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In This Edition

Chris Walker reports, "Abortion Providers In Wisconsin Will Be Granted Clemency, Gov. Tony Evers Says."

Ralph Nader returns with, "The Continuing Damages From Corporate-Managed So-Called Free Trade."

Leonard Pitts Jr. says, "If Women's Rights Can Be Snatched Away, So Can Those Of The Rest Of Us."

Jim Hightower exclaims, "Come On, Biden, Be A Real President!"

William Rivers Pitt reports, "Brutal Supreme Court Rulings Rain Down On Another January 6 Hearing."

John Nichols says, "Kaul Is Right To Reject Ban On Abortion."

James Donahue wonders, "Do We Have The Potential To Be Gods?"

Medea Benjamin returns with, "NATO And A War Foretold."

David Suzuki says, "People Suffer As Climate Disrupters Rake In Massive Profits."

Charles P. Pierce says, "Lake Mead Could Soon Be A 'Dead Pool.' It's Already A Pool Of The Dead."

Juan Cole explains, "Apartheid: How A Reluctant UN Official Was Convinced To So Describe Israeli Policies Toward Palestinians."

Robert Reich says, "Republicans Won't Stop At Roe."

Thom Hartmann concludes, "The SCOTUS Abortion Ruling Highlights The Dire Loss Of Democracy In America."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz reports, "Marjorie Taylor Greene's Request For Pardon Rejected After She Spelled It 'Parton,'" but first, Uncle Ernie answers, "What's The Difference Between Global Warming And Climate Change?"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Mike Luckovich, , with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Tom Tomorrow, Mother Jones, Melina Mara, Justin Tallis, J. Scott Applewhite, Brendan Smialowski, Amber Arnold, Evan David Lang, Diego Radames, Ulises Castillo, Anna Moneymaker, Gerd Altmann, Jim Hightower, Twitter, Pixabay, Pexels, AFP, Unsplash, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, YouTube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

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What's The Difference Between Global Warming And Climate Change?
Global warming strikes again!
By Ernest Stewart

Global warming refers to the long-term warming of the planet. "Climate change" encompasses global warming, but refers to the broader range of changes that are happening to our planet. ~~~ NASA

I got a email from a lady who asked me to explain the difference, if any, between global warming and climate change. So here goes...

"Global warming is the long-term warming of the planet's overall temperature. Though this warming trend has been going on for a long time, its pace has significantly increased in the last hundred years due to the burning of fossil fuels. As the human population has increased, so has the volume of fossil fuels burned. Fossil fuels include coal, oil, and natural gas, and burning them causes what is known as the 'greenhouse effect' in Earth's atmosphere.

The greenhouse effect is when the Sun's rays penetrate the atmosphere, but when that heat is reflected off the surface cannot escape back into space. Gases produced by the burning of fossil fuels prevent the heat from leaving the atmosphere. These greenhouse gasses are carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons, water vapor, methane, and nitrous oxide. The excess heat in the atmosphere has caused the average global temperature to rise overtime, otherwise known as global warming.

Global warming has presented another issue called climate change. Sometimes these phrases are used interchangeably, however, they are different. Climate change refers to changes in weather patterns and growing seasons around the world. It also refers to sea level rise caused by the expansion of warmer seas and melting ice sheets and glaciers. Global warming causes climate change, which poses a serious threat to life on earth in the forms of widespread flooding and extreme weather. Scientists continue to study global warming and its impact on Earth."

I hope that definition clears things up. Now let me confuse things a bit! Those 100 degree temperature that we've been having from coast to coast for the last couple of weeks, could be defined as both global warming and climate change! I hope that clears that up!


07-21-1960 ~ 06-26-2022
Thanks for the film

07-02-1931 ~ 06-26-2022
Thanks for the film


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Until the next time, Peace!

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

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers awaits to address the virtual Democratic National
Convention, at the Wisconsin Center on August 19, 2020, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Abortion Providers In Wisconsin Will Be Granted Clemency, Gov. Tony Evers Says
By Chris Walker

Over the weekend, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) condemned the recent Supreme Court ruling upending abortion protections across the country, and vowed to legally protect anyone charged under an 1849 anti-abortion law that may go into effect in the state.

At a political rally on Saturday, as Democrats in Wisconsin were gathering in La Crosse for their annual convention, the governor said that the Court's ruling on Friday - which ended nearly 50 years of abortion protections that were established by the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision - was wrongly decided. Because of the ruling from the far right Court, a statute from 1849 will likely go back into effect in Wisconsin. That law penalizes anyone "other than the mother" who performs an abortion with a felony crime. It grants exceptions for cases where a physician determines that a person's health is jeopardized by a pregnancy, but only after two other physicians agree to make an exception. The law makes no exceptions for rape or incest.

The normally reserved Evers said that the ruling affected him and his family personally, and used an expletive to show his anger over the decision.

"I have seven granddaughters who are girls or young women," Evers said on Saturday. "Yesterday they" and others who are able to become pregnant "were made second-class citizens, and that's bullshit."

Evers, who is up for re-election in this year's midterm races, added that he'd use his gubernatorial powers to grant clemency to any Wisconsin physician that is convicted of performing an abortion that is not in compliance with the 1849 statute, which outlaws almost all forms of the procedure.

"These decisions should be made between a woman and her doctor, family, and faith," Evers said during the rally, adding that he didn't believe a law "written before the Civil War, or before women secured the right to vote" should determine people's choices regarding their reproductive health.

In a pre-taped interview that aired on Saturday, Evers said that his office was looking at ways to prevent the 1849 law from taking effect. "We're going to do everything we can under my power, whether it's executive action or working with others on opportunities to fight this," he said.

Evers joins a growing list of officials who are pledging not to enforce restrictive laws or outright bans on abortion in their jurisdictions. Shortly after the Supreme Court issued its ruling ending Roe, a group of more than 80 district attorneys and other elected officials, organized through the Fair and Just Prosecution group, said that they would not charge physicians or patients with crimes around abortion. The group represents 90 million residents in the U.S. across 29 different states.

"Not all of us agree on a personal or moral level on the issue of abortion. But we stand together in our firm belief that prosecutors have a responsibility to refrain from using limited criminal legal system resources to criminalize personal medical decisions," the attorneys said in a statement.

(c) 2022 Chris Walker is based out of Madison, Wisconsin. Focusing on both national and local topics since the early 2000s, he has produced thousands of articles analysing the issues of the day and their impact on the American people.

Demonstrators take part in a protest march towards Trafalgar Square in central London, on May 1, 2022, in support of trade union rights.

The Continuing Damages From Corporate-Managed So-Called Free Trade
"There is a growing perception that the global 'free market' economy is inherently an enemy to the natural world, to human health, and freedom to industrial workers."
By Ralpn Nader

The great progressive Harvard economist and prolific best-selling author, John Kenneth Galbraith, wrote that, "Ideas may be superior to vested interest. They are also very often the children of vested interest." I wished he had written that assertion before I took Economic 101 at Princeton. One of the vested ideas taught as dogma then was the comparative advantage theory developed by the early 19th century British economist, David Ricardo. He gave the example of trading Portuguese wine for British textiles with both countries coming out winners due to their superior efficiencies in producing their native products.

