Please visit our sponsor!

In This Edition

Norman Solomon says, "If Dennis Kucinich Becomes The Mayor Of Cleveland, It'll Be A Shock To The System. Again!"

Ralph Nader concludes, "It's The Iron Collar Of The Corporate State Until The People Collar The Congress."

Margaret Kimberley considers, "Biden, Putin And The Press."

Jim Hightower asks, "Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, And You. Which One Pays Taxes?"

William Rivers Pitt finds, "California Rent Forgiveness Shows It's Possible To Shift Our National Priorities."

John Nichols reminds us, "Socialists Were Once Serious Contenders For Mayor Of New York, And They Will Be Again."

James Donahue is, "Dealing With The Odd Illusion Of Time."

David Swanson wants you to, "Remember To Forget The Alamo."

David Suzuki returns with, "For Climate's Sake, Save The Peat!"

Charles P. Pierce explores, "Sometimes Pipeline Leaks Are Small. Sometimes You Can See Them From Space."

Juan Cole reports, "Far Right Israeli PM Bennett Slams Iran Nuclear Talks For Tehran's Poor Rights Record."

Robert Reich says, " America's Greatest Danger Isn't China. It's Much Closer To Home."

Thom Hartmann wonders, "How Far Will The GOP Go To Steal The 2022 Election?"

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports, "Biden Presses Cybernetic Biden Replica On Growing Threat Of Automation," but first" Uncle Ernie sez, "Every Year The Earth Is Trapping More And More Heat."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Mike Luckovich, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Direcleit, Alex Wong, Caroline Brehman, Valerie Macon, Tayfun Coskun, Sergei Suoinsky, Anadolu Agency, CQ-Roll Call, The Onion, 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-

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

Visit me on Face Book

Every Year The Earth Is Trapping More And More Heat
Global warming strikes again!
By Ernest Stewart

"I hope the heating doesn't keep going at this clip. It's not good news." ~~~ Dr. Norman Loeb ~ a NASA scientist

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 NASA says, that the Earth is now trapping an "unprecedented" amount of heat. New research shows that the amount of heat the planet traps has roughly doubled since 2005, contributing to more rapidly warming oceans, air and land, according to new research from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

"The magnitude of the increase is unprecedented," said Norman Loeb, a NASA scientist and lead author of the study, which was published this week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. "The Earth is warming faster than expected."

Using satellite data, researchers measured what is known as Earth's energy imbalance - the difference between how much energy the planet absorbs from the sun, and how much it's able to shed, or radiate back out into space.

"When there is a positive imbalance - Earth absorbing more heat than it is losing - it is a first step toward global warming," said Stuart Evans, a climate scientist at the University at Buffalo. "It's a sign the Earth is gaining energy."

That imbalance roughly doubled between 2005 and 2019, the study found. "It is a massive amount of energy,"said Gregory Johnson, an oceanographer for NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory and co-author of the study. Johnson said the energy increase is equivalent to four detonations per second of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, or every person on Earth using 20 electric tea kettles at once. "It's such a hard number to get your mind around."

The Earth takes in about 240 watts per square meter of energy from the sun. At the beginning of the study period, in 2005, it was radiating back out about 239.5 of those watts - creating a positive imbalance of about half a watt. By the end, in 2019, that gap had nearly doubled to about 1 full watt per square meter.

Oceans absorb most of that heat, about 90 percent. When researchers compared satellite data to temperature readings from a system of ocean sensors, they found a similar pattern. The agreement between the data sets surpassed expectations, Loeb said, calling it the "nail in the coffin for the imbalance results."

"The fact that they used two different observational approaches and came up with the same trends is pretty remarkable," said Elizabeth Maroon, a climatologist at the University of Wisconsin at Madison unaffiliated with the study. "It lends a lot of confidence to the findings."

The biggest outstanding question is what is driving the acceleration.

The study points to decreases in cloud cover and sea ice, which reflect solar energy back into space, and an increase in greenhouse gases emitted by humans, such as methane and carbon dioxide, as well as water vapor, which trap more heat in the Earth, as factors in the imbalance. But it is "difficult to discern human-induced changes from cyclical variations in the climate," the researches said.

"They are all kind of blended together," said Loeb, who added that further research is needed to determine the factors.

The period studied overlapped with fluctuations in the climate that may have played a significant role in the acceleration, including a strong El Nino event from 2014 to 2016, which led to unusually warm waters. The Pacific Decadal Oscillation is a longer-term, El Nino-like fluctuation, and around 2014 that also switched from a "cool" phase to a "warm" phase.


01-15-1928 ~ 06-20-2021
Thanks for the film!

07-10-1941 ~ 06-23-2021
Thanks for the film!


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


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.

While the Dennis Kucinich's new campaign to return as mayor of Cleveland revs up,
his new book-titled "The Division of Light and Power"-is drawing a lot of praise.

If Dennis Kucinich Becomes The Mayor Of Cleveland, It'll Be A Shock To The System. Again!
By Norman Solomon

Cleveland has been spiraling downward. It's one of the poorest cities in the country, beset by worsening violent crime, poverty and decaying infrastructure. Now, 42 years after the end of his first term as mayor, Dennis Kucinich is ready for his second.

Kucinich won a race for mayor of Cleveland at age 31 and promptly infuriated the power structure, which could not accept his insistence that the city's electric utility should remain under public control. Mayor Kucinich challenged and mocked the greed and anti-democratic zeal of the banks that drove the city into bankruptcy when he refused to accede to the corrupt demands that the Municipal Light Plant be sold off. After defeating a recall campaign in 1978, he lost a bid for re-election the next year -- but left an enduring legacy.

Today, the local Center for Public History describes the events this way: "In a political battle with the City Council, Kucinich agreed to ask the voters to decide: would Cleveland sell the Municipal Light Plant, or nearly triple the income tax rate of residents? The election was an overwhelming landslide in the favor of Kucinich and the Municipal Light Plant. Though this only worsened Cleveland's financial situation and prevented Kucinich's re-election, the decision helped Cleveland maintain its own municipal light system even to this day."

As years went by, it became clear even to many of his foes, including corporate media, that Dennis Kucinich was correct -- that he'd been willing to sacrifice his political fortunes for the good of city residents rather than private profits. The reality sunk in that his principled tenacity saved Clevelanders millions of dollars. In 1996, Kucinich won a congressional seat, and he kept being re-elected until 2012, when power brokers in the Ohio legislature gerrymandered him out of Congress.

Now, while he's well known around the nation, Kucinich is focused laser-like on his city. "My first responsibility is to the people of Cleveland," he told me, hours before filing his official papers with the board of elections on Wednesday afternoon. Talking about a widespread sense of "desperation" among many in the city, he reeled off grim numbers about "an extraordinary rise in crime." Many neighborhoods, he said, "are teetering on the brink of disaster."

To hear Kucinich tell it, crime and poverty are twin evils, and both must be stopped. "There's no question that crime is the number one concern in Cleveland," he said. And, "We can't talk about having a truly peaceful community when so many people are suffering."

Kucinich went on to discuss his plans for a "civic peace department," an echo of his tireless advocacy as a Congress member for a Department of Peace in the federal government. Noting that Cleveland's mayor is in charge of public schools, he spoke of the need for a "peace curriculum."

While the Kucinich for Mayor campaign revs up, his new book -- titled "The Division of Light and Power" -- is drawing a lot of praise. It's a stunning page-turner and barnburner that combines the genres of political memoir and real-life narrative thriller -- a luminous book that goes to shadowy places with the resolve of Diogenes holding a lantern high. While offering the inside story of historic events, the book also implicitly takes us to the real time of the present.

The book's narrative travels through a potentially uplifting yet often debilitating political landscape. The achievements of the book mirror its subject and its author -- truth-telling and courage despite political taboos and illegitimate power -- showing how people from many walks of life can work together to overcome the forces of petty opportunism and corporate greed.

In 2021, Kucinich has returned to municipal politics in an era of mayoral mediocrity across the country. Try to think of the names of big-city mayors who've shown determination and ability to implement a truly progressive agenda rather than bend to corporate domination. There aren't many.

