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In This Edition

Juan Cole returns with a must read, "Arctic Is Thawing So Fast Scientists Are Losing Their Measuring Tools."

Medea Benjamin finds, "Travel To Cuba Falls Victim To John Bolton's Wrath."

Glen Ford reports, "Half Of Black Caucus Signs On To Israeli Stance On Syria, In Defiance Of Black Public Opinion."

Michael Winship returns with, "Enough Hesitation, House: Impeach."

Jim Hightower explains, "How To Arm Nature Against Corporate Profiteers."

John Nichols observes, "We Are Being Embarrassed By Ugly-American Grifters On An Ego Trip To London."

James Donahue is, "Longing For The End Of War."

William Rivers Pitt warns, "There Are Cameras Everywhere. It's Time To Reject The Surveillance State."

Heather Digby Parton concludes, "The Congressional Republicans Can Defy Trump --- When There's Money Involved."

David Suzuki reports, "Climate Change And Biodiversity Should Be Top Headline News."

Charles P. Pierce says, "These Conservative Intellectuals Can Go Hash Things Out on Some Desert Island While the Rest Of Us Fix The Country."

David Swanson concludes, "You Can Almost Count On Each New Mass Shooter Being A Veteran."

Jane Stillwater returns with, "My (Not So) Excellent Adventure With Propaganda At The United Nations In NYC."

Rep. Brian Babin R-TX wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich asks, "What Does Oligarchy Mean?"

Chris Hedges examines, "Manufacturing War With Russia."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowtz reports, "Trump Says He Would Be A Much Better Princess Than Meghan Markle" but first Uncle Ernie warns, "The Minority Report Is For Real!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Steve Greenberg, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Mr. Fish, Valdemaras D, Bill Lapp, Alastair Grant, Mark Wilson, Jonathan Brady, Tony Webster, Saul Loeb, Sven Creutzmann, Mambo, Princeton EDU, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments-

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

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

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The Minority Report Is For Real!
Soon coming to a police department near you
By Ernest Stewart

"Through the community-based threat assessments and management tools, the TAPS Act would give states the resources that they need to protect the lives and train the next generation of officers to embrace the best policies to keep themselves and their community safe." ~~~ Abigail Spanberger ~ con-gresswoman (D-VA)

"Our results are in line with the assumption that the atmosphere retains more water under global warming. The fact that the frequency, rather the magnitude, of extreme precipitation is significantly increasing has relevant implications for climate adaptation. Human systems need to increase their capability to react to frequent shocks." ~~~ Alberto Montanari, professor of hydraulic works and hydrology at the University of Bologna and president of the European Geoscience Union

"The few own the many because they possess the means of livelihood of all ... The country is governed for the richest, for the corporations, the bankers, the land speculators, and for the exploiters of labor. The majority of mankind are working people. So long as their fair demands - the ownership and control of their livelihoods - are set at naught, we can have neither men's rights nor women's rights. The majority of mankind is ground down by industrial oppression in order that the small remnant may live in ease." ~~~ Helen Keller ~ Rebel Lives

Help, I need somebody
Help, not just anybody
Help, you know I need someone,
Help ~~~ The Beatles

Philip K. Dick has always been one of my favorite sci-fi authors. He wrote "The Minority Report" in 1956. The Minority Report is a story about a future society set in Washington D.C. in 2054 where the police arrest and try people for crimes that they haven't committed yet. It was brought to the screen in 2002 by Steven Spielberg starring Tom Cruise.

Trouble is, a group of Rethuglicans and Demoncrats are trying to make it into a law and make this nightmare senario real via The TAPS Act, (National Threat Assessment Program). The TAPS Act would encourage law enforcement to give everyone a personal threat assessment, children and adults, and single out those that they deem as future threats. Hey, the cops are doing it, so what could go wrong?

"By bringing threat assessment experts together, and utilizing evidence-based behavioral threat assessment and management processes, we can bolster public safety by implementing strategies to identify and stop dangerous individuals before they can commit an act of violence. We have the expertise to combat the targeted violence plaguing our schools, places of worship, and public spaces, but we have yet to fully implement it to prevent attacks." Can't you see it now, America? 10,000 cops sweating over crystal balls deciding your future. Charging you with crimes that haven't even been committed and then sending you off to prison, or worse!

Since it was introduce on 01/29/2019 by Rep. Brian Babin [R-TX-36] H.R.838 - Threat Assessment, Prevention, and Safety Act of 2019 has garnered the support of some 80 members of Con-gress! Short of Global Warming, this is the scariest thing I've ever seen! For more details, visit this week's video. Needless to say Con-gressman Babin wins this week's Vidkun Quisling Award!

On second thought, this may be a good thing. Couldn't we use this against the Con-gress, Lying Donald, Pence and the Extreme Court, as they are the ones that truly put us in extreme danger? I think I'll look into it!

In Other News

So how do you like those massive floods that are sweeping the country? How is that "Chinese hoax" working out for you. You may recall that Lying Donald said, "The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive." While it maybe true that it's hard to manufacture anything if the plant is underwater, yet I don't think that Lying Donald meant that, do you?

The frequency of downpours of heavy rain--which can lead to flash floods, devastation, and outbreaks of waterborne disease--has increased across the globe in the past 50 years, research led by the Global Institute for Water Security at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) has found.

The number of extreme downpours increased steadily between 1964 and 2013--a period when global warming also intensified, according to research published in the journal Water Resources Research.

The frequency of 'extreme precipitation events' increased in parts of Canada, most of Europe, the Midwest and northeast region of the U.S., northern Australia, western Russia and parts of China.

"By introducing a new approach to analyzing extremes, using thousands of rain records, we reveal a clear increase in the frequency extreme rain events over the recent 50 years when global warming accelerated," said Simon Papalexiou, a hydro-climatologist in USask's College of Engineering, and an expert in hydroclimatic extremes and random processes.

Papalexiou, who led the research, added: "This upward trend is highly unlikely to be explained by natural climatic variability. The probability of this happening is less than 0.3 per cent under the model assumptions used."

The USask study of over 8,700 daily rain records from 100,000 stations monitoring rain worldwide found the frequency of torrential rain between 1964 and 2013 increased as the decades progressed.

"Between 2004 and 2013, there were seven per cent more extreme bouts of heavy rain overall than expected globally. In Europe and Asia, there were 8.6 per cent more 'extreme rain events' overall, during this decade."

Global warming can lead to increased precipitation because more heat in the atmosphere leads to more atmospheric water which, in turn, leads to rain. A simple premise that even Lying Donald should be able to grasp, if he wasn't being paid not to!

So ya'll better learn to do the backstroke or else move to higher ground. As Shango once sang, in "Day After Day:" Do you know the swim, you better learn quick Jim. Those who don't know the swim, better sing the hymn."

And Finally

I got invited to a party the other day because methinks I would be the token liberal at said affair. I was taught at an early age that one should never argue religion and politics, of course, those are my two favorite subjects to argue!

I was approached by a "lady" and asked who I liked in the coming election. She was all for Lying Donald and seemed rather upset when I said Bernie Sanders was my candidate. "But he's a socialist, she said. Don't you know that socialism is evil, it's anti-American, she continued." Yes, my bad, she shouldn't have said that to me!

While the party was mainly made up of the haute monde, but she, like me, was more of the hoi polloi than the gentry. In fact she had just graduated from my old school, and was being crushed by her student loan debt.

So I tried to explain to her in the gentlest way I could, that without socialism she'd be dead in one months time. That every good thing in this country comes from socialism. For example I asked her if she could live without roads and bridges? Without which she could hardly get to her work that was some 20 miles distance from her home. After thinking for a moment she said "no" and asked what had this to do with socialism? Do you feel a nibble?

I explained, that was socialism, and that all of us, through our taxes, paid for those hi-ways and bridges. We all come together and make something better. Then I gave her other examples of socialism, like school systems, colleges and libraries. Electrical grids and sewer systems. Airports and train stations. The police and fire departments. The Air Force, the Army, the Coast Guard, the Marines and the Navy. And the most obvious ones like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and without all of these socialist programs you couldn't live. For example, I told her, when your grocery store ran out of food they couldn't get anymore as there would be no roads and bridges to allow them to take delivery of more. Ergo she would probably run out of food and die with in a month. I could see by her changing face that she was starting to see the light. Sure, once-upon-a-time we were an agrarian society and we all grew our own food, but those days are long since past.

At this point I was drawn away by a group of pot smoking nazis, i.e., libertarians, who amused me with their political thoughts and their righteous weed! Half an hour later I was "late for the door," and on my way out I chanced upon the aforementioned lady who had spent the intervening time with Google on her smart phone, and told me that after some consideration she was going to vote for Bernie too! Some days are better than others!

Keepin' On

It looks like our June 21st edition will be our last full magazine. With half a magazine we will continue on until the 2020 election, providing Lying Donald hasn't killed all of us by then. Not only haven't we been able to pay the last of last years bill, but a new bill comes due on June 24th.

You will notice some of your favorite authors will be missing as we have to pay their publishing rights in order to publish them. You'll have to look them up yourselves and may have to pay to read them on their sites. The same goes for some cartoonists.

We'll still keep fighting the good fight like we always have as we're in it to the end. If you think that what we do is important and would like to see us keep on, keeping on, please send us whatever you can, whenever you can, and we'll keep telling you the truth!


07-15-1947 ~ 05-31-2019
Thanks for the music!

02-08-1954 ~ 06-02-2019
Thanks for the film!

05-02-1941 ~ 06-03-2019
Thanks for the film!

01-20-1941 ~ 06-06-2019
Thanks for the music!


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

****** We've Moved The Forum Back *******

For late breaking news and views visit The Forum. Find all the news you'll otherwise miss. We publish three times the amount of material there than what is in the magazine. Look for the latest Activist Alerts. Updated constantly, please feel free to post an article we may have missed.


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

Until the next time, Peace!

(c) 2019 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, 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.

Methane and CO2 released from the thawing permafrost will further accelerate the rate of global warming.

Arctic Is Thawing So Fast Scientists Are Losing Their Measuring Tools
By Juan Cole

I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.
I circle around God, around the primordial tower.
I've been circling for thousands of years
and I still don't know: am I a falcon,
a storm, or a great song?
- Rainer Maria Rilke, Book of Hours

We've never experienced anything like this: We are living with the full knowledge of our collapsing biosphere and watching huge portions of it vanishing before our very eyes. Meanwhile, the industrial growth society (as eco-philosopher, author and Buddhist scholar Joanna Macy calls it) continues to grind on, and this veneer of normalcy persists one more day.

Yet simultaneously, a great awakening is occurring. Millions of people around the world are rising to protect what remains, working to mitigate the damage and to adapt to the drastically changing world. They are working to hold space for that which, despite seemingly overwhelming odds, may continue in the wake of this great collapse.

I have been giving a lot of lectures lately about the climate catastrophe that is upon us, and have increasingly been led to discuss grief. My own experience has shown me that only by facing what is happening head on, and allowing my heart to break, can I begin to respond accordingly.

I find myself led back to one of my teachers, the aforementioned Joanna Macy.

"Refusing to feel pain, and becoming incapable of feeling the pain, which is actually the root meaning of apathy, refusal to suffer, that makes us stupid, and half alive," Macy told me in an interview. She described how that refusal to feel pain doesn't mute the sense that there is something wrong - so people simply take that sense and project anxieties elsewhere, usually onto marginalized communities.

"Not feeling the pain is extremely costly," Macy said.

Look out into the world, right now, the proof of what she said is surrounding us - starting in the White House, and filtering down throughout the dominant colonialist society.

Macy created a framework for personal and social change called the Work That Reconnects, and gives workshops on how to apply the framework. In these workshops and in our conversations, Macy has repeated this to me: "The most radical thing any of us can do at this time is to be fully present to what is happening in the world."

And so, over the years, I've aimed to be fully present, and I've had my heart broken, and I've now had enough practice at this that I have seen, repeatedly, the transformational qualities of despair and grief. In the face of our overwhelming climate and political crises, that grief is transformed into a new clarity of vision, and a depth of passion for action that was previously inaccessible.

"It brings a new way of seeing the world as our larger living body, freeing us from the assumptions and attitudes that now threaten the continuity of life on earth," Macy has told me of this experience.

