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In This Edition

Norman Solomon returns with, "How About Some Gun Control At The Pentagon?"

Ralph Nader asks, "Corporate Criminal Law Heading For Extinction?"

Jesse Jackson wants you to, "Vote Gun Safety This November."

Jim Hightower has a, "Note To Judges: If You Don't Want To Be Called A Partisan Hack, Stop Being One."

William Rivers Pitt says, "In A Different World, Mark Meadows's Evidence-Burning Would Be Shocking."

John Nichols says, "'Let Beto Speak': Texans Desperately Need An Alternative To NRA Republicans."

James Donahue finds, "Plants Are Aware And Communicate."

David Swanson demands we, "Turn Out for the Poor People's Campaign, Regardless Of Its Shortcomings."

David Suzuki says, "Fossil Gas Isn't Natural, And It's Not A Climate Solution."

Charles P. Pierce concludes, "Law Enforcement's Attempt to Cover Its Own Ass In the Robb Elementary Tragedy Is Unforgivable."

Juan Cole reports, "Shouting 'Death to Arabs,' Far Right Israeli Squatters Storm Palestinian Holy Sites, Towns And Schools."

Robert Reich explains, "How Corporations are Using Inflation To Take Your Money."

Thom Hartmann explains, "Why America Must Prepare For a Decades-Long War Over 'Gun Control.'"

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Waterford Whispers News reports, " Unhinged White Man Proposes Doing Something About US Mass Shootings ," but first, Uncle Ernie exclaims. "Global Warming Means Less Sleep!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Marian Kamensky, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Tom Tomorrow, Tayfun Coskun, Brendan Smialowski, Chandan Khanna, Mandel Ngan, Scott Olson, Kwon Junho, Chandan Khanna, Anadolu Agency, Heliofil, Jim Hightower, Twitter, Pixabay, Pexels, AFP, Unsplash, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

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Global Warming Means Less Sleep!
Global warming strikes again!
By Ernest Stewart

"Since prior evidence suggests that short sleep is a risk factor for diminished cognitive functioning, degraded human performance, worsened mood, elevated anxiety, adverse neurological outcomes, compromised immune function, and cardiovascular mortality -- all of which have been separately shown to increase during spells of extreme heat -- our global study spotlights sleep as one of the plausible mechanisms by which climate change may impact human well-being and potentially widen global environmental inequalities." ~~~ Kelton Minor,

I see where global warming could mean less sleep for billions of people. Anyone who's tried to sleep on a hot summer night knows how hard it is to nod off when the temperatures is rising.

So it's no surprise that global warming is likely to cost people more and more shut-eye as temperatures around the world rise.

By the end of this century, individuals could be subjected to at least two weeks of short sleep each year due to high temperatures driven by global warming, a new study projects.

It's even worse for certain vulnerable groups, particularly older folks, said lead author Kelton Minor, who did the research as a doctoral student in planetary social and behavioral data science at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

"The estimated sleep loss per degree of warming was twice as large among the elderly compared to younger or middle-aged adults, three times larger for residents living in lower-income versus high-income countries, and significantly larger for females than males," Minor said.

"Importantly, we found some evidence that the temperature-sensitivity of sleep in late adulthood may become elevated between the ages of 60 and 70, with the magnitude of estimated sleep loss per degree of warming increasing further for those older than 70," he said.

Minor said these projections are based on data from a first-of-its-kind "planet-scale natural experiment," in which more than 47,600 people from 68 countries wore sleep-tracking wristbands from September 2015 through October 2017.

Minor and his colleagues then compared the 7.4 million sleep records they'd gathered against local weather and climate data, to see how heat affected each participant's sleep.

"We found that nights that were randomly warmer than average eroded human sleep duration within individuals globally," Minor said. "We estimated that people slept less and the probability of having a short night of sleep increased as nights became hotter."

Data show that on very warm nights -- 86 degrees Fahrenheit or higher -- sleep declined an average of just over 14 minutes, and the likelihood of getting fewer than seven hours of shut-eye increased as temperatures rise.

Specifically, people tended to nod off later and wake up earlier during hot weather, researchers said.

They also found that people already living in warmer climates experience greater sleep erosion as temperatures rise, and that people don't adapt well to temperature-caused sleep loss in the short-term, Minor said.

"Adults didn't make up for lost sleep over subsequent nights, didn't compensate for nighttime sleep loss with daytime rest and did not appear to acclimatize to more common warmer temperatures over the summer period," he said. Running these numbers through two climate change scenarios, researchers found that people will be losing sleep as the planet warms, no matter what.

Just another one of the thousands of changes brought on by global warming!


06-05-1942 ~ 05-28-2022
Thanks for the film!

02-02-1938 ~ 05-28-2022
Thanks for the film!

01-10-1935 ~ 05-29-2022
Thanks for the music!


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Until the next time, Peace!

(c) 2022 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, philosopher, author, stand -up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.

Aerial view of the Department of Defense, the cornerstone of United States defense.

How About Some Gun Control At The Pentagon?
The weapons of war that maim and kill-the big ones and the small-let's do something to curb them all.
By Norman Solomon

New outcries for gun control have followed the horrible tragedies of mass shootings in Uvalde and Buffalo. "Evil came to that elementary school classroom in Texas, to that grocery store in New York, to far too many places where innocents have died," President Biden declared over the weekend during a university commencement address. As he has said, a badly needed step is gun control-which, it's clear from evidence in many countries, would sharply reduce gun-related deaths.

But what about "gun control" at the Pentagon?

The concept of curtailing the U.S. military's arsenal is such a nonstarter that it doesn't even get mentioned. Yet the annual number of deadly shootings in the United-19,384 at last count-is comparable to the average yearly number of documented civilian deaths directly caused by the Pentagon's warfare in the last two decades. And such figures on war deaths are underestimates.

From high-tech rifles and automatic weapons to drones, long-range missiles and gravity bombs, the U.S. military's weaponry has inflicted carnage in numerous countries. How many people have been directly killed by the "War on Terror" violence? An average of 45,000 human beings each year-more than two-fifths of them innocent civilians-since the terror war began, as documented by the Costs of War project at Brown University.

The mindset of U.S. mass media and mainstream politics is so militarized that such realities are routinely not accorded a second thought, or even any thought. Meanwhile, the Pentagon budget keeps ballooning year after year, with President Biden now proposing $813 billion for fiscal year 2023. Liberals and others frequently denounce how gun manufacturers are making a killing from sales of handguns and semiautomatic rifles in the United States, while weapons sales to the Pentagon continue to spike upward for corporate war mega-profiteers.

As William Hartung showed in his Profits of War report last fall, "Pentagon spending has totaled over $14 trillion since the start of the war in Afghanistan, with one-third to one-half of the total going to military contractors. A large portion of these contracts-one-quarter to one-third of all Pentagon contracts in recent years-have gone to just five major corporations: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman."

What's more, the United States is the world's leading arms exporter, accounting for 35 percent of total weapons sales-more than Russia and China combined. The U.S. arms exports have huge consequences.

Pointing out that the Saudi-led war and blockade on Yemen "has helped cause the deaths of nearly half a million people," a letter to Congress from 60 organizations in late April said that "the United States must cease supplying weapons, spare parts, maintenance services, and logistical support to Saudi Arabia."

How is it that countless anguished commentators and concerned individuals across the USA can express justified fury at gun marketers and gun-related murders when a mass shooting occurs inside U.S. borders, while remaining silent about the need for meaningful gun control at the Pentagon?

