech "great again" by peaceful means. The only card the U.S has left to play, is war.
The U.S. 5G eclipse by China is permanent, rooted in the systemic mayhem of the imperial economic (dis)order. Although the U.S. virtually invented the Internet as a byproduct of military technology, the early U.S. global hi-tech lead was squandered in the chaotic and criminally wasteful corporate capitalist game of all-or-nothing. As recounted by the South China Morning Post ("How US went from telecoms leader to 5G also-ran without challenger to China's Huawei") the U.S. refused to set national standards for mobile carriers, allowing tech companies to choose between wireless networks like TDMA, CDMA and GSM. Since 1987 -- the year Huawei was founded -- Europe has mandated that all its wireless systems use the GSM standard. But the Americans allowed U.S. corporations to wager billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of competing jobs on rival mobile systems. The deregulation of U.S. telecommunications in 1996 further fueled the high-tech capitalist pandemonium. "The US was like the Wild West," said Thomas J. Lauria, a former AT&T employee, telecoms analyst and author of the book The Fall of Telecom. "Europe managed itself more contiguously than the US, they did not have a lot of disparate networks and picked the [GSM] standard that everyone had to agree to."
U.S. high-tech firms fought it out among themselves tooth and nail, ignoring the GSM standard and betting that, once one of them won dominant market share and bankrupted or absorbed the others, their corporation would be king of the monopoly capitalist hill, and that U.S. global clout would then propel them to the top of the world. "In many aspects, the era from the early 1990s to mid 2000s was lost time for the US mobile industry," said Bengt Nordstrom, chief executive of Northstream, a Stockholm-based consultancy. But in the hi-tech arena, a decade is a lifetime. The rise of China would not allow the U.S. the privilege of imperial technological resurrection.
There's more to this story, but let's stop right here before some of our readers start mourning the loss of jobs and capital that will result from America's fall from preeminence in technology -- the competitive edge that was supposed to compensate for the systemic outsourcing of the nation's manufacturing jobs to the low wage South and East of the planet, including China. Throughout the nineties, Americans were told not to worry, because those gritty industrial jobs would be replaced by clean, well-paid hi-tech employment for everyone willing to learn new skills like computer programming and code-writing. But we soon discovered that most of those jobs would be outsourced, too, or performed by low-paid, hi-tech imported workers from the global South and East. Technology is not the cure for U.S. capitalism's ills. To paraphrase a cliched term, "It's the system, stupid."
Under late stage capitalism, high technology is a tool of accelerated economic consolidation -- monopolization -- and marginalization of workers. Armed with hi-tech tools, Jeff Bezos now wages a war of annihilation against retail commerce, one of the last remaining mass employment sectors in the U.S., while other digital oligarchs publicly proclaim their intention to deploy "the internet of things" - based on 5G technology -- to wipe out much of the rest of existing employment. Silicon Valley plutocrats scheme to create a world with few workers, where trillionaire owners of technology rule. A subsistence wage would be doled out to the masses, so they can pay for hi-tech connectivity to the networks that surveil and disinform them. And that's the least dystopian of our prospects under late stage capitalism. In a racist United States, the worst scenario is always the most likely for the descendants of Africa.
As chief executive of the U.S. capitalist (dis)order, Donald Trump will try to "make America great again" by playing the only cards remaining in the imperial deck: military coercion and the weaponized dollar. The corporate Democrats that hope to succeed Trump will rattle the same missiles and sanctions, blaming China's command economy for the contradictions of U.S. capitalism in decline. Both corporate parties are singing the same death dirge for the nation and the world. There is only one escape: overthrow the rule of the rich. Under their reign, the U.S. is no longer the "greatest" at anything but mass incarceration, the amassing of weapons of destruction, and the maintenance of a worldwide system of surveillance that hears and watches everyone with a telephone or computer.
A Russian news analyst had an interesting take on America's eclipse in the race for 5G: "US universal surveillance of everyone outside of America is in serious trouble."
(c) 2019 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com
By David Swanson
Albion Winegar Tourgee may be best known now, though not in his lifetime, as the lead attorney in the Plessy v. Ferguson case, which was a set-up, a staged incident, with the cooperation even of the railroad company, to get a man arrested for sitting in the wrong car, take the matter to court, and end segregation on trains - except that it backfired horribly and legalized apartheid for over 50 years.
Tourgee's work was not one incident alone, and his positive influence hasn't ceased. His was one of the most influential white voices for equal rights for blacks in the decades following the U.S. Civil War. I want to quote and consider a short section found in one of his novels, A Fools Errand. The book was a runaway bestseller in 1879, published anonymously "by one of the fools."
The book semi-autobiographically recounted the author's endeavor to relocate himself and his family from the North to Greensboro, North Carolina, following the war, in order to assist in reconstruction. The book recounts the horrors of Ku Klux Klan terrorism against blacks and against whites advocating for rights for blacks. While the passage I'm about to quote generalizes, the book does not. It provides the perspectives of whites and blacks from the South and the North, including Southern Unionists and racist Northerners.
The generalization is worth paying attention to - and all the more so, because it describes the years immediately after the Civil War, which in a top-down simplified history found in text books, was the period of positive change when blacks voted and were elected, and which preceded the backlash of heightened racism and lynchings. In Tourgee's account, the racism that followed was, at least in the South, already there, along with the lynchings, and change would only come through education. Tourgee pauses in the narrative of his book to explain the failure of the North and South to even understand each other:
"Northern Idea of Slavery.
"Slavery is wrong morally, politically, and economically. It is tolerated only for the sake of peace and quiet. The negro is a man, and has equal inherent rights with the white race."
"Southern Idea of Slavery.
"The negro is fit only for slavery. It is sanctioned by the Bible, and it must be right; or, if not exactly right, is unavoidable, now that the race is among us. We can not live with them in any other condition."
"Northern Idea of the Southern Idea.
"Those Southern fellows know that slavery is wrong, and incompatible with the theory of our government; but it is a good thing for them. They grow fat and rich, and have a good time, on account of it; and no one can blame them for not wanting to give it up."
"Southern Idea of the Northern Idea.
"Those Yankees are jealous because we make slavery profitable, raising cotton and tobacco, and want to deprive us of our slaves from envy. They don't believe a word of what they say about its being wrong, except a few fanatics. The rest are all hypocrites."
"The Northern Idea of the Situation.
"The negroes are free now, and must have a fair chance to make themselves something. What is claimed about their inferiority may be true. It is not likely to approve itself; but, true or false, they have a right to equality before the law. That is what the war meant, and this must be secured to them. The rest they must get as they can, or do without, as they choose."
"The Southern Idea of the Situation.
"We have lost our slaves, our bank stock, every thing, by the war. We have been beaten, and have honestly surrendered: slavery is gone, of course. The slave is now free, but he is not white. We have no ill will towards the colored man as such and in his place; but he is not our equal, can not be made our equal, and we will not be ruled by him, or admit him as a co-ordinate with the white race in power. We have no objection to his voting, so long as he votes as his old master, or the man for whom he labors, advises him; but, when he chooses to vote differently, he must take the consequences."
"The Northern Idea of the Southern Idea.
"Now that the negro is a voter, the Southern people will have to treat him well, because they will need his vote. The negro will remain true to the government and party which gave him liberty, and in order to secure its preservation. Enough of the Southern whites will go with them, for the sake of office and power, to enable them to retain permanent control of those states for an indefinite period. The negroes will go to work, and things will gradually adjust themselves. The South has no right to complain. They would have the negroes as slaves, kept the country in constant turmoil for the sake of them, brought on the war because we would not catch their runaways, killed a million men; and now they can not complain if the very weapon by which they held power is turned against them, and is made the means of righting the wrongs which they have themselves created. It may be hard; but they will learn to do better hereafter."
"The Southern Idea of the Northern Idea.
"The negro is made a voter simply to degrade and disgrace the white people of the South. The North cares nothing about the negro as a man, but only enfranchises him in order to humiliate and enfeeble us. Of course, it makes no difference to the people of the North whether he is a voter or not. There are so few colored men there, that there is no fear of one of them being elected to office, going to the Legislature, or sitting on the bench. The whole purpose of the measure is to insult and degrade. But only wait until the States are restored and the "Blue Coats" are out of the way, and we will show them their mistake."
Now, it may seem obvious to us that this is a conversation between white men about black men, as if women do not exist - as well as that not all white men held exactly the same viewpoints. But the point is that it's not a conversation at all. Neither side can hear the other. Each takes the other to be lying, because actually believing what is claimed can simply not be imagined. A takes B to view the world more or less as A does, not bothering to attempt to see the world as B claims to.