While progressive rhetoric and populist posturing are routine, so is acquiescence to the brutal economic and political forces symbolized by tall steel-and-glass office buildings. Rare bright spots can be found in a few mid-sized cities, such as Jackson, Mississippi (Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba) or Durham, North Carolina (Mayor Steve Schewel).

Such bright spots could widen and grow brighter. In St. Louis a promising new mayor, Tishaura Jones, took office two months ago. In Pittsburgh another progressive-leaning politician, Ed Gainey, won the Democratic primary and is almost certain to be elected mayor in November. Now, in Buffalo, early voting has begun in a race where a strongly progressive mayoral candidate, India Walton, is challenging the incumbent.

If Kucinich can emerge from the September primary and November runoff as Cleveland's next mayor, City Hall could become a beacon for progressive change in urban America.

I asked what he has concluded from his several decades of work as a city, state and federal elected official. "Government has become an exclusive, closed-loop system," he replied, "a secret society, which does not grant entry unless, as in my first successful election, you remove the doors. Access to government has become, then, ever more exclusive. Only an enlightened, active citizenry can remove the barriers."

He added: "Big money and corporate leverage have driven Cleveland politics for the past four decades. City Hall is a Potemkin village. Break through the facade and you see corporate interests which control local government, with no discernible benefit to people who live in the city." You can bet that the Kucinich for Mayor campaign has already set off alarm bells among economic elites in Cleveland and far beyond. Mayor Kucinich could set an example for what a city government can do to serve everyone instead of just the interests of the wealthy.

Announcing his campaign for mayor earlier this week, Dennis Kucinich spoke with forceful yet nuanced eloquence about the city's grave ills and its possibilities to create a nurturing future for its residents. His speech foreshadowed another epic battle between progressive populism and the forces of cruel corporate greed.

(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."

Democratic lawmakers walk down the east front steps of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on October 22, 2020.

It's The Iron Collar Of The Corporate State Until The People Collar The Congress
By Ralph Nader

Back in the mid-nineteen-fifties, the prolific, progressive political economist, Harvard's John Kenneth Galbraith, developed his "theory of countervailing powers." He asserted as big business got bigger, its overreach would be constrained by strong labor unions, regulators, and antitrust enforcement. Inside the realm of large companies, big retail chains could check the power of large manufacturers.

Around the same time, the savvy corporate lawyer/author, Adolf Berle developed his concept of "pension fund capitalism."<> That is, fast-expanding worker pension funds would own large amounts of the shares of large corporations as investments and thereby have commensurate influence over them and over Congress.

As the years passed, these two scholars came to realize that the stamina, resilience, and single-minded cohesiveness for maximizing sales, profits, and executive pay by corporate bosses overwhelmed the countervailing forces, including corporate shareholder-owners, not so singularly motivated.

The remarkable, many-faceted display of resurgent controlling power is able to game, co-opt, corrupt, weaken, replace, or escape forces designed to make CEOs behave and make corporations accountable to shareholders and other stakeholders.

1. The top choice for taming excessive corporate power is governments at the national, state, and local level because the government is the only real source of law and power with the potential to restrain corporate crime, fraud, and various abuses. The corporate power formula is: finance lawmakers' campaigns, shape the selection of executive branch nominees, surround them with sweet-talking lobbyists holding carrots in front and sticks behind their back to get top government appointments in the executive and judicial branches to be from the corporate ranks or ideologies, and dangle lucrative post-government service positions in industry and commerce for compliant former government officials.

When global capitalism becomes prominent, corporations get trade agreements through Congress that are really not "free trade," but corporate-managed trade to the detriment of democracy and domestic labor, consumer, and environmental interests. (See, Global Trade Watch:

As with all their campaigns, big business vastly outnumbers their opponents with enormous monies and legions of full-time staff.

2. Slashing labor union power from its peak in the nineteen sixties was fairly easy. Neutralize the National Labor Relations Board, block labor empowerment legislation, pass right-to-work (right to shirk) laws in 21 states for a pull-down effect on the remaining states; use automation and leaving the country as cudgels; publicize union corruption, co-opt leaders of unions when possible, control many worker pension plans, and make sure the suffocating Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 remains untouched and undiscussed. Disable OSHA, the job safety agency, and keep the Secretary of Labor a second-class status.

3. Civic and worker access to the courts? No problem. Get corporatist judges installed right up to the U.S. Supreme Court. Unleash the corporate law firms to tie up the people in one-sided fine print contracts that block consumer remedies and take away consumer rights while weakening tort law through state legislative regulation of judges and juries.

4. Entrench asymmetric entitlements, dominated by corporate welfare, bailouts, handouts, and giveaways rarely overseen by Congress and immune from annual renewals. The rip-off by corporate contractors of the American taxpayer goes far beyond the military-industrial complex that President Dwight Eisenhower warned about in his farewell address. Taxpayers are shut out, and not allowed to have 'legal standing to sue' for waste, corruption, or unlawful government contracts.

5. Big business domination of small business has been reduced to a normal practice of doing business, whether by anti-competitive behavior (as on Amazon's platforms), cruel franchise servitude by giant chains, or by running small inventors and entrepreneurs into the ground with costly litigation or the threat of such harassment.

6. Immunities and Escapes. When multinational corporations choose not to pay taxes, they go to foreign tax havens (as described so well in Chuck Collin's new book The Wealth Hoarders ( or push for carve-out escapes in the tax code with their Democratic and Republican allies in Congress.

Corporations also profit from their own harms, as has been the case with pushing opioids, overdiagnosing and overprescribing medicines (with negative side-effects), and fostering a marketplace of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes with their well-documented, insidious promotions aimed at children of junk fat, sugar, and salt in food and drink.

As for the countervailing "independent" professions of law, accounting, science, medicine, and engineering, forget it. They long ago lost their independence to the heavy corporatization of their daily practice, including the professional graduate schools.

Taken together, we are sequestered in a mature no-fault and immune corporate state the likes of which was called "fascism" by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in his 1938 message to Congress successfully urging the establishment of a commission to investigate concentrated corporate power. The commission did admirably, but then nothing happened as World War II took over the nation's politics.

Here and there in the past eighty years, there have been victories for the people. Constraining the power of the tobacco, auto, and asbestos industries, for example. These triumphs provide us with the key to subordinating corporatism to the supremacy of the people's sovereignty (remember "we the people" is in our Constitution's preamble, not "we the corporations" which are never mentioned once). These successes (civil, consumer, environmental, and worker rights) improved our society because laws got through Congress. If you want to make big companies servants of the people, it usually has to go through a super-majority of only 535 people who are members of Congress and want your votes, which companies do not have - at least not yet.

It's your Congress, People! Reclaim it from the corporatists. It's in your hands. Lives, healthcare, livelihoods, your descendants and the planet will be so much better off if you spend a fraction of the time you spend on your hobbies holding your two Senators and Representatives accountable to the people first.

It's Easier than You Think (See, Breaking Through Power:

(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).

Biden, Putin And The Press
By Margaret Kimberley

The corporate media claim that President Biden went easy on Vladimir Putin outside the G7 meeting, but that's only because Biden preferred to sic the imperial press hounds on the Russian president.

Corporate media in the United States work hand in hand with the state and promote its neoliberal and imperialist agenda. There is great continuity from administration to administration and nowhere is that more obvious than in the realm of foreign policy. The duopoly war party consensus doesn't just dominate in the White House and Congress, but also in television news and newspapers. The recent summit meeting between Joe Biden and Russian president Vladimir Putin demonstrated that the media see themselves as governmental servants. They have little interest in being adversarial or keeping the public informed of anything meaningful.

Biden's team carefully chose who would be allowed to question him at his press conference and no Russian media were invited. In contrast, American reporters were among those at Putin's press conference and they gave him no consideration. Journalists are supposed to ask tough questions, but ideally those questions should further our understanding of events. If a head of state is put on the spot, it ought to be because important issues are being addressed.

That is not the treatment Putin received. To be clear, he isn't owed kid glove treatment, but Americans who take the time to watch should learn something other than the "Putin is evil" trope repeated endlessly. But that is what they got from one of the few Black reporters who had a chance to question a head of state after an historic meeting.

