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In This Edition

Norman Solomon explains, "How Democrats And Progressives Undermined The Potential Of The Biden-Putin Summit."

Ralph Nader reports, "Reporters Do A Better Job When They Do NOT Ignore Civic Groups."

Margaret Kimberley tells, "The Truth About Defunding Police."

Jim Hightower says, "To Fix The Labor Shortage, Start With The Wage Shortage."

William Rivers Pitt concludes, "For Trump, Cruelty Was The Point. Now It's A Major GOP Fundraising Strategy."

John Nichols says, "Brad Lander Knows How To Achieve the Big, Bold Structural Changes That Will Transform New York."

James Donahue finds, "Artifacts In The Rocks Point To Ancient Civilizations."

David Swanson is, "Abolishing Police And Abolishing Militaries."

Claudia Caruana joins us with,, "Rising Heat-Related Deaths Linked To Global Warming."

Charles P. Pierce says, "Bibi Netanyahu's Farewell Address Will Never Be Mistaken For George Washington's."

Juan Cole reports, "Israel's New Secular Government: Lieberman Crows that he Sidelined Fundamentalist."

Robert Reich explains, "Burrito Economics."

Thom Hartmann wonders, "Will 'Economic Freedom' Be The Billionaire's New Phrase To Replace 'Capitalism'?"

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz reports,"Trump Explodes After Biden Asks Him To Dog-Sit During G-7," but first" Uncle Ernie sez, "A Drought And Heat Wave Scorches Western United States."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Martin Kozlowski, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Melissa Sue Gerrits, Alexander Zemlianichenko, Brad Lander for NYC, Mihajlo Maricic, Amir Levy, Laurentiu, Adam Schultz,Tumisu, Pixabay, Robert Reich, Jim Hightower, Pexels, AFP, Unsplash, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, You Tube, Black Agenda Report, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments-

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

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A Drought And Heat Wave Scorches Western United States
Global warming strikes again!
By Ernest Stewart

"There are two key differences for ecosystems in the coming decades compared with the geologic past. One is the rapid pace of modern climate change. The other is that today there are multiple human stressors that were not present 55 million years ago, such as urbanization and air and water pollution." ~~~ Noah Diffenbaugh ~ climatologist at Stanford University

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 across US West, drought and a dangerous heat wave are arriving dangerously early!

Lakes at historically low levels, unusually early forest fires, restrictions on water use and now a potentially record heat wave: even before summer's start the US West is suffering the effects of chronic drought made worse by global warming.

According to official data eighty-eight percent of the West is in a state of drought this week, including the entire states of California, Oregon, Utah and Nevada.

In a particularly stark symptom of this trend, which is affecting more than 143 million Americans, Lake Mead -- the country's largest reservoir, lying at the border of Nevada and Arizona -- now stands at its lowest level since its creation in the 1930s.

The lake, formed when the massive Hoover Dam was built across the Colorado River not far from Las Vegas, stands at just 36 percent of capacity, below even a record set in 2016.

Authorities expected something like this -- but not until August.

Lake Oroville at less than half it's normal depth

The situation in northern California, which normally receives ample precipitation in the winter and spring, is no better. Lake Oroville, the state's second largest reservoir and a key part of a network providing potable water to 27 million Californians, is 165 feet (50 meters) lower than in 2019.

Widespread water-use restrictions appear inevitable over the coming months, with potentially serious ramifications for Western states, in particular for irrigation-dependent farmers -- who provide much of the country's fruits and vegetables.

In California, whose vast almond groves supply 80 percent of world production, some farmers have already begun uprooting trees to save water.

As of April 1, the date traditionally marking the area's last snowfall, the snowpack on the upper slopes of the Sierra Nevada -- source of roughly a third of all water used in California -- was at only 60 percent of average.

"Really, one thing unique this year is that as snow melted, the runoff ended up soaking into dry soils and ended up evaporating," never reaching Lake Oroville, John Yarbrough, an official with the California Department of Water Resources, said.

According to the US Drought Monitor, one third of California is currently experiencing "exceptional drought," the worst level.

And dry soils and water-deprived vegetation create the conditions for even higher temperatures, feeding a devastating vicious circle.

Not surprisingly, the southwestern US is bracing for an extreme heat wave this coming week, with temperatures some 20 degrees Fahrenheit (11 Celsius) higher than seasonal norms and with highs of up to 120 Fahrenheit expected in some spots.

Meteorologists have issued heat warnings, saying that Las Vegas, for example, could hit 115 Fahrenheit, surpassing a record established in 1940.

Such conditions are "rare, dangerous and deadly," said the National Weather Service bureau in Phoenix, Arizona -- where the thermometer is expected to hit 118 degrees on Friday.

Authorities are particularly concerned about forest fires, which have arrived unusually early this year and with rare intensity. As of the end of May, fires in California had already destroyed five times as much vegetation as they had last year at this point.

Most experts say that even if drought is an expected part of life in the Southwest, the situation has clearly been worsened by global warming.

A study published last year in the journal Science estimated that human-caused global warming worsened the impact of drought by 46 percent from 2000 to 2018.

"We're already living in a new climate, that is a different climate than when many of our systems were designed and built 50 or 100 years ago," Noah Diffenbaugh, a climatologist with Stanford University, said.

"And it's a climate in which these water deficits primarily result from the influence of warming temperature."

He said he believes the risks presented by climate change can still be managed.

But to do so, he said, it is vital "to not just catch up with the climate change that's already happened, but to leapfrog ahead."


08-11-1944 ~ 06-12-2021
Thanks for the direction!

07-06-1937 ~ 06-13-2021
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05-25-1931 ~ 06-13-2021
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07-09-1955 ~ 06-14-2021
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12-08-1927 ~ 06-15-2021
Thanks for the adventure!

02-28-1942 ~ 06-16-2021
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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.

In this March 10, 2011, file photo, Joe Biden, then vice president, shakes hands with Vladimir Putin,
then Russia's prime minister, in Moscow. President Biden will hold a summit with Putin this week in Geneva,
a face-to-face meeting between the two leaders that comes amid escalating tensions between the U.S. and Russia.

How Democrats And Progressives Undermined The Potential Of The Biden-Putin Summit
By Norman Solomon

No matter what happens at Wednesday's summit between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin in Geneva, a grim reality is that Democratic Party leaders have already hobbled its potential to move the world away from the worsening dangers of nuclear war. After nearly five years of straining to depict Donald Trump as some kind of Russian agent -- a depiction that squandered vast quantities of messaging without electoral benefits -- most Democrats in Congress are now locked into a modern Cold War mentality that endangers human survival.

In the new light of atomic weaponry, Albert Einstein warned against "the outmoded concept of narrow nationalisms." But the concept is flourishing as both parties strive to outdo each other in vilifying Russia as a locus of evil. Rather than coming to terms with the imperative for détente between the two countries that brandish more than 90 percent of the world's nuclear warheads, the Democratic leadership at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue has been heightening the bilateral tensions that increase the chances of thermonuclear holocaust.

President Biden has excelled at gratuitous and dangerous rhetoric about Russia. As this spring began, he declared on national television that President Putin is "a killer" -- and boasted that he told the Russian leader that he has "no soul" while visiting the Kremlin in 2011. It was a repeat of a boast that Biden could not resist publicly making while he was vice president in 2014 and again while out of office in 2017. Such bombast conveys a distinct lack of interest in genuine diplomacy needed to avert nuclear war.

Meanwhile, what about self-described progressives who see themselves as a counterweight to the Democratic Party establishment? For the most part, they remained silent if not actively portraying Russia as a mortal enemy of the United States. Even renowned antiwar voices in Congress were not immune to party-driven jingoism.