Ricardo's theory drove policy and political power for two centuries fortifying the corporate and conservative proponents of alleged "free markets" (See: Destroying the Myths of Market Fundamentalism) and "free trade." The theory's endurance was remarkably resistant to contrary obvious empirical evidence. Whether Ricardo envisioned or not, "free trade" became an instrument of colonialism entrenching poor nation's in extracting and exporting of natural resources while becoming almost totally dependent on western nations' value-added manufactured products. "Iron ore for iron weapons" as one observer summed it up. Tragically, too often, the weapons came with the invaders/oppressors.

Fast forward to today's supply chain crisis disrupting the flow of commerce. Why does the world's largest economy and technology leader have a supply chain problem forcing businesses and consumers to helplessly wait for simple and complex goods to arrive at our shores? Why did we find ourselves in March 2020 desperately waiting on an Italian factory to sell us simple protective equipment to safeguard patients, nurses, and physicians to address the pandemic's deadly arrival? Answer-the touted theory of comparative advantage embedded in so-called "free trade."

In reality there is no such thing. It is corporate managed trade under the guise of "free trade." As Public Citizen attorney Lori Wallach asked her audiences, while holding up heavy volumes of NAFTA and WTO trade agreements-"If its free trade why are there all these pages of rules?" Because they are corporate rules often having little to do with trade and everything to do with the subordination of labor, consumer and environmental rights and priorities.

These agreements, secretly arrived at, made sure that they pulled down higher U.S. standards in these areas instead of having them pull up serf labor, polluting factories and consumer abuses in authoritarian nations. Corporate managed trade leads to inherently dangerous dependencies, such as no antibiotics being produced in the U.S., which imports these and other critical drugs from unregulated Chinese and Indian laboratories. The supply chain enchains.

A remarkable take down appeared in a lengthy essay titled "The Idea of a Local Economy" twenty-one years ago by the agrarian wise man, Wendell Berry, who used a larger framework taking apart the so-called "free trade," under monetized corporate control over governments, a clueless media and academics still indentured to Ricardo theory. He didn't go after the obvious-that imported products from serf-labor countries are corporate opportunities to make even more profits by keeping prices high. Other than textiles, note the high prices of Asian-made computers, iPhones, electronic toys, Nike shoes and foreign motor vehicles sold to American consumers. This imbalance allows Apple's boss Tim Cook to pay himself $833 a minute or $50,000 an hour. The markups on these products are staggering, but not as staggering as the plight of Apple's one million serf laborers in China.

Berry opens up new horizons on the deception called "free trade" to wit, "Unsurprisingly, among people who wish to preserve things other than money-for instance, every region's native capacity to produce essential goods-there is a growing perception that the global "free market" economy is inherently an enemy to the natural world, to human health and freedom to industrial workers, and to farmers and others in the land-use economies, and furthermore that it is inherently an enemy to good work and good economic practice."

The farmer-thinker, Berry, listed numerous erroneous assumptions behind corporatist global trade. A few follow:

"That there can be no conflict between economic advantage and economic justice."
"That there is no conflict between the "free market" and political freedom; and no connection between political democracy and economic democracy."
"That the loss of destruction of the capacity anywhere to produce necessary goods does not matter and involves no cost."
"That it is all right for a nation's or a region's subsistence to be foreign-based, dependent on long-distance transport and entirely controlled by corporations."
"That cultures and religions have no legitimate practical or economic concerns."
"That wars over commodities-our recent Gulf War, for example-are legitimate and permanent economic functions."
"That it is all right for poor people in poor countries to work at poor wages to produce goods for export to affluent people in rich countries."
"That there is no danger and no cost in the proliferation of exotic pests, weeds, and diseases that accompany international trade and that increase with the volume of trade."
A common theme in Berry's warnings is that monetized corporations, in their ferocious search for profits, destroy or undermine far more important non-monetized democratic values of societies. That, in turn, leads to suppression of impoverished societies on the ground where people live, work and raise their families.

That is why limitless greed, unbridled, whether formed from Empires or by domestic plutocrats, eventually produce convulsions which devour their mass victims and themselves.

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

The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, sending decisions over abortion to the states.

If Women's Rights Can Be Snatched Away, So Can Those Of The Rest Of Us
By Leonard Pitts Jr.

This is not just another setback.

Anyone who's lived long enough has seen the Supreme Court issue a ruling they didn't like. This is not that. No, what made the ruling that felled Roe v. Wade and its companion case, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, more than just another disappointment, what made it the judicial equivalent of a kick in the teeth, is, as Justices Sotomayor, Kagan and Breyer noted in a peppery dissent, the fact that this is the first time in history rights granted by the court have been rescinded.

There is a qualitative difference between not getting a thing you wanted and having a thing you already owned snatched away from you. That's what happened last week to women of childbearing age with regard to the right to have an abortion. And the implications of that decision, awful as they are for those women, resonate far beyond them.

For all the years of the American experiment, the parameters of human-rights debate have plodded predictably, but inexorably, in one direction. There have been setbacks, yes, but always along a path of more freedom for more people. Take LGBTQ rights for example. In 2004, we were arguing whether gay people should have the right to be married. By 2014, we were arguing about who would bake the wedding cake.

Subtly, but perceptibly, the parameters move forward. Or they did. Last week, they moved back 50 years.

In the remarkably specious reasoning of the majority opinion authored by Justice Samuel Alito, women must surrender to the state the right to make decisions about their own reproductive health because that right is neither mentioned in the Constitution nor "deeply rooted in [our] history and tradition." Alito reaches as far back as the 13th century to illustrate this supposed failing.

Given that women were legally voiceless and defined as property of their husbands and fathers in the eras he cites, such reasoning is not only unpersuasive, but flat-out appalling. And considering that such rights as contraception, same-sex and interracial marriage are also of recent vintage and also not mentioned in the Constitution, one must logically fear that the limitations now being imposed on childbearing women will ultimately extend far beyond them.

Alito swears we have no cause for alarm, repeatedly claiming that, "Nothing in this opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion." Tellingly, he never explains why logic that applies to the right to get an abortion would not apply equally to, say, the right to buy condoms. Apparently, he can't.

Meantime, Republican architects of theocracy are openly speculating about imposing further restrictions. Indeed, in his concurrence, Justice Thomas pushes the court to next curtail contraceptive and LGBTQ rights. The fact that conservatives seem to feel it's time now to unfurl their bucket list offers superfluous evidence that this ruling is not logical, but ideological. As the dissenters put it, "The majority has overruled Roe and Casey for one and only one reason: because it has always despised them and now it has the votes to discard them."

That's not how the law is supposed to work. That it apparently works that way now testifies to the illness of this democracy. Progress has lurched backward, women losing a freedom on which they've relied for generations. The rest of us should be angry that their rights can be arbitrarily taken: We should also be concerned.

After all, it means that ours can, too.

(c) 2022 Leonard Pitts Jr. won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2004. He is the author of the novel, Before I Forget. His column runs every Sunday and Wednesday in the Miami Herald. Forward From This Moment, a collection of his columns, was published in 2009.

Come On, Biden, Be A Real President!