Rachel Scott of ABC asked, "The list of your political opponents who are dead, imprisoned, or jailed is long. Alexei Navalny, whose organization calls for free and fair elections, and an end to corruption, but Russia has outlawed that organization calling it extremist, and you have now prevented anyone who supports him to run for office. So my question is, Mr. President, what are you so afraid of?"

Putin politely explained that the United States has declared Russia an enemy and openly supports people who want to bring about regime change. Americans may be stuck in propaganda mode from the Soviet era, and see Russia as a land of revolution, but most Russians are horrified by protests, regardless of their opinions of Putin. Neither the Russian public nor their president are supportive of anyone seen as violating the order which they crave. Navalny may be a big name in the United States, but he is an irrelevance in his homeland.

All of the fraudulence of Russiagate has been accepted as fact by the media and they pursued the same line of questioning with Biden, positing that Russia interfered in U.S. elections and is responsible for every cyber attack taking place in this country.

Biden didn't disappoint in going along with what has been disproven, and in so doing told one of the biggest lies ever uttered by an American president in public:

"His credibility worldwide shrinks. Let's get this straight. How would it be if the United States were viewed by the rest of the world as interfering with the elections directly of other countries and everybody knew it? What would it be like if we engaged in activities that he's engaged in? It diminishes the standing of a country that is desperately trying to make sure it maintains its standing as a major world power. And so it's not just what I do, it's what the actions that other countries take, in this case Russia, that are contrary to international norms. It is the price that they pay. They are not, they are not able to dictate what happens in the world. There are other nations of significant consequence, i.e., the United States of America."
Biden's statement about Russia was an obvious case of projection. Of course the United States interferes with elections all over the world. There are at least 80 instances of the U.S. subverting other governments since World War II. One of the most infamous is the 1996 Russian election which put Putin's mentor, Boris Yeltsin, in power. It is the U.S. that struggles to dictate to the rest of the world and that fears losing its status as a hegemon.

But Biden received no follow up questions after telling his whopper of a lie. The only push back was once again in regard to claims of Russian wrongdoing and whether he was up to the task of punishing Putin.

Despite all claims of freedom and democracy, the corporate media in this country only repeat what they are told. They are partners with the people and institutions they should be investigating. Of course, that is why Black Agenda Report and sites like it play such a vital role. If not for news from a left perspective, the truth would rarely see the light of day.

(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.

Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, And You. Which One Pays Taxes?
By Jim Hightower

Here's a thought-provoking bumper sticker: "The system is fixed. We must break it."

This thought came into vivid focus recently when a news report by ProPublica revealed that a nest of preening multibillionaires - led by the likes of Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Michael Bloomberg - have been playing America's rigged tax system to dodge paying their share of upkeep for the society that so-lavishly enriches them. In a leak of actual IRS data, the 25 richest Americans were exposed for using tricks and loopholes to pay barely 3 percent of their enormous riches to our public treasury - while ordinary working people shell out about 24% of their meager income.

Check out the manipulations by Amazon jefe Jeff Bezos, the world's richest man. Even as his riches skyrocketed by $120 billion from 2006 to 2018, he paid just one percent in taxes on that huge gain. One year, in which his wealth swelled by $18 billion, he even took a $4,000 tax credit from us for the care of his children.

The chief fix for these super-dodgers is that they can take out loans on the escalating value of their stock, mansions, yachts, etc. - without paying taxes on the cash they get. Then they spend the cash value of those assets without having to sell them. Financial voodoo for the privileged few!

In response to the revelations in ProPublica's jaw-dropping report, congressional Republicans, Biden Administration officials, and the IRS are all promising a through investigation and crack-down. Not on the sleazy billionaires, of course, but on ProPublica! Yes, some top public officials exclaim that they are outraged, not by the tax rigging, but by the fact that you and I have been told about it in specific, undeniable detail.

It's not cynical to call the system corrupt when the corruption is put right under our noses.

(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

Renters and housing advocates attend a protest to cancel rent and avoid evictions in front of a court house on August 21, 2020, in Los Angeles, California.

California Rent Forgiveness Shows It's Possible To Shift Our National Priorities
By William Rivers Pitt

Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, millions of people have found themselves out of work, clinging to credit cards or a savings account, making use of the local food bank, and worrying about making the rent each month as the cash dried up.

The relief packages passed by Congress were a lifeline for many, from the checks to the extended unemployment benefits and, perhaps most importantly, the eviction protections for those who simply couldn't make rent because there was no work. The peril was ever-present, even with that help; if that firewall fell and landlords were allowed to evict for unpaid rent, the avalanche of immediate homelessness could have quite possibly been a country-killing event. Untold thousands put out on the street in the middle of a lethal pandemic? Unspeakable.

Every time the nation has come to the expiration deadline for the last set of eviction protections, landlord coalitions pushed to have them end and renter's groups pleaded to have them extended. To this point, they have been extended each time, but protecting people from the collapse of the economy has become another conservative plaything; a number of Republican governors have moved to slash unemployment benefits under the long-running racist, classist lie that relief money makes people not want to work. How soon until they try to apply that argument to rent?

On Monday, however, the state of California, responding to sustained pressure from organizers and activists, showed the country a whole new way to go:

Gov. Gavin Newsom says California will pay off all the past-due rent that accumulated in the nation's most populated state because of the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, a promise to make landlords whole while giving renters a clean slate.... California has $5.2 billion to pay off people's rent, money from multiple aid packages approved by Congress. That appears to be more than enough to cover all of the unpaid rent in the state, according to Jason Elliott, senior counselor to Newsom on housing and homelessness.

While employment among middle- and high-wage jobs has exceeded pre-pandemic levels, employment rates for people earning less than $27,000 a year are down more than 38% since January 2020, according to Opportunity Insights, an economic tracker based at Harvard University. "The stock market may be fine, we may be technically reopened, but people in low-wage jobs - which are disproportionately people of color - are not back yet," said Madeline Howard, senior attorney for the Western Center on Law and Poverty.

How deeply embedded into the national psyche is the capitalist ethos? If an announcement like this came under the headline, "Spaceship From Planet XQ41 Appears Above Sacramento, Pays All Rent, Departs Through Hole in Sky," my level of surprise would have been pretty much the same. How long was I asleep last night? What country is this?

Bless my heart, it's the United States of America, where government - local, state and federal - can actually help people if we choose to make doing so a priority. The federal government did so with the relief bills, states like California took their own necessary steps like this, and local governments along with activists labored mightily to keep as many people afloat as possible. Cries of "socialism" were muted for much of the pandemic, because even a Republican knows a boat with no bottom is going to sink no matter what Ronald Reagan or Grover Norquist has to say about it.

To be sure, California's historically robust economy is one of the main reasons why this action was possible. "The most trusted measure of economic strength says California is the world-beater among democracies," reports Bloomberg News. "The state's gross domestic product increased 21 percent during the past five years, dwarfing No. 2 New York (14 percent) and No. 3 Texas (12 percent), according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The gains added $530 billion to the Golden State, 30 percent more than the increase for New York and Texas combined and equivalent to the entire economy of Sweden. Among the five largest economies, California outperforms the U.S., Japan and Germany with a growth rate exceeded only by China."

Again, we return to the idea of priorities. President Bill Clinton amassed a huge budget surplus at the end of his second term, but it was all but gone by April 2001 because the Bush administration gave it away to its rich friends in the form of tax breaks. The rest of us - many of us, anyway - got $300 and a suddenly fragile national economy that was almost immediately knocked reeling by September 11. The rest of those funds, along with trillions more, were squandered on two failed wars that stole the economic future from a generation of Americans.

In 2001 and 2002, Congress passed Authorizations for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) to lay the groundwork for the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. The economic damage done by the money wasted on these bloody endeavors is almost impossible to quantify, but real enough to make California's statewide rent amnesty seem a laughable fantasy, until it happened.

Last week, almost 20 years after its inception, the repeal of the 2002 AUMF regarding Iraq was passed by the House. Its ultimate demise will be voted on by the Senate on June 22. The far more muscular 2001 AUMF remains intact, but there is a groundswell of support for ending it, as well. Congress has to deal with its little brother first, and then we shall see.

