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In This Edition

Glenn Greenwald reports on, "James Clapper, EU Play-Acting, And Political Priorities."

Uri Avnery considers, "Kerry And Chutzpah."

Glen Ford watches, "The Obamas Do Africa."

Randal Amster takes us to the, "Line Of Fire."

Jim Hightower asks, "Serve Bankers Or Serve The Poor? Congress Reinterprets Jesus."

Mickey Z outs, "Obama's BFF: The Espionage Act."

James Donahue warns of, "Happy Air In A Store Near You."

John Nichols wonders, "Wendy Davis For Governor?"

Robert Scheer exposes, "America's New Cold War."

Greg Palast concludes, "Ku Klux Kourt Kills King's Dream Law, Replaces Voting Rights Act With Katherine Harris Acts."

Paul Krugman reports Republicans declare, "War On The Unemployed."

David Sirota examines, "Obama's War On Journalism."

David Swanson finds, "Sequester Optionally Applied Only To Good Things."

Ohio's Republican Governor John Kasich wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich explores, "The GOP's Endless War On Obamacare, And The White House Delay."

Alex Kirby discovers, "More Storms, More Heat Says WMO."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Bill Maher says, "Dealer Or No Deal" but first Uncle Ernie exclaims, "It's Always Something!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Rick McKee, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Ruben Bolling, Dave Granlund, Mickey Z, Carolyn Kaster, Eric Gay, Chan Lowe, Christopher Gregory, Yves Logghe, Michael Studinger, J. Scott Applewhite, BananaStock/Thinkstock, NASA, The New York Times, the City of Prescott, Arizona, Black Agenda Report, You Tube.Com and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

The Quotable Quote...
The Dead Letter Office...
The Cartoon Corner...
To End On A Happy Note...
Have You Seen This...
Parting Shots...

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

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It's Always Something!
By Ernest Stewart

And all the morons
And all the stooges with their coins
They're the ones who make the rules, it's not a game, it's just a rout

There's desperation
There's desperation in the air
It leaves a stain on all your clothes and no detergent gets it out

And we're always slipping through the cracks
Then the movie's over, fade to black
Life is a lemon and I want my money back
Life Is A Lemon ~~~ Meatloaf

"Some of you expressed surprise that I showed up with so many emails to read!" ~~~ Director of National Intelligence James Clapper making a joke during an awards ceremony.

"Nothing Says Jobs Like Transvaginal Probes!" ~~~ Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley to Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell

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

Did you ever notice how there is seldom any peace in this country? Do you believe, as I do, that there's some method to this madness? There're reasons why this happened on this day, and before it can really be considered, this next thing pops up. How the nightmare that's become this country just keeps getting worse every day, never a break, just something else. Always something else. I'm a little surprised that no one's mentioned something bad about those 19 money-sucking, union thugs, that gave their lives for others the other day in Arizona. WTF, is Rush on coffee break?

You can hardly focus on one horror to find out whats going on, until another and another and another grabs your attention. For example, back in December of 2003, we gave up counting the Bush Junta's various acts of treason at just over 200. It was impossible to keep up with all that was going on -- most of which was in plain sight! We'd catch one, and someone would point out three others that we'd missed!

It was also obvious that they'd never be brought to justice for their many crimes against humanity, war crimes, crimes against the US Constitution, etc. etc. etc. Sure enough, when vetted Barry took over, practically the first thing out of his mouth was that there'd be no arrest of the Crime Family Bush or the Gang of Five on the Extreme Court. Nope, we were only looking forward from the same crimes that the Nazis and Japanese got slowly strangled to death for committing. Which is funny as we had elected Barry to bring the Crime Family Bush and the other above-mentioned to justice for their crimes and to end the wars and bring the troops home. Had Barry done just that, he would've been known as one of our best Presidents ever, and not as one of the worst. But Barry doesn't care! No action against the Junta, because Barry already was planning to use the same acts of treason that Bush created against us, too; and if he prosecuted Dubya, then someone in the future could bring the same charges against him. Hopefully, some day somebody will bring charges against every Presidential group since Carter!

No, Barry sold his soul to the 1% long before he was Sinator Obama; so I've never been surprised by his actions. I had no problem voting and supporting Green candidates while the Obama bots who hated Bush but cheered Barry on when doing the same things and even worse things than Dubya said they were only voting Demoncratic as it would be worse with a Rethuglican and my Green vote was a waste! While Barry visited the conquered African states, he confused and saddened a lot of Obamabots and Birthers who both expected him to visit Kenya (the place of his birth) or perhaps the place of pretend-dad's birth; they were surprised by this; but I wasn't. Because Kenya had dared to defy Barry by electing someone who wasn't our puppet. Can't go visit grandma because her government is a bit more of a democracy than Barry can stand -- hence, the snub. You recall the same thing when the Palestinians were allowed to practice democracy; sure as hell, they failed to elect our puppet, pissing off the Zionazis, both here and abroad! As Sam Kinison would say, "AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH, IT NEVER ENDS, IT NEVER ENDS, AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!

In Other News

You may recall that back in 2006, I warned of the surveillance state that we've become was recording over a billion messages everyday of phone calls and emails and that they would soon be in chat rooms and such reading and storing everything. Now it's beginning to come out that I was 100% right. I see in a McClatchy review that statements by Obama administration officials and interviews with cyber and telecom security experts lends credence to my assertions that the capability for such surveillance exists! For example:

"FBI Director Robert Mueller told a Senate committee on March 30, 2011, that "technological improvements" now enable the bureau "to pull together past emails and future ones as they come in so that it does not require an individualized search.

"The administration is building a facility in a valley south of Salt Lake City that will have the capacity to store massive amounts of records – a facility that former agency whistleblowers say has no logical purpose if it's not going to be a vault holding years of phone and Internet data.

"Security experts, including a former AT&T engineer, say that the NSA has tapped into fiber-optic cables carrying phone and Internet data in cities across the country."

As one of our authors, Glenn Greenwald, in a webcast speech to a group in Chicago the other day on an up-coming Guardian piece (See Glenn's article just below) talks about how,

"...a brand new technology enables the National Security Agency to redirect into its own repositories 1 billion cellphone calls every single day.

"What we are really talking about here is a globalized system that prevents any form of electronic communication from taking place without it being stored and monitored by the National Security Agency. It means they're storing every call and have the capability to listen to them at any time."

And have no doubt that they have been doing it to us all along, while lying their asses off to Con-gress and the American people and now that their spying on our allies came out; they are lying their asses off to them, as well! As I said back in 2008 when Barry was elected, "We are so screwed, America!"

And Finally

Ohio's Republican Governor John Kasich fired a fusillade of hate at the ladies of Ohio as John ramped up the Republican war against women. With his cabal of he-man women haters, he signed off on a litany of anti-women bills in the latest budget bill.

Amongst other things, the budget strips funding from Planned Parenthood, the nation's leading provider of reproductive healthcare, and gives that money to Crisis Pregnancy Centers, the pseudo-clinics that lure pregnant women with the promise of free ultrasounds and can then misinform them about abortions. That's bad enough; but that's just the beginning.

The bill also strips funding from rape crisis centers that advise rape survivors about abortion, you may recall Dubya's global "gag rule?" The restrictions it places on abortion clinics, known as "TRAP laws," are designed to be so hard to adhere to that many of the clinics in the state will be forced to close.

Let's not forget that Ohio now requires a patient to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound before they have an abortion, whether their doctor thinks it's necessary or not. And the state won't be paying for that state-mandated, unneeded, ultrasound; the patient will. Lets be fair, John; shouldn't you also require any man who wants a script of Viagra to pay to have metal rods shoved up his ass? Sounds fair to me!

There's more!

As if that weren't enough, Ohio doctors will now be forced to tell any patient who wants an abortion about the fetus's heartbeat. A doctor will have to read from a script, written by politicians with no medical knowledge, regardless of whether or not the doctor believes that the script comports with medical understanding of pregnancy, or even of reality. Is this the America that you want?

Finally, these restrictions include in the definition of "person" a fertilized egg that has not yet been implanted in the uterine wall; which could classify using an IUD as murder in the state of Ohio. Premeditated murder at that, which is punishable by death in Ohio. What a happy place to live. NOT! So, for signing this treasonable outrage into law, Governor John Kasich wins this week's Vidkun Quisling award!

Just one question ladies, why do you keep electing these schmucks? I'd really like an answer to that!

Keepin' On

Even I can see the writing on the wall! It says, it's been fun; but as George said, "All Things Must Pass!" We are rapidly running out of time and money to keep the magazine going! Just two more editions after this one if we fail to raise another $600. Thank Zeus for Ernie from Ontario and Bill from Tennessee or we'd still need to raise $800. Oh, and did I mention, they are both members of the "Usual Suspects"? We really need to hear from the rest of the "Usual Suspects" as our regular readership thinks this is a free ride, it isn't; and I have the bills to prove it. But thanks again, to Ernie and Bill!