Never mind that the structurally malign forces of corporate America -- and the numerous right-wing billionaires heavily invested in ongoing assaults on democracy -- appreciated the focus on Russia instead of on their own oligarchic power. And never mind that, throughout the Trump years, the protracted anti-Russia frenzy was often a diversion away from attention to the numerous specific threats to electoral democracy in the United States.

Two years ago, when the Voting Rights Alliance drew up a list of "61 Forms of Voter Suppression," not one of those forms had anything to do with Russia.

Capacities to educate, agitate and organize against the profuse forms of voter suppression were hampered by the likes of MSNBC star Rachel Maddow, whose extreme fixation on Russian evils would have been merely farcical if not so damaging. Year after year, she virtually ignored a wide range of catastrophic U.S. government policies while largely devoting her widely watched program to stoking hostility toward Russia. Maddow became a favorite of many progressives who viewed her show as a fount of wisdom.

Progressives -- who are supposed to oppose the kind of "narrow nationalisms" that Einstein warned against at the dawn of the nuclear age -- mostly steered clear of challenging the anti-Russia orthodoxy that emerged as an ostensible way of resisting the horrific Trump presidency. Routinely, many accepted and internalized the scapegoating of Russia that was standard fare of mainstream media outlets -- which did little to shed light on how threats to democracy in the United States were overwhelmingly homegrown, rooted in corporate power.

Now, on the verge of the Biden-Putin summit, U.S. media outlets are overflowing with calls to confront Russia as well as China, pounding on themes sure to delight investors in Pentagon contracting firms. Leading Democrats and Republicans are in step with reporters and pundits beating Cold War drums. How much closer do they want the Doomsday Clock to get to midnight before they call off their zeal to excite narrow nationalisms?

It scarcely seems to matter to anti-Russia zealots, whether "progressive" or not, that the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists began this year with an ominous warning: "By our estimation, the potential for the world to stumble into nuclear war -- an ever-present danger over the last 75 years -- increased in 2020. An extremely dangerous global failure to address existential threats -- what we called 'the new abnormal' in 2019 -- tightened its grip in the nuclear realm in the past year, increasing the likelihood of catastrophe."

Far from the maddening crowd of reckless cold warriors, the American Committee for U.S.-Russia Accord released an open letter last week that made basic sense for the future of humanity: "The dangerous and in many ways unprecedented deterioration in relations between the United States and the Russian Federation must come to an end if we are to leave a safer world for future generations. . . . We believe that the time has come to resurrect diplomacy, restore and maintain a dialogue on nuclear risks that's insulated from our political differences like we did during the Cold War. Without communication, this increases the likelihood of escalation to nuclear use in a moment of crisis."

It's a sad irony that such clarity and wisdom can scarcely be found among prominent Democrats in Congress, or among many of the groups that do great progressive work when focused on domestic issues. The recent fear-mongering over Russia has been a factor in refusals to embrace the anti-militarist message of Martin Luther King's final year.

In the United States, the political context of the Biden-Putin summit should have included widespread progressive support for genuine diplomacy with Russia. Instead, overall, progressives went along with Democratic Party leaders and corporate liberal media as they fueled the momentum toward a nuclear doomsday.

(c) 2021 Norman Solomon is co-founder of and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death" and "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State."

Reporters Do A Better Job When They Do NOT Ignore Civic Groups
By Ralph Nader

Connecting the civic community with the mainstream media is no minor endeavor. Historically, this connection has been essential to a functioning democracy. The citizenry is the taproot of democracy and a key source for journalists' declared function of informing the people.

My efforts on this front have been threefold. First, I wrote about 30 national citizen organizations last October documenting how, since the Sixties and Seventies, the media has been marginalizing the civic community on a variety of matters and especially of reforming the political economy.

Where once journalists would cover civic group reports, litigation, testimony, and top civic leaders for their expertise, the coverage now is woefully inadequate. Civic leaders do not like to publicly acknowledge this exclusion for it makes them look powerless vis-a-vis the political and commercial interests they have to confront and reform. So, my urgings for them to pay intense attention to the years of near blackout fell on cautiously silent ears.

Next, recognizing how hard it is, in the modern Internet age, to reach reporters to provide them with scoops, leads, corrections, and amplifications of their articles and features, I started the Reporter's Alert (See, The idea was if you can't reach reporters and editors, as once was the case, then maybe you present story suggestions in one place, and they'll check in from time to time. There are now six lists of suggestions on the site. There are some modest indications that the suggestions are being viewed by some reporters and editors.

A third approach occurred to me while reading recent newspapers. By its own objectives and standards, the media is well advised to call these experienced civic leaders to better the reporting they are doing.

Here are some varied examples of the importance of such calls.

1. Day after day the press is reporting on the Biden infrastructure proposals all totaling $4 trillion, broken down into $2.3 trillion for public works and the rest toward "human infrastructure" for adults and children. There are ongoing negotiations between the White House and the GOP in Congress that involve lower dollar figures. Yet, in the New York Times and the Washington Post, reporters allow the impression that these are gigantic sums because they do not tell us that these are sums stretched over 8 to 10 years. So, divide them by eight or ten and they appear very modest and less susceptible to misunderstanding. From say $400 billion a year down to a little over $100 billion, depending on what gets through Congress, is really very little for a $25 trillion economy with serious deferred maintenance of our public services and family necessities. Apple alone just announced another $90 billion stock buyback. A new proposal to build a sea wall around Miami, due to rising sea levels, came in at $1 billion a mile. Reporters calling any number of citizen groups working on public investments would have avoided this daily omission.

2. Much reporting on HR1 dealing with overcoming state-driven voter restrictions has left out provisions adding new obstacles to third-party candidate ballot access. Both candidate and voter repression are tied together (more voices and choices) and bad for a competitive democracy. A call to Oliver Hall of the Center for Competitive Democracy would have revealed that unreported fact.

3. For years, reporters have had a far too limited range on trade policies, focusing on conventional trade barriers and too little on the way corporations created "corporate-managed trade" over so-called "free trade" both substantively (subordinating environment, consumer and labor rights to the imperatives of commerce) and procedurally creating a dictatorial process of secrecy and exclusion. Were they to have brought Lori Wallach of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch into the discourse, they would have served their public far better. In recent years, reporters began to understand this accurate, precise information source and do call Ms. Wallach more often.

4. Judy Woodruff of PBS's NewsHour has a penchant for interviewing reporters. For example, she interviews reporters covering tax issues, when her predecessors interviewed acknowledged tax experts like Bob McIntyre of Citizens for Tax Justice. The drop in quality shows reporters have to be more limited in what they say and they have far less historical context regarding Congress, the Treasury Department, and the IRS.

5. Sidney Wolfe of the Health Research Group and Dr. Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest used to be in the news all the time during the Seventies, Eighties, Nineties, and into the very early 20th century. No more, nor are their expert colleagues. The paucity and superficiality of coverage of pharmaceutical issues (including the latest Biogen fiasco) and the failure of the FDA and USDA to regulate the food supply continues.

6. The mainstream media is finally stepping up its reporting about the need to investigate whether the Covid-19 pandemic started with a negligent leak from the Wuhan Institute. The media would have done well to contact Andy Kimbrell of the International Center for Technology Advancement, a seasoned litigator, to hear his cautious skepticism back in the spring of 2020 that the Covid may not have been from direct animal contact.

7. Coverage of the Boeing 737 MAX crashes has been unusually good, but could have been better and earlier, were the reporters on this beat to have contacted Paul Hudson, head of Flyers Rights (See, and a member of the FAA Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee. Hudson has been covering the aviation safety scene for 32 years since he lost his daughter in the Pan Am 103 explosion/crash in Scotland.