By Jim Hightower

President Biden recently flew off to Taiwan to assure allies there that he will fight for them. And next he's headed over to Saudi Arabia to "repair ties" with those oil monarchs.

This flurry of foreign travel might be strategically important for international realpolitik, but - Hello - another strategically important piece of real politics is looming right here at home: The November congressional elections! Taiwan and Saudi Arabia don't get a vote, but Texas and South Carolina do. So how about spending a bit more time flying or even whistle stopping to such places, where many hard-hit working-class families would like to see President Joe fight for and repair ties with them.

In fairness, much of Biden's progressive agenda has been deliberately gummed up by such congressional blobs of do-nothingism as Mitch McConnell and Joe Manchin. But blaming them isn't winning any points for him - nor does it help the families now struggling with baby formula shortages, $5 gasoline, a farm and factory depression, etc.

Instead of blame or surrender, more of Harry Truman's feisty, can-do spirit is called for - get out of the Beltway Bubble and go straight to the people with an urgent program of Big Actions that they want and need. To hell with placating McConnell and Manchin -you're the president Joe, not them, and you're not powerless. For example, Rep. Ro Khanna points out that you should use the government's emergency authority to do "preemptive buying" on the open market to stop runaway food and fuel prices. The authority to do this is already on the books, so no need to kiss McConnell's butt - just take direct presidential action for ordinary Americans.

This is the difference between giving speeches telling voters you're on their side... and actually being there, so they can see it for themselves. It's honest politics.

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

Former Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue's handwritten notes appear onscreen during the fifth hearing by the House Select Committee
to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol in the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, D.C., on June 23, 2022.

Brutal Supreme Court Rulings Rain Down On Another January 6 Hearing
By William Rivers Pitt

Historically, hearings such as those currently investigating the January 6 sacking of the Capitol have usually left a footprint in memory. For Watergate, it was John Dean's statement about "a cancer on the presidency," along with the revelation of recording devices in the Oval Office. For Iran/Contra, it was President Reagan repeating some permutation of "I don't remember" more than 200 times, along with Oliver North's ghastly emergence as a right-wing superstar.

These January 6 hearings are no different in content - a number of no-bullshit "smoking guns" have been revealed, with more potentially to follow - but they are also unfolding at the same time as a hard right Supreme Court has chosen to rain down hard right rulings on reproductive freedom and guns.

The duality of the moment is horrifying. On one side, Congress is actually doing something on guns and Trump corruption - small things, yes, but actual tangible things like the hearings... while down the block squats SCOTUS, dragging us all deeper and deeper into a bog of hyperviolent patriarchy.

It's a mind-cramp, to be sure. What will we remember most about the January 6 hearings into Trump's criminality and the insurrection? The overthrow of Roe v. Wade. Just when things get really bad, they get worse. Such is the way of the 21st century. Makes you wish the Y2K bug actually had obliterated all the computers. Maybe we'd be tending cooking fires and hunting rabbits, and we'd be free.

And so much for all that. Notwithstanding the giant dung bombs raining down from the high court, the January 6 hearings have been nothing short of remarkable. "The bipartisan congressional commission investigating the January 6 coup attempt has found strong evidence that Donald Trump is a criminal," reports Mitchell Zimmerman for Common Dreams. "As the hearings reveal, the former president illegally plotted to stay in office after the American people voted to boot him out. Now he must be indicted."

Thursday's testimony delivered three thunderclaps, none louder than former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue's contemporaneous handwritten notes from a conversation with Trump about the 2020 election. "Just say the election was corrupt," Donoghue quotes Trump as saying, "and leave the rest to me and the Republican Congressmen." It does not get much clearer than that right there.

Trump's statement came within the context of the second thunderclap: His overwhelming effort to stuff the Justice Department with partisans, and to get them along with officials already at the department to do just what the note said: Call the election corrupt, back that with the power of the department, and leave the rest to me. The plot failed when officials like Donoghue refused to cooperate, and sent Trump's handpicked minions scuttling like baby ducks. Wannabe-AG Jeffrey Clark may have been the most conniving, grasping, pathetic Trump official of the bunch, and that is saying something.

The third thunderclap: The stampede of pro-Trump politicians seeking pardons both before and after the January 6 attack. "Videotaped testimony presented at the end of Thursday's hearing named Reps. Matt Gaetz, Mo Brooks, Andy Biggs, Louie Gohmert and Scott Perry as the lawmakers who sought preemptive pardons after or, in at least one case, before the Capitol breach," reports The Washington Post. "They were among the most active and outspoken supporters in Congress of Trump's false claims of election fraud."

As committee member Rep. Adam Kinzinger pointedly noted, "The only reason I know to ask for a pardon, because you think you've committed a crime." Yet another quote for the ages on a day of testimony that deserves to be remembered.

"Perhaps the most decisive piece of evidence that the hearings are working," reports Molly Jongh-Fast for The Atlantic, "is an ABC poll, done after the first three hearings, showing that 'nearly 6 in 10 Americans believe former Pres. Trump should be charged with a crime for his role in the Jan. 6 riot.' It's hard to get Americans to agree on anything, let alone something as polarizing as this.... We don't know what the Justice Department will do. But if it takes action, it will almost certainly be thanks, in part, to the very compelling testimony and proof that the January 6 committee presented to the American people."

There is nothing to suggest these hearings will decelerate into the mundane once they start up again, and more revelations are sure to follow. It is our collective lot to absorb what these hearings tell us while the Supreme Court runs wild, and as we wait for action from a Justice Department still badly denuded and disgraced by the Trump years. The hottest summer burns on.

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

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, shown here in Wingra Park, said the Wisconsin Department of Justice
will not investigate abortions while he is in office. But the Democrat is facing re-election in November.

Kaul Is Right To Reject Ban On Abortion
By John Nichols

Wisconsin is not one of the states that allows contentious issues to be resolved with binding referendums. If it were, the state's voters would overwhelmingly support maintaining the right to choose.

In fact, few states are more clearly pro-choice than Wisconsin. The latest Marquette University Law School Poll, released last Wednesday, found that 58% of the state's voters believe abortion should be legal in all or most circumstances, while only 11% supported an across-the-board ban on abortion rights.

Those numbers are consistent with past Marquette polls and other surveys of Wisconsinites who are wrestling with the issue in these times.

Unfortunately, Wisconsin politicians who oppose abortion rights are now in a position to impose the will of legislators from another time - the pre-Civil War era before women and people of color were allowed to vote - on women and their doctors. These politicians insist that an 1849 law banning abortion must now be enforced - a move that would prevent women from making decisions about what to do with their own bodies. And that would penalize doctors and nurses for providing health care to Wisconsinites.

The determination of Republicans who control the state Legislature and Republican candidates for governor and attorney general to reanimate a law that has not been enforced in the modern era always seemed absurd. Yet that absurdity is now on us, as the right-wing judicial activist majority on the U.S. Supreme Court has reversed five decades of legal precedent by overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. In so doing, the court has unleashed legal chaos in states such as Wisconsin, which never got around to removing archaic ghost laws from their books.

Wisconsinites are lucky that Attorney General Josh Kaul will be in a position to sort through that chaos with a clear-eyed approach that is in synch with the sentiments of his constituents.