So, it's out of my hands; and it's up to you whether or not we survive. You know our worth to you and yours; so either pony up, or let there be no moaning of the bar! Personally, I'm up for it, no more 60 hour weeks; now I can do my essay in under two hours and have all that time free to finish all the books I was writing when the 12-12-2000 coup d'etat went down! Some serious money in there!

So, if you want to keep me trapped in those 60 hours weeks with little time for anything else, then send in what you can, as often as you can; and I'll keep on keeping on for you and yours. If not, then you are on your own, America!


05-05-1946 ~ 06-29-2013
Thanks for the films!

01-30-1925 ~ 07-02-2013
Thanks for the mouse!


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


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

Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2013 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 12 years managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. Visit the Magazine's page on Facebook and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.

National intelligence director James Clapper: under fire.

James Clapper, EU Play-Acting, And Political Priorities
Fixations on denouncing Edward Snowden distract, by design, from the serious transgressions of those who are far more powerful
By Glenn Greenwald

The NSA revelations continue to expose far more than just the ongoing operations of that sprawling and unaccountable spying agency. Let's examine what we have learned this week about the US political and media class and then certain EU leaders.

The first NSA story to be reported was our June 6 article which exposed the bulk, indiscriminate collection by the US Government of the telephone records of tens of millions of Americans. Ever since then, it has been undeniably clear that James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, outright lied to the US Senate - specifically to the Intelligence Committee, the body charged with oversight over surveillance programs - when he said "no, sir" in response to this question from Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden: "Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?"

That Clapper fundamentally misled Congress is beyond dispute. The DNI himself has now been forced by our stories to admit that his statement was, in his words, "clearly erroneous" and to apologize. But he did this only once our front-page revelations forced him to do so: in other words, what he's sorry about is that he got caught lying to the Senate. And as Salon's David Sirota adeptly documented on Friday, Clapper is still spouting falsehoods as he apologizes and attempts to explain why he did it.

How is this not a huge scandal? Intentionally deceiving Congress is a felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison for each offense. Reagan administration officials were convicted of misleading Congress as part of the Iran-contra scandal and other controversies, and sports stars have been prosecuted by the Obama DOJ based on allegations they have done so.

Beyond its criminality, lying to Congress destroys the pretense of oversight. Obviously, members of Congress cannot exercise any actual oversight over programs which are being concealed by deceitful national security officials.

In response to our first week of NSA stories, Wyden issued a statement denouncing these misleading statements, explaining that the Senate's oversight function "cannot be done responsibly if senators aren't getting straight answers to direct questions", and calling for "public hearings" to "address the recent disclosures," arguing that "the American people have the right to expect straight answers from the intelligence leadership to the questions asked by their representatives." Those people who have been defending the NSA programs by claiming there is robust Congressional oversight should be leading the chorus against Clapper, given that his deceit prevents the very oversight they invoke to justify these programs.

But Clapper isn't the only top national security official who has been proven by our NSA stories to be fundamentally misleading the public and the Congress about surveillance programs. As an outstanding Washington Post article by Greg Miller this week documented:

"[D]etails that have emerged from the exposure of hundreds of pages of previously classified NSA documents indicate that public assertions about these programs by senior US officials have also often been misleading, erroneous or simply false."

Please re-read that sentence. It's not just Clapper, but multiple "senior US officials," whose statements have been proven false by our reporting and Edward Snowden's disclosures. Indeed, the Guardian previously published top secret documents disproving the claims of NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander that the agency is incapable of stating how many Americans are having their calls and emails invaded without warrants, as well as the oft-repeated claim from President Barack Obama that the NSA is not listening in on Americans' calls without warrants. Both of those assertions, as our prior reporting and Miller's article this week demonstrates, are indisputably false.

Beyond that, the NSA got caught spreading falsehoods even in its own public talking points about its surveillance programs, and were forced by our disclosures to quietly delete those inaccuracies. Wyden and another Democratic Senator, Mark Udall, wrote a letter to the NSA identifying multiple inaccuracies in their public claims about their domestic spying activities.

Defending the Obama administration, Paul Krugman pronounced that "the NSA stuff is a policy dispute, not the kind of scandal the right wing wants." Really? In what conceivable sense is this not a serious scandal? If you, as an American citizen, let alone a journalist, don't find it deeply objectionable when top national security officials systematically mislead your representatives in Congress about how the government is spying on you, and repeatedly lie publicly about resulting political controversies over that spying, what is objectionable? If having the NSA engage in secret, indiscriminate domestic spying that warps if not outright violates legal limits isn't a "scandal", then what is?

For many media and political elites, the answer to that question seems clear: what's truly objectionable to them is when powerless individuals blow the whistle on deceitful national security state officials. Hence the endless fixation on Edward Snowden's tone and choice of asylum providers, the flamboyant denunciations of this "29-year-old hacker" for the crime of exposing what our government leaders are doing in the dark, and all sorts of mockery over the drama that resulted from the due-process-free revocation of his passport. This is what our media stars and progressive columnists, pundits and bloggers are obsessing over in the hope of distracting attention away from the surveillance misconduct of top-level Obama officials and their serial deceit about it.

What kind of journalist - or citizen - would focus more on Edward Snowden's tonal oddities and travel drama than on the fact that top US officials have been deceitfully concealing a massive, worldwide spying apparatus being constructed with virtually no accountability or oversight? Just ponder what it says about someone who cares more about, and is angrier about, Edward Snowden's exposure of these facts than they are about James Clapper's falsehoods and the NSA's excesses.

What we see here, yet again, is this authoritarian strain in US political life that the most powerful political officials cannot commit crimes or engage in serious wrongdoing. The only political crimes come from exposing and aggressively challenging those officials.

How is it anything other than pure whistleblowing to disclose secret documents proving that top government officials have been systematically deceiving the public about vital matters and/or skirting if not violating legal and Constitutional limits? And what possible justification is there for supporting the ability of James Clapper to continue in his job despite what he just got caught doing?

EU Leaders

Then we come to the leaders of various EU states. These leaders spent the last week feigning all sorts of righteous indignation over revelations that the NSA was using extreme measures to spy indiscriminately not only on the communications of their citizens en masse but also on their own embassies and consulates - things they learned thanks to Edward Snowden's self-sacrificing choice to reveal to the world what he discovered inside the NSA.

But on Tuesday night, the governments of three of those countries - France, Spain and Portugal - abruptly withdrew overflight rights for an airplane carrying Bolivian President Evo Morales, who was attempting to fly home from a conference in Russia. That conduct forced a diversion of Morales' plan to Austria, where he remained for 13 hours before being able to leave this morning.

These EU governments did that because they suspected - falsely, it now seems - that Morales' plane was also carrying Snowden: the person who enabled them to learn of the NSA spying aimed at their citizens and themselves that they claim to find so infuriating. They wanted to physically prevent Bolivia from considering or granting Snowden's request for asylum, a centuries-old right in international law. Meanwhile, the German government - which has led the ritualistic condemnations of NSA spying that Snowden exposed - summarily rejected Snowden's application for asylum almost as soon as it hit their desks.

A 2013 report from Open Society documents that Spain and Portugal were among the nations who participated in various ways in rendition flights - ie kidnapping - by the US. In particular, the report found, "Spain has permitted use of its airspace and airports for flights associated with CIA secret detention and extraordinary rendition operations." Similarly, "Portugal has permitted use of its airspace and airports for flights associated with CIA extraordinary rendition operations." The French judiciary previously investigated reports that the French government knowingly allowed the CIA to use its airspace for renditions.

So these EU states are perfectly content to allow a country - when it's the US - to use their airspace to kidnap people from around the world with no due process. But they will physically stop a plane carrying the president of a sovereign state - when it's from Latin America - in order to subvert the well-established process for seeking asylum from political persecution (and yes: the US persecutes whistleblowers).

All of this smacks of exactly the kind of rank imperialism and colonialism that infuriates most of Latin America, and further exposes the emptiness of American and western European lectures about the sacred rule of law. This is rogue nation behavior. As human rights law professor Sarah Joseph put it:

As the Index on Censorship said to EU states this morning: "Members of the EU have a duty to protect freedom of expression and should not interfere in an individual's attempts to seek asylum. Edward Snowden is a whistleblower whose free speech rights should be protected not criminalised."

As usual, US officials and their acolytes who invoke "the law" to demand severe punishment for powerless individuals (Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning) instantly exploit the same concept to protect US political officials, their owners and their allies from the worst crimes: torture, warrantless eavesdropping, rendition, systemic financial fraud, deceiving Congress and the US public about their surveillance behavior. If you're spending your time calling for Ed Snowden's head but not James Clapper's, or if you're obsessed with Snowden's fabricated personality attributes (narcissist!) but apathetic about rampant, out-of-control NSA surveillance, it's probably worth spending a few moments thinking about what this priority scheme reveals.
(c) 2013 Glenn Greenwald. was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. His most recent book is, With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book "How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy," examines the Bush legacy. He is the recipient of the first annual I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism.

Kerry And Chutzpah
By Uri Avnery

IF YOU happen to bump into John Kerry at Ben Gurion Airport, you may wonder whether he is coming or going. He may well be wondering himself.