So, dear reader, I urge you to find your own work that reconnects - or to find another way to ground yourself, as you read on, and as we each travel through another crises-ridden day into an increasingly bleak future.

That future is perhaps most visible at the poles. Greenland is melting much faster than previously understood, as melting has increased six-fold in recent decades, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "We wanted to get a long precise record of mass balance in Greenland that included the transition when the climate of the planet started to drift off natural variability, which occurred in the 1980s," study co-author Eric Rignot told CNN. "The study places the recent (20 years) evolution in a broader context to illustrate how dramatically the mass loss has been increasing in Greenland in response to climate warming." Rignot added, "As glaciers will continue to speed up and ice/snow melt from the top, we can foresee a continuous increase in the rate of mass loss, and a contribution to sea level rise that will continue to increase more rapidly every year."

The study also shows how sea level rise is accelerating, and will continue to do so with each passing year, as the effects compound upon themselves.

On that note, Indonesia recently announced it will be moving its capital city of Jakarta, partly due to the sinking of the land and sea level rise. This is a city of 10 million people.

Permafrost in the Arctic is now thawing so fast that scientists are literally losing their measuring equipment. This is due to the fact that instead of there being just a few centimeters of thawing each year, now several meters of soil can become destabilized in a matter of days.

Adding insult to injury, another study revealed that this permafrost collapse is further accelerating the release of carbon into the atmosphere, possibly even doubling the amount of warming coming from greenhouse gases released from the tundra.

Already in Greenland, the ice sheet's melt season began about a month early while in Alaska, several rivers saw winter ice break up on their earliest dates on record.

The recent U.N. report showing that one million species are now in danger of going extinct has grave implications for the future of humanity. Human society is under urgent threat because the global ecosystem upon which we depend is, quite literally, under threat of unraveling.

"The health of the ecosystems on which we and other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide," Robert Watson, the chair of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), told The Guardian.


Disconcertingly, since 2001 forests in Canada have released more carbon than they have sequestered. This is due largely to climate disruption-fueled drought, higher temperatures and wildfires. To give you an idea of what this means: In 2015 Canada's forests emitted the equivalent of 231 million metric tons of CO2. By comparison, the total population of the city of Calgary emitted 18.3 million metric tons of CO2, merely a fraction of the amount released by the forests, largely via drought and wildfires.

Following ongoing protests and pressure from the activist organization Extinction Rebellion, the Welsh Government recently declared a "climate emergency," noting that Wales's health, economy, infrastructure and natural environment are all under threat from the impacts of human-caused climate disruption.

Around the same time, the Republic of Ireland also declared a climate and biodiversity emergency. Green Party leader Eamon Ryan told the BBC that "declaring an emergency means absolutely nothing unless there is action to back it up. That means the Government having to do things they don't want to do."

In Canada, the Ottawa city council has declared a climate emergency, joining several other Canadian municipalities in announcing the declaration. The vote freed up a quarter of a million dollars to be used to accelerate studies around moving the city onto renewable energy and meeting greenhouse gas emission targets.

The town of Old Crow, Yukon, also declared a climate state of emergency as well. "It's going to be the blink of an eye before my great grandchild is living in a completely different territory, and if that's not an emergency, I don't know what is," Dana Tizya-Tramm, chief of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, told the CBC following a ceremony marking Old Crow's declaration of the state of emergency. "Everything is changing right in front of our eyes."

In the U.S., Mike Rosmann, a clinical psychologist working with farmers, wrote a heartbreaking article for The New Republic about depression among farmers in the wake of historic flooding that ravaged the Midwest. Rosmann detailed the psychological and personal pain he is experiencing while working with suicidal farmers, as the direct human toll of climate disruption becomes more apparent in the U.S.

Meanwhile, the refugee crisis from rising seas and extreme weather events continues apace in Bangladesh. Already one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to sea level rise, it is now estimated that more than 10 million people there are estimated to lose their livelihoods in the next decade. The larger cities are already overwhelmed with the number of people streaming into them from the submerging coastal areas.


Climate disruption-amplified, flood-inducing extreme weather events continue to make their mark around the planet.

Cyclone Kenneth, the largest storm to ever strike Mozambique, left 38 people dead. That storm had followed Cyclone Idai, which struck a few weeks prior, killing 600.

In Canada, experts warned that climate disruption will continue to exacerbate extreme flooding across parts of the country. Thousands of people across Eastern Canada were forced to evacuate their homes due to flooding as the second of two "100-year-floods" struck Quebec in the last three years.

In the U.S., things are no better. After a $14 billion dollar upgrade in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans's levees are sinking, due to sea level rise and ground subsidence, and will be rendered "inadequate" within four years.

The devastating flooding that has wracked farmers in the Midwest and wiped out crops, ruined stored crops, and drowned livestock is due to abnormally warmer Eastern Pacific waters, according to scientists.

Just after the U.S. wrapped up its wettest 12 months on record, storms dumped enormous rainfalls across Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. Scientists warned that the extreme weather Houston is currently experiencing is no anomaly - it is what the area can expect regularly from now on.

Record-breaking spring high temperatures across the Pacific Northwest has people in the Seattle region worried about drought as intense heat in May has caused the snowpack (at only 58 percent of normal anyway) across Washington state to melt away far more rapidly than normal. "When you look at some of the snow packs in some of the basins, it looks like they are doing a swan dive off a cliff," Jeff Marti, a state Ecology Department official, told The Seattle Times. Washington Governor Jay Inslee has already issued drought-emergency declarations in the Okanogan, Methow and upper Yakima watersheds, due to the low snow pack in the mountains.

Experts recently warned that the Hawaiian Islands are under severe threat from rising sea levels. The iconic Waikiki Beach and other well-known areas of the islands will experience chronic flooding and could disappear underwater forever within the next 15-20 years.

Scientists also recently announced that global sea levels could reach a two-meter rise by 2100 - the warning effectively doubles the previous worst-case scenario provided by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, published in 2013. This new warning means that large portions of numerous major coastal cities will be completely submerged, according to Jonathan Bamber of the University of Bristol. "If we see something like that in the next 80 years we are looking at social breakdown on scales that are pretty unimaginable," Bamber told The New Scientist.

In the icy realms of Earth, things continue to deteriorate rapidly.

Scientists recently announced that a major breeding ground for emperor penguins has gone barren since 2016. This means that virtually nothing has hatched in the area, which is the second largest breeding ground for the penguins in the Antarctic, and things are looking just as bleak for this year.

Scientists have also found what they call "extraordinary thinning" of ice sheets deep within Antarctica. The affected areas are losing ice five times faster than they did during the 1990s, with some areas having lost 100 meters of thickness. A quarter of the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) is now considered unstable. The Northwest section of the Ross Ice Shelf, which bounds the WAIS and is the size of France, is melting 10 times faster than the global average. According to one 2016 study, if all of the WAIS melts, 17 feet of global sea level rise is projected to be the result.

Up in the Arctic, things are just as bad. April saw a new record low in Arctic sea ice extent.

Another report revealed how thawing permafrost across the Arctic will amount to a $70 trillion impact. Methane and CO2 released from the thawing will accelerate global warming by amplifying it nearly 5 percent.

Additionally, yet another recent permafrost study has revealed widespread degradation of it across the high Arctic terrain, to an extent worse than previously understood.

On the other side of the water spectrum, drought has impaired shipping through the Panama Canal, whose waters have precipitously lowered. The canal level is not connected to sea levels, hence drought conditions are impacting the functionality of the critical shipping lane. Panama's canal authority recently had to impose draft limits on ships using the canal. This means that heavily laden cargo ships, namely from the U.S. and China, had to pass through with less of their cargo.


Just four months into 2019, the U.K. had already had more large wildfires than it had during the entirety of 2018. Rescue personnel stated that the scale and duration of the fires had already been a huge draw on fire and rescue service resources.

In Germany, the risk of wildfires has spiked amidst ongoing drought and high temperatures across most of the country.

Back in the U.S., the wildfires that ravaged California last year were the most expensive in the state's history, totaling $12 billion in damages. More than 80 people were killed in the fires, in addition to them leaving large areas of toxic waste that needs to now be remediated.


A recent report shows how much warmer cities across the U.S. will be within one generation (by 2050).

"Every season in every city and town in America will shift, subtly or drastically, as average temperatures creep up, along with highs and lows," reported Vox, which released the report. "Some of those changes - like summers in the Southwest warming by 4F on average - will mean stretches of days where it's so hot, it'll be dangerous to go outside. Heat waves around the country could last up to a month."

Earth experienced its second warmest April on record, ranking only behind April 2016. It also marked the 412th consecutive month and 43rd straight April that global temperatures have been above the 20th century average, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In the Northwestern Russian city of Arkhangelsk, near the entrance to the Arctic Ocean, a temperature of 84F was recently registered - 30F higher than normal for this time of year.

Meanwhile, Earth's CO2 levels, for the first time in human history, reached 415 parts per million. The last time there was this much CO2 in the atmosphere, global average temperatures averaged between 4C to 10C warmer than they are today, depending on the location around the planet.

Denial and Reality

The U.S. is now one of the world's leaders when it comes to climate change denial. A recent polling of the 23 largest countries in the world found that 13 percent of Americans believe the climate is being disrupted but that humans are not the cause, in addition to another 5 percent of Americans who believe the climate is not changing at all. The only other countries that are more anti-science than the U.S. are Saudi Arabia and Indonesia, according to the survey.

This information shouldn't be a total shock, given the ongoing denialist machinations of the Trump administration, which recently objected to having "climate change" even referenced in a U.S. statement for the Arctic Council. Additionally, Trump's EPA head was recently asked to back up his absurdly anti-science claim that climate disruption is still "50 to 75 years out."

Adding fuel to the denial fire, Trump's interior secretary recently told lawmakers that he hasn't "lost sleep" over the record CO2 levels in the atmosphere. It's worth remembering that the U.S. is responsible for emitting more CO2 into the atmosphere than any other country on Earth.

On the other hand, nearly half of younger Americans (between the ages of 18 to 29 years) believe human-caused climate disruption is a "crisis" and demand "urgent action," according to a recent poll.

Another poll found that more than 80 percent of parents in the U.S. want climate disruption taught in the schools of their children. Among all parents, two-thirds of Republicans and nine out of every 10 Democrats agreed the subject should be taught in school.

With the ongoing acceleration of the climate crisis, it is clear that even if we believe the best-case scenarios, governments are not reacting according to the gravity of the situation at hand. Each one of us, knowing what we now know, must take full responsibility for preparing ourselves for the adaptation required to live on this increasingly warming, melting world as civilizations and societies continue to disintegrate.

(c) 2019 Juan R.I. Cole 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.

Beach chairs are lined up for a show at the beach of the Cayo Blanco key, a 50 minute ride in Catamaran from Varadero,
on May 12, 2019, in Cayo Blanco, Cuba. Cuban tourism is facing challenges as the US government recently tightened its embargo
on Cuba activating the Title III of the Helms Burton law increasing the pressure on the Cuban government by allowing U.S. courts
to prosecute international companies which have worked with properties nationalized in Cuba since 1959.

Travel To Cuba Falls Victim To John Bolton's Wrath
By Medea Benjamin

John Bolton hates the governments of Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua-calling them the "troika of tyranny" and the "three stooges of socialism"-and is determined to use his time as National Security Advisor to eliminate the vestiges of socialism in our hemisphere. He has openly stated that the 1823 Monroe Doctrine is "alive and well," conveying that the United States will dictate the terms of governance in the Western Hemisphere, by military force if necessary. Furious that he has been unable to successfully orchestrate a coup in Venezuela, Bolton is now lashing out at Cuba, explicitly punishing the nation for its support of Venezuelan President Maduro. The travel restrictions announced on June 4 represent another page from Bolton's "regime change" playbook.

The new travel restrictions will severely limit the ability of Americans to travel to Cuba. The restrictions prohibit group educational trips to Cuba, known as "people-to-people" travel, as well as passenger vessels, recreational vessels, and private aircraft. These bans go to the heart of the Cuban economy, which has become increasingly dependent on tourism.