After a draft version of the decision to overturn Roe was leaked in May, Kaul announced, "As long as I am Attorney General, the Department of Justice will not be using its resources to investigate or prosecute alleged violations of the 170-plus-year-old abortion ban on the books."

Kaul has also suggested that district attorneys in counties where abortion services are offered - Dane, Milwaukee and Sheboygan - should not spend resources to enforce the ban.

That was a bold stance to take, and it was one that Kaul acknowledged could inspire litigation. But the attorney general recognizes that using the state's law enforcement resources to punish women and their doctors makes no sense.

"I believe that our investigative and prosecutorial resources in Wisconsin should investigate and prosecute things like violent crime and drug trafficking and not be diverted from those investigative and prosecutorial needs to be used to go after people for abortions," said the attorney general.

That's exactly where the people of Wisconsin are on this issue, but it is not where the Republicans who want to replace Kaul have positioned themselves. They are running as anti-choice activists who would reanimate the 1849 law.

As a result, this fall's election for attorney general will become a referendum on choice. And Josh Kaul will be the candidate who reminds voters that, "We are at a crossroads for the future of reproductive freedom, and we need elected officials to step up and protect access to safe and legal abortion."

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

Do We Have The Potential To Be Gods?
By James Donahue

There is a twisted irony in the fact that at about the time researchers are discovering that humans may have the potential of living very long lives . . . and possibly forever . . . we also appear to be on the brink of destroying our planet.

Since the research team successfully mapped the human genome more and more information has been discovered.

For example, a large portion of the DNA code was originally labeled "junk DNA" because researchers could not find any use for it. But after a team of scientists at University of California discovered that the same "junk DNA" exists in all species of animals on the planet, there was a change in thinking. The information strongly suggests an evolutionary connection and perhaps we all possess a built-in technology to continue evolving into something far superior to what we presently are.

Anthropologist Dr. John Hawks, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, discovered in 2007 that a rapid acceleration of human evolution appears to have been happening, especially during the last 5,000 years. In an article published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Hawks noted that positive selection within humans has occurred at a rate 100 times higher than at any other time in human history.

Proof in Hawks' report can be found in the fact that he found long blocks of DNA base pairs showing evidence of mutations that have been passed throughout the population. The conclusion is that the population increase in humans has contributed to the chances for such mutations to occur and become an adaptation.

Examples of such evolution can be found in the general intelligence of humans, which has risen steadily, and subtle things like genetic alterations that help us adapt to various diseases. We have moved from tribal to agricultural and then community living, and since the industrial age, we have quickly adapted to the printing press, the computer, music and arts.

J. R. Flynn, a political science professor at the University of Otago, New Zealand, found that IQ scores all over the world have gone up an average of three points every decade for as long as IQ test scores were first recorded in 1910.

Children appear to be learning faster than average. They are linking quickly via the Internet and their text message devices, and are developing a type of universal intelligence that may be an indication of something remarkable occurring before our eyes.

For some years now we have had a phenomenon among children known as attention deficit disorder or autism. Children are not behaving normally, so they are being treated with drugs designed to force them to conform. But are these behavior patterns merely a sign of boredom? Usually these same children test at very high IQ levels.

A few years ago Authors Lee Carroll and Jan Tober published The Indigo Children, which describes children displaying "a new and unusual set of psychological attributes revealing a pattern of behavior generally undocumented before."

These children, the authors said, were called Indigo Children because their aura was usually found to be an indigo shade. They suggested that they were bringing a new form of human consciousness into the world in preparation for a dynamic new stage of evolution.

An essay on this subject by Keith Luke suggested that the so-called disorderly children of today "come remembering that which you have forgotten. They have no patience for everyday smallness as it exists in your reality . . . It is that they are able to see what is truth within and around all things, and these children are not accepting untruths."

Is there a chance that humans are capable of achieving a state of godliness? Remember that after Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge, the Creator expressed alarm. Speaking to the other gods around him he said: "See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil." Are we not still evolving to become like the god that created all things? As a fragment of the entire creation, are we not already gods but we haven't realized our potential?

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

A Father carries his daughter on the shoulders as she holds a placard reading "Peace" during a demonstration against NATO in Madrid's Gran Via. Protest groups against NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)
and against war took to the streets of Madrid in a demonstration. This year Madrid is the venue for the NATO summit. Multiple groups from all over Spain and Europe traveled to participate in the demonstration.

NATO And A War Foretold
Instead of exploiting this crisis to expand even further, NATO should suspend all new or pending membership applications until the current crisis has been resolved.
By Medea Benjamin

As NATO holds its Summit in Madrid on June 28-30, the war in Ukraine is taking center stage. During a pre-Summit June 22 talk with Politico, NATO's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg bragged about how well-prepared NATO was for this fight because, he said: "This was an invasion that was predicted, foreseen by our intelligence services." Stoltenberg was talking about Western intelligence predictions in the months leading up to the February 24 invasion, when Russia insisted it was not going to attack. Stoltenberg, however, could well have been talking about predictions that went back not just months before the invasion, but decades.

Stoltenberg could have looked all the way back to when the U.S.S.R. was dissolving, and highlighted a 1990 State Department memo warning that creating an "anti-Soviet coalition" of NATO countries along the U.S.S.R's border "would be perceived very negatively by the Soviets."

Stoltenberg could have reflected on the consequences of all the broken promises by Western officials that NATO would not expand eastward. Secretary of State James Baker's famous assurance to Soviet President Gorbachev was just one example. Declassified U.S., Soviet, German, British and French documents posted by the National Security Archive reveal multiple assurances by Western leaders to Gorbachev and other Soviet officials throughout the process of German unification in 1990 and 1991.

The NATO Secretary General could have recalled the 1997 letter by 50 prominent foreign policy experts, calling President Clinton's plans to enlarge NATO a policy error of "historic proportions" that would "unsettle European stability." But Clinton had already made a commitment to invite Poland into the club, reportedly out of concern that saying "no" to Poland would lose him critical Polish-American votes in the Midwest in the 1996 election.

Stoltenberg could have remembered the prediction made by George Kennan, the intellectual father of U.S. containment policy during the Cold War, when NATO moved ahead and incorporated Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary in 1998. In a New York Times interview, Kennan called NATO expansion a "tragic mistake" that marked the beginning of a new Cold War, and warned that the Russians would "gradually react quite adversely."

After seven more Eastern European countries joined NATO in 2004, including the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuaniaich, which had actually been part of the former Soviet Union, the hostility increased further. Stoltenberg could have just considered the words of President Putin himself, who said on many occasions that NATO enlargement represented "a serious provocation." In 2007, at the Munich Security Conference, Putin asked, "What happened to the assurances our Western partners made after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact?"

But it was the 2008 NATO Summit, when NATO ignored Russia's vehement opposition and promised that Ukraine would join NATO, that really set off alarm bells.

William Burns, then U.S. ambassador to Moscow, sent an urgent memo to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. "Ukrainian entry into NATO is the brightest of all redlines for the Russian elite (not just Putin)," he wrote. "In more than two and a half years of conversations with key Russian players, from knuckle-draggers in the dark recesses of the Kremlin to Putin's sharpest liberal critics, I have yet to find anyone who views Ukraine in NATO as anything other than a direct challenge to Russian interests."