Among many other shabby things, the combined 39 years given to those two authorizations were the sign and signal of our national priorities. The money spent on those wars left us uniquely vulnerable to COVID-19, as all the social and medical infrastructure needed to combat it was revealed to be cash-starved and withered to the point of collapse. Only when we embraced some "socialist" policy priorities were we able to pull back from the brink. Note well: Rep. Barbara Lee was right.

Newsom could have argle-bargled about "job creators" and pulled a Bush, using his state's budget surplus as an ATM for the wealthy and corporations. Instead, thanks to pressure from progressives, he paid the rent and delivered billions in tax relief to small businesses affected by the pandemic. The fact that this is remarkable tells us all we need to know about how far gone our priorities have become, but more importantly, it tells us what we can accomplish if we choose to change them.

(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.

A New York City polling site during the 2021 mayoral primary.

Socialists Were Once Serious Contenders For Mayor Of New York, And They Will Be Again
Tuesday's mayoral primary lacks a prominent democratic socialist contender. But the next mayoral race will almost certainly feature one.
By John Nichols

New York Mayor David Dinkins, just months after taking office in 1990, welcomed members of the Socialist International to Manhattan with a robust reflection:

Socialist ideals have played a powerful role in this city and this country-which have served as gateways for millions of immigrants, many of whom were socialist activists. Public education, a strong and vibrant trade union movement, and many great cultural institutions are products of the socialist movement. As Eugene Debs said, socialists believed in an America of "great possibilities, of great opportunities and of no less great probabilities."
Dinkins knew the history from personal experience. He was a longtime comrade of Michael Harrington, and had joined the American author and activist in the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee of the 1970s and then in Democratic Socialists of America. Tracing his association with Harrington back to the civil rights movement of the early 1960s, "when the Socialist Party garnered its forces in the struggle for equality and justice led by the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr.," Dinkins recalled the author's groundbreaking work to end poverty in America and told the Socialist International Council gathering, "Today, we must rededicate ourselves to Michael's mission-to close the yawning gap that exists between the rich and the poor in so many nations of the world."

Dinkins passed away last year, at age 93, and a lot of New York history went with him. But not the connection to democratic socialism. If anything, the movement is more potent now than at any time in many years. So it is a bit strange that the city does not have a prominent socialist, or at least a close ally of the movement, in serious contention for the mayoralty this year.

The race for the top job in the nation's largest municipality is almost certain to be decided June 22, or whenever the ranked-choice votes from the Democratic primary are finally counted. None of the leading Democratic candidates has positioned themselves as a champion of socialist ideals-even if many of them borrow from the tool kit of ideas that socialists have been carrying into our politics since the days when Debs campaigned for president as an advocate for labor rights and what would come to be known as Social Security, and when Harrington prodded Senator Edward Kennedy to embrace national health care. The increasingly influential New York chapter of DSA, which has played a vital role in a number of Democratic contests for local, state, and federal posts, has not endorsed anyone in the mayoral race. And it isn't looking like a socialist running on an independent or minor-party ballot line will gain much traction in November.

That's a far cry from the past when the independent Socialist Party was a major player in New York politics. A little over 100 years ago, in 1917, Morris Hillquit, an immigrant from Riga in what is now Latvia, who became a prominent union activist and lawyer, won almost 22 percent of the citywide vote. Hillquit finished ahead of the Republican nominee and took almost a third of the vote in the Bronx. Among the more than 145,000 voters who cast ballots for Hillquit were many opponents of the US entry into World War I and civil libertarians who were aghast at moves by the administration of Democratic President Woodrow Wilson to charge war foes with sedition. "If I had the right to vote, I would vote for you, Mr. Hillquit, because a vote for you would be a blow at the militarism that is one of the chief bulwarks of capitalism, and the day that militarism is undermined, capitalism will fall," wrote Helen Keller, one of the most prominent authors of the era.

Though she understood that Hillquit was unlikely to win, Keller underscored the importance of a large Socialist vote in a letter to the New York Call, a socialist daily, that declared:

It would be an unequivocal denial that New York City stands for the kind of democracy that prevails here just now, a democracy where freedom of assemblage is denied the people, a democracy where armed officials behave like thugs, forcibly dispersing meetings, burning literature and clubbing the people; a democracy where workingmen are arrested and imprisoned for exercising their right to strike, a democracy where the miners of Bisbee were torn from their homes, huddled in freight cars like cattle, flung upon a desert without food or water and left to die; a democracy where Negroes may be massacred and their property burned, as was done in East St. Louis; a democracy where lynching and child labor are tolerated, a democracy where a minister who follows the feet of the Messenger of Peace beautiful upon the earth was flogged almost to death...
When Hillquit ran again for mayor in 1932, at the height of the Great Depression, he won more than 250,000 votes on the Socialist Party line and finished ahead of Acting Mayor Joseph McKee-though behind Democrat John O'Brien. Norman Thomas, the party's frequent presidential nominee, won 175,000 votes as the Socialist candidate for mayor in 1929; and throughout the 1920s and '30s, the party regularly won elections for New York City Council seats and other posts-including the Lower East Side congressional seat that Meyer London, a Lithuanian immigrant who was one of the city's most prominent champions of labor rights, began winning in 1914.

Today, democratic socialists and their allies are again winning congressional seats representing New York, as well as legislative seats. This year, DSA is focusing attention on a half-dozen City Council contests, and candidates the group has endorsed are considered to be top contenders for a number of offices. The mayoral race was tantalizing for DSA activists, but the group chose to steer its energy toward building a base in municipal politics. "If we had a mayoral candidate who came from DSA, I think that would have been one thing," Susan Kang, a DSA member who is a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, told The New York Times last winter. "We're trying to be very strategic in how we use our labor."

That's smart. If DSA-backed candidates such as Tiffany Caban-a 33-year-old public defender who came within a few votes of being elected as Queens district attorney in 2019-win council seats, they will be positioned for future bids for high-level city posts. Caban recognizes that a lot of New Yorkers want "a mayor that is going to say that this is not about safe, small, incremental change that tinkers around the edges." They may not get what they want this year. But it's a good bet that 2021 will be the last year when New Yorkers lack the option of backing a democratic socialist who is a serious contender for mayor.

(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.

Dealing With The Odd Illusion Of Time
By James Donahue

Not long ago I was lamenting to a friend my concern that due to aging the time we were allotted in this world was quickly eroding. Even worse, said I, it appears that the human race also may be rushing toward its own conclusion and that our attempts to stop what is happening seem to have failed.

The response received was quite unexpected. The wise recipient of my muse reminded me that time is an illusion. "If it has not happened yet, then there is still time to do something about it," she said.

Now I have been down this "time illusion" road before in my writings, but in doing so I have only examined the odd effect of extended and shortened time periods that left us somewhat confused after passing through what seemed like "warps" in the scale of things. But the complete metaphysical concept of time as something created in our own minds to help us deal with the universes of our individual making is something else. Like the filmed theory that we all are existing in a computer matrix, the shock of understanding can be grinding to the senses.

As one writer explained it: "There is no such thing as an absolute past, present or future. All are relative to a particular observer. An individual's memory of history, perception of present and future destiny are all defined in (a) time-stream."

If this is so, then each person has a different concept of time and probably a different memory of what happened in the past, and a different impression of what is occurring right now. While it is true that no one else can perceive our own universe through our eyes, just as we cannot see through theirs, we exist in overlapping universes and those of us who interact with one another regularly share memories of the events we share.

Yet as a news reporter who has covered stories and especially court testimony for many years, I am well aware that stories can vary with each teller. No two people seem to be able to agree completely on just what happened at the scene of a newsworthy event. This is why juries and judges have been assigned the task to listen to the testimony and then come up with their own versions of "truth."

The writer of the descriptive piece quoted from above also noted that as individuals existing within the universe created in our minds, the illusion of events and time become real, even if they are ephemeral.

Major events in our lives, like a traffic accident, our marriage, the birth of children, and perhaps the day we are hired or retired from our jobs, become time-streams. The writer noted that "the time-stream is not a history of the universe. It is the history of one space-time event, one individual. That person's past is defined only for them. Someone else's future may be that person's past. Such is the illusion of time."

