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In This Edition

Alan D. Blotcky says, "No, Trump's Not Delusional - It's Actually Much Worse Than That."

Ralph Nader suffers, "The Agony of Accessing Verizon."

Margaret Kimberley reports, "Lab Leak Theory And Anti-China Mania."

Jim Hightower says, "Let's Create A Bank System That Serves People, Instead Of Bankers."

William Rivers Pitt reminds us, "COVID Isn't Over - The US Must Do More To Combat It Worldwide."

John Nichols says, "Bernie Sanders Is Fed Up With Republican Obstruction-And Democratic Caution."

James Donahue wonders, "Why Do We Need Sleep And Why Aren't We Getting It?"

David Swanson orates, "A World Beyond War Or No World At All."

David Suzuki reports, "Sun Rises On Renewable Energy And Storage."

Charles P. Pierce concludes, "In The Capitol Police Report, 'Bipartisanship' Was Once Again The Enemy Of The Whole Truth."

Juan Cole reports, "Israel, 'Only Mideast Democracy,' Criminalizes Journalism, Arrests Al Jazeera Reporter For Covering E. Jerusalem; What Is Being Covered Up?"

Robert Reich asks, "The Beginning Of The End Of Democracy As We Know it?"

Thom Hartmann concludes, "Psychopath-Driven Inequality Is Making Our Society Sick."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Waterford Whispers News reports, Belarusian Journalist Confesses To Whatever It Takes To Get The Fuck Outta Here," but first" Uncle Ernie warns, "Stay Out Of The Water."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Jeff Koterba, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Angela Ponce, Erin Schaff, Emily, Caroline Brehman, Oliver Douliery, Robert Reich, Jim Hightower, Pexels, AFP, Unsplash, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, You Tube, Black Agenda Report, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

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

Naegleria fowleri the brain eating microscopic amoeba organism that eats brains!

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Stay Out Of The Water
Global warming strikes again!
By Ernest Stewart

If inhaled through the nose, Naegleria fowleri, a heat-loving, single-celled organism, travels up the olfactory nerve to the brain, where it rapidly multiplies and begins feasting on brain tissue. In 97% of cases, it's fatal. ~~~ Shira Feder

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

I see where global warming may increase risk of deadly water pathogens. For example flesh-eating bacteria, brain amoebas thrive in warmer water. Global warming is expanding the geographic range of harmful pathogens northward in fresh and salt water. Currently the odds of catching one of these pathogens are miniscule, but they are rising every year!

Life-threatening microorganisms that cause disease are expected to become more abundant and spread to new areas as water temperatures rise, according to scientists.

Diseases caused by bacteria and viruses in the water have made recent headlines. Brain-eating amoebas and flesh-eating bacteria will likely increase as the planet warms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research.

One pathogen that thrives in warmer water is called Naegleria fowleri. The microscopic amoeba organism enters the nose resulting in brain swelling and quick death. Symptoms typically show up too late to save an individual, as was the case after a 13-year-old boy that died from an amoeba.

The CDC says although the disease is uncommon, it's usually fatal with just four of 145 individuals having survived infection between 1962 to 2018.

Once an amoeba enters the body it causes inflammation of the brain and its surrounding protective membranes.

Another illness, Vibrio vulnificus is a bacteria that eats away the skin. It's the leading cause of death associated with the consumption of seafood like oysters, but it can also be contracted by swimming in salt or brackish water.

It thrives during hurricane season as water heats up. The flesh-eating Vibrio bacteria enter open wounds, causing an infection that rapidly eats away at the body's soft tissue.

Vibrio is the "canary in the coal mine,"" as even a slight rise in temperatures can significantly boost populations.

The CDC estimated that the average annual incidence of all Vibrio infections increased by 54% during 2006-2017.

Climatologists have identified upward trends in global temperatures and, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, average temperatures could increase by 3 degrees to 4 degrees F during this century.

Where are the most likely states to find the deadly organisms? Florida, California and Texas are already hot spots and areas farther north could encounter more cases as temperatures continue to rise. In fact, both the east and west coast all the way to Alaska not to mention all of the Caribbean basin could soon be a breading ground for these organisms. Ergo, to avoid these organisms stay out of the water and don't eat seafood, or join the crusade to end global warming. We're fast approaching the tipping point beyond which there is no turning back! Just another global warning danger, one of the millions that global warming is causing!


07-01-1950 ~ 06-07-2021
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Until the next time, Peace!

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

No, Trump's Not Delusional - It's Actually Much Worse Than That
Trump's Big Lie about the election and fantasies of "reinstatement" aren't delusional. They're devious strategies
By Alan D. Blotcky

A growing and prevailing view is that Donald Trump has become delusional. His fixed and intractable obsession with his Big Lie is seen as proof of his psychosis.

But Trump is not detached from reality at all. He knows exactly what he is doing. He knows the difference between truth and a lie - he just doesn't care about that, if a lie gets him what he wants. He is devious, conniving and hell-bent on satisfying his needs, wants and desires at any cost.

Trump's "delusion" is simply a conspiracy theory that he thinks has gained the most traction with his millions of supporters. His "delusion" is purposeful and intentional: The election was stolen from him; he will be reinstated as president in August (or at some other time); he could run for speaker of the House in order to impeach President Biden; he is likely to run for president again in 2024. He holds onto his "delusion" because it has successfully kept him the cult leader of the aggrieved and the victimized. His "delusion" has made him the pied piper of the Republican Party.

Calling Trump psychotic misses the point. It creates an excuse for a man who deserves none. Trump is a fearful, vindictive, anti-American megalomaniac. It is this combination of features that accounts for his "condition" or "state" since leaving office on Jan. 20.

Trump is terrified because he is looking down the barrel of a long list of potential criminal charges. The empaneling of a grand jury in New York has intensified his worries. He thinks that if he is somehow returned to the presidency, he will be protected from the indictments against him. So he is seeking a way to have the November election reversed through "audits" and spreading the fiction that he will be reinstated to the presidency in August. This is not a delusion. It is the wishful thinking of a humiliated and disgraced ex-leader who, it turns out, may be a criminal as well.

Trump thrives on destroying people who have been disloyal to him. He is actively trying to tarnish the reputations of Republicans who have not supported him. Look who he hates now: Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, Liz Cheney - and the list goes on. His vindictiveness is a far cry from delusion. Who he hates can change instantly, depending on how he perceives the transaction of the moment. McConnell was almost his buddy at one time.

Trump proved he was anti-American by inciting the insurrection against our government on Jan. 6. He does not love democracy and does not care about the will of the people. He wants to be a dictator, pure and simple. Disregarding the Constitution and overthrowing our government are nothing to a man desperate for the continued taste of power, greed and adulation. Nothing about that is a delusion.

Trump is a megalomaniac who thinks he is smarter, richer and stronger than anyone else. Everything he says and does is aimed at fortifying his grandiose and superior persona. He never admits to a mistake. He never acknowledges a loss. He always doubles down on a position. He does not care a whit about the people of this country. Grifting others is his sport. Despite being impeached twice and losing the national election by 7 million votes, Trump marches on with his false self of grandiosity. That is not a delusion - it is his psychic machinery of self-preservation.

It is a mistake to consider Trump psychotic. That would be to assume that psychiatric medication might alleviate his delusional thinking. But medication cannot fix a psychopath with malignant narcissism. Medication cannot fix a manipulative and exploitative opportunist. Medication does not affect shamelessness and lack of a moral compass. Medication cannot make a self-serving "delusion" disappear.

Trump remains a grave risk to democracy. He will throw anyone and anything under the bus to save his own hide and to advance his personal power and greed. If democracy gets in the way, he is more than ready to smash it or flick it away. Do not forget his glee as he watched the attempted coup against our nation our on television. He thought Jan. 6 might be his de facto coronation as dictator. That was his plan all along. He is an authoritarian, not a psychotic.

How long will we continue to enable this dangerous ex-leader? How long will the GOP remain lost, wandering through the wilderness of his psychopathic mind? How long will democracy be on the chopping block? When will a new, fresh Republican leader come forward?

These are the pressing questions of the day. Not whether Donald Trump is delusional. He is not. He is something far worse.

(c) 2021 Alan D. Blotcky Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist in Birmingham, Alabama.

Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg

The Agony of Accessing Verizon
CEO Vestberg Should Play Customer for a Day
By Ralph Nader

Who hasn't had difficulty just getting through the multi-layered, often automated call center of your telephone company? Never mind getting a solution to your problem in due time.

I'd like to share with you our experience with Verizon. We have a simple residential landline with no bells and whistles. We started getting calls every day that went "Ping, ping, ping, ping," with no robocaller trying to sell anything. It began with a "ping" and ended some 90 seconds later if we didn't hang up.

The other problem was that we were cut off in the middle of a conversation with a human being on a 1-800 line.