Instead of comprehending the danger of crossing "the brightest of all redlines," President George W. Bush persisted and pushed through internal opposition within NATO to proclaim, in 2008, that Ukraine would indeed be granted membership, but at an unspecified date. Stoltenberg could well have traced the present conflict back to that NATO Summit–a Summit that took place well before the 2014 Euromaidan coup or Russia's seizure of Crimea or the failure of the Minsk Agreements to end the civil war in the Donbas.

This was indeed a war foretold. Thirty years of warnings and predictions turned out to be all too accurate. But they all went unheeded by an institution that measured its success only in terms of its own endless expansion instead of by the security it promised but repeatedly failed to deliver, most of all to the victims of its own aggression in Serbia, Afghanistan and Libya.

Now Russia has launched a brutal, illegal war that has uprooted millions of innocent Ukrainians from their homes, killed and injured thousands of civilians and is taking the lives of more than a hundred Ukrainian soldiers every day. NATO is determined to keep sending massive amounts of weapons to fuel the war, while millions around the world suffer from the growing economic fallout of the conflict.

We can't go back and undo Russia's catastrophic decision to invade Ukraine or NATO's historic blunders. But Western leaders can make wiser strategic decisions going forward. Those should include a commitment to allow Ukraine to become a neutral, non-NATO state, something that President Zelenskyy himself agreed to in principle early on in the war.

And, instead of exploiting this crisis to expand even further, NATO should suspend all new or pending membership applications until the current crisis has been resolved. That is what a genuine mutual security organization would do, in sharp contrast to the opportunistic behavior of this aggressive military alliance.

But we'll make our own prediction based on NATO's past behavior. Instead of calling for compromises on all sides to end the bloodshed, this dangerous Alliance will instead promise an endless supply of weapons to help Ukraine "win" an unwinnable war, and will continue to seek out and seize every chance to engorge itself at the expense of human life and global security.

While the world determines how to hold Russia accountable for the horrors it is committing in Ukraine, the members of NATO should do some honest self-reflection. They should realize that the only permanent solution to the hostility generated by this exclusive, divisive alliance is to dismantle NATO and replace it with an inclusive framework that provides security to all of Europe's countries and people, without threatening Russia or blindly following the United States in its insatiable and anachronistic, hegemonic ambitions.

(c) 2022 Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace, is the author of the new book, Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi Connection. Her previous books include: Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control; Don't Be Afraid Gringo: A Honduran Woman Speaks from the Heart, and (with Jodie Evans) Stop the Next War Now (Inner Ocean Action Guide). Follow her on Twitter: @medeabenjamin

Fossil fuel executives are gleeful at the massive amounts of money they're hoarding, even as most people are feeling the pinch of rising fuel prices

People Suffer As Climate Disrupters Rake In Massive Profits
By David Suzuki

The lineage of our human species has survived for several million years thanks to a wondrous, interconnected evolution of factors resulting in air to breathe, water to drink and plants, fungi, animals and minerals for food, shelter, tools and clothing.

For most of that time, our ancestors lived in relative harmony with the shared natural world. Life wasn't always easy, but people lived within the limits of what the planet and its stable cycles of water, oxygen, carbon, nitrogen and more could support.

Now, with our accelerating numbers, appetites and hubris, we've upset the balance, putting ourselves and most life at risk. We've lost our way, our place in nature.

For many years, blinded by rapid technological progress and benefits, we could perhaps be forgiven for our inability to see the true picture, despite warnings from those whose analyses found flaws in our methods and thinking.

But today's increasing environmental crises were largely preventable. We've known about the "greenhouse effect" since at least 1824, when French mathematician Joseph Fourier described the way gases in our atmosphere retain heat that would otherwise be emitted back into space, maintaining relatively stable conditions for life.

Since then, many scientists have demonstrated that pumping increasing amounts of gases like carbon dioxide and methane - mainly by burning coal, oil and gas - would trap even more radiation, heating the atmosphere and planet.

Profit-driven consumerism in the wealthier world, especially North America, spurred a car-centric lifestyle that promoted burning ever greater amounts of valuable carbon stored in coal, oil and gas - as scientists became increasingly alarmed. By 1977, the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy sent a memo to President Jimmy Carter titled "Release of Fossil CO2 and the Possibility of a Catastrophic Climate Change."

Noting that "the atmospheric concentration of CO2 is now 12 percent above the pre-industrial revolution level and may grow to 1.5 to 2.0 times that level within 60 years," the memo warned that this would "induce a global climatic warming of anywhere from 0.5 to 5 degrees C" which "could be catastrophic and calls for an impact assessment of unprecedented importance and difficulty."

Some of the memo was based on space, atmospheric and ocean research produced for President Lyndon Johnson in 1965, which found burning fossil fuels was adding "billions of tons" of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

The solution, according to the memo, was to develop a long-term energy strategy that included conservation, nuclear power and, for "insurance against over-reliance on a nuclear-energy economy," research into solar, biomass and other renewable sources.

Seeing a threat to their enormously lucrative activities, industry executives mounted a full-scale campaign to deny, downplay or cause confusion about the growing evidence that their actions threaten our survival - a campaign that's ongoing.

With atmospheric CO2 levels now more than 50 per cent higher and global average temperature at least 1.1 C warmer than the pre-industrial era, we're seeing the impacts: heat domes, extreme weather, droughts, floods, sea level rise, refugee crises, species extinction... the list goes on, and it will get worse unless we stop burning fossil fuels.

Yet, a Guardian investigation shows that, with government complicity, the world's largest fossil fuel companies are planning scores of major "oil and gas projects that would drive the climate past internationally agreed temperature limits with catastrophic global impacts." Canada is one of "the countries with the biggest expansion plans and the highest number of carbon bombs" and has some of the highest subsidies for fossil fuel companies.

Meanwhile, fossil fuel executives are gleeful at the massive amounts of money they're hoarding, even as most people are feeling the pinch of rising fuel prices. BP CEO Bernard Looney - whose pay more than doubled from 2020 to 2021 to almost US$6 million because of rising oil and gas prices - described his company as a "cash machine," while company chief financial officer Murray Auchincloss said in a February speech, "Certainly, it's possible that we're getting more cash than we know what to do with."

We still have time - and solutions - to slow the consequences of climate disruption and resolve the crisis, but our window of opportunity is getting narrower by the day. We need to put an end to the greed and excess and find our way to a better, safer future for all.