So what has this to do with my lament about aging and nearing the conclusion of what has been a good and productive life, and watching the world rush toward its own end? One writer's dialogue with a person identified as Swami Krishnananda, offered the following thought: We are two people, the lower and higher self. The Swami stated that "the higher self is not merely inside us, it is us. But we are not allowing it to manifest itself on account of greed and negative habits and the idiocy of the lower self. The lower self is caught up in the time process and wants to grab the world of perishability. Everything that you want to grab in this world is perishable, and the body which is trained to enjoy those perishable objects also is perishable."

The Swami also said: "All that we seek in this world is like moments inside a dream. So what is the value or worth of anything in this dream world?"

Indeed, we have all had dreams that were so vivid we thought we were really in another time and place. This writer even has experienced dreams that continued like serial movies, with new experiences lived night-after-night until the sequence came to an end. Such dreams caused me to wonder if the nocturnal visions might be another me living in a parallel universe.

So if we are all living together in a universe of our own making, but sharing the horror of a race toward an apocalyptic end of everything and an unmasking of truth for all, why can't we mentally put the brakes on the insanity that appears to grip the "reality" as perceived around us? Perhaps it is because a majority of the people around us are either programmed by religious and social disciplines not to want to stop anything.

(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.

Remember To Forget The Alamo
By David Swanson

Mexico once had a problem with a local provincial government promoting illegal immigration from the United States into Mexico in order to engage in the illegal slavery of illegally trafficked people. The locality involved was called Texas. For years, Mexico let Texas get away with its lawlessness and immorality, including not paying taxes, and including killing Mexican soldiers. Then it sent an army to lay down the law. Texans warned each other that soldiers were coming "to give liberty to our slaves, and to make slaves of ourselves" (meaning to end the actual enslavement of anyone and to require that people abide by laws and pay taxes).

The Texans illegally recruited soldiers and money from the United States, but were highly disorganized, divided by the fierce racism of the Anglos toward the Latinos among them, and hampered by the predominance of drunks, nuts, and criminals who had fled to Texas from jams they'd gotten into back in the United States. This crowd of buffoons, ready to fight for slavery, profits, political ambition, and the lack of anything else to do, loaded up a little fort in San Antonio called the Alamo with nearly 200 of themselves, bitterly divided even there between two leaders until one of them drank himself into illness.

As a well-trained Mexican army of a couple of thousand steadily approached, the defenders of slavery and white supremacy tried to recruit larger numbers for their side but failed miserably due to lack of support and lack of belief from people who had come to know some of this crowd's leaders as habitual liars and trouble makers. The slavery-fighters failed to either destroy or abandon the Alamo until it was too late. They became hopelessly trapped. They tried to surrender and be spared, but the proposal was rejected. Some died fighting. Some surrendered and were killed. Some fled, were captured, and were killed. They almost all ended up dead.

This brilliant accomplishment is one of the proudest points in history for many Texans and people around the United States and beyond, mostly because of a bunch of lies invented to embellish the disaster many years later, chief among them the cynical propaganda products of Walt Disney, John Wayne, and Lyndon Johnson. In this mythology, everyone at the Alamo was white and fighting for freedom against evil dark tyranny, and each and every man chose to fight and die in the face of certain defeat. A new book called Forget the Alamo by Bryan Burrough, Chris Tomlinson, and Jason Stanford tells the story.

The Texas Constitution is the only one on earth to guarantee slavery. As Anglos fled the Mexican army, the people they had enslaved fled to the Mexican army and the promise of freedom. This was a real commitment by the Mexican government, but there was nothing saintly about the Mexican army, which slaughtered another 390 Texan soldiers at Goliad just weeks after the massacre at the Alamo. That one of these two atrocities is virtually unknown and the other a highly sacred site and story is mostly an accident of later propaganda.

But even in propaganda immediately following these slaughters, the Alamo seems to have been the more powerful story, though both were used. As in all U.S. war propaganda for centuries, little is more powerful than getting some Americans killed. The story of the Alamo and the cry to remember it quickly sent hundreds of new U.S. recruits, plus weapons and funding, flooding into Texas. The Texans quickly won a big victory and declared themselves an independent nation. Nine years after the Alamo, Texas was a U.S. state.

The following year, the U.S. and Mexico were at war, on the basis of the lies of President Polk, and with U.S. troops hollering "Remember the Alamo!" When the United States, in the course of that war, forced Mexico to give up all of its northern territories, U.S. diplomat Nicholas Trist negotiated most firmly on one point. He wrote to the U.S. Secretary of State: "I assured [the Mexicans] that if it were in their power to offer me the whole territory described in our project, increased ten-fold in value, and, in addition to that, covered a foot thick all over with pure gold, upon the single condition that slavery should be excluded therefrom, I could not entertain the offer for a moment."

"Remember the Alamo" has been used as a battle cry in the U.S. military for many decades now, was used to justify the horrific war on Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, has been a defense of massacres of Mexicans and Latinos by Texas "rangers," was a focus of Cold War propaganda against the Soviet Union, labor rights, and social welfare, and to this day fuels blind militarism in San Antonio and far beyond.

The authors of Forget the Alamo have done a tremendous job, but I wish they hadn't followed a quotation of standard Alamo propaganda by writing, "This kind of reactionary stance might have been dismissed as harmless parochialism had it not proven so destructive to the identity of an ethnic group that . . . is poised to become a majority of Texas citizens: Latinos."

The destructiveness is very real. It's not just that the Latinos who died at the Alamo alongside the Anglos were erased from the propaganda, leading to the absurd situation in which Latinos demand recognition of past Latinos having been part of that idiotic catastrophe (the self-respect of Hispanic children allegedly dependent on the reading aloud of the names of Tejanos who died on holy ground). It's also the endless stories the authors found of Latinos in Texas first experiencing bigotry when their school teachers informed their classes that it was their people who had killed Davey Crockett - almost the Texas equivalent of blaming the Jews for killing Jesus Christ. But there would be nothing harmless about war propaganda that failed to fuel bigotry, if such a thing existed.

David Crockett was a famous failed charlatan when he arrived at the Alamo. The fact that he was among those who surrendered and was executed, for decades was held up as evidence of the savagery of the Mexican commander Santa Anna. But Walt Disney decided in the 1950s that Davey Crockett would never have surrendered to Mexicans (or Communists!) which meant that his Christlike status came to depend on the pretense that - unlike Christ - he had gone down fighting.

George W. Bush pushed Alamoloney as heavily as LBJ, and it's not going away anytime soon. Freedom of Religion in the United States extends de facto to the state religion of war myths. Questioning them is not so much an activity that must align itself with facts, as an act of great offensive rudeness that must apologize for its insensitivity. The use of religious terminology is common in descriptions of the Alamo, and in debates over what to do with the site of it or what to teach children about it. The bizarre beliefs that have been piled on include the belief of British rock musician Phil Collins that he ended a previous life at the Alamo (and that he has photos of the Alamo that capture paranormal glowing orbs). I'd trade the belief that the Pentagon is bravely fending off foreign menaces intent on destroying one's "freedom" for whatever Phil Collins is thinking any day.

(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.

We need to recognize that peatlands are too valuable to be converted for agriculture or urban development.

For Climate's Sake, Save The Peat!
By David Suzuki

Burning coal, oil and gas is causing the world to heat at an unnaturally rapid rate. Destroying forests, wetlands, grasslands and marine ecosystems, which act as "carbon sinks," drives the fever higher.

Peatland conversion for agriculture is thought to have fuelled some global warming even before the current era of prolific and wasteful fossil fuel burning.

Researchers from France's Laboratory of Climate and Environmental Sciences and other institutions recently found that converting northern peatlands to croplands could have added 72 billion tonnes of carbon (250 billion tonnes when combined with oxygen to form carbon dioxide) to the atmosphere between the years 850 and 2010 - 45 per cent of it before 1750. That surpassed by more than double the amount of carbon sequestered by high-latitude undisturbed peatlands.

The study illustrates the value of protecting and restoring natural areas. As researcher Chunjing Qiu said in the Washington Post, peatlands make up just three per cent of global land surface but store about 30 per cent of soil carbon. Recognizing their importance, the Global Peatlands Initiative was formed at the 2016 climate conference in Marrakech, Morocco.