8. Coverage of autonomous cars is and has been a media exercise in "gee whiz hoopla," uncritically reporting the industry's hype in hundreds of articles. Now as the New York Times has reported there are serious drawbacks to seeing autonomous cars (as distinguished from semi-autonomous systems) on the roads. (See, It Turns Out It's a Long Road to Driverless Cars, New York Times May 25, 2021). Really? Calls to the Center for Auto Safety, former NHTSA Director Joan Claybrook, or the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety would have alerted reporters about these still unsolved technical problems years ago. This mis-telling was a serious disservice to readers.

9. Reporters covering political candidates and their agendas, almost never ask about candidates' stands on corporate crime and corporate welfare. Most recently, this was the case with the Times's Q and A with the candidates for mayor of New York City. New York is a hotbed of corporate crime waves that the Times reports on as if it is a separate topic from political contests.

10. Lawlessness in the executive branch under both Parties, with the worst under Donald Trump's Justice Department, is rarely a reporter's focus. We've documented continual serious presidential violations of federal statutes, international treaties, and illegal uses of executive orders. Almost none of our calls are returned. (

The examples could go on and on. United Airlines' publicity stunt the other day, announced orders for numerous supersonic airline passenger planes which no one is manufacturing. Reporters never asked about obvious, serious drawbacks pointed out in a concise letter to the editor in the Washington Post by an aerospace engineer, Antonio Elias.

The media would do well to recognize that just about every movement for a just society started with a small number of citizens, then more organized civic groups before the politicians joined the fight. Journalist's report, as you did in the Sixties and Seventies, the legitimate voices of expert civic engagement, as you cover the plight of the people they're striving to help and our society will improve.

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

The Truth About Defunding Police
By Margaret Kimberley

"Defunding" the police has often turned out to be an accounting trick, but community control of police - a righteous demand - must also ensure that all government functions address human needs.

One year ago, thousands of people engaged in protest in the wake of George Floyd's killing by a Minneapolis, Minnesota police officer. A persistent protest demand was for defunding police departments. The appeal of this rallying cry was obvious. Police in this country are a law unto themselves, killing and brutalizing at will, and rarely being called to account. Often these fatal encounters occur after minor offenses are committed or in the case of black people, when a call for assistance instead leads to death.

The premise of defunding police is well intentioned but faulty. In the past year we have seen sleight of hand in cities like New York where alleged funding cuts amounted to nothing more than budgetary trickery. Even in Minneapolis, where the movement began, defunding became nothing more than a name change.

It isn't hard to understand why change in this area is so difficult. As of 2018, police departments in this country received more than $118 billion in funding. Only the military in the United States and China receive more money. The armed forces of Russia, Germany, France, the U.K. and Japan all receive less money than American police departments. They are in fact a domestic military force.

Why then do so many people insist that police budgets have been cut? Because this particular trope gives credibility to racist politics and practice. When Democrats lost seats in the House of Representatives in 2020, the losers immediately claimed that the concept of cutting police budgets was to blame for their defeats. Republicans have leaped on the story and as usual engage in strict message discipline, insisting that the police are short of money and that increases in crime are the result.

The media adds to the drama with their usual determination to take the side of the powerful. William Bratton led police departments in New York and Los Angeles and in a recent New York Times interview said, "They got what they wanted. They defunded the police. What do they get? Rising crime, cops leaving in droves, difficulty recruiting. Now, they're waking up to the fact that our cities are unsafe."

Not only should this propaganda be rejected, but the original questions about police funding should be revived. Police do have far more money than they need to do their jobs. Bloated budgets are a feature of police work in a society dedicated to racist practice. The modern day slave patrol is a racket that gives good paying employment to people who otherwise wouldn't have it while simultaneously keeping Black people under physical control. But even if reducing funding were a realistic proposition, is that what the demand should be?

Community control of the police should be the goal but that can't happen unless all government functions address human needs. Without real democracy and a true commitment to human rights, policing will not change. Of course, any discussion of law enforcement is inextricably linked to anti-Black racism, the controlling feature of many aspects of public policy in this country.

No one should allow themselves to be confused by racist pro-police propaganda or to be convinced that they should stop agitating for change. But questioning previous actions, even those made with the best of intentions, is always a positive step.

The United States as currently constituted can't function without huge police departments and the big budgets that go with them. An increasingly stressed society must be kept under watch precisely because popular discontent may erupt at any moment. Last year's protests prove that there are many very discontented people and the domestic military will be ready to keep them all under as much control as it possibly can.

We are left where we started out before anyone knew the name George Floyd. The struggle for change is difficult but it must continue with the knowledge that cutting police budgets or changing their practices in any way will be fought tooth and nail. Dishonest statements about rising crime or lost elections come with the territory.

The issues of police brutality and budgets cannot be approached as if they are separate from anything else. Community control of police cannot be separated from demands for peoples' control over any other aspect of their lives. In short, revolutionary change is still what the people need. Everything from policing to housing to health care cannot be improved unless there is fundamental and systemic change. Of course that is a much bigger fight but it cannot begin without speaking truth about our condition and the difficult process of bringing about real justice.

(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.

To Fix The Labor Shortage, Start With The Wage Shortage
By Jim Hightower

At a recent congressional hearing on America's so-called "labor shortage," megabanker Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase, offered this insight: "People actually have a lot of money, and they don't particularly feel like going back to work."

Uh...Jamie...most people are living paycheck to paycheck, and since COVID-19 hit, millions have lost their jobs, savings, and even homes. So, they're not exactly lollygagging around the house, counting their cash.

Instead of listening to the uber-rich class ignorance of Dimon (who pocketed $35 million in pay last year) Congress ought to be listening to actual workers explain why they're not rushing back to the jobs being offered by restaurant chains and such. They would point out that there is no labor shortage - there's a wage shortage.

More fundamentally, there's a fairness shortage. It was not lost on restaurant workers, for example, that while millions of them were jobless last year, their corporate CEOs were grabbing millions, buying yachts, and living large. Yet, more than half of laid-off restaurant workers couldn't even get unemployment benefits, because their wages had been too low to qualify. Then there's the high risk of COVID exposure for restaurant employees, an appalling level of sexual harassment in their workplace, and demeaning treatment from abusive bosses and customers.

No surprise, then, that more than half of employees said in a recent survey that they're not going back to those jobs. After all, even a dog knows the difference between being stumbled over and being kicked!

So rather than demanding that government officials force workers to return to the old exploitative system, corporate giants should try the free-enterprise solution right at their fingertips: Raise pay, improve conditions, and show respect - create a place where people want to work!

For a straightforward view from workers themselves, go to the advocacy group,

(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

Former President Donald Trump addresses the NCGOP State Convention on June 5, 2021, in Greenville, North Carolina.

For Trump, Cruelty Was The Point. Now It's A Major GOP Fundraising Strategy
By William Rivers Pitt

Do you remember the first year of the Trump administration? A daunting question; among Trump's many grim accomplishments was the way he made time elastic. So much has happened since, so it's a bit like asking if you remember the first year of the Boxer Rebellion.

The mind deals with trauma in part by deleting or obscuring traumatic memories - the oft-maligned "memory hole," which may help us more than we appreciate - and there have been so many shocks to our mental and spiritual underpinnings that it becomes impossible to keep track. Your mileage may vary, but for me, trying to recall the eon that was 2017 to 2018 is akin to peering into deep space with a dollar store flashlight.

It's all there, though, if I concentrate. The Muslim ban, the mocking of sexual assault survivors, the public embrace of white supremacists, the separation of children from their parents at the southern border, the disdain shown to Puerto Rico after it was flattened by a hurricane, the scorn for the rule of law, the constant inescapable media presence like a cultural migraine that won't abate, the attacks on students who survived school shootings, a trillion-dollar tax giveaway to corporations and the wealthy, the singling out of individuals and groups as "enemies of the people," the vivid racism expressed toward nations described by Trump as "shithole countries," the coddling of violence at the rallies, the brazen broad-daylight corruption, the daily drumbeat of malicious and petty acts whose only purpose was to "own the libs" abridged accounting, and that was just the first year.