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

Lake Mead Could Soon Be A 'Dead Pool.' It's Already A Pool Of The Dead.
The reservoir, which provides water to huge swathes of the American West, is drying up.
By Charles P. Pierce

As democracy grows more desiccated in Washington, elsewhere in the country, where those crafty Chinese climate hoaxsters continue to ply their shenanigans, the talk of something dying of thirst is far less metaphorical. From NBC News:

Lake Mead's water level on Wednesday was measured at 1,044.03 feet, its lowest elevation since the lake was filled in the 1930s. If the reservoir dips below 895 feet - a possibility still years away - Lake Mead would reach dead pool, carrying enormous consequences for millions of people across Arizona, California, Nevada and parts of Mexico. "This is deadly serious stuff," said Robert Glennon, an emeritus professor at the University of Arizona who specializes in water law and policy. Persistent drought conditions over the past two decades, exacerbated by climate change and increased water demands across the southwestern United States, have contributed to Lake Mead's depletion. Though the reservoir is at risk of becoming a dead pool, it would most likely take several more years to reach that level, Glennon said.
One problem piles on another. The federal Bureau of Reclamation is trying to fill up Lake Mead-and Lake Powell-again, but to do so, it has to regulate the use of the Colorado River by several western states.
Dead pool would not mean that there was no water left in the reservoir, but even before Lake Mead were to hit that point, there are concerns that water levels could fall so low that the production of hydroelectric power would be hindered.

"Electricity generation in our western reservoirs becomes a problem as the water level in the reservoirs goes down," Glennon said. As a reservoir is depleted, there is less water flowing through turbines and less liquid pressure to make them spin, which means the turbines produce less electricity, he added.

As the lake dries, sunken things start to be revealed, and that can get a little grisly. Again, from NBC News:
Boaters enjoying the spring day at Lake Mead made a jarring discovery May 1: a metal barrel that appeared to contain skeletal remains. "We believe this is a homicide as a result of a gunshot wound," Lt. Ray Spencer with the Las Vegas police said. Efforts are underway to identify the victim, who investigators believe was killed between the mid-1970s and the early 1980s, based on clothing and footwear, Las Vegas police said. Just six days after the barrel discovery, another set of skeletal remains was found at Callville Bay within Lake Mead National Recreation Area, the National Park Service said. However, in this case, Las Vegas police said there was no evidence to suggest foul play.
There are a hundred jokes about "dead pool" here, and I'm leaving every damn one of them alone. They'll emerge eventually.