So, I embarked on the journey of getting answers from Verizon. It took about 90 minutes. As usual, if you ask sequential questions, you learn a lot despite the frustration.

I called Verizon and was put on hold. A person comes on and asks for my PIN number for "safeguarding my privacy." I was told all calls are recorded. No PIN number was readily available. She said, "OK then," she would have to call me back for verification. She called back and asked, "Are you migrating to fiber?" "No, we have a copper line." I asked: "What's this got to do with my two problems that I had described to you?" She said that her office could only handle complaints from copper lines where fiber optic was not available to the customer.

"Are you trying to push us into fiber optic?" I inquired, recalling friends who complained of such pressure tactics. She said something like fiber-optic provides better service at no extra cost. If I agreed, she could then send a "troubled ticket" to the repair station. Otherwise, she would have to send me over to the "Business Office."

At the "Business Office," a recording comes on saying that "due to the high volume of calls," I'd have to wait 8 to 10 minutes to get a call back if I didn't want to hold on. Ok, later a robot came on and asked for my "10-digit phone number." Three times, I gave it and three times it was rejected.

Finally, "Michelle" came on, again asked for the PIN number, again had to call me back for "safeguarding your account." She looked over our accounts and asked about moving to fiber optic. "It costs only $20 plus taxes," she said, contradicting the previous Verizon person. She added, "if you don't want to migrate to fiber, no problem, but why don't you want to go fiber?" Again, I said we were satisfied with the copper line. Then she tried to address our problems by transferring me to "Tech Support," because "she didn't have the tools to fix it."

Anticipating losing contact and having to start all over, I asked Michelle if she would stay on the line until another human being from Tech Support came on. She agreed. Then began a series of waiting periods because Michelle herself couldn't get through. Music started playing and every three or so minutes, Michelle would come back on to reassure us that she was still trying. After a few of these holds with music, I asked her if she could record a flamenco for a change. Rare spontaneity - she laughed and said she wasn't in charge of the choice of music.

Finally, she got through to a Tech Support staffer named "Andi." Michelle stayed on the line while "Andi" was reviewing Michelle's notes. I felt ever more sympathy for these Verizon employees after Michelle plaintively declared: "My goal today was to provide you with outstanding service." She thanked me, waiting for my concurrence, mentioning she needed it "for my files." The "performance evaluation" dragon, no doubt.

"Andi" confidently came on the phone. She says the problem with the beep could be a "network problem coming from Verizon" or could be "a wiring problem" down the street. It could be either a physical issue or a signaling matter. If the latter, she might be able to fix it from her computer. She asked me to wait some minutes for the results of the test. She returned to say that it doesn't seem to be a physical problem. She'll have "to escalate" to the "central office" for a "definite not temporary fix." Meanwhile, she'll keep trying to fix it herself, advising that the "central office" will call me once they do some tests. (For you readers, the direct tech support number, to save you time, is 1-800-922-0204).

So as not to lose contact (they don't give their extension) and have to start all over, I asked her for my repair ticket number, which she gave me. Whew! She concluded by saying that a robot would come on, ask whether our line is "copper" or "fiber," and then a human being comes on.

Two hours later, a man phones. He seems really experienced, speaks down to earth without jargon. He gives me a contrary "Tech Support" opinion. Namely, there's nothing Verizon can do about the beeping calls. Millions of customers get these calls. It's part of the robocall, spam calls, beeping calls assault. He gets them too. Been going on for years. Every attempted fix is circumvented by the outlaw telemarketers who keep doing this. But I noted, that's not what "Andi" was telling me. What gives?

He responded by saying that Verizon has a "special group" that deals with automated calls, but neither they nor anyone else, have succeeded in developing software that can end this daily harassment of telephone customers. He agreed that putting the beeping phone down until it ends persuades the computer's algorithms that you're not a worthwhile call and lets you off - for a while.

As for being cut off in midst of a conversation on a 1-800 line, he suggested asking whether the person is using a cellphone or a cordless phone, to possibly find the cause.

With some prompting, he related that the structural problem is rooted in (1) reducing the needed number of employees, (2) less reliable outsourcing, and (3) top executives who are "so far removed" from the activities of their staff-customer relations. He added that not only is this robo nightmare making people not answer their phones, but that Verizon itself when responding to customer complaints can't get through for the same reason. Quite an irony, I noted, describing "the old rotary phone days" when it was so much easier to get through to one another, including the phone company.

I concluded with the suggestion that Verizon's CEO Hans Vestberg (Corporate Office: 908-559-2001) should spend a couple of days "playing customer" calling with a variety of complaints or questions and learn the agonies, if only in a simulated manner. He sighed, as I assured him that this is the kind of experience, we and many others will be demanding from this very highly paid CEO! A new horizon for Verizon's boss.

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

Lab Leak Theory And Anti-China Mania
By Margaret Kimberley

Most virologists still believe that COVID-19 is far more likely to have originated naturally, but US espionage and disinformation agencies disagree.

It has suddenly become popular to say what was once whispered by just a few people. Politicians and the corporate media have now convinced millions of people that the COVID-19 virus was created by experimentation gone awry.

The COVID-19 virus was first observed in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, which is the location of the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). The question is whether gain of function research on bat viruses may have accidentally caused the pandemic. Dr. Anthony Fauci, who was all but canonized due to his public conflicts with Donald Trump, is now viewed as a villain because the National Institutes of Health funded research which took place at WIV. It isn't clear whether that research can be classified in the gain of function category. Fauci says it wasn't and others disagree. Yet the disagreement has been given short shrift in favor of sensational headlines, political one upmanship, and blatant Sinophobia.

Most virologists still believe that COVID-19 is far more likely to have originated naturally. In addition, tests of waste water in Spain, Italy and Brazil indicate that the virus may have existed outside of China before it was observed there in December 2019. The evidence from Spain dates back to March 2019. These reports show the complexity of a true medical mystery. Any evidence of a Wuhan lab leak is circumstantial at best and most scientists have not changed their hypothesis of a natural origin.

There are other dynamics going on here. Fauci has lost some of his luster because of his ties to big pharma and the fact that he owns drug and vaccine patents. He is now a far less popular figure. Republicans eager to rehabilitate Trump grilled Fauci during Senate testimony and reignited the inclination to believe the worst case scenario.

Of course the Biden administration plays a role by continuing the Trump administration attacks on China. The China is malevolent trope inevitably leads to dubious theories that are given undo credence.

The U.S. attempt to contain China's prowess is never far from the surface and any claims of lab leaks should be taken with a grain of salt. A report that three WIV scientists became ill and sought medical care at the same time comes from unnamed and unknown intelligence sources. Skepticism is warranted when the corporate media act like scribes for the surveillance state.

It is important to remember that COVID-19 origin is not the first communicable disease mystery. The deadly hemorrhagic fever which came to be known as Ebola was first observed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sudan in 1976. After thousands of cases and years of research its origin still remains unknown.

The desire to understand a disease which continues to kill and to upend the lives of people all over the world is understandable. But that is no reason to have amnesia about how the state works and who serves its interests. Joe Biden ordered an investigation of COVID-19 origins which would be conducted by intelligence agencies. Of course, none of the lab leak aficionados bother to mention that the World Health Organization (WHO) is the appropriate entity to investigate and should be permitted to finish its work without political interference.

In any case, how would the CIA manage to conduct an investigation? The Chinese would be foolish to cooperate and inevitably that lack of cooperation would be used against them. The end result would be a kangaroo court and the verdict would be guilty regardless of any evidence presented.

The sudden respectability granted to this theory also exposes the collusion which regularly takes place between the Democratic Party and big tech social media platforms. Facebook admitted that any mentions of the lab leak theory were being censored until recently. Big tech works hand in hand with the liberal establishment and together they decide what information should and should not be disseminated. Of course media censorship only increases cynicism and makes the public more likely to believe just about anything. Facebook's admission is proof that the current controversy is the result of a politicized process.

From the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis we have been admonished to "trust the science." If the lab leak theory has gained any credibility it is only because the accusations have returned and been amplified by bad actors. Most experts in the field of virology have not changed their minds about natural origin being the most likely explanation. Unless or until new evidence is presented, that is the science that should be trusted.

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

Let's Create A Bank System That Serves People, Instead Of Bankers
By Jim Hightower

Corporate ideologues never cease blathering that government programs should be run like a business.

Really - what businesses would they choose? Pharmaceutical profiteers? Big Oil? Wall Street money manipulators? High tech billionaires? Airline price gougers?

The good news is that the great majority of people aren't buying this corporatist blather, instead valuing institutions that prioritize the Common Good. Thus, by a 2-to-1 margin, Americans have stunned smug right-wing privatizers by specifically declaring in a recent poll that our US Postal Service should not be "run like a business." Indeed, an overwhelming majority, including half of Republicans, say mail delivery should be run as a "public service," even if that costs more.