For many weeks now he has been devoting most of his precious time to meetings with Binyamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas, trying to get these two people together.

It is about half an hour's car ride between the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem and the Palestinian President's Mukata'ah in Ramallah. But the two are more distant from each other than the Earth and Mars.

Kerry has taken it upon himself to bring the two together - perhaps somewhere in outer space. On the moon, for example.


Ah, there's the rub. The idea seems to be a meeting for meeting's sake.

We have watched this procedure for many years. Successive American presidents have undertaken to bring the two sides together. It is an American belief, rooted in Anglo-Saxon tradition, that if two reasonable, decent people get together to thrash out their differences, everything will fall into place. It's almost automatic: meet - talk - agree.

Unfortunately, it does not quite work this way with conflicts between nations, conflicts that may have deep historical roots. In meetings between leaders of such nations, they often just want to hurl old accusations at each other, with the aim of convincing the world that the other side is utterly depraved and despicable.

Either side, or both, may be interested in prolonging the meetings forever. The world sees the leaders meeting, the mediator and the photographers working hard, everybody talking endlessly of peace, peace, peace.

I remember a Scandinavian gentleman named Gunnar Jarring. Remember him? No? Don't blame yourself. He is eminently forgettable. A well-meaning Swedish diplomat (and Turkologist), he was asked by the UN in the early 1970s to bring the Egyptians and Israelis together and to achieve a peaceful settlement between them.

Jarring took his historic mission very seriously. He shuttled tirelessly between Cairo and Jerusalem. His name became a joke in Israel, and probably in Egypt, too.

The protagonists in those days were Anwar Sadat and Golda Meir. As we disclosed at the time, Sadat gave Jarring a momentous message: in return for getting back all of the Sinai peninsula, conquered by Israel in 1967, he was ready to make peace. Golda rejected this proposal out of hand. There was, of course, no meeting.

(A popular joke doing the rounds had Golda and Sadat facing each other from opposite banks of the Suez Canal. Golda shouted: "Make Love not War!" Sadat looked at her through his binoculars and replied: "Better war!")

Everybody knows how this chapter ended. After Golda had rejected everything, Sadat attacked, won an initial surprise victory, the whole political world started to move , Golda was kicked out, and after four years of Yitzhak Rabin, Menachem Begin came to power and agreed the same peace with Sadat that had been proposed before the war. The 3000 Israeli soldiers and around 10,000 Egyptians who died in the war did not see it.

Jarring, by the way, died in 2002, unsung and forgotten.

KERRY IS no Jarring. First of all, because he does not represent a powerless international organization, but the World's Only Superpower. The full might of the United States of America is at his disposal.

Or is it?

That is really the most relevant - indeed the only relevant - question at this moment.

He will need a lot to achieve his heart's desire: the meeting - not just the meeting, but The Meeting - between Netanyahu and Abbas.

That looks like an easy task. Netanyahu declares, with his usual sincerity, that he wants to meet. Nay, that he is eager to meet. With the polished charm of a seasoned TV presenter familiar with the power of visual images, he even offered to put up a tent halfway between Jerusalem and Ramallah (at the infamous Qalandia checkpoint?) and sit down with Abbas and Kerry until a full agreement on all aspects of the conflict is achieved.

Who could resist such a generous offer? Why the hell does Abbas not jump at it and grasp it with with both hands?

For a very simple reason.

The very start of new negotiations would be a political triumph for Netanyahu. Actually, it's all he really wants - the ceremony, the bombast, the leaders shaking hands, the smiles, the speeches full of goodwill and talk of peace.

And then? Then nothing. Negotiations that go on endlessly, months, years, decades. We have seen it all before. Yitzhak Shamir, one of Netanyahu's predecessors, famously boasted that he would have dragged out the negotiations forever.

The profit for Netanyahu would be clear and immediate. He would be seen as the Man of Peace. The present government, the most rightist and nationalist Israel has ever known, would be rehabilitated. The people around the world who preach a boycott of Israel in all spheres would be shamed and disarmed. The growing alarm in Jerusalem about the "de-legitimization" and "isolation" of Israel would be relieved.

What would the Palestinian side get out of it? Nothing. No stop to the settlements. Not even the release of old prisoners who have been incarcerated for more than 20 years (like those who were released to Hamas in return for Gilad Shalit). Sorry, no "preconditions"!

Abbas demands that the aim of the negotiations be spelled out in advance: the establishment of the State of Palestine with borders "based on" the pre-1967 lines. The omission of this statement from the Oslo accords of 1993 led to their eventual evaporation. Why make the same mistake twice?

Also, Abbas wants to set a time limit for the negotiations. A year or so.

Netanyahu, of course, refuses all of this. At the moment, poor Kerry is trying to put something together that would satisfy the wolf while keeping the lamb alive. Give Abbas American assurances without Israeli assurances, for example.

IN ALL this bickering, one basic fact is ignored.

It's that elephant again. The elephant in the room, whose existence Netanyahu denies and which Kerry is trying to ignore.

The occupation.

The assumption is generally made that the negotiations are between equals. In cartoons, Netanyahu and Abbas appear to be of equal size. The American picture of two reasonable people talking it out between themselves presupposes two more or less equal partners.

But this whole picture is basically false. The proposed "negotiations" are between an almighty occupying power and an almost totally powerless occupied people. Between the wolf and the lamb.

(it's the old Israeli joke again: Can you keep a wolf and a lamb together? Of course you can, if you put in a new lamb every day.)

The Israeli army operates freely throughout the West Bank, including Ramallah. If Netanyahu so decides, Abbas may find himself tomorrow morning in an Israeli prison, together with the old people Netanyahu refuses to release.

Less drastically, the Israeli government can at any moment, at will, stop transfering the large sums of tax and customs money it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, as it has done several times already. This would immediately bring the PA to the brink of bankruptcy.

There are hundreds of ways, one more refined than the other, in which the occupation authorities and the occupation army can make life intolerable for individual Palestinians and their community as a whole.

What can the Palestinians do to put pressure on the Israeli government? Very little. There is the threat of a Third Intifada. It worries the army, but does not frighten it. The army's answer is more repression and bloodshed. Or another resolution of the UN General Assembly, elevating Palestine to the rank of a full member of the world organization. Netanyahu would be furious, but the actual damage would be limited.

ANY PRESSURE to start meaningful negotiations that would lead to a peace agreement in - say - a year must come from the President of the United States of America.

That is so obvious that it hardly needs mentioning.

This is the crux of the matter.

Kerry can bring cash, a lot of cash, to bribe the Palestinians, or whisper into their ears dire threats to frighten them into meeting Netanyahu in his imaginary tent - it will mean next to nothing.

The only chance to start real negotiations is for Barack Obama to put his full weight behind the effort, to confront Congress and the hugely powerful pro-Israel lobby and dictate to both sides the American peace plan. We all know what it must look like - a combination of the (Bill) Clinton outline and the pan-Arab peace initiative.

If John Kerry is unable to deliver this pressure, he should not even try. It really is an imposition to come here and shake things up when you have no means to impose a solution. Sheer impertinence.

Or, as you say in Hebrew, Chutzpah.
(c) 2013 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

The Obamas Do Africa
by Glen Ford

The President and his family are spending a week in sub-Saharan Africa, with Senegal, Tanzania and South Africa on the itinerary. The focus of the trip, if you believe the White House, is trade, an arena in which the United States has been eclipsed by China since 2009. China, by some measurements, now does nearly twice as much business with Africa as the U.S., and the gap is growing. It is now commonly accepted that the Chinese offer far better terms of trade and investment than the Americans, that they create more jobs for Africans, and their investments leave behind infrastructure that can enrich their African trading partners in the long haul.

No one expects Obama to offer anything on this trip that will reverse America's declining share of the African market. That's because the U.S. is not in the business of fair and mutually beneficial trade - it's about the business of imperialism, which is another matter, entirely. The Americans ensure their access to African natural resources through the barrel of a gun.

So, while the Chinese and Indians and Brazilians and other economic powerhouses play by the rules of give and take, the U.S. tightens its military grip on the continent through its ever-expanding military command, AFRICOM.

To justify its rapid militarization of Africa, Washington plunges whole regions of the continent into chaos. U.S. policies, under presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama, have utterly destroyed Somalia, made the Horn of Africa a theater of war, drawn the northern tier of the continent into America's cauldron of terror, and killed six million people in the eastern Congo.

The face of America in Africa is war, not trade; extraction of minerals by military intimidation, not conventional commerce. Washington's priority is to embed AFRICOM ever deeper into the militaries of African states - rather than configuring more favorable trade relationships on the continent. But you won't learn that from the U.S. corporate media, which chooses to focus on the $100 million cost of Obama's African trip, or to look for human interest angles on Obama's decision not to touch down in his father's homeland, Kenya. However, even that angle is too sinister for deeper exploration by the corporate press, because Kenya's absence from the itinerary is meant as a threat.