Despite the island's devastation from Hurricane Irma and increased restrictions from the Trump administration in 2017, Cuba had a record number of visitors in 2018-4.75 million, with the US and Canada being the largest contributors. In just the first four months of 2019, over 250,000 US visitors traveled to Cuba, an increase of 93% from the same months in 2018. Most visitors came from cruise ships, which are included under the new restrictions. Trump's move will impact an estimated 800,000 cruise passenger bookings, cutting the island out of millions of dollars a year in docking fees and payments for on-shore excursions. It comes at a time of severe economic weakness for Cuba, which is struggling to find enough cash to import basic food and other supplies following a drop in aid from Venezuela.

The Trump administration wants to punish the Cuban government, but the restrictions on "people-to-people travel" will be particularly harmful to Cuba's private entrepreneurs who have poured their lives' savings into restaurants and home-based lodgings catering to American travelers, and greatly benefited from Obama-era policies.

While John Bolton insists he wants to spread democracy abroad, his Cuba restrictions violate the freedom of the American people. The United States is the only country that restricts travel to Cuba. Canadians have always traveled freely to the island, as have people from Latin America, Europe and all over the globe. The U.S. also allows Americans to travel to the world's most repressive countries-from North Korea to Myanmar to Saudi Arabia-but unfairly singles out Cuba.

Restricting U.S.-Cuba ties also runs contrary to the will of the American people. Poll after poll shows that the majority of Americans support the normalization of US-Cuba relations, as President Obama discovered when he began re-establishing relations with Cuba over the course of his first term. In 2014, Obama engaged in 18-month-long diplomatic negotiations with Cuba to restore diplomatic ties. Both countries reopened their embassies, opening the door for normal diplomatic services for citizens of both nations. While Obama was not able to convince Congress to lift the embargo, he was able, by executive order, to ease trade and travel. By the time Obama left office, American travel to Cuba had tripled in size.

The new travel restrictions come on the heels of another Bolton-inspired attempt to strangle the Cuban economy, which is the implementation of Title III of the 1996 Helms-Burton act. This allows Cuban Americans to sue foreign companies in Cuba for property taken from them at the time of the revolution-60 years ago! It is a punitive measure designed to make foreign companies afraid of investing in Cuba, with Bolton stating that he "can't wait for all the lawsuits" that would be filed against companies doing business in Cuba.

The measure is particularly aimed at European and Canadian companies, which have investments in businesses ranging from tourism to mining to agriculture. "The extraterritorial application of the U.S. embargo is illegal and violates international law," said Alberto Navarro, the European Union ambassador to Cuba. "I personally consider it immoral. For 60 years the only thing that's resulted from the embargo is the suffering of the Cuban people." Navarro might have added that the embargo is also hypocritical, given that the U.S. government encourages investments in some of the world's most repressive regimes, such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin justified the new measures against Cuba by alleging that "Cuba continues to play a destabilizing role in the Western Hemisphere, undermining the rule of law, and suppressing democratic processes." Yet the U.S. aligns itself with brutal Latin American governments from Honduras to Brazil, and denies refuge to Latin American immigrants fleeing horrific violence.

While the Trump administration claims that there are 20,000-25,000 Cuban security forces propping up the Venezuelan government, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla insists that there are no Cuban soldiers in Venezuela, "only medical staff in humanitarian mission." Cuba has a long-standing agreement with Venezuela to provide doctors and nurses in exchange for Venezuelan oil. This is part of Cuba's "army of white coats," as Cuban officials call them, who are currently working across 67 countries.

While the attacks on Cuba and the other members of the "troika of tyranny" are designed to stop the spread of socialism, they are also aimed at the 2020 elections. They pander to a tiny sector of the U.S. population-conservative Cubans, Venezuelans and Nicaraguans mainly in the Miami area-in a craven effort to solicit their votes in both congressional and presidential elections, where margins of victory can be razorblade thin. The Cuban people, and the rights of Americans, should not be held hostage to brazen partisan politics. And they certainly should not be held hostage to the imperial hubris of madman John Bolton.

(c) 2019 Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace, is the author of the new book, Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi Connection. Her previous books include: Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control; Don't Be Afraid Gringo: A Honduran Woman Speaks from the Heart, and (with Jodie Evans) Stop the Next War Now (Inner Ocean Action Guide). Follow her on Twitter: @medeabenjamin

Half Of Black Caucus Signs On To Israeli Stance On Syria, In Defiance Of Black Public Opinion
By Glen Ford

The Congressional Black Caucus sides with its party's war mongers and in fear of the Israel lobby, while large Black majorities believe Israel is neither an ally nor a friend.

Nearly 400 members of the U.S. House and Senate signed a letter urging President Trump to keep U.S. troops in Syria - against the wishes of the sovereign government of that country and therefore, in gross violation of international law -- and to increase sanctions against Russia for assisting the Syrian government in its battle against Islamic jihadists. Among the signers were 26 of the 51 Black voting members of the House and the two Black U.S. senators that are running for president, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker.

Nobody except the Israel lobby gets that kind of immediate obeisance from the Congress. Tel Aviv's interests top the letter's list of bullet-points: "Underscore Israel's right to self-defense." The letter baldly lobbies to increase the annual billions in U.S. subsidies to Israel's bloated and hyper-aggressive, nuclear-armed military. "We must also look for ways to augment our support in the context of the current 10-year Memorandum of Understanding between the United States and Israel," the letter reads, "and to ensure that Israel has access to the resources and materiel it needs to defend itself against the threats it faces on its northern border." The massive sign-on was organized to pressure Trump into even more aggressive actions against Iran, and to prevent the president from fulfilling his oft-repeated wish to withdraw from Syria, now that the ISIS "caliphate" has been shattered and al-Qaida's legions are bottled up in Idlib province, under siege by the Syrian Army. Israel has provided arms and assistance to both terrorist factions, as have Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Britain, France -- and the United States, the imperial grandmaster of the jihadist offensive that began in 2011 against Libya (see "U.S. Protects Jihadists in Syria," BAR). Libya was plunged into barbarism and Syria is in ruins, with half a million dead and a third of the country displaced. Iraq, still reeling from Washington's 2003 "Shock and Awe" and occupation, has been savaged yet again by the West's jihadist proxies, with its second largest city, Mosul, flattened by U.S. bombs and artillery. Yet, three-quarters of the U.S. Congress last week signed on to the insane statement that the region has "been destabilized by Iranian regime's threatening behavior."

Were it not for Iranian and Lebanese Shiite militias and Russia's 2015 intervention, Syria's secular government would have fallen to the U.S.-sponsored jihadist legions, at which point the U.S. and allied governments, including Israel, would have occupied the region, ostensibly to restore order and control the head-chopping Islamic warriors. Even in the current circumstances, Israel recently seized the opportunity to formally claim sovereignty over the Syrian Golan Heights, occupied by the Zionists in the 1967 war, and the U.S. got the chance to move 5,000 troops back into Iran to aid in the fight against ISIS, the "rogue" faction of al-Qaida that rejected the West's instructions to blend in with other Islamist fighters and stick to the mission of regime change in Syria.

Had President Obama's 2011 war plan been successful, Syria would have been balkanized into mini-states ruled by warlords beholden to the U.S. and its regional allies, and Lebanon would be wracked by renewed civil war, or under the discipline of constant Israeli air strikes, or both. Iraqi Kurdistan, with its huge oil reserves and deep ties to Israel, would have seceded, and U.S. troops would be back in multi-divisional force in Iraq at the request of a terrified central government. Iran would be surrounded. The stage would then be set to empower the U.S. to cut off China's access to Middle Eastern (and even central Asian) energy supplies - which was the larger purpose of Obama's "smart war" of "humanitarian" intervention plus jihadist proxies, his slickly demonic contribution to the Great Imperial Game.

If the Congressional Black Caucus had properly understood that last week's letter was asking them to help rescue the remnants of the First Black President's grand plan, they might have signed on in even greater numbers. Even so, the 26 signatories included John Lewis, the "soul" of the Caucus (or "de Lawd," as he is derisively referred to in Atlanta), who is usually part of the ten or twelve Black Caucus members that can still be counted on to vote against some of the most blatantly warlike measures. Lewis sensed that the letter was an Israeli lobby priority, as did his Black Caucus colleagues, who are listed below in order of their signing.

James Clyburn (SC)
Hakeem Jeffries (NY)
Gregory Meeks (NY)
Karen Bass (CA)
Colin Allred (TX)
Yvette Clarke (NY)
Elijah Cummings (MD)
Donald Payne (NJ)
Val Demings (FL)
David Scott (GA)
John Lewis (GA)
Donald McEachin (VA)
Sheila Jackson Le (TX)
G.K. Butterfield (NC)
Danny Davis (IL)
Joyce Beatty (OH)
Sanford Bishop (GA)
Alma Adams (NC)
Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ)
Marc Veasey (TX)
Alcee Hastings (FL)
Emanuel Cleaver (MO)
Frederica Wilson (FL)
Steven Horsford (NV)
Robin Kelly (IL)
Antonio Delgado (NY)

Poll Shows Black People Don't Think of Israel as a Friend or Ally

The 26 lawmakers make up just over half of the 51 Black voting members of the House. (The delegates from Washington, DC, and the U.S. Virgin Islands cannot vote on the House floor.) On the Senate side, presidential candidates Cory Booker and Kamala Harris have always been in the Israel lobby's pocket. In their haste to make a splash with headlines around the world proclaiming "Nearly 400 Lawmakers Call on Trump to Address Threats in Syria," the letter's handlers may have simply quit pressing for signatures once they reached three-quarters of the House and Senate. Back in the summer of 2014, while Israel was slaughtering over 2,000 Palestinian men, women and children in Gaza, the combined chambers of Congress voted unanimously in favor of a resolution affirming Israel's "right to defend itself." Not one member of the Black Caucus dissented or abstained. Thus, their tolerance of apartheid Israel's barbarism is infinite.

But, where do their Black constituents stand on the unholy U.S. alliance with the Zionist state? A poll taken last October by The Economis/YouGov showed only 19 percent of Black Americans thought of Israel as an "ally," compared to 43 percent of whites and 22 percent of Hispanics. Only 17 percent of Blacks think Israel is a "friendly" country, and just 27 percent of whites and 21 percent of Hispanics see Israel as friendly. Among all races in the U.S,, support for Israel is described as "plummeting" - which is cause for the Israel lobby to organize a letter-signing publicity campaign among the folks whose cowardice or bought-and-paid-for allegiance they can count on: the elected officials of both corporate parties.

The electoral arrangement in the United States, where half of the duopoly is the White Man's Party, has created a one-party system for Black America. With nowhere else to go, Black voters can think or feel however they want, but their elected representatives vote according to the wishes of their party's funders - rich white people, virtually all of them in league with apartheid Israel. The Democratic Party is thus the mechanism for rich white people's political domination of Black America, the nation's most left-leaning constituency, including on issues of war and peace, and especially on Israeli apartheid. Black Democrats, with the exception of a handful of dissidents like New York lawmakers Charles and Inez Barron, are agents of forces hostile to the Black community, and enemies of peace. Last year, 75 percent of the Black Caucus voted to make police a protected class, and in 2014, shortly before the unanimous vote in favor of Israel, 80 percent of the Black Caucus voted to continue the multi-billion dollar militarization of local police, through the Pentagon's infamous 1033 program.

Every member of the Black Caucus should be ousted on grounds of misrepresentation. But the authentic Black political conversation doesn't travel much beyond the barbershops, beauty parlors and activist circles before it is smothered by the octopus of Black America's one party Democratic state. That's why the best thing that can happen this primary election season is for the Democratic Party to implode -- and set its Black and left constituencies free from the agents of rich man's rule.

(c) 2019 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

The grassroots group By the People is calling on members of Congress to support impeachment proceedings
for President Donald Trump, and inviting the American public to join their call at a demonstration on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.

Enough Hesitation, House: Impeach
Ben Franklin would tell Trump to go fly a kite
By Michael Winship

Like Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin is one of those great Americans to whom sparkling aphorisms are attributed that may or may not be true. The Internet has only made matters worse.

A favorite quote, which I always assumed was Franklin's, appears not to be, at least as far as I can tell. I made a cursory and unsuccessful Google search of various editions of his famous Poor Richard's Almanack and the later Poor Richard Improved, but even my pedantic wonkishness can only go so far. I finally gave up.

The quote in question: "Never confuse motion with action."

No matter its provenance, it is a true thing that especially would seem to apply to our welcome but foot-dragging Democratic majority in the House of Representatives.