Donald Trump is out of office and deplatformed from social media, so he is a bit like the Deepwater Horizon of former presidents. The blowout has been capped, but the enormous mass of poison he spewed will be in our collective Gulf of Mexico forever.

Adam Serwer, staff writer at The Atlantic, captured the essence of what we were all trying to figure out back then: "What the hell is all this? Why?" Serwer's masterpiece October 2018 article, "The Cruelty Is the Point," crystallized the raw truth of the moment better than anyone has before or since, as far as I'm concerned:

Trump's only true skill is the con; his only fundamental belief is that the United States is the birthright of straight, white, Christian men, and his only real, authentic pleasure is in cruelty. It is that cruelty, and the delight it brings them, that binds his most ardent supporters to him, in shared scorn for those they hate and fear: immigrants, black voters, feminists, and treasonous white men who empathize with any of those who would steal their birthright.

The president's ability to execute that cruelty through word and deed makes them euphoric. It makes them feel good, it makes them feel proud, it makes them feel happy, it makes them feel united. And as long as he makes them feel that way, they will let him get away with anything, no matter what it costs them.

I'd wager most who read the article when it came out said, "Oh, OK, right" afterward, and moved into the following years with something of a framework to operate from, a baseline context that made it all ever so slightly more manageable. It certainly had this effect on me. Why did Trump do that? Because it was cruel. Box checked.

Of course, there was also the money.

The dazzling graft of the Inaugural Committee, the rampant nepotism, the self-dealing that led to millions of tax dollars arriving in Trump's bank accounts because he and his entire entourage stayed at his hotels wherever they went, and the endless frenzy of doom-swaddled fundraising aimed at a deliberately provoked and near-frantic base, all served a simple purpose: He was looting the Treasury, and his own supporters, to hose money onto the bonfire of his massive debt.

The havoc Trump promoted and the two-fisted cash grab that defined his administration were entirely symbiotic, and he hasn't stopped just because he moved to New Jersey. The fundraising pattern in particular is altogether clear by now: Make an extravagant and entirely impossible promise or prediction ("Stop the steal," "overthrow the election," "Trump will be inaugurated on March 4," etc.) and fundraise off it, and when it fails to come to pass, fundraise off that, too.

Trump has made millions playing the martyr to his base since November, and recently deployed a new version of the old trick. Several reports had him speaking recently with deep confidence about being "reinstated" as president come August. It does not matter that no mechanism exists to make this happen, absent a national conflagration that would make January 6 look like an episode of Barney the Dinosaur. A large portion of his base believe it, because he said it.

Make the claim and fundraise off it. When it fails to come to pass, fundraise off that ("See? See?! The deep state did it to us again! Trump needs your help to defeat this evil! We're all in this together!!!"). In the immortal words of hippie Homer Simpson, "Lather, rinse and repeat. Always repeat."

The seamless success of this pattern has not been lost on the wobbling Jell-O mold of Republican officeholders whose political existence has been digested by the Trump phenomenon they helped create.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene may seem like some wild-eyed flake with an obnoxious face mask and too much time on her hands, but don't be fooled: Every one of her bizarre proclamations about Jewish-controlled space lasers or "false flag" school shootings, all her seemingly erratic behavior, is not merely the byproduct of a racist QAnon devotee from Georgia.

I'm confident Greene believes at least some of the stuff she spews, but by fundraising relentlessly off of it, she cleared more than $3 million in three months. By comparison, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez banked less than $800,000 in the same time frame. Batshit sells in the right marketplace, and the GOP base is buying hand over fist, because they know she is a devoted pilot fish to Trump's Great White shark.

Perhaps a more egregious example is another to-the-knife Trump supporter, Rep. Matt Gaetz. In the throes of allegations that he raped teenage girls, Gaetz proclaimed he would run for president in 2024 if Trump does not. This elicited a mighty "Huh?!" from many, but Gaetz knows exactly what he was about: He pulled down about $1.8 million over the same three months as Greene by fundraising on his own self-proclaimed martyrdom and devotion to Trump. When the fundraising reports for quarter two come in next month, we'll see how handsomely Trump's base rewarded him for trolling the '24 presidential race.

Some days ago, the wife of Rep. Mo Brooks - also a champion of all things Trump - was served a subpoena for her husband as part of Rep. Eric Swalwell's allegation that he helped foment the 1/6 Capitol breach. Brooks's wife got it because Brooks himself has been hiding from Swalwell's process servers for weeks. Yesterday, Brooks transitioned the event into a fundraising email to the base titled, "They Came After My Wife."

Lather, rinse and repeat. Always repeat.

The mystery of why so many Republicans have stapled themselves to Trump, even as they fear his antics may cost them a recapture of the senate in 2022, isn't a mystery at all. Sure, they fear getting on the wrong side of Trump's base, but they have also learned that playing to that base is the equivalent of having a bottomless ATM in the office closet.

Trump has created a near-frictionless fascist fundraising juggernaut that relies entirely on the greed of the Republican politicians he has captured, and the evangelical credulity of his closest supporters. Feed the base and the base will feed you, and you get to keep your job, too. Step out of line and you're not only a political fistful of Thanos infinity dust, but the plug on the ATM is pulled forever. Rep. Liz Cheney is the rare exception; most of the rest got the gilded memo in triplicate, and will play along until the music stops. If having their offices sacked by Trump supporters did not dissuade them from this course, I imagine nothing can.

Remember this whenever you see a Republican rolling in the slime of conspiracy theory and abject racism with more alacrity than has been the norm. The GOP has found a new platform, the only plank Trump left them: Cruelty pays. It will all end badly, but for the foreseeable future, the madness is the method. "It's a hustle," Rep. Ocasio-Cortez said on Wednesday. Indeed, and a damned effective one. "Owning the libs" and fleecing the base is the new Republican gold rush. It will be a wonder if the nation survives it.

(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.

Comptroller candidate Brad Lander and US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Brad Lander Knows How To Achieve the Big, Bold Structural Changes That Will Transform New York
The urban planner running for comptroller argues that the city can drive innovation and change by leveraging its financial power and influence to serve the people
By John Nichols

There is a lot of talk about which contender in the crowded field of New York City mayoral candidates offers the boldest vision for bringing justice and equity to the nation's largest municipality.

But the most striking agenda for the future of New York-and cities across the country-is actually coming from a candidate for the lower-profile position of city comptroller: Brad Lander.

An urban planner who made his reputation as an advocate for affordable housing and sustainable development, Lander has been an outspoken progressive leader on the New York City Council and nationally for more than a decade. In addition to being the cofounder of the council's Progressive Caucus, he has served as chair of Local Progress, a network of more than 800 progressive local elected officials in 45 states. So it makes sense that Lander has reimagined a down-ballot office as a platform for supercharging the role of municipal government in promoting economic, social, and racial justice-and as a vehicle for achieving corporate responsibility so potent that Lander confidently declares, "I'll hold corporations we invest in accountable for good governance, making sure they: take bold action on climate; protect workers rights, wages and safety; have diverse boardrooms and staff; pay women and people of color fairly."

The person who occupies the comptroller's office, historically seen as something of a bureaucratic sinecure, serves as the city's chief financial officer, with defined duties that include auditing city agencies and overseeing the investment of pension funds. Lander, who got high marks for his work on participatory budgeting as a council member, is certainly up for the number crunching. Just this week, a New York Times endorsement hailed the veteran community organizer and activist as one of "the hardest-working and most effective public servants in the city."