In fact, having proven that this 246-year-old federal agency can consistently and efficiently deliver to 161 million homes and businesses day after day, it's time to let the agency's trusted, decentralized, well-trained workforce provide even more services for our communities. How about "postal banking?" Yes, the existing network of some 31,000 post offices in metro neighborhoods and small towns across America are perfectly situated and able to provide basic banking services to the one-out-of-four of us who don't have or can't afford bank accounts. The giant banking chains ignore these millions, leaving them at the mercy of check-cashing exploiters and payday loan sharks.

The Post Office can offer simple, honest banking, including small-dollar checking and savings accounts, very-low-interest consumer loans, low-fee debit cards, etc. The goal of postal banking is not to maximize corporate profits, but public service. Moreover, there's nothing new about this - our post offices served as banks for millions of us until 1967, when Wall Street profiteers got their enablers in Congress to kill the competition.

We The People own this phenomenal public asset. To enable it to work even better for us, go to

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

A man touches the coffin of his relative who died of COVID-19 on June 1, 2021, in Lima, Peru.

COVID Isn't Over - The US Must Do More To Combat It Worldwide
By William Rivers Pitt

I was asked to take my mask off for the first time yesterday. Well, that's not quite accurate. Better to say I was invited to remove my mask when I popped into my local bodega (yes, we have bodegas in New Hampshire). The counterman was all smiles when he said it, maskless himself. The store was empty and I didn't want to seem rude, so off it came... and it felt for all the world like I was standing there without pants.

I've been fully vaxxed for a while now, but I still wear a mask when I'm going to be around people. Part of it is habit at this point, part of it is an act of solidarity with those who have to wear them, and part of it is the fact that I haven't had so much as a case of the sniffles since I started wearing one. Come winter and no matter the current COVID circumstances, a mask will continue to be part of my accessorizing for that reason alone, and I'll bet you a buck I won't be the only one. The tissue companies are going to take a hit.

God, the masks. Our symbol for the age. If I live another 50 years, I will still never escape a feeling of melancholic anger whenever I see one. Every one of them should have "It Did Not Have To Be This Way" stamped on the front. They represent death, injury, failure and fear to me, and one thing more: They are a reminder that a stunningly large portion of this country won't do a damn thing to help anyone else if it involves being mildly inconvenienced, even if it makes the difference between life and death.

That's the glass-half-empty-and-cracked perspective, which probably isn't entirely fair. Millions and millions of people took mask-wearing to heart, to help themselves and their neighbors, and our stratospheric infection numbers have sharply declined. More than half the country over the age of 12 has gotten at least one shot, which is also serving to put a lid on new cases. Those cases are still emerging every day by the thousands, but the difference between now and last winter is both staggering and heartening.

After an unendurably protracted run of months stuffed to bursting with death and sorrow, we are finally heading in the right direction. The people, by and large, deserve credit for this, including the many who poured themselves into mutual aid efforts when the situation was most dire. The scientists who conjured these vaccines like magicians pulling a dove from a top hat deserve a parade, as do the medical professionals who turned themselves into hamburger fighting this virus.

President Biden also deserves a slice of the credit for this turnaround. The man may be about as inspirational as a bag of oyster crackers, and there have been stumbles regarding communication, but the change since January is nothing short of an astonishment. Given the sack of mayhem Biden was handed when he got the keys to the joint, his administration's ability to pull us out of the tailspin we were in will stand as one of the more impressive acts of leadership we've seen around here in a long time.

That being rightly said, I still believe the drive to fully reopen - and to forget - is happening too soon. The green grass and warm springtime breezes can't alter the fact that, while things are improving here, the COVID situation around the world is worse than ever. If something is not done about it expediently, we are likely to face... what? Would it be a fifth wave, or are we still riding the first one? In any event, it behooves us to remember that the murderous Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 did a good deal of its killing in a third wave that came in 1919. The rest of the world is sick as hell right now, and in this regard, borders are meaningless.

On Wednesday, a report emerged claiming that a vicious new virus variant had emerged in Vietnam. This one was actually a hybrid of the U.K. and India variants. I was an English Lit major, and the idea that two variants could meet up and make a super-variant had never crossed my screen. Yet another terrifying COVID fact none of us can un-know.

Fortunately, the World Health Organization announced today that the virus rampaging through Vietnam "does not meet the global health body's definition of a new variant, though it is still very transmissible and dangerous," according to The Washington Post. While this is welcome news, it is also a stark reminder that the longer COVID is allowed to burn, new and deadly variants will continue to appear, and one of them might figure out how to pick the lock on our precious vaccines.

Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, India, South America and now parts of Africa are setting the bar very high for the number of new infections per day, and their health care infrastructure is beginning to wobble badly. Malaysia is heading into a mass lockdown that will last two weeks, and Peru currently has the highest COVID mortality rate per capita in the world.

"In Africa, concerns are growing over the possible arrival of a new wave powered by a more transmissible variant of the virus, with the health systems in many countries at risk of being quickly subsumed by a surge of infections," reports the Post. "A recent study found that the continent has the world's highest death rate of patients critically ill with covid-19, thanks to limited intensive care facilities and reserves of vital medical supplies like oxygen."

The Biden administration is moving to help these international hotspots, but there is concern these actions are not nearly enough. Over the next two weeks, the administration will announce its plans to distribute 80 million vaccine doses around the world. That sounds like a nice beefy number, until you remember the global number of infections to date is more than twice that amount, and two weeks is a damn long time when your house is on fire.

The president has also signaled that he is in favor of waiving international patent protections for the vaccines, so countries can manufacture the shots themselves. This proposal, naturally, is facing strong pushback from the pharmaceutical industry and its battalion of lobbyists. "The battle mirrors the one during the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1990s," reports NPR, "when drug companies warred with global health officials who sought to produce generic treatments. Drugmakers eventually retreated after former South African President Nelson Mandela accused the companies of using patents to profit from his country's health crisis."

In this window of time when we seem to have a handle on the pandemic here at home, nothing less than a massive, global Berlin Airlift-style rescue mission is warranted. If Biden dickers around the edges of this and COVID makes another run on our shores, all the goodwill the president has accumulated will fall to dust, and my guy at the bodega won't be inviting me to remove my mask anymore.

It's pretty nice out now, but as any Stark will tell you, winter is coming. It is time to stop talking about leadership. It is time to lead. The world needs our help, and we have the capacity to give it. Let's roll.

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

Bernie Sanders.

Bernie Sanders Is Fed Up With Republican Obstruction-And Democratic Caution
"If Republicans don't want to cooperate," he says, "then, yes, we have to move forward without them."
By John Nichols

Bernie Sanders ran for president promising a political revolution. When he did not secure the Democratic nomination, the unapologetic progressive immediately threw in as a supporter of a more moderate Democrat, Joe Biden, and became an ardent advocate for his former rival.

But that does not mean that Sanders has lost his revolutionary zeal.

In recent days, the independent senator from Vermont has become the highest-profile and most enthusiastic congressional champion of the argument that Senate Democrats must use their narrow majority to enact a transformational agenda. Sanders has made it clear that he is pleased by the ambitions of the White House when it comes to strategies like those outlined in the president's initial proposal for an American Jobs Plan. But he has been equally clear in recent days about his frustration with the deference many Democrats continue to show to Republicans who are delaying and disrupting the governing process.

The Biden administration has been engaged in a delicate dance of negotiations with a small group of Republican senators, maintaining the faint hopes of reaching an agreement to approve the president's infrastructure proposal. Republicans, some Democrats, and many pundits who are unable to get over the delusion of "bipartisanship," have suggested that compromise is necessary to enact a more modest proposal.

But Sanders isn't having it.

"If Republicans don't want to cooperate and help us seriously address the many crises we're facing today," he says, "then, yes, we have to move forward without them to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and create millions of good-paying, union jobs."

This is about much more than the usual wrangling between Democrats and Republicans. Sanders has a longer and more ambitious history of working with Republicans who really want to get things done-on issues ranging from fair trade to protecting civil liberties and auditing the Pentagon-than the vast majority of congressional Democrats. But the senator is unwilling to play the fool. If Republicans fail to bargain in good faith, he is prepared to abandon negotiations and start governing.

That's an emerging view on the part of progressives, who argue that the handful of Senate Republicans who are talking with Biden-and who have proposed weak-willed alternatives to the president's agenda-are not taking the discussion about the American Jobs Plan seriously. Activists with the Sunrise Movement gathered outside the White House Friday to call for approval of "the boldest version of the American Jobs Plan." "No Compromise, No Excuses," declares the group. "Democrats must take their power seriously and stop negotiating with a GOP who is not serious about climate action or delivering for the American people."