As they fret and fuss as to whether or not to impeach the imperial bedlamite, semblances of motion seem to hold the upper hand over action. Hearings are held but slowly, and requests and subpoenas for documents and witnesses are issued on a steady basis but largely ignored by the White House and a Justice Department that has been turned by Trump and Attorney General Barr into the president's personal Jacoby & Meyers, with Barr acting as mob consigliere.

Historian Julian Zelizer notes in an analysis at CNN that he fears, "With the decentralized oversight hearings by House Democrats tied up in legal knots, the media will just end up shifting to the administration's probable investigations into law enforcement and intelligence agencies."

(On Monday, the House Judiciary Committee announced it will hold a hearing June 10 entitled "Lessons from the Mueller Report: Presidential Obstruction and Other Crimes" that will include former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean "as well as former U.S. Attorneys and legal experts." On the one hand, I could watch MSNBC just about any night and see the same witnesses. On the other, so many people still have no idea what Mueller reported so maybe this is better than nothing?)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other members of the Democratic leadership worry about how a House impeachment-without a conviction because of the GOP senators' pet-like obsequiousness-will impact the party's 2020 election chances. But in part their concern is based on beliefs and principles that were thrown under the trolley by the Trump gang long ago.

As David Atkins wrote at Washington Monthly last week, "In the Trump era, when the guard rails against an unbalanced despotic executive are rapidly failing and every battle is being waged not within the guidelines of institutional laws and norms but in the court of public opinion, it is crucial that every player understand and participate in the game that is being played...

"...The Founders made a forgivable error in assuming that the prerogatives of each branch of government would overwhelm partisan corruption by giving Congress the power to hold a lawless executive accountable. But in the modern era, it is obvious that only a very public airing of a president's crimes would put enough pressure on congressional members of his own party to convict and remove him from office."

Further, many Dems argue that public opinion just isn't solid enough in favor of impeachment for it to proceed right now. But as many have noted and I recently wrote, "Go back to June 1973, a year after the Watergate break-in and a month or so into the now famous Senate Watergate hearings (just as John Dean was about to tell the committee that he advised Nixon there existed 'a cancer growing on the presidency'). At that point, per a Gallup poll at the time, only 19 percent of Americans sought Nixon's impeachment; in other words, just half of those who favor it now. Within months, as hearings publicized Nixon's wrongdoings and the Saturday Night Massacre appalled the public, that number had doubled." Julian Zelizer observed to Greg Sargent of The Washington Post that when the House moved against Nixon in 1974, it "wasn't Congress waiting on the public. It was the other way around – Congress provided guidance to the public." On impeachment, Sargent writes, "public opinion can be moved in a big way, including, presumably, on Trump." But, "The bottom line is that insisting that even an impeachment inquiry can't happen until Republicans support one might be tantamount to giving Republican intransigence - and Trump's disinformation network - total veto power over whether our political system ever even considers the question of whether Trump's corruption and misconduct amount to the high crimes and misdemeanors that merit removal."

(Note, by the way, that the third article of impeachment voted by the House Judiciary Committee against Nixon in 1974 was for his refusal to comply with congressional subpoenas.)

I confess that I keep going back and forth on the issue of impeachment, too, having been adamantly in favor just a couple of weeks ago yet in subsequent days occasionally swayed by the arguments against. But as Zelizer writes in his CNN analysis, "If they refuse to undertake impeachment proceedings, the President will continue to claim the Mueller investigation was a two-year witch hunt -- and that ultimately House Democrats reached the same conclusion.

"... A House vote in favor of articles of impeachment would not inevitably benefit the President, as some Democrats have been arguing. The likely revelation of more possible abuses of power as a result of impeachment proceedings, along with the extensive findings in the Mueller report, could easily drag down his already low approval ratings. Under an impeachment process, the House Judiciary Committee would have greater leverage in the courts to obtain documents and testimony, while administration members would be at greater risk if they continued to stonewall."

Trump's disregard of the law and all democratic principles cannot be ignored. On Tuesday morning, the latest obstruction occurred as the White House ordered former staffer Hope Hicks and Annie Donaldson, former White House counsel Donald McGahn's chief of staff, not to comply with subpoenas from the House Judiciary Committee.

As Benjamin Franklin also may-or may not!-have said, "It is hard for an empty sack to stand upright," so Trump tries to fill that sack not with the needed character and ability Franklin's words imply but with lies and accusations, one calumny after another, using each abuse as an attempt to bolster support and flood the field with deception. Therefore I've come to finally and firmly believe it's past time for the impeachment inquiry to begin. Call witnesses-send out the Federal marshals to haul in the recalcitrant-fill the public's eyes and ears with information, tell the story each and every day, explain to them the Mueller report's findings-insist that Mueller testify-and take the preliminary steps toward a formal impeachment.

This won't happen overnight, so no fear; clearly there won't be a rush to judgment. Nor will the other issues of the day be ignored. And, yes, there is plenty of other legal activity against Trump slowly grinding through the mills of the courts. But as far as the House goes, it's time for action, not merely motion.

Perhaps it would be best to create a select committee with daily televised hearings, much like the Senate Watergate committee, which wisely had only seven members and delegated much of the questioning to qualified attorneys who could help vector in on the truth without the preening self-promotion of politicians.

Someone has to bell this cat and right now, House of Representatives, we're looking to you.

(c) 2019 Michael Winship is the Schumann Senior Writing Fellow for Common Dreams. Previously, he was the Emmy Award-winning senior writer of Moyers & Company and, a past senior writing fellow at the policy and advocacy group Demos and former president of the Writers Guild of America East. Follow him on twitter:@MichaelWinship

How To Arm Nature Against Corporate Profiteers

By Jim Hightower

There's a hunter's nightmare in which a group of them flush some rabbits out of the brush. But rather than scampering away, the furry bunnies turn toward their stalkers. "Run," shouts one of the hunters. "Run for your life - the rabbits have guns!"

Arming animals would make the sport of hunting a bit more sporting, wouldn't it? Well, what if we did give all wildlife a fighting chance against the destructive firepower of profiteers who so carelessly ravage their habitats and kill them off? Of course, we can't arm nature with guns, but we could recognize that other species and ecosystems are living creatures with intrinsic legal rights to exist and flourish, thus giving nature its day in court to defend its well-being.

Like us humans, the lakes, forests, wildlife, etc. could have legal status to sue and be represented by lawyers to protect themselves from mindless exploitation, injury, and death. This Rights-of-Nature concept is already being applied in such countries as Ecuador and New Zealand - and more than three dozen US cities and towns have passed ordinances acknowledging that various natural resources in their areas have inherent rights to take polluters and other despoilers to court.

Ironically, the corporate powers - who have perverted law, logic, and nature to have their lifeless, profiteering entities declared "persons" - are aghast that Mother Nature can have rights that can counter the corporate claim that their right to profit is absolute.

At its core, the Rights-of-Nature movement is asserting the obvious: Earth's biosphere is not a free candy store for our taking. We are one with the natural world and must find ways to cooperate fully with it for our own survival. To learn more and connect to action, go to the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund:

(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

Queen Elizabeth II poses for a photo with Donald and Melania Trump at Buckingham Palace in London, on June 3, 2019.

We Are Being Embarrassed By Ugly-American Grifters On An Ego Trip To London
The Trumps need a distraction. So, at our expense, they are trading toasts with the current occupant of King George III's throne.
By John Nichols

Referring to "the red-carpet treatment" accorded to Donald Trump and the ignominious confederacy of unindicted co-conspirators that accompanied him to London, the city's mayor remarked, "In years to come, I suspect this state visit will be one we look back on with profound regret and acknowledge that we were on the wrong side of history." Why wait? As an American, I'm already regretting the spectacle of the Trumps tweeting pictures of themselves stumbling around Buckingham Palace. It's not just that, as a republican, I have no taste for the pomp and circumstance that surrounds the British royal family. It is not even that Trumps are so obviously enthralled by imperial excess. What I have a problem with is the notion that the United States of America is being "represented" on the global stage by an ugly-American cabal of black hats in ill-fitting tuxedos. Mehdi Hasan got it brilliantly right when he said of the president's decampment to the United Kingdom: "He's taken four of his five kids with him, his four grifter kids with him to Buckingham Palace. They've been posting pictures all night on Twitter of themselves. They're all loving it. It's a great day for the whole grifter family."

I appreciate the thought of an American president upending the monarchy-as George Washington once did-and I relish the prospect of exposing the elitist excesses of a state dinner. But that isn't what Trump and the grifter kids have been doing. Not at all. They're in London to embrace the high and mighty and to wallow in the pretentiousness of it all. And they've got the selfies to prove it. Trump and the various and sundry Trumpkins have a long history of seeking out these photo opportunities as proof of their "legitimacy."

There's always a financial angle with the Trumps, and you can bet that they'll move to monetize this "legitimacy," as they make another mockery of the emoluments clause. But, in this instance, there is also a political play.

The president is in a pickle at home. His party got trumped in the midterm elections. His approval ratings are in the tank-42 percent and sinking in the latest Gallup surveys. The special counsel who led a 22-month inquiry into the president and his associates just announced that "If we had confidence that the president did not commit a crime we would have said so." The US House of Representatives-which is charged by the Constitution with assuring that presidential administration are not reimagined as monarchies-is preparing to hold Trump's attorney general in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena. The House Judiciary Committee is ready to call former Nixon White House counsel John Dean to testify on the obstruction of justice by presidents who find it necessary to claim they are not crooked. And Republican Congressman Justin Amash has observed that the president has "committed impeachable offenses."

The Trumps are seeking a distraction from this robust domestic debate about the president's kingly abuses. And in their typically tone-deaf fashion, they imagine that the finest distraction of all must be a trading of toasts with the current occupant of King George III's throne.

"The ground beneath his feet is shaky," explains Inge Kjemtrup, who chairs the group Democrats Abroad UK. "I'm sure my [Republican] counterparts think this is a celebration, but for me the best thing to do when you've got domestic troubles is to go do something in another country-to go do something nice and shiny. And if there's one thing we know about our man, he's always after something shiny, and this is a perfect example."

Trump and his traveling party have positioned themselves amid the shiny objects of ancient imperialism. As an American whose ancestors fought a revolution to see off not just monarchy but pretenders to monarchy, I have my own reasons for sharing the view of Kjemtrup when she told Newsweek that "I'm really mortified, frankly, that he is representing the US."

It is vaguely comforting to have the grifters at a distance, if only for a few days. But soon they will be done photographing themselves amid the UK's shiny objects, and my only counsel to our British cousins is to reread James Boswell's The Life of Samuel Johnson, in which it is observed of a disreputable visitor, "If he does really think that there is no distinction between virtue and vice, why, sir, when he leaves our houses let us count our spoons."

(c) 2019 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. 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.

Longing For The End Of War
By James Donahue

The late President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who led the United States through the most turbulent war in world history, once said: "If civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships - the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together in the same world at peace."

Roosevelt knew, as did most people in the world at the end of World War II, that humanity could not endure another great war of that magnitude. World leaders attempted desperately to head off further wars in 1918, after the first "Great War" was ended, by forming the League of Nations which was an intergovernmental organization founded on 10 January 1920 as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first worldwide intergovernmental organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace. At it's height it had 58 nations from around the world, which later became the United Nations in 1939. This was an alliance of the most powerful countries in the world. Both were attempts by governments to find a way to "get-along" and stop wars before they started.

It didn't work. There hasn't been another great war of global scale, probably because of a united fear of such a conflict leading into a nuclear disaster. But nations have remained consistently at "limited warfare" ever since Roosevelt said the words posted here.

So why do we do this? Anyone who has served in the military and experienced real battle knows that war is not a video game. The late Union General William Tecumseh Sherman told the graduates of the Michigan Military Academy in 1879: "War is hell." After his involvement in one of the most deadly wars in United States history, Sherman knew what he was talking about. There is no glory in battle. It is a time of terrifying fear, killing and survival for every solder involved. No one returns from war without being in some way personally scarred.

Everybody says they want peace. Our political candidates call for it when they campaign for office. Our religious leaders ask their people to pray to God to grant it. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah promised that the day would come when "he shall judge between the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."

If world peace is desired, what has prevented us from achieving it? The answer is simple. Humans simply have not learned how to love and get along with one-another. Look at the police log in any city on any day and you will find long lists of calls asking police to help solve domestic disputes, street gang fights, murders and various other acts of violence. We fight with our neighbors over noise pollution, violation of junk ordinances, border disputes and sometimes over silly issues not worthy of mention. Our children get bullied by gangs at school. Many Americans have loaded guns in their homes to "defend" against the outside world.