Another endorser, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), is introducing Lander to New Yorkers in television ads where she announces, "Only one candidate for Comptroller, Brad Lander, knows that to deliver bold transformative change, you have to work for and with the people."

What distinguishes Lander in not just the crowded field of contenders in the June 22 Democratic primary for the comptroller position but also the broader competition for top posts in a definitional election is the depth, energy, and boldness of his vision for the city. He is excited about the watchdog role of the comptroller's office and relishes the fiduciary responsibility to protect city assets, including more than $250 billion in pension holdings. With this in mind, he argues that the city must invest in its own future.

Lander believes that the city can become a driver of innovation and change by leveraging the financial power and influence of the nation's largest urban center to make real the progress that is often promised at election time but only rarely delivered.

With more than 20 specific proposals on everything from establishing a public bank to scaling up renewable public power and treating housing as a public good, Lander goes far beyond the talking points that are employed even by other candidates who have reputations as policy innovators. The comptroller candidate's agenda is as detailed as that of any governor-which makes sense, as New York City has a bigger population than 38 states.

Lander argues that the moment demands an ambitious approach to urban revitalization.

"Even before the Covid crisis, we were already in a time of peril for our democracy. Gaping inequalities has left us fractured, and far from our ideals of equal justice or opportunity. Short-sighted politics have left us unprepared for crises," explains Lander. "Now, we face the greatest challenges of our generation."

The crisis revealed an even starker picture of the economic inequality and racial injustice that permeates society. With this in mind, Lander argues that "securing a just and durable recovery" requires a focus on doing more for the people who were hardest hit before the pandemic, who suffered the most during it, and who now must rebuild their lives.

"New York City is facing one of the greatest challenges in our history. We must confront the daunting fiscal reality caused by the Covid-19 crisis, and work towards an economic recovery that restores and renews what makes our city great, invests in a sustainable future for the next generation, and-mindful of the systemic racial inequities so sharply exposed by the crisis-shares those benefits in a far more equal way," says Lander, who acknowledges, "We can't imagine away the budget gaps, or rely on wishful thinking. Hard choices will be necessary."

"But," he adds, as part of a detailed "Just Recovery" platform,

Shrinking services just at the time when New Yorkers need them most is both cruel social policy and bad economic policy. A full recovery will rely on robust federal investment from Washington (including a Green New Deal) and progressive revenue approaches in Albany. But NYC is not helpless. In past generations, our leaders helped to pioneer urban investments in clean water and public health, public transportation, the programs of the New Deal, public housing, and public higher education. Those investments were the platform for our city's growth and success for over a century. Now, it's our time to renew this forward-looking leadership.
That includes plans for investment in infrastructure and housing, and innovative social ownership strategies that embrace "new models for worker ownership and building worker power." And, though there has been much talk about mayoral candidate Andrew Yang's proposal for creating a "People's Bank" to expand access to affordable financial services, Lander's bold plan for establishing a public municipal bank in New York City is striking in its detail, scope, and ambition.

The comptroller candidate wants to build "an independently run institution that would take our tax dollars out of Wall Street banks and put them to work for local economic development, affordable housing, climate resilience and more."

"Unlike Wall Street banks which focus on maximizing short-term profits, a Public Bank would take the long-term view, prioritizing New York City's people, communities, and environment over profits to make sensible, low-risk loans that large corporate banks simply would not bother to make," argues the Lander campaign. "A public bank would also have the capacity to partner with community-based credit unions and loan funds to expand access to high-quality financial services to those who often face barriers to banking such as undocumented immigrants, increasing New Yorkers' access to affordable account, money transfer, and other banking services."

It is that sort of thinking that this week led Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders to endorse Lander as a candidate who "will stand up to special interests and demand the change working people need." Sanders is not alone in that assessment. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren says, "Brad Lander has led big fights to pass some of the strongest laws in the country to expand rights for workers and people being left behind by our economy," while New York Working Families Party Director Sochie Nnaemeka says, "For over a decade now, Brad has each poured his energy into fighting for a New York for the many. We're proud to continue to back a long-time leader of the Working Families Party, by elevating his impactful leadership as he keeps up the fight. As the next Comptroller, we know Brad will lead with a clear vision of budget justice and the conviction to move funds to the communities where they are most needed. Brad models what it means to bring the protest to the polls."

(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.

Artifacts In The Rocks Point To Ancient Civilizations
By James Donahue

An interesting article by an R. Randle in the Phenomena website offered an off-beat theory as to the source of the nails, gold necklaces, tools and other things found embedded in rock and coal deep in the Earth.

Randle suggests that Tubal Cain, the name of the first metalworker described in the Book of Genesis, was a secret Masonic reference and that there might be some link to Masonic mischief in the discovery of such items.

In making his case, Randle did a nice job of collecting and cataloging a list of anomalies, many of them known about by this writer. As a service to our readers we will utilize the data in the article and present the collection as Randle perceived it.

Among the oddities is a "bell-shaped vessel" made of zinc and silver" allegedly blown out of a Massachusetts quarry in the mid-19th Century. Randle builds his case from a June 5, 1852 edition of Scientific American, under the headline: "A Relic of a By-Gone Age" The artifact, made of zinc and silver, was broken into two parts. It measured about four and a quarter inches high, and widened to about six inches at the top. The metal was no more than an eighth of an inch thick throughout. There was silver inlay with what Randal described as "exquisite" carving done by a skilled craftsman.

Randle also tells about a report by Sir David Brewster, from the British Association for the Advancement of Science, of a nail found embedded in solid rock. The report stated that about an inch of the nail was protruding and the rest was lying along the stone and projecting into a layer of ground so it was rusted. The nail was partially embedded in the stone and clearly was not driven into it. He believes the nail was part of the material that congealed into granite and became part of the rock, thus it may have been manufactured millions of years earlier. Our question is what protected the exposed metal in the nail from complete oxidation before its discovery?

Then there was a story by Brad Steiger in his book "Mysteries of Time & Space" that reported the discovery of an iron pot encased in a lump of coal by a fireman at a Municipal Electric plant in Thomas, Oklahoma, in 1912. Steiger wrote that he traced the source of the coal and learned that it came from mines at Wilburton, Oklahoma.

Randle quoted from the Morrisonville, Illinois Times, of June 11, 1891, a story about a chain discovered in a lump of coal by Mrs. S. W. Culp. The woman discovered the chain after breaking the coal to toss in her stove. She said she first thought the chain had been dropped accidentally in the coal, but discovered that both ends remained embedded.

Coso Artifact

Among the more well-known mystery artifacts from the ancient past is the so-called "Coso Artifact," thought to be an ancient spark plug found by rock hounds near Olancha, California, in 1961. While cutting through one rock, thought to be a geode, the rock hounds who found it cut through a round metallic object that had a shaft of bright metal encased. They said from the cross section they could study, the object appeared to be a porcelain cylinder. The metal shaft responded to a magnet. This object has been carefully X-rayed and studied, and the conclusion is that it may be an ancient spark plug.

Inca Aircraft

In a museum in Mexico is a small solid gold replica of a modern jet aircraft, complete with wings, tail and cockpit. The museum has marked it among insect shaped jewelry from a period estimated to be thousands of years in the past. Since it is made of gold, its age is impossible to determine. Even its origin is somewhat of a mystery.

We seriously doubt if one man, the Biblical Tubal Cain, manufactured all of this interesting stuff turning up from deep in the earth. But we believe its existence presents a strong argument for ancient advanced civilizations that existed here long before our own, and before we began recording the history of our own deeds.