The United States is angry because Washington wanted the Kenyan people to elect a different president, one more acceptable to U.S. policymakers. The Americans expected the whole of Kenyan civil society to bend to Washington's will, and reject the candidacy of Uhuru Kenyatta, simply to please the superpower. When that didn't happen, it was decided that Kenya must be shunned, despite its past services to U.S. imperialism.

Skipping Kenya was a warning that more serious repercussions may lurk in the future - which is a potent threat, because the U.S. controls most of the guns of Africa. As the U.S.-backed warlord in Somalia said in Jeremy Scahill's excellent film The Dirty War, "The Americans are masters of war." War, and the threat of war, is the reality behind every U.S. presidential visit, to Africa and everywhere else. Whether the terms of trade are good or bad, the declining U.S. empire will get access to the resources it needs, or thousands - millions! - will die.
(c) 2013 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

The Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew is shown in this undated handout photo provided by the city of Prescott, Ariz.
The elite team of 19 firemen were killed on Sunday in one of the deadliest U.S. firefighting disasters in decades.

Line Of Fire
Finding Resilience in Times of Crisis
By Randall Amster

Living in Arizona for nearly two decades, and for more than half of that time in the central highlands region around Prescott, has presented innumerable challenges and opportunities alike. Many will be familiar with Arizona's haywire politics and the international controversies that have ensued. Those of us working on progressive causes here often find solace in the fact that -- though the victories may be few -- this is where the work needs to be done. I'm thankful to have been part of this ethos of engagement over the years, even as I'm preparing to head eastward and embrace new possibilities.

One thing that's hard to convey to folks outside this area is the sense of shared struggle that is often masked by the ostensible divisiveness in our midst. Desert living can be harsh, and living systems survive best when their mutual interdependence is made paramount. With all of the tragedies that have befallen the state in recent years-from the Tucson shootings to the most recent loss of 19 elite firefighters-this nascent spirit of solidarity has been at play, even if at times almost imperceptibly so.

The worst travails of violence, wildfires, extreme heat, and severe drought can be found here, yet in many such moments there is a concomitant experience of being part of a larger whole. As is the case in myriad disaster situations, people more frequently discover forms of cooperation and commonality rather than exacerbating their tendencies toward competition and conflict. We need not overstate this-indeed, major differences of politics and practice will likely persist-but it's important to recognize the growing realization that crises can in fact bring out our best qualities in many instances.

This resilient spirit will be put to the test more and more in the days ahead, as so-called “natural disasters” escalate in their frequency and intensity. The wildfires experienced here in central Arizona are emblematic, as no sooner was the massive Doce Fire contained (a scant few miles from my home) before the Yarnell Hill Fire flared up and claimed the lives of 19 brave souls. These dedicated people were fresh off saving our area from one inferno before being called to another-all underscored by the reality of being in a 20-year drought cycle and a calendar year that in particular has seen almost no rain.

This is the “new normal” of climate and weather extremes in this brave new world that we have wrought. Increasingly it appears that the possibility of forestalling these calamitous events is growing slimmer by the day. At the same time, our individual and collective capacities for resilience are becoming more germane, as we seek to live with an escalating array of crises and catastrophes. We shouldn't abandon the mitigative project altogether; indeed, it turns out that many forms of adaptation also represent ways of being in the world that could countermand the roots of crisis if practiced widely. But the clock is rapidly ticking, and it's hard to change a paradigm when we're navigating perpetual disasters.

All of this sort of deeper rumination will have to wait for another day here in the central highlands of Arizona. It's difficult to express the impact on this small community that will come from losing so many good people in this manner. No one here will escape the “six degrees of separation” that bind us all together. Sometimes it takes a tragedy to recognize and rekindled those bonds. And perhaps, in that, may the shared experience of confronting loss and acknowledging mutual grief serve to weave the threads of resilience tighter-for coping with the events of today, and likewise for those yet to come.
(c) 2013 Randall Amster J.D., Ph.D., taught peace studies at Prescott College and serves as the executive director of the Peace & Justice Studies Association. Amonsg his most recent books are Anarchism Today (Praeger, 2012) and the co=edited volume "Building Cultures of Peace: Transdisciplinary Voices of Hope and Action" (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009).

Republican Jesus!

Serve Bankers Or Serve The Poor? Congress Reinterprets Jesus

Thank God for Congress, right? When things get out of balance in America, we can always count on our legislative stalwarts to recalibrate the scales of justice.

Take greed, for example. The Wall Street barons who wrecked our real economy with their greed-fueled casino games are playing the same games again, while pushing Washington to let them keep their public subsidies, fat bonuses, and special low-tax rates. So, our Congress critters turned their legislative guns on avarice. Unfortunately, their aim was a bit off. Instead of popping overprivileged, Congress hit the most un-privileged Americans: People on food stamps.

Too many families are getting food stamps, they shrieked, driving the cost of this poverty program to record levels. Yoo-hoo, knuckleheads, record numbers of our people are on food stamps today because -guess what? -record numbers of them are unemployed or underemployed, and have been knocked all the way down into poverty.

Yet, the tea party Republicans now ruling the US House are demanding cuts of as much as $25 billion a year in food stamp benefits, which would prevent some 13 million Americans -half of them children -from receiving the program's groceries. Rep. Michele Bachmann rose to a Biblical falsetto to rationalize this: "If anyone will not work, neither should he eat." Hello, Michele: That's not quite what Jesus said. Also, many of these people are working, but not paid enough to make ends meet. And many more are desperately seeking jobs that aren't there.

In fairness, though, the GOP did vote to give these food stamp applicants something: Drug tests. Hmmm -I don't recall that Jesus, at the Sea of Galilee, required anyone to pee in the cup before getting fishes and loaves. And if he had done so, he would've required the bankers to take the first cups.
(c) 2013 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.

Obama's BFF: The Espionage Act
By Mickey Z.

"There will come a time when it isn't 'They're spying on me through my phone' anymore. Eventually, it will be 'My phone is spying on me.'" ~~~ Philip K. Dick

When the U.S. government charged Edward Snowden with three felonies, two of those charges fell under the auspices of a 1917 statute called the Espionage Act.

"Prior to Barack Obama's inauguration," writes Glenn Greenwald, "there were a grand total of three prosecutions of leakers under the Espionage Act. That's because the statute is so broad that even the U.S. government has largely refrained from using it. But during the Obama presidency, there are now seven such prosecutions: more than double the number under all prior U.S. presidents combined."

"The Obama administration has been quite hypocritical about its promises of openness, transparency and accountability," says Jesselyn Radack, the director for national security and human rights at the Government Accountability Project. "All presidents hate leaks, but pursuing whistle-blowers as spies is heavy-handed and beyond the scope of the law."

This once-obscure legal salvo has its roots in what has been called "perhaps the most effective job of large-scale war propaganda the world has ever witnessed": the Committee on Public Information. Run by veteran newspaperman George Creel (with help from others, like Edward Bernays), the campaign used all available forms of media to promote the noble purpose behind World War I: To keep the world safe for democracy.

"Conformity will be the only virtue"

At the start of WWI, most Americans were notoriously wary of any hint of the United States entering the bloody conflict. As a result, men like Creel and Bernays were called upon to change some minds with some good old-fashioned propaganda and persuasion.

The Creel Committee (as it came to be known) was the first government agency for outright propaganda in U.S. history; it published 75 million books and pamphlets, had 250 paid employees, and mobilized 75,000 volunteer speakers known as "four minute men," who delivered their pro-war messages in churches, theaters, and other places of civic gatherings.

The idea, of course, was to give the war effort a positive spin. To do so, the nation had to be convinced that doing their part to support global military conflict on a scale never before seen was indeed a good idea.

"It is not merely an army that we must train and shape for war," President Woodrow Wilson declared at the time, "it is an entire nation."

The age of manipulated public opinion had begun in earnest...

Although Wilson won reelection in 1916 on a promise of peace, it wasn't long before he severed diplomatic relations with Germany and proposed arming U.S. merchant ships -- even without congressional authority. Upon declaring war on Germany in April 1917, the president proclaimed, "conformity will be the only virtue and any man who refuses to conform will have to pay the penalty."

In time, the masses got the message as demonstrated by these (and other) results:

Fourteen states passed laws forbidding the teaching of the German language.

Iowa and South Dakota outlawed the use of German in public or on the telephone.

From coast to coast, German-language books were ceremonially burned.

The Philadelphia Symphony and the New York Metropolitan Opera Company excluded Beethoven, Wagner, and other German composers from their programs.

Irish-American newspapers were banned from the mails because Ireland opposed England -- one of America's allies -- as a matter of principle.

German shepherds were renamed Alsatians.

Sauerkraut became known as "liberty cabbage."

Would you like some freedom fries with that?

"Insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny"

With the legislative ground made fertile by the Creel Committee, the aforementioned Espionage Act was passed in June 1917. It read in part: "Whoever, when the United States is at war, shall willfully cause or attempt to cause insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty in the military or naval forces of the United States, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment of not more than 20 years, or both."

This act cast a wide net and predictably, civil liberties were trampled. In Vermont, for example, a minister was sentenced to 15 years in prison for writing a pamphlet, distributed to five persons, in which he claimed that supporting the war was wrong for a Christian.