Tourgee was well aware that not all thought is conscious, that people can be self-deceived. But, whether beliefs are convenient or not, they can in fact be believed in. He was suggesting that we take seriously what other people believe. This is something we might do a bit more of today. If someone says that they believe racism in the United States is largely generated by Russian posts on social media, they may or may not know anything about U.S. history, they may or may not be a big supporter of Hillary Clinton, they may or may not know anything about Hillary Clinton's history; the point is that they may truly believe what they say they do. The same goes for someone who says they're terrified of ISIS taking over their local government in Kansas, but professes no fear or even anxiety about nuclear weapons or environmental destruction. Or someone who tells you that billionaires are on the side of poor people against the elites. A solution to such beliefs will not be found by dismissing them as unreal or theorizing that they will be worn away by democratic or market forces.
Imagining that others think what they say they think could be a huge boost to U.S. foreign policy. For example:
The U.S. Idea
If North Korea would stop building weapons and threatening, and bow to our will, then we would be able to bestow upon it all the benefits of our civilization, putting an end to the hunger and suffering created by their backward, ignorant, and stubborn ways.
The North Korean Idea
If the U.S. would stop building weapons and threatening, and treat us as an equal, then we could stop building weapons too and invest in human needs instead. If the U.S. would halt its horrific sanctions, we wouldn't have the hunger and suffering that the U.S. creates and blames us for.
The U.S. Idea of the North Korean Idea
This arrogance is based in madness. A tiny rogue nation must meet the basic standards of all other nations except the Global Policeman, whose job it is to compel them to do so. Criminals always blame their aggression on the police, but they know better and are simply making a case to delude their people.
The North Korean Idea of the U.S. Idea
We have stopped building weapons and threatening, whenever the United States has done the same. The reason we cannot do so unilaterally is that the United States once absolutely destroyed our nation, leveled it, bombed it flat, killing millions. We cannot be asked to risk that again, and the U.S. would not be asking us to risk that again if it didn't want to do it again.
Or, there's this:
The U.S. Idea
Iran refuses to work with us. Israel and Saudi Arabia say it must be bombed. It clearly cannot be reasoned with. The lunatics took our people captive in an embassy for no reason. They're building nuclear energy facilities for no reason. We have tried everything short of war to give the Iranian people a better government, and they've refused.
The Iranian Idea
The U.S. embassy overthrew our government in 1953. Who's ever heard of having a revolution without clamping down on the U.S. embassy? We're not suicidal - which is also why we've not threatened or started any wars in centuries. But the U.S. sends us sanctions and assassins and saboteurs, lies and inspectors - and threats from the neighboring countries which the U.S. has already destroyed. We agree to absurd agreements, and then the U.S. backs out of them; are we Native Americans? Is that why they keep promising to obliterate us?
The U.S. Idea of the Iranian Idea
What is with this irrational obsession with ancient history that backward people exhibit? The United States gave Iran a benevolent and progressive leader. His son is ready and waiting. The people of Iran are not as ungrateful as the fanatical regime ruling over them. We'll be welcomed as liberators within hours when we finally find the nerve to bomb them.
The Iranian Idea of the U.S. Idea
We're building nuclear energy for nuclear energy, at least we're pretty sure we are, at least for now. Not everyone is a genocidal maniac! The United States is actively spreading nuclear energy to places like Saudi Arabia, just as it pushed it on us 50 years ago. Perhaps we should warn Saudi Arabia about the future.
(c) 2019 David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.
National Security Advisor John Bolton after answering questions from the media outside the White House on January 24, 2019, in Washington, D.C.
Don't Give John Bolton His War With Iran
By William Rivers Pitt
Once again, the United States is lunging toward war in the Middle East. A military attack against Iran appears imminent, despite the fact that the alleged "threat" is based on shoddy intelligence and is not supported by allies. Included in the mix is an easily manipulated president whose foreign policy ignorance is made more dangerous by his deliberate ignorance of his own ignorance, rank political expediency, and the bloodlust of war hawks who have been pining for this conflict for decades.
If this all sounds like a very familiar recipe for disaster, that's because it is, and John Bolton is once again in the kitchen wearing the apron and wielding the butcher's knife.
Bolton, a genuinely frightening man who helped orchestrate George W. Bush's Iraq war debacle and has wanted war with Iran since the moon was young, became Donald Trump's national security adviser on April 9, 2018. A month less a day later, Trump pulled the U.S. out of the nuclear deal brokered by Barack Obama with no explanation, and despite the fact that Iran was holding up its end of the bargain.
The Trump administration followed up on this unwarranted hostile action by piling further economic sanctions on Iran, and on any nation that purchases oil from them. Two Sundays ago, the administration announced that the U.S.S Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group is being deployed to the Persian Gulf, which is essentially Iran's wet backyard. You may recall the U.S.S Abraham Lincoln as being the aircraft carrier Bush used as a prop for his "Mission Accomplished" stunt 16 years ago.
Earlier this week, the White House presented a revised military plan for the Gulf region that would involve sending as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East, ostensibly to counteract Iranian aggression that nobody else can see. "The revisions," reported The New York Times,
"were ordered by hard-liners led by John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump's national security adviser."
On Wednesday, Trump's State Department ordered all "non-emergency U.S. government employees" to leave neighboring Iraq immediately. Such orders are usually issued when the shooting is about to start.
The characteristics of the situation are nauseatingly familiar. Aggression against an enemy that has taken no hostile action against us. Accusations of bad intent with no basis in fact. Deeply dubious claims pushed hard by far-right think tanks (and the "news" networks that serve them) of connections between al-Qaeda and the target of hostility. A president with little to no actual foreign policy experience surrounded by advisers peddling agendas crusted with very old blood. Familiar, indeed.
The progression toward war with Iran since Bolton's arrival in the White House has been, as with most everything in Trumpworld, slightly less subtle than an earthquake during a tornado. The intent is plain: Marginalize Iran by withdrawing from a deal it was complying with, throttle its economy with sanctions, menace it militarily with a massive troop commitment and a carrier strike group, and then wait for Iran to twitch in self-defense. Once that happens, well, see, it had a gun.
This time, however, an actual shooting war could be far worse than even the calamity of Iraq. Iran is three times the size of Iraq, with three times the population. Iran has a larger army, and enough lethally accurate missiles to rain destruction down on any U.S. vessels in the Gulf. Any conflict in Iran is liable to spill over the borders into as many as a half dozen other countries, one of which is Iraq.
Thanks to the last big Middle East war, Iraq is now a political vassal of Iran with a majority Shi'ite population, which has no love for the United States and will be right across the border waiting to help Iran in a fight. Iran's Revolutionary Guard, a separate force loyal to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, is well trained in asymmetrical warfare tactics, which the U.S. has proven to be singularly incapable of successfully combating since Vietnam. Finally, if Iran can block worldwide oil shipments by closing the Strait of Hormuz by sinking some ships, laying mines or threatening the gap with missiles, the global economy will crash.
Despite being essentially toothless in the current constitutional conflagration, congressional Democrats are sounding the alarm over Trump's staggered lurch toward another ruinous war. "It looks like they're steering our ship of state into very troubled waters without any idea what to do when they get there," said House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff (D-California) of the Trump administration. "Armed conflict with Iran would be an unmitigated disaster."
Rep. Schiff is correct, but has no power whatsoever to do anything about it now that the White House has made any and all congressional oversight a matter for the courts. Unless and until judges decide to rule in favor of House members who have issued legal subpoenas for this administration, Democrats hold no sway over reckless executive decisions.
The only people on Capitol Hill who can throw up major political roadblocks against this unwarranted and incredibly dangerous aggression all have an (R) after their names, and they have shown no sign to date of having any interest in even moderately adjusting the destructive course of this rogue president and his Machiavellian ministers.
Perhaps this is happening because John Bolton is a war ghoul who has wanted this conflict with Iran for the term of his natural adult life. Perhaps it is happening because Donald Trump is easily led into fiasco after fiasco by his advisers, as he was when Stephen Miller convinced him that putting thousands of migrant children in cages was a bully idea.
Perhaps Trump's advisers think war, or the threat of war, will serve to distract from the growing economic disaster he has unleashed with his tariff blitzkrieg against China. It is already an election year, and the old, gore-covered axiom that war makes good politics for incumbent presidents during election season is definitely in play. Perhaps it is all of these combined.
On Thursday, carefully placed stories in the mainstream press described Trump as frustrated with his advisers over the Iran situation, and not ready to forego diplomacy over war. This is about as plausible as the Piltdown Man. One would think the commander in chief of all U.S. armed forces would have piped up after the Middle East order of battle was revised to add 120,000 troops, before a carrier strike group was ordered into the Gulf, and before all nonessentials were ordered out of Iraq. If he missed all this even while dwelling within the hawkish Fox News bubble, we are all in bigger trouble than I thought.