We have massive evidence staring us right in the face every day that great civilizations, even more advanced than our own, preceded us in the "ancient of days." The great stone works like the pyramids of Egypt and South America, the massive earthworks found throughout North America, and the ever mysterious Stonehenge stand as mute testimony to builders who were here long before us.

Historians, archaeologists and philosophers have only guessed at why these colossal stone works were erected, when it happened, and who and how it all came about.

(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.

Abolishing Police And Abolishing Militaries
By David Swanson

The similarities between the movement to abolish war and the movement to abolish police and prisons jump out at me anew when reading Mariame Kaba's We Do This 'Til We Free Us, which is about police and prison abolition. The book has a foreword by Naomi Murakawa that includes this:

"Police push millions of people into the criminal punishment system, where ant-Black death-dealing rises through each circle of hell. Black people comprise 13 percent of the U.S. population but roughly 30 percent of the arrested, 35 percent of the imprisoned, 42 percent of those on death row, and 56 percent of those serving life sentences. Inside the largest prison system on the planet, the Covid-19 death rate is five times that of the general population. The roughly eight hundred U.S. military bases the world over - like the nation's birth in native dispossession and slavery - reinforce the lessons that Trump's brand of white brothers know all too well: take by force and invent the racial enemy. We live in the age of human sacrifice, says Ruth Wilson Gilmore, and our prison and military machinery normalizes industrialized killing. We must abolish the prison-industrial complex . . . ."
That the military-industrial complex itself went missing from that last sentence reflects the fact that it isn't the topic of the book. That it got mentioned in the preceding sentences is remarkable. Outside of anti-prison and antiracist activism, one is hard-pressed to find any advocate for anything good under the sun who mentions war abolition even in passing.

Prison-abolition has a similar problem. Opponents of sexual violence tend not to oppose the prisons in which a huge percentage of sexual assaults happen, just as opponents of environmental and climate destruction tend not to oppose the militaries that do so much of it (to take two examples of dozens for each of these two abolitionist movements).

Police and war abolition have a lot more in common, however, than the reluctance of well-funded respectable reform movements to support them. The two causes confront similar, dehumanizing, fear-driving myths and misunderstandings. Both have to help people outgrow their belief in the good war or the good prison sentence, and the fantasy of putting police to benevolent use or deploying the military to handle disaster relief. Both have to explain why reforms don't help, and educate on what must replace the evil institutions that they are accused of wanting to simply tear down. Both must work on structural changes and cultural changes, tackling systems as deeply embedded in psyches as in public budgets. Both know the centrality of re-directing resources. Both are potential sources of massive funding for human and environmental needs if they can redirect it.

Both are taking on the worst actor in the U.S. government(s) and thus have the rest of the world to point to for big steps in the right direction - even as many other governments engage in their own awful policing and warring. Both are opposing institutions falsely imagined as affairs of adult males. Both institutions are, in fact, largely imaginary and false in people's common pictures of them which consist of battlefields with ground "defense" forces, and lenient courts with "correctional" officers. Prison abolitionists must shatter concepts of idealized victims (and the debasement of non-perfect victims) while war abolitionists must point out the unwanted knowledge of what preceded the sacred assaults on innocent and pristine Pearl Harbor and the Pentagon/World Trade Center. Police largely create riots, and militaries largely create armed enemies. Prisons fuel recidivism, and U.S. wars are waged against U.S.-made weapons and dictators. Yet reality looks upside down to those who still need to be brought into the police and war abolition movements.

Something else connects these two movements. They're up against, in many cases, the exact same people: the same profiteers, politicians, and pundits, as well as many of the same people "serving" as soldiers, police, and guards (in sequence and simultaneously). We Do This Till We Free Us describes a failed effort in Chicago to halt the creation of a new police academy by then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel, which of course did not completely fail as it did educational work in the process. Advocates for peace had been opponents of Emanuel for many years. Now, there's something of a joining of efforts in opposing his nomination for ambassador to Japan, assisted by all the organizing that was done in Chicago when he was mayor.

And, of course, joining abolition efforts makes them stronger. If those seeking to abolish the MIC help out those seeking to abolish the PIC and vice versa, both gain - and so does the pot of funding they collectively strive to redirect into something useful. The website that builds a case for war abolition could be tweaked to produce a World Beyond Police website, and could be improved by thinking through analogies from the insights of the latter. If either of these abolition movements ever becomes respectable in corporate media outlets and foundations there will be a tendency of course for it to shun the other, but I hope it will be resisted by those who understand the world we need to create, and I hope that in the meantime both movements can resist the temptation to imagine that they can know that their movement will be the one to succeed first. Nobody can be divided and conquered who doesn't choose to be.

(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.

Women in Laos cross a hanging bridge. South-East Asia, together with Latin America, has a high proportion of heat-related deaths due to global warming.

Rising Heat-Related Deaths Linked To Global Warming
By Claudia Caruana

[NEW DELHI] An international team of researchers has quantified how heat-related deaths are attributable to global warming, with Latin America and South-East Asia the worst hit.

Ana Maria Vicedo-Cabrera, lead author and head of the Climate Change and Health Research Group at the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Bern, says across 43 countries an average of 37 per cent of warm-season heat-related deaths could be attributed to anthropogenic climate change.

Increased mortality was evident on every continent, the highest being in Central and South America (up to 76 per cent in Ecuador and Columbia) and South-East Asia (up to 61 per cent).

Using empirical data gathered from 732 locations, researchers estimated the mortality burdens associated with additional heat exposure resulting from human-induced warming from 1991 to 2018.

The two-step study, led by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the University of Bern, Switzerland, was published in Nature Climate Change.

In the first step, time series regression techniques were used to observe temperature and mortality, with data collected through the Multi-Country Multi-City (MCC) Collaborative Research Network - a large weather and health data consortium.

In the second step, researchers used estimated exposure-response (response to an environmental condition within a given time) to compute heat-related mortality for each location over the 27-year period.

"We already have performed research on the impacts of heat, both on current times and future projections. However, in this analysis we decided to go further and quantify the percentage of the historical burden that can be directly attributed to human-induced climate change," Vicedo-Cabrera says.

She adds: "We found larger percentages of contribution of human induced climate change in countries in South/Central America and West/South-East Asia – these countries suffered a larger increase in temperature and they also showed to be more vulnerable."

"Our findings support the urgent need for more ambitious mitigation and adaptation strategies to minimise the public health impacts of climate change," she emphasises.

Antonio Gasparrini, a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and senior author of the MCC Network tells SciDev.Net that the negative environmental and ecological signals of climate change are already well evidenced. "The increase in extreme weather events, the melting of the polar ice caps and sea-level rise, or coral bleaching have been frequently reported and linked to global warming," he says.

In contrast, he adds, "most of the scientific studies assessing effects of climate change on human health focus on future impacts projected in the future. This is one of the few studies - the first with a global scope - that measures increased health risks of climate change in the historical period, and the message is clear: climate change will not just have devastating impacts in the future, but every continent is already experiencing the dire consequences of human activities on our planet."

Aaron Bernstein, interim director of The Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, notes that the poorest, especially those in tropical nations, are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

"We knew that extreme heat results in early death. This showed us - at a global scale - how much climate change has grown risk of death from heat," he says. "Where people die of heat has much to do with how much they can afford to protect themselves from it. The results in Asia, Southern Europe, and the global South make clear that health risks from climate are happening in places that historically have had little to do with causing climate change."

Bernstein says the study suggests that the risk of heat death by climate change has grown by more than one third in almost 30 years. "To make sure that this trend doesn't continue, we must meet the scientific targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and get fossil fuels out of our economies. We also need to do much more to keep people safe from heat," he adds.

Vicedo-Cabrera concludes: "Our findings suggest that more ambitious mitigation strategies and efficient adaptation measures are urgently needed to attenuate future impacts of climate change." The researchers acknowledged limitations in their work such as inability to include large parts of Africa and South Asia, due to a lack of empirical data.