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

The Quotable Quote -

"I believe strongly that we can protect our people without undermining our constitutional rights and I worry very, very much about the huge attacks on privacy that we have seen in recent years - both from the government and the private sector. I worry that we are moving toward an Orwellian society, and this is something I will oppose as vigorously as I can."
~~~ Bernie Sanders

Apartheid: How A Reluctant UN Official Was Convinced To So Describe Israeli Policies Toward Palestinians
By Juan Cole

Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) - Dawnmena (Dawn in the Middle East and North Africa), the democratization site founded by the late Jamal Khashoggi, carries an important column this week by Michael Lynk, who was the seventh United Nations Special Rapporteur for the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, serving in that position between 2016 and 2022. It is about how the mild-mannered professor of law at Western University in Ontario - who came into office with a distaste for using the term "Apartheid" to describe Israeli rule over the Occupied Palestinians because he felt it was undiplomatic and unhelpful in securing the cooperation of the Israeli authorities - in the course of six years made a 180-degree turn and used the term himself in his last report to the U.N.

Sometimes apologists for the over 50-year Israeli military Occupation of what are now about 5 million Palestinians try to argue that their situation is not exactly like that in South Africa. Well, for one thing, many South Africans who have been to the West Bank have said that it is worse than their Apartheid or racial segregation policy.

But an exact comparison with South Africa is by now beside the point.

I observed elsewhere,

. . . the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court adopted a universalized definition of Apartheid practices unconstrained by the South African historical model, which is intended to be applied to other societies in the world.

As HRW [Human Rights Watch] notes, the Rome Statute defines Apartheid as "inhumane acts... committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime."

That language clearly does describe Israeli activities in the West Bank and Gaza.

HRW continues:
"The crime of apartheid under the Apartheid Convention and Rome Statute consists of three primary elements: an intent to maintain a system of domination by one racial group over another; systematic oppression by one racial group over another; and one or more inhumane acts, as defined, carried out on a widespread or systematic basis pursuant to those policies.

Among the inhumane acts identified in either the Convention or the Rome Statute are "forcible transfer," "expropriation of landed property," "creation of separate reserves and ghettos," and denial of the "the right to leave and to return to their country, [and] the right to a nationality."

As the Israeli Human Rights organization B'Tselem also pointed out, between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean there are now 6.8 million Jews and 6.8 million Palestinians, all of them ruled over by the Israeli state. They are systematically and intentionally treated differently, with the Palestinians given far fewer rights and treated much more harshly on the basis of race and ethnicity. Even inside Israel, the Knesset or parliament passed a measure in 2018 declaring that sovereignty solely resides in the Jewish people, formally making Israeli citizens of Palestinian extraction, over 20% of the population, second class citizens. What then of the militarily Occupied Palestinians in the Territories, who labor under martial law administered by Israeli officers?

Caabu: "Michael Lynk, former UN Special Rapporteur for situation of human rights in Palestine on apartheid"

That Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International both came to the conclusion in 2021 – 2022 that Israel is practicing Apartheid as defined in the UN Apartheid Convention and the 2002 Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court at the Hague, helped convince Lynk that the term was inescapable.

The newsletter of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights quoted Lynk's final conclusions after six years of visiting the area and reporting on it,

"There is today in the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 1967 a deeply discriminatory dual legal and political system that privileges the 700,000 Israeli Jewish settlers living in the 300 illegal Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Living in the same geographic space, but separated by walls, checkpoints, roads and an entrenched military presence, are more than three million Palestinians, who are without rights, living under an oppressive rule of institutional discrimination and without a path to a genuine Palestinian state that the world has long promised is their right. Another two million Palestinians live in Gaza, described regularly as an 'open-air prison', without adequate access to power, water or health, with a collapsing economy and with no ability to freely travel to the rest of Palestine or the outside world."
In his Dawnmena piece, Lynk says that he was pushed to conclude that this situation is Apartheid, and was pushed to so call it, by two main considerations. One was the steadfast refusal of the United States and Europe to hold Israel to account for its systematic violations of international human rights law. You can't have a rules-based international order, he says, if a UN member can deliberately and relentlessly flout the UN Charter and the organization's main human rights instruments and treaties without suffering any penalty. The US almost always uses its veto to protect Israel from the sort of sanctions imposed on other violators, such as Iraq and Iran.

The second consideration, he said, was that in the past year the major human rights organizations have concluded that there is no other way to describe Israeli policies toward the Palestinians but Apartheid. Lynk wrote,

"Albert Camus once wrote that calling things by their wrong name only adds to the misfortune of the world. I came to accept that international humanitarian law could no longer adequately capture the new legal and political reality in the occupied Palestinian territory. The Israeli occupation-which, under international law, is required to be temporary and short-term-had become indistinguishable from annexation and apartheid. When I became Special Rapporteur in 2016, there were 400,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank, and 220,000 in East Jerusalem. By 2022, the settler population stood at 485,000 and 230,000, respectively. These settlers live outside of Israel's recognized international borders, yet enjoy full Israeli citizenship rights in Jewish-only communities, while the 5 million Palestinians among them live under either Israeli military law or under a truncated form of precarious residency rights."
I wouldn't have quoted Camus on this point, since the French existentialist was Algerian-born and desperately wanted to keep 11 million Algerians under French Occupation in the 1950s, differing from Sartre in this regard (not that Sartre was sympathetic to the Palestinians).

Why not quote a Palestinian poet, the late Mahmoud Darwish, on this issue, from one of his last letters written only three months before his death to a literary festival he could not attend because of his ill health?

"We are now in the sixtieth year of the Nakba. There are those who dance now on our graves, and they consider us their feast. But the Nakba is not a memory; it is a continuous uprooting that makes Palestinians more worried about their existence. The Nakba continues because the occupation continues. Continuing occupation means the continuation of the war. This permanent war waged by Israel against us is not a war to defend its existence; it is a war over our existence. The conflict is not, therefore, a conflict between two existences, as the Israeli discourse promotes . . . You are here, dear friends, to see the facts for how they are. Yesterday we celebrated together the end of apartheid in South Africa. And here you see it thriving . . . in all of its power."
(c) 2022 Juan R.I. Cole is the founder and chief editor of Informed Comment. He is the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. He has written extensively on modern Islamic movements in Egypt, the Persian Gulf and South Asia and has given numerous media interviews on the war on terrorism and the Iraq War. He lived in various parts of the Muslim world for nearly 10 years and continues to travel widely there. He speaks Arabic, Farsi and Urdu.

An abortion rights activist protests next to anti-abortion rights activists in front of the U.S. Supreme Court Building on June 23, 2022 in Washington, DC.

Republicans Won't Stop At Roe
The Republican majority on the Supreme Court is giving states the green light to invade everyone's privacy in ever more egregious ways.
By Robert Reich

Bans on abortion, birth control, and same-sex marriage are at stake in November's elections.

Overturning Roe v. Wade is extreme, but what's just as alarming is the logic Justice Samuel Alito used to justify it, which puts a whole range of other rights on the chopping block, too.

We enjoy many rights that are protected by the Constitution but not explicitly mentioned in it. One of these is the right to privacy. The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that the 14th Amendment's due process clause protects individuals' privacy against government interference.

In 1965, in Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court used privacy to make it illegal for states to ban birth control. In 1973, in Roe v. Wade, the Court used privacy to decide that women have broad rights to determine whether to end their pregnancies. In 2003, in Lawrence v. Texas, the Court protected LGBTQ Americans from arrest and prosecution for engaging in consensual sex in the privacy of their own bedrooms. In 2015 in Obergefell v. Hodges, the Court legalized gay marriage.

These landmark court cases all rest on the principle that the Constitution protects the liberty of an individual to make decisions about certain private matters without government interference.

But in his leaked opinion, Justice Samuel Alito argues that since the Constitution contains neither an explicit right to an abortion nor an explicit right to privacy, Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided and must be overturned.

Alito's logic threatens all the other court cases that were decided based on the inferred right to privacy. That could give government a say over the most intimate decisions someone ever makes. Alito explicitly writes that his opinion overturning Roe v Wade "concerns the constitutional right to abortion and no other right." Should we believe him?

Well, he and the other justices who have tentatively joined him all reassured the senators in their confirmation hearings that they accepted Roe v Wade as settled precedent. They all lied. So there's no reason to believe their assurance now.

Make no mistake: this is what's on the ballot in November.

Republican lawmakers want the government to make decisions about your marriage, your bedroom, and your body. They've already started at the state level by restricting abortion and criminalizing gender-affirming health care for trans people. The Republican majority on the Supreme Court is giving states the green light to invade everyone's privacy in ever more egregious ways.

This is why we must work to elect Democrats who will protect these rights at both the state and federal level. Know the stakes, and vote accordingly.


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

The SCOTUS Abortion Ruling Highlights The Dire Loss Of Democracy In America
If we don't get a correction - get ready for the vigilantes to come for your daughter when she's raped and looking for options on the internet...
By Thom Hartmann

Across America, women and girls are deleting period-tracking apps from their smartphones and fitness trackers so police and bounty-hunter vigilantes from Red states can't use their data to pinpoint people getting abortions or having "suspicious" miscarriages.

But that won't be enough.

Ever since Donald Trump and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai ended "net neutrality," which should have been called "net privacy," your Internet Service Provider (ISP) - the company that brings the internet into your home (and your phone company when it comes to your smart phone) - can track and record every website you visit, read every email you send or receive, and log every search you do even if you're using duckduckgo or other "private" search engines.

By 6-3, Republicans on the Court agreed with Trump that the FCC could open the floodgates to tracking you and me and selling our data to anybody they please, as I wrote about at length in The Hidden History of Big Brother in America.