If this is what passes for brinksmanship by the White House, it is a deadly dangerous ploy that could easily spiral out of control, especially if Iran reacts to the gross provocations put forth by the Trump administration. We, the people, can, and must, take to the streets if Trump or his advisers unleash another war in the Middle East. Enough innocents have already died at the hands of shabby Republican presidents during this young century, the national economy cannot absorb the hit, and the very last thing the global climate needs is the filth of war released into an already damaged atmosphere.
Since averting this war largely depends upon the positive actions of powerful Republicans, however, my guess is those 120,000 troops and the U.S.S Abraham Lincoln may find themselves under fire before much longer.
(c) 2019 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.
Congressman Mark Pocan, a student of political history who collects the memorabilia from
Robert La Follette's many campaigns, has always embraced the anti-war legacy that he is called to maintain.
Mark Pocan Won't Hand Trump Blank Check For War With Iran
The Michigan congresswoman just accepted petitions signed by ten million Americans who say it is time to act.
By John Nichols
Congressman Mark Pocan holds the U.S. House seat that was once occupied by Tammy Baldwin, who in 2002 and 2003 bravely opposed the rush by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney to launch an ill-thought out and unnecessary invasion of Iraq. Before Baldwin, the seat was held by Robert Kastenmeier, one of the earliest and steadiest critics of the Vietnam War. Before Kastenmeier, it was held by Robert M. La Follette, whose eventual opposition (as the state's senior senator) to military adventurism and war profiteering was so epic in character that it helped to define our national understanding of what it means to be a congressional dissenter against the kingly excesses of an imperial presidency.
So Pocan, a student of political history who collects the memorabilia from La Follette's many campaigns, well understands the anti-war legacy that he is called to maintain. He has always embraced it, establishing one of the most consistent records in the chamber of objecting to the penchant of presidents of both parties to engage on unwarranted and undeclared war-making. So it should come as no surprise that Pocan is raising the alarm on Donald Trump's ill-advised and dangerous escalation of tensions with Iran.
"The Trump administration continues to double down on a failed policy of confrontation with Iran, rather than diplomacy," said the congressman from Wisconsin's 2nd Congressional District. "While it buddies up to dictators around the globe, it threatens peaceful relations in a region that has already seen too much destabilization."
Pocan's concern is well founded. The experienced counselors who initially advised an ill-informed and erratic president - former Secretary of Defense James Mattis and, to lesser extent, national security adviser H.R. McMaster - have resigned. The president is now surrounded by neocon hawks like national security adviser John Bolton, political hacks like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and military-industrial complex "yes" men like acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan.
Trump and his advisers have grown increasingly provocative in their pronouncements regarding Iran. The headlines say it all:
"U.S. sends Patriot missile system to Middle East amid Iran tensions," reported the BBC.
What needs to be added to the conversation is the message that Pocan brings to it: "Congress should demand that President Trump seek approval from the House and Senate before taking offensive action against Iran."
That's not a radical premise.
"U.S. B-52 bombers reach Middle East in message to Iran," announced Reuters.
"The U.S.-Iran Naval War of 2019: What It Could Look Like," speculated The National Interest.
Trump, like every member of Congress, has sworn an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States. That oath requires the president and members of the House and Senate to embrace a system of separated powers in which the Congress is charged with declaring wars.
That system has decayed over the decades since Franklin Roosevelt recognized, even in the emergency moment following the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, that he had a duty to obtain the declaration of war that committed the United States to fight World War II.
But it is a system that can and should be renewed. Pocan has been in the forefront of efforts to do so, working with Congresswoman Barbara Lee, D-Calif., to end the 2001 Authorization of the Use of Military Force, which successive presidents have used as an excuse to avoid seeking congressional approval for military interventions and bombing missions. He has, as well, worked with Congressman Ro Khanna, D-Calif., to pass a congressional resolution to end U.S. military support for Saudi Arabia's brutal assault on Yemen.
Now Congress needs to assert its authority with regard to Iran.
(c) 2019 John Nichols John Nichols is associate editor of The Capital Times. Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.
Death Of Privacy
By James Donahue
There has been a lot of media attention concerning the way big business interests are tracking everything we do, the places we go and especially the things we buy. It is perhaps troublesome that after we shop for a particular item on the Internet we are inundated with advertising for this particular product. It is almost as if a gene is sitting somewhere over us and recording our every thought and our every move.
What may be scary to us is that in a sense, while it isn't a gene that records our actions . . . it is our electronic gadgetry. And these things are doing exactly that . . . watching, listening and recording everything we say and do.
We all enjoy visiting the social media Internet websites. The very nature of the Facebook site draws us out of our shell and makes us want to participate by revealing all kinds of personal information. But now we learn that everything we have revealed on Facebook has been recorded. Sites like Facebook and Google Search are collecting all of this personal information. When we use the Google maps to help us in our travels, the fact that we traveled and what we did along the way is carefully recorded.
Guardian writer Alex Preston recently wrote: "We have come to accept that the majority of our social, financial and even sexual interactions take place over the internet and that someone, somewhere, whether state, press or corporation is watching."
If you examine your desktop computer closely you will discover a tiny camera mounted in the frame. This camera allows us to hold on-line communications while actually looking at each other via the computer screens. It also allows government and private agents to watch us around the clock if they choose.
If you have an Alexa or Google Home device on your desk you can be assured that it is listening to everything we say. The newer televisions are doing the same thing. While we watch the television screen, someone somewhere may be watching us via the same screen.
Electronic devices in our cars record every mile we drive and every problem that develops on the roadways.
If we are walking on public streets and sidewalks there is probably a tiny camera mounted somewhere nearby that is recording our every move.
With over seven billion people now packing this planet, who wants to know all of this personal information? Why would anybody wish to sit in a dark room somewhere and read and listen to all of the boring, mundane events in our lives?
We would think that nobody is tuning in on us personally. But computer systems are tuning in on telephone and computer conversations and actions, searching for anything that might be a criminal act or a terrorist plot. Certain word combinations will trigger attention to that conversation; certain things we shop for or purchase may also catch the attention of authorities.
Crimes committed in public places are likely to be recorded on those hidden cameras.
We all like our privacy and we usually go to great lengths to make sure we have it. But in this fast changing day and age, assuring the privacy we seek is getting more and more difficult. About the only private places we can almost be assured of now is in our bathrooms and bedrooms. And if we bring our portable telephones and televisions into those rooms, even that privacy may be lost.
There is an old saying about these privacy invasions . . . if we aren't doing anything wrong why should we worry? It may be comforting to think this way but the fact remains . . . who knows if just expressing our thoughts about a news event makes us a target for an FBI investigation? We all have embarrassing events occur in our lives that we do not wish to have our friends learn about. But what do we do when everything that happens to us becomes public record?
Preston reflected on this invasion of privacy. He wrote: "Sitting behind the outrage was a particularly modern form of disquiet - the knowledge that we are being manipulated, surveyed, rendered and that the intelligence behind this is artificial as well as human. Everything we do on the web, from our social media interactions to our shopping on Amazon, to our Netflix selections, is driven by complex mathematical formulae that are invisible and arcane."
Welcome to the new Orwellian age.
(c) 2019 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.
At the recent "Covering Climate Now" in New York City, veteran journalist and broadcaster Bill Moyers
discussed the need for a deeper commitment by the news industry to be part of the solution to the climate crisis
by intensifying its coverage of the planetary emergency now unfolding.
What If We Covered The Climate Emergency Like We Did World War II?
Can we get this story right? Can we tell it whole? Can we connect the dots and inspire people with the possibility of change?
By Bill Moyers
EDITORS NOTE: The following is an abridged version of remarks by TV newsman Bill Moyers, as prepared for delivery at the "Covering Climate Now" conference co-sponsored by The Nation and Columbia Journalism Review on April 30. You can view the video version of the speech here. The "Covering Climate Now" project will bring journalists and news outlets together to dramatically improve how the media covers the climate emergency and its solutions.
I have been asked to bring this gathering to a close by summing up how we can do better at covering the possible "collapse of our civilizations and the extinction of much of the natural world," to quote the noted environmentalist David Attenborough, speaking at the recent United Nations climate summit in Poland.
I don't come with a silver bullet. And I'm no expert on the topic. Like you, I am just a journalist whose craft calls for us to explain things we don't understand. There's so much I don't understand that journalism became my continuing course in adult education. The subjects were so fascinating, and the work so fulfilling, that I kept at it "full speed ahead" for half a century, until two years ago, at the age of 83, I yielded finally to the side effects of a long life and retired (more or less). This is the first opportunity I have had since then to be with so many kindred spirits of journalism, and the camaraderie reminds me how much I have missed your company.