(c) 2021 Claudia Caruana

Bibi Netanyahu's Farewell Address Will Never Be Mistaken For George Washington's
"Gracious" is not the word one would use.
By Charles P. Pierce

On Monday's episode of Turfed-Out Pols Gone Wild, we take a look at longtime political hooligan Bibi Netanyahu, whose farewell address will never be mistaken for that of George Washington.

If we have to be in opposition, we will do this standing tall - until we bring down this dangerous government and return to lead the state. ... The right will not forget Bennett's deception. You call yourself guardians of the democracy, but you are so fearful of democracy that you are willing to legislate fascist laws so I can't run...I say today: Do not let your spirits fall. I will lead you in a daily battle against this bad and dangerous left-wing government, and bring it down. And with the help of God, this will happen faster than you think. Woof. Somebody needs a little quiet time, I think. Of course, it's hard to be gracious if you're so universally loathed that you've been replaced by a coalition government that includes both a nationalist who's arguably further right than you are, and a devoted Arab leader. It's also hard to be gracious if you're Bibi Netanyahu.
The new American administration asked me to keep our disagreements on the nuclear thing, and I'll tell you why. Because the lessons of history are in front of my eyes. In 1944, at the height of the Holocaust, US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt refused to bomb the railway leading to the extermination camps, and refused to bomb the gas chambers, which could have saved millions of our people. We hoped for others to save us, and they didn't come. In the face of the threat of extermination, we were helpless...An Israeli prime minister must be able to say no to the president of the United States on matters that endanger our existence, and to back this up with massive work in Congress, in the Senate, and in public opinion, into the greatest democracy, which is the United States. That is what I did in 2015, when I spoke in the US Congress despite the fierce opposition of the president of the United States. Who will do this now?
This, of course, is after he complimented himself:
We developed special relations with Russia, not just with Russia as a state, we also nurtured a direct close line with the president of Russia.
Well, isn't that special? Despots of a feather, I guess.

Meanwhile, on a lighter note, at the G7, France and Great Britain were busy working out ancient grudges, which is the national sport of both countries, I believe. And France pretty clearly won this round. First of all, nobody likes to watch the sausage being made. From RFI:

On the sidelines the G7 Saturday, Macron and Johnson discussed new trading rules that will, from July, prevent the shipment of chilled meat from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
And then:
When Johnson asked Macron how he would feel if the French courts stopped Toulouse sausages from being sent to Paris, Macron reportedly responded by saying it was not a fair comparison because Paris and Toulouse were part of the same country.
Johnson was beside himself, which is one too many by my way of thinking. Bien joue, M. Macron.