Sanders is delivering a similar message with interviews, statements, and social media messages that suggest the time to act has arrived.

When CNN's Wolf Blitzer floated a case for continued negotiations and compromises on the part of Democrats, the senator shot it down.

"The Republicans say they're on board with a lot of President Biden's plan when it comes to 'traditional' infrastructure-roads, bridges, airports, stuff like that," argued Blitzer. "Are you and other progressives denying President Biden potentially a bipartisan 'win' by including all of the other issues that you're labeling infrastructure that Republicans say is not really traditional infrastructure?"

The Senate Budget Committee chair answered with facts, rather than wishful thinking.

"According to the experts in our country, the American Society of Civil Engineers, what the Republicans are proposing for 'traditional' infrastructure is only a fraction of what we need," said Sanders. "I think every American understands that our roads, and our bridges, our water systems, all of that, is really crumbing before our eyes. I'm a former mayor, and what I know is that, unless you invest in infrastructure, it's only going to get worse-and it's only going to be more expensive. We now have the opportunity to create millions of good-paying, often union jobs rebuilding our infrastructure. What the Republicans are talking about is totally inadequate."

Totally inadequate. And totally antidemocratic.

As Sanders and his fellow progressives note, Democrats won the presidency, control of the House of Representatives, and control of the Senate in the 2020 election cycle. Now, under any reasonable measure of how the system is supposed to work, the Democrats ought to be governing. And if filibuster reform is required to jump-start the process, so be it.

Echoing the urgency of more than 100 groups that on Thursday declared, "We cannot allow the filibuster to stand in the way of progress or imperil the health of our democracy," Sanders says, "The U.S. Senate is the only institution in the world where a vote of 59-41 can be considered a defeat instead of a huge victory. Enough is enough. Let us change the outdated rules of the Senate, end the filibuster and pass a bold agenda for working families with a majority vote."

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

Why Do We Need Sleep And Why Aren't We Getting It?
By James Donahue

One of the problems people are facing in our chaotic and complex times is getting enough sleep. We struggle with this so much that the pharmaceutical companies are seeing big profits just from the sale of sleeping medications.

Some doctors now specialize in sleep disorders and some hospitals have established sleep clinics to assist people suffering from extreme sleep problems like sleep apnea, a breathing disorder that causes constant interruption of the sleep cycle.

Surveys by the National Sleep Foundation between 1999 and 2004 found that abut 40 million Americans suffer from over 70 different sleep disorders and 60 percent of adults complain of sleep problems a few nights a week, or more. Also, over 40 percent of these adults said daytime sleepiness was severe enough to interfere with their jobs or other daily activities.

Thus our inability to get a good night of sleep is much more serious than most of us may have thought.

This writer has suffered from an inability to get a full night of natural sleep for most of his adult life. If left to my own devices, I would nap for about two to three hours, then get up and go for a part of a day, then return to bed for another short respite. That seems to be something that would come natural to me. But the social structure demands that we work eight hours on the job, then have a social life, and sleep for eight-hour periods. Alarm clocks make sure we awaken on time to start that unnatural pattern over and over again.

Shifts in time, brought about by Daylight Savings advocates that want more time on the golf course, jar even this cycle twice a year, causing internal human clocks to go haywire. And that only serves to compound the problem and make us even more tired.

It was said that Thomas Edison, who spent much of his time in his own workplace, thinking about ways to utilize new inventions for pleasure and profit, also was unable to sleep more than a few hours at a time. He kept a cot in his laboratory, and when his body demanded rest, he took "cat-naps." It was said that Edison rarely slept a full night in a bed.

This having been said, we return to the question: why must we sleep at all? To those of us who glory in the act of art and creativity, it sometimes seems a bother to stop what we are doing to take care of all of life's demands, like going to the bathroom, eating, taking baths and sleeping. Even more disliked are those mundane chores that include taking out the garbage, fixing broken stuff, mowing the lawn and going to the store.

We do know that sleep is a mandatory necessity, even though we don't fully understand why. All mammals on this planet sleep. If they are deprived of sleep it is known that they fall apart physically and die quite fast. There seems to be a built-in repair system in the body that goes to work on both the mind and body while we are off in that state of dreamland.

People who study sleep say there are two cycles that we go through during a good full night of rest. The first is called slow-wave sleep. This seems to be the time when the body goes into self repair and mental cleanup. The brain is actually in a state of idle and everything but the basic senses are still operating. The heart is pumping, the lungs are working, and the ears are still tuned in to the world around us. That is about it.

The second cycle, which involves the important last quarter of our eight-hour sleep period, is called REM sleep. This is a time when we dream, there is rapid eye movement, and our brain is busy. Nobody understands REM sleep, although we theorize that it plays a role in solving personal problems, putting things in perspective, giving us psychic and even prophetic visions, and may even be a time when we leave the body and join the astral world.

It also is known that interrupted sleep, sleeping medication, and other problems rob us of REM sleep. And that appears to be a problem that needs to be resolved if we hope to stabilize a society that is currently on a race-track toward self destruct.

It is said that electronic and noise pollution plays a key role in insomnia issues. People that live in town have their sleep patterns broken by sirens, passing snowmobiles, loud car exhaust systems, ringing telephones, drunken brawls in the neighborhood, and a variety of other occurrences, many of them caused by contemporary appliances and machines operated by thoughtless and uncaring dolts.

The problem of electronic pollution is more subtle and probably much more deadly that most of us realize. No matter where we live, our homes are being bombarded by not only radio and television waves, but cell-phone signals bouncing from nearby towers and satellites, the military mysterious H.A.R.P. program, and other new and secret devices designed to try to protect us from terrorism. We are not physically aware of these electronic signals, but they are having a constant effect on our nervous systems, sometimes to the point of causing irritability without justification.

Silent, invisible stimulations like that, constantly invading our bedrooms, are likely the biggest cause of sleeplessness everywhere.

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

A World Beyond War Or No World At All
By David Swanson

Remarks on June 7, 2021, to North Texas Peace Advocates.

In a world beyond war, . . . death, injury, and trauma from violence would be radically reduced, homelessness and immigration driven by fear would be largely eliminated, environmental destruction would slow considerably, government secrecy would lose all justification, bigotry would take a huge setback, the world would gain over $2 trillion and the United States alone $1.25 trillion every year, the world would be spared several trillion dollars of destruction every year, governments would gain huge amounts of time and energy to invest in something else, the concentration of wealth and the corruption of elections would suffer significant setbacks, Hollywood movies would find new consultants, billboards and racecars and pre-game ceremonies would find new sponsors, flags would be dis-enchanted, mass shootings and suicides would suffer serious slowdowns, police would find different heroes, if you wanted to thank someone for a service it would have to be for an actual service, the rule of law might become a reality globally, brutal governments would lose the use of war weaponry domestically and the support of war-mad imperial powers like the U.S. government which currently arms, funds, and/or trains most governments on earth, including almost all of the worst ones (Cuba and North Korea, the two exceptions, are too valuable as enemies; and nobody has noticed or cared that the U.S. arms and funds its latest top enemy, China).

A world beyond war might move us toward democracy, or a democracy might move us toward a world beyond war. How we get there remains to be seen. But the first step is to realize where we are now. At the organization called World BEYOND War we just finished our annual conference, and there were a lot of terrific discussions. One was the democracy one, in which one person suggests that democracy would bring peace, and someone else proves this is false by pointing out how war-crazed the earth's democracies are. This discussion always bothers me because the earth's national governments do not actually include any democracies. Capitalist economies? Yes. Do nations with McDonald's wage war on each other? Yes, they do. And there are McDonald's in Russia, Ukraine, China, Venezuela, Pakistan, Phillipines, Lebanon, and in U.S. bases in Iraq and Cuba. But democracies? How in the hell would anyone know what democracies would do?

A world beyond war could put up a serious effort to slow the collapse of the climate and ecosystems. A world that does not move beyond war will look like this world we're now in. Scientists place the Doomsday clock closer to midnight than ever before, the risk of nuclear war higher than it's ever been, and the expectation of what nuclear war anywhere on the planet would do to the entire planet is worse than it's ever been. Russia says it will never get rid of its nukes as long as the United States is threatening and dominating the globe with non-nuclear weapons. Israel's been permitted to aquire but pretend it doesn't have nuclear weapons, and numerous other nations including Saudi Arabia seem intent on pursuing that path. The United States is building lots more nukes and talking shamelessly about using them. Much of the world has banned the possession of nuclear weapons, and U.S. activists are dreaming of getting their government's so-called Defense Department merely to say it won't use them first, which raises the question of what an Offense Department would do differently, and the question of why anyone would believe a statement from the so-called Defense Department, as well as the question of exactly what sort of lunatic would use nuclear weapons second or third. Our luck at avoiding the intentional or accidental use of nukes will not last. And we'll only get rid of nukes if we get rid of war.