"The essence of (this) extremely broad, century-old law," explains Greenwald, "is that one is guilty if one discloses classified information 'with intent or reason to believe that the information is to be used to the injury of the United States, or to the advantage of any foreign nation.'"

Today, however, even the typically acquiescent corporate media is having trouble staying lockstep. As the New York Times opines: "The Obama administration, which promised during its transition to power that it would enhance 'whistle-blower laws to protect federal workers,' has been more prone than any administration in history in trying to silence and prosecute federal workers."

"Kinship with all living beings"

Prior to Snowden, perhaps the best-known target (albeit, not for leaking) of the act was Eugene V. Debs who, after visiting three fellow socialists in a prison in June 1918, spoke out across the street from the jail for two hours. He was arrested and found guilty, but before sentencing, Debs famously told the judge:

"Your honor, years ago, I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."

Eugene Debs remained in prison until 1921 and roughly 900 others also did time thanks to the Espionage Act.

While some of more controversial sections were repealed in 1921, the Espionage Act obviously remains on the books today and has been used against, for example, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Daniel Ellsberg, Bradley Manning, and yes, Edward Snowden.

Here's more from the usually obedient New York Times: "During a point in history when our government has been accused of sending prisoners to secret locations where they were said to have been tortured and the C.I.A. is conducting remote-controlled wars in far-flung places, it's not a good time to treat the people who aid in the publication of critical information as spies."

"The same people who are building a ubiquitous surveillance system to spy on everyone in the world, including their own citizens," concludes Greenwald, "are now accusing the person who exposed it of 'espionage.'"

Never forget, comrades: This is what we're up against.
(c) 2013 Mickey Z. is the author of 11 books, most recently the novel Darker Shade of Green. Until the laws are changed or the power runs out, he can be found on an obscure website called Facebook.

Happy Air In A Store Near You
By James Donahue

The idea isn't new; stores have been doing it for years. You know that fresh baked aroma that hits you when you first enter a grocery store that features a bakery... or that delicious odor of barbequed chicken. Its cleverly designed to stimulate your appetite just before you grab a shopping cart and begin your trip through the store.

It is well known that hungry people tend to buy more food than people who have just eaten a good meal. So those food odors rolling out at you from the front door are not there by accident.

Now there is something new and much more subtle awaiting your senses... and it isn't to be found in just the grocery stores. Enhanced Air Technologies of Vancouver, Canada, has developed a new product for store owners called Commercaire. This involves the subtle scent of a synthetic compound called pheromone, which the company claims gives people a sense of comfort and happiness when it gets mixed in the air they breathe.

One writer described the scent as an "airborne Prozac. You can flit through the store wearing rose colored glasses, happily filling your shopping basket with all kinds of things you don't need and may never use, but enjoying every moment of your buying experience."

Commercaire is pumped into the store through air ducts. It is odourless so people don't know they are breathing it. Consequently, there is no way of knowing if you are under the influence of this sneaky gimmick or not when you are out shopping.

Retailers who have used the product say they experience a general growth in sales from between nine and 20 percent.

If the name pheromone sounds familiar that's because it is an ingredient used by some perfume makers. The scent is said to be attractive to the opposite sex. It triggers an emotional response from the people around us.

If you are like most Americans these days, carefully scrimping to make ends meet and watching every penny you spend as prices of goods rise and paychecks diminish, the news of your local shopping stores playing with your mind by dumping pheromone into the store air ducts may not be something you want to hear.

If you are like this writer... who entertains a passionate dislike for store shopping, the enhancement of the store air with seductive scents probably won't have much of an effect. Unless it makes me take extra notice the curves of a shapely store clerk, I doubt if I will ever spend more than I intended when I first chose to enter the store.

That is because like most men, I go in stores with the express purpose of buying a particular product. I find what I want, take it to the cashier, make my payment and leave. If the store scent gives me a particularly happy sensation, all the better. I probably won't buy anything more unless it is a 50 cent candy bar at the counter to munch on the ride home.

My advice to shoppers anxious to avoid all of the tricks used by stores to coax you to spend over your budget: Always use a shopping list and stick to it religiously. Look for bargain prices on store brands usually placed out of easy eyesight on lower or upper shelves in the isle. Try putting some Vick vapor rub under your nose and ear plugs in your ears before entering the store. Also remember to ignore all of the visual images designed to take your eyes off the prize as you walk the store.

Try shopping with cash and leaving the credit card at home. This will force you to keep your eye on the prices and to buy only the things on your list. The tricksters are waiting for you at every turn.
(c) 2013 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. He currently produces daily articles for this web site

Senator Wendy Davis speaks as she begins a filibuster in an effort
to kill an abortion bill, Tuesday, June 25, 2013, in Austin, Texas.

Wendy Davis For Governor?
By John Nichols

Texas State Senator Wendy Davis, who electrified her state and the nation with last week's eleven-hour filibuster to block a sweeping assault on reproductive rights, and who promises to keep up the fight this week as the legislature is called into special session, is suddenly the most interesting prospective gubernatorial candidate in the nation.

When she appeared last week on the MSNBC show All In with Chris Hayes, the Democratic legislator was asked if she might run in 2014 against Republican Governor Rick Perry. Her reply? "You know, I would be lying if I told you that I hadn't had aspirations to run for a statewide office."

A close political ally went even further, acknowledging that the veteran local official and legislator is "looking very closely" at the 2014 race. "Certainly, the events over the last week or so show a groundswell in Texas," says Davis associate Matt Angle, who directs the Democratic political firm Lone Star Project. "We have to see if it all adds up to a statewide campaign."

As a matter of fact, it does add up.

The woman who so shook Perry that he started taking personal shots at her has the necessary name recognition, thousands of enthusiastic supporters and the potential to raise significant campaign cash from small donors across Texas and nationwide.

Davis has also got a brash, no-apologies-for-being-right approach that has historically played well in the Lone Star State. Long before she was filibustering for reproductive rights, Davis was filibustering for education funding. And her heavy lifting as a progressive legislator has won her a slew of awards like the one from the Texas Office of Public Citizen, which named her the state's "Outstanding Public Servant."

If Davis were to run, she would not be the first brave, bold woman to seek the governorship of Texas.

Texas Governor Ann Richards, the last Democrat to win the state's top job, was the star of the 1988 Democratic National Convention-where she famously made a case for equal rights that included the line: "After all, Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels."

Before Richards, there was the remarkable Frances "Sissy" Farenthold, who was the only woman in the Texas House of Representatives at the same time that Barbara Jordan was the only women in the Texas Senate. Farenthold made a pair of remarkable bids for the Democratic nomination for governor in the early 1970s. She was such an inspiring figure that her surprise nomination for vice president at the 1972 Democratic National Convention drew more than 400 votes.

And, of course, Miriam Amanda Wallace "Ma" Ferguson was elected to one term as governor of Texas in the 1920s, and to another in the 1930s.

Texas actually has a better track record of seriously considering and frequently electing women governors, senators and statewide office holders than many American states.

Yet the Texas Democratic Party has not always shined in its selection of contenders for the gubernatorial post it last won in 1990. Placing Davis at the top of its 2014 ticket could well reap benefits for the party. That's not to say that Davis would have an easy time of it. Mounting a challenge to Perry, the failed 2012 Republican presidential candidate who makes no secret of his interest in the 2016 race, would be an uphill run in a state that gave Republican Mitt Romney 57 percent of the vote in 2012.

But smart politics is not merely about crunching numbers from past contests. Smart politics takes into account personal and situational intangibles, with an eye toward mounting a campaign that takes the great leap forward.

The intangible for Wendy Davis is that she has already proven herself to a substantial number of Texas voters, especially but certainly not exclusively women.

Davis has never lost an election, winning three terms on the Fort Worth City Council before she beat a Republican incumbent to win a state Senate seat in 2008 and retained that seat in 2012. Davis is not a milquetoast mandarin. She's a quick-witted political natural who clearly knows the issues and who is ready to wage fights-including filibusters-on behalf of a socially and economically progressive agenda.

It is not unreasonable to suggest that Davis could build a statewide movement that would include women, African-Americans, Asians and Latinos-as well as trade unionists-in a coalition that could speed up the process of transformation that most political analysts say will change Texas voting patterns sometime in the reasonably near future.

Demographics are destiny in American politics. And the demographics of the Lone Star state are trending toward the Democrats. But there's always been a question about whether 2014, 2016, 2018-or some more distant year-will see Texas reach the tipping point.

Political strategists in both parties know that one of the best ways to speed up the process is with a dynamic candidate who has the potential to raise enough campaign cash to give Rick Perry-a particularly prodigious fund-raiser-a run for his money.

When the Democratic Party picks safe and predictable candidates in red states like Texas, it gets a safe and predictable result: defeat.

Wendy Davis is not safe and predictable. She's energetic and engaged, Harvard-Law-School smart and broadly experienced at the local and state levels of government.