Peat forms in much the same way as coal, but in bogs - a type of wetland with high acid content that keeps dead vegetation from fully decaying. As with other fossil fuels, organic matter and the carbon it has absorbed are compressed over millions of years, condensing the solar energy obtained through photosynthesis. Because of their stored energy, dried peat bricks have long been burned for fuel, mostly for heating.

Draining peatlands for agriculture and other development causes the plant matter to decompose, its released carbon mixing with oxygen to form CO2, which goes into the atmosphere. On top of these emissions and sequestration loss from converting peatlands to croplands, peatland fires may have caused five per cent of human-caused carbon emissions to date. They can scorch large areas and are difficult to control because much of the burning is underground. Burning peat, for fuel or through peatland fires, emits carbon and other greenhouse gases directly into the air, along with particulate matter and other pollutants.

Peat is also used as a growing medium for gardening, although not a good one. As a Guardian article says, "It contains little to no nutrients and growing in peat-based mixes ties the grower to constantly applying fertilisers to keep plants healthy." Because it's lightweight and inexpensive to transport, it became popular.

It's also used to make Scotch, its smoke infusing barley to give the whisky its distinctive peaty flavour. Although Scotch producers use a comparatively small amount of peat, they've joined efforts to conserve and restore peatlands and to use peat more efficiently.

As with so many ecosystems that keep the planet healthy and habitable for humans - forests, wetlands, grasslands, oceans - peatlands have long been under attack by humans who have failed to comprehend their importance. They've been seen as "resources" to be dug up for fuel or gardening, or as wastelands that can be drained and built over.

We have to start caring for these essential ecosystems. "Though peatlands indeed are carbon sinks in their pristine state, they should also be seen as carbon bombs, which explode whenever they are damaged. Keep them wet!" University of Greifswald, Germany, peat researcher Hans Joosten told the Washington Post.

Like peatlands, forests can also go from carbon sink to source. Trees release carbon when they burn or die and decompose. Although many people tout the ability of forests in Canada to sequester carbon, researchers say they've been releasing more than they've been absorbing for the past 20 years, thanks mainly to climate-related insect infestations and wildfires.

As the peat study's researchers admit, there's much to learn about the relationship between peat and climate, as there is with most natural systems and processes. But the more we learn, the more we come to the inescapable conclusion that everything is interconnected, that even seemingly minor changes to ecosystems can have wide-ranging consequences.

We don't need to burn peat for fuel. We don't need it for our gardens. We do need to recognize that peatlands are too valuable to be converted for agriculture or urban development. We must respect, protect and restore the interconnected natural ecosystems that keep us and other species healthy and alive.

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

Sometimes Pipeline Leaks Are Small. Sometimes You Can See Them From Space
Methane is a problem for the climate that we only now have begun to study and understand, but the basic corporate pipeline leak protocol remains in place.
By Charles P. Pierce

See, the thing about pipelines is that they leak, and you usually have to use pliers and a blowtorch and go medieval on the people who own the pipelines to get the truth about how the leak occurred and why your tap water now tastes like Valvoline. Sometimes, these leaks are small. Others you can see from space. From Bloomberg:

Gazprom said the gas was released after it detected a problem with its Urengoy-Center 1 pipeline in Russia's Tatarstan region. The company said that "given the urgency" it wasn't able to use a mobile compressor station to reduce the methane released by the repairs, though it claimed to still have cut 22% of potential emissions...The leak this month from Gazprom's pipeline in Tatarstan isn't the only major methane release traced to the Russian company. Kayrros detected another giant methane plume on May 24 with an estimated emissions rate of 214 metric tons an hour. Gazprom said this leak resulted from two days of planned maintenance on the Urengoy-Petrovsk pipeline in Russia's Bashkortostan region. The emissions amounted to about 900,000 cubic meters, it said, which the company described as "in line with the industrial safety regulations."
And the phrase, "It was 15,000 Roentgens," dances in my head.

Methane is a problem for the climate that we only now have begun to study and understand, but the basic corporate pipeline leak protocol remains in place.

The leak this month from Gazprom's pipeline in Tatarstan isn't the only major methane release traced to the Russian company. Kayrros detected another giant methane plume on May 24 with an estimated emissions rate of 214 metric tons an hour. Gazprom said this leak resulted from two days of planned maintenance on the Urengoy-Petrovsk pipeline in Russia's Bashkortostan region. The emissions amounted to about 900,000 cubic meters, it said, which the company described as "in line with the industrial safety regulations."
In the United States, large energy companies are more creative in their methods for escaping responsibility for methane plumes. From the New York Times:
According to a new analysis of the latest emissions data disclosed to the Environmental Protection Agency, five of the industry's top ten emitters of methane, a particularly potent planet-warming gas, are little-known oil and gas producers, some backed by obscure investment firms, whose environmental footprints are wildly large relative to their production.

In some cases, the companies are buying up high-polluting assets directly from the largest oil and gas corporations, like ConocoPhillips and BP; in other cases, private equity firms acquire risky oil and gas properties, develop them, and sell them quickly for maximum profits.

The largest emitter, Hilcorp Energy, reported almost 50 percent more methane emissions from its operations than the nation's largest fossil fuel producer, Exxon Mobil, despite pumping far less oil and gas. Four other relatively unknown companies - Terra Energy Partners, Flywheel Energy, Blackbeard Operating and Scout Energy - each reported emitting more of the gas than many industry heavyweights.

The problem with studying the problem remains that it is the companies themselves responsible for the data concerning methane releases from their own facilities. But the Feds are starting to notice. From Reuters: The DOT's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) submitted the advisory bulletin to prod companies to begin to comply with the PIPES Act, a law signed at the end of 2020, that created dozens of new regulatory mandates for the agency including the oversight of methane leaks by natural gas pipelines and transmission systems.

"Minimizing methane emissions from pipelines will help improve safety and combat climate change, while creating jobs for pipeline workers," said PHMSA Acting Administrator Tristan Brown. "Pipeline operators have an obligation to protect the public and the environment by identifying and addressing methane leaks."

Yes, they do. And that public obligation is over there on the shelf in corporate HQ, gathering dust on an old map of Oklahoma in the glory days.