The civilians who have died-and are continuing to die-from use of U.S. military weapons don't appear on American TV screens. Many lose their lives due to military operations that are unreported by U.S. news media, either because mainline journalists don't bother to cover the story or because those operations are kept secret by the U.S. government. As a practical matter, the actual system treats certain war victims as "unworthy" of notice.

Whatever the causal mix might be-in whatever proportions of conscious or unconscious nationalism, jingoism, chauvinism, racism and flat-out eagerness to believe whatever comforting fairy tale is repeatedly told by media and government officials-the resulting concoction is a dire refusal to acknowledge key realities of U.S. society and foreign policy.

To heighten the routine deception, we've been drilled into calling the nation's military budget a "defense" budget-while Congress devotes half of all discretionary spending to the military, the USA spends more on its military than the next 10 countries combined (most of them allies), the Pentagon operates 750 military bases overseas, and the United States is now conducting military operations in 85 countries.

Yes, gun control is a great idea. For the small guns. And the big ones.

(c) 2022 Norman Solomon is co-founder of and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death" and "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State."

Wall Streeters made out like bandits while people on Main Street suffered" after the 2008 financial crisis.

Corporate Criminal Law Heading For Extinction?
People laugh when they hear politicians solemnly declare that "no one is above the law," extol "the rule of law" and "equal justice under the law."
By Ralph Nader

Crimes without criminals was not a subject for study when I was in law school. The two were seen as part of the same illegal package. That was before notorious corporate lawyers and a cash register Congress combined to separate economic, health and safety crimes from corporate accountability, incarceration and deterrence.

Lawlessness is now so rampant that a group of realistic law professors, led by Professor Mihailis E. Diamantis of the University of Iowa Law School, claim there is no corporate criminal law. I say "realistic" because their assertion that corporate criminal law, does not in fact, exist is not widely acknowledged by their peers.

Most Americans know that none of the executives on Wall Street who are responsible for the lies, deception, and phony investments they sold to millions of trusting investors were prosecuted and sent to jail. "They got away with it," was the common refrain during the 2008-2009 meltdown of Wall Street that took our economy down and into a deep recession that resulted in massive job loss and the looting of savings of tens of millions of Americans.

Not only did the Wall Street Barons escape the Sheriff but they got an obedient Congress, White House and Federal Reserve to guarantee trillions of dollars to bail them out, implicitly warning that the big banks, brokerage firms and other giant financial corporations were simply "too big to fail." They had the economy by the throat and taxpayer dollars in their pockets. Moreover, Wall Streeters made out like bandits while people on Main Street suffered.

All this and much more made up a rare symposium organized by Professor Diamantis last year at Georgetown Law School. (See:). He wrote that the "economic impact of corporate crime is at least twenty times greater than all other criminal offenses combined," quoting conservative estimates by the FBI. It's not just economic, he continued: "Scholars, prosecutors and courts increasingly recognize that brand name corporations also commit a broad range of 'street crimes': homicide, arson, drug trafficking, dumping and sex offenses."

The litany of corporate wrongdoing ranges from polluting the air and drinking water, dumping microplastics that end up inside human beings, promoting lethal opioids that caused hundreds of thousands of deaths, providing millions of accounts or products to customers under false pretenses or without consent, often by creating false records or misusing customers' identities, (Wells Fargo), manufacturing defective motor vehicles, producing contaminated food, allowing software failures resulting in crashes of two Boeing 737 MAX's with 346 deaths. (See, Why Not Jail? By Rena Steinzor).

People don't need law professors to see what's happening to them and their children. People laugh when they hear politicians solemnly declare that "no one is above the law," extol "the rule of law" and "equal justice under the law."

By far the greatest toll in preventable fatalities and serious injuries in the U.S. flows from either deliberate, negligent or corner-cutting corporate crime under the direct control and management of CEOs and company presidents, many of whom make over $10,000 an hour over a 40-hour week.

Five thousand people a week die in hospitals due to "preventable problems," documents a Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine study. The EPA estimates some 65,000 deaths a year from air pollution; OSHA has estimated about 60,000 work-related fatalities from diseases and traumas in the workplace. This carnage does not include the far greater numbers of people suffering from illnesses and injuries.

This range of corporate destruction was pointed out thirty-four years ago by Russell Mokhiber in his classic book, Corporate Crime and Violence: Big Business Power and the Abuse of the Public Trust (Sierra Club, 1988).

What are Congress and the White House saying and doing about this growing corporate crime wave? Saying little and doing almost nothing. Corporate criminal law enforcement budgets are ridiculously paltry. The Department of Health and Human Services recovers less than three percent of the estimated $100 billion a year stolen from Medicare and Medicaid. There are too few cops on the corporate crime beat and the White House and Congress are unwilling to remedy this problem.

Congress doesn't hold broad hearings on corporate crime, except when a dustup gets headlines like the recent contaminated baby formula from the unsanitary Abbott factory in Sturgis, Michigan.

This is remarkable because since January 2021, two of the rare outspoken lawmakers against corporate criminality, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), both are chairs of subcommittees in the Senate Judiciary Committee. There are large gaps to be filled and updated in the inadequate federal corporate criminal law. Some regulatory agencies, such as the FAA (aviation) and NHTSA (auto safety) have no criminal penalty whatsoever for willful and knowing violations that directly result in fatalities.

Then there is the patsy Department of Justice (DOJ). For years we've asked DOJ officials to ask Congress to fund a corporate crime database (like the street crime database). Attorney General Merrick Garland won't even respond to letters about this issue. For years, specialists like Columbia Law professor John Coffee have been urging the DOJ to stop settling the few cases they bring against corporate crooks with weak "deferred prosecution agreements" or "non-prosecution agreements." These deals involve modest fines, no jail time for the corporate bosses and a kind of temporary probation for the corporation.

Corporate attorneys play the DOJ like a harp knowing that the Department has a small budget for prosecuting corporate crime and that many DOJ attorneys are looking for lucrative jobs in these corporate law firms, after a few years of government service. Any one of many giant corporate law firms has more attorneys than all the lawyers working on corporate crime in the Department of Justice.

Professor Diamantis, W. Robert Thomas and their colleagues are prolific writers of law review articles. They argue for a range of effective penalties that will deter recidivism, which is rampant. They probe restructuring the corporate hierarchies of privileges and immunities from the law. They argue for updating the antiquated federal criminal code to match new technological/Internet/artificial intelligence (AI) violations.

Until, however, these scholars can make it into the mainstream media to reach enough citizens and get this "law and order" agenda adopted by candidates campaigning for elective office, the ideas they advance will circulate mostly among themselves indefinitely.

(c) 2022 Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His latest book is The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for Our American Future. Other recent books include, The Seventeen Traditions: Lessons from an American Childhood, Getting Steamed to Overcome Corporatism: Build It Together to Win, and "Only The Super -Rich Can Save Us" (a novel).

Children participate in a March for Our Lives rally on March 24, 2018 in Round Rock, Texas.

Vote Gun Safety This November
Congressional Republicans are about power, not being moral or rational. They have to be taken on and taken out politically.
By Jesse Jackson

It happened again.

This time it was a mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, of 19 mostly fourth-grade students, along with two teachers, killed by a young man who had just turned 18 and bought himself a gift of two high-powered military weapons designed to kill people in war and 375 rounds of ammunition, which he used to shoot down his victims like rabid dogs.

Democrats must stop being naive about negotiating with Republicans over guns.