So, we can have a world beyond war or we can have no world at all.

I recently wrote a book debunking misconceptions about World War II, and lies justifying the nuclear bombings are a major part of the problem. But they are failing so fast that Malcom Gladwell just published a book substituting the firebombing of dozens of Japanese cities prior to the nuclear bombings as the supposed necessary evil that saved lives and brought the world peace and prosperity. When this new twist on the propaganda fails, it will be something else, because if the mythology surrounding WWII crumbles so does the whole war machine.

So, how are we doing at moving beyond war? We had a Congress vote repeatedly to end the war on Yemen when it could count on a Trump veto. Since then, not a peep. We've seen not a single resolution introduced to actually end the war on Afghanistan, or any other war, or to close a single base anywhere, or to halt the drone murders. A new president has proposed a larger military budget than ever, intentionally avoided reinstating the Iran agreement, supported the abandonment of treaties illegally dumped by Trump such as the Open Skies treaty and the Intermediate Range Nuclear treaty, upped the hostility with North Korea, doubled down on lies and childish insults toward Russia, and proposed yet more free weapons money for Israel. If a Republican had tried this, there'd be at the very least a rally in the street in Dallas, possibly even in Crawford. If a Republican had been president when they resorted to UFOs as a stand-in for the lack of any credible military enemy on earth, somebody would have at least laughed.

Iran spends 1% and Russia 8% of U.S. military spending. China spends 14% of military spending by the U.S. and its allies and weapons customers (not counting Russia or China). The annual increase in military spending by the U.S. is more than the total military spending of most of its designated enemies. Bombing for peace is in trouble, with polls for years finding the U.S. government in most parts of the world viewed as the top threat to peace. So, it may be necessary to bomb people for democracy. Sadly, however, a recent poll found the U.S. government widely considered the top threat to democracy. So, there may be a need to bomb little Yemeni and Palestinian children for the Rule Based Order.

However, some of us have been searching for the rule based order and have been unable to find it. It seems to not be written down anywhere. The United States is party to fewer major human rights treaties than almost any other government on earth, is the greatest opponent of international courts, is the greatest abuser of United Nations vetoes, is the greatest weapons dealer, is the greatest imprisoner, is in many ways the greatest destroyer of the earth's environment, and takes part in the most wars and lawless missile murders. The Rule Based Order seems to require boycotting Chinese Olympics because of how China manufactures products, even while buying the products, arming and funding the Chinese military, and collaborating with China on bioweapons labs. Under the Rule Based Order, one must save the South China Sea from China and arm the Saudi royalty against Yemen - and do both of those things for human rights. So, I've concluded that the Rule Based Order is too complex to be understood outside of the skull of Antony Blinken, and our duty should principally consist of praying in the direction of the U.S. State Department while sending checks to the Democratic Party.

The U.S. government does not have a major political party that isn't a catastrophic scam with a good chunk of the country more or less fooled by it. The Republican Party says wealth concentration, authoritarian power, environmental destruction, bigotry, and hatred are good for you. They are not. The Democratic Party Platform and even candidate Joe Biden promised much. In place of most of those promises, people got an off-off-Broadway show in which the President and most of the Congress Members act out the part of being upset that a couple of their members are supposedly blocking everything they really sincerely long to do - if only their hands weren't tied. This is an act, and we know it's an act for several reasons:

1) The Democratic Party has a long history of preferring over successes, failures that can be blamed on Republicans but please funders. When the pulic gave the Democrats the Congress in 2006 to end the war on Iraq, Rahm Emanuel, current nominee for ambassador to Japan, made clear that their plan was to keep the war going in order to run against it again in 2008. He was right. I mean, he was a genocidal monster, but people blamed the Republicans for the Democrats' choice to escalate the war they had been elected to end, just as people will blame Iran for Biden's choice not to allow peace with Iran.

2) When Party leaders want something, they have a lot of carrots and sticks and do not hesitate to use them. Not one carrot or stick has been deployed against Senators Manchin and Sinema.

3) The Senate could end the filibuster if it wanted to.

4) President Biden has made clear his top priority of working with Republicans, despite the absence of that priority in top demands from people and in the Democratic Party Platform.

5) Biden could choose to take a great many actions without Congress and prefers to try but fail on Capitol Hill.

6) A small number of Democrats in the House of Misrepresentatives could change policy by refusing to pass legislation, an action that would require absolutely nothing of the Senate or the President - an action that could be taken by exclusively the very most heroic progressive Congress Members, the extreme elite. If Republicans were to oppose a military spending bill for their own crazy reasons - such as because the bill opposes rape within the ranks or whatever - a mere five Democrats could vote no and block the bill or impose their terms on it.

Now, I know you can get 100 House members to vote for a proposal to reduce military spending that they are sure will not pass, and for which votes they have zero carrots and sticks used on them by their Party Masters. But votes that might actually accomplish something are a very different story. The so-called Progressive Caucus only recently decided to have any sort of requirements at all for membership, and those requirements do not require any adherence to any particular policy positions. There's even sort of a semi-secret so-called "Defense" Spending Reduction Caucus that doesn't require its members to try to prevent increased military spending.

Last week I thought the co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, Congressman Mark Pocan had tweeted that he would vote No on increased military spending. I thanked him on Twitter. He replied by cursing at and insulting me via Tweets. We went back and forth a half dozen times, and he was just furious that anyone would suggest he commit to voting against something he supposedly opposes.

Later, I saw Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib tweet that she would not vote for war spending. I tweeted my thanks and my hope that she wouldn't start cursing at me as Pocan had. After that, Pocan apologized to me and said that actually voting against massive military spending was one of the possible approaches he was considering. He wouldn't tell me what any of the other approaches are, but presumably they involve voting in favor of increased military spending.

Of course in years gone by we've had several dozen Congress Members commit to voting against war funding and then turn around and vote for it, but now you can't even get them to claim they'll vote against it.

Nina Turner, who co-chaired Bernie Sanders' campaign, is running for Congress in Ohio. She's been on my radio show. I've been on hers. She understands the problems of military spending and war. But she has a campaign website that, like most, makes no mention of foreign policy, war, peace, treaties, bases, military spending, the overall budget, or the existence of 96% of humanity. Yesterday, by phone, her campaign manager explained to me that foreign policy was in their "internal platform," that the public platform was what people in Ohio's 11th district care about and are impacted by (as if Senator Turner believes that military spending doesn't impact people in her district), and that Turner hasn't been elected yet (as if campaign websites should be developed post-election), and that there just wasn't space (as if the internet has applied a limit to websites). The campaign manager denied any other motivation and claimed that they might someday add foreign policy to their website. This was a faster and far more disappointing sell-out than Senator Raphael Warnock's 180 on Palestinian rights. It's not the water in Washington that gets to these people; it's the long arm of the campaign consultants.

Some say the world will end in fire and some say ice, some say nuclear apocalypse and some say a slower demise brought on by environmental collapse. The two are intimately connected. The wars are driven by desires to dominate dirty energy profits as well as populations. The wars and war preparations are huge contributors to climate and environmental destruction. Money that could be used to address environmental needs is going into the poisonous militaries that devastate even the nations they are supposedly defending. In my city of Charlottesville we passed divestment of public dollars from both weapons and fossil fuels as a single issue. World BEYOND War has a six week couse that starts today on War and the Environment. If there are still spots left, you can grab one via

We also have a petition at that demands an end to the practice of excluding militarism from climate treaties and agreements. An opportunity to advance this basic demand may come with the climate summit planned for Glasgow this November.

Infrastructure is on the agenda in Washington these days, at least for political theater, but without conversion and demilitarization. Funding it is on the agenda, but without moving funds from militarism. Several nations have moved funds out of militarism explicitly to address the Coronavirus pandemic. Others have doubled down. The trade offs are obscene. Health, nutrition, and green energy could all be radically transformed globally with a fraction of U.S. military spending. Maybe I shouldn't say this on a call to Texas, but so could livestock.

The only positions I ever get excited about in U.S. politics are the ones that Republicans pretend Democrats hold. The beef one is no exception.

Lately, Republicans have been pretending not just that Democrats want the usual array of things I wish someone would actually act to institute (a guaranteed income, a decent minimum wage, single-payer healthcare, a Green New Deal, a major shift to progressive taxation, defunding militarism, making college free, etc.) - THE HORROR OF IT! - but also that Biden is going to somehow forbid the consumption of more than a tiny bit of beef.

I didn't suspect for an instant that there was a grain of truth to this story. In fact, I think I first heard about it as a debunking of a false story. Yet I do wish it were true. And twisting Biden's actual promise to reduce greenhouse gas emissions into a ban on gorging on hamburgers makes more sense than might at first be evident to all McDonald's customers.