If people can't get along with their neighbors, how can we expect nations to live in harmony with one another?

We call ourselves a civilized society but in truth, we still have a barbaric nature that lingers in us all. Until we learn to get this under control, we really are not civilized at all. We have only evolved one step above the ancient caveman who fought his enemies with spears and clubs. Now we do it with guns, knives and sophisticated military weaponry. Instead of killing one annoying man who has invaded our cave, we have the ability to destroy thousands at the push of a button.

This is why the invention of the atomic bomb has been so dangerous. It is why the fact that so many nations have such bombs also puts us on the edge of disaster. All it will take is one military leader to push the wrong button in anger, launch such a bomb on another nation, and it could start a war that could destroy all life on Earth within hours, if not minutes. This is how close to the edge we have gone.

Humans still cling to old feelings of racial, religious and even territorial bigotry. We distrust anyone that does not look, dress or behave like us. And with so many different cultures, skin colors and religious belief systems in existence, it seems that it may be impossible for everybody to reach of common state of international love for one another. The final factor in this picture is that war has now become very profitable for big business interests. Billions of dollars are made by the corporations that manufacture the many heinous weapons of war that we have invented. We recently posted a political "cartoon" that noted why America could not stop going to war. It is because war is the nation's only remaining industry. That may be close to the truth.

How can we bring an end to this madness?

If we could put the truth back into our history books and teach our children the truth about past events, from an unbiased point of view, it would be a good start. If our children could understand how political and financial interests forced the Japanese into attacking our Navy at Pearl Harbor in 1941, how our top leadership allowed this attack to happen to help stir Americans out of an unwillingness to go to war against Hitler, and how we used propaganda to generate an unnatural hatred against both the Japanese and German people, we might acquire an understanding of how we were all goaded into that war. How interesting to note that both Germany and Japan are considered good allies to the United States today.

Today the propaganda machine is stirring distrust and anger against the Islamic people following a suspicious attack on the United States on 9-11. There is a false "War on Terrorism" going on that led us into unprovoked invasions of both Iraq and Afghanistan, and our military is still present in both countries. The bloodshed still goes on. And the only winners in these conflicts have been the big corporations who fed the war machine. Are we not being duped by the big corporate-owned media machine into hating yet another race of innocent people who have done nothing to threaten us?

Notice how we were arch enemies of Russia during the Cold War, then we became comfortable with the Russians under President Mikhail Gorbachev, and now tensions are mounting under the leadership of former KGB head Vladimir Putin. Why is this? Is it because Putin has an alliance with Syrian dictator Bashar Hafez al-Assad, who is allegedly fighting a civil uprising to remain in power? What is the truth in this complex story?

Notice too how the Iranians are being portrayed as a potential new enemy because they are building nuclear power plants and there is a suspicion that Iran wants also to build nuclear bombs. Why is this considered more dangerous than North Korea, portrayed as a sworn enemy to the United States, has already developed a nuclear bomb?

Do we really bear hatred in our hearts for all of the citizens of these great nations? Do we fear them? Or is it possible that we can love them? If we are to accept the concept that we are all one . . . that we are all part of the Creator of All Things who exists within each of us, how can we not love them?

Some optimists believe a new transition is about to occur on this planet . . . they have referred to it as ascension. But if it happens it will not be a miracle. The change would be a slow and methodical shift and those who are actively involved are going to have to work hard to bring it about. It will involve hardship, personal discipline, and giving up the materialistic lifestyle most Americans have enjoyed all of their lives. And as we have all learned from watching the news stories about the storms, earthquakes and other natural disasters, there will be a lot of death.

In the end, however, there could be a promise of a paradigm shift into a new and higher level of thought. It will be a true stop in the process of human evolution. And if it would happen, perhaps then we might have the ability to lay down our weapons and hammer them into plowshares. That is when the prophecy of Isaiah shall come to pass.

(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.

If we are to be free within and without our person, the total surveillance state must be dismantled.

There Are Cameras Everywhere. It's Time To Reject The Surveillance State
By William Rivers Pitt

My little corner of the world is a spaghetti bowl of winding two-lane country roads, the sort of meandering double-yellow blacktops adored by Autumn leaf-peepers and car commercial producers. Those twists and turns also make great defilade for speed-trapping police cars: Come 'round the bend with a shade too much speed, ah shit.

This is where the high-beam flip comes in handy.

The high-beam flip came into common usage in the 1970s, when new steering column configurations incorporated a stem control which allowed drivers to easily and quickly switch from regular headlights to high beams and back again; before the design change, you turned on your high beams with a switch on the floor by the pedals.

The trick is simple: Pass a cop parked for a speed trap, and flip your high beams on and off at oncoming cars to warn them. If, like me, you believe that speed traps are dangerous because they make people abruptly slam on the brakes, and if you also believe pushback against authority is a healthy necessity in any free society, the beam flip is for you.

Hell, when you think about it, you're doing the cop's job by getting drivers to slow down when you flip the beams, and without costing those drivers a cent or subjecting them to a potentially menacing encounter with an armed officer. The beam flip is a service to your neighbors as purely American as the Grateful Dead and N.W.A. It is also a First Amendment right in several states.

A few days ago, a friend was driving around running some errands when her smartphone chirped at her. It was Google Maps warning her that a speed trap was up ahead. No beam flip required. As it turns out, this is now a thing not just in the U.S., but around the world.

"The company confirmed the news to TechCrunch after reports of international rollouts surfaced on Reddit in recent weeks," reports Catie Keck for Gizmodo. "Google Maps began displaying the alerts to some users back in January, and in March, reports for speed traps began seeing a wider rollout. Now, it looks like the company is committing to the features that were not previously available in all of Google's international markets."

To the surprise of none, police are not enthusiastic about this development. Google was already getting static from authorities over Waze, the GPS app Google owns which warns drivers of DUI checkpoints. With the new Google Maps function, the company has broadened the scope of the information they provide to customers, essentially putting a blinking pin in the location of every known speed trap on the roads.

There is no lack of irony to be found in the fact that Google - creator of perhaps the most insidiously pervasive surveillance system in human history - is sticking a technological thumb in the eye of the cops. At this point, however, any pushback against the total surveillance state is welcome news in a world where artists are detained and interrogated for taking pictures of the cameras taking pictures of them.

"There are an estimated 30 million surveillance cameras now deployed in the United States shooting 4 billion hours of footage a week," reported Popular Mechanics 10 years ago. Five years later, according to The New York Times, >"there were 245 million professionally installed surveillance cameras around the world." Today, five years later, they're talking about 30,000 spy cameras>in the city of Chicago alone.

The Cameras Everywhere craze came to full bloom after September 11, when fear of the "other" transformed into fear of everything. This fear was fed and nurtured through the oppressive onslaught of cynical politicians and ratings-hungry news networks. Recently, however, cities have begun to flip their own high beams at the eyes that never blink.

"In 2013, Seattle police installed surveillance cameras and a network that could track wireless devices throughout downtown," reported The Seattle Times in February of 2018. The network "had the potential to track and log every wireless device that moved through its system: people attending protests, people getting cups of coffee, people going to a hotel in the middle of the workday.... After unwanted publicity, they turned it off. Now the city is paying $150,000 to physically tear it down."

Earlier this month, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to ban the use of camera-driven facial recognition software by police and other authorities within the city limits. The order cited the software as being offensive to the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, as well as to Article I of the California Constitution.

"Surveillance efforts have historically been used to intimidate and oppress certain communities and groups more than others," reads the order, "including those that are defined by a common race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, income level, sexual orientation or political perspective. The propensity for facial recognition technology to endanger civil rights and civil liberties substantially outweighs its purported benefits, and the technology will exacerbate racial injustice and threaten our ability to live free of continuous government monitoring."

My beloved San Francisco may be collapsing into a hyper-expensive tech-bro monoculture hellscape, but it sure got this one right. The country, and the world, are almost 20 years older and wiser than they were in 2001, when the idea of hanging a surveillance camera on every light pole seemed reasonable because the nightly news said terrorists were hiding under your bed and the "Terror Warning" was always about to go red.

We were badly used by the fearmongers then, and the totality of this technology today allows the authorities, in the proper environment, to watch every move and transaction we make. They could never credibly film "The Fugitive" today because everyone knows Harrison Ford would be in handcuffs before the butter on your popcorn got cold.

The potential for abuse is manifest, especially given the current paranoid, racist, govern-by-grudge occupant of the White House. Surveillance cameras, like their analog cousin the speed trap, are a means of control. If we are to be free within and without our person, the total surveillance state must be dismantled. Reasonable security measures have merit. Living in a fishbowl is not reasonable at all.

In the end, it's all about flippin' those high beams.

(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.

The Congressional Republicans Can Defy Trump --- When There's Money Involved
By Heather Digby Parton

President Trump and his massive family entourage managed to make it through Tuesday on their British visit without a truly terrible gaffe. That's a major accomplishment. Trump did insult the mayor of London again and stuck his nose into Brexit politics during a press conference with outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May. And yes, he lied and said that there were many people greeting him enthusiastically on the streets and there were just a few small protests, calling all the reports which showed the opposite "fake news." But all of that is par for the Trump course.

He did say a couple of things that were newsworthy. A British reporter asked him if a post-Brexit unilateral trade deal with the U.S. would mean that Britain's National Health Service was on the table. He said it would be. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, whom Trump refused to meet on this trip, pledged to fight to his last breath to prevent allowing their "precious, wonderful National Health Service" be privatized by American corporations. Trump walked back his comment later, leading some to suggest that he didn't even know what the NHS was when the question was asked. That's possible, but U.S. ambassador Woody Johnson had told the BBC just a few days before that the NHS would have to be part of any U.S.-U.K. trade deal, so it seems likely that this is something that's been discussed inside the Trump administration.

When asked about reports that the Republicans in the Congress were resisting his threatened tariffs on Mexico, which Trump has said he will impose under his elastic definition of "national security," the president said it would be "foolish" of them to defy him, reminding them that he is very popular with Republican voters. (He lied, as usual, saying that at 94% his popularity among the GOP base is the highest ever. In fact, it's consistently in the high 80s, and not the highest ever.) His comment was clearly meant as a threat to Republicans who are thinking of breaking with him on his trade war.

We'll see whether they come through. Even if Republican leaders ultimately capitulate, their little rebellion illustrates the fact that as much as they like to pretend they're powerless to stand up to Trump because of his stranglehold on the base, they are willing to put up a fuss when it's something they truly care about. Or, to be precise, when it's something their big donors care about. This latest front of Trump's trade war is definitely one of those times.

American business has been fairly sanguine about the tariffs on Chinese goods. They realize that this trade war is being waged very stupidly, but Chinese companies have pushed unfair trade practices for years and business was willing to give Trump some room to maneuver, perhaps thinking that the "madman" theory might just work in this situation. They've stood back as Trump abrogated NAFTA and put Canada and Mexico through the wringer for some mild improvements to the deal, even as people suffered for it. He's threatened Japan and Europe with tariffs if they don't do what he wants. But Trump's impulsive threat to slap tariffs on Mexico unless they stop immigration and drugs from coming over the border may have shaken the business community out of its complacency.

Some very powerful Republican interest groups are unhappy about this, and while GOP senators and representatives are undeniably concerned about Trump's popularity, they are even more concerned about their big-money backers. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the National Retail Federation are just a few of the business groups protesting this move. Some of those, led by the Chamber, say they are planning to sue the White House to stop the tariffs on Mexico. Republicans in Congress may not care about children being put in cages or left in vans overnight in the middle of the summer. But they come to attention when the titans of capitalism get upset.

The New York Times reports that White House lawyers came to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to speak to the Senate Republican conference and they got an earful, particularly from the two Republicans from Texas. Sen. Ted Cruz called it a $30 billion tax, while Sen. John Cornyn said, "We're holding a gun to our own heads." Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin told the Times, "The White House should be concerned about what that vote would result in, because Republicans really don't like taxing American consumers and businesses."