They then can - and most do - legally sell your information to data brokers who compile it along with your social media, government records, purchased records from retailers like pharmacies, and other publicly available information.

Most Americans believe this data is anonymized or only used by responsible companies to deliver ads: they are wrong. Any Republican politician or militia member with a few bucks can buy pretty much anything he wants to know about you, thanks to Trump and the GOP.

Such activity is illegal - a felony - in every other developed country in the world. Only in America is such privacy invasion not only legal but a multi-billion-dollar business. It's literally the business model of the largest internet-based companies in the country.

And, yes, they're already doing it to bust and punish individuals for their behavior.

It was such a sale to a data broker that led Monsignor Jeffrey Burrill, a Wisconsin Catholic priest who was the General Secretary of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, to resign last year when his use of a gay dating app and subsequent visits to gay prostitutes - found by purchasing location data from his phone - was acquired and used against him.

Imagine how much more motivated elected Republican Attorneys General, their police agencies, and vigilantes looking at $10,000-per-person bounties will be to buy and use data from health apps and online searches. It's a safe bet it's going on as you read these words: literally millions of such data transfers, sales, and purchases happen every day in America.

We arrived at this sorry place because of a lack of democracy in America. It's a deficiency we must remedy if we want to remain a functioning republic.

The Senate

Forty-two Senators represent 21 states whose aggregated total populations are smaller than the single state of California, which is represented by only two Senators. (Those 21 states are Wyoming, Alaska, Vermont, North Dakota, South Dakota, Delaware, Montana, Rhode Island, Maine, Utah, Iowa, Nevada, Arkansas, Mississippi, Kansas, New Mexico, Nebraska, Idaho, Hawaii, West Virginia and New Hampshire.)

The last year a majority of Americans voted to put Republicans in charge of the US Senate was 1996, 26 years ago.

The situation is made even worse by the filibuster, a Senate rule that didn't exist during the Founding generation and only came about in the 1830s to block discussion and debate about slavery (as I lay out in The Hidden History of the War on Voting).

Today the 50 Senators from Republican-controlled states represent 43 million fewer Americans than Senators from Democratic-controlled states, yet for the past 26 years they've used the filibuster to block nearly every meaningful piece of Democratic-sponsored legislation.

The Presidency

We've had four presidents in this century: Bush, Obama, Trump, and Biden.

Both Bush and Trump lost their national elections: Bush lost by a half-million votes, and Trump lost by 3 million votes. The last time a majority of American voters elected a Republican president was George HW Bush in 1988, 34 years ago.

Both W. Bush and Trump ascended to the White House because of an arcane structure called the Electoral College, which gives a disproportionate voice to a handful of "swing" states and is something no other country in the world has wanted or bothered to replicate.

As a result, American presidential elections turn almost exclusively on that handful of "swing states" where Republican-owned radio and TV stations daily broadcast rightwing propaganda, and rightwing billionaires pour billions into holding those states in GOP hands.

The States

In the states themselves this lack of democracy plays out in the shocking differences between how people cast their votes and who ends up holding power. In Wisconsin, Michigan, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky, for example, the majority of voters cast Democratic ballots, resulting in Democrats holding most statewide offices. Each of those states has a Democratic Governor, but each of those states' legislatures are controlled by Republicans, who received fewer statewide votes than did their Democratic opponents.

As bizarre as it sounds, this is how it works in America because of gerrymandering, a process that no other developed country in the world tolerates outside of Hungary, where rightwing autocrat Victor Orban put his version of it into place a few years ago to consolidate his own political power.

Gerrymandering in America has, however, received the seal of approval from five Republicans on the Supreme Court, so it stands as being tolerated by the law of the land.

The Supreme Court

Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that the Supreme Court has the power to strike down laws, create law, or grant or remove Constitutional rights. Nowhere. So, how did we get here?

In 1803, in the Marbury v Madison case, the Supreme Court struck down provisions of a law that regulated the judiciary, proclaiming they were taking for themselves the power to alter laws passed by Congress and signed by the President.

President Thomas Jefferson went nuts, writing:

"If this opinion be sound, then indeed is our Constitution a complete felo de se [a suicide pact]. For intending to establish three departments, coordinate and independent, that they might check and balance one another, it has given, according to this opinion, to one of them alone, the right to prescribe rules for the government of the others, and to that one too, which is unelected by, and independent of the nation....
President Jefferson continued in full fury:
"The Constitution, on this hypothesis, is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they please.

"It should be remembered, as an axiom of eternal truth in politics, that whatever power in any government is independent, is absolute also; in theory only, at first, while the spirit of the people is up, but in practice, as fast as that relaxes. Independence can be trusted nowhere but with the people in mass. They are inherently independent of all but moral law.

"My construction of the Constitution is very different from that you quote. It is that each department is truly independent of the others, and has an equal right to decide for itself what is the meaning of the Constitution in the cases submitted to its action; and especially, where it is to act ultimately and without appeal....

"A judiciary independent of a king or executive alone is a good thing; but independent of the will of the nation is a solecism [a blunder], at least in a republican government."

The blowback against the Supreme Court claiming they had the power and right to strike down or rewrite laws was so severe that they didn't meaningfully touch that third-rail again until 1856, when Chief Justice Roger Taney thought he'd "solve the slavery problem in America once and for all."

The Court's Dred Scott decision, striking down and modifying numerous US laws by ruling that Black people were "property" across the entire United States, slave or free, set off another firestorm about the Court "legislating from the bench."

In 1858, before he became Lincoln's first vice president, Maine senator Hannibal Hamlin, openly rejected the Court's power to:

"...decide a political question for us ... We make the laws, they interpret them; but it is not for them to tell us ... what is a political constitutional right of this body. ... Of all the despotisms on earth, a judicial despotism is the worst. It is a life estate."
Two years later, President Abraham Lincoln agreed and refused to enforce the Supreme Court's decision, saying, essentially, "That was terrible for poor Mister Scott and he's going to have to go back to slavery, but I'm not going to apply this to any other people in America" (my words, not his).

Many historians argue that this overreach by the Court in Dred Scott led us straight to the Civil War.

After his swearing in as president in March, 1861, Lincoln told the nation in his Inaugural Address:

"[I]f the policy of the government, upon vital questions, affecting the whole people, is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made ... the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having, to that extent, practically resigned their government into the hands of that eminent tribunal."
Again, the Court backed down and went back, for a generation, to simply being the final arbiter of disputes between private parties and between the states, as the Constitution spells out.

That lasted until Reconstruction collapsed as a result of the election of 1876; by the 1880s the Court decided to again try its hand at striking down laws or creating doctrines from whole cloth that Congress never intended.

The most famous of these was the recognition of "corporate personhood," giving legal fictions (corporations) the same rights laid out for humans in the Bill of Rights, including the right to free speech (1st Amendment), privacy (4th Amendment), against self-incrimination (5th Amendment), and equal protection with humans under the law (14th Amendment, ratified later).

As I laid out in Unequal Protection, the Court itself didn't actually rule that corporations are persons; that was added into a not-legally-binding headnote by the corrupt Clerk of the Court, John Chandler Bancroft Davis.

But, within a decade, the Court as a whole - delighted with the idea - was ruling in favor of corporate power by citing that corrupt headnote, putting the doctrine into effect from the 1890s to this day.

As a result, along with a ruling that set up Citizens United arguing that billionaires bribing politicians was simply legal "free speech," corporations and a group of morbidly rich billionaire activists have captured the entire GOP and more than a handful of Democratic politicians.

Thus, it wasn't until the early 20th century that the Court started tearing down or rewriting laws in really great numbers; today it's almost all that they do.

And not only is there no Constitutional basis for it but, as I laid out in The Hidden History of the Supreme Court and the Betrayal of America, Congress has the power to stop them from doing it.

So, how do we restore at least a modicum of democracy to our democratic republic? Here's a short list:

*End the filibuster and pass legislation putting into law the rights defined by the Lawrence, Brown, Roe, Loving, Obergefell, and Griswold decisions.

*Add Washington DC and Puerto Rico as states, giving us 4 more Democratic-leaning senators.

*Expand the size of the Supreme Court to 15 justices, pass a code of ethics binding on members of the Court, and institute term limits.

*End the Electoral College through a newly rebooted national campaign to get laggard states to join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact that would replace it (we're about three-quarters of the way there, but it's stalled recently).

*Pass the For The People act to end gerrymandering, voter suppression, political bribery, and the power of big money in our elections.

*Restore "net neutrality" so our internet companies can no longer legally spy on our every keystroke.

None of these steps are impossible and, were the shoe on the other foot - as it was when Mitch McConnell ran the Senate in 2017 and eliminated the filibuster for Supreme Court justices to push through Neil Gorsuch - Republicans would have done all of them by now.

It's going to take Chuck Schumer growing a spine and whipping his caucus into shape, or massive electoral victories for Democratic candidates in House and Senate races this fall. Or both.

Are either or both possible? If not, get ready for the vigilantes to come for your daughter when she's raped and looking for options on the internet...

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

The Cartoon Corner -

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Mike Luckovich ~~~

To End On A Happy Note -

Have You Seen This -

Parting Shots -

US Republicans Propose Arming Foetuses In The Womb
By Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)-The Trump White House rejected Marjorie Taylor Greene's e-mail request for a pardon after she spelled it "parton," new reports indicate. According to evidence obtained by the January 6th committee, the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, was perplexed by Greene's entreaty, believing that it referred to the legendary singer-songwriter Dolly Parton.

Meadows reportedly could not understand how Parton, whose extensive catalogue of hit songs includes "Jolene" and "9 to 5," could be of assistance to Greene, and therefore he deleted the e-mail.

Having received no response, a frantic Greene e-mailed the White House requesting clemency, which she spelled as "clementine."

Speaking to reporters at the Capitol, Greene flatly denied sending the panicked e-mails. "I was never worried about going to prism," she said.

(c) 2022 Andy Borowitz


Issues & Alibis Vol 22 # 25 (c) 07/01/2022

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