For an event to be considered a mass shooting at least four people must be killed or wounded. Anything less is not considered a mass shooting. So far this year we are at 214 mass shootings, an average of about 10 per week.

The red and blue teams immediately jumped to their customary positions. The red team in the past blamed young people for watching too many violent video games. Now mental illness seems to be the red team's dominant rationale. And their solutions range from arming teachers to hardening schools and many other ideas in between.

What's the red team's strategy? Look over here! Look over there at any shiny object other than we live in a country where citizens own more than 400 million guns in a population of 330 million, with a long history of violence growing out of an ideology of white supremacy over racial minorities-Native Americans, African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians. Some whites are now advocating, expecting or preparing for another civil war, much of it based on a racist "white replacement theory."

The blue team mostly advocates for H.R. 8, a fairly comprehensive common-sense gun regulation proposal passed in the U.S. House but sitting on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's, D-New York, desk because Republicans are universally opposed-possibly along with Democrats Joe Manchin, D-W.Va, and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz.-and because it requires 60 votes or an end to the filibuster. It will never pass in this Congress.

Democrats are being un-political because they are still trying to persuade Republicans to support common-sense gun legislation through moral persuasion and rational arguments. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Republicans are not interested.

The only "replacement theory" Democrats should be advancing is replacing members of the red team with members of the blue team. This group of congressional Republicans is about power, not being moral or rational. They have to be taken on and taken out politically-defeated and replaced.

What should be the Democratic strategy? There will likely be many motivating events and issues that should inspire Democrats to go to the polls for the Nov. 8 midterm elections.

The Supreme Court may play a big part in this regard as early as June. The court may overturn Roe v. Wade and galvanize women voters. It may upend or weaken affirmative action and activate racial minorities and women to rush to the voting booth. It likely will declare a New York gun law unconstitutional, opening the door to a national policy of "open carry" and awakening gun regulation advocates to vote in record numbers.

But to make sure greater gun safety and common sense gun laws-supported by up to 90% of the American people-are on voters' minds in November, Democrats must do the following.

Break up the dozen or more individual parts of a comprehensive package of gun safety legislation-e.g., an assault weapons ban, background checks, red flag law and more-and make the House and the Senate members vote on them individually. There should be coordination between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Schumer in the Senate. The House should vote on Tuesday and the Senate on Thursday, on one issue at a time, one a week, week after week, all the way to November. It's possible one of them may actually pass. That would be good news and start us down a path of greater gun safety. But strategically, put it at the beginning so that the closer we get to Nov. 8, voters will mostly remember all the "no" votes cast by Republicans on common-sense gun laws that would make the American people safer.

Democrats must stop being naive about negotiating with Republicans over guns because their strategy is to delay, divert, deny and defeat Democrats in November. Democrats must flip the table.

(c) 2022 Jesse Jackson is an African-American civil rights activist and Baptist minister. He was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988 and served as shadow senator for the District of Columbia from 1991 to 1997. He was the founder of both entities that merged to form Rainbow/PUSH.

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts walks out of the Senate chamber after the Senate impeachment vote on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on February 5, 2020.

Note To Judges: If You Don't Want To Be Called A Partisan Hack, Stop Being One

A court so far out of touch with the people is marching forth with no cloak of legitimacy.

By Jim Hightower

Today's six-member supermajority on the Supreme Court has surrendered all claim to being an impartial moral force for blind justice. Instead, the GOP's small network of corporate and right-wing operatives has painstakingly fabricated and weaponized the court as its own political oligarchy. In only a couple of decades, backed by a few billionaires, these anti-democracy zealots have incrementally been imposing on America an extremist political agenda that they could not win at the ballot box.

Their "Eureka!" moment - the startling development that opened the eyes of the moneyed elites and ideologues to the raw power they could grab by politicizing the judiciary - was the Supreme Court's illegitimate Bush v. Gore ruling. In December 2000, that five-person GOP majority abruptly crashed Florida's presidential vote count, storming over both democracy and judicial propriety to install George W. in the White House. Appalled, dissenting Justice John Paul Stevens mocked the five, pointing out that while their trumped-up ruling didn't really establish whether Bush or Gore won, it did make the loser "pellucidly clear: It is the Nation's confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law."

One of those who helped run the court's blatant political power play over the Florida vote was an obscure corporate lawyer who had long been an aggressive, behind-the-scenes Republican monkey-wrencher pushing to restrict voting by people of color, poor people and other Democratic constituencies: John Roberts. Shortly thereafter - surprise! - Bush elevated Roberts to a top federal judgeship, and just two years later moved him on up to America's ultimate judicial power spot, chief justice of the Supremes.

From this lofty roost, Roberts has orchestrated an expansive political docket for the court, handpicking cases created and advanced by far-right interests. He then has manipulated precedents and procedures to produce convoluted decisions that impose plutocratic, autocratic and theocratic domination over the American people's democratic rights and aspirations.

To date, Chief Justice John Roberts has cobbled together slim, all-Republican majorities to hand down more than 80 blatantly partisan rulings, fabricating law that We the People have never voted for and don't support.

It's bizarre to have the Supreme Court, the least democratic branch of government, professing to speak in the name of The People. Even as its right-wing core is grinding out an unprecedented level of partisan judgments that We the People clearly do not want - and will not support. Take that abortion right, for example, that the court - now freshly packed with former President Donald Trump's trio of Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh - will likely move this year to nullify. If they do, it will be a pricey "victory" for those politicos, because they are imperiously thrusting their own agenda over the overwhelming will of the people.

Helloooo, your honors: Some six in 10 Americans have consistently and passionately affirmed that these deeply personal and emotional decisions belong to the women affected, not to unelected ideologues and political opportunists. A court so far out of touch with the people is marching forth with no cloak of legitimacy, squandering its authority to be taken seriously, much less obeyed.

Not only has this band of self-righteous judges been punching their reactionary social biases into court-made law, but they've also been rubber-stamping cases to enthrone corporate supremacy over us and our environment. Throughout Roberts' reign, the court has sided with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (the chief front group for U.S. corporate giants) a staggering 70% of the time! Indeed, three members - Roberts, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas - now rank among the five most corporate-friendly justices of the past 75 years.

This aggressive corporatization and partisanship has lifted the Supremes to a new level of public awareness - much to their chagrin. In a Quinnipiac survey last November, more than six in 10 Americans said they believe Supreme Court decisions are motivated primarily by politics, not by unbiased readings of the law. Rather than instilling a modicum of humility, however, the bad reviews have stirred embarrassing outbursts of judicial pique and vitriol. Alito, for example, whined loudly last year that critics are engaged in "unprecedented efforts to intimidate the court or damage it as an independent institution." Likewise, Barrett was so stung that she felt it necessary to go public with a strained denial, pleading for the public to believe that "this court is not comprised of a bunch of partisan hacks."

Note to petulant judges: If you don't want to be called a partisan hack, stop being one. And, Brother Alito, it's not critics who're damaging the third branch "as an independent institution," it's your obsequious fealty to corporate interests and your knee-jerk allegiance to extremist ideologues. You can wear the robe, but you can't hide in it.

(c) 2022 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates,"is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition. Jim writes The Hightower Lowdown, a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America's ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows arrives at a rally on October 15, 2020, in Greenville, North Carolina.

In A Different World, Mark Meadows's Evidence-Burning Would Be Shocking
By William Rivers Pitt

If I had any remaining faith whatsoever in the reach of the "justice" system as it pertains to the rich and powerful, I'd be halfway convinced Donald Trump and his pals are in impressively deep shit. In the immortal words of Ted "Theodore" Logan, "Strange things are afoot at the Circle-K."

Back in February, it was revealed that while in office, Donald Trump was in the habit of destroying official documents once he was finished looking at them (or not looking at them, as was usually the case). These papers, most of which were supposed to go to the National Archives at some point, wound up in pieces on the floor, and staffers would try to tape them back together. Other times, the shreds wound up in a toilet, after which I assume no tape salvage was attempted. Former White House aide Omarosa Newman tells a tale of Trump actually eating sensitive documents after meeting with his lawyer, Michael Cohen.

These revelations were greeted with a collective, "Oh, OK" from the people. I mean, come on, try harder, hit me where it hurts. After so many years filled with so many stories of Trump's gross behavior, a report on him wrecking paperwork barely moves the needle. At this point, I'd be more impressed with a headline like, "Confirmed: Trump Is Mammal - Drinks Water, Breathes Air." Yeah, right. Fake news.

Then along comes this little tidbit. It seems Trump was not the only member of the administration who made a practice of wrecking the documentary record: "Then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows burned papers in his office after meeting with a House Republican who was working to challenge the 2020 election," reports Politico, "according to testimony the Jan. 6 select committee has heard from one of his former aides."

The report continues:

Cassidy Hutchinson, who worked under Meadows when he was former President Donald Trump's chief of staff, told the panel investigating the Capitol attack that she saw Meadows incinerate documents after a meeting in his office with Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.). A person familiar with the testimony described it on condition of anonymity. The Meadows-Perry meeting came in the weeks after Election Day 2020, as Trump and his allies searched for ways to reverse the election results.

It's unclear whether Hutchinson told the committee which specific papers were burnt, and if federal records laws required the materials' preservation. Meadows' destruction of papers is a key focus for the select committee, and the person familiar with the testimony said investigators pressed Hutchinson for details about the issue for more than 90 minutes during a recent deposition.

Not to speak too broadly, but a general rule of thumb I adhere to is, "People in an innocent frame of mind don't destroy evidence." Oliver North may be one of the most arrogant skinbags ever to curse the Earth, but even he spent some quality time with Fawn Hall and the shredders when the Iran-Contra roof was about to cave in. You could amend the end of that sentence above to suit the circumstances - "People in an innocent frame of mind don't light things on fire in the White House" - but it's all the same laundry in the end.

What did Meadows and Perry talk about that inspired such pyrotechnics from the White House chief of staff? Did the aide know? Did she testify to same?

If this is the kind of stuff the January 6 committee has been dredging up in their investigation, the hearings slated for June are going to need a "Warning: Explosives" sign on the door. Meadows was worried enough about any investigation into the doings on January 6 that he torched those papers before the committee had really gotten started. Between him and Trump, I'm frankly amazed the committee actually got any documents at all. Ten bags of ashes and a middle finger would be more in line with the ethos of that administration.

Another Trump satellite currently enduring The Fear is Rep. Jim "Gym" Jordan of Ohio, who has been slapped with a subpoena to appear before his colleagues and explain his role in the attempted overthrow of the government. While not yet in open defiance of the summons, Jordan has rolled out a list of demands to be met before he appears, like some half-assed bank robber who has taken himself hostage by mistake.

Among his requirements is a demand to see the evidence against him: "Jordan requested that the committee provide him with 'all documents, videos, or other material … that you potentially anticipate using, introducing, or relying on during questioning,'" reports The Washington Post. "Only then could he 'adequately further respond to [the] subpoena,' Jordan wrote."

Cute, that. It's always nice to see the answers before the test.

The funkiest of the funk, however, comes to us courtesy of a four-judge panel in New York's appellate division, which upheld Manhattan Judge Arthur Engoron's ruling that Trump and the Trumplings must provide sworn deposition testimony to New York Attorney General Letitia James. Trump's legal team, in its seemingly eternal quest to bend the notion of incompetence into bold new shapes, took a novel approach toward trying to weasel their clients out of sitting down on the record.

"His lawyers argued that ordering the Trumps to testify violated their constitutional rights because their answers could be used in a parallel criminal investigation," reports the Associated Press. Ha, ho, um, what now? If that is not the guiltiest line of argument in the history of jurisprudence, it has to be somewhere in the top five. Your Honor, if my client testifies about money laundering, they might ask him about the murders.

The appellate court masticated that ball of cud and spat it out with extreme prejudice. "The existence of a criminal investigation does not preclude civil discovery of related facts, at which a party may exercise the privilege against self-incrimination," they replied. In other words Donny, sit your arse down and practice saying, "On the advice of counsel, I decline to answer," over and over and over again. Same goes for the Trumplings. That's going to play real well on the news.

If this timeline continues to unspool as it has, one of these days we're going to see a headline that reads, "Trump Tried to Eat Declaration of Independence in Front of Horrified National Archive Tourists; Aides Intervened With Big Mac"... and nobody will blink. We have spent so much time since 2016 repeating the incantation, "This is not normal, this is not normal" to try and stave off the normalization of brazen criminal behavior. Have we failed? Trump is eating the paperwork when not flushing it down toilets, his chief of staff is burning the notes of his meetings with known insurrectionists, and Jordan wants the answers to Jeopardy before the show. Our collective tolerance for mendacity has become intolerably high. Mission accomplished?

(c) 2022 William Rivers Pitt is a senior editor and lead columnist at Truthout. He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know, The Greatest Sedition Is Silence and House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation. His fourth book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co_written with Dahr Jamail, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in New Hampshire.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke speaks to the media after interrupting
a press conference held by Texas Governor Greg Abbott in Uvalde on May 25.

'Let Beto Speak': Texans Desperately Need An Alternative To NRA Republicans
Beto O'Rourke interrupted the state's gun apologists on Wednesday, showing he knows exactly how to run for governor of a state plagued by mass shootings.
By John Nichols

Texas gubernatorial contests have been unbalanced for decades, as increasingly reactionary Republicans have elbowed their way onto center stage-drawing all the energy and attention to themselves-while Democrats have struggled to get off the sidelines. Even when they have had dynamic candidates, like Wendy Davis in 2014, Democrats have had a hard time building the coalitions that are necessary to compete with a Republican machine that has so dominated the ballot that no Democratic gubernatorial contender since 1994 has won more than 43 percent of the vote.

But this year could be different.

Beto O'Rourke-who in his 2018 bid for the US Senate won more than 48 percent of the vote and gave Republican Senator Ted Cruz a major scare-is running a no-holds-barred campaign that is taking the risks that grab attention and just might rewrite the narrative of Texas politics.

In a state where Democrats have been knocked down again and again, O'Rourke is on his feet and ready for a fight.

That was obvious Wednesday, when the Democratic nominee for governor interrupted a media event organized by Governor Greg Abbott and his cronies, where the fierce foes of gun control had hoped to fool Texans into thinking they were interested in taking action to prevent more horrors like Tuesday's massacre of 19 school children and two teachers in the city of Uvalde.

In the midst of the carefully choreographed event, O'Rourke strode to the front of the room before Abbott, Cruz, and their Republican apologists, and calmly explained that the shooting at Robb Elementary School was "totally predictable" and "preventable."

"You are doing nothing," O'Rourke declared. "You are offering up nothing."

As the governor's henchmen shouted obscenities, and demanded that O'Rourke be removed, the former representative from El Paso spoke the truth that could not be denied. Pointing at the governor, the ardent supporter of measures to address gun violence said, "This is on you until you choose to do something different. This will continue to happen. Somebody needs to stand up for the children of this state or they will continue to be killed just like they were killed in Uvalde yesterday."

The peddlers of political platitudes grew agitated. "Sit down and don't play this stunt," cried Cruz. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick shouted, "You're out of line and an embarrassment." The mayor of Uvalde, a right-wing Republican, lost control and started screaming that O'Rourke was "a sick son of a bitch" who wanted "to make a political issue" of the gun violence that has plagued Texas-a state that saw 27 people die in a mass shooting in 2017 at a Sutherland Springs Baptist Church and 23 die after a 2019 mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso.

At the same time, cries of "Let him speak!" erupted from the room. Amid the chaos, O'Rourke was making a point that a great many Texans know to be true. That is why parents of the murdered children invited O'Rourke into their homes on Wednesday. That is why members of the community welcomed him at a vigil for the dead.

O'Rourke explained to reporters after he left why he interrupted the governor's media event: "After every one of these [mass shootings, Abbott] holds a press conference just like this. And I wish to hell when he came to El Paso that someone would have stood up and held him to account and confronted him and shocked the conscience of this state into doing something. Because if we do nothing, we will continue to see this. Year after year, school after school, kid after kid. This is on all of us, every single one of us to do something."

Democrats have struggled for decades to get a strong reaction for their gubernatorial candidates. But when O'Rourke stood up Wednesday, people listened-and wanted to hear more. "Let Beto speak," said one woman in the crowd. "He has a lot to say!"

And when O'Rourke stood up, the confrontation was televised. Clips trended immediately on social media.

He showed after the event that he's not letting up. When O'Rourke learned that Abbott attended a campaign fundraising event hours after the massacre, he tweeted, "He was counting dollars while they were counting bodies."

The events of this week do not guarantee that O'Rourke will win in November. After all, while he came close to beating Cruz in a midterm election year that was good for Democrats, there are a lot of indications that 2022 could be a rough one for the party. Texas Republicans have implemented draconian voter suppression strategies that are designed to make casting a ballot harder for the voters O'Rourke needs to turn out-people of color, college students, and young women who are concerned about the assault on abortion rights.

It's clear that O'Rourke knows he is going to have to be more aggressive and confrontational if he is going to upend Abbott. So he is pushing beyond the boundaries of traditional politics-and, undoubtedly, beyond the comfort zones of traditional Democratic consultants. Polls on gun control by the Texas Politics Project at the University of Austin regularly show that a plurality of Texans favor stricter gun laws, and that at some points in recent years a majority have supported tougher standards. But the numbers are fluid, and the NRA and its allies are so well organized in the state that taking a stand for gun control is seen as risky. What O'Rourke recognizes is that avoiding the risk cedes the issue to Republicans like Abbott. By talking about the issue, in blunt and unapologetic terms, he enters the debate in a way that can mobilize his base, while perhaps changing the minds of swing voters.

An edgier politics that calls out Republican hypocrisy might be just the ticket for Texas Democrats this year. And there's a precedent that says it might work. Back in the 1980s and early '90s, when a Bush from Texas occupied the White House, Democrat Ann Richards took on conservative Democrats and corporate Republicans with sharp and unapologetic language. She was honest, funny, and fiercely effective when it came to mounting populist appeals. Richards never let her rivals off the hook-even mocking the accents of Bushes who "summered" on the Maine coast-and it threw the Republicans off-balance. Conservatives and corporatists said she went too far. But the people listened. And in November of 1990, they elected her as the state's first woman governor.

Ann Richards was the last Democratic governor of Texas. Beto O'Rourke, if he keeps interrupting the Republican narrative, could be the next one.

(c) 2022 John Nichols writes about politics for The Capitol Times. His book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

Plants Are Aware And Communicate
By James Donahue

James Westwood, a professor in plant pathology, physiology and weeds at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Virginia Tech, claims that plants communicate with each other and even share genetic information.

Westwood published his findings in the journal Science.

Somehow it is not news to people who love and grow plants, and to many home gardeners, although the extent of communication, apparently using a special language known only to the plant kingdom, might be of great interest.

In his research involving a parasitic plant (like a vine) that feeds off of a host plant, Westwood discovered that there is a passing of Ribonucleic acid (RNA), or biological molecules between plants that carry coding, regulation and genetic information between plants. He says there is a special form of RNA which Westwood calls "messenger" RNA that appears to be involved in protein synthesis during translation.

Some plants appear to use this information to establish a defense against certain harmful parasites, Westwood found.

My late wife, Doris, who loved to grow flowers and always kept house plants, knew that some plants did not get along with one another. She always placed her house plants among other "friendly" plants where they grew lush and green. When in an environment they did not like, the plants remained stunted and sometimes died.

Choosing the right place in the house was always an important part of growing indoor plants. Some only wanted a little sunlight, others wanted no direct sunlight at all.MO<> Doris always spoke lovingly to her plants and found that they responded to friendly human touch as well.

Other research in plant pathology has determined that plants are keenly aware of their environment and they respond to loving care. They also have a negative response to violent and unfriendly behavior in the room.

(c) 2022 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles.

Turn Out for the Poor People's Campaign, Regardless Of Its Shortcomings
By David Swanson

Everyone should get in the streets of Washington DC for the event planned by the Poor People's Campaign on June 18 - if not sooner.

In a normal country, the streets would long since have been packed, government offices surrounded, public squares occupied, and change demanded. The U.S. - and the world with it - is suffering severely from unrepresentative government, the hoarding of wealth by a tiny group of overlords, the devastation of the Earth's climate and ecosystems, the normalization of violence and massive warmaking and the risk of nuclear apocalypse, and the spread of all kinds of racist hatred and bigotry.

People have been conditioned to suppose that the proper response to this is to spend several months chattering about how they're going to vote, and then take 5 minutes to vote for either an outright fascist or a completely unprincipled facilitator of maintaining a steady pace toward the approaching cliff - one or the other of whom has already been guaranteed victory by gerrymandering.

This absurd learned helplessness is actually modeled for people by the poor wittle Democrats who only have the White House and a majority in both houses of the Congress but prefer not to defy their funders.

Of all the lies told to us, powerlessness is the worst, the most unrelenting, the most effective, and the most damaging. If anyone is willing to ask anyone else to get off their ass even for a minute for any set of more-or-less good causes, they damn well ought to be encouraged. Any shortcomings of event organizers ought not to matter, both because we need a movement much larger than any individuals can lead, and because we're up against the horrors of a sociopathic system that appears to run on dollars but is principally fueled by our own voluntary disempowerment.

A while back the Poor People's Campaign sent around an email supporting unlimited spending on weapons for Ukraine. When some of us objected, the response was various peaceful statements, but never any opposition to sending weapons to Ukraine. I'm not for an instant suggesting that isn't disgusting. I'm not proposing that anyone accept a Progressive-Except-For-Peace agenda. I'm proposing that we have war, oligarchy, bigotry, and many other problems to tackle, and that if anyone will attempt direct nonviolent creative action on any of them, we ought to be there. In fact the Poor People's Campaign usually, if not always consistently, proposes to tackle all of the interlocking evils we're up against. And that's the best that's ever seen in this corner of the globe.

Why are you still sitting there?

(c) 2022 David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

Gas usage in homes and buildings also causes indoor air pollution, emitting nitrogen oxides, formaldehyde, nitric oxide and carbon monoxide, which can linger for hours.