Converting energy and transportation systems to green energy is critically important, in some combination with scaling back consumption. But it takes a great deal of time and investment, and then only gives you part of what you needed by yesterday.

Ceasing to consume animals (or dairy products, or sea life) - if the will existed to do it - could be done swiftly, and - according to some studies - the harm done by methane and nitrous oxide is worse than that of CO2, and the benefits of reducing them more rapid.

Some significant percentage of greenhouse gas emissions comes from animal agriculture - perhaps a quarter. But that seems like only a part of the story. Animal agriculture uses the vast majority of all U.S. water consumption and nearly half of the land in the 48 contiguous states. Its waste is killing off the oceans. Its growth is deforesting the Amazon.

But even that seems like only a tiny, almost irrelevant piece of the story. The fact is that the crops raised to feed animals to feed people could feed many more people if the animals were removed from the equation. People are starving to death so that the food that could have fed them ten times over can be fed to cows to make hamburgers that can be advertised on media outlets that can report as a terrible joke that someone would restrict meat consumption.

And even that seems like only a part of the problem. The other part is the brutal abuse and killing of all the millions of animals. (And the fact that treating them slightly less brutally would mean using more land and more time to feed even fewer people.) I don't agree with Tolstoy that you can't end war without ending the slaughter of animals, but I do want to end both and I do think either one alone might doom humanity.

Sometimes the pretense by Republicans that Democrats favor something is an early good omen, and decades later one can find actual live Democrats who do support the thing. Other times, the Republican propaganda serves to more permanently marginalize good ideas. What we need is a mechanism for widely communicating that what we want - in fact, what we urgently need - is what the Republicans are screaming their opposition to.

Sadly, what the actual Joe Biden values far above the future of the planet is the friendship and good will of Republicans - substances as fictional as the Biden beef ban. Sadly, as well, agriculture is almost as taboo a topic even for environmentalist groups as the environmental destruction done by militaries. There is nothing right now to stop Democrats from making a regular part of their stump speeches a passionate promise never to ban beef, alongside their denials of charges that they want to ban guns. We don't have much time left to change this.

Another suddenly popular topic in corporate media is bioweapons labs. Have you noticed that a lot of science writers have lately been saying that they were perfectly right a year ago to mock and condemn even considering a lab leak origin for Coronavirus but that now it's perfectly proper to admit that Coronavirus may very well have come from a lab? It seems to be largely a question of fashion. One doesn't wear the wrong outfit too early in the season, or explore the wrong epidemiological idea when the White House is claimed by one Party or the other.

In March 2020, I blogged about how articles denouncing the possibility that the Coronavirus pandemic originated with a leak from a bioweapons lab sometimes actually admitted to basic facts that made such an origin seem likely. The first reported outbreak was extremely close to one of the few places on earth actively experimenting with weaponizing Coronavirus, but a huge distance from the supposed source in bats. Not only had various labs had leaks before, but scientists had recently warned of the danger of leaks from the lab in Wuhan.

There was a theory about a seafood market, and the fact that this theory fell apart seems not to have entered the public consciousness to the same extent as the false fact that it supposedly disproved the lab leak theory.

I was by March 2020 very used to the stopped clock problem. Just as even a stopped clock is right twice a day, a bunch of Trump-worshipping China-haters could be right about the origin of the pandemic. Certainly their ravings provided absolutely zero evidence against their claims happening to be correct - just as Trump being depicted as anti-NATO was not actually a reason for me to start loving NATO.

I did not think the lab leak possibility risked providing any good reason to actually hate China. We knew that Anthony Fauci and the U.S. government invested in the Wuhan lab. If the insanely unjustifiable risks taken by that lab were an excuse to hate anything, the objects of that hatred couldn't be limited to China. And if China is a military threat, why fund its bioweapons research?

I was also very used to censorship surrounding the whole topic of bioweapons. You're not supposed to talk about the overwhelming evidence that the spread of Lyme disease was thanks to a U.S. bioweapons lab, or the likelihood that the U.S. government's view is correct that the 2001 Anthrax attacks originated with material from a U.S. bioweapons lab. So, I didn't take condemnations of even considering the lab-leak theory for Coronavirus as meriting compliance. If anything, the stigma being attached to the lab leak theory made me suspect it was right, or at least that bioweapons makers wanted to hide the fact that a lab leak was quite plausible. In my view the plausibility of a lab leak, even if never proven, was a new good reason to shut down all the world's bioweapons labs.

I was pleased to see Sam Husseini and a very few others pursue the question with open minds. Corporate media outlets did no such thing. Just as you can't oppose a looming war or step outside the prescribed limits of debate on numerous topics, you could not for a year or more say certain things about Coronavirus in U.S. corporate media. Now writers tell us that the impossibility of a lab origin was their "knee jerk reaction." But, first of all, why should a knee-jerk reaction count for anything? And, second of all, group think doesn't really depend on somebody's knee-jerk reaction even if that memory is accurate. It depends on editors enforcing prohibitions.

Now writers tell us that they chose to believe scientists rather than Trumpsters. But the reality was also that they chose to believe the CIA and related agencies rather than Trumpsters - the scientific dubiousness of placing faith in the statements of professional liars notwithstanding. The reality is also that they chose to obey decrees published in scientificisticish publications without even questioning the motivations of the authors.

A super serious "letter" published by The Lancet said, "We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin." Not to disprove, not to disagree with, not to offer evidence against, but to "condemn" - and not merely to condemn, but to stigmatize as evil and irrational "conspiracy theories." But the organizer of that letter, Peter Daszak had funded, at the Wuhan lab, just the research that could have resulted in the pandemic. This massive conflict of interest was no problem at all for The Lancet, or major media outlets. The Lancet even put Daszak on a commission to study the origin question, as did the World Health Organization.

I don't know where the pandemic came from any more than I know who shot John F. Kennedy on that street in Dallas, but I do know that you wouldn't have put Allen Dulles on a commission to study Kennedy if even appearing to care about the truth had been a top priority, and I know that Daszak investigating himself and finding himself absolutely blameless is a cause for suspicion, not credulity.

And, no, I do not want the CIA investigating this or anything else or existing at all. Any such investigation has a 100% chance of being done in bad faith and a 50% chance of reaching the right conclusion.

What difference does it make where this pandemic came from? Well, if it came from the tiny remnants of wild nature left on earth, a possible solution might be to cease destruction and deforestation, perhaps even abolish livestock and restore huge areas of land to the wild. But another possible solution, and one guaranteed to be pursued with fervor in the absence of massive pushback, would be to research, investigate, experiment - in other words, invest still more in weapons labs to fend off further assaults on innocent little humanity.

If, on the other hand, the origin is proven to be a weapons lab - and you could make this argument based on just the possibility that it is a weapons lab - then a solution would be to shut the damn things down. The incredible diversion of resources into militarism is a leading cause of environmental destruction, the reason for the risk of nuclear apocalypse, and quite possibly the reason not just for poor investment in medical preparedness but also directly for the disease that has ravaged the globe during this past year. There might be increased basis for questioning the madness of militarism.

Regardless of what, if anything, we manage to learn further about the origin of the Coronavirus pandemic, we do know that questioning corporate media is in order. If "objective" reporting on matters of "science" is basically subject to fashion trends, how much faith should you put in assertions about economics or diplomacy? Of course the media may instruct you not to think something that also happens to be completely false. But if I were you I'd keep my eyes peeled for over-eager dictates on what not to think. Often those will tell you exactly what you might want to look into.

One thing you're not to think is that war is objectionable. The ACLU is currently pushing for young women to be compelled against their will to kill and die for weapons profits. The unfairness to women of compelling only young men to register for the draft is a problem. War is a normal and inevitable feature of the Rule Based Order.

What we need to do is to make war objectionable. One way to do it is, I think, laid out by the admirable work of the Black Lives Matter movement. Get the videos of the victims. Do disruptive protests. Force the videos into the corporate media. Demand action.

Let's work on it together.

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

Row of solar panels

Sun Rises On Renewable Energy And Storage
By David Suzuki

One long-held excuse for not getting off oil, gas and coal faster is that energy sources like solar and wind only work when the sun's shining or the wind's blowing. Now, rapid advances in energy storage technologies, along with falling prices, have rendered that excuse meaningless.

That doesn't mean there aren't challenges, from the environmental impacts of battery production to the scale of renewable energy and storage needed to move from fossil fuels and keep the world from overheating beyond 1.5 C. Considering the alternative - continuing to burn limited supplies of environmentally destructive, polluting, climate-altering fossil fuels - the sane course is the cleaner path.

It's fast becoming less expensive to generate electricity from renewable energy than from fossil fuels and new nuclear plants. "More than half of the renewable capacity added in 2019 achieved lower electricity costs than new coal. New solar and wind projects are undercutting the cheapest of existing coal-fired plants," a 2020 International Renewable Energy Agency study found, adding the trend will continue.