Rick Perry knows that adds up to a serious challenge. That's why he is on the attack. That's also why Davis could well turn out to be the most viable Texas Democratic gubernatorial prospect since Ann Richards won the job back in 1990.
(c) 2013 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His new book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, has just been published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

The European Commission has instructed its services to carry out an unplanned
security sweep, a spokeswoman said Monday, after media reports that U.S.
intelligence authorities had bugged various EU offices.

America's New Cold War
Why the Allies Side With Snowden
By Robert Scheer

There is a depressing statistical comparison that should shame all of us who voted twice for Barack Obama's ascent to the White House. Our man, a former constitutional law professor who pledged to reverse the Bush administration's abuses of national security concerns, has charged seven government whistle-blowers, including Edward J. Snowden, with violating the Espionage Act. That's more than double the combined three charged with leaking classified information by all previous presidents, George W. Bush included.

The defense of his unprecedented prosecution of those who dare tell us the truth is that we live in particularly dangerous times, an obviously absurd notion given the civil wars, foreign threats and other sources of mayhem periodically experienced by most of the world's nations. At its best, the "metadata" aggregation, including the logs of all email traffic and telephone calls, is a paranoid assault on our right to personal space enshrined in the Fourth Amendment. At worst it is an out of control grab for worldwide power over the new information age. As a New York Times account Sunday suggests, "A close reading of Mr. Snowden's documents shows the extent to which the eavesdropping agency now has two new roles: It is a data cruncher, with an appetite to sweep up, and hold for years, a staggering variety of information. And it is an intelligence force armed with cyberweapons, assigned not just to monitor foreign computers but also, if necessary, to attack."

A surveillance power run amok? The latest disclosures from Snowden's leaks published in the German magazine Der Spiegel on Sunday turn out to have nothing to do with national security and everything to do with a compulsive and unseemly snooping not only into the lives of ordinary citizens throughout the world but also into the diplomatic correspondence, including trade and other negotiating strategies, of some of our closest allies. How inconvenient to the outraged innocence of the National Security Agency and its private for-profit counterpart Booz Allen Hamilton to find the names of France, Italy, Japan and Mexico among the 38 embassies and missions bugged at will by our electronic spooks, along with the Washington and Brussels office of the European Union. The code-named Dropmire bugging of the encrypted fax machine at the EU and other invasions of the organization's private data were, as The Guardian summarized Sunday the content of the leaked documents, "to gather inside knowledge of policy disagreements on global issues and other rifts between member states."

Germany is one of those member states, prompting that nation's justice minister to declare Sunday: "If the media reports are correct, this brings to memory actions among enemies during the Cold War. ... If it is true that EU representations in Brussels and Washington were indeed tapped by the American secret service, it can hardly be explained with the argument of fighting terrorism."

This was a sentiment echoed by French President Francois Hollande on Monday: "We demand that this stop immediately. ... There's enough evidence for us to ask for an explanation." And French technology minister Fleur Pellerin was so impressed with the significance of the information leaked by Snowden that she entertained the idea of an international whistle-blower protection for individuals who leak information exposing what they believe is illegal activity. "There is no international statute that allows for the protection of these people if necessary," Pellerin said Monday. "I think it is a good occasion to get into the subject, which is a gray area of international law."

So was Snowden a "traitor," as both California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein and former Vice President Dick Cheney have insisted, or a genuine whistle-blower, as some of our allies are beginning to grasp for letting folks around the world in on the dirty secrets of U.S. intelligence? Put another way, how could Feinstein, who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Cheney, who used supposedly secret data on WMDs to lie us into the Iraq War, not have been in the know on the sordid details that Snowden shared with the rest of us? And if they thought such activities to be admirable, why were they unwilling to inform the public of the extent of the surveillance programs?

Nor can they claim to be horrified by the very act of leaking secret information, since both know well that is the norm in the Washington practice of governance. Just ask outed former CIA agent Valerie Plame. Or in a rare instance of a highly placed official possibly being held accountable, there is the example of Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2007 to 2011, who is reported to be the target of an investigation into the leak of classified information to The New York Times concerning U.S. cyberattacks on Iran's nuclear program.

Cartwright is being represented by former Obama White House counsel Gregory B. Craig, and you can rest assured that he will not be charged with violating the Espionage Act or called a traitor by the likes of Cheney and Feinstein. The information he is suspected of leaking made our government look good, or at least those in power will think so.

Our government is treating Snowden as the most dangerous global outlaw because the information he released does not make us look good. Quite the contrary, it has, for the first time, forced an international debate on the threat of routine government electronic surveillance to the very notion of individual freedom. Even President Obama, while vilifying Snowden and insisting that "The American people don't have a Big Brother who is snooping into their business," has suggested that we need to weigh the tradeoffs.

"When he says he wants to have a debate on this issue, he passed on every opportunity to have a debate about it," Jennifer Hoelzer, a former aide to Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden (who attempted in vain to get such a discussion going), pointed out to The New York Times on Friday. "You had to wait until someone illegally disclosed it? That seems disingenuous."

That someone was Snowden, and the fact that he was essential to raising this issue and enabling debate establishes his bonafides as a much-needed whistle-blower.
(c) 2013 Robert Scheer is the editor of Truthdig. A journalist with over 30 years experience, Scheer has built his reputation on the strength of his social and political writing. His columns have appeared in newspapers across the country, and his in-depth interviews have made headlines. He is the author, most recently, of "The Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hijacked 9/11 and Weakened America," published by Twelve Books.

Protestors gather outside of the U.S. Supreme Court in support of Section 5 of the
Voting Rights Act of 1965, in Washington, Feb. 27, 2013. The
Supreme Court on Tuesday morning, June 25, 2013, announced a vote of 5 to 4 in the Shelby County,
Ala. v. Holder case, striking down part of the act.

Ku Klux Kourt Kills King's Dream Law, Replaces Voting Rights Act With Katherine Harris Acts
By Greg Palast

They might as well have burned a cross on Dr. King's grave. The Jim Crow majority on the Supreme Court just took away the vote of millions of Hispanic and African-American voters by wiping away Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

When I say "millions" of voters of color will lose their ballots, I'm not kidding. Let's add it up.

Last year, the GOP Secretary of State of Florida Ken Detzner tried to purge 180,000 Americans, mostly Hispanic Democrats, from the voter rolls. He was attempting to break Katherine Harris' record.

Detzner claimed that all these brown folk were illegal "aliens."

But Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act requires that 16 states with a bad history of blocking black and brown voters must "pre-clear" with the US Justice Department any messing around with voter rolls or voting rules. And so Section 4 stopped Detzner from the racist brown-out.

I'll admit there were illegal aliens on Florida voter rolls - two of them. Let me repeat that: TWO aliens - one a US Marine serving in Iraq (not yet a citizen); the other an Austrian who registered as a Republican.

We can go from state to state in Dixie and see variations of the Florida purge game.

Yet the 5-to-4 Supreme Court majority ruled, against all evidence, that, "Blatantly discriminatory evasions [of minority voting rights] are rare." As there's no more racially bent voting games played in states including Florida, Georgia, Arizona and Alaska (yes, pre-clearance goes WAY north of the Confederacy), then, the justices said, there's no more reason for pre-clearance.

Whom do they think they're fooling? The court itself, just last week, ruled that Arizona's law requiring the showing of citizenship papers was an unconstitutional attack on Hispanic voters. Well, Arizona's a Section 4 state.

You'll love this line from the Ku Klux Kourt majority. They wrote that the "coverage" of Section 4 applies to states where racially bent voting systems are now "eradicated practices."

"Eradicated?" I assume they didn't see the lines of black folk in Florida last November. That was the result of the deliberate reduction in the number of polling places and early voting hours in minority areas. Indeed, if the Justice Department, wielding Section 4, didn't block Florida from half its ballot-box trickery, Obama would have lost that state's electoral votes.

And that's really what's going on here: the problem is not that the court majority is racist. They're worse: they're Republicans.>{? We've had Republicans, like the great Earl Warren, who put on the robes and take off their party buttons.

But this crew, beginning with Bush v. Gore, is viciously partisan. They note that "minority candidates hold office at unprecedented levels." And the Republican Supremes mean to put an end to that. See "Obama" and "Florida" above. And when they say "minority," they mean "Democrat."

Because that's the difference between 1965 and today. When the law was first enacted - based on the personal pleas of Martin Luther King - African-Americans were blocked by politicians who did not like the color of their skin.

But today, it's the color of minority voters' ballots - overwhelmingly Democratic blue - which is the issue.

In California - one of the "Old South" states that is singled out for pre-clearance - an astonishing 40 percent of voter registration forms were rejected by the Republican Secretary of State on cockamamie clerical grounds. When civil rights attorney Robert F. Kennedy and I investigated, we learned that the reject pile was overwhelmingly Chicano and Asian - and overwhelmingly Democratic.

How? Jim Crow ain't gone; he's moved into cyberspace. The new trick is lynching by laptop: removing voters, as was done in Florida and Arizona (and a dozen other states) by using poisoned databases to pick out "illegal" and "felon" and "inactive" voters - who all happen to be of the Hispanic or African-American persuasion. The GOP, for all the tears of its consultants, knows it can't rock these votes, so they block these votes.