Trump somehow believes that the tariff will be paid by Mexico because he is clueless about how this all works. Until now, Republicans have allowed him to pretend that foreign nations will pay for his trade war because nobody they really cared about was complaining. But it seems they can find their voices to oppose the president when they want to, which suggests that otherwise they really don't have a problem with most of the stuff he does. With the exception of Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who openly admits he loves most of what Trump is doing, they don't even seem to care that he's creating new executive powers out of thin air. There's no precedent for using tariffs as a foreign policy tool, or an attempt to curb immigration.

As I said, we don't know how this one will go. It's possible that Republicans and the Mexican government can come up with some sort of "deal" that Trump will call a big victory and the whole thing will go away, at least for now. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seems to think that's how it will go, telling the press, "Our hope is that the tariffs will be avoided, and we will not have to answer any hypotheticals." Paul has indicated that the Senate may have the votes to override a potential presidential veto and get rid of these tariffs, if it comes to that. Trump's new NAFTA agreement would be a likely casualty of this conflict as well.

It's amazing how Congress can come together to thwart this president when they really want to.

The tariff ultimatum was made against the advice of just about everyone in the Trump administration - except, that is, for Stephen Miller, the president's hard-line anti-immigrant adviser. The Atlantic reports that White House aides say this all stemmed from Trump's anger over Robert Mueller's appearance at the Justice Department last week, quoting an unnamed adviser who said, "Whenever a negative story comes around, his instinct is to pivot to immigration or trade. It's kind of like his safety blanket." This was a twofer. Trump felt insecure so he shook up the financial markets and threatened to damage a vast segment of the American economy to make himself feel better. What's a little economic turmoil - and an unexpected tax on businesses and consumers - when the president needs his blankey?

(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.

Flooded playgroundNo one likes bad news, but we can't turn away from reality if we want to avoid catastrophe

Climate Change And Biodiversity Should Be Top Headline News
By David Suzuki

When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a special report in October warning of how quickly we're advancing toward irreversible climate chaos, it led the news - for a day. A massive study in May by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services about rapid wildlife extinction met a similar fate.

In Canada, issues like legalization of recreational cannabis pushed aside the climate report, and news about the birth of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's baby buried the biodiversity report everywhere.

In early April, I read front-page stories in the Vancouver Sun about Brexit and the SNC-Lavalin scandal. Page 3 had a single column headlined, "Grim climate report released," about an Environment and Climate Change Canada review by 43 scientists showing Canada is warming at twice the global average rate, even faster in the North.

The Globe and Mail headlined the news on page 4 with "Canada warming at rapid rate, study finds." It shared the page with stories about provincial and national efforts to undermine the federal government's less-than-adequate but necessary climate initiatives, such as carbon pricing.

No one likes bad news, but we can't turn away from reality if we want to avoid catastrophe. Elizabeth Bush, lead author of Canada's Changing Climate Report, echoed what experts have said in light of the IPCC report: "It's clear, the science supports the fact that adapting to climate change is an imperative. Urgent action is needed to reduce emissions."

Why aren't these reports dominating front pages, financial sections and newscasts, highlighting the enormous societal and economic implications? British Columbians know well that climate change is real. We've seen glaciers that supply much of our water retreating, mountain pine beetle outbreaks destroying billions of dollars' worth of trees, smoke from massive wildfires darkening skies for weeks, acidified oceans killing shellfish and rising seas threatening coastlines.

In an April speech to the Columbia Journalism Review and The Nation's Covering Climate Now conference in New York, respected U.S. broadcaster Bill Moyers pointed to research showing, "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 2018," and "about 1,300 communities across the United States have totally lost news coverage, many from newspaper mergers and closures."

Moyers, who says he learned about the consequences of rapid fossil fuel burning in early 1965, added, "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."

We're facing a similar fate in Canada. One company, Postmedia, owns much of our print media (with added online presence). In Alberta, where many people seem to lack basic information about climate disruption, the company owns all major dailies in Calgary and Edmonton, and many smaller community newspapers. Despite some good coverage of climate issues, the media giant often runs opinion columns by climate science deniers.

In 2013, Postmedia - mostly owned by a U.S. hedge fund - entered into an agreement with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers to "bring energy to the forefront of our national conversation." It recently hired Alberta Premier Jason Kenney's former campaign director Nick Koolsbergen to "discuss ways Postmedia could be involved in the government's energy war room" - a $20 million program to "fight fake news and share the truth about Alberta's resource sector and energy issues."

Many new and some mainstream media outlets in Canada and elsewhere are stepping up to fill the void in reporting on issues critical to our well-being and survival, but they often lack resources.

There is no shortage of solutions to the related climate and biodiversity crises. We've written about them in Just Cool It! and elsewhere, as have many others. But people need good, evidence-based news coverage on which to base their actions and voting decisions. Where and how climate change and other environmental stories are covered in news outlets and broadcasts indicates how seriously society takes them.

We need and deserve better from our news media. As Moyers said, "Reporting the truth about climate disruption, and its solutions, could be contagious."

(c) 2019 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co_founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

These Conservative Intellectuals Can Go Hash Things Out On Some Desert Island While The Rest Of Us Fix The Country
Donald Trump was the inevitable product of a Republican Party that would believe anything-including Art Laffer's economic nonsense.
By Charles P. Pierce

Over Memorial Day weekend, the president* announced that he would be bestowing the Presidential Medal of Freedom upon Arthur Laffer, the man whose ruinous economic nonsense has been the cause of so much of the country's fiscal miseries over the past 40 years. The father of "supply-side" economics, Laffer's theories have been tested and they have failed everywhere they've been tried. But he and his fellow fantast, Stephen Moore, wrote a book praising the economic policies of El Caudillo del Mar-a-Lago, so he gets an important bauble hung around his neck, where it will contest for space with what Laffer's theories wrought in Kansas under Sam Brownback, which should hang around both of their necks like a dead possum until the last trump sounds. I can't believe Erich von Daniken isn't also on the list, and where's Alex Jones, anyway?

However, the idea of honoring Laffer at this time fits right into an inauspicious time for America's conservatives, for it was the Reagan Administration's adoption of Laffernomics that was the critical vector by which the prion disease entered the conservative-and, therefore, the Republican-brain. If you can believe that, you can believe that a zygote is an individual human being, that there are Iranian "moderates" to whom you can sell missiles, and that there are lagoons of deadly poisons somewhere in the mountains of Iraq. It was swearing allegiance to Laffer's crackpot ideas that the first guide-wires attaching American conservatism, and the Republican Party, came undone. If you can believe that cutting taxes invariably raises revenues, you can believe anything, and conservative Republicans have been believing anything until, now, over the past two years, their long road has ended in downtown Crazyland. They're wandering around, blinking, and asking guys playing with their toes in the mud how to get the hell out of this dead-end town.

Laffer's economic theory served as the critical vector for the prion disease as it entered the conservative brain.

Stipulated: the Republican capacity to believe anything, encouraged by the modern conservative movement, and the conservative media's unmatched ability to monetize it, made someone like the current president* not only possible, but also inevitable. We can count ourselves marginally fortunate that the guy in the low-water golf pants is so bad at what he's trying to do. The main event in American conservatism over the next several years is going to be a monumental pissing match over the best strategy to consign these obvious truths to the same memory hole where they stashed the events of 2000-2008 and the detritus of the Avignon Presidency. And the first real brawl in this existential pie fight is going on right now.

If you've been anywhere near the electric Twitter machine over the past few days, you likely have been deafened by the salvos occasioned by a guy named Sohrab Ahmari and a guy named David French, who ran for president for 11 minutes in 2016. Basically, Ahmari, who is the op-ed editor of the New York Post-and yes, you too, friends, can have a career in hazardous waste disposal!-made the case that French was not colossal dick enough to be a True Conservative in the era of El Caudillo del Mar-a-Lago. This came as something of a surprise to those of us outside the lodge who remember such silver-studded highlights as this one from Mr. French in the National Review:

While the vast, vast majority of abortion-rights supporters don't identify with Satanists and would recoil from comparison with the Church of Satan, prominent Satanist involvement in the abortion debate does have a clarifying effect. A person who is willing to kill another person for the sake of preserving their own prosperity or emotional health is declaring that their life is supreme - their existence is at the center of all things. This is the core of Satanist theology. So when Satanists declare their creeds, they strike uncomfortably close to the rotten core of the abortion-rights regime.
Dunno. Anybody who can peddle that swill should be colossal dick enough for any conservative hootenanny. But Ahmari is not backing down, and he is puffing himself up into a dick so colossal that it blots out the sun. From First Things:
It isn't easy to critique the persona of someone as nice as French. Then again, it is in part that earnest and insistently polite quality of his that I find unsuitable to the depth of the present crisis facing religious conservatives. Which is why I recently quipped on Twitter that there is no "polite, David French-ian third way around the cultural civil war." (What prompted my ire was a Facebook ad for a children's drag queen reading hour at a public library in Sacramento.)
So, the intellectual mainspring of the former Wingo Bugle is triggered by something that happened in a library an entire continent away? Looks like snow from here. But the winner at our game of Bobbing For Stupid is one Matthew Schmitz, who lined up against French and tweeted that French was a hypocrite because, while writing against our national fleshpots, he also watched Game of Thrones, which had nekkid ladies. I'm telling you, the level of debate here is Lincolnesque.

Donald Trump is the inevitable product of a conservative movement that would believe Laffer's theories.

(Also, it should be noted that this isn't the first time that First Things, the legacy publication of whackadoo Father Richard John Neuhaus, has hinted at the need for civil war. They once ran an entire issue that came dangerously close to recommending armed sedition over Roe v. Wade. Neuhaus was a convert to Catholicism, as is Ahmari, and as is Ross Douthat, the New York Times columnist. It is incumbent upon all cradle Catholics to warn our fellow citizens of the dangers to the public order posed by people who joined HMC because they like the authoritarian legalisms and the Renaissance set decoration.)

Look, reading through this stuff, I feel like Lemuel Gulliver, except I don't know if I've washed up in Lilliput or in the land of the Houyhnhnms. As far as I'm concerned, they can all find a deserted island and hash this stuff out, Lord of the Flies style, while the rest of warm to the task of putting the country back together again. Maybe they can bring George Will down from the mountaintop as some kind of shaman to cast a spell over them so they can all forget that American conservatism wandered into bedlam with its eyes open, and its hands out. Will has no more immunity to the prion disease than the rest of them do.

Here he is in a recent condensation of his latest book-like product, talking about the now-famous "You didn't build that" riff that Barack Obama copped from Elizabeth Warren.

Warren, like Obama, was energetically refuting propositions no one asserts. Everyone knows that all striving occurs in a social context and all attainments are, to some extent, enabled and conditioned by contexts that are shaped by government.
Hold on there, walking antimacassar. The Republican Party, at its 2012 National Convention, dedicated one whole night to asserting that proposition. I watched an endless parade of speakers assert that they did indeed Build That. Many of them got their start in a big government program called the United States Army, but never mind. The night culminated with a speech from Governor Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, who baldly asserted that Oklahomans built their state with little or no help from big government. Homestead Act? Cavalry eliminating those pesky Natives? Oil depletion allowance? Bosh. Oklahomans built Oklahoma, dammit. This, of course, is insane.

Will was on MSNBC on Monday morning, explaining to the gang there that Donald Trump is no kind of conservative. No, sir. Not him. Somebody should dust the president* for Will's fingerprints.