The report outlines dramatic price drops in solar and wind, "complementing the more mature bioenergy, geothermal and hydropower technologies." Solar photovoltaic costs declined 82 per cent from 2010 to 2019, concentrating solar power dropped 47 per cent, onshore wind 40 per cent and offshore wind 29 per cent.

Costs to store energy are also falling quickly. That means energy produced when there's an oversupply (during daylight hours with solar, for example) can be stored for use when it drops (at night for solar).

It shows that government policy and technological innovation can produce results. Many gains in battery storage are a result of clean energy and fuel policies and tax incentives that sparked advances in increasingly smaller, cheaper and more efficient lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles. Higher-capacity batteries for power storage were the next step.

Batteries aren't the only way to store energy. For example, hydro facilities can pump water from a lower to a higher reservoir during off-peak hours and release it through turbines when demand is high or when solar or wind aren't available. Compressed air storage offers another method.

But lithium-ion batteries are currently among the best methods for efficiently storing energy. Because battery installations are made of stacked cells, they can be employed at the scale needed.

One issue is that obtaining materials for batteries often comes with environmental and human rights abuses, especially for minerals like cobalt, most of which comes from Africa. Lithium and nickel also come with problems, although strong environmental regulations can help fix those.

Technological advances aim to reduce social and environmental impacts, with better mining methods, improved recycling and more efficient batteries that use fewer or none of the most problematic elements. And because many lithium-ion batteries are mainly useful for storing energy over short periods (up to four hours), other medium- to long-term storage options are also being developed. Along with improvements to lithium-ion technologies, research continues into flow, sodium-ion, zinc, liquid metal and other types of grid-storage batteries.

It's important to note, though, that even today's renewable energy and storage technologies don't cause nearly as much environmental and social damage as exploiting and burning coal, oil and gas for energy.

Thanks to good policies and a culture of innovation, California leads the world in deploying high-capacity batteries to balance renewable sources' intermittency. At Monterey Bay, a massive former gas generator is being converted to the world's largest battery energy storage system, with capacity to discharge enough electricity to power about 300,000 homes for four hours when energy demand outstrips supply. It's one of a number of projects in the state.

Renewable energy and storage are gaining momentum in other parts of the U.S. and worldwide, in countries including the U.K., Lithuania, Australia, Germany, Chile and Saudi Arabia.

Distributed energy - small-scale power-generation systems operating as an alternative or enhancement to the grid system - can also speed the deployment of renewable energy. At the individual level, a house or workplace could generate power from solar or wind and store excess energy in a lithium-ion car or similar battery, even selling excess back to the grid.

As a recent International Energy Agency report pointed out, there's no room for new coal, oil or gas development in a rapidly heating world. It's time to clean up our act. No more excuses!

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

In The Capitol Police Report, 'Bipartisanship' Was Once Again The Enemy Of The Whole Truth
Congress lacks the will even to defend its own physical safety. This is not promising.
By Charles P. Pierce

On Tuesday, a joint report from the Senate Rules and Administration and the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committees essentially eviscerated any remaining argument against the establishment of an independent commission to investigate the violent assault on the Capitol on January 6. The report details the complete collapse of the intelligence function of the Capitol Police, but that's also a major element of the case for a wider-ranging investigation. Because these committees have jurisdiction over the CP, they had virtually unlimited access to whatever emails, phone logs, and documents they needed. But the committees had only limited ability to gather similar information from the other intelligence agencies. This necessarily prevented the committees from examining crucial elements of the affair, including the possible involvement of the former president* and his aides. From the Washington Post:

The bipartisan report is the latest to examine the security failures that contributed to the mayhem as Congress tallied electoral college results certifying President Biden's victory. Its release comes just days after the Senate rejected legislation to create an independent investigative commission that passed the House with strong bipartisan support, and as lawmakers continue to wrestle with how to pay for security improvements to the Capitol campus. And its recommendations, which call for better planning, training and intelligence gathering, largely mirror those of other investigators who have examined the topic, and its contents steer clear of offering any assessment or conclusion about the former president's responsibility for the riot.
Again, "bipartisanship" was proven to be the enemy of the whole truth. From CNN:
Sources tell CNN that in order for this report, which was compiled by the Senate Homeland Security and Rules committees, to have support from both parties, the language had to be carefully crafted, and that included excluding the word "insurrection," which notably does not appear outside of witness quotes and footnotes... "The report did not attempt to look at the origins and development of the groups or individuals that participated in the attack on the Capitol," the aide said.
The report is quite detailed in its discussion of the failures of the Capitol Police, which evidently had a great deal of information as to the fact that the planned event on the National Mall was designed in advance to go violently sideways once it reached the Capitol grounds.
The only hints about what the Capitol Police's Intelligence and Interagency Coordination Division knew appeared at the end of a 15-page report released on Jan. 3, which stated that "there is the possibility that the protesters may be inclined to become violent," and that their desperation "may lead to a significantly dangerous situation for law enforcement and the general public alike." But even that warning was fleeting: In the days that followed, in the Capitol Police's daily intelligence assessments, such notes about violence were nowhere to be found.
The report also demonstrates that the children of the intelligence community still do not work and play well with others. It seems that, every time there is a national-security cock-up, there also is corresponding evidence that nobody deigned to talk to anybody else.
The Senate committees' report found fault with the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI for failing to provide specific warnings about the threats posed to the Capitol. According to the report's findings, the FBI alerted the Capitol Police of potential "war" only the night before Trump's rally, attaching the warning to a casually worded email that was shared with other law enforcement agencies - and the warning was picked up by a Capitol Police intelligence unit separate from the one that had been preparing the threat assessments.
Knowing this is all well and good as far as it goers, which is nowhere near far enough. But, given the fact that the Republicans in the Senate pretty much chloroformed any hope of an independent investigation of the entire episode, it looks as though whatever probes there are will be swirling around the Beltway alphabet soup. This latest report demands a deeper investigation into motives and root causes. But the Congress, as we have noted, lacks the will even to defend its physical safety, let alone its constitutional prerogatives.