Despite the racial stench of today's viciously antidemocratic ruling, the GOP majority knew they were handicapping the next presidential run by a good 6 million votes. (That's the calculation that RFK and I came up with for racially bent vote loss in 2004 - and the GOP will pick up at least that in the next run.)

And the court knew full well that their ruling today was the same as stuffing several hundred thousand GOP red votes into the ballot boxes for the 2014 Congressional races.

The races have not yet started, but the "Katherine count" has already begun.
(c) 2013 Greg Palast is author of the New York Times bestseller, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Armed Madhouse and the highly acclaimed Vultures' Picnic, named Book of the Year 2012 on BBC Newsnight Review.

War On The Unemployed
By Paul Krugman

Is life too easy for the unemployed? You may not think so, and I certainly don't think so. But that, remarkably, is what many and perhaps most Republicans believe. And they're acting on that belief: there's a nationwide movement under way to punish the unemployed, based on the proposition that we can cure unemployment by making the jobless even more miserable.

Consider, for example, the case of North Carolina. The state was hit hard by the Great Recession, and its unemployment rate, at 8.8 percent, is among the highest in the nation, higher than in long-suffering California or Michigan. As is the case everywhere, many of the jobless have been out of work for six months or more, thanks to a national environment in which there are three times as many people seeking work as there are job openings.

Nonetheless, the state's government has just sharply cut aid to the unemployed. In fact, the Republicans controlling that government were so eager to cut off aid that they didn't just reduce the duration of benefits; they also reduced the average weekly benefit, making the state ineligible for about $700 million in federal aid to the long-term unemployed.

It's quite a spectacle, but North Carolina isn't alone: a number of other states have cut unemployment benefits, although none at the price of losing federal aid. And at the national level, Congress has been allowing extended benefits introduced during the economic crisis to expire, even though long-term unemployment remains at historic highs.

So what's going on here? Is it just cruelty? Well, the G.O.P., which believes that 47 percent of Americans are "takers" mooching off the job creators, which in many states is denying health care to the poor simply to spite President Obama, isn't exactly overflowing with compassion. But the war on the unemployed isn't motivated solely by cruelty; rather, it's a case of meanspiritedness converging with bad economic analysis.

In general, modern conservatives believe that our national character is being sapped by social programs that, in the memorable words of Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, "turn the safety net into a hammock that lulls able-bodied people to lives of dependency and complacency." More specifically, they believe that unemployment insurance encourages jobless workers to stay unemployed, rather than taking available jobs.

Is there anything to this belief? The average unemployment benefit in North Carolina is $299 a week, pretax; some hammock. So anyone who imagines that unemployed workers are deliberately choosing to live a life of leisure has no idea what the experience of unemployment, and especially long-term unemployment, is really like. Still, there is some evidence that unemployment benefits make workers a bit more choosy in their job search. When the economy is booming, this extra choosiness may raise the "non-accelerating-inflation" unemployment rate - the unemployment rate at which inflation starts to rise, inducing the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates and choke off economic expansion.

All of this is, however, irrelevant to our current situation, in which inflation is not a concern and the Fed's problem is that it can't get interest rates low enough. While cutting unemployment benefits will make the unemployed even more desperate, it will do nothing to create more jobs - which means that even if some of those currently unemployed do manage to find work, they will do so only by taking jobs away from those currently employed.

But wait - what about supply and demand? Won't making the unemployed desperate put downward pressure on wages? And won't lower labor costs encourage job growth? No - that's a fallacy of composition. Cutting one worker's wage may help save his or her job by making that worker cheaper than competing workers; but cutting everyone's wages just reduces everyone's income - and it worsens the burden of debt, which is one of the main forces holding the economy back.

Oh, and let's not forget that cutting benefits to the unemployed, many of whom are living hand-to-mouth, will lead to lower overall spending - again, worsening the economic situation, and destroying more jobs.

The move to slash unemployment benefits, then, is counterproductive as well as cruel; it will swell the ranks of the unemployed even as it makes their lives ever more miserable.

Can anything be done to reverse this policy wrong turn? The people out to punish the unemployed won't be dissuaded by rational argument; they know what they know, and no amount of evidence will change their views. My sense, however, is that the war on the unemployed has been making so much progress in part because it has been flying under the radar, with too many people unaware of what's going on.