(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-

"If by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people-their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights and their civil liberties-someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal," then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal."
~~~ John F. Kennedy ~ Profiles in Courage

You Can Almost Count On Each New Mass Shooter Being A Veteran
By David Swanson

"He enlisted in the Virginia National Guard in April 1996, according to spokesman A.A. Puryear. He was assigned to the Norfolk-based 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team as a 13B cannon crew member. He was discharged in April 2002 and held the rank of specialist at the time, the spokesman said. His records did not indicate overseas deployments." -CNN on latest mass shooter.

We're supposed to overlook this bit of information. We're supposed to focus on mental health questions or the inscrutable incomprehensible mystery of the inevitable human tragedy of mass shootings, which bizarrely and unfairly are inflicted by the universe on this particular 4 percent of humanity living in the United States, which quite irrelevantly has been glorifying violence through endless wars for many years.

Is it relevant that Virginia and the United States bestow greater rights on guns than on human beings? Of course it is. In Charlottesville two years ago, the city refused to ban any weapons as armed fascists came to town, but a year later banned all weapons other than guns.

If I could speak perfectly honestly, I'd probably blurt out something like this: Ban the damn guns. All of them. Everywhere. Do it now, you fucking idiots!

But that would be inappropriate.

Is it relevant that every mass shooter is male? Well, sort of. We can't exactly ban males, but we could develop a culture that viewed proper manhood as opposing rather than celebrating violence.

Is it relevant that you can just about count on each mass shooter having been trained in mass shooting at public expense by the U.S. military?

Hell no! If they hadn't been trained by the world's most far-reaching and expensive ever killing machine, they might have learned their shooting skills somewhere else - like from video games funded by the U.S. military. If they hadn't been praised for that training, and in many cases for actually engaging in mass killing (of the right people), they might have imagined such praise (by picturing themselves in movies funded by the U.S. military).

Last November, U.S. Marine Ian David Long failed to stop doing his job. He had been employed by the U.S. government to fire a machine gun at people. That had been his job for years, and part of that time he had participated in the war on Afghanistan. He had been given awards for the fine job he'd done in combat. Nobody had been outraged. Nobody had called him names or questioned his sanity.

CNN's inaccurate headline, "Thousand Oaks gunman went from Marine vet to mass shooter. Investigators want to know why," created a mystery where none existed. The question is not how he became a mass shooter but how so many others have managed to cease being mass shooters.

While you can almost count on each new mass shooter being a veteran, you can of course by no means count on each new veteran being a mass shooter. Most veterans are no such thing. How that happens is where the investigators should focus.

Ian David Long died in the most common manner for participants in recent U.S. wars, namely by suicide. The difference is that he killed a lot of other people-who-matter first. But this, too, is not as unusual as we might wish. At least 35% (probably much more, and it seems to have be rising steeply since I made that calculation) of U.S. mass shooters were trained by the U.S. military.

Imagine if 35% of U.S. mass shooters were . . . anything at all: black, Asian, Muslim, atheist, female, wealthy, foreign, red haired, Latino, gay . . . can you imagine? It would be the leading news story for weeks. There would be chairs endowed at universities to study it. But the fact that so many of the killers are men who were trained to kill by the world's leading killing institution is not only unworthy of mention, but is depicted in each isolated instance as a mystery to be explained in some other terms.

Imagine if the mounting death count from all of these shootings included not just the hundreds killed within the U.S. but also the hundreds of thousands killed outside it. Imagine treating the vast majority of the victims as if they mattered.

A public debate over how to tackle a mass murderer is as insane as a public discussion of how to build a stronger house on the beach. If you won't address the training of murderers, and you won't ban guns, and you won't stop destroying the earth's climate, what's left is madness.

Often the madness takes the form of repeating the evil that goes unmentioned. Stick an armed security guard in front of every building. In November that policy simply determined the name of the first victim. It may even (one can only speculate) have presented the killer with an inviting or rationalizing sense, a familiar sense, of taking on an "enemy." The solution is not even more armed guards.

The solution in the war on Afghanistan is not even more armed killers. The war on Afghanistan came "home" to California, but how many people know that? How many people know the war is still raging? How many know that Obama promised to escalate it and did so, and that Trump promised to end it and escalated it (albeit on a smaller scale)? How many were outraged when Ian David Long was killing mere Afghans? How many are outraged that thousands of U.S. and NATO troops are still over there making Afghanistan worse and bringing the war back with them?

The most passionate supporters of current wars call them premeditated murder and themselves premeditated murderers, but not like it's a bad thing - like it's perfectly acceptable.

How many can put 2 and 2 together and recognize that all the just-retired U.S. commanders in Afghanistan who have said the war is counter-productive have been right, that it endangers the very people who think the sound of fighter jets ruining their vacation at Virginia Beach has something to do with "freedom."

(c) 2019 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.

My (Not So) Excellent Adventure With Propaganda At The United Nations In NYC
By Jane Stillwater

How many times have you been told straight-up lies to your face? Been told them so many times that you actually start to believe them? "Yes, Santa Claus will bring you lots of presents down the chimney, kid. Now shut up and put out those damn cookies and milk."

I had that very same experience a few days ago -- right in front of the United Nations building in New York. I saw a small group of people standing in front of the iconic UN building and waving a huge Syrian flag. "Those are my kind of people!" I thought. Having been to Syria and having kept up with all the lies we've been fed about their president being a bad guy, I was delighted to see protestors who were actually and finally bringing Truth to Power.

Boy was I wrong!

Those people were paid protestors, hired by Lord-Knows-Who to spread lies about Syria's President Assad. "Assad is a baby-killer!" They screamed. Er, no. Americans are the ones who have been murdering babies-for-oil in Syria since 2011, and in the whole Middle East for decades as well.

"But Assad is a hero in Syria!" I told them. "They love him there -- because Assad has kept Syria from becoming another Libya." But the protestors just shoved an obviously-Photo-Shopped leaflet in my hand and that was that. How can I even begin to fight propaganda like that? I mean -- seriously? PhotoShop? Me? I can barely figure out how to turn off and on my computer let alone turn out professional-quality stuff like that. This was CIA-quality stuff!

Sadly, I just shook my head and went back into the UN gift shop. What else could I do?

I know! I'll go over to the Syrian ambassador's office and try to cheer him up! Good idea -- except the ambassador wasn't home. Bud I did talk to one of his aides. "I'm so sorry that Syria has to go through all this," I told him, "just because nobody here believes that this whole tragedy is simply a result of American corporations being greedy for yet more oil." Again. Remember when they lied like a rug about Iraq?

And remember when Trump ordered the bombing of Damascus in retaliation to the Douma chemical attack, supposedly ordered by Assad? Well, it turns out that America's "rebels" (aka al Qaeda) were the ones responsible, not Syria. "I apologize on behalf of my country," I told the aide.

By this time I had tears in my eyes at the thought of all those dead Syrian babies -- murdered by us, not them. And the aide almost had tears in his eyes too. But what could we do? For eight long bloody years now, Syria's ambassador has gotten up in front of United Nations delegates regularly and begged them to stop America, ISIS, Turkey, the Zionists and the Saudis from destroying his country -- looking like poor sweet Haile Selassie futilely begging the League of Nations for help that would never come.

I guess that all I can do now is to just keep on keeping on -- keep on refusing to eat all the lies we are constantly being fed. A buffet of lies. A smorgasbord of lies. A bistro full of lies. A lie-filled comida. And to stop digesting all those other multi-lingual lies we are constantly being served up by our global corporate minders like they were milk and cookies. Sigh.

(c) 2019 Jane Stillwater. Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world. And while you're at it, please buy my books!

The Dead Letter Office-

Brian gives the corporate salute

Heil Trump,

Dear Unterfuhrer Babin,

Congratulations, you have just been awarded the "Vidkun Quisling Award!" Your name will now live throughout history with such past award winners as Marcus Junius Brutus, Judas Iscariot, Benedict Arnold, George Stephanopoulos, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Prescott Bush, Sam Bush, Fredo Bush, Kate Bush, Kyle Busch, Anheuser Busch, Vidkun Quisling, and last year's winner Volksjudge John (the enforcer) Roberts.

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your plans to lock up every American that you don't like, 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 07-13-2019. We salute you Herr Babin, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

What Does Oligarchy Mean?
By Robert Reich

"Oligarchy" means government of and by a few at the top, who exercise power for their own benefit. It comes from the Greek word oligarkhes, meaning "few to rule or command."

Even a system that calls itself a democracy can become an oligarchy if power becomes concentrated in the hands of a few very wealthy people - a corporate and financial elite.

Their power and wealth increase over time as they make laws that favor themselves, manipulate financial markets to their advantage, and create or exploit economic monopolies that put even more wealth into their pockets.

Modern-day Russia is an oligarchy, where a handful of billionaires who control most major industries dominate politics and the economy.

What about the United States?

According to a study published in 2014 by Princeton Professor Martin Gilens and Northwestern Professor Benjamin Page, although Americans enjoy many features of democratic governance, such as regular elections, and freedom of speech and association, American policy making has become dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans.

The typical American has no influence at all.

This is largely due to the increasing concentration of wealth. In a 2019 research paper, Berkeley economics professor Gabriel Zucman determined that the richest 1 percent of Americans now own 40 percent of the nation's wealth. That's up from 25 to 30 percent of the nation's wealth in the 1980s.

The only country Zucman found with similarly high levels of wealth concentration is ... Russia.

America has had an oligarchy before - in the first Gilded Age, which ran from the 1880s until the early 20th century.

Teddy Roosevelt called that oligarchy the "malefactors of great wealth," and fought them by breaking up large concentrations of economic power-the trusts-and instituting a progressive federal income tax.

His fifth cousin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, further reduced their power by strictly regulating Wall Street, and encouraging the growth of labor unions. The oligarchy fought back but Roosevelt wouldn't yield.

"Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob," he thundered in 1936. "Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me-and I welcome their hatred."

But the American oligarchy has returned. We are now in a second Gilded Age. As the great jurist Louis Brandeis once said, "We can have democracy in this country or we can have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both."

We must, once again, make the correct choice and reduce the economic and political power of the American oligarchy.

(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

Manufacturing War With Russia
By Chris Hedges

Despite the Robert Mueller report's conclusion that Donald Trump and his campaign did not collude with Russia during the 2016 presidential race, the new Cold War with Moscow shows little sign of abating. It is used to justify the expansion of NATO to Russia's borders, a move that has made billions in profits for U.S. arms manufacturers. It is used to demonize domestic critics and alternative media outlets as agents of a foreign power. It is used to paper over the Democratic Party's betrayal of the working class and the party's subservience to corporate power. It is used to discredit detente between the world's two largest nuclear powers. It is used to justify both the curtailment of civil liberties in the United States and U.S. interventions overseas-including in countries such as Syria and Venezuela. This new Cold War predates the Trump presidential campaign. It was manufactured over a decade ago by a war industry and intelligence community that understood that, by fueling a conflict with Russia, they could consolidate their power and increase their profits. (Seventy percent of intelligence is carried out by private corporations such as Booz Allen Hamilton, which has been called the world's most profitable spy operation.)

"This began long before Trump and 'Russiagate,' " Stephen F. Cohen said when I interviewed him for my television show, "On Contact." Cohen is professor emeritus of politics at Princeton University, where he was the director of the Russian studies program, and professor emeritus of Russian studies and history at New York University. "You have to ask yourself, why is it that Washington had no problem doing productive diplomacy with Soviet communist leaders. Remember Richard Nixon and Leonid Brezhnev? It was a love fest. They went hunting together [in the Soviet Union]. Yet along comes a post-Soviet leader, Vladimir Putin, who is not only not a communist but a professed anti-communist. Washington has been hating on him ever since 2003, 2004. It requires some explanation. Why do we like communist leaders in Russia better than we like Russia's anti-communist leader? It's a riddle."

"If you're trying to explain how the Washington establishment has dealt with Putin in a hateful and demonizing way, you have to go back to the 1990s before Putin," said Cohen, whose new book is "War With Russia? From Putin & Ukraine to Trump & Russiagate." The first post-Soviet leader is Boris Yeltsin. Clinton is president. And they have this fake, pseudo-partnership and friendship, whereas essentially the Clinton administration took advantage of the fact that Russia was in collapse. It almost lost its sovereignty. I lived there in the '90s. Middle-class people lost their professions. Elderly people lost their pensions. I think it's correct to say that industrial production fell more in the Russian 1990s than it did during our own Great Depression. It was the worst economic and social depression ever in peacetime. It was a catastrophe for Russia."