Fossil Gas Isn't Natural, And It's Not A Climate Solution
By David Suzuki

The fossil fuel industry has employed many strategies over the years to keep money flowing.

It's covered up its own science showing that burning its products is heating the world. It's sowed doubt and confusion about the evidence through front groups and compromised "experts." And it's lobbied politicians and contributed generously to their campaigns. Industry executives have consistently put their own interests ahead of the health and survival of humanity.

It's also used "greenwashing" and misleading language to garner support for its destructive products. One example is the term "natural gas." As a fossil fuel, it's no more natural than coal or oil, and just as destructive.

In the face of increasing concern about oil and coal's pollution and climate impacts, the industry has upped its campaign to promote fossil gas as a cleaner alternative or as a "transition" or "bridge" fuel while the world shifts to renewable energy. A 2011 David Suzuki Foundation and Pembina Institute report detailed the fallacy of the bridge fuel argument, as has more recent research.

My home province's gas company, FortisBC, has joined others - including Enbridge, TC Energy and ATCO Gas - in Fuelling Canada, an organization created by the Canadian Gas Association. Part of a push by gas companies everywhere, these companies and organizations have been spending enormous amounts on advertising (often designed to appear as journalism) on numerous platforms and outlets.

As Vancouver and Quebec join jurisdictions around the world banning fossil gas in many new building developments, gas companies are fighting back. With ads and articles extolling the virtues of "clean" gas, "bridge" fuels and "renewable natural gas," the companies want customers to believe they're part of the environmental solution to climate disruption.

They aren't. So-called "natural" gas is, in fact, a processed fossil fuel composed almost entirely of methane - a greenhouse gas about 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide over the short term. Most of it is now obtained by fracking vast landscapes - blasting large volumes of water, chemicals and sand into rock formations to shatter them and allow bubbles of trapped gas to escape and funnel into wells. Methane escapes into the atmosphere in every step of the process - fracking, processing, transporting and burning in homes and buildings - even more than industry and governments have been reporting.

Renewable natural gas is mostly methane obtained from agricultural, landfill or other waste. Although it's better than fracked gas, as it can utilize some methane that would otherwise escape into the atmosphere, and has applications in hard-to-decarbonize industries, it doesn't live up to the hype. For example, FortisBC offers customers the option of being supplied with RNG, but it doesn't mention that existing customers are getting the same gas as everyone else, which is more than 99 per cent fossil gas.

For building cooling and heating, heat pumps are far more efficient, and less expensive, than gas. Gas usage in homes and buildings also causes indoor air pollution, emitting nitrogen oxides, formaldehyde, nitric oxide and carbon monoxide, which can linger for hours. Studies have shown this can cause respiratory ailments like decreased lung function and asthma, especially in children.

University of Saskatchewan chemist Tara Kahan and colleagues measured pollution in homes with gas stoves in 2017 and 2018. "All of the researchers were pretty horrified," she told CBC, adding that she switched her gas stove to an electric induction appliance. Many chefs are also switching to efficient induction stoves.

Buildings were the third largest greenhouse gas emissions source in Canada in 2019, much of it from space and water heating.

The solution to the climate crisis and to building and home emissions - as scientists and experts worldwide from organizations and institutions ranging from the International Energy Agency to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have shown - is not more fossil fuels; it's electrification using renewable energy and storage, along with energy efficiency and conservation. As a new David Suzuki Foundation modelling study finds, doing so is entirely possible in Canada by 2035.

As every scientist and energy expert who understands the climate crisis keeps saying, we can't continue fracking, building pipelines, expanding oilsands and developing oil, gas and coal projects if we want to avoid worsening climate impacts - and we don't have to.

We have solutions. Fossil gas isn't one of them.

(c) 2022 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

Law Enforcement's Attempt to Cover Its Own Ass In the Robb Elementary Tragedy Is Unforgivable
Almost as unforgivable as its repeated blundering of their response on the day of the massacre.
By Charles P. Pierce

The massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas was sadly predictable and sadly inevitable. What I had not anticipated was the unforgivable blundering of local law enforcement, or the unforgivable and repeated attempts by local law enforcement, a) to explain its unforgivable blundering and, b) to cover its own ass from what is going to the harsh verdict of justice. The latest effort came late Friday morning and to call it catastrophic would be criminally understating how much of a fiasco it was. Victor Escalon, the regional director for the Texas Department of Public Safety, took the mic and left most of his audience more baffled than they were before. At the very least, Escalon seemed to have been very badly briefed on the most basic facts of the massacre. From the Washington Post:

"Should a tactical team have gone in before an hour elapsed?" one reporter asked Escalon.

"There's a lot of possibilities," he replied. "Once we interview all those officers, what they were thinking, what they did, why they did it, the video, the residual interviews, we'll have a better idea. Could anybody have got there sooner? You gotta understand, small town."

That answer backs up over its own feet at least twice. And what, exactly, do we have to understand about "small town"? Shouldn't that have made the emergency scramble easier to conduct?
Escalon also walked back or contradicted information that law enforcement officials had released hours earlier: No officer had actually confronted the gunman before he entered the school, he said. He wasn't sure whether the gunman entered the school through an improperly unlocked door. And he didn't know how long it took police to respond to the initial 911 call-basic information at a typical police news conference.
Nothing was more frustrating than Escalon's contribution to the ongoing mystery of whether an officer confronted the gunman prior to the gunman's entering the school. The local police had been saying that a school security guard had confronted the gunman. That explanation is no longer, ah, operational.
Some observers were baffled by the abrupt way Escalon delivered Thursday's most important new information-the fact that no officer confronted the gunman before he entered the school, contrary to what law enforcement officials had said previously.
Meanwhile, Escalon's boss, Steven McCraw, the director of the Texas DPS, laid the blame on the doorstep of the local law-enforcement community and of the Uvalde Independent School District. From the Houston Chronicle:
McCraw described officers responding to the scene, and a fateful decision by the incident commander-whom he did not name and was not DPS-that the situation was no longer a case of an "active shooter," but rather that of a "barricaded suspect." Meanwhile, inside the classroom, children made terrified calls to 911, whispering and asking for help. "The incident commander inside believed they needed more equipment and more officers to do a tactical breach at that point. That's why BORTAC (the Border Patrol Tactical Response Team) was requested." In hindsight, McCraw said, "It was not the right decision, it was the wrong decision, period. There was no excuse for that."

"We believe there should have been an entry ... as soon as they (could)," he said. "When there's an active shooter, the rules change."

This whole mess inevitably will end up with the FBI which, among its other tasks, will try to find out why the gunman was allowed to spend an hour blazing away in a barricaded classroom before the assembled law-enforcement in the hallway breached the door. And what the Feds don't find likely will come out during the gigantic class-action lawsuit that will be filed by the parents of the murdered students, who are still the only star that matters.

(c) 2022 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.