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

The Quotable Quote-

"In the last 21 elections, in 19 case, the opposition party has won seats. We can`t lose seats. If you want to gain control of the House and Senate, do something bold that helps working families."
~~~ Bernie Sanders

Israel's New Secular Government: Lieberman Crows that he Sidelined Fundamentalist
Ultra-Orthodox and, read his lips: No new taxes"
By Juan Cole

Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) - A lot of attention is focused on Naftali Bennett, the new prime minister of Israel. But it should be remembered that he had been a bit player, and his 7 coalition allies are often headed by much more prominent and powerful figures who are in the coalition precisely in order to carry out their own agendas. One of these is Avigdor Lieberman, who heads the right wing Yisrael Beitenu (Israel Our Home) party. Lieberman has been an advocate of ethnically cleansing Israelis of Palestinian heritage, so it is ironic that he sits in a government with a Palestinian-Israeli partner. On Monday Lieberman, having become Finance Minister, spoke publicly about what exactly he thought he had achieved by joining Bennett's government.

Making Israel safe for secularism was high on the list. The Neoliberal, conservative goal of keeping taxes from rising was another. So, right wing secularism.

Yisrael Beitenu has for its constituency many of the million or so immigrants to Israel from Russia and Eastern Europe who came in during the 1990s and early zeroes. Lieberman himself was born in the Russia in the Soviet Union, though his birthplace is now in Moldova; he emigrated to Israel in 1978. He grew up speaking Yiddish-his city in then Russia was one fourth Jewish. One of the planks of Yisrael Beitenu's platform is militant secularism. Having grown up under Communism, the Russian- and Eastern European-Israelis have a visceral dislike of the Ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) form of Judaism fundamentalism, with its strict adherence to numerous minute rules, including not working or so much as turning on the light on Saturdays (the Sabbath).

According to Muhammad Watad at the Israeli Arab 48 newspaper, Lieberman said that by joining the 8-party Change coalition and participating in the formation of the new government, he had achieved three long-time goals of his party:

1. Ensuring that Netanyahu was out of the prime ministership

2. The formation of a government without the Haredim Jewish fundamentalists.

3. Making himself the Minister of Finance and ensuring that there would be no new taxes. He is quoted as having said that "the Finance Ministry figures should not be treated as officials" but only a "team and staff." He seems as hostile to his own ministry as Trump was to the Internal Revenue Service, which has been so starved of funds it can't afford to go after billionaire tax cheats who can tie the IRS up in court.

I suppose there is an analogy between Lieberman's goals and those of Mitt Romney in the U.S. Imagine if Romney could sideline Donald Trump, sideline the Evangelicals in the GOP, and become president in 2024; he'd also want to ensure no new taxes. In that (wholly implausible) scenario he would certainly sound as self-satisfied and full of himself as Lieberman does now. Romney is not a secularist the way Lieberman is, but his Mormonism does mean he isn't an easy fit with a lot of Evangelicals.

Extremist Ayelet Shaked of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's far right wing Yamina Party, sort of the Marjorie Taylor Greene of Israel, said that she fought for the post of Interior Minister, which she got, because she wanted to devolve power to local municipalities and governments. The Interior Ministry is like the US Homeland Security or ICE, and she pledged to expel asylum seekers (many of them from Africa, who came because the Israeli government expressed sympathy for their plight at home). Shaked once argued that the mothers of any Palestinians who committed violence should also be killed.

Haredim are only 10 percent of the Israeli population but have been given many special perquisites. They are not evenly distributed-the Ultra-Orthodox are powerful in Jerusalem and environs but not in Tel Aviv. Some Haredim hail from Central Europe and are Ashkenazim, whereas others hail from the Middle East and are Sephardim or Mizrahim. The Ultra-Orthodox Shas Party has 7 seats in parliament, and the United Torah Judaism Party also has 7 seats. Radical extremist Bezalel Smotrich's Religious Zionist Party, which has support both from Haredim and Conservative Jews, has 6 seats. The three were swing votes in alliance with the secular-leaning ultra-nationalist Likud Party and garnered substantial benefits from previous governments, including exemptions from the draft and subsidies for seminary study that got members out of having to work for a living. None of these Haredim parties is in the new government. In contrast, secular Israeli Judaism is all about having a luscious ham sandwich when you want one.

Ironically, the Religious Zionist Party of Smotrich, many of whom admire mass murderer of Palestinians Baruch Goldstein and urge the violent expulsion of all Palestinians, inadvertently played a key role in unseating Netanyahu. Netanyahu had been open to allying with Palestinian-Israeli Mansour Abbas of the Muslim fundamentalist United Arab List, which has four seats in the Knesset and which would have allowed him to remain prime minister. The Religious Zionist Party put their feet down and said they absolutely would not serve in a government with Palestinian representation. Smotrich and his colleagues shot themselves in the feet and ensured that the Ultra-Orthodox ended up outside government entirely.

Bonus Video:

CGTN Global Watch: NEW ISRAEL GOVERNMENT: Benjamin Netanyahu loses power, Naftali Bennett sworn in as Prime Minister"

(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.

Burrito Economics
By Robert Reich

House Republicans are blaming Democrats for the rise in Chipotle burrito prices.

You heard me right. The National Republican Congressional Committee issued a statement last week claiming that Chipotle's recent decision to raise prices on their burritos and other menu products by about 4 percent was caused by Democrats.

"Democrats' socialist stimulus bill caused a labor shortage and now burrito lovers everywhere are footing the bill," according to NRCC spokesperson Mike Berg.

Republicans have finally found an issue to run on in the 2022 midterm elections. Apparently, Dr. Seuss and Mr. Potato Head weren't getting enough traction.

The Republican's tortured logic is that the unemployment benefits in the American Survival Act have caused workers to stay home rather than seek employment, resulting in labor shortages that have forced employers like Chipotle to increase wages, which has required them to raise their prices.

Hence, Chipotle's more expensive burrito.

This isn't just loony economics. It's dangerously loony economics because it might be believed, leading to all sorts to stupid public policies.

Start with the notion that $300 per week in federal unemployment benefits is keeping Americans from working.

Since fewer than 30 percent of jobless workers qualify for state unemployment benefits, the claim is that legions of workers have chosen to become couch potatoes and collect $15,000 a year rather than get a job.

I challenge one Republican lawmaker to live on $15,000 a year.

In fact, evidence suggests that workers are holding back from reentering the job market because they don't have childcare or are still concerned about their health during the pandemic.

Besides, if employers want additional workers, they can do what they necessarily do for anything they want more of but can't obtain at its current price - pay more.

It's called capitalism. Republicans should bone up on it.

When Chipotle wanted to attract more workers, it raised its average wage to $15 an hour. That comes to around $30,000 a year per worker - still too little to live on but double the federal unemployment benefit.

Oh, and there's no reason to suppose this wage hike forced Chipotle to raise the prices of its borritos. The company had other options.

Chipotle's executives are among the best paid in America. Its CEO, Brian Niccol, raked in $38 million last year- which happens to be 2,898 times more than the typical Chipotle employee earned. All of Chipotle's top executives got whopping pay increases.

So it would have been possible for Chipotle to avoid raising its burrito prices by - dare I say? - paying its executives less. But Chipotle decided otherwise.

By the way, I keep hearing Republican lawmakers say the GOP is the "party of the working class." If that's so, the Republican Party ought to celebrate when hourly workers get a raise instead of howling about it.

Everyone ought to celebrate when those at the bottom get higher wages.

The typical American worker hasn't had a real raise in four decades. Income inequality is out of control. Wealth inequality is into the stratosphere (where Jeff Bezos is heading, apparently).

If wages at the bottom rise because employers need to pay more to get the workers they need, that's not a problem. It's a victory.

Instead of complaining about a so-called "labor shortage," Republicans ought to be complaining about the shortage of jobs paying a living wage.

But don't hold your breath, or your guacamole.

(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

Will 'Economic Freedom' Be The Billionaire's New Phrase To Replace 'Capitalism'?
Frank Luntz is advising his rich patrons to continue to kneecap the middle class with a slick new sloganeering strategy. Have Americans finally figured out the the "long con" of the Reagan Revolution?
By Thom Hartmann

Frank Luntz, who made millions messaging for the wealthy and powerful, has an idea.

His most recent survey found that across American society there is widespread skepticism about capitalism and outrage at the tendency of deregulated capitalism to produce mind-boggling wealth and terrible poverty.

The simple fact is that, beyond a professional class of doctors, lawyers and the type, deregulated capitalism has never produced a middle class in its 7000-year history. It has to be heavily regulated in order to produce a middle class, as John Maynard Keynes taught us back in the 1930s, 40s and 50s.

The American middle class of the 1940s-1980s era, and the European middle-class that has emerged since the end of World War II, were both created by high taxes on the wealthy, free or nearly-free higher education and widespread union membership among working people.

Billionaires and monopolistic corporations, however, as we just saw in the case of billionaire Bezos' Amazon fighting a union effort in Alabama, are quite unwilling to help rebuild the American middle class.

Luntz bemoaned his finding that "just 31% of Americans self-identify themselves as capitalists," that most Americans believe socialism is "better than capitalism in helping the poor and struggling working class," and that "capitalism ranks among the lowest responses when asked what America stands for."

Luntz's solution? Quit calling it "capitalism" and start calling it "economic freedom."

And don't underestimate his ability to pull it off: this is the guy who, with heavy funding from the billionaire Walton heirs, succeeded in convincing a large cross-section of Americans that the "estate tax" is actually a "death tax."

Over the past 40 years America has become one of the most unequal societies on Earth, and, since the introduction of Reaganism and Trickle Down Economics in 1981, is now the most unequal society among all developed nations.

This is the simple consequence of the natural tendency of unregulated capitalism to concentrate capital, and Republicans have worked hard to deregulate American capitalism ever since 1981. If you've ever played Monopoly, you know exactly how it works.

In Luntz's advice to his wealthy benefactors, however, he rejects the idea of regulating American capitalism by raising taxes on the rich, breaking up corporate monopolies, or providing people with free healthcare and education.

He notes that his survey found a lot of support across America for the progressive suggestion that we "raise the top marginal tax rate for the top 1% to 70%, as well as [we put into place] the 2% wealth tax among people who have $10 million or more proposed by Elizabeth Warren."

The morbidly rich, however, have no interest in paying Luntz to propose language that could gather broad support for simple fixes to American capitalism, as have successfully worked across Northern Europe and parts of Asia/Australia/New Zealand for generations.

In those countries there is still great wealth and even quite a few billionaires, but nobody ever goes bankrupt or becomes homeless because a member of their family got sick, and every child with the potential to become a scientist or physician can achieve their goal through free higher education.

Because of unionization rates that run from 60 to 90% in most of those countries (it was about a third of American workers when Reagan took office, and today is 6% of the private American workforce) average working people across much of the rest of the developed world earn enough money for a comfortable lifestyle, homeownership and to travel the world during their annual month of vacation time.

Because they effectively regulate monopolies, it's easier to start a small business and when you walk through the streets of Northern European or Asian/Australian/New Zealand cities you find a significant percentage, if not a majority, of the stores are family-owned and often named after the local town or family.

In America, by contrast, you could be dropped out of an airplane from a few miles up and land in any random city anywhere in the country and still have no idea where you are because everything from banks, restaurants and hotels to clothing stores, hardware stores and theaters are owned by massive national corporate chains.

Will Frank Luntz succeed in helping his billionaire patrons again kneecap the American middle-class with another slick sloganeering strategy? Or, after 40 years, have Americans finally figured out the long con of the Reagan Revolution?

Luntz himself seems uncertain. As he summarized his findings, he warned, "You are going to need a serious, significant education campaign ... now."

(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
~~~ Martin Kozlowski ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

Joe Biden's dog Major looking at a tennis ball in the Oval Office

Trump Explodes After Biden Asks Him To Dog-Sit During G-7
By Andy Borowitz

LONDON (The Borowitz Report)-Donald Trump reportedly "exploded" after President Biden asked him to dog-sit his German shepherd, Major Biden, during the G-7 summit, in London.

"I called him up and said, 'Do me this favor, man,'" Biden said. "He literally flipped his lid."

Dogs Are People, Too

Biden said that he had "no idea" why Trump had reacted so negatively to the idea of dog-sitting Major, whose obedience training "has been going really well."

"I said, 'Look, Jack, you're not being reinstated at the White House, so taking care of the White House dog is as close as you're gonna get,'" the President said. "Oh, well. It was worth a shot."

(c) 2021 Andy Borowitz

The Animal Rescue Site

Issues & Alibis Vol 21 # 24 (c) 06/18/2021

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