In September 1993 Russians took to the streets to protest the collapse of the economy-the gross domestic product had fallen by 50% and the country was convulsed by hyperinflation-along with the rampant corruption that saw state enterprises sold for paltry fees to Russian oligarchs and foreign corporations in exchange for lavish kickbacks and bribes; food and fuel shortages; the nonpayment of wages and pensions; the lack of basic services, including medical services; falling life expectancy; the explosion of violent crime; and Yeltsin's increasing authoritarianism and his unpopular war with Chechnya.

In October 1993 Yeltsin, after dissolving the parliament, ordered army tanks to shell the Russian parliament building, which was being occupied by democratic protesters. The assault left 2,000 dead. Yet during his presidency Yeltsin was effusively praised and supported by Washington. This included U.S. support for a $10.2 billion International Monetary Fund loan to Russia during his 1996 re-election campaign. The loan enabled the Yeltsin government to pay huge sums in back wages and pensions to millions of Russians, with checks often arriving on the eve of the election. Also, an estimated $1.5 billion from the loan was used to directly fund the Yeltsin presidential campaign. But by the time Yeltsin was forced out of office in December 1999 his approval rating had sunk to 2%. Washington, losing Yeltsin, went in search of another malleable Russian leader and, at first, thought it had found one in Putin.

"Putin went to Texas," Cohen said. "He had a barbecue with Bush, second Bush. Bush said he 'looked into his eyes and saw a good soul.' There was this honeymoon. Why did they turn against Putin? He turned out not to be Yeltsin. We have a very interesting comment about this from Nicholas Kristof, the New York Times columnist, who wrote, I think in 2003, that his own disillusion with Putin was that he had turned out not to be 'a sober Yeltsin.' What Washington was hoping for was a submissive, supplicant, post-Soviet Russian leader, but one who was younger, healthier and not a drinker. They thought they had that in Putin. Yeltsin had put Putin in power, or at least the people around Yeltsin did."

"When Putin began talking about Russia's sovereignty, Russia's independent course in world affairs, they're aghast," Cohen said of the Washington elites. "This is not what they expected. Since then, my own thinking is we were pretty lucky after the 1990s to get Putin because there were worst contenders in the wings. I knew some of them. I don't want to name names. But some of these guys were really harsh people. Putin was kind of the right person for the right time, both for Russia and for Russian world affairs."

"We have had three years of this," Cohen said of Russiagate. "We lost sight of the essence of what this allegation is. The people who created Russiagate are literally saying, and have been for almost three years, that the president of the United States is a Russian agent, or he has been compromised by the Kremlin. We grin because it's so fantastic. But the Washington establishment, mainly the Democrats but not only, have taken this seriously."

"I don't know if there has ever been anything like this in American history," Cohen said. "That accusation does such damage to our own institutions, to the presidency, to our electoral system, to Congress, to the American mainstream media, not to mention the damage it's done to American-Russian relations, the damage it has done to the way Russians, both elite Russians and young Russians, look at America today. This whole Russiagate has not only been fraudulent, it's been a catastrophe."

"There were three major episodes of détente in the 20th century," Cohen said. "The first was after Stalin died, when the Cold War was very dangerous. That was carried out by Dwight Eisenhower, a Republican president. The second was by Richard Nixon, advised by Henry Kissinger-it was called 'the Nixon detente with Brezhnev.' The third, and we thought most successful, was Ronald Reagan with Mikhail Gorbachev. It was such a successful detente Reagan and Gorbachev, and Reagan's successor, the first Bush, said the Cold War was over forever."

"The wall had come down," Cohen said of the 1989 collapse of East Germany and the fall of the Berlin Wall. "Germany was reunifying. The question became 'where would a united Germany be?' The West wanted Germany in NATO. For Gorbachev, this was an impossible sell. Twenty-seven point five million Soviet citizens had died in the war against Germany in the Second World War on the eastern front. Contrary to the bunk we're told, the United States didn't land on Normandy and defeat Nazi Germany. The defeat of Nazi Germany was done primarily by the Soviet army. How could Gorbachev go home and say, 'Germany is reunited. Great. And it's going to be in NATO.' It was impossible. They told Gorbachev, 'We promise if you agree to a reunited Germany in NATO, NATO will not move-this was Secretary of State James Baker-one inch to the east. In other words, NATO would not move from Germany toward Russia. And it did."

"As we speak today, NATO is on Russia's borders," Cohen said. "From the Baltics to Ukraine to the former Soviet Republic of Georgia. So, what happened? Later, they said Gorbachev lied or he misunderstood. [That] the promise was never made. But the National Security Archive in Washington has produced all the documents of the discussion in 1990. It was not only [President George H.W.] Bush, it was the French leader François Mitterrand, it was Margaret Thatcher of England. Every Western leader promised Gorbachev NATO would not move eastward."

"What do you end up with today?" he asked. "Betrayal. Any kind of discussion about Russian-American relations today, an informed Russian is going to say, 'We worry you will betray us again.'... Putin said he had illusions about the West when he came to power."

"Trump comes out of nowhere in 2016 and says, 'I think we should cooperate with Russia,' " Cohen said. "This is a statement of detente. It's what drew my attention to him. It's then that this talk of Trump being an agent of the Kremlin begins. One has to wonder-I can't prove it-but you have to think logically. Was this [allegation] begun somewhere high up in America by people who didn't want a pro-detente president? And [they] thought that Trump, however small it seemed at the time that he could win-they really didn't like this talk of cooperation with Russia. It set in motion these things we call Russiagate."

"The forefathers of détente were Republicans," Cohen said. "How the Democrats behaved during this period of détente was mixed. There was what used to be called the Henry Jackson wing. This was a very hard-line, ideological wing of the Democratic Party that didn't believe in detente. Some Democrats did. I lived many years in Moscow, both Soviet and post-Soviet times. If you talk to Russian, Soviet policymakers, they generally prefer Republican candidates for the presidency."

Democrats are perceived by Russian rulers as more ideological, Cohen said.

"Republicans tend to be businessmen who want to do business in Russia," he said. "The most important pro-detente lobby group, created in the 1970s, was called the American Committee for East-West Accord. It was created by American CEOs who wanted to do business in Soviet Russia."

"The single most important relationship the United States has is with Russia," Cohen went on, "not only because of the nuclear weapons. It remains the largest territorial country in the world. It abuts every region we are concerned about. Detente with Russia-not friendship, not partnership, not alliance-but reducing conflict is essential. Yet something happened in 2016."

The accusations made repeatedly by James Clapper, the former director of the National Security Agency, and John Brennan, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, concerning the Kremlin's supposed control of Trump and Russia's alleged theft of our elections are deeply disturbing, Cohen said. Clapper and Brennan have described Trump as a Kremlin "asset." Brennan called Trump's performance at a news conference with the Russian president in Finland "nothing short of treasonous."

Clapper in his memoir, "Facts and Fears: Hard Truths From a Life in Intelligence," claims Putin's interference in the 2016 presidential election on behalf of Trump was "staggering."

"Of course, the Russian efforts affected the outcome," writes Clapper. "Surprising even themselves, they swung the election to a Trump win. To conclude otherwise stretches logic, common sense and credulity to the breaking point. Less than eighty thousand votes in three key states swung the election. I have no doubt that more votes than that were influenced by this massive effort by the Russians."

Brennan and Clapper have on numerous occasions been caught lying to the public. Brennan, for example, denied, falsely, that the CIA was monitoring the computers that Senate staff members were using to prepare a report on torture. The chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein, took to the Senate floor to accuse Brennan and the CIA of potentially violating the U.S. Constitution and of criminal activity in its attempts to spy on and thwart her committee's investigations into the agency's use of torture. She described the situation as a "defining moment" for political oversight. Brennan also claimed there was not a "single collateral death" in the drone assassination program, that Osama bin Laden used his wife as a human shield before being gunned down in a U.S. raid in Pakistan, and insisted that torture, or what is euphemistically called "enhanced interrogation," has produced valuable intelligence. None of these statements are true.

Clapper, who at the time of the U.S. invasion of Iraq was the head of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon unit responsible for interpreting spy-satellite photos and intelligence such as air particles and soil samples, concocted a story about Saddam Hussein spiriting his nonexistent weapons of mass destruction and the documents that verified his program to Syria on the eve of the invasion. He blatantly committed perjury before the Senate when being questioned about domestic surveillance programs of the American public. He was asked, "Does the NSA [National Security Agency] collect any type of data at all on millions, or hundreds of millions of Americans?" Clapper responded, "No, sir. ... Not wittingly." It was, as Clapper knew very well, a lie.

Our inability to oversee or control senior intelligence officials and their agencies, which fabricate information to push through agendas embraced by the shadow state, signals the death of democracy. Intelligence officials seemingly empowered to lie-Brennan and Clapper have been among them-ominously have in their hands instruments of surveillance, intimidation and coercion that effectively silence their critics, blunt investigations into their activities, even within the government, and make them and their agencies unaccountable.

"We have the Steele dossier that was spookily floating around American media," Cohen said of the report compiled by Christopher Steele.

The report was commissioned by Fusion GPS and paid for by the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Bob Woodward reported that Brennan pushed to include the Steele dossier in the intelligence community assessment of Russian election interference.

"He [Steele] got it from newspapers," Cohen said. "I don't think he had a single source in Russia. Steele comes forward with this dossier and says, 'I've got information from high-level sources.' The Clinton campaign is funding this operation. But Steele is very important. He's a former U.K. intelligence officer, if he's really former, who had served in Russia and ran Russian cases. He says he has this information in the dossier about Trump frolicking with prostitutes. About Trump having been corrupted decades ago. He got it from 'high-level' Kremlin sources. This is preposterous. It's illogical."

"The theory is Putin desperately wanted to make Trump president," Cohen said. "Yet, guys in the Kremlin, around Putin, were feeding Trump dirt to a guy called Steele. Even though the boss wants-does it make any sense to you?"

"Why is this important?" Cohen asked. "Right-wing American media outlets today, in particularly Fox News, are blaming Russia for this whole Russiagate thing. They're saying that Russia provided this false information to Steele, who pumped it into our system, which led to Russiagate. This is untrue."

"Who is behind all this? Including the Steele operation?" Cohen asked. "I prefer a good question to an orthodox answer. I'm not dogmatic. I don't have the evidence. But all the surface information suggests that this originated with Brennan and the CIA. Long before it hit America-maybe as early as late 2015. One of the problems we have today is everybody is hitting on the FBI. Lovers who sent emails. But the FBI is a squishy organization, nobody is afraid of the FBI. It's not what it used to be under J. Edgar Hoover. Look at James Comey, for God's sake. He's a patsy. Brennan and Clapper played Comey. They dumped this stuff on him. Comey couldn't even handle Mrs. Clinton's emails. He made a mess of everything. Who were the cunning guys? They were Brennan and Clapper. [Brennan,] the head of the CIA. Clapper, the head of the Office of [the Director of] National Intelligence, who is supposed to oversee these agencies."

"Is there any reality to these Russiagate allegations against Trump and Putin?" he asked. "Was this dreamed up by our intelligence services? Today investigations are being promised, including by the attorney general of the United States. They all want to investigate the FBI. But they need to investigate what Brennan and the CIA did. This is the worst scandal in American history. It's the worst, at least since the Civil War. We need to know how this began. If our intelligence services are way off the reservation, to the point that they can try to first destroy a presidential candidate and then a president, and I don't care that it's Trump, it may be Harry Smith next time, or a woman; if they can do this, we need to know it."

"The second Bush left the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002," Cohen said. "It was a very important treaty. It prevented the deployment of missile defense. If anybody got missile defense that worked, they might think they had a first strike [option]. Russia or the United States could strike the other without retaliation. Once Bush left the treaty, we began to deploy missile defense around Russia. It was very dangerous."

"The Russians began a new missile program which we learned about last year," he said. Hypersonic missiles. Russia now has nuclear missiles that can evade and elude any missile defense system. We are in a new and more perilous point in a 50-year nuclear arms race. Putin says, 'We've developed these because of what you did. We can destroy each other.' Now is the time for a serious, new arms control agreement. What do we get? Russiagate. Russiagate is one of the greatest threats to national security. I have five listed in the book. Russia and China aren't on there. Russiagate is number one."

(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

The Cartoon Corner-

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Steve Greenberg ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

Trump Says He Would Be A Much Better Princess Than Meghan Markle
By Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) - Donald J. Trump raised eyebrows on both sides of the Atlantic on Saturday by claiming that he would be a "much better princess" than Meghan Markle.

Calling the Duchess of Sussex "a nasty woman,"" Trump said, "If I were a princess, I would not be nasty. People would say, 'Donald Trump is the nicest princess.'"

Trump added that "all a princess has to do is sit on a throne, and I would be very good at that also."

"I sit between ten and twelve hours a day, minimum," he said.

Finally, Trump said that, as Princess, he would do "a way better job at waving at people than Nasty Meghan does."

"Meghan Markle's waving is a disgrace," he said. "I have the best waves."

(c) 2019 Andy Borowitz

The Gross National Debt

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Issues & Alibis Vol 19 # 23 (c) 06/07/2019

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