The Quotable Quote -

"Good environmental policy is good economic policy."
~~~ Bernie Sanders

Shouting "Death to Arabs," Far Right Israeli Squatters Storm Palestinian Holy Sites, Towns And Schools
By Juan Cole

Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) - The Israeli newspaper Arab 48 reports that hundreds of Israeli squatters on Palestinian land organized taunting processions "of the flag" in various parts of the Occupied Palestinian West Bank under the protection of the Israeli army. At the same time, attacks on Palestinians continued as dozens of squatters stormed the al-Aqsa Mosque compound from the Mughrabi Gate, under the protection of Israeli security police, who limited the access of Palestinian Muslims to their own mosque.

The Palestine ministry of pious endowments estimated that nearly 100 Israeli squatters stormed the compound Monday morning, where they paraded around shouting taunts. The Ministry said that the squatters received explanations about the Second Temple, which stood on the site until it was destroyed by the Roman army in 70 A.D. after a Jewish revolt. They then performed worship ceremonies, even though that is forbidden by the Chief Rabbi and by secular Israeli courts. The rabbinate believes that the Third Temple can only be built by the messiah when he comes.

Some Israeli fascist groups were calling for the complete ethnic cleansing of all Palestinians and the wholesale destruction of the al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest shrine for the world's 1.8 billion Muslims. Such an act would cause extreme radicalization. Usama Bin Laden gave Israeli actions in Jerusalem as one of the reasons for the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.

Until the squatters left, the Israeli police kept dozens of Palestinians from entering the mosque.

Al Jazeera English: "Palestinian president condemn Israeli flag march and warn of consequences"

On Sunday, tens of thousands of far right wing Israeli extremists, which is to say, fascists, had marched through Palestinian East Jerusalem as police locked down those city quarters, in honor of what they call "flag day," which commemorates the 1967 Israeli military seizure of the Palestinian West Bank, Palestinian East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, beginning an over 50-year-long military Occupation of 5 million stateless Palestinians, whose property is gradually being stolen from them. It is estimated that the occupation has cost the Palestinians tens of billions of dollars.

In 1939, the British colonial authorities had promised a Palestinian state within 10 years, but Zionist colonists organized to prevent that from ever happening.

In the West Bank, militant squatters marched on the road between Jenin and Nablus waving Israeli flags, attacking and beating Palestinians and throwing rocks at passing cars, as Israeli Occupation troops gave them protection.

In Urif, a Palestinian small town south of Nablus, Israeli squatters attacked a school, throwing rocks, and surrounded and trapped the teachers for half an hour. Palestinians gathered to fight them off and they withdrew outside the town. Israeli troops supporting the berserk squatters fired military-grade tear gas at the school, causing several of the teachers to suffer respiratory problems. Principal Ayid al-Qatt said that the teachers spirited the students out a back door when they saw the squatters coming.

The squatters destroyed several solar panels. Then townspeople gathered to confront them and the troops giving them cover.

In Hebron/ al-Khalil, squatters waving Israeli flags invaded Palestinian neighborhoods, shouting "Death to Arabs." They caused the Occupation army to close the Palestinian retail district, as it maintained a robust troop presence to protect the squatters. The latter also stormed the Ibrahimi Mosque. Palestinian journalists and cameramen were sequestered by the Israeli army and not allowed to cover the attack.

(c) 2022 Juan R.I. Cole is the founder and chief editor of Informed Comment. He is the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. He has written extensively on modern Islamic movements in Egypt, the Persian Gulf and South Asia and has given numerous media interviews on the war on terrorism and the Iraq War. He lived in various parts of the Muslim world for nearly 10 years and continues to travel widely there. He speaks Arabic, Farsi and Urdu.

How Corporations are Using Inflation To Take Your Money
By Robert Reich

Corporations are using inflation as an excuse to raise their prices, hurting workers and consumers while they enjoy record profits.

Prices are surging - but let's be clear: corporations are not raising prices simply because of the increasing costs of supplies and labor. They could easily absorb these higher costs, but instead they are passing them on to consumers and even raising prices higher than those cost increases.

Corporations are getting away with this because they face little or no competition. If markets were competitive, companies would keep their prices down to prevent competitors from grabbing away customers. But in a market with only a few competitors able to coordinate prices, consumers have no real choice.

As a result, corporations are raking in their highest profits in 70 years.

Are they using these record profits to raise their workers' real wages? No. They're handing out meager wage increases to attract or keep workers with one hand, but effectively eliminating those wage increases by raising prices with the other.

Wages grew 5.6 percent over the past year - but prices rose 8.5 percent. That means, adjusted for inflation, workers actually got a 2.9 percent pay cut.

So what are corporations doing with their record profits? Using them to boost share prices by buying back a record amount of their own shares of stock. Goldman Sachs expects buybacks to reach $1 trillion this year - an all-time high.

This amounts to a direct upward transfer of wealth from average working people's wallets into CEOs' and shareholders' pockets.

Billionaires have become at least $1.7 trillion richer during the pandemic, while CEO pay (based largely on stock values) is now at a record 350 times the typical worker's pay.

The Federal Reserve intends to curb inflation by continuing to raise interest rates. That would be a grave mistake, because it doesn't address corporate concentration and it will slow job and wage growth. The labor market isn't "unhealthily tight," as Fed Chair Jerome Powell claims. Corporations are unhealthily fat.

So what's the real solution?

First, tougher antitrust enforcement to address the growing concentration of the economy into the hands of a few giant corporations. Since the 1980s, over two-thirds of American industries have become more concentrated, enabling corporations to coordinate price increases.

Next, a temporary windfall profits tax that takes corporation's record profits and redistributes them as direct payments to everyday Americans struggling to cover soaring prices.

Third, a ban on corporate stock buybacks. Buybacks were illegal before Ronald Reagan's SEC legalized them in 1982 - and they should be made illegal again.

Fourth, higher taxes on the wealthy and on corporations. Corporate tax rates are at near-record lows, even as corporate profits are at a near-record highs. And much of billionaires' pandemic gains have escaped taxes altogether.

Lastly, stronger unions. As corporate power has grown, union membership has declined, and economic inequality has risen - the reason most workers haven't seen a real raise in 40 years. All workers deserve the right to collectively bargain for higher wages and better benefits.

In short, the real problem is not inflation. The real problem is the increase in corporate power and the decline in worker power over the past 40 years. Unless we address this growing imbalance, corporations will continue siphoning off the economy's gains into their CEOs' and shareholders' pockets - while everyday Americans get shafted.

(c) 2022 Robert B. Reich is the Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and a senior fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His web site is

Why America Must Prepare For a Decades-Long War Over 'Gun Control'
Right now with guns we're at the point where advocates for gay marriage were in the 1990s when it seemed impossible...
By Thom Hartmann

Democrats are gearing up for quick policy battles in the House and Senate over "gun safety." They should also be preparing for a decades-long war over "gun control."

In 1977, Harlan Carter and a group of his friends staged a coup within the senior ranks of the NRA, flipping it from a gun-safety-oriented sportsman's club into a "no compromise" (Carter's phrase) lobbying and PR group for the gun industry.

Carter was the perfect man for the job of filling America with guns, championing the slaughter of schoolchildren, and amping us up to around 45,000 gun deaths a year - more than any other nation on Earth - as he had shot and killed a 15-year-old Hispanic boy, Ramon Casiano, when Carter was himself only 17 years old.

He loved guns and sure knew what they could do in the hands of a pissed-off white boy.

The year after Carter took over the NRA, the Supreme Court, in an opinion authored by Lewis Powell himself, ruled in the Boston v Bellotti case that a corporation (like the NRA) was entitled to "personhood" and thus could claim the human rights spelled out in the Bill of Rights, including the First Amendment right to "free speech." That speech could take the form of campaign cash and other monetary support, the Court ruled.

Those two years and two events began the modern "product cycle" of the gun crisis in the United States.