Many of us have recognized that our coverage of global warming has fallen short. There's been some excellent reporting by independent journalists and by enterprising reporters and photographers from legacy newspapers and other news outlets. But the Goliaths of the US news media, those with the biggest amplifiers-the corporate broadcast networks-have been shamelessly AWOL, despite their extraordinary profits. The combined coverage of climate change by the three major networks and Fox fell from just 260 minutes in 2017 to a mere 142 minutes in 20l8-a drop of 45 percent, reported the watchdog group Media Matters.
Meanwhile, about 1,300 communities across the United States have totally lost news coverage, many from newspaper mergers and closures, according to the University of North Carolina School of Media and Journalism. Hundreds of others are still standing only as "ghost newspapers." They no longer have resources for even local reporting, much less for climate change. "Online news sites, as well as some TV newsrooms, are working hard to keep local reporting alive, but these are taking root far more slowly than newspapers are dying," observes Tom Stites of Poynter in a report about the study. And, alas, many of the news outlets that are still around have ignored or misreported the climate story and failed to counter the tsunami of deceptive propaganda unleashed by fossil-fuel companies and the mercenaries, ideologues, and politicians who do their bidding.
But events educate, experience instructs, and so much destructive behavior has been caused by climate disruption that more Americans today than ever seem hungry to know what's causing it, what's coming and what can be done about it. We journalists have perhaps our last chance to help people grasp the magnitude of the threat. My friend and journalist-turned-citizen-activist Bill McKibben told me last week that because of the looming possibility of extinction, and in response to it from the emerging leadership among young people, we have reached a 'climate moment' with real momentum, and our challenge as we go forward is to dramatically change the zeitgeist-"to lock in and consolidate public opinion that's finally beginning to come into focus."
So, while I did not come with a silver bullet-there's no such thing-I do want to share a couple of stories that might help us respond to this daunting task.
I'll begin with how I first heard of global warming-before many of you in this room were born. It was 54 years ago, early in 1965, at the White House. Before I became President Lyndon Johnson's press secretary ("over my dead body," I might add,) I was his special assistant coordinating domestic policy. One day, two members of the president's science-advisory committee came by the office. One of them was the famous oceanographer, Roger Revelle. Famous because only a few years earlier he had shaken up the prevailing consensus that the oceans were massive enough to soak up any amount of excess of carbon released on earth. Not so, Revelle discovered; the peculiar chemistry of sea water actually prevents this from happening.
Now, he said, humans have begun a "vast geophysical experiment." We were about to burn, within a few generations, the fossil fuels that had slowly accumulated in the earth over the past 500 million years. Burning so much oil, gas, and coal would release massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, where it would trap heat that otherwise would escape into space. Earth's temperature could rise, causing polar ice to melt and sea levels to rise, flooding the earth's coastal regions.
President Johnson took scientists seriously; as vice president, he had been chosen by President Kennedy to chair the intergovernmental committee overseeing NASA's charge to put a man on the moon. So Revelle and his colleagues got the green light, and by the fall of 1965 they produced the first official report to any government anywhere on the possible threat to humanity from rising CO2 levels. On November 6, Lyndon Johnson became the first president to mention the threat in a message to Congress.
President Johnson urged us to circulate the report widely throughout the government and to the public, despite its controversial emphasis on the need for "economic incentives" to discourage pollution, including-shudder!-taxes levied against polluters. (You can go online to "Restoring the Quality of Our Environment-1965," and read the entire 23-page section, headlined Appendix Y4-Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide.)
This was in 1965! Nearly six decades ago! The future in plain sight.
But we failed the moment. One year later, largely preoccupied with the war in Vietnam, the president grew distracted, budgets for other priorities were squeezed, and the nation was fast polarizing. We flunked that first chance to confront global warming. Our failure to act-and the failure of administrations that followed us-metastasized into the crisis of today, the crisis journalists must figure out how to cover as if life on earth depends on it, which it does.
Which brings me to the second story I hope will be helpful in confronting this daunting challenge.
It's about the Murrow Boys: Edward R. Murrow and the young men, none of them yet famous, Murrow hired to staff CBS Radio in Europe on the eve of the Second World War.
I was a kid of about six in Marshall, Texas, when my parents bought a used console radio so they could listen to Franklin Roosevelt's speeches and I could follow the Saturday serials-especially "The Green Hornet," my favorite masked vigilante. That's how we discovered the Murrow Boys, by listening to the news every evening on CBS. Although I didn't yet know what to make of the events being reported, I showed up faithfully to sit on the floor between my parents in their chairs, all of us listening together.
I can still hear the voices coming from that stained brown console in the corner of our living room; still see the pictures their words painted in my mind's eye. Their names, hardly known when they started, became hallowed in the annals of journalism. Murrow of course, Eric Sevareid, William L. Shirer, Larry LeSeuer, Charles Collingwood, Howard K. Smith, William Randall Downs, Richard C. Hottelet, Winston Burdett, Cecil Brown, Thomas Grandin, and the one woman among them, Mary Marvin Breckinridge. You can read about them in The Murrow Boys: Pioneers on the Front Lines of Broadcast Journalism, a superb book by Stanley Cloud and Lynne Olson.
These reporters spread across Europe as the "phony war" of 1939–40 played out, much like the slow-motion catastrophe of global warming plays out in our time. They saw the threat posed by the Nazis, and they struggled to get the attention of an American public back home exhausted and drained by the Great Depression.
In September of 1939, with Europe hours away from going up in flames, the powers at CBS in New York ordered Murrow and Shirer to feature an entertainment broadcast spotlighting dance music from nightspots in London, Paris, and Hamburg. Here's the account from Cloud and Olson:
They say there's so much bad news out of Europe, they want some good news," Murrow [in London] snapped to Shirer [in Berlin] over the phone. The show, scheduled to be broadcast just as Germany was about to rape Poland, would be called 'Europe Dances' ... Finally, Murrow decreed, "The hell with those bastards in New York. It may cost us our jobs, but we're just not going to do it."
And they didn't. They defied the bosses-and gave CBS one of the biggest stories of the 20th century, the invasion of Poland.
And still the powers in New York resisted. Through the rest of 1939 and into the spring of 1940, Hitler hunched on the borders of France and the Low Countries, his Panzers idling, poised to strike. Shirer fumed, "My God! Here was the old continent on the brink of war...and the network was most reluctant to provide five minutes a day from here to report it." Just as the networks and cable channels provide practically no coverage today of global warming.
In time I would meet Ed Murrow and follow him as senior correspondent for the documentary series he created after the war with Fred Friendly. Eric Sevareid became a mentor, before and after I succeeded him as commentator on The CBS Evening News. Howard K. Smith and I frequently corresponded and traded books. And I had casual conversations with Charles Collingwood at the little French cafe he frequented near our office on West 57th street. These men rarely talked details of the past. But I will never forget my debt as a journalist to their work, or what they did for our country.
Never in my own long career have I been as tested as they were. Or as you will be. Our own global warming "phony war" is over. The hot war is here.
My colleague and co-writer, Glenn Scherer, compares global disruption to a repeat hit-and-run driver: anonymous, deadly, and requiring tireless investigation to identify the perpetrator. There are long stretches of nothing, then suddenly Houston is inundated and Paradise burns. San Juan blows away and salt water creeps into the subways of New York. The networks put their reporters out in raincoats or standing behind police barriers as flames consume far hills. Yet we rarely hear the words "global warming" or "climate disruption" in their reports. The big backstory of rising CO2 levels, escalating drought, collateral damage, cause and effect, and politicians on the take from fossil-fuel companies? Forget all that. Not good for ratings, say network executives.
But last October, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a scientifically conservative body, gave us 12 years to make massive changes to reduce global greenhouse-gas emissions 45 percent below 2010 levels and to net zero by 2050. On his indispensable site, TomDispatch.com, Tom Engelhardt writes that humanity is now on a suicide watch.
Soon, some of you will be traveling to the ends of the earth to report on this Great Disruption. To Indonesia, where oil-palm growers and commodities companies are stripping away forests vital to carbon storage. To the Amazon, where President Bolsonaro's government plans to open indigenous reserves to industrial exploitation, threatening the lungs of the Earth. To India, where President Modi pretends to be an environmentalist even as he embraces destructive development. To China, where President Xi's Belt and Road initiative, the biggest transportation-infrastructure program in the history of the world, threatens disaster for earth systems. You will go to the Arctic and the Antarctic to report on melting ice, and to the shores of African cities, Pacific atolls, and poor Miami neighborhoods being swallowed by rising oceans. And to Nebraska, and Iowa, and Kansas, and Missouri, where this spring's crop is despair as farmers and their families grieve their losses.