Well, now you know. And you should be angry.
(c) 2013 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them."
~~~ Patrick Henry

Obama's War On Journalism
Perhaps most troubling? The president is being aided by a cadre of Benedict Arnolds within the media itself
By David Sirota

Out of all the harrowing story lines in journalist Jeremy Scahill's new film "Dirty Wars," the one about Abdulelah Haider Shaye best spotlights the U.S. government's new assault against press freedom.

Shaye is the Yemeni journalist who in 2009 exposed his government's coverup of a U.S. missile strike that, according to McClatchy's newswire, ended up killing "dozens of civilians, including 14 women and 21 children." McClatchy notes that for the supposed crime of committing journalism, Shaye was sentenced to five years in prison following a trial that "was widely condemned as a sham" by watchdog groups and experts who noted that the prosecution did not "offer any substantive evidence to support (its) charges."

What, you might ask, does this have to do with the American government's attitude toward press freedom? That's where Scahill's movie comes in. As the film shows, when international pressure moved the Yemeni government to finally consider pardoning Shaye, President Obama personally intervened, using a phone call with Yemen's leader to halt the journalist's release.

Had this been an isolated incident, it might be easy to write off. But the president's move to criminalize the reporting of inconvenient facts is sadly emblematic of his administration's larger war against journalism. And, mind you, the word "war" is no overstatement.

As New York Times media correspondent David Carr put it: "If you add up the pulling of news organization phone records (The Associated Press), the tracking of individual reporters (Fox News), and the effort by the current administration to go after sources (seven instances and counting in which a government official has been criminally charged with leaking classified information to the news media), suggesting that there is a war on the press is less hyperbole than simple math."

In this unprecedented global war, President Obama has been backed by the combined power of Justice Department prosecutors, FBI surveillance agents, State Department diplomats and, perhaps most troubling of all, a cadre of high-profile Benedict Arnolds within the media itself.

One of them is "Meet the Press" host David Gregory, who, after saying journalist Glenn Greenwald "aided and abetted" NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden, demanded to know of the reporter: "Why shouldn't you be charged with a crime?" On the same "Meet the Press" program, NBC's Chuck Todd didn't want to know whether the NSA's surveillance is illegal, but instead demanded to know "how much was (Greenwald) involved in the plot" to expose the NSA's potential crimes. They were subsequently followed up by New York Times business reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin, who, after years of writing hagiography that helped Wall Streeters avoid prosecution, called for Greenwald's arrest.

Not surprisingly, the result of all this is a culture of fear. As the CEO of the Associated Press recently said, there has been a "chilling effect on newsgathering" thanks to an assault that seems "tailor-made to comfort authoritarian regimes that want to suppress their own news media."

By definition, the consequences of that "chilling effect" will be difficult to see - stories never reported, facts never unearthed and whistles never blown. In cases like Shaye's, there will also be journalists not released from prison.

No doubt, the resulting news vacuum is exactly what the Obama administration wants. After all, even if the White House's version of events is wildly inaccurate, deliberately misleading or completely untrue, such a vacuum allows the official story to become the only story.

That kind of information monopoly is great for the president, and it is perfectly acceptable to the courtiers and glorified television actors in the Washington press corps who masquerade as real journalists. But it is quite the opposite for a world that desperately needs more independent reporting and assumption-challenging journalism, not less.
(c) 2013 David Sirota is a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist, magazine journalist and the best-selling author of "Hostile Takeover" and "The Uprising." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at E-mail him at David Sirota is a former spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee. Follow him on Twitter @davidsirota .

Sequester Optionally Applied Only To Good Things
By David Swanson

Spending cuts have been applied by Congress to both military and non-military spending.

In my view, the military cuts are much too small and the non-military cuts should not exist at all. In the view of most liberal organizations, the military cuts -- like the military spending and the military itself -- are to be ignored, while the non-military cuts are to be opposed by opposing all cuts in general.

But, guess what?

The spending limits on the military are being blatantly violated. Both houses of Congress have now passed military budgets larger than last year and larger than is allowed under the sequester.

Meanwhile the sequester is being used to cut away at all that is good and decent in public policy.

In fact, the House Appropriations Committee proposes to make up for its violation of the law on military spending levels by imposing yet bigger cuts to non-military spending. And what's the harm in that if all cuts are equally bad?

The sequester, like the anti-torture statute, the war crimes statute, the Fourth Amendment, the First Amendment, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the Kellogg-Briand Pact, or the U.N. Charter, turns out to be one of those optional laws.

Laws are for certain people. The top general now being investigated as a whistleblower does not have a nude isolation cell at Quantico in his future, even though Bradley Manning was treated that way.

Laws are for certain things. Shooting children in a U.S. school is a crime. Dropping a missile on a foreign school is something more like law enforcement. Mothers in Yemen now teach their neighbors' children at home so that they can avoid going out to school while the drones are overhead. That's called freedom, the spread of democracy.

And this is called propaganda: "Sequester Putting Military at Risk of Becoming 'Hollow Force'." That's a real headline, and there are dozens more like it. Only in the U.S. military can increases be widely reported as disastrous cuts. The half-truth is entirely unintended. The military spending will, in fact, be disastrous. It's just not cuts.

We have 11 percent in the United States in favor of arming Syrians, or rather "Syrians" as so many of them are recently arrived in Syria for the purpose of killing. Eleven percent! That's nothing. That's less than believe in ghosts (48% of Americans according to CBS believe in ghosts). But the U.S. military and its commander in chief do what they want to do. Democracy be damned. And consequences be damned. And the people of Syria be damned.

The silver lining in the sequester's storm of misinformation is that states and localities are expecting cuts to the military. Connecticut has set up a commission to plan a process of conversion from military to non-military industries. I hope it will serve as a model for the other 49 states and D.C.

But there ought to be another silver lining, and I'm not seeing it yet. Most liberal activist groups have still not grasped that some cuts are good and others bad, that we should be campaigning for cuts to the war machine that swallows 57% of discretionary spending while campaigning for dramatic increases in spending on green energy, education, and other human needs.

Now is the moment for that realization. Now is the time to stop saying
(c) 2013 David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie."

The Dead Letter Office...

John celebrates his victory in the GOP's War Against Women.

Heil Obama,

Dear Gouverneur Kasich,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your constant war against women's rights, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Republican whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds, presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 07-06-2013. We salute you Herr Kasich, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Deputy Fuhrer Holder

Heil Obama

The GOP's Endless War On Obamacare, And The White House Delay
By Robert Reich

The official reason given by the Administration for delaying, by one year, the Affordable Care Act's mandate that employers with more than 50 full-time workers provide insurance coverage or face fines, is that employers need more time to implement it. The unofficial reason has more to do with the Republicans' incessant efforts to bulldoze the law.

Soon after the GOP lost its fight against Obamacare in Congress, it began warring against the new legislation in the courts, rounding up and backstopping litigants all the way up to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, House Republicans have refused to appropriate enough funds to implement the Act, and have held a continuing series of votes to repeal it. Republican-led states have also done what they can to undermine Obamacare, refusing to set up their own health exchanges, and turning down federal money to expand Medicaid.

The GOP's gleeful reaction to the announced delay confirms Republicans will make repeal a campaign issue in the 2014 midterm elections, which probably contributed to the White House decision to postpone the employer mandate until after the midterms.

"The fact remains that Obamacare needs to be repealed," said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, on hearing news of the delay.

Technically, postponement won't affect other major provisions of the law - although it may be difficult to subsidize workers who don't get employer-based insurance if employers don't report on the coverage they provide. But it's a bad omen.

The longer the Affordable Care Act is delayed, the more time Republicans have to demonize it before average Americans receive its benefits and understand its importance. The GOP raged against Social Security in 1935 and made war on Medicare in 1965. But in each case Americans soon realized how critical they were to their economic security, and refused to listen.
(c) 2013 Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written twelve books, including The Work of Nations, Locked in the Cabinet, and his most recent book, Supercapitalism. His "Marketplace

Baffin Island: As the Arctic warms, Greenland's temperature reached 3.2C above average in 2010

More Storms, More Heat Says WMO
By Alex Kirby

In the first decade of this century global sea level rise increased at about double the rate of the preceding hundred years, the World Meteorological Organization says.

London, 3 July -If you think the world is warming and the weather getting nastier, you're right, according to the United Nations agency committed to understanding weather and climate.

The World Meteorological Organization says the planet "experienced unprecedented high-impact climate extremes" in the ten years from 2001 to 2010, the warmest decade since the start of modern measurements in 1850.

Those ten years also continued an extended period of accelerating global warming, with more national temperature records reported broken than in any previous decade. Sea levels rose about twice as fast as the trend in the last century.

A WMO report, The Global Climate 2001-2010, A Decade of Climate Extremes, analyses global and regional temperatures and precipitation, and extreme weather such as the heat waves in Europe and Russia, Hurricane Katrina in the US, tropical cyclone Nargis in Myanmar, droughts in the Amazon basin, Australia and East Africa, and floods in Pakistan.

It says the decade was the warmest for both hemispheres, and for both land and ocean surface temperatures. There was a rapid decline in Arctic sea ice and accelerating loss of net mass from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and from the world's glaciers.

This melting and the thermal expansion of sea water caused global mean sea levels to rise about three millimetres annually, about double the observed 20th century trend of 1.6 mm per year. Global sea level averaged over the decade was about 20 cm higher than in 1880, the report says.

Global-average atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide rose to 389 parts per million in 2010, 39% higher than at the start of the industrial era in 1750. Methane rose to 1,808.0 parts per billion (158%) and nitrous oxide to 323.2 ppb (20%).

Clear upward trend

The WMO secretary-general, Michel Jarraud, said: "A decade is the minimum possible timeframe for meaningful assessments of climate change.

"WMO's report shows that global warming accelerated in the four decades of 1971 to 2010 and that the decadal rate of increase between 1991-2000 and 2001-2010 was unprecedented."

He added: "Rising concentrations of heat-trapping greenhouse gases are changing our climate, with far-reaching implications for our environment and our oceans, which are absorbing both carbon dioxide and heat."

His reference to the oceans' role as a sink for CO2 and heat is significant in the present debate about the apparent slight slow-down in the pace of atmospheric warming and the likelihood that the heat is going into the oceans instead.

Mr Jarraud said: "Natural climate variability, caused in part by interactions between our atmosphere and oceans -as evidenced by El Nino and La Nina events -means that some years are cooler than others.

"On an annual basis, the global temperature curve is not a smooth one. On a long-term basis the underlying trend is clearly in an upward direction, more so in recent times."

The report says that between 2001 and 2010, there was no major El Nino event, which normally leads to higher temperatures (as in the then-record warm year of 1998). Much of this last decade experienced either cooling La Nina or neutral conditions, except for the 2009/2010 moderate to strong El Nino.

It says the average land and ocean-surface temperature for 2001-2010 was estimated to be 14.47°C, or 0.47°C above the 1961-1990 global average and +0.21°C above the 1991-2000 global average (with a factor of uncertainty of ± 0.1°C).

The average 1991-2000 decadal temperature was itself +0.14°C warmer than 1981-1990. Every year of this latest decade except 2008 was among the 10 warmest years on record.

Warming Greenland

The warmest year ever recorded was 2010, with a temperature estimated at 0.54°C above the 14.0°C long term average of the 1961-1990 base period, followed closely by 2005.

Greenland recorded the largest decadal temperature anomaly, at +1.71°C above the long-term average and with a temperature in 2010 of +3.2°C above average. Africa experienced warmer than normal conditions in every year of the decade.

When it came to precipitation and floods, the decade was the second wettest since 1901. Globally, 2010 was the wettest year since the start of instrumental records.

Yet the WMO says droughts affect more people than any other kind of natural disaster because of their large scale and long duration. The decade saw droughts across the world, with some of the longest and most severe in Australia (2002 and other years), East Africa (2004 and 2005, resulting in widespread loss of life) and the Amazon basin (2010).

Tropical cyclones were reported to have killed nearly 170,000 people and to have affected more than 250 million, causing economic damage of US$ 380 billion.

More than 370,000 people died during the decade as a result of extreme weather and climate conditions -heat, cold, drought, storms and floods, according to data from the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters. This was 20% higher than 1991-2000.

But the WMO says there was a 16% decline in deaths due to storms and a 43% decline in those from floods, thanks mainly to better early warning systems and increased preparedness, and despite an increase in populations in disaster-prone areas.
(c) 2013 Alex Kirby is the editor of Climate News Network.

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Rick McKee ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Dealer Or No Deal
By Bill Maher

Texas is where people who want to be freer than free go to be their freest. It's where regulations go to die. Hell, if you want to come to Texas, put up a ricin manufacturing plant and pour your waste right into the water supply, who is the government to tell you not to? Because everything is bigger in Texas. Including the tumors.

So it should have been no problem that Tesla wanted to sell cars in Texas, even though its business model doesn't use dealers and that's currently against the law in Texas. When you want to buy a Tesla, there is no middleman. You just go into a Tesla showroom, choose your features, and they order you a car from the factory. Except you can't do that in Texas because Texas has a law, or "regulation," that requires automakers to sell through independently-owned franchised dealers. Which means Tesla staffers can show you a car, but they can't sell it to you.

So Tesla tried to have the law changed, like it did in North Carolina. Because we believe in free markets and all.

And Texas let the bill die under pressure from -- yet again -- the people who own car dealerships. Because the idea that they're needless middlemen -- like travel agents quickly became once you could make all of those arrangements for yourself online -- isn't important. Because we don't have free markets. We have protection rackets for businesses with access to our government.
(c) 2013 Bill Maher is host of HBO's, "Real Time with Bill Maher"and is an author, most recently, of "The New New Rules."

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Issues & Alibis Vol 13 # 24 (c) 07/05/2013

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