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

The Quotable Quote-

""No one is arguing that Israel, or any government, does not have the right to self-defense. Why is the question almost never asked: 'What are the rights of the Palestinian people?'"
~~~ Bernie Sanders

Israel, 'Only Mideast Democracy,' Criminalizes Journalism, Arrests Al Jazeera Reporter For Covering E. Jerusalem; What Is Being Covered Up?
By Juan Cole

Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) - The Israeli police took another step toward criminalizing journalism on Saturday when they arrested al-Jazeera Arabic correspondent Givara al-Budeiri while she was covering a demonstration in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem marking the anniversary of the Naksa, the Setback. That term is how Palestinians refer to the 1967 Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian territories. She was clearly wearing a vest marked "Press" when Israeli police assaulted her, shoved her against a wall, kicked her, packed her into a squad car and kicked her some more, then jailed her for seven hours. She complained of pain in her right side.

Al Jazeera English: "Israeli police arrest Al Jazeera journalist in Sheikh Jarrah"

The Israelis released her on condition that she stay away from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood for 15 days.

What? Why?

The Israeli authorities initially tried to accuse her of assaulting the police, but the Israeli police beating of the hapless journalist were caught on camera by the Al Jazeera cameraman, and they had to back away from that tactic. Then they said she hadn't clearly identified herself as a journalist, but her vest is clearly visible.

The Israeli authorities are clearly trying to keep the international press away from Sheikh Jarrah. On June 10, Israeli squatter-settlers who are measuring Palestinians' apartments for new drapes in hopes of displacing them and taking their apartments, will march provocatively through Sheikh Jarrah with Israeli flags, on "Flag Day." Minister of Defense Benny Gantz, who joined the opposition coalition attempting to unseat PM Binyamin Netanyahu, opposes allowing the Flag Day march on Thursday, according to Emannuel Fabian at the Times of Israel, on the grounds that it will produce public disturbances.

Gantz may also fear that if there is another round of violence with Palestinians in East Jerusalem, it could derail the process of forming a new Israeli government, which will depend for one of its 61 votes in the 120-seat parliament on Mansour Abbas, a Palestinian-Israeli.

Sometime soon, as well, the Israeli courts will rule on the planned displacement of over dozens of Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan.

Ms. al-Budeiri's brutal treatment may have been intended to send a message to Al Jazeera journalists to stay away.

Note that these events happened in what Israel considers Israeli territory, not in the Occupied West Bank. Israel illegally annexed East Jerusalem to its district of Jerusalem, an act prohibited by the United Nations charter.

On Friday, Palestinian residents of Israel organized a charity run from Sheikh Jarrah to Silwan in East Jerusalem, in part to protest the upcoming displacement of families from their apartments in those two places by Israeli squatters. The Israeli security forces attacked the runners, injuring 23 of them, according to Al Jazeera:

"Al Jazeera's Hoda Abdel Hamid, reporting from East Jerusalem, said the runners were wearing white T-shirts with "7,850" printed on them, representing the number of people activists say are facing forced expulsion in the city. Abdel Hamid said Israeli security forces had attacked the protesters with stun grenades to disperse them, even though the run was peaceful. "The young people were simply singing and cheering and were happy that they had done a marathon," she added.
So here again you have, on what the government says is Israeli soil, police beating up on people and violating the right to freely assemble, criminalizing peaceful protest.

Israel under outgoing right wing prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu has long since moved away from democratic norms, and Netanyahu is standing trial for having blackmailed the Israeli press into providing him with positive coverage.

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

The Beginning Of The End Of Democracy As We Know it?
By Robert Reich

This morning, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin announced in the Charleston Gazette-Mail that he's a "no" on the For the People Act - and a no for ending the filibuster.

This is a direct in-your-eye response to President Biden's thinly-veiled criticism of Manchin last Tuesday in Tulsa.

If it means the end of the For the People Act, it would open the way for Republican-dominated states to continue their shameless campaign to suppress the votes of likely Democratic voters - using Trump's baseless claims of voter fraud as pretext. That's the beginning of the end of American democracy as we know it.

Manchin's support for extending the John Lewis Voting Rights Act to all fifty states is better than nothing, but it would depend on an activist Justice Department willing to block state changes in voting laws that suppress votes, and an activist Supreme Court willing to uphold such Justice Department decisions.

Don't bet on either. We know what happened to the Justice Department under Trump, and we know what's happened to the Supreme Court.

So without Manchin, is the For the People Act dead? Probably, unless Biden can convince one Republican senator to join him in supporting it.

Would Mitt Romney or Lisa Murkowski or Susan Collins be willing to do so and buck the voter-suppressing, Trump-dominated GOP? Or will history record that Republican senators were more united in their opposition to democracy than Democratic senators are in their support for it?

The optimist in me says Romney will do it because he's an institutionalist who's appalled the authoritarianism that Trump has unleashed in the GOP. The cynical realist in me says no way.

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

A politician counting money in front of the U.S. Capitol Building.

Psychopath-Driven Inequality Is Making Our Society Sick
Why we will all be better off if we can reform our political and business cultures to be less psychopath-friendly and more humanity-friendly.
By Thom Hartmann

Inequality is literally killing us, both individually and as a society, and its two main drivers are monopolistic business behavior, and greedy CEOs and politicians. Both are a result of psychopaths taking over politics and business.

Decades ago, when I was doing international relief work, I visited a school for Aboriginal children way up northeast near Cairns, Australia in a little town called Lockhart River.

One of the teachers there, a white guy who'd grown up in Sydney and was my guide around the place, told me the story of an "amazing, life-changing" revelation he had the first week he was teaching at the school.

He was supervising after-school activities, and a large group of the kids formed into two teams and were playing soccer. The game's score went back-and-forth, back-and-forth with the two teams, fairly evenly matched, taking turns with who was ahead.

"They played for about an hour," he told me, as I recall. "And then they stopped. They said the game was over, and I couldn't figure out why." The revelation for him came when they told him that, by their rules, the game was over when both teams had achieved the same number of points. When things were even.

This is how things were across much of humanity before the psychopaths took over.

Humans are wired for cooperation and empathy; these are among the highest values in societies the predate the Agricultural Revolution and in cultures today who still remember their roots in such ancient societies.

The advent of agriculture 7,000 years ago, however, produced seasonal bursts of food from harvests, often followed by long, hungry winters. This gave some people-the psychopaths-the ability to (as Daniel Quinn wrote so eloquently in his book Ishmael) "lock up the food." It was the original sin of greed, the forbidden fruit of the garden, something that's considered a crime or a mental illness in Older Cultures.

Those greedy few who controlled the food had the power of life and death over everybody else, eventually coming to be known as kings, robber barons and CEOs as humanity moved into the modern era.

Although humans are wired for empathy, collaboration and cooperation, there is a small percentage-most estimates run between .5% to 2%-of people among us who are psychopaths; these people rarely feel empathy and view cooperation as a sign of weakness rather than strength.

And, tragically, these psychopaths have mostly come to dominate the worlds of politics and business.

Most stunning, multiple studies show that as many as 20% of American CEOs are psychopaths, accounting for a brutal business culture and a winner-takes-all economy.

Depending on party affiliation, those numbers probably hold true in politics, as well; if psychopaths are over-represented in the Republican Party (Trump is the latest and most visible example), that would account for their brutal style of politics.

If psychopaths are under-represented in the Democratic Party, that would account for why Dems constantly want to compromise and work things out. Such behavior is, after all, the baseline norm for humans who are not psychopaths.

While psychopathic CEOs and politicians battling it out in their own realms may seem remote for the average person, the reality is their psychopathic, greedy behavior accounts for much of the massive inequality we see in the world today.

And that psychopath/greed-driven inequality is making us, as a society, sick.

Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett of the Equality Trust in the UK have spent years documenting how the more unequal a society is the greater will be their rates of crime, mental illness, violence, homicide, suicide, drug addiction, obesity, unwanted pregnancy and a whole host of other medical, psychological and social ills.

On the other hand, the more egalitarian or equal a society is the less frequently these societal ills present themselves. They've shown this is true from country to country, and even did an extraordinary break-down state-by-state in the US showing the exact same effect.

And now we're finding that just playing games that are based on psychopathic behavior like trying to wipe out your competitors and take all their assets triggers similar reactions in people to societal inequality itself. And some games are worse than others at this.

And the game that's the worst is Monopoly.

Back in 1903 Lizzy Magie, a British feminist and socialist, patented the board game that we know today as Monopoly. She invented the game as a warning about the dangers of unrestrained, unregulated capitalism, although over the past hundred years that has been almost completely forgotten.

As Chris Melore reports, "Monopoly stands out as the most debated-and most forbidden-board game of all time. In a recent survey of 2,000 U.S. residents, 20 percent say that their game nights with friends or family members are often or always disrupted by competitive or unfriendly behavior."

Perhaps the "good" news is that "only 11% of respondents said they witnessed a physical fight break out," but Monopoly-a game that is based on the prime psychopathic value of taking everything for yourself and thus increasing inequality-seems to trigger the worst in us.

Nobody's calling for a ban on the game of Monopoly, but as the Aboriginal kids taught their "westernized" teacher-and the extraordinary scientific research of the Equality Trust clearly shows-we will all be better off if we can reform our political and business cultures to be less greed-driven (psychopath-friendly) and more collaborative and fair (humanity-friendly).

Those psychopath-proofing reforms range from tackling actual business monopolies, to getting corporate and billionaire money out of politics, to strengthening our democracy by establishing an absolute right for all Americans to easily and comfortably vote like in other democracies (see: HR1).

It's a big lift, but if we all work together we can still make it happen.

(c) 2021 Thom Hartmann is a talk-show host and the author of "The Hidden History of Monopolies: How Big Business Destroyed the American Dream" (2020); "The Hidden History of the Supreme Court and the Betrayal of America" (2019); and more than 25 other books in print.

The Cartoon Corner-

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Jeff Koterba ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

Belarusian Journalist Confesses To Whatever It Takes To Get The Fuck Outta Here

By The Waterford Whispers News

BODY language experts have pointed out evidence that the confession of Roman Protasevich which aired on Belarusian TV yesterday may have been a forced one, prompting the detained journalist to beg them to 'STFU' and let him maybe breath fresh air again. Protasevich, who controversially forced a Ryanair flight to land so that he could hand himself in to the authorities according to official reports, appeared on TV to state that his previous opposition to President Alexander Lukashenko was 'just messing', and that he now believes that one man winning 6 elections in a row is 'really good'.

"We can see evidence of rough handling around Mr. Protasevich's arms, and he is also speaking very slowly, as if reading from a script" said one Belarusian body language specialist that did not want to be named for no particular reason.

"This suggests to us that yes indeed, the detained blogger almost certainly came to his senses when given a little time to himself, and rolled back on his years of opposition to what we now know is a balanced and fair and totally normal presidential reign. Roman probably felt so silly, he punched himself in the face a few times."

Meanwhile, the EU who had initially felt that the capture of Mr. Protasevich from the grounded Ryanair flight amounted to air piracy, have also rolled back this hostile stance upon hearing from the blogger himself that everything was a-okay.

"For a minute there, we thought we'd have to actually get tough on some pretty nasty customers, but if Roman says he's fine, we can just go back to how we were," came the relieved response.

(c) 2021 The Waterford Whispers News

The Animal Rescue Site

Issues & Alibis Vol 21 # 23 (c) 06/11/2021

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