I came up in the advertising business in the 1970s and 1990s, having been a partner and founder in two ad agencies and taught communications, advertising, and marketing worldwide for government agencies from the NSA and CIA to employees of over 100 of the Fortune 500 companies through The American Marketing Centers in the 1990s. Understanding product cycles is at the foundation of advertising 101.

An example of a product cycle most everybody knows, even if they don't realize it in this context, is cigarettes.

In 1964, the US Surgeon General released an explosive report on the health impacts of smoking, laying hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths every year at the feet of that industry. The tobacco lobby fought it with everything they had, while simultaneously exploiting it with "healthier" filter cigarettes.

Out of that report came hundreds of anti-smoking groups across the country, all dedicated to reducing the unnecessary deaths that grotesque industry was inflicting on Americans for profit.

In 1986 one of the top fine dining restaurants in the country, The Pillar House in Boston, went 100% smoke-free. It was a milestone and, while the business media was predicting bankruptcy, that restaurant and others doing the same thrived.

In 1998 the tobacco industry promised in a court settlement to stop marketing to children, although a court found in 2006 that they were still doing it (as they are today, albeit less directly).

It took until 2000 for smoking to be legally banned on all flights within, to, and from the United States.

Eventually city after city, state after state banned cigarette vending machines; they were outlawed nationwide in 2010, and by that time most schools had adopted some sort of anti-smoking education programs.

Tobacco is one of only two products sold in the United States that produces death "when used as directed." The other, of course, is guns.

With guns, we are just now entering a major shift - the first since 1978 - in that product's cycle. When we understand that, we understand the magnitude of the work ahead of us, if we're really going to stop mass shootings.

This is going to require a revolution against an established order, and revolutions require revolutionaries. People willing to speak blunt truths, to draw stark lines, to lead public opinion rather than follow it.

Right now Democratic strategists are cautioning us not to be "too radical," to avoid using the phrase "gun control" in favor of the less controversial "gun safety," and to content ourselves with tiny incremental changes like closing the gun-show loophole.

That's BS, and we need to call it out for what it is. Democrats have to stop negotiating with themselves and start fighting.

The weapons industry and the gun fetishists they've indoctrinated are already on war footing; they've been there since 1978. They have no interest in compromise and - no matter what we call our efforts - they'll scream "gun control!" so loud it'll be heard in every corner of the nation.

They're itching for a fight and being nice will just mean certain defeat.

Other products have gone through this sort of cycle, and we must remember what a fight each represented if we're to soberly consider the battle ahead of us.

When Rachael Carson published Silent Spring in 1962, the DDT and pesticide industry went to war; it took the near-extinction of the American Bald Eagle and more than a decade to rid our nation of that terrible chemical that was once routinely sprayed from airplanes across cities and suburbs. There were setbacks: the tobacco industry, a heavy user, nearly got DDT re-authorized for US use in the 1990s.

When Ralph Nader wrote Unsafe At Any Speed in 1965, the auto industry went to war; it took decades (and hundreds of thousands of deaths) before the industry finally was forced to embrace seat-belts, collapsible steering wheels, airbags, anti-lock brakes and other now-standard safety features.

Right now with guns we're at the point my friend who owned that Boston restaurant was at back in the early smoking wars of the 1980s. Or where advocates for gay marriage were in the 1990s when it seemed impossible.

We're the "early adopters" of public opinion with regard to gun control.

We're the ones willing to say that we think owning a gun should at least carry the same "regulation" as owning and driving a car (which can also kill people): it must be registered, you must obtain a license by proving proficiency on a gun range and passing a written exam about safety and the law, and you must have liability insurance.

We must be willing to say out loud that we want to see all assault weapons and, indeed, all non-hunting-specific semi-automatic weapons - weapons specifically designed to kill human beings in a theater of war - removed from civilian hands in the United States.

We must proudly point out that states with strong gun control laws - like Massachusetts, which has only seen 2 children die in school shootings in decades - have fewer gun deaths. Or that nations like Canada and most of Europe, where guns are available but well-regulated, have only a tiny fraction of the gun deaths and injuries we experience here in America.

We must point out that "a good guy with a gun" stopping "a bad guy with a gun" is a stupid trade-off and that, as I lay out in detail in my book The Hidden History of Guns and the Second Amendment, it's a complete lie that the Founders wanted us to be armed so we could "overthrow a tyrannical government."

We should respect hunters (particularly in poor rural areas) and sport shooters, but express only a morbid curiosity about people who choose to have guns around their houses "just in case" they ever need them. Keeping guns around the house to "deter crime," with a few geographic exceptions, is like carrying a 5 gallon can of gasoline in the back seat of your car everywhere you go "just in case": it's more likely to kill you than to save you.

We must point out the simple reality that if you live in an area with a lot of ticks you're more likely to get Lyme Disease; if you live in an area with a lot of rattlesnakes you're more likely to end up snakebit; if you live in an area with a lot of guns you're more likely to get shot.

We must be willing to ask, "What the hell happened to common sense?"

And we must know that every step we take will be attacked in bad faith by the NRA and their Republican allies as "not having solved the problem." Nonetheless, we must persevere.

It's taken over 50 years for America to go from a "normal" number of guns and our first mass shooting in 1966 to the orgy of guns and killings that exploded on the American scene when the Bush administration and Republicans in Congress let the Assault Weapons Ban expire in 2004.

Along the way there have been hundreds of pro-gun changes to the laws, both state and federal, from both legislatures and courts, as well as changes in public opinion.

Reversing forty years of pro-gun momentum will take a similar multi-decade campaign, one law and court challenge at a time. We can't let ourselves get discouraged at the inevitable setbacks along the way.

Today we're at the cusp of real and lasting change, whether it happens in Congress this year, as the result of massive voter turnout this November, or in 2024.

If there was ever a time for us to speak boldly with the courage of our convictions, this is it.

(c) 2022 Thom Hartmann is a talk-show host and the author of "The Hidden History of Monopolies: How Big Business Destroyed the American Dream" (2020); "The Hidden History of the Supreme Court and the Betrayal of America" (2019); and more than 25 other books in print.

The Cartoon Corner -

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Marian Kamensky ~~~

To End On A Happy Note -

Have You Seen This -

Parting Shots -

Unhinged White Man Proposes Doing Something About US Mass Shootings
The Waterford Whispers News

GUNOWNERS across America will be hugging their guns a little tighter tonight in the aftermath of another mass shooting, and the panic and fear doesn't stop there as TV channels lead with the footage of an unhinged white man sharing his radical manifesto online.

"We must act, we must stop this, we must stand up to the gun lobby," the demented figure said, as Republican politicians everywhere struggled to comprehend how such an individual was allowed roam free spreading the sensible and uncontroversial message of gun control.

"This is only country in the world where something like this happens," countered a relieved Republican senator speaking about how no matter what gun regulations or background checks are proposed by a president in the wake of children being shot dead, his party will block them.

Republicans called for an immediate end to coverage of the unhinged white man's speech as experts have confirmed when people make rational, impassioned pleas for an end to mass shootings like minded copycats also call for the same thing.

"The government shouldn't be telling us what we can and can't do," said one Republican hellbent on telling schools they can't teach American history, women they can't have abortions and libraries can't stock certain books.

"We have explored no options and how to stop this remains a frustrating mystery," said Texas Governor Greg Abbott, months after the gun ownership age in his state was lowered to 18 and days before he is set to attend an NRA conference.

Responding further to the senseless tragedy, Republicans then made a plea to anyone with information on any newly released videos game that could be blamed for the shooting.

(c) 2022 The Waterford Whispers News


Issues & Alibis Vol 22 # 18 (c) 06/03/2022

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