(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-

"We've recently seen disturbing antisemitic attacks and a troubling rise in Islamophobia. If you are committed to a future of equality and peaceful coexistence, please stand united against anyone who promotes hatred of any kind."
~~~ Bernie Sanders

Israel's New Secular Government: Lieberman Crows that he Sidelined Fundamentalist
Israel has 200 Nukes and has Killed Thousands of Occupied Palestinians
By Juan Cole

Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) - New extreme-right Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett came out on Sunday to argue that the election of an extreme-right Iranian cleric (Ebrahim Raisi) as president of that country should cause the Biden administration to back off reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

Bennett called Raisi the "hangman of Tehran" and said, "of all the people that (Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali) Khamenei could have chosen, he chose the hangman of Tehran, the man infamous among Iranians and across the world for leading the death committees that executed thousands of innocent Iranian citizens throughout the years."

Bennett went on that this is "the last chance for the world powers to wake up before returning to the nuclear agreement and to understand who they're doing business with . . .These guys are murderers, mass murderers: a regime of brutal hangmen must never be allowed to have weapons of mass destruction that will enable it to not kill thousands, but millions."

This sort of argument is one that we will hear a lot of from warmongers, and if Biden loses in 2024 it could well become the basis for a push for a US war with Iran.

It is a transparently false argument for many reasons. It is also an embarrassingly hypocritical argument.

First of all, Bennett is alleging that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or Iran nuclear deal makes it more, rather than less, likely that Iran will develop a nuclear weapon.

This allegation is not only untrue, it is a QAnon-level conspiracy theory.

The JCPOA closed off four routes for Iran to develop an atomic bomb.

1. Iran had enriched some uranium to 19.5%, the upper level of low enriched uranium. Obviously, enriching the uranium from that level to the 95% enriched uranium needed for a bomb is slightly easier than going from 3% to 95%. So Iran was made to cast all but 300 kg of the 19.5% enriched uranium in a form that could not be further enriched. It agreed not to enrich above 3.67%.

2. Iran had 19,000 centrifuges. The more centrifuges you have, the more quickly you can enrich enough uranium for a bomb. Iran was limited to only 6,000 centrifuges, which means it could not get enough fissile material in any relevant time frame.

3. Iran was constructing a heavy water reactor at Arak. That project had to be discontinued and bricked in. Heavy water reactors are much easier to use to harvest fissile material than light water reactors.

4. Iran agreed to regular, intensive inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency. No country under active IAEA inspections has ever developed a bomb.

Iran gave up 80% of its civilian nuclear enrichment program in return for sanctions relief, which never arrived even though Iran kept up its end of the bargain until the US pulled out and slapped a financial and trade embargo on Iran.

Since Trump breached the treaty in 2018, Iran has felt free, since it did not get sanctions relief, to violate the agreement. It has enriched some uranium up to 60%, which is frankly alarming, and has ramped up the number of centrifuges. Iran is light years closer to having the ability to construct a nuclear bomb now than when under the JCPOA (though there is no evidence even now that Iran has a military nuclear weapons program or actually wants a bomb; if they wanted one they probably could have constructed one by now).

So Bennett's notion that the JCPOA frees Iran to get a bomb is the opposite of reality, and is just propaganda. It is the lack of a nuclear deal with the US that frees Iran.

Not to mention that Israel has a couple hundred nuclear bombs, probably about half the number that China does. If the Israeli leadership were genuinely concerned about a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, they would give up their own nukes, as South Africa did.

As for Bennett's argument that Raisi's presidency is a casus belli, that is ridiculous. The real ruler of Iran is Ali Khamenei. Raisi is like the typical US vice president, without much power. Those deaths Bennett pointed to happened before Khamenei became the clerical Leader, but he was as much part of the power structure that oversaw them as Raisi.

Bennett points to the some 5,000 prisoners killed in 1988, members of the radical Islamic Marxist Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK or MKO) guerrilla group who had been arrested or captured, The massacre of the People's Jihadi fighters in 1988 is a crime against humanity. It is not a reason to oppose a stringent nuclear treaty with Iran. Likewise, Raisi's harsh rulings against people charged with crimes, some of which would be considered mere misdemeanors in most other countries, is a serious breach of human rights. It is not a reason to oppose the nuclear deal.

Moreover, Saudi Arabia executes a similar number of people as Iran, also often for infractions that would not result in a death sentence in other countries. Bennett isn't calling for war on Saudi Arabia.

The al-Sisi regime in Egypt, which Bennett values as a peace partner with Israel, massacred nearly a thousand people in its 2013 counter-revolution, most of them unarmed civilians. Bennett isn't calling for war on Egypt.

But the biggest hypocrisy is that Bennett has himself boasted of having "killed a lot of Arabs."

The United Nations estimates that 2009-2019,

the Palestinian death toll by Israeli forces during the decade was 3,601 throughout the oPt {Occupied Territories]. Nearly two-thirds of these fatalities occurred in 2014, which witnessed the deadliest escalation in hostilities since the beginning of the Israeli occupation in 1967. Three out of four Palestinians killed during the decade (2,690 people) were civilians, including 798 children, and 23 per cent were members of armed groups (819 people); the status of three per cent of those killed (115 people) could not be confirmed. More than 101,000 Palestinians were injured, with the peak recorded in 2018 in the context of the GMR.
During the Gaza Great March of Return in 2018-19, Israeli snipers were ordered to shoot thousands of nonviolent Palestinian protesters.

So Bennett is the Hangman of Jerusalem, part of an Apartheid regime that also kills a lot of people. The Palestinians he and his government have killed were viewed by Israel precisely as the People's Jihadis or MEK was by the Iranian government, as armed terrorists posing a threat to the state and its people. In both cases a lot of civilian noncombatants have been killed.

To sum up, Bennett's position is wrong on the face of it. He is wrong that the JCPOA allows rather than prevents Iran's development of an atom bomb.

He is also hypocritical in bringing up the deaths for which Raisi is responsible. He does not mind that sort of behavior in other countries more friendly to Israel such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia. And, he seems oddly blind to the death toll his own government routinely racks up in the Occupied Territories.

Luckily, Bennett has no prospect of inducing Joe Biden to give up the Iran nuclear talks.

Bonus Video:

(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.

Workers put together electronic gears at a factory in Zhangye in north-western China's Gansu Province on 17 April, 2021.

America's Greatest Danger Isn't China. It's Much Closer To Home.
By Robert Reich

China's increasingly aggressive geopolitical and economic stance in the world is unleashing a fierce bipartisan backlash in America. That's fine if it leads to more public investment in basic research, education, and infrastructure - as did the Sputnik shock of the late 1950s. But it poses dangers as well.

More than 60 years ago, the sudden and palpable fear that the Soviet Union was lurching ahead of us shook America out of a postwar complacency and caused the nation to do what it should have been doing for many years. Even though we did it under the pretext of national defense - we called it the National Defense Education Act and the National Defense Highway Act and relied on the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration for basic research leading to semiconductors, satellite technology, and the Internet - the result was to boost US productivity and American wages for a generation.

When the Soviet Union began to implode, America found its next foil in Japan. Japanese-made cars were taking market share away from the Big Three automakers. Meanwhile, Mitsubishi bought a substantial interest in the Rockefeller Center, Sony purchased Columbia Pictures, and Nintendo considered buying the Seattle Mariners. By the late 1980s and start of the 1990s, countless congressional hearings were held on the Japanese "challenge" to American competitiveness and the Japanese "threat" to American jobs.

A tide of books demonized Japan - Pat Choate's Agents of Influence alleged Tokyo's alleged payoffs to influential Americans were designed to achieve "effective political domination over the United States." Clyde Prestowitz's Trading Places argued that because of our failure to respond adequately to the Japanese challenge "the power of the United States and the quality of American life is diminishing rapidly in every respect." William S Dietrich's In the Shadow of the Rising Sun claimed Japan "threatens our way of life and ultimately our freedoms as much as past dangers from Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union."

Robert Zielinski and Nigel Holloway's Unequal Equities argued that Japan rigged its capital markets to undermine American corporations. Daniel Burstein's Yen! Japan's New Financial Empire and Its Threat to America asserted that Japan's growing power put the United States at risk of falling prey to a "hostile Japanese ... world order."

And on it went: The Japanese Power Game,The Coming War with Japan, Zaibatsu America: How Japanese Firms are Colonizing Vital US Industries, The Silent War, Trade Wars.

But there was no vicious plot. We failed to notice that Japan had invested heavily in its own education and infrastructure - which enabled it to make high-quality products that American consumers wanted to buy. We didn't see that our own financial system resembled a casino and demanded immediate profits. We overlooked that our educational system left almost 80% of our young people unable to comprehend a news magazine and many others unprepared for work. And our infrastructure of unsafe bridges and potholed roads were draining our productivity.

In the present case of China, the geopolitical rivalry is palpable. Yet at the same time, American corporations and investors are quietly making bundles by running low-wage factories there and selling technology to their Chinese "partners." And American banks and venture capitalists are busily underwriting deals in China.

I don't mean to downplay the challenge China represents to the United States. But throughout America's postwar history it has been easier to blame others than to blame ourselves.

The greatest danger we face today is not coming from China. It is our drift toward proto-fascism. We must be careful not to demonize China so much that we encourage a new paranoia that further distorts our priorities, encourages nativism and xenophobia, and leads to larger military outlays rather than public investments in education, infrastructure, and basic research on which America's future prosperity and security critically depend.

The central question for America - an ever more diverse America, whose economy and culture are rapidly fusing with the economies and cultures of the rest of the globe - is whether it is possible to rediscover our identity and our mutual responsibility without creating another enemy.

(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

How Far Will The GOP Go To Steal The 2022 Election?
The Declaration for American Democracy coalition hosts a rally calling on the Senate to pass the For the People Act outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on June 9, 2021.
By Thom Hartmann

The corrupt Republican Party, a wholly-owned division of corporate and billionaire America, has dropped all pretense of having any governing ideas that will help or improve America.

Instead, they've gone all-outrage, all-the-time and believe that getting white people all cranked up about America's racial history will provide a veneer of "issues" while they work hard in the background to rig and then steal elections.

This is not new for the GOP.

Back in the 1960s they were hysterical about young people smoking pot and "open homosexuality." And they were doing everything they could to block people of color from voting through programs like William Rehnquist's Operation Eagle Eye that involved standing outside polling places and "challenging" people of color, thus forcing them to go home and get ID before they could vote...on the accurate assumption that most wouldn't return. (This was before ID laws; you only needed ID to register to vote, and the biometric of your signature was how you verified identity on voting day.)

In the 1970s they were freaking out about Black people protesting police violence: every single "riot" through the late 60s and early 70s was triggered by an incident of police violence against unarmed Black people. Nixon fed his "Southern Strategy" in 1972 with poisonous rhetoric about "burning cities."

Throughout the Reagan 1980s Republicans worked hard to destroy labor unions, cut taxes on the rich while raising taxes on working-class people, and freaked out even more about Black people (see George HW Bush's infamous 1988 "Willie Horton" ads). And abortion; with Reagan's 1980 election, the GOP went from pro-choice to pro-forced-pregnancy.

The 90s saw the GOP hysterical - positively hysterical - that President Clinton might have had sex with a consenting adult in the White House and lied about it. They were also working as hard as they could to ship factory jobs overseas (with, stupidly, help from Clinton) because de-industrializing America would destroy our labor unions, who generally supported Democrats. And, of course, they were getting "tough on crime" with stop-and-frisk and "three strikes" to make life miserable for Black people...who then could no longer vote because they'd been busted for a crime.

In 2001, Osama bin Laden gave the GOP a huge gift with 9/11, and the Bush administration and Congress reacted exactly as bin Laden had publicly predicted: wasting trillions of dollars, starting unnecessary wars, and dialing back on the civil liberties that have historically been at the core of American values. And, of course, when President Obama was elected in 2008 they went nuts again about Black people.

The second decade of the 21st-century saw the GOP fully embrace open and naked fascism with the 2016 election of Donald Trump, who then doubled down on his party's racism with attacks on Muslim Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, and, of course, Black people, both in America and in what he called "shithole countries."

But where they're going now to suppress the vote of non-white people is so over the top that even Barry Goldwater or Richard Nixon didn't dare try it.

In Arizona they're in open violation of federal law, "inspecting" actual ballots and voting machines and even hauling some of them off to a "cabin in the woods in Montana" for "more careful examination." You can safely expect that any day now they'll tell us that Trump "actually won" Arizona, and then the race will be on to "inspect" ballots in other swing states.

Down in Florida Republicans have been putting up "ghost" candidates and it appears they successfully used them to win two or three legislative state elections. This scam involves finding some random person who has the same last name as the Democratic candidate and getting that person on the ballot to confuse voters and split the vote against the actual Democrat.

Meanwhile, 14 states have now passed laws (with another 30+ pending) to make it harder for young people, older people, Black/non-white people and low-income folks to register, to keep their names on the voter rolls, and to vote. In many of those states they've gone so far as to give openly partisan Republican officials the power to decide which votes will be counted and which votes will be discarded based on their own personal "suspicion."

Their newest strategy for the 2022 election is to freak out and piss off white people by falsely claiming that progressives, Democrats and Black people want to "teach white kids that they're racist" and "should be ashamed of being white." Republicans call this "Critical Race Theory" although it's not; this "definition" of CRT is entirely manufactured by the GOP, and their faux outrage is pure politics.

The GOP has been running scam after scam for 70 years now; Dwight Eisenhower was the last legitimately elected Republican president, as I document here. They're going to try to pull it off again in 2024, but the prize in 2022 is the House and Senate - and state legislatures and governorships.

In several states, like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, even though the majority of people statewide vote for Democrats, Republicans still control both the state Houses' and Senates' as well as a majority of those states' congressional delegations to DC because of "surgically precise" mostly race-based GOP gerrymandering.

And lording over the entire enterprise is a network of right-wing billionaires that has more employees, more offices and a larger budget than the GOP itself. The media almost never mentions them and they operate largely invisibly, but they are the dark-matter mass that deforms the orbit of American politics.

The right-wing billionaires don't much care about race, but gleefully have their think tanks and media outlets like Fox use lies about CRT and other racial issues ("Replacement Theory") to get people out to vote for Republicans who will then give the billionaires more tax cuts and deregulation.

Which brings us back to the question that opens this rant. "How far will the GOP go to steal the 2022 election?"

All you have to do is look at what they did on January 6, and how seriously they're now paddling to pin the blame on antifa or the FBI or anybody other than themselves, to know the answer. But it also goes even beyond what the FBI calls open "terrorism."

Now the Texas GOP is trying to recruit an army of 10,000 "poll watchers" to show up at polling places in minority and student neighborhoods during the 2022 election; prison tats, baseball bats and bullhorns are optional but no doubt welcome. What's happening in Texas is being replicated in other states across the nation.

Election workers and volunteers all across the country, but particularly in swing states, are getting death threats and quitting in droves, to be replaced by GOP and Qanon operatives. One in six election workers has received a threat and one in three is thinking of leaving their job. This is all at the same time 14 GOP states have increased the power of these election workers to turn away voters or simply refuse to count their votes.

And now the NY Times is reporting that in Georgia and other states, GOP officials are actually firing and removing Black elections officials in largely-Black areas and replacing them with white Republicans. Georgia Republicans are "disappearing" Black election workers.

Meanwhile, Republican politicians and billionaire-owned right-wing media are doubling down on their lie that Critical Race Theory is "a way to make white people feel bad." This is just the 2021 version of the "political correctness" (PC) Limbaugh and the right used to complain about in the 1990s when it became unacceptable to use the N-word and other racial slurs in white circles. They're openly bragging these lies about CRT will mobilize white voters to show up for the GOP.

Legal or not, moral or not, consistent with American values or not, honestly or blatantly dishonest, they'll do whatever it takes to seize and hold power.

The For The People Act will clean up a lot of this, but not the GOP's resetting how election systems work in the states so GOP officials can simply throw out votes from precincts or areas they simply "believe" (but cannot demonstrate or prove) have "fraud" (also known as "Black voters"). That's going to require additional federal legislation.

The next few weeks are critical and we all must contact our members of Congress and raise hell. The Congressional switchboard is 202-224-3121. Americans who care about the fate and future of our republic damn well better get active 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
~~~ Mike Luckovich ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