And some of you will go to Washington, to report on the madness-yes, I said madness-of a US government that scorns reality as fake news, denies the truths of nature, and embraces a theocratic theology that welcomes catastrophe as a sign of the returning Messiah.
Madness! Superstition! Destruction and death.
Can we get this story right? Can we tell it whole? Can we connect the dots and inspire people with the possibility of change?
What's journalism for? Really, in the war, what was journalism for, except to awaken the world to the catastrophe looming ahead of it?
Here's the good news: While describing David Wallace-Wells's stunning new book The Uninhabitable Earth as a remorseless, near-unbearable account of what we are doing to our planet, The New York Times reports it also offers hope. Wallace-Wells says that "We have all the tools we need...to aggressively phase out dirty energy...; [cut] global emissions...[and] scrub carbon from the atmosphere.... [There are] 'obvious' and 'available,' [if costly,] solutions."
What we need, he adds, is the "acceptance of responsibility."
Our responsibility as journalists is to tell the story so people get it.
I wish I could go there with you to tell it. This is a very exciting time for journalism, despite our beleaguered newsrooms, our diminished ranks, and the power arrayed against truth. And I really do think this project (Covering Climate Now) could be the beginning of our redemption.
Over my long life I've seen things change quickly. After the Birmingham bombing. After Selma. Vietnam. Nixon and Watergate. The Berlin Wall. The pendulum can swing suddenly. The public can change its mind.
Which brings us back to the Murrow Boys. Late 1940. The start of the Blitz, with bombs blasting London to bits. A Gallup poll that September found that a mere 16 percent of Americans supported sending US aid to beleaguered Britain. Olson and Cloud tell us that, "One month later, as bombs fell on London, and Murrow and the Boys brought the reality of it into American living rooms, 52 percent thought more aid should be sent."
Americans had taken one step toward defeating fascism, and the Murrow Boys helped us take it. Of course, the journalists were only part of the cast, and I don't want to overrate their importance. But they were there. On the right side. At the right time. In the right way-reporting on the biggest story of all, the fight for freedom. For life itself.
Reporting the truth is always the basis for any moral authority we can claim as journalists. Reporting the truth about climate disruption, and its solutions, could be contagious. Our gathering today could be a turning point for American journalism.
With no silver bullet, what do we do? We cooperate as kindred spirits on a mission of public service. We create partnerships to share resources. We challenge media owners and investors to act in the public interest. We keep the whole picture in our heads-how melting ice sheets in the Arctic can create devastation in the Midwest-and connect the dots for our readers, viewers, and listeners. We look every day at photographs of our children and grandchildren, to be reminded of the stakes. And we tell the liars, deniers, and do-nothings to shove off: There's no future in naysaying.
As some of you know, I am president of the Schumann Media Center, a small nonprofit devoted to the support of independent journalism. The Center is the progeny of the Florence and John Schumann Foundation, founded in Montclair, NJ, in l961 by a civic-minded couple whose offspring were brought up with a strong commitment to democratic values. Their support of my journalism on public television led us to join forces, which is how I became president of the foundation and now of the center. The family resolved to give away their wealth in their lifetime, and we are just about there; our resources are modest now, and we're almost done.
One of our last major gifts will be a million dollars to launch the Covering Climate Now project of Columbia Journalism Review and The Nation and to get the project through the first year. Other foundations and individual philanthropists will then have to step up to the challenge, and I believe they will.
This has been a good day of talking and thinking-now must come action. My colleagues at the Schumann Media Center wish all of you and all of those you represent-in newspapers, radio stations, local news, and major corporations-we wish all of you, because it will take all of you, every success.
I am grateful to the veteran environmental journalist Glenn Scherer for the research and ideas he contributed to this speech. His own impressive work can be found at MongaBay.org.
(c) 2019 Bill Moyers is a veteran journalist, broadcaster, and author. Former managing editor of Moyers & Company and BillMoyers.com, his previous shows on PBS included NOW with Bill Moyers and Bill Moyers Journal. Over the past three and a half decades he has become an icon of American journalism and is the author of many books, including Bill Moyers Journal: The Conversation Continues, Moyers on Democracy, and Bill Moyers: On Faith & Reason. He was one of the organizers of the Peace Corps, a special assistant for Lyndon B. Johnson, a publisher of Newsday, senior correspondent for CBS News and a producer of many groundbreaking series on public television. He is the winner of more than 30 Emmys, nine Peabodys, three George Polk awards. Follow him on Twitter: @BillMoyers
Border Patrol Culture Is Sick
By Heather Digby Parton
I'm going to guess this fine fellow is looking at a big fat pardon:
In November 2017, U.S. Border Patrol Agent Matthew Bowen fumed about the humane treatment his agency was expected to give migrants who had illegally crossed into the country.
It seems there are whole lot of racist psychopaths in uniform in this country. Somehow that doesn't make me feel safe. I can't imagine what racial and ethnic minorities must feel. It's horrifying.
"PLEASE let us take the gloves off trump!" he texted another agent who, at the time, was facing criminal charges for shooting an unarmed Mexican teenager through the border fence. Migrants, Bowen suggested, are "disgusting subhuman s--- unworthy of being kindling for a fire."
Less than two weeks later, prosecutors say, Bowen hit one such migrant with his truck, coming inches away from running the man over - and then lied about the incident in a report.
The texts came to light in filings last month in U.S. District Court in Tucson as Bowen's attorney fought to suppress a flurry of messages in which the agent used slurs and made light of violence by agents. But Bowen's views are hardly extraordinary, argued his attorney, Sean Chapman. Rather, his sentiments are "commonplace throughout the Border Patrol's Tucson Sector," Chapman wrote, adding that such messages are "part of the agency's culture."
Chapman later clarified in an email to The Washington Post that he intended that argument only to apply to one particular term Bowen regularly used in texts: "tonk," which some agents claim is an innocent acronym, the Arizona Republic reported, and others say is a slur derived from the sound of hitting an immigrant on the head with a flashlight.
The Tucson Sector of the Border Patrol didn't immediately return a message about the texts, though it noted to the Arizona Daily Star on Sunday that agents are "held to the highest standards, and any action of misconduct within our ranks will not be tolerated."
[Breaking point: Five hours of the migrant crush in Texas]
The inflammatory messages are the latest public relations challenge for an overwhelmed agency facing a massive wave of asylum seekers at the southern border and regular allegations from immigration and civil rights groups of abusive behavior toward migrants.
In the dozens of texts introduced in an April 4 filing, Bowen uses racial slurs and insults like "s---bags" to refer to migrants.
In one text exchange, an unnamed agent asked Bowen, "Did you gas hiscorpse (sic) or just use regular peanut oil while tazing?? For a frying effect." Bowen responded: "Guats are best made crispy, with olive oil from their native pais," using the Spanish word for "country" that doubles as an insult toward Guatemalans, the Daily Star reported. In another text, he refers to "mindless murdering savages."
The criminal case against Bowen dates to the morning of Dec. 3, 2017, when a U.S. Customs and Border Protection camera operator spotted a 23-year-old Guatemalan man named Antolin Lopez Aguilar, who was suspected of jumping the border fence in Nogales, according to a federal indictment. As Lopez sprinted to a nearby gas station, Bowen and two other agents responded in separate vehicles.
While one agent hopped out and found Lopez hiding under a semi-truck, Bowen circled the station in his Border Patrol-issued Ford F-150. When the migrant tried to run back toward the border, prosecutors say, Bowen "accelerated aggressively" in his truck. He hit Lopez twice from behind, knocking him down the second time and screeching to a stop "within inches" of running him over, according to the feds. Lopez was treated at the hospital for abrasions and later sentenced to 30 days in federal prison for illegally entering the country, the Republic reported.
Prosecutors say Bowen later filed a false report about what happened that morning. In text messages included in the court filing, he repeatedly complains about facing scrutiny over the incident.
"I bumped a guat with a truck while driving about 7 mph," he wrote in one text. "No injury at all and tonk refused medical."
In another, he wrote that "If I had to tackle the tonk I would still be doing memos," adding, "I wonder how they expect us to apprehend wild ... runners who don't want to be apprehended?'
One day after the incident, he texted with Agent Lonnie Swartz, who would later be acquitted of manslaughter for firing 10 rounds into an unarmed Mexican teen as agents were being hit by rocks thrown across the border. He texted Swartz that the incident was "just a little push with a ford bumper."
Prosecutors have argued in court filings that the texts show that Bowen had "great disdain" for the migrants he policed at the border, the Daily Star reported. But Chapman countered: "How Mr. Bowen referred to aliens in specific text does not aid the jury in determining whether he, on this occasion, set out to use excessive force to apprehend the alleged victim."
Bowen has pleaded not guilty to charges of deprivation of rights under color of law and falsification of records in a federal investigation. Chapman didn't immediately respond to a message from The Washington Post.
Bowen, who was hired in 2008, was put on indefinite leave without pay after his charges were filed in May 2018. His trial is scheduled to start on Aug. 13.
(c) 2019 Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.
Healthy oceans and the plankton they support give us most of the oxygen we breathe and provide food for much of humanity.
We Must Reverse Biodiversity Loss To Save Ourselves
By David Suzuki
We should appreciate nature for its own sake. After all, we're part of it. We must also recognize that nature gives us what we need to stay healthy and survive. What we do to nature, we do to ourselves.
Healthy oceans and the plankton they support give us most of the oxygen we breathe and provide food for much of humanity. Trees sequester carbon, produce oxygen, filter contaminants in air and water and prevent erosion and flooding. Polar ice caps regulate global temperatures and ocean currents. From the smallest microbes to the largest mammals, biodiverse animal life keeps natural systems in balance, ensuring that everything in the food web - including us - can find sustenance.
Nature's interconnections are so wonderfully complex that we're still a long way from fully understanding them, from knowing what the consequences of a seemingly small impact on one part of an ecosystem will have on the entire system.
We can be certain, though, that we're putting all the systems that make human societies possible in great peril. We also know that the main barriers to implementing the many available and emerging solutions are lack of political will and imagination and the refusal of so many people to even acknowledge the problems we've created.
We've known for decades about climate change's devastating effects, but the fossil fuel industry has convinced politicians and media that its enormous profits are more important than life itself. Now, the world's leading scientists are warning that human behaviour is destroying the biodiversity on which human and other life depends at a terrifyingly rapid rate.
"We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide," said Robert Watson, chair of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.
The warning comes in "the most thorough planetary health check ever undertaken," an 1,800-page assessment involving three years of research by 455 scientists and diplomats from 50 countries, who looked at more than 15,000 academic studies, along with reports from Indigenous communities dealing daily with the crises.
The IPBES Global Assessment found, among other things, that one million of Earth's estimated eight million plant and animal species (including 5.5 million insect species) are at risk of extinction, three-quarters of terrestrial and two-thirds of marine environments have been "severely altered" and, since 1700, more than 85 per cent of wetlands have been lost - all because of human activity. The major causes include changes in land and sea use, direct exploitation of organisms, climate change, pollution and invasive alien species, driven by increasing human populations, consumption and technological change.
Loss of forest cover, wetlands, insect populations, biodiversity and more is having devastating impacts on food security, climate change adaptation and global economies. More than US$577 billion in global crops are at risk from pollinator loss alone!
The scientists offer a range of solutions and argue it's not too late to save ourselves from catastrophe with "transformative changes across economic, social, political and technological factors." But, as with climate disruption, we've already wasted a lot of time through political intransigence, denial, fear of change and lack of foresight.
Now, people - especially young people, who are inheriting this mess - are demanding action. From student climate strikes to Extinction Rebellion to calls for a "green new deal," people are letting those in the corridors of power know that time is running out and the status quo is unsustainable.
Is anyone listening? Some signs are promising. Biodiversity loss is on the G8 agenda for the first time, and countries from China to the U.K. have started looking into solutions. But in Canada, we can't even get politicians to agree on a climate solution as basic as putting a price on greenhouse gas emissions, and the current U.S. administration appears to reject any environmental protections. Now, younger, more caring voices are starting to drown out the bleating of those who stand in the way of change.
Many people are doing their part - driving and flying less, eating less meat, reducing and recycling, paying attention to the impacts of their consumer choices and more. Most importantly, they're taking to the streets and polling booths to demand progress.
Solutions are available. We must put all our efforts into reversing course now!
(c) 2019 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co_founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.
The Words 'Money Laundering' And 'President' Should Never Be In The Same Sentence
None of this comes within several hundred hectares of complying with the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution that the president* swore to preserve and protect.
By Charles P. Pierce
These four lengthy sentences from The New York Times should be enough for people of good will and patriotism to consider ending a presidency.
Anti-money laundering specialists at Deutsche Bank recommended in 2016 and 2017 that multiple transactions involving legal entities controlled by Donald J. Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, be reported to a federal financial-crimes watchdog. The transactions, some of which involved Mr. Trump's now-defunct foundation, set off alerts in a computer system designed to detect illicit activity, according to five current and former bank employees. Compliance staff members who then reviewed the transactions prepared so-called suspicious activity reports that they believed should be sent to a unit of the Treasury Department that polices financial crimes.
The president* and his son-in-law, who has anywhere between three and 81 jobs in the administration*, were shuffling money around in such a funky fashion that money-laundering experts-at the only bank in the world from which the president* can get more than a souvenir calendar-felt compelled to raise an alarm. Putting the words "money laundering" and "president" in the same sentence used to be enough for network news to throw up one of those scarifying "BULLETIN" graphics. Putting the word "Russian" in there, too, used to be enough to get Walter Cronkite to sail his sloop all the way from the Vineyard to Black Rock.
In the summer of 2016, Deutsche Bank's software flagged a series of transactions involving the real estate company of Mr. Kushner, now a senior White House adviser. Ms. McFadden, a longtime anti-money laundering specialist in Deutsche Bank's Jacksonville office, said she had reviewed the transactions and found that money had moved from Kushner Companies to Russian individuals. She concluded that the transactions should be reported to the government - in part because federal regulators had ordered Deutsche Bank, which had been caught laundering billions of dollars for Russians, to toughen its scrutiny of potentially illegal transactions.
Apparently, according to the people interviewed by the Times, DB functioned as an all-purpose international laundromat for various people who needed money cleaned. Of course, the stakes rise considerably when one of the folks waiting for the spin cycle to finish is the president* of the United States.
After Mr. Trump became president, transactions involving him and his companies were reviewed by an anti-financial crime team at the bank called the Special Investigations Unit. That team, based in Jacksonville, produced multiple suspicious activity reports involving different entities that Mr. Trump owned or controlled, according to three former Deutsche Bank employees who saw the reports in an internal computer system...Senior executives worried that if they took a tough stance with Mr. Trump's accounts - for example, by demanding payment of a delinquent loan - they could provoke the president's wrath. On the other hand, if they didn't do anything, the bank could be perceived as cutting a lucrative break for Mr. Trump, whose administration wields regulatory and law enforcement power over the bank.
None of this is normal. None of this is right. None of this comes within several hundred hectares of complying with the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution that this guy swore to preserve and protect. Presidents are not supposed to scare bankers into hand-waving money-laundering allegations. That's not in the job description.
(c) 2019 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-
~~~ Patrick Henry
"The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government - lest it come to dominate our lives and interests."
The American South's next Great Migration
By Jane Stillwater
Who knew that America's Red States would stay so doggedly attached to their jankity old Jim Crow laws? "Nothing to see here, folks. Time to move on." But apparently that's never gonna happen. That sort of retro attitude should have ended for good after the Great Migration left much of the South without skilled labor, and the freedom struggles of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement gave Blacks in the Deep South the courage to stand up for their own rights, right? "No more Jim Crow for us!" they cried.
But apparently Jim Crow isn't dead in the Ol' South quite yet.
Apparently Southern radicals just couldn't bear to leave it like that. "What would Jesus do?" their pastors shouted from the pulpit. "He'd look around for another vulnerable group to oppress!" And Southern Man, bless his heart, became so bereft of people to look down his nose at that he started searching for yet another defenseless group of victims to feel superior to, stereotype and oppress.
It used to be Black people at the very bottom rung of the socio-economic ladder south of the Mason-Dixon Line -- but now the new Untouchables in the Cotton Belt are...wait for it...women!
And so now another Great Migration has also begun in the American South. Southern Belles by the hundreds are currently packing up their hoop skirts and contraceptives and moving up to the Blue States.
Pretty soon the new Alabama will become like the new China -- resembling those parts of the Flowery Kingdom today where the ratio of men to women is 100 to one, and Chinese wannabee grooms are being forced to buy brides from Thailand, Myanmar and Pakistan. What? Southern men are soon going to be forced to import their brides from Honduras?
Pretty soon we are going to discover that Southern female asylum-seekers have absolutely flooded New York and Chicago. And California will once again become known as a Sanctuary State -- but this time for giving refuge to fleeing Steel Magnolias. And Alabama will have to beg President Trump to build them a Wall too -- just to keep their Crimson-Tide ladies from rolling.
(c) 2019 Jane Stillwater. Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world. And while you're at it, please buy my books!
Where's The Beef In Trump's New Trade Deal?
By Jim Hightower
"MAGA," blusters Donald Trump - Make America Great Again! America's ranching families, however, would like Trump to come off his high horse and get serious about a more modest goal, namely: Make America COOL Again.
COOL stands for Country-of-Origin-Labeling, a straightforward law simply requiring that agribusiness giants put labels on packages of steak, pork chops, etc. to tell us whether the meat came from the USA, China, Brazil... or Whereintheworldistan. This useful information empowers consumers to decide where their families' food dollars go. But multinational powerhouses like Tyson Foods and Cargill don't want you and me making such decisions.
So, in 2012, the meat monopolists got the World Trade Organization to decree that our nation's COOL law violated global trade rules - and our corporate-submissive congress critters meekly repealed the law.
Then came Donald Trump and his Made-in-America campaign, promising struggling ranchers that he'd restore the COOL label as a centerpiece of his new NAFTA deal. Ranching families cheered because getting that "American Made" brand on their products would mean more sales and better prices.
But wait - Trump has now issued his new US-Mexico-Canada Agreement, and... Where's the beef? In his grandiose, 1,809-page document, COOL is not even mentioned!
Worse, slaps America's hard-hit ranching families in the face for it allows multinational meatpackers to keep shipping foreign beef into the US market that does not meet our food safety standards! Aside from the "yuck" factor and health issues, this gives Tyson and other giants an incentive to abandon US ranchers entirely.
To stand with America's farm and ranch families against their betrayal by Trump and the Big Food monopolists, contact the National Farmers Union: NFU.org.
(c) 2019 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 HightowerLowdown.org.
The Dead Letter Office-
Dear Tennessee Unterfuhrer Van Huss
Congratulations, you have just been awarded the "Vidkun Quisling Award!" Your name will now live throughout history with such past award winners as Marcus Junius Brutus, Judas Iscariot, Benedict Arnold, George Stephanopoulos, Donald J. Trump, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Prescott Bush, Sam Bush, Fredo Bush, Kate Bush, Kyle Busch, Anheuser Busch, Vidkun Quisling, and last year's winner Volksjudge John (the enforcer) Roberts.
Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your demanding that raped children are nothing more than breed mares, Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!
Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Trump at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 07-06-2019. We salute you herr Van Huss, Sieg Heil!
Vice Fuhrer Pence
The House Now Has A Constitutional Duty To Impeach Trump
By Robert Reich
Donald Trump is causing a constitutional crisis with his blanket refusal to respond to any subpoenas.
So what happens now? An impeachment inquiry in the House won't send him packing before election day 2020 because Senate Republicans won't convict him of impeachment.
So the practical political question is whether a House impeachment inquiry helps send him packing after election day. That seems unlikely.
Probably no more than a relative handful of Americans are still unsure of how they'll vote on Nov. 3, 2020. An impeachment is unlikely to reveal so many more revolting details about Trump that these swing voters would be swayed to vote against him, and their votes wouldn't make much of a difference anyway.
Besides, the inquiry probably wouldn't reveal much that's not already known, because House subpoenas will get tangled up in the courts for the remainder of Trump's term (even though courts give more deference to subpoenas in an impeachment inquiry).
Worse yet is the chance that an impeachment inquiry plays into Trump's hands by convincing some wavering voters that Democrats and the "deep state" are out to get Trump, thereby giving him more votes than he'd otherwise get.
Does this mean House Democrats should avoid taking the political risk of impeaching Trump? Not at all.
Another question needs to be considered - not just the practical political effect on the 2020 election, but something more important over the long run.
It is whether an action designed to enforce our Constitution is important for its own sake - even if it goes nowhere, even if it's unpopular with many voters, even if it's politically risky.
Every child in America is supposed to learn about the Constitution's basic principles of separation of powers, and checks and balances.
But these days, every child and every adult in America is learning from Donald Trump that these principles are bunk.
By issuing a blanket refusal to respond to any congressional subpoena, Trump is saying Congress has no constitutional authority to oversee the executive branch. He's telling America that Congress is a subordinate branch of government rather than a co-equal branch. Forget separation of powers.
By spending money on his "wall" that Congress explicitly refused to authorize, Trump is saying that Congress no longer has any constitutional authority over spending. Goodbye, checks and balances.
By unilaterally shuttering the government in order to get his way, Trump has said he has the constitutional right not to execute the laws whenever it suits him. Farewell, Congress.
By directing the attorney general, the Justice Department, the FBI and the Secretary of the Treasury to act in his own personal interest rather than in the interests of the American people, Trump is saying that a president can run the government on his own. Adios, Constitution.
By unilaterally threatening to cut off trade with the second-largest economy in the world, Trump is saying he has sole authority to endanger the entire American economy. (Make no mistake: If he goes through with his threat, the U.S. economy will go into a tailspin.)
By doing whatever he could to stop an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, including firing the head of the FBI, Trump has told America it's OK for a president to obstruct justice. Goodbye, law.
The core purpose of the U.S. Constitution is to prevent tyranny. That's why the framers of the Constitution distributed power among the president, Congress and the judiciary. That's why each of the three branches was designed to limit the powers of the other two.
In other words, the framers anticipated the possibility of a Donald Trump.
The framers also put in mechanisms to enforce the Constitution against a president who tries to usurp the powers of the other branches of government. Article I, Section 2 gives the House of Representatives the "sole power of impeachment." Article I, Section 3 gives the Senate the "sole power to try all impeachments."
Trump surely appears to be usurping the powers of the other branches. Under these circumstances, the Constitution mandates that the House undertake an impeachment inquiry and present evidence to the Senate.
This may not be the practical political thing to do. But it is the right thing to do.
(c) 2019 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 www.robertreich.org.
America's Reproductive Slaves
By Chris Hedges
On Wednesday, the day it was announced that the U.S. birthrate fell for the fourth straight year, signaling the lowest number of births in 32 years, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law the most draconian anti-abortion law in the country. That the two developments came at the same time could not have been more revelatory.
The ruling elites are acutely aware that the steadily declining American birthrate is the result of a de facto "birth strike" by women who, unable to afford adequate health insurance and exorbitant medical bills and denied access to paid parental leave, child care and job protection, find it financially punitive to have children. Not since 1971 have births in the United States been at replacement levels, considered to be 2,100 births per 1,000 women over their lifetimes, a ratio needed for a generation to replace itself. Current births number 1,728 per 1,000 women, a decline of 2% from 2017. Without a steady infusion of immigrants, the U.S. population would be plummeting.
"The effort to block birth control and abortion is not about religion nor about politicians pandering to a right-wing base, nor is it a result of prudery, nor is it to punish women for having sex," Jenny Brown writes in her book "Birth Strike: Hidden Fight Over Women's Work." "It is about the labor of bearing and rearing children: who will do it and who will pay for it."
Raising children is not a lifestyle choice. It is labor-intensive work that demands of parents, and especially women, huge physical, emotional, financial and time commitments. The wider society reaps the benefits of this work. It has a social and moral responsibility to compensate and assist those who raise children.
The birthrate decline is an indicator of the despair and hopelessness that define the lives of tens of millions of young Americans who struggle financially and see little hope for the future. Only by addressing this financial insecurity and desperation, by integrating back into society those who have been pushed aside, can the nation's death spiral be reversed.
In Sweden, parents are entitled to 480 days of paid leave upon the birth or adoption of a child; the government-funded subsidy is 80 percent of the parent's job pay for the first 390 days and a reduced amount for the remaining 90 days. Employers in Sweden pay a tax on salaries to fund parental leave. The unemployed are granted a parental stipend. Parents can split the leave between the two of them. Men take nearly a quarter of parental leave in Sweden, which has one of the highest birthrates in Europe.
America's corporate state has no intention of funding programs and building institutions to ease the burden of rearing and nurturing children. Yes, the corporate state needs young bodies as fodder for the bloated military and endless foreign wars. Yes, it needs workers, especially a surplus of workers, to toil in menial, poorly compensated labor. Yes, it needs consumers to buy its products. But the corporate state, Brown argues, intends to achieve these goals "with a minimum of employer spending and a maximum of unpaid women's work." If women refuse to produce children at levels desired by economic planners, Brown says, then abortion and contraception will be banned or made difficult to obtain. Social Security and pensions will be abolished so the only financial protection from abject poverty for an elderly parent will be children willing to keep their mother or father fed and housed. Eight states dramatically restrict access to abortion, and legislatures in a number of other states are considering legislation to do so. Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota and West Virginia have only one abortion clinic.
The falling birthrate is the real reason women are being forced to become reproductive slaves. As long as wages are kept artificially low (nearly four in 10 middle-aged Americans have no emergency savings, and a third have less than $25,000 invested for retirement), as long as pensions are denied, children become, as in the developing world, the only form of retirement insurance. Policymakers assume that these assaults, coupled with the privatization and destruction of Social Security, will force women to up the birthrate. Brett Kavanaugh's appointment to the Supreme Court makes likely the overturning of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. Indeed, the Alabama law, which makes no exception for victims of rape or incest, is designed to be legally challenged and brought before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The outlawing of abortion will not affect the elites. I saw this in communist Romania, where abortion and contraception were generally illegal from 1966 to 1990 under an unsuccessful effort to boost the country's population from 23 million to 30 million by 2000.
As was the case in Romania, wives, girlfriends, mistresses, sisters and daughters of the elites in the U.S. will have easy access to safe abortions while other women die from procedures done in squalid backrooms at the hands of quacks charging exorbitant fees. Worldwide, almost 23,000 women each year do not survive unsafe abortions, primarily in countries where abortion is illegal or inaccessible. The death toll among Romanian women from unsafe abortions during the 1965-1989 reign of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, who took harsh steps to raise the country's birthrate, was estimated at 10,000.
I spent two years with the Christian right in the U.S., often with members of the so-called "pro-life" movement, in doing research for my book "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America." These Christian fascists, whose heretical version of Christianity is the primary ideology used to justify the outlawing of abortion, have little regard for the sanctity of life. They enthusiastically bless the military and the dropping of iron fragmentation bombs on Muslim families and villages in the Middle East, fervently support the death penalty and absolve militarized police who gun down unarmed people of color trapped in our urban internal colonies. Their bizarre apocalyptic fantasies revel in the mutilation and suffering of nonbelievers, including Jews who do not convert to Christianity and those they dismiss as "nominal Christians." Once out of the womb, poor children are seen as not deserving of help, and 12 million of them go to bed hungry every night in this country.
The crusade for the unborn fires up Christian zealots and anti-abortion fanatics with righteous indignation that can lead to violence. It fosters a self-adulatory and repugnant moral absolutism. But its ultimate goal is to strip women of control of their bodies to reverse the decline in births, especially white births, as well as reinstate a tyrannical patriarchy.
The ruling elites use code words such as "dependency ratio" and "entitlement crisis" to express their fear about declining fertility rates. To indoctrinate the public, they employ mass culture to disseminate propaganda, including that which drives the "right to life" movement. These fake moral crusades, always a part of the mass propaganda used to justify war, are covers to perpetuate and consolidate the interests of the elites.
The architecture of the corporate state is designed to disempower women. Most wages are not sufficient for one worker to support a family. This means that both the father and the mother must have income-producing jobs. If a parent takes time off to raise a child, the family income declines, usually by half, and there often is also a loss of health benefits, leaving the parent raising the child dependent on the spouse. This economic dependency makes it harder for a woman to leave an abusive or failed relationship, perpetuating the powerlessness of women that is at the heart of the system. By forcing poor couples to stay together, it frees the state from providing even minimal benefits. If each parent, for example, earns $15,000 a year, a couple often is priced out of social programs such as welfare.
"There are several programs within the welfare system that pushes parents to get married," Brown said when I interviewed her in April for my television show, "On Contact." "They have unimpeachable names like 'Healthy Families.' What they're really trying to do is get people off of welfare by combining these incomes. But that doesn't solve the problem for that couple, which still doesn't have access to childcare. They still don't have access to decent wages. They still aren't going to be able to take any time off when they get sick. All of these things, [guaranteed] by law in most European countries, we don't have here."
Social Security is not a retirement savings account. It is a pay-as-you-go system to support retired workers. If wages remain low and the numbers of workers decline, payments into Social Security will go down and the program will go into crisis.
"My paycheck this week is paying my mom's Social Security next week," Brown said. "If the age structure of society changes, it changes how many people are going to be paying into the system. The problem is the wage structure. This is the issue for Social Security. The intense worrying about demographic shifts is about employers worrying about having to put in more for retirement if we continue with this system. They don't want to do that."
Families of color, meanwhile, are penalized for having children. African Americans have 2.5 times the infant mortality rate of non-Hispanic whites. African American infants have over twice the sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) mortality rate as non-Hispanic whites. Such children are twice as likely to have asthma, 56% more likely to be obese and 61% more likely to attempt suicide during their high school years. Children of color are often taken from their families and placed in foster care, a system that provides money to foster-care parents but not the biological parents, who are often living below the poverty line.
These poverty-stricken Americans are demonized in mass culture as bad parents who should not be having as many children. Seventy percent of money owed by "deadbeat dads" are owed by those who make less than $10,000 a year. These men are obliged to pay on average 83% of their income for child support. They lose their driver's licenses or are jailed when they cannot make the payments. Walter Scott, an African American father, had been arrested and jailed, initially because of a clerical error, three times on charges of failure to pay child support. His jail sentences saw him lose his jobs. When stopped by a policeman for a faulty brake light in 2015 he ran from his car, fearing that another arrest for failure to pay child support would again leave him unemployed. He ended up being fatally shot in the back by the police officer.
Ignore the religious rhetoric and moral posturing about abortion. This debate is not about the sanctity of life. It is about corporate capitalists who desperately need more bodies and intend to coerce women to produce them.
(c) 2019 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. Keep up with Chris Hedges' latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at www.truthdig.com/chris_hedges.
The Cartoon Corner-
This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Bob Gorrell ~~~
Parting Shots- |
Impeachment Short Form
By Will Durst
Attorney General William Barr has defied Congress, the Constitution, common sense, good grammar and good grooming to protect the president, but impeachment is still on the table.
For all those who keep saying it can't get any weirder, this is on you. Haven't we learned not to taunt the gods? Like those good people whose only motivation for voting for Donald Trump was to shake things up. Are we shook up enough yet?
But who would have thunk the new man in charge of the Justice Department could establish a world record for shameless obsequiousness this fast? He's put the "ole" in grovel and makes Rudy Giuliani look like a blundering, bumbling bungler. Well, he is, but in contrast, the distinction is even more acute.
In less than 10 weeks, Attorney General William Barr has defied subpoenas, Congress, the Constitution, common sense, good practices, good grammar and good grooming all to protect the president of the United States from being held responsible for his actions.
Appearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Donald Trump's handpicked replacement for Jeff Sessions proved to be such a presidential lapdog, he should be recognized by the American Kennel Club as the 194th breed.
Listen close and you can hear the wailing from Hollywood publicists who realize Barr has lowered the bar and they're going to have service their clients with even more excessive sycophantic subservience. The phrase "bow and scrape" will take on asphalt-scuffing connotations.
A problem with this new breed of cur is they're not very housebroken, as he's refused to appear in front of the junior chamber's version of a Judiciary Committee, objecting to having committee staff lawyers interrogate him. Answering questions from Congress members is one thing, but actual lawyers? That's another. Some of those people are smart.
He said when the president told former White House counsel Don McGahn to tell Sessions to fire the special counsel that didn't mean Trump wanted to fire the special counsel. He also believes a president can terminate any proceeding he wants. Because he is The Law. Sylvester Stallone would be so proud.
Barr has effectively created a Catch-22: implying that the president cannot commit a crime, hence he can't be subject to a criminal investigation. Funny, he doesn't look like a Norman Mailer fan.
Under questioning by California Senator Kamala Harris, Barr then claimed he couldn't remember if the White House ever asked or suggested that the Justice Department investigate anybody, you know, like an enemies list. Dodging Richard Nixon's playbook he stole a page from Bill Clinton's, saying he was confused by the word "suggest." He seems perplexed by quite a few words like "truth," "justice" and "the American Way."
The House plans to initiate contempt proceedings unless Barr hands over the full unredacted version of Mueller's report, but enforcement of a contempt charge is the purview of the Justice Department. Headed by the aforementioned William Barr. So chances of him throwing himself in the hoosegaw are somewhere between less than none and dream on big river.
Now, calls for the attorney general to resign or threats of his impeachment are competing directly with the president's sticky situation. Maybe the Democrats can set up an abbreviated process. Impeachment: The Short Form.
What the hell, throw Mike Pence on the fast-track as well. Get some Silicon Valley venture capitalist to fund a start-up. Launch an Impeachment IPO. As Hunter S. Thompson once said, "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."
(c) 2019 Will Durst is an award-winning, nationally acclaimed comedian, columnist, and former sod farmer in New Berlin, Wisconsin. For past columns, commentaries and a calendar of personal appearances, please, please visit: willdurst.com
Issues & Alibis Vol 19 # 21 (c) 05/24/2019
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