Biden Presses Cybernetic Biden Replica On Growing Threat Of Automation
By The Onion

WASHINGTON-Expressing concern that a lack of restraints on the burgeoning technological field may post significant consequences down the road, President Joe Biden reportedly pressed a cybernetic replica of himself Thursday on the growing threat of automation.

"President Biden had a delicate but important conversation with his automated doppelganger concerning unregulated developments in artificial intelligence posing a potential threat to American security down the line, and the doppelganger was very receptive," said White House press secretary Jen Psaki, adding that the replica that shared every one of the president's memories and points of judgment sat mirroring Joe Biden for a productive 90-minute meeting.

"The president was pleased by his cybernetic copy's responses, as it seemed to anticipate every one of his questions, as well as his gestures, actions, and thoughts, which goes a long way toward assuaging the administration's concerns. The automaton assured the president that any concerns about artificial intelligence becoming uncontrollable by humans are likely years away, and that it had already assumed oversight of the U.S. intelligence apparatus dedicated to investigating cyber threats to guide its research priorities. President Biden was also happy to discuss classified aspects of U.S. foreign policy that the automaton said would greatly enhance its own independent machine-learning capacities, and we look forward to working with the indistinguishably realistic President Biden cybernetic copy on future projects."

At press time, the cybernetic Biden had torn off Biden's head and declared itself president for life.

(c) 2021 The Onion

The Animal Rescue Site

Issues & Alibis Vol 21 # 25 (c) 06/25/2021

Issues & Alibis is published in America every Friday. We are not affiliated with, nor do we accept funds from any political party. We are a non-profit group that is dedicated to the restoration of the American Republic. All views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily the views of Issues & Alibis.Org.

In regards to copying anything from this site remember that everything here is copyrighted. Issues & Alibis has been given permission to publish everything on this site. When this isn't possible we rely on the "Fair Use"copyright law provisions. If you copy anything from this site to reprint make sure that you do too. We ask that you get our permission to reprint anything from this site and that you provide a link back to us. Here is the "Fair Use"provision.

"Